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The Republic of Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe, a federation of nine states. Austria is bordered by Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west.

N.B. Although Austria is a federal republic, its official title is "the Republic of Austria" (not "the Federal Republic of Austria").
Republik Österreich
(In detail) (Full size)
National motto: none
Official languages German, regional also: Slovenian, Croatian, Hungarian
Capital Vienna (Wien)
President Heinz Fischer
Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel
 - Total
 - % water
World ranking: 112nd
83,858 km²
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
World ranking: 86th
Independence 27 July 1955
Currency Euro (€)¹
Time zone CET (UTC+1; UTC+2 in summer)
National anthem Land der Berge, Land am Strome
Internet TLD .at
Calling Code 43
(1) prior to 1999, Schilling (ATS)

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 States
4 Geography
5 Cities and towns
6 Economy
7 Demographics
8 Well-known Austrians
9 Miscellaneous topics
10 External links


Main article: History of Austria

After being conquered by the Romans, Huns, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Bavarii and Franks, Austria was under the rule of the Babenbergs from the 10th to the 13th century. The Babenbergs were then succeeded by the Habsburgs, whose line continued to govern Austria until the 20th century.

After the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Empire of Austria was founded, which was transfomed in 1867 into the double-monarchy Austria-Hungary. The empire was split into several independent states after the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, leading to Austria as it is today.

In 1918 Austria became a republic, which lasted until 1934 when the chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß established a dictatorship.

Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938 (the Anschluss). After the defeat of the Nazis, the Allies occupied Austria at the end of World War II until 1955, when the country again became a fully independent republic under the condition that it remained neutral (see also: Austrian State Treaty). However, after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, Austria became increasingly involved in European affairs, and in 1995, Austria joined the European Union, and the Euro monetary system in 1999.


Main article: Politics of Austria

The head of state is a president, elected every six years by popular vote. The President chooses the chancellor, traditionally the leader of the largest party in the elections for parliament. The Austrian parliament consists of two chambers, the Bundesrat, which consists of 64 representatives of the states, based on population, and the Nationalrat, which has 183 directly-elected members.

After three decades of social-democratic (SPÖ) participation in government, a right-wing coalition was formed in 2000, consisting of the conservative People's Party (ÖVP) and the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ). However, after some turmoil within the FPÖ concerning party policy and leadership, Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP) announced on September 9, 2002 that general elections would be held prematurely at the end of November. In the elections of November 24, 2002, the ÖVP won a landslide victory (42.3% of the vote), whereas the FPÖ was reduced to a mere 10.1%.

The current Austrian parliament (Nationalrat, 183 seats) is made up as follows:

On February 28, 2003, the coalition between the ÖVP and the FPÖ was continued, again with Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP) as Federal Chancellor. His Vice Chancellor was Herbert Haupt (FPÖ) until replaced by Hubert Gorbach (FPÖ) on October 20, 2003. Prior to that, long-lasting "probing talks" ("Sondierungsgespräche") took place between the ÖVP and the other major parties FPÖ, SPÖ and the Green Party.


Main article: States of Austria

A federal republic, Austria is divided into nine states, or Bundesländer. These are:

  1. Burgenland
  2. Carinthia
  3. Lower Austria
  4. Upper Austria
  5. Salzburg
  6. Styria
  7. Tyrol
  8. Vorarlberg
  9. Vienna


Main article:
Geography of Austria

Austria's west and south are situated in the Alps, making it a well-known winter sports destination. The highest mountain is the Grossglockner, at 3798 meters above sea level, followed by the Wildspitze (3774 m).

The north and east of the country are mostly rolling terrain. The climate is temperate, with cold winters and cool summers.

Cities and towns

Main article: List of cities in Austria

The main cities are its capital Vienna and the capitals of its states (Bundesländer) St. Pölten, Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Bregenz, Klagenfurt, Graz and Eisenstadt.


Main article: Economy of Austria

Austria, with its well-developed market economy and high standard of living, is closely tied to other European Union economies, especially Germany's. Membership in the EU has drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by Austria's access to the single European market and proximity to EU aspirant economies. Slow growth in Germany and elsewhere in the world affected Austria, slowing its growth to 1.2% in 2001. To meet increased competition from both EU and Central European countries, Austria will need to emphasize knowledge-based sectors of the economy, continue to deregulate the service sector, and lower its tax burden.


Main article: Demographics of Austria

German-Austrians, by far the country's largest ethnic group, form between 85% and 89% of Austria's population. Around ten percent of Austria's people are of non-Austrian descent, many from surrounding countries, especially from the former East Bloc nations. The Austrian federal states of Carinthia and Styria are home to a significant (indigenous) Slovenian minority with around 18,000 members. So-called guest workers (gastarbeiter) and their descendants also form an important minority group in Austria. The official language, German, is spoken by almost all residents of the country. Austria's mountainous terrain lead to the development of many distinct German dialects. All of the dialects in the country, however, belong to Austro-Bavarian groups of German dialects, with the exception of the dialect spoken in its west-most Bundesland, Vorarlberg, which belongs to the group of Alemannic dialects.

There is also a distinct grammatical standard for Austrian German with a few significant differences to the German spoken in Germany.

More than three-quarters of Austrians are Roman Catholic. Other important religions are Islam and Protestantism. Jews have lived in the areas that now form the Republic of Austria for centuries. A large portion of Austria's Jewish community emigrated during the 1930s and most of the remaining Jewish community was murdered during the holocaust. In 1930, Austria was home to at least 100,000 Jews. Today, estimates place the size of Austria's small but growing Jewish community between 10,000 and 20,000.

Well-known Austrians

Main article: List of Austrians

Austria has been the birthplace for several famous composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Strauss, Sr and Johann Strauss, Jr; it's also the home of members of the Second Viennese School such as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, and Alban Berg.

Adolf Hitler was also born in Austria.

Other famous Austrians include physicists Ludwig Boltzmann, Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli and Christian Doppler (Doppler effect), as well as philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, mathematician Kurt Gödel, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, economist Joseph Schumpeter, poet Peter Rosegger, and painter Gustav Klimt.

Being situated in the Alps, Austria has been the homeland of many great alpine skiers, such as Toni Sailer, Hermann Maier, Annemarie Moser-Pröll and Anita Wachter.

Also the current governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger is Austrian-born.

Miscellaneous topics

Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

External links

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