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The Republic of Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe, a federation of 9 states. Austria is bordered by Liechtenstein and Switzerland in the west, Italy and Slovenia in the south, Hungary and Slovakia in the east, and Germany and the Czech Republic in the north.

Republik Österreich
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: None
Official language German
Capital Vienna
President Thomas Klestil
Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel[?]
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 112nd
83,858 km²
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 86th
Independence ?
Currency Euro¹, Austrian euro coins
Time zone UTC +1
National anthem Land der Berge, Land am Strome
Internet TLD .AT
Calling Code 43
(1) Prior to 1999: Austrian schilling

Table of contents

History Main article: History of Austria

After being conquered by the Romans, Huns, Lombards, Ostrogoths, Bavarians and Franks, Austria came under the rule of the Babenbergs from the 10th to the 13th century, which were succeeded by the Habsburgs. The line of this family continued to govern Austria until the 20th century.

After the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire, Austria became part of the double-monarchy Austria-Hungary in 1867. This nation was split up after being on the losing side of World War I, forming Austria as it is today. Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938 (the "Anschluss").

The Allies occupied Austria at the end of World War II until 1955, when the country again became fully independent under the condition that it remained neutral. 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.

Politics Main article: Politics of Austria

Head of state is the president, who is elected every 6 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 (federal council), which consists of 64 representatives of the states, based on population, and the Nationalrat (national council), which has 183 directly elected members.

After three decades of social-democratic majority (SPÖ[?]) 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 new Austrian parliament (Nationalrat, 183 seats) will be made up as follows:

On February 28, 2003, the coalition between the ÖVP and the FPÖ has been continued, again with Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP) as Federal Chancellor. His Vice Chancellor is Herbert Haupt (FPÖ). Prior to that, long-lasting "probing talks" ("Sondierungsgespräche") took place between the ÖVP and the other major parties FPÖ, SPÖ and the Green Party.

States Main article: States of Austria

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

Geography Main article: Geography of Austria

Being situated in the Alps, Austria's west and south are mountainous making Austria a well-known winter sports destination. The highest mountain is the Grossglockner[?], at 3,798 m. The north and east of the country are mostly rolling terrain. The climate is temperate, with cold winters and cool summers.

The main cities are capital Vienna, situated on the Danube, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz and Linz.

Economy 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. Slowing growth in Germany and elsewhere in the world slowed the economy to only 1.2% growth 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.

A typical Austrian town (Kaprun, 786 metres, 2580 feet, in the state of Salzburg).
Larger version

Demographics Main article: Demographics of Austria

About ten percent of the Austrians are of non-Austrian descent, many from surrounding countries, especially from the former East Bloc nations. Over 50,000 indigenous Slovenians live in the Austrian provinces of Carinthia and Styria. A large group of labour immigrants is also present. The official language, German, is spoken by everybody; the dialect is similar to that spoken in southern Germany. There is, however, a separate standard for Austrian German with differences to the German spoken in Germany.

More than three-quarters of Austrians are Roman Catholic. Other important religions are Islam and Protestantism.

Culture Main article: Culture of Austria[?]

Austria has been the birthplace for several famous composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Strauss, Sr. and Johann Strauss, Jr.. Other famous Austrians include physicists Ludwig Boltzmann and Erwin Schrödinger as well as philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and poet Peter Rosegger.

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[?].

DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
January 1New Year's DayNeujahr 
January 6EpiphanyEpiphanieHelige Drei Könige
MoveableEaster SundayOstersonntagGood Friday work-free for Protestants
MoveableEaster MondayOstermontag 
May 1 Staatsfeiertagalso, Labour day
MoveableAscensionChristi HimmelfahrtThursday 40 days after Easter
MoveableWhit MondayPfingstmontag 
MoveableCorpus ChristiFronleichnamThursday 11 days after Pentecost
August 15 Maria Himmelfahrt 
October 26National dayNationalfeiertagLaw on neutrality passed
November 1All SaintsAllerheiligen 
December 8 Maria Empfängnis 
December 25ChristmasChristtag 
December 26Boxing DayStephanitag 
December 31New Year's EveSylvester 

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

European Union:
Austria  |  Belgium  |  Denmark  |  Finland  |  France  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Ireland
Italy  |  Luxembourg  |  Netherlands  |  Portugal  |  Spain  |  Sweden  |  United Kingdom

Countries acceding to membership on May 1, 2004:
Cyprus  |  Czech Republic  |  Estonia  |  Hungary  |  Latvia  |  Lithuania  |  Malta  |  Poland  |  Slovakia  |  Slovenia

Countries of the world  |  Europe  |  Council of Europe

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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