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.
|National motto: None|
- % water
- Total (2000)
|Currency||Euro¹, Austrian euro coins|
|Time zone||UTC +1|
|National anthem||Land der Berge, Land am Strome|
|(1) Prior to 1999: Austrian schilling|
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.
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.
A federal republic, Austria is divided into nine states, or Bundesländer. These are:
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Date||English Name||Local Name||Remarks|
|January 1||New Year's Day||Neujahr|
|January 6||Epiphany||Epiphanie||Helige Drei Könige|
|Moveable||Easter Sunday||Ostersonntag||Good Friday work-free for Protestants|
|May 1||Staatsfeiertag||also, Labour day|
|Moveable||Ascension||Christi Himmelfahrt||Thursday 40 days after Easter|
|Moveable||Corpus Christi||Fronleichnam||Thursday 11 days after Pentecost|
|August 15||Maria Himmelfahrt|
|October 26||National day||Nationalfeiertag||Law on neutrality passed|
|November 1||All Saints||Allerheiligen|
|December 8||Maria Empfängnis|
|December 26||Boxing Day||Stephanitag|
|December 31||New Year's Eve||Sylvester|
Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.