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Republic of Austria
Republik Österreich
Flag of Austria Coat of arms of Austria
Flag Coat of arms
AnthemLand der Berge, Land am Strome  (German)
Land of Mountains, Land by the River

Location of Austria
Location of  Austria  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]

(and largest city)
48°12′N 16°21′E / 48.2°N 16.35°E / 48.2; 16.35
Official languages German,
locally also Slovene, Croatian and Hungarian
Demonym Austrian
Government Federal Parliamentary republic
 -  President Heinz Fischer
 -  Chancellor Werner Faymann
 -  Austrian State Treaty in force
July 27, 1955 
 -  Declaration of Neutrality October 26, 1955 (before: Austrian Empire: 1804, First Austrian Republic: 1918) 
EU accession January 1, 1995
 -  Total 83,872 km2 (115th)
32,383 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.7
 -  2007 estimate 8,316,487 (93rd)
 -  2001 census 8,032,926 
 -  Density 99/km2 (99th)
257/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $317.007 billion[1] (34th)
 -  Per capita $39,647[1] (IMF) (8th)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $371.219 billion[1] (23rd)
 -  Per capita $44,851[1] (IMF) (12th)
Gini (2000) 29.1 (low
HDI (2005) 0,951 (high) (14th)
Currency Euro () ² (EUR)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Internet TLD .at ³
Calling code 43
1 Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian are officially recognised regional languages and Austrian Sign Language is a protected minority language throughout the country.
2 Before 1999: Austrian Schilling.
3 The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Austria en-us-Austria.ogg /ˈɔːstria/ (German: Österreich) (Österreich.ogg Österreich), officially the Republic of Austria (German: Republik Österreich) (Republik Österreich.ogg Republik Österreich ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It borders both 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. The capital is the city of Vienna on the Danube River.[2]

The origins of Austria date back to the ninth century, when the territory later known as Upper and Lower Austria became increasingly populated. The name "Ostarrichi" is first documented in an official document from 996. Since then this word has developed into Österreich.[3]

Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states[4] and is one of six European countries that have declared permanent neutrality[5] and one of the few countries that includes the concept of everlasting neutrality in its constitution[6]. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955[7] and joined the European Union in 1995.[8]

The German name Österreich is derived from Old German Ostarrîchi "Eastern Territory".[9] The name was erroneously Latinized as "Austria" (Latin auster "south wind", metaphorically "south" thus austrālis "southern" and so on. There is no evidence for the region being called "South" anything in any other language). Reich can also mean "empire", and this connotation is the one that is understood in the context of the Austrian Empire/Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Holy Roman Empire, although not in the context of the modern Republic of Österreich. The term probably originates in a vernacular translation of the Medieval Latin name for the region: Marchia orientalis, which translates as "eastern marches" or "eastern borderland", as it was situated at the eastern edge of the Holy Roman Empire (and of the Duchy of Bavaria, respectively), that was also mirrored in the name Ostmark, for a short period applied after the Anschluss to Germany.

However, Friedrich Heer, one the most important Austrian historians in the 20th century, stated in his book Der Kampf um die österreichische Identität (The Struggle Over Austrian Identity), that the Germanic form ostarrîchi was not a translation of the Latin word, but both resulted from a much older term originating in the Celtic languages of ancient Austria: More than 2,500 years ago, the major part of the actual country was called Norig by the Celtic population (Hallstatt culture); No- or Nor- meant East or Eastern,[citation needed] whereas Rig is the related to the modern German Reich; realm (among other things). Accordingly, Norig would essentially mean ostarrîchi and Österreich, thus Austria. The Celtic name was eventually Latinized to noricum, when the Romans conquered and Romanized the country that later became Austria. The name of Noricum was then used to designate the Roman province.[citation needed]

The current official designation is the Republic of Austria (Republik Österreich).[10] It was earlier (after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy) known from 1918 as the State of German Austria (Staat Deutschösterreich), but the state was forced to change its name by the Treaty of Saint Germain to "Republik Österreich" "Republic of Austria". The name "Deutsch-Österreich" can be found on early 1920 stamps and Money. The name was changed again during the Austro-fascist regime (1934–1938), into Federal State of Austria (Bundesstaat Österreich), but restored after regaining independence and the birth of the "Second Austrian Republic" "Zweite Republik" (1945 – present).

During the period of monarchy, Austria was known as the Austrian Empire (Kaisertum Österreich). After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the empire became known as Austro-Hungarian Monarchy reflecting the dual monarchy character.


[edit] History

Settled in ancient times,[4] the central European land that is now Austria was occupied in pre-Roman times by various Celtic tribes. The Celtic kingdom of Noricum was later claimed by the Roman Empire and made a province. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area was invaded by Bavarians, Slavs and Avars.[11] Charlemagne conquered the area in 788, encouraged colonization, and introduced Christianity.[11] As part of Eastern Francia, the core areas that now encompass Austria were bequeathed to the house of Babenberg. The area was known as the marchia Orientalis and was given to Leopold of Babenberg in 976.[12]

Coats of arms of the Habsburg Emperor in 1605

The first record showing the name Austria is from The name Arnold, referring to the territory of the Babenberg March.[12] In 1156 the Privilegium Minus elevated Austria to the status of a duchy. In 1192, the Babenbergs also acquired the Duchy of Styria. With the death of Frederick II in 1246, the line of the Babenbergs went extinct.[13] As a result, Otakar II of Bohemia effectively assumed control of the duchies of Austria, Styria and Carinthia.[13] His reign came to an end with his defeat at Dürnkrut at the hands of Rudolf I of Germany in 1278.[14] Thereafter, until World War I, Austria's history was largely that of its ruling dynasty, the Habsburgs.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Habsburgs began to accumulate other provinces in the vicinity of the Duchy of Austria. In 1438, Duke Albert V of Austria was chosen as the successor to his father-in-law, Emperor Sigismund. Although Albert himself only reigned for a year, from then on, every emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was a Habsburg, with only one exception.

The Habsburgs began also to accumulate lands far from the Hereditary Lands. In 1477, Archduke Maximilian, only son of Emperor Frederick III, married the heiress Maria of Burgundy, thus acquiring most of the Netherlands for the family.[15][16] His son Philip the Fair married the heiress of Castile and Aragon, and thus acquired Spain and its Italian, African, and New World appendages for the Habsburgs.[15][16] In 1526, following the Battle of Mohács, Bohemia and the part of Hungary not occupied by the Ottomans came under Austrian rule.[17] Ottoman expansion into Hungary led to frequent conflicts between the two empires, particularly evident in the so-called Long War of 1593 to 1606.

During the long reign of Leopold I (1657–1705) and following the successful defense of Vienna in 1683 (under the command of the King of Poland, John III Sobieski),[18] a series of campaigns resulted in bringing all of Hungary to Austrian control by the Treaty of Carlowitz in 1699. Emperor Charles VI relinquished many of the fairly impressive gains the empire made in the previous years, largely due to his apprehensions at the imminent extinction of the House of Habsburg. Charles was willing to offer concrete advantages in territory and authority in exchange for other powers' worthless recognitions of the Pragmatic Sanction that made his daughter Maria Theresa his heir. With the rise of Prussia the Austrian–Prussian dualism began in Germany. Austria participated, together with Prussia and Russia, in the first and the third of the three Partitions of Poland (in 1772 and 1795).

The Congress of Vienna by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, 1819.

Austria later became engaged in a war with Revolutionary France - at the beginning highly unsuccessful - with successive defeats at the hands of Napoleon meaning the end of the old Holy Roman Empire in 1806. Two years earlier,[19] in 1804, the Empire of Austria was founded. In 1814 Austria was part of the Allied forces that invaded France and brought to an end the Napoleonic wars. It thus emerged from the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as one of four of the continent's dominant powers. The same year, the German Confederation, (German: Deutscher Bund) was founded under the presidency of Austria. Because of unsolved social, political and national conflicts the German lands where shaken by the 1848 revolution aiming to create a unified Germany.[20] A unified Germany would have been possible either as a Greater Germany, or a Greater Austria or just the German Confederation without Austria at all. As Austria was not willing to relinquish its German-speaking territories to what would become the German Empire of 1848 the crown of the new formed empire was offered to the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. In 1864 Austria and Prussia fought together against Denmark, and successfully freed the independent duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Nevertheless as they could not agree on a solution to the administration of the two duchies, they fought in 1866 the Austro-Prussian War. Defeated by Prussia in the Battle of Königgrätz,[20] Austria had to leave the German Confederation and subsequently no longer took part in German politics.[21][22]

Archduke Franz Ferdinand (right) with his family

The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the Ausgleich, provided for a dual sovereignty, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, under Franz Joseph I.[23] The Austrian-Hungarian rule of this diverse empire included various Slav groups such as Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Serbs and Croats, as well as large Italian and Romanian communities.

As a result, ruling Austria-Hungary became increasingly difficult in an age of emerging nationalist movements. Yet the government of Austria tried its best to be accommodating in some respects: The Reichsgesetzblatt, publishing the laws and ordinances of Cisleithania, was issued in eight languages, all national groups were entitled to schools in their own language and to the use of their mothertongue at state offices, for example. The government of Hungary to the contrary tried to magyarise other ethnic entities. Thus the wishes of ethnic groups dwelling in both parts of the dual monarchy hardly could be solved.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 by Gavrilo Princip (a member of the Serbian nationalist group the Black Hand)[24]) was used by leading Austrian and Hungarian politicians and generals to persuade the Emperor to declare war on Serbia, thereby risking and prompting the outbreak of World War I which led to the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

On October 21, 1918, the elected German members of the Reichsrat (parliament of Imperial Austria) met in Vienna as the Provisional National Assembly for German Austria (Provisorische Nationalversammlung für Deutschösterreich). On October 30 the assembly founded the State of German Austria by appointing a government, called Staatsrat. This new government was invited by the Emperor to take part in the decision on the planned armistice with Italy, but refrained from this business, leaving the responsibility for the end of the war on November 3, 1918 solely to the Emperor and his government. On November 11 the Emperor, counseled by ministers of the old and the new government, declared not to take part in state business any more; on November 12 German Austria, by law, declared to be a democratic republic and part of the new German republic. The constitution, renaming Staatsrat to Bundesregierung (federal government) and Nationalversammlung to Nationalrat (national council) was passed on 10 November 1920.

The Treaty of Saint-Germain of 1919 (for Hungary the Treaty of Trianon of 1920) confirmed and consolidated the new order of Central Europe which to a great part had been established in November 1918, creating new states and resizing others. However, over 3 million German Austrians found themselves living outside of the newborn Austrian Republic in the respective states of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Italy.[25] Between 1918 and 1919, Austria was officially known as the State of German Austria (Staat Deutschösterreich). Not only did the Entente powers forbid German Austria to unite with Germany, they also ignored the name German Austria in the peace treaty to be signed; it was therefore changed to Republic of Austria in late 1919[26].

After the war, an enormous inflation started to devaluate the Krone, still Austria's currency. In the autumn of 1922, Austria was granted an international loan supervised by the League of Nations.[27] The purpose of the loan was to avert bankruptcy, stabilize the currency, and improve its general economic condition. With the granting of the loan, Austria passed from an independent state to the control exercised by the League of Nations. In 1925, the Schilling, replacing the Krone by 10,000 : 1, was introduced. Later it was called the Alpine dollar due to its stability. From 1925 to 1929, economy enjoyed a short high before nearly crashing after Black Friday.

The First Austrian Republic lasted until 1933 when Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, gladly using what he called "Self-switch-off of Parliament" (Selbstausschaltung des Parlaments), established an autocratic regime tending towards Italian fascism.[28][29] The two big parties at this time — the Social Democrats and the Conservatives — had paramilitary armies[30]; the Social Democrats' Schutzbund was now declared illegal but still operative[31] as civil war broke out.[28][29][32]

In February 1934, several members of the Schutzbund were executed[33], the Social Democratic party was outlawed and many of its members were imprisoned or emigrated.[32] On 1 May 1934 the Austrofascists imposed a new constitution ("Maiverfassung") which cemented Dollfuss's power but on 25 July he was assassinated in a Nazi coup attempt.[34][35] His successor Kurt Schuschnigg struggled to keep Austria independent as "the better German state", but on 12 March 1938 German troops occupied the country[36] while Austrian Nazis took over government. On 13 March 1938 the Anschluss of Austria was officially declared, and two days later Hitler, a native of Austria, proclaimed the "re-unification" of his home country with Germany on Vienna's Heldenplatz. He established a plebiscite confirming union with Germany in April 1938.

Austria was incorporated into the Third Reich and ceased to exist as an independent state. The Nazis called Austria "Ostmark"[36] until 1942 when it was again renamed and called "Alpen-Donau-Reichsgaue". Vienna fell on 13 April 1945 during the Soviet Vienna Offensive just before the total collapse of the Third Reich. Karl Renner astutely set up a Provisional Government in Vienna in April with the approval of the victorious Soviet forces,[37] and declared Austria's secession from the Third Reich by the Declaration of Independence on 27 April 1945.

Much like Germany, Austria, too, was divided into a British, a French, a Soviet and a U.S. Zone and governed by the Allied Commission for Austria.[38] As forecast in the Moscow Declaration in 1943, there was a subtle difference in the treatment of Austria by the Allies.[37] The Austrian Government, consisting of Social Democrats, Conservatives and Communists and residing in Vienna, which was surrounded by the Soviet zone, was recognized by the Western Allies in October 1945 after some doubts that Renner could be Stalin's puppet. Thereby the creation of a separate Western Austrian government and the division of the country could be avoided. Austria, in general, was treated as though it had been originally invaded by Germany and liberated by the Allies[39].

After talks which lasted for years and were influenced by the Cold War, on 15 May 1955 Austria regained full independence by concluding the Austrian State Treaty with the Four Occupying Powers. On 26 October 1955 Austria declared its "permanent neutrality" by an act of Parliament, which remains to this day but has been indirectly changed by constitutional amendments concerning Austria as member of the European Union.[40]

The political system of the Second Republic is based on the constitution of 1920 and 1929, which was reintroduced in 1945. The system came to be characterized by Proporz, meaning that most posts of political importance were split evenly between members of the Social Democrats and the People's Party.[41] Interest group "chambers" with mandatory membership (e.g. for workers, business people, farmers) grew to considerable importance and were usually consulted in the legislative process, so that hardly any legislation was passed that did not reflect widespread consensus.[42] Since 1945, a single-party government took place only 1966−1970 (conservatives) and 1970−1983 (social democrats). During all other legislative periods, either a "Grand Coalition" (conservatives and social democrats) or a "Small Coalition" (one of these two and a smaller party) ruled the country.

The country became a member of the European Union in 1995[43]. The major parties SPÖ and ÖVP have contrary opinions about the future status of Austria's military non-alignment: While the SPÖ in public supports a neutral role, the ÖVP argues for stronger integration into the EU's security policy; even a future NATO membership is not ruled out by some ÖVP politicians. In reality, Austria is taking part in the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, participates in the so called Petersberg Agenda (including peace keeping and peace creating tasks) and has become member of NATO's "Partnership for Peace"; constitution has been amended accordingly. Since 2008, due to the Schengen Agreement, the only neighbouring country performing border controls towards Austria is Liechtenstein.

[edit] Politics

[edit] Political system

Austrian Parliament in Vienna

The Parliament of Austria is located in Vienna, the country's largest city and capital. Austria became a federal, parliamentarian, democratic republic through the Federal Constitution of 1920. It was reintroduced in 1945 to the nine states of the Federal Republic.[44][clarification needed] The head of state is the Federal President (Bundespräsident), who is directly elected by popular vote. The chairman of the Federal Government is the Federal Chancellor, who is appointed by the president. The government can be removed from office by either a presidential decree or by vote of no confidence in the lower chamber of parliament, the Nationalrat. Voting for the federal president used to be compulsory in Austria, but this was abolished in steps from 1982 to 2004.[45]

The Parliament of Austria consists of two chambers. The composition of the Nationalrat (183 seats) is determined every five years (or whenever the Nationalrat has been dissolved by the federal president on a motion by the federal chancellor, or by Nationalrat itself) by a general election in which every citizen over 16 years (since 2007) has voting rights. While there is a general threshold of 4 percent for all parties at federal elections (Nationalratswahlen), there remains the possibility to gain a direct seat, or Direktmandat, in one of the 43 regional election districts.

The Nationalrat is the dominant chamber in the formation of legislation in Austria. However, the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, has a limited right of veto (the Nationalrat can — in almost all cases — ultimately pass the respective bill by voting a second time. This is referred to as 'Beharrungsbeschluss, lit. "vote of persistence"). A convention, called the Österreich -Konvent[46] was convened in June 30, 2003 to decide upon suggestions to reform the constitution, but failed to produce a proposal that would receive the two thirds of votes in the Nationalrat necessary for constitutional amendments and/or reform.

With legislative and executive, the courts are the third column of Austrian state powers. Notably the Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof) may exert considerable influence on the political system by ruling out laws and ordinances not in compliance with the constitution. Since 1995, the European Court of Justice may overrule Austrian decisions in all matters defined in laws of the European Union. Concerning human rights, Austria also is implementing the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, since the European Convention on Human Rights is part of the Austrian constitution.

[edit] Recent developments

After general elections held in October 2006, the Social Democrats emerged as the largest party, whereas the People's Party lost about 8 % in votes. Political realities prohibited any of the two major parties from forming a coalition with smaller parties. In January 2007 the People's Party and Social Democrats formed a Grand Coalition with the social democrat Alfred Gusenbauer as Chancellor. This coalition broke-up in June 2008. Elections in September 2008 further weakened both major parties (Social Democrats and People's Party) but together they still held more than 50 % of the votes with the Social Democrats holding the majority. They formed a coalition with Werner Faymann from the Social Democrats as Chancellor. The positions of the Freedom Party and the deceased Jörg Haider's new party Alliance for the Future of Austria, both right-wing parties, were strengthened during the election.

[edit] Foreign policy

Embassy of Austria in London

The 1955 Austrian State Treaty ended the occupation of Austria following World War II and recognized Austria as an independent and sovereign state. On 26 October 1955, the Federal Assembly passed a constitutional article in which "Austria declares of her own free will her perpetual neutrality". The second section of this law stated that "in all future times Austria will not join any military alliances and will not permit the establishment of any foreign military bases on her territory". Since then, Austria has shaped its foreign policy on the basis of neutrality, but rather different from the neutrality of Switzerland.

Austria began to reassess its definition of neutrality following the fall of the Soviet Union, granting overflight rights for the UN-sanctioned action against Iraq in 1991, and, since 1995, it has developed participation in the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Also in 1995, it joined the Partnership for Peace and subsequently participated in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia. Meanwhile, the only part of the Constitutional Law on Neutrality of 1955 still valid fully is not to allow foreign military bases in Austria.

Austria attaches great importance to participation in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other international economic organisations, and it has played an active role in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

[edit] Energy politics

In 1972, the country began construction of a nuclear-powered electricity-generation station at Zwentendorf on the River Danube, following a unanimous vote in parliament. However, in 1978, a referendum voted approximately 50.5% against nuclear power, 49.5% for,[47] and parliament subsequently unanimously passed a law forbidding the use of nuclear power to generate electricity.

Austria currently produces more than half of its electricity by hydropower. Together with other renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass powerplants, the electricity supply from renewable energy amounts to nearly 80% of total use in Austria with the rest being produced by gas and oil powerplants.

[edit] Military

Austrian Guard Company on parade - July 14th 2007, Champs Elysées, Paris.

The manpower of the Austrian Armed Forces ("Bundesheer") mainly relies on conscription. All males who have reached the age of eighteen and are found fit serve a six months military service, which can be postponed under some circumstances. Conscientious objection is legally acceptable and those who claim this right are obliged to serve an institutionalized nine months civilian service instead. Since 1998, women volunteers have been allowed to become professional soldiers.

The main sectors of the Bundesheer are Joint Forces (Streitkräfteführungskommando, SKFüKdo) which consist of Land Forces (Landstreitkräfte), Air Forces (Luftstreitkräfte), International Missions (Internationale Einsätze) and Special Forces (Spezialeinsatzkräfte), next to Mission Support (Kommando Einsatzunterstützung; KdoEU) and Command Support (Kommando Führungsunterstützung; KdoFüU). Being a landlocked country, Austria has no navy.

In 2004, Austria's defence expenditures corresponded to approximately 0.9% of its GDP. The Army currently has about 45,000 soldiers, of which about half are conscripts. As head of state, Austrian President (currently Heinz Fischer) is nominally the Commander-in-Chief of the Bundesheer. In practical reality, however, command of the Austrian Armed Forces is almost exclusively exercised by the Minister of Defense, currently Norbert Darabos.

Since the end of the Cold War, and more importantly the removal of the former heavily guarded "Iron Curtain" separating Austria and Hungary, the Austrian military has been assisting Austrian border guards in trying to prevent border crossings by illegal immigrants. This assistance came to an end when Hungary joined the EU Schengen area in 2008, for all intents and purposes abolishing "internal" border controls between treaty states. Some politicians have called for a prolongation of this mission, but the legality of this is heavily disputed. In accordance with the Austrian constitution, armed forces may only be deployed in a limited number of cases, mainly to defend the country and aid in cases of national emergency, such as in the wake of natural disasters. They may generally not be used as auxiliary police forces.

Within its self-declared status of permanent neutrality, Austria has a long and proud tradition of engaging in UN-led peacekeeping and other humanitarian missions. The Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit (AFDRU), in particular, an all-volunteer unit with close ties to civilian specialists (e.g. rescue dog handlers) enjoys a reputation as a quick (standard deployment time is 10 hours) and efficient SAR unit. Currently, larger contingents of Austrian forces are deployed in Bosnia, Kosovo and, since 1974, in the Golan Heights.

[edit] States

As a federal republic, Austria is divided into nine states (German: 'Bundesländer'). These states are then divided into districts (Bezirke) and statutory cities (Statutarstädte). Districts are subdivided into municipalities (Gemeinden). Statutory Cities have the competencies otherwise granted to both districts and municipalities. The states are not mere administrative divisions but have some legislative authority distinct from the federal government, e.g. in matters of culture, social care, youth and nature protection, hunting, building, and zoning ordinances. In recent years, it has been discussed whether today it is appropriate for a small country to maintain ten parliaments.

State (Bundesland) Capital Area Population [48] Rank
The States of Austria
1 Burgenland Eisenstadt 3,966 km² 280,350 9
2 Carinthia (Kärnten) Klagenfurt 9,536 km² 560,753 6
3 Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) St. Pölten 19,174 km² 1,588,545 2
4 Upper Austria (Oberösterreich) Linz 11,980 km² 1,405,986 3
5 Salzburg Salzburg 7,154 km² 529,085 7
6 Styria (Steiermark) Graz 16,392 km² 1,203,986 4
7 Tyrol (Tirol) Innsbruck 12,648 km² 698,472 5
8 Vorarlberg Bregenz 2,601 km² 364,611 8
9 Vienna (Wien) Vienna (Wien) 414.90 km² 1,660,534 1

[edit] Geography

Topography of Austria
Countryside of Schröcken

Austria is a largely mountainous country due to its location in the Alps. The Central Eastern Alps, Northern Limestone Alps and Southern Limestone Alps are all partly in Austria. Of the total area of Austria (84 000 km² or 32,000 sq. mi), only about a quarter can be considered low lying, and only 32% of the country is below 500 meters (1,640 ft). The Alps of western Austria give way somewhat into low lands and plains in the eastern part of the country.

Austria can be divided into five areas, the biggest being the Austrian Alps, which constitute 62% of nation's total area. The Austrian foothills at the base of the Alps and the Carpathians account for around 12% and the foothills in the east and areas surrounding the periphery of the Pannoni low country amount to about 12% of the total landmass. The second greater mountain area (much lower than the Alps) is situated in the north. Known as the Austrian granite plateau, it is located in the central area of the Bohemian Mass, and accounts for 10% of Austria. The Austrian portion of the Vienna basin comprises the remaining 4%.

The six highest mountains in Austria are:

Name Height (m) Height (ft) Range
Großglockner &0000000000003797.0000003,797 &0000000000012457.00000012,457 Hohe Tauern
Wildspitze &0000000000003768.0000003,768 &0000000000012362.00000012,362 Ötztal Alps
Weißkugel &0000000000003739.0000003,739 &0000000000012267.00000012,267 Ötztal Alps
Großvenediger &0000000000003674.0000003,674 &0000000000012054.00000012,054 Hohe Tauern
Similaun &0000000000003606.0000003,606 &0000000000011831.00000011,831 Ötztal Alps
Großes Wiesbachhorn &0000000000003571.0000003,571 &0000000000011715.00000011,715 Hohe Tauern

Phytogeographically, Austria belongs to the Central European province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Austria can be subdivided into four ecoregions: the Central European mixed forests, Pannonian mixed forests, Alps conifer and mixed forests and Western European broadleaf forests.

[edit] Climate

The greater part of Austria lies in the cool/temperate climate zone in which humid westerly winds predominate. With over half of the country dominated by the Alps the alpine climate is the predominant one. In the East, in the Pannonian Plain and along the Danube valley, the climate shows continental features with less rain than the alpine areas. Although Austria is cold in the winter, in the summer temperatures can be relatively warm reaching 20-35 degrees Celsius. Austria has a humid continental climate.

[edit] Economy

Modern Vienna

Austria is one of the 10 richest countries in the world in terms of GDP (Gross domestic product) per capita, has a well-developed social market economy, and a high standard of living. Until the 1980s, many of Austria's largest industry firms were nationalised; in recent years, however, privatisation has reduced state holdings to a level comparable to other European economies. Labour movements are particularly strong in Austria and have large influence on labour politics. Next to a highly-developed industry, international tourism is the most important part of the national economy.

Germany has historically been the main trading partner of Austria, making it vulnerable to rapid changes in the German economy. However, since Austria became a member state of the European Union it has gained closer ties to other European Union economies, reducing its economic dependence on Germany. In addition, membership in the EU has drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by Austria's access to the single European market and proximity to the aspiring economies of the European Union. Growth in GDP accelerated in recent years and reached 3.3% in 2006.[49]

[edit] Currency

In Austria, the euro was introduced in 1999 (bookkeeping) and 2002 (real money). As a preparation for this date, the minting of the new euro coins started as early as 1999, however all Austrian euro coins introduced in 2002 have this year on it; unlike other countries of the Eurozone where mint year is minted in the coin. Eight different designs, one per face value, were selected for the Austrian coins. In 2007, in order to adopt the new common map like the rest of the Eurozone countries, Austria changed the common side of its coins.

Before adopting the Euro in 2002 Austria had maintained use of the Austrian schilling which was first established in December 1924. The Schilling was abolished in the wake of the Anschluss in 1938 and has been reintroduced after the end of the World War II in November 1945.

Austria has one of the richest collection of collectors' coins in the Eurozone, with face value ranging from 10 to 100 euro (although a 100,000 euro coin was exceptionally minted in 2004). These coins are a legacy of an old national practice of minting of silver and gold coins. Unlike normal issues, these coins are not legal tender in all the eurozone. For instance, a €5 Austrian commemorative coin cannot be used in any other country.

[edit] Education

Responsibility for educational oversight in Austria is entrusted partly to the Austrian states (Bundesländer), and partly to the federal government. Optional kindergarten education is provided for all children between the ages of three and six years. School attendance is compulsory for nine years, i.e. usually to the age of fifteen. The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Austria's education as the 18th best in the world, being significantly higher than the OECD average.[50]

Primary education lasts for four years. Alongside Germany, secondary education includes two main types of schools based on a pupil's ability as determined by grades from the primary school: the Gymnasium for the more gifted children which normally leads to the Matura which is a requirement for access to universities and the Hauptschule which prepares pupils for vocational education but also for further education (HTL = institution of higher technical education; HAK = commercial academy; HBLA = institution of higher education for economic business; etc.), where you also get the Matura.

The Austrian university system had been open to any student who passed the Matura examination until recently. A 2006 bill allowed the introduction of entrance exams for studies such as Medicine. Currently all EU students are charged a fee of about €370 per semester for all university studies. A recent OECD report criticized the Austrian education system for the low number of students attending universities and the overall low number of academics compared to other OECD countries.

[edit] Demographics

Austria's population estimate in October 2006 was 8,292,322. The population of the capital, Vienna, exceeds 1.6 million (2.2 million with suburbs), representing about a quarter of the country's population and is known for its vast cultural offerings and high standard of living.

In contrast to the capital, other cities do not exceed 1 million inhabitants: the second largest city Graz is home to 250,099 inhabitants, followed by Linz (188,968), Salzburg (150,000), and Innsbruck (117,346). All other cities have fewer than 100,000 inhabitants.

German-speaking, by far the country's largest group, form roughly 90% of Austria's population. The Austrian federal states of Carinthia and Styria are home to a significant indigenous Slovene speaking minority with around 14,000 members (Austrian census; unofficial numbers of Slovene groups speak of up to 50,000). In the east-most state, Burgenland (formerly part of the Hungarian half of Austria-Hungary), about 20,000 Austrian citizens speak Hungarian and 30,000 speak Croatian. Of the remaining number of Austria's people that are of non-Austrian descent, many come from surrounding countries, especially from the former East Bloc nations. So-called guest workers (Gastarbeiter) and their descendants, as well as refugees from the Yugoslav wars and other conflicts, also form an important minority group in Austria. Since 1994 the Roma-Sinti (gypsies) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in Austria.

A painting by Canaletto of Vienna during the first half of the eighteenth century

According to census information published by Statistik Austria for the year 2001[51] there were a total of 710,926 foreign nationals living in Austria. Of these, 124,392 speak German as their mother tongue (mainly immigrants from Germany, some from Switzerland and Bolzano-Bozen, Italy) The next largest populations of linguistic and ethnic groups are 240,863 foreign nationals from the former Yugoslavia (Serbian being the largest number of these at 135,376, followed by Croatian at 105,487); 123,417 Turkish nationals; 25,155 whose native tongue is English; 24,446 Albanian; 17,899 Polish; 14,699 Hungarian; 12,216 Romanian; 7,982 Arabs; 6,902 Slovenes (not including the autochthonous minority); 6,891 Slovaks; 6,707 Czech; 5,916 Persian; 5,677 Italian; 5,466 Russian; 5,213 French; 4,938 Chinese; 4,264 Spanish; 3,503 Bulgarian. The populations of the rest fall off sharply below 3,000.

The mother tongue of the population by prevalence, is German (88.6%) followed by Turkish (2.3%), Serbian (2.2%), Croatian (1.6%), Hungarian (0.5%) and Bosnian (0.4%).[52]

The official language, German, is spoken by almost all residents of the country. Austria's mountainous terrain led 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 western-most Bundesland, Vorarlberg, which belongs to the group of Alemannic dialects. There is also a distinct grammatical standard for Austrian German with a few differences to the German spoken in Germany.

As of 2006, some of the Austrian states introduced standardised tests for new citizens, to assure their language ability, cultural knowledge and accordingly their ability to integrate into the Austrian society.[53] For the national rules see Austrian nationality law - Naturalisation.

[edit] Politics concerning ethnic groups (Volksgruppenpolitik)

An estimated 13,000 to 40,000 Slovenes in the Austrian state of Carinthia (the Carinthian Slovenes) as well as Croats (around 30,000)[54] and Hungarians in Burgenland were recognized as a minority and have enjoyed special rights following the Austrian State Treaty (Staatsvertrag) of 1955.[40] The Slovenes in the Austrian state of Styria (estimated at a number between 1,600 and 5,000) are not recognized as a minority and do not enjoy special rights, although the State Treaty of July 27, 1955 states otherwise.

The right for bilingual topographic signs for the regions where Slovene- and Croat-Austrians live alongside the Germanic population (as required by the 1955 State Treaty) is still to be fully implemented. Many Carinthians are afraid of Slovenian territorial claims, pointing to the fact that Yugoslav troops entered the state after each of the two World Wars and considering that some official Slovenian atlases show parts of Carinthia as Slovene cultural territory. The recently deceased governor, Jörg Haider, has made this fact a matter of public argument in autumn 2005 by refusing to increase the number of bilingual topographic signs in Carinthia. A poll by the Kärntner Humaninstitut conducted in January 2006 states that 65% of Carinthians are not in favour of an increase of bilingual topographic signs, since the original requirements set by the State Treaty of 1955 have already been fulfilled according to their point of view.

Another interesting phenomenon is the so called "Windischen-Theorie"[55] stating that the Slovenes can be split in two groups: actual Slovenes and Windische (a traditional German name for Slavs), based on differences in language between Austrian Slovenes, who were taught Slovene standard language in school and those Slovenes who spoke their local Slovene dialect but went to German schools. The term Windische was applied to the latter group as a means of distinction. This politically influenced theory, dividing Slovene Austrians into the "loyal Windische" and the "national Slovenes", was never generally accepted and fell out of use some decades ago.

[edit] Religion

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, also Charles I of Spain, Austrian Habsburg
ruler and one of the major figures of the Counter-Reformation

At the end of the twentieth century, about 74 % of Austria's population were registered as Roman Catholic,[56] while about 5 % considered themselves Protestants.[56] Austrian Christians are obliged to pay a mandatory membership fee (calculated by income — about 1 %) to their church; this payment is erroneously called "Kirchensteuer" ("Eclesial/Church tax") and has been introduced during the "Third Reich".

About 12 % of the population declare that they have no religion.[56] Of the remaining people, around 340,000 are registered as members of various Muslim communities, mainly due to the influx from Turkey, furthermore Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania.[56] About 180,000 are members of Eastern Orthodox Churches, more than 20,000 are active Jehovah's Witnesses[57] and about 8,100 are Jewish.[56]

The Austrian Jewish Community of 1938 – Vienna alone counted more than 200,000 - was reduced to solely 4,000 to 5,000 during the Second World War, with approximately 65,000 Jewish Austrians killed in the Holocaust and 130,000 emigrating.[58] The large majority of the current Jewish population are post-war immigrants, particularly from eastern Europe and central Asia (including Bukharian Jews).[59] Buddhism, which was legally recognized as a religion in Austria in 1983 has a following of 20,000 (10,402 at the 2001 census).[citation needed]

According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005,[60]

  • 54 % of Austrian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God".
  • 34 % answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force".
  • 8 % answered that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".
Alter Dom, Linz

While northern and central Germany was the origin of the Reformation, Austria and Bavaria were the heart of the Counter-Reformation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the absolute monarchy of Habsburg imposed a strict regime to restore Catholicism's power and influence among Austrians.[61][62] The Habsburgs for a long time viewed themselves as the vanguard of Catholicism and all other confessions and religions were repressed.

In 1781, in the era of Austrian enlightenment, Emperor Joseph II issued a Patent of Tolerance for Austria that allowed other confessions a limited freedom of worship. Religious freedom was declared a constitutional right in Cisleithania after the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich in 1867 thus paying tribute to the fact that the monarchy was home of numerous religions beside Roman Catholicism such as Greek, Serbian, Romanian, Russian, and Bulgarian Orthodox Christians (Austria neighboured the Ottoman Empire for centuries), Calvinist, Lutheran Protestants and Jews. In 1912, after the annexation of Bosnia Hercegovina in 1908, the Islam was officially recognized in Austria.

Austria continued to remain largely influenced by Catholicism. After 1918, First Republic Catholic leaders such as Theodor Innitzer and Ignaz Seipel took leading positions within or close to Austria's government and increased their influence during the time of the Austrofascism; — Catholicism was treated much like a state religion by Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg.[citation needed] Although Catholic (and Protestant) leaders initially welcomed the Germans[citation needed] in 1938 during the Anschluss of Austria into Germany, Austrian Catholicism stopped its support of Nazism later on and many former religious public figures became involved with the resistance during the Third Reich. After the end of World War II in 1945, a stricter secularism was imposed in Austria, and religious influence on politics declined.[citation needed]

[edit] Culture

[edit] Music

Austria's past as a European power and its cultural environment have generated a broad contribution to various forms of art, most notably among them music. Austria has been the birthplace of many famous composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss, Sr., Johann Strauss, Jr. and Gustav Mahler as well as members of the Second Viennese School such as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg.

Vienna has long been especially an important centre of musical innovation. Eighteenth and nineteenth century composers were drawn to the city due to the patronage of the Habsburgs, and made Vienna the European capital of classical music. During the Baroque period, Slavic and Hungarian folk forms influenced Austrian music. Vienna's status began its rise as a cultural center in the early 1500s, and was focused around instruments including the lute. Ludwig van Beethoven spent the better part of his life in Vienna. Austria's current national anthem, attributed to Mozart, was chosen after World War II to replace the traditional Austrian anthem by Joseph Haydn.

Austria has also produced one notable jazz musician, keyboardist Josef Zawinul who helped pioneer electronic influences in jazz as well as being a notable composer in his own right. Falco was an internationally acclaimed pop and rock musician.

The Belvedere Palace, an example of Baroque architecture

[edit] Art and architecture

Among Austrian Artists and architects one can find the painters Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Rudolf von Alt, Hans Makart,Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, Carl Moll, and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the photographers Inge Morath and Ernst Haas and architects like Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, and Hans Hollein.

[edit] Science, philosophy and economics

Sigmund Freud in 1938

Austria was the cradle of numerous scientists with international reputation. Among them are Ludwig Boltzmann, Ernst Mach, Victor Franz Hess and Christian Doppler, prominent scientists in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, contributions by Lise Meitner, Erwin Schrödinger and Wolfgang Pauli to nuclear research and quantum mechanics were key to these areas' development during the 1920s and 1930s. A present-day quantum physicist is Anton Zeilinger, noted as the first scientist to demonstrate quantum teleportation.

In addition to physicists, Austria was the birthplace of two of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper. In addition to them biologists Gregor Mendel and Konrad Lorenz as well as mathematician Kurt Gödel and engineers such as Ferdinand Porsche and Siegfried Marcus were Austrians.

A focus of Austrian science has always been medicine and psychology, starting in medieval times with Paracelsus. Eminent physicians like Theodore Billroth, Clemens von Pirquet, and Anton von Eiselsberg have built upon the achievements of the 19th century Vienna School of Medicine. Austria was home to psychologists Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Paul Watzlawick and Hans Asperger and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl.

These are articles of the
List of Austrians series
Artists and architects

The Austrian School of Economics, which is prominent as one of the main competitive directions for economic theory, is related to Austrian economists Joseph Schumpeter, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek. Other noteworthy Austrian-born émigrés include the management thinker Peter Drucker, scientist Sir Gustav Nossal, the 38th Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger and mathematician/philosopher Georg Kreisel.

[edit] Literature

Complementing its status as a land of artists and scientists, Austria has always been a country of poets, writers, and novelists. It was the home of novelists Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Thomas Bernhard, Franz Kafka, and Robert Musil, of poets Georg Trakl, Franz Werfel, Franz Grillparzer, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Adalbert Stifter, and of writer Karl Kraus.

Famous contemporary playwrights and novelists are Nobel prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Handke and Daniel Kehlmann.

[edit] Cuisine

The Viennoise

Austria's cuisine is derived from that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austrian cuisine is mainly the tradition of Royal-Cuisine ("Hofküche") delivered over centuries. It is famous for its well-balanced variations of beef and pork and countless variations of vegetables. There is also the "Mehlspeisen" Bakery, which created particular delicacies such as Sachertorte, "Krapfen" which are doughnuts usually filled with apricot marmalade or custard, and "Strudel" such as "Apfelstrudel" and "Topfenstrudel" filled with sweetened sour cream. In addition to native regional traditions, the cuisine has been influenced by Hungarian, Bohemia Czech, Jewish, Italian, Balkan and French cuisine, from which both dishes and methods of food preparation have often been borrowed. The Austrian cuisine is therefore one of the most multicultural and transcultural in Europe.

Typical Austrian dishes include Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten, Kaiserschmarren, Knödel, Sachertorte and Tafelspitz. There are also Kasnockn, a cooked filled dough-bag with cheese and parsley, and Eierschwammerl (also could pfifferling) (chanterelle) dishes. The Eierschwammerl are native yellow, tan mushrooms. The candy PEZ was invented in Austria, also "Mannerschnitten". Austria is also famous for its Mozartkugeln and its coffee tradition.

[edit] Sports

Salzburg Stadium, Home of the FC RB Salzburg

The national sport in Austria is alpine skiing and Austria shows constant dominance in the Nations-Cup[citation needed]. Similar sports such as snowboarding or ski-jumping are also widely popular. The most popular team sport in Austria is football.[citation needed] However, Austria rarely has international success in this discipline, going out in the first round of the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship which was co-hosted with Switzerland. Besides football, Austria also has professional national leagues for most major team sports including ice hockey and basketball.[citation needed] Bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton are also popular events with a permanent track located in Igls, which hosted bobsleigh and luge competitions for the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics held in Innsbruck.[citation needed] The first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012 will be held in Innsbruck as well.[63]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes and References

  1. ^ a b c d "Austria, economic data.". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved on 2008-09-30. 
  2. ^ CIA map 1
  3. ^ Brook-Shepherd 4
  4. ^ a b Lonnie Johnson 17
  5. ^ Lonnie Johnson 155–156
  6. ^ This fact has to be seen in connection with the constitutional changes since 1995, which left the military non-alignment partly intact while indirectly abolishing neutrality.
  7. ^ Jelavich 267
  8. ^ CIA par. 1
  9. ^ Law, Gwillim (2006-01-09). "States of Austria". Statoids. Retrieved on 2008-04-14. 
  10. ^ CIA § Government
  11. ^ a b Johnson 19
  12. ^ a b Johnson 20–21
  13. ^ a b Johnson 21
  14. ^ Lonnie Johnson 23
  15. ^ a b Lonnie Johnson 25
  16. ^ a b Brook-Shepherd 11
  17. ^ Lonnie Johnson 26
  18. ^ Lonnie Johnson 26–28
  19. ^ Lonnie Johnson 34
  20. ^ a b Johnson 36
  21. ^ Lonnie Johnson 55
  22. ^ Schulze 233
  23. ^ Lonnie Johnson 59
  24. ^ Johnson 52–54
  25. ^ Brook-Shepherd 246
  26. ^ Brook-Shepherd 245
  27. ^ Brook-Shepherd 257-8
  28. ^ a b Lonnie Johnson 104
  29. ^ a b Brook-Shepherd 269-70
  30. ^ Brook-Shepherd 261
  31. ^ Brook-Shepherd 261
  32. ^ a b Johnson 107
  33. ^ Brook-Shepherd 283
  34. ^ Lonnie Johnson 109
  35. ^ Brook-Shepherd 292
  36. ^ a b Lonnie Johnson 112–3
  37. ^ a b Lonnie Johnson 135–6
  38. ^ Lonnie Johnson 137
  39. ^ Manfried Rauchensteiner: Der Sonderfall. Die Besatzungszeit in Österreich 1945 bis 1955 (The Special Case. The Time of Occupation in Austria 1945 to 1955), edited by Heeresgeschichtliches Museum / Militärwissenschaftliches Institut (Museum of Army History / Institute for Military Science), Vienna 1985
  40. ^ a b Lonnie Johnson 153
  41. ^ Lonnie Johnson 139
  42. ^ Lonnie Johnson 165
  43. ^ Brook-Shepherd 447,449
  44. ^ Lonnie Johnson 17, 142
  45. ^ "Bundesministerium für Inneres - Elections Compulsory voting". Retrieved on 2009-01-03. 
  46. ^ "Willkommen beim Österreich Konvent". Retrieved on 2008-11-21. 
  47. ^ Lonnie Johnson 168–9
  48. ^ "Population statistics". Retrieved on 2007-02-24. 
  49. ^ Real GDP Growth – Expenditure Side, provided by the Austrian National Bank (German)
  50. ^
  51. ^ Statistik Austria, Die Bevölkerung nach Umgangssprache, Staatsangehörigkei und GeburtslandPDF (41.3 KB) (German)
  52. ^ Statistik Austria, Die Bevölkerung nach Umgangssprache, Staatsangehörigkei und Geburtsland, page 75. PDF (German)
  53. ^ Requirements to become an Austrian citizen, provided by the Viennese state government (German)
  54. ^ "HKDC Geschichte - Frame". Retrieved on 2008-11-21. 
  55. ^
  56. ^ a b c d e "Census 2001: Population 2001 according to religious affiliation and nationality" (in German) (PDF). Statistik Austria. Retrieved on December 17 2007. 
  57. ^ Statistics: 2005 Report of Jehovah's Witnesses Worldwide.
  58. ^ Expulsion, Deportation and Murder - History of the Jews in Vienna Vienna Webservice
  59. ^ Bukharian Jews find homes on Long Island, Bukharian Reviews, September 16, 2004
  60. ^ "Eurobarometer on Social Values, Science and technology 2005 - page 11" (PDF). Retrieved on 2007-05-05. 
  61. ^ Lonnie Johnson 28
  62. ^ Brook-Shepherd 16
  63. ^ "YOG Innsbruck 2012: Relive the announcement". International Olympic Committee. 12 December 2008. Retrieved on 24 December 2008. 

[edit] References

  • Johnson, Lonnie (1989). Introducing Austria: A short history. Ariadne Press, 270 Goins Court, Riverside, CA 92507. ISBN 0929497031. 
  • Jelavich, Barbara (1987). Modern Austria. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-31625-1. 
  • Schulze, Hagen (1994). States, Nations and Nationalism. Blackwell Publishers Inc, 350 Main Street, Malden, Massachusetts 02148, USA. 

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