AUSTRIA

Date of establishment: 1918/1919

Brief history:

9th century: The beginnings of Austrian territory were associated with settlements of Germanic and Slavic tribes. The region was known as the Eastern March (Ostmark).

976: The establishment of the Margraviate of Austria, initially part of the Duchy of Bavaria within the Holy Roman Empire. It was granted to Leopold I of the Babenberg dynasty.

1156: The Privilegium Minus elevated the Margraviate of Austria to a duchy, providing greater autonomy.

1278: The Battle of Dürnkrut and Jedenspeigen resulted in the defeat of King Ottokar II of Bohemia by Rudolf I of Habsburg, leading to the Habsburgs gaining control of Austria.

15th-18th centuries: Austria becomes a significant region of the Habsburg Monarchy, serving as the core of their power. The Habsburgs expanded their influence through marriage, wars, and inheritance.

1526: After the death of King Louis II of Hungary at the Battle of Mohács, the Habsburgs took control of Hungary and Bohemia, significantly expanding their territories.

1740-1780: The Austrian Empire reached a peak under the rule of Maria Theresa, who implemented major reforms in administration, education, and the military. Her son, Joseph II, continued these reforms, emphasizing enlightenment principles.

1804: Francis II established the Austrian Empire in response to the formation of the First French Empire by Napoleon. He later dissolved the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.

1867: After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, Austria becomes one of the two equal halves of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, with Austria and Hungary each having its own government and constitution, but sharing a common monarch and foreign policy.

1918: After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated, and the Republic of Germany-Austria was formed. However, the Treaty of Saint-Germain in 1919 prohibited union with Germany, and the country was renamed the Republic of Austria.

1938: Anschluss – Nazi Germany annexed Austria, integrating it into the Third Reich until the end of World War II.

1945: The end of World War II and the restoration of Austria’s independence. Austria was divided into four occupation zones controlled by the Allies (the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France).

1955: Austria regained full sovereignty with the Austrian State Treaty, and the country declared its permanent neutrality.

1995: Austria became a member of the European Union, further integrating into European economic and political structures.

 

International abbreviation: A

 

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Austria adopted the euro as its official currency on January 1, 1999, when it became a member of the European Monetary Union.

 

Internet domain: .at

 

Dialing code: +43

 

Time zone: +1 GMT

 

Geography:

Austria is a Central European landlocked country through which the Danube River flows. It is mostly composed of the Alps mountain range, which dominates the western and southern parts of the country, while the eastern part consists of plains and lowlands.

Austria shares its borders with Germany to the northwest, the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia to the northeast, Hungary to the east, Slovenia to the south, Italy to the southwest, and Liechtenstein and Switzerland to the west.

The country is situated in the central part of the Alps, a high mountainous area characterized by many peaks, valleys, and glaciers. The eastern part of Austria, including the Vienna Basin, is more low-lying and features important agricultural land.

 

Highest peak: Grossglockner 3 798 meters (12 461 feet) above sea level

Grossglockner is also the highest peak in the Eastern Alps and is located in the eastern part of the country, in the Hohe Tauern mountain range, which is the largest national park in Austria. This peak is a popular destination for tourists, climbers, and skiers.

 

Climate:

Austria lies in Central Europe and is surrounded by high mountains, which have a significant impact on the climatic conditions in different parts of the country. In the Alpine regions, which constitute a large part of Austria, there is an alpine climate. This climate is characterized by cold and snowy winters, ideal for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Average winter temperatures in the alpine regions range from -10°C to 0°C (14°F to 32°F). Summers in the Alps are generally mild but can be changeable, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F), and precipitation is frequent.

In the lower-lying eastern parts of Austria, such as Vienna and the surrounding areas, the climate is more continental. Winters can be cold, with average temperatures ranging from -5°C to 5°C (23°F to 41°F), while summers can be warm, with average temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F).

Throughout Austria, temperature differences can be quite significant, and weather forecasts are prone to rapid changes, especially in the mountainous areas. Precipitation varies by region but is generally higher in the west and the mountainous areas, with drier conditions in the east.

 

Fauna and flora:

In lower altitudes, meadows with colorful flowers like anemones, lilies, cornflowers, evening primroses, and gentians can be found. In the mountainous regions, there are meadows with typical alpine flowers such as gentians, edelweiss, columbines, and alpine bells. Conifers like spruce, fir, pine, and broadleaf trees such as beech and oak grow in the Alpine forests.

Austria offers diverse wildlife, including various mammals, birds, fish, and other animals. In the Alps, you can find ibexes, chamois, marmots, mouflons, and mountain hares. Additionally, the region is home to the golden eagle and the alpine accentor.

Many lakes and rivers in Austria are home to waterfowl such as ducks, swans, cormorants, and herons. These bodies of water also host fish species like trout, pike, and perch.

Forests in Austria provide habitats for various animal species, including red deer, roe deer, squirrels, foxes, and wild boar. The forests also host a wide variety of birds, including jays, blackbirds, woodpeckers, hawks, and owls. Furthermore, Austria’s forests are home to lynx and, more recently, wolves, which have been returning to the region.

 

Agriculture:

The main agricultural crops in Austria include cereals like wheat, barley, rye, and maize. Austria also produces potatoes, sugar beets, rapeseed, and other crops. Vineyards are widespread in wine-growing regions like Burgenland, Lower Austria, and Styria, producing high-quality Austrian wines, including varieties such as Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and Zweigelt.

Livestock farming and dairy production are essential components of the agricultural sector. Austria has a rich tradition in cheese and dairy product manufacturing, producing varieties like Bergkäse and Emmentaler. Cattle, particularly dairy cattle, are prominent, alongside beef cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry. Austria is also known for its organic farming practices, which are more prevalent compared to many other European countries.

Forestry is a crucial part of Austria’s economy. Forests cover nearly half of the country’s territory, providing wood and other forest products. Sustainable forest management practices are emphasized to ensure the long-term health of forest ecosystems.

 

Raw materials extraction:

Austria has certain reserves of iron ore, particularly in the Styria region, which are mined in some mountainous areas of the country. Lead, zinc, and tungsten are also extracted on a smaller scale. Additionally, Austria has deposits of magnesite, a key mineral used in refractory industries.

Forests play a crucial role in Austria, and wood is one of the significant natural resources. Forestry is an essential economic sector, and wood is used in construction, furniture making, paper production, and energy generation (biomass).

Some regions of Austria have natural stone reserves, including limestone, marble, and gypsum. These materials are extracted and used in construction, sculpture, and various industrial applications.

Austria also has minor deposits of lignite (brown coal), although its extraction has decreased significantly due to environmental concerns and a shift towards more sustainable energy sources.

 

Industry:

Austria’s industry is diverse and highly developed, encompassing several key sectors that contribute significantly to its economy. The automotive sector is a major player, with companies involved in the production of vehicles, automotive parts, and advanced engineering. Austria is home to significant automotive manufacturers and suppliers, making it an important hub for the European automotive industry.

The machinery and steel industries are also vital, with Austrian companies producing high-quality machinery, tools, and steel products for global markets. The chemicals industry is another important sector, with a focus on pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and specialized chemicals.

The electronics and technology sector is robust, featuring companies involved in semiconductor production, telecommunications, and information technology. Austria places a strong emphasis on innovation, quality, and sustainability, which drives its competitiveness in international markets.

The food and beverage industry is well-developed, known for its high standards and diverse product offerings, from dairy and meat products to beverages like beer and wine.

Additionally, Austria hosts numerous trade fairs and exhibitions, promoting various industries and fostering international trade. The construction sector is dynamic, with Austrian firms renowned for their expertise in infrastructure, residential, and commercial projects.

 

Services and other economic areas: Services, banking, insurance, tourism, transportation, telecommunications, information technology, science, research, education, and healthcare.

 

Natural and historical attractions:

Tourists visit Austria throughout the year, both in summer and winter. In summer, they are drawn to the picturesque Alpine landscapes, beautiful lakes such as Lake Wolfgang and Lake Neusiedl, charming towns, and historical landmarks. The Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for its vineyards, rolling hills, and historic architecture. Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, and Graz are popular destinations known for their rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and vibrant arts scenes.

Winter tourism is another key pillar of Austria’s tourism industry. The Alps offer excellent conditions for winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and ski mountaineering. Austria has many modern and well-equipped ski resorts, including St. Anton, Kitzbühel, and Zell am See, which attract millions of visitors from around the world.

Cultural events, festivals, and markets are also major attractions in Austria. The Salzburg Festival, Vienna Opera Ball, and the Innsbruck Christmas Market are just a few examples of events that highlight Austrian culture, music, and traditions. These events enjoy international recognition, attracting many tourists interested in participating in traditional celebrations and cultural experiences.

Additionally, Austria’s historical attractions, such as the Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace, and Melk Abbey, offer glimpses into the country’s imperial past and architectural splendor. Natural wonders like the Eisriesenwelt ice caves and the Krimml Waterfalls further enhance Austria’s appeal as a year-round destination for tourists.

 

 

Form of government: Federal parliamentary republic

The main organs of state power in Austria are the federal president and the federal chancellor. The president is the head of state, elected directly by the citizens for a six-year term. While the role is primarily ceremonial, the president has significant powers, including appointing the federal chancellor and the government, and can dissolve the National Council under certain conditions. The federal chancellor, appointed by the president, is the head of government, responsible for leading the executive branch and implementing policies.

Legislative power is vested in a bicameral parliament consisting of the National Council (Nationalrat) and the Federal Council (Bundesrat). The National Council is the lower chamber with 183 members elected for a five-year term through proportional representation. The Federal Council is the upper chamber, representing the interests of the federal states (Länder), with its 61 members delegated by the state parliaments based on population and political composition.

Austria is a federal state with nine self-governing federal states, including Vienna, Lower Austria, Tyrol, Styria, and Upper Austria. Each state has its own government and parliament, with authority over matters such as education, healthcare, and local infrastructure.

Austria’s justice system is independent and based on civil law principles. The judiciary includes the Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof) for civil and criminal cases, the Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof) for constitutional matters, and administrative courts for disputes between citizens and public authorities. Judges are appointed for life to ensure independence and impartiality.

 

Capital city: Vienna

Vienna, located in the eastern part of Austria, is the country’s largest city and capital. With a history dating back to Roman times, Vienna has grown into a vital European center of trade, culture, and politics, largely due to its strategic location on the Danube River. It has a population of about 1 990 000.

Vienna is considered one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities globally, known for its impressive historical architecture and cultural heritage. Key landmarks include the Hofburg (Imperial Palace), St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom), the Belvedere, and Schönbrunn Palace.

Renowned for its musical heritage, Vienna was home to legendary composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and Schubert. The city hosts internationally acclaimed institutions like the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera, cementing its status as a global music hub.

Vienna boasts a rich cultural life, with its traditional coffeehouses playing an essential role in local culture. The city’s markets, such as the Naschmarkt, offer a variety of Austrian specialties and contribute to its vibrant atmosphere. Vienna’s blend of historical grandeur and contemporary culture makes it a unique and significant European capital.

 

Area: 83 858 km² (32 378 square miles)

 

Population: 8 940 000 (2022 estimate)

The majority of the population of Austria consists of ethnic Austrians (about 90% of the population), who speak various German dialects. There are also smaller numbers of other ethnic groups, including Croats, Slovenes, Hungarians, and a significant Turkish minority, among others.

Most of the population lives in cities and densely populated areas, with the highest population density in Vienna. Other significant cities include Graz, Linz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck, each serving as cultural and economic hubs in their respective regions.

The religious composition of Austria is predominantly Roman Catholic, with about 57% of the population identifying as Catholic. However, in recent years, the number of people who identify with other religions or have no religious affiliation has been increasing, reflecting broader European trends.

Austria is known for its high standard of living, advanced social welfare system, and quality education. These factors, along with political stability and a strong economy, contribute to the country’s attractiveness for both internal and international migration.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 12

 

  1. Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (2007) – Preserved beech forests in various regions of Europe, including parts in Austria, from the Pyrenees to the Black Sea.
  2. The Historic Centre of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg (1999) – A city complex marked by centuries of Habsburg presence and including the baroque palace Schloss Eggenberg.
  3. The Fertő/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape (2001) – A unique landscape of villages, vineyards, and lakeshores on the Hungarian border.
  4. The Frontiers of the Roman Empire – Danube Limes (2021) – Remains of frontier fortifications and other structures in Germany, Austria, and Slovakia.
  5. Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape (1997) – The area’s salt deposits have been exploited since the 2nd millennium BCE, featuring historic village Hallstatt.
  6. The Historic Centre of Salzburg (1996) – The Old Town with medieval and baroque buildings, associated with the city’s musical heritage.
  7. The Historic Centre of Vienna (2001) – Architectural ensembles in the city center, reflecting its history as a capital of the Habsburg Monarchy.
  8. The Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn (1996) – The Habsburg residence, with its palaces and gardens, forms a remarkable baroque whole.
  9. Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps (2011) – Pile dwellings dating from 5000 to 500 BCE near lakes, rivers, and wetlands, with several sites in Austria.
  10. The Semmering Railway (1998) – One of the greatest feats of civil engineering, built between 1848 and 1854, crossing the Semmering Pass.
  11. The Great Spa Towns of Europe (2021) – Includes Baden bei Wien in Austria, along with other spa towns in Europe, representing an international European spa culture.
  12. The Wachau Cultural Landscape (2000) – The landscape retains its original traits from its evolution since prehistoric times, known for its vineyards, monasteries, and castles.

 

National Parks: 6

 

  1. Hohe Tauern National Park
  2. Neusiedler See – Seewinkel National Park
  3. Donau-Auen National Park
  4. Gesäuse National Park
  5. Thayatal National Park
  6. Kalkalpen National Park