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Coordinates: 47°20′N 13°20′E / 47333°N 13333°E / 47333; 13333

Republic of Austria
Republik Österreich  German
Flag Coat of arms
  • Land der Berge, Land am Strome  German
  • Land of Mountains, Land by the River
Location of  Austria  dark green

– in Europe  green & dark grey
– in the European Union  green  – 

and largest city
48°12′N 16°21′E / 48200°N 16350°E / 48200; 16350
Official languages Austrian German
Ethnic groups 2012
  • 811% Austrians
  • 27% Germans
  • 22% Serbs
  • 22% Turks
  • 115% Others
Demonym Austrian
Government Federal parliamentary republic
 •  President College formed by Doris Bures, Karlheinz Kopf and Norbert Hofer
 •  Chancellor Christian Kern
Legislature Parliament
 •  Upper house Federal Council
 •  Lower house National Council
 •  Margraviate of Austria 976 
 •  Duchy of Austria 1156 
 •  Archduchy of Austria 1453 
 •  Austrian Empire 1804 
 •  Austro-Hungarian Empire 1867 
 •  First Republic 1918 
 •  Federal State 1934 
 •  Anschluss 1938 
 •  Second Republic since 1945 
 •  State Treaty in effect 27 July 1955 
 •  Joined the European Union 1 January 1995 
 •  Total 83,879 km2 115th
32,38586 sq mi
 •  Water % 17
 •  April 2016 estimate 8,725,931 94th
 •  Density 1014/km2 106th
2626/sq mi
GDP PPP 2016 estimate
 •  Total $413333 billion
 •  Per capita $46 986 17
GDP nominal 2016 estimate
 •  Total $387299 billion 29
 •  Per capita $43 724 14
Gini 2014  276
low · 14th
HDI 2014  0885
very high · 23rd
Currency Euro € EUR
Time zone CET UTC+01
 •  Summer DST CEST UTC+02
Drives on the right
Calling code +43
ISO 3166 code AT
Internet TLD at
a ^ Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, Romani, Slovak, and Slovene are officially recognised by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages ECRML
b ^ Austrian schilling before 1999; Virtual Euro since 1 January 1999; Euro since 1 January 2002
c ^ The eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states

Austria i/ˈɒstriə, ˈɔː-/; German: Österreich , officially the Republic of Austria German: Republik Österreich,  listen , is a federal republic and a landlocked country of over 87 million people in Central Europe It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west The territory of Austria covers 83,879 square kilometres 32,386 sq mi The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 metres 1,640 ft, and its highest point is 3,798 metres 12,461 ft The majority of the population speak local Bavarian dialects of German language as their native language, and Austrian German in its standard form is the country's official language Other local official languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene

The origins of modern-day Austria date back to the time of the Habsburg dynasty when the vast majority of the country was a part of the Holy Roman Empire From the time of the Reformation, many Northern German princes, resenting the authority of the Emperor, used Protestantism as a flag of rebellion The Thirty Years War, the influence of the Kingdom of Sweden and Kingdom of France, the rise of the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Napoleonic invasions all weakened the power of the Emperor in the North of Germany, but in the South, and in non-German areas of the Empire, the Emperor and Catholicism maintained control During the 17th and 18th centuries, Austria was able to retain its position as one of the great powers of Europe and, in response to the coronation of Napoleon as the Emperor of the French, the Austrian Empire was officially proclaimed in 1804 Following Napoleon's defeat, Prussia emerged as Austria's chief competitor for rule of a larger Germany Austria's defeat by Prussia at the Battle of Königgrätz, during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, cleared the way for Prussia to assert control over the rest of Germany In 1867, the empire was reformed into Austria-Hungary After the defeat of France in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, Austria was left out of the formation of a new German Empire, although in the following decades its politics, and its foreign policy, increasingly converged with those of the Prussian-led Empire During the 1914 July Crisis that followed the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Germany guided Austria in issuing the ultimatum to Serbia that led to the declaration of World War I

After the collapse of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 at the end of World War I, Austria adopted and used the name the Republic of German-Austria Deutschösterreich, later Österreich in an attempt for union with Germany, but was forbidden due to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye 1919 The First Austrian Republic was established in 1919 In the 1938 Anschluss, Austria was annexed to Nazi Germany This lasted until the end of World War II in 1945, after which Germany was occupied by the Allies and Austria's former democratic constitution was restored In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the occupation In the same year, the Austrian Parliament created the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral

Today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 17 million, is Vienna Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $43,724 The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2014 was ranked 21st in the world for its Human Development Index Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, joined the European Union in 1995, and is a founder of the OECD Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, and adopted the euro currency in 1999


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
    • 21 Middle Ages
    • 22 17th and 18th centuries
    • 23 19th century
    • 24 20th century
    • 25 Post-war settlement
    • 26 Interwar period and World War II
    • 27 After World War II
  • 3 Politics
    • 31 Recent developments
    • 32 Foreign relations
    • 33 Military
    • 34 Administrative divisions
  • 4 Geography
    • 41 Climate
  • 5 Economy
    • 51 Energy
    • 52 Transport
  • 6 Demographics
    • 61 Largest cities
    • 62 Language
    • 63 Ethnic groups
    • 64 Religion
    • 65 Education
  • 7 Culture
    • 71 Music
    • 72 Art and architecture
    • 73 Cinema and theatre
    • 74 Science and philosophy
    • 75 Literature
    • 76 Food and beverages
    • 77 Sports
  • 8 See also
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links


Main article: Name of Austria First appearance of the word "Ostarrîchi", circled in red Modern Austria honours this document, dated 996, as the founding of the nation

The German name for Austria, Österreich, meant "eastern realm" in Old High German, and is cognate with the word Ostarrîchi, which first appears in the "Ostarrîchi document" of 996 This word is probably a translation of Medieval Latin Marchia orientalis into a local Bavarian dialect Austria was a prefecture of Bavaria created in 976 The word "Austria" is a Latinisation of the German name and was first recorded in the 12th century At the time, the Danube basin of Austria Upper and Lower Austria was the easternmost extent of Bavaria, and in fact of all the Germans, as at the time the territory of the former East Germany was populated by Slavic Sorbs and Polabians

Friedrich Heer, a 20th-century Austrian historian, 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; according to Heer, no- or nor- meant "east" or "easterns", whereas -rig is related to the modern German Reich, meaning "realm" Accordingly, Norig would essentially mean the same as Ostarrîchi and Österreich, thus Austria The Celtic name was eventually Latinised to Noricum after the Romans conquered the area that encloses most of modern-day Austria, in around 15 BC Noricum later became a Roman province in the mid 1st century AD Heer's hypothesis is not accepted by linguists


Main article: History of Austria Venus of Willendorf, 28,000 to 25,000 BC Museum of Natural History Vienna

Settled in ancient times, 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 Present day Petronell-Carnuntum in Eastern Austria was an important army camp turned capital city in what became known as the Upper Pannonia province Carnuntum was home for 50,000 people for nearly 400 years

"Heidentor" – Remains of the Roman military city of Carnuntum

After the fall of the Roman Empire the area was invaded by Bavarians, Slavs, and Avars Charlemagne, King of the Franks, conquered the area in AD 788, encouraged colonisation and introduced Christianity 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

The first record showing the name Austria is from 996, where it is written as Ostarrîchi, referring to the territory of the Babenberg March 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 was extinguished

As a result, Ottokar II of Bohemia effectively assumed control of the duchies of Austria, Styria and Carinthia His reign came to an end with his defeat at Dürnkrut at the hands of Rudolph I of Germany in 1278 Thereafter, until World War I, Austria's history was largely that of its ruling dynasty, the Habsburgs

Middle Ages

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, henceforth every emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was a Habsburg, with only one exception

The Battle of Vienna in 1683 broke the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe

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 His son Philip the Fair married Joanna the Mad, the heiress of Castile and Aragon, and thus acquired Spain and its Italian, African and New World appendages for the Habsburgs

In 1526 following the Battle of Mohács, Bohemia and the part of Hungary not occupied by the Ottomans came under Austrian rule Ottoman expansion into Hungary led to frequent conflicts between the two empires, particularly evident in the Long War of 1593 to 1606 The Turks made incursions into Styria nearly twenty times;, which some of them are cited as "burning, pillaging, and taking thousands of slaves"

17th and 18th centuries

The Congress of Vienna met in 1814–15 The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire

During the long reign of Leopold I 1657–1705 and following the successful defence of Vienna in 1683 under the command of the King of Poland, John III Sobieski, a series of campaigns resulted in bringing all of Hungary to Austrian control by the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699

Emperor Charles VI relinquished many of the 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 recognition 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

19th century

Austria later became engaged in a war with Revolutionary France, at the beginning highly unsuccessfully, with successive defeats at the hands of Napoleon meaning the end of the old Holy Roman Empire in 1806 Two years earlier, 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

An ethno-linguistic map of Austria–Hungary, 1910

It emerged from the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as one of the continent's four dominant powers and a recognised great power The same year, the German Confederation Deutscher Bund was founded under the presidency of Austria Because of unsolved social, political and national conflicts the German lands were shaken by the 1848 revolution aiming to create a unified Germany

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 newly formed empire was offered to the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV In 1864, Austria and Prussia fought together against Denmark and secured the independence from Denmark of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein But as they could not agree on how the two duchies should be administered, they fought the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 Defeated by Prussia in the Battle of Königgrätz, Austria had to leave the German Confederation and subsequently no longer took part in German politics

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 The Austrian-Hungarian rule of this diverse empire included various Slavic groups, including Croats, Czechs, Poles, Rusyns, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes and Ukrainians, as well as large Italian and Romanian communities

As a result, ruling Austria–Hungary became increasingly difficult in an age of emerging nationalist movements, requiring considerable reliance on an expanded secret police 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; and all national groups were entitled to schools in their own language and to the use of their mother tongue at state offices, for example

20th century

Archduke Franz Ferdinand right with his family

In 1908 Austria-Hungary found an excuse in the promulgation of the Second Constitutional Era in the Ottoman Empire to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip was used by leading Austrian politicians and generals to persuade the emperor to declare war on Serbia, thereby risking and prompting the outbreak of World War I, which eventually led to the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Over one million Austro-Hungarian soldiers died in World War I

Post-war settlement

Main article: Republic of German-Austria

On 21 October 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 30 October 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

This left the responsibility for the end of the war, on 3 November 1918, solely to the Emperor and his government On 11 November the emperor, advised by ministers of the old and the new government, declared he would not take part in state business any more; on 12 November German Austria, by law, declared itself to be a democratic republic and part of the new German republic The constitution, renaming the Staatsrat as Bundesregierung federal government and Nationalversammlung as Nationalrat national council was passed on 10 November 1920

German speaking provinces claimed by German-Austria in 1918 The border of the subsequent Second Republic of Austria is outlined in red

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 extent had been established in November 1918, creating new states and altering others Over 3 million German-speaking Austrians found themselves living outside the newborn Austrian Republic as minorities in the newly formed or enlarged states of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Italy These included the provinces of South Tyrol which became part of Italy and German Bohemia Czechoslovakia The status of German Bohemia Sudetenland later played a role in sparking the Second World War

The status of South Tyrol was a lingering problem between Austria and Italy until it was officially settled by the 1980s with a great degree of autonomy being granted to it by the Italian national government Between 1918 and 1919 Austria was known as the State of German Austria Staat Deutschösterreich Not only did the Entente powers forbid German Austria to unite with Germany, they also rejected the name German Austria in the peace treaty to be signed; it was therefore changed to Republic of Austria in late 1919

The border between Austria and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes later Yugoslavia was settled with the Carinthian Plebiscite in October 1920 and allocated the major part of the territory of the former Austro-Hungarian Crownland of Carinthia to Austria This set the border on the Karawanken mountain range, with many Slovenes remaining in Austria

Interwar period and World War II

Main articles: First Austrian Republic, Federal State of Austria, Anchluss, Nazi Germany, and History of the Jews in Austria § The Holocaust in Austria

After the war, inflation began to devalue the Krone, which was still Austria's currency In autumn 1922 Austria was granted an international loan supervised by the League of Nations The purpose of the loan was to avert bankruptcy, stabilise the currency and improve Austria's general economic condition The loan meant that Austria passed from an independent state to the control exercised by the League of Nations In 1925 the Schilling, replacing the Krone at a rate of 10,000:1, was introduced Later it was called the Alpine dollar due to its stability From 1925 to 1929 the economy enjoyed a short high before nearly crashing after Black Tuesday

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

In February 1934 several members of the Schutzbund were executed, the Social Democratic party was outlawed and many of its members were imprisoned or emigrated 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

Hitler speaking at Heldenplatz, Vienna, 1938

His successor Kurt Schuschnigg struggled to keep Austria independent as "the better German state" He announced a referendum on 9 March 1938, to be voted on on 13 March concerning Austria's independence from Germany On 12 March 1938, Austrian Nazis took over government, while German troops occupied the country, which avoided Schuschnigg's referendum taking place On 13 March 1938, the Anschluss of Austria was officially declared Two days later Austrian-born Hitler announced what he called the "re-unification" of his home country with the "rest of the German Reich" on Vienna's Heldenplatz He established a plebiscite confirming the union with Germany in April 1938

Parliamentary elections were held in Germany including recently annexed Austria on 10 April 1938 They were the final elections to the Reichstag during Nazi rule and took the form of a single-question referendum asking whether voters approved of a single Nazi-party list for the 813-member Reichstag as well as the recent annexation of Austria the Anschluss Turnout in the election was officially 995% with 989% voting "yes" In the case of Austria, Adolf Hitler's native soil, 9971% of an electorate of 4,484,475 officially went to the ballots, with a positive tally of 9973%

The liberation of Mauthausen concentration camp, 1945

Austria was incorporated into the Third Reich and ceased to exist as an independent country The Aryanisation of the wealth of Jewish Austrians started immediately in mid-March with a so-called "wild" ie extra-legal phase, but soon was structured legally and bureaucratically to strip Jewish citizens of any assets they possessed The Nazis called Austria "Ostmark" until 1942 when it was again renamed and called "Alpen-Donau-Reichsgaue"

Some of the most prominent Nazis were native Austrians, including Adolf Hitler, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Franz Stangl, and Odilo Globocnik, as were 40% of the staff at Nazi extermination camps Vienna fell on 13 April 1945, during the Soviet Vienna Offensive just before the total collapse of the Third Reich The invading Allied powers, in particular the Americans, planned for the supposed "Alpine Fortress Operation" of a national redoubt, that was largely to have taken place on Austrian soil in the mountains of the eastern Alps However it never materialised because of the rapid collapse of the Reich

Karl Renner and Adolf Schärf Socialist Party of Austria , Leopold Kunschak Austria's People's Party and Johann Koplenig Communist Party of Austria declared Austria's secession from the Third Reich by the Declaration of Independence on 27 April 1945 and set up a provisional government in Vienna under state Chancellor Renner the same day, with the approval of the victorious Red Army and backed by Joseph Stalin The date is officially named the birthday of the second republic At the end of April, most of Western and Southern Austria was still under Nazi rule On 1 May 1945, the federal constitution of 1929, which had been terminated by dictator Dollfuss on 1 May 1934, was declared valid again

Innsbruck hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics as well as the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics, the first in history The United Nations Office in Vienna UNOV is one of the four major UN office sites worldwide

Total military deaths from 1939 to 1945 are estimated at 260,000 Jewish Holocaust victims totalled 65,000 About 140,000 Jewish Austrians had fled the country in 1938–39 Thousands of Austrians had taken part in serious Nazi crimes hundreds of thousands died in Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp alone, a fact officially recognised by Chancellor Franz Vranitzky in 1992

After World War II

Much like Germany, Austria was divided into American, British, French and Soviet zones and governed by the Allied Commission for Austria As forecast in the Moscow Declaration in 1943, there was a subtle difference in the treatment of Austria by the Allies The Austrian government, consisting of Social Democrats, Conservatives and Communists until 1947, and residing in Vienna, which was surrounded by the Soviet zone, was recognised by the Western Allies in October 1945 after some doubts that Renner could be Stalin's puppet Thus the creation of a separate Western Austrian government and the division of the country was avoidable Austria, in general, was treated as though it had been originally invaded by Germany and liberated by the Allies

On 15 May 1955, after talks which lasted for years and were influenced by the Cold War, Austria regained full independence by concluding the Austrian State Treaty with the Four Occupying Powers On 26 October 1955, after all occupation troops had left, Austria declared its "permanent neutrality" by an act of parliament

Austria joined the European Union in 1995 and signed the Lisbon Treaty in 2007

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 characterised by Proporz, meaning that most posts of political importance were split evenly between members of the Social Democratic Party of Austria SPÖ and the Austrian People's Party ÖVP Interest group "chambers" with mandatory membership eg 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

Since 1945, governing via a single-party government has occurred between 1966–1970 ÖVP and 1970–1983 SPÖ During all other legislative periods, either a grand coalition of SPÖ and ÖVP or a "small coalition" one of these two and a smaller party ruled the country

Kurt Waldheim, an SS intelligence officer in the Second World War accused of war crimes, was elected President of Austria from 1986 to 1992

Following a referendum in 1994, at which consent reached a majority of two-thirds, the country became a member of the European Union on 1 January 1995

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 ex Dr Werner Fasslabend OVP in 1997 In reality, Austria is taking part in the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, participates in peacekeeping and peace creating tasks, and has become a member of NATO's "Partnership for Peace"; the constitution has been amended accordingly Since Liechtenstein joined the Schengen Area in 2011, none of Austria's neighbouring countries performs border controls towards it anymore


Main article: Politics of Austria The Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna The Leopoldine Wing of Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna, home to the offices of the Austrian president

The Parliament of Austria is located in Vienna, the country's largest city and capital Austria became a federal, representative democratic republic through the Federal Constitution of 1920 The political system of the Second Republic with its nine states is based on the constitution of 1920, amended in 1929, which was reenacted on 1 May 1945

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 and for the Parliament used to be compulsory in Austria, but this was abolished in steps from 1982 to 2004

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% 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 was convened on 30 June 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 Austria also implements the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, since the European Convention on Human Rights is part of the Austrian constitution

Recent developments

Federal Chancellery on Ballhausplatz

After general elections held in October 2006, the SPÖ emerged as the strongest party, whereas the ÖVP came in second, having lost about 8% of its previous polling Political realities prohibited any of the two major parties from forming a coalition with smaller parties In January 2007 the People's Party and SPÖ 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 SPÖ and ÖVP but together they still held 70% of the votes, with the Social Democrats holding slightly more than the other party They formed a coalition with Werner Faymann from the Social Democrats as Chancellor The Green Party came in third with 11% of the vote The FPÖ and the deceased Jörg Haider's new party Alliance for the Future of Austria, both on the political right, were strengthened during the election but taken together received less than 20% of the vote

In the Austrian Legislative Elections of 2013, The Social Democratic Party received 27% of the vote and 52 seats; People's Party 24% and 47 seats, thus controlling together the majority of the seats The Freedom Party received 40 seats and 21% of the votes, while the Greens received 12% and 24 seats Two new parties, Stronach and the NEOS, received less than 10% of the vote, and 11 and nine seats respectively

Foreign relations

Main article: Foreign relations of Austria The European Parliament Austria is one of the 28 EU members

The 1955 Austrian State Treaty ended the occupation of Austria following World War II and recognised 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 NATO's Partnership for Peace and subsequently participated in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia Meanwhile, the only part of the Constitutional Law on Neutrality of 1955 still fully valid 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 As an OSCE participating State, Austria's international commitments are subject to monitoring under the mandate of the US Helsinki Commission


Main article: Austrian Armed Forces

The manpower of the Austrian Armed Forces German: Bundesheer mainly relies on conscription All males who have reached the age of eighteen and are found fit have to serve a six months compulsory military service, followed by an eight-year reserve obligation Both males and females at the age of sixteen are eligible for voluntary service Conscientious objection is legally acceptable and those who claim this right are obliged to serve an institutionalised 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 Joint Mission Support Command Kommando Einsatzunterstützung; KdoEU and Joint Command Support Centre Führungsunterstützungszentrum; FüUZ Austria is a landlocked country and has no navy

Branches of the Austrian Armed Forces

Austrian Army
Leopard 2 main battle tank

Austrian Air Force
Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft

In 2012, Austria's defence expenditures corresponded to approximately 08% of its GDP The Army currently has about 26,000 soldiers, of whom about 12,000 are conscripts As head of state, Austrian President currently held jointly by three individuals due to the annulled 2016 election 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 Defence, currently Hans Peter Doskozil

Since the end of the Cold War, and more importantly the removal of the former heavily guarded "Iron Curtain" separating Austria and its Eastern Bloc neighbours Hungary and former Czechoslovakia, 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 and Slovakia 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 eg 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 and Kosovo

Administrative divisions

Main article: States of Austria

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, eg 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

Burgenland Carinthia
Lower Austria
Upper Austria
Salzburg Styria Tyrol Tyrol
Vorarlberg Vienna
State Capital Area
sq km
1 April 2015
GDP euro
2012 Eurostat
GDP per capita
Burgenland Eisenstadt 3,965 288,472 7311 bn 25,600
Carinthia Klagenfurt 9,536 557,754 1762 bn 31,700
Lower Austria Sankt Pölten 19,178 1,638,618 4975 bn 30,800
Salzburg Salzburg 7,154 539,612 23585 bn 44,500
Styria Graz 16,401 1,222,326 40696 bn 33,600
Tyrol Innsbruck 12,648 730,444 28052 bn 39,400
Upper Austria Linz 11,982 1,439,592 53863 bn 38,000
Vienna 415 1,805,681 81772 bn 47,300
Vorarlberg Bregenz 2,601 379,613 14463 bn 38,900


Main article: Geography of Austria Köppen climate classification types of Austria A topographic map of Austria showing cities with over 100,000 inhabitants

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 32,433 sq mi, only about a quarter can be considered low lying, and only 32% of the country is below 500 metres 1,640 ft The Alps of western Austria give way somewhat into low lands and plains in the eastern part of the country

Austria lies between latitudes 46° and 49° N, and longitudes 9° and 18° E

It can be divided into five areas, the biggest being the Eastern Alps, which constitute 62% of the 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 Range
7000100000000000000♠1 Grossglockner !Großglockner 3,798 m Tauern, High !High Tauern
7000200000000000000♠2 Wildspitze 3,772 m Otztal Alps !Ötztal Alps
7000300000000000000♠3 Kleinglockner 3,770 m Tauern, High !High Tauern
7000400000000000000♠4 Weisskugel !Weißkugel 3,739 m Otztal Alps !Ötztal Alps
7000500000000000000♠5 Poschlturm !Pöschlturm 3,721 m Tauern, High !High Tauern
7000600000000000000♠6 Hortnagelturm !Hörtnagelturm 3,719 m Tauern, High !High 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


The greater part of Austria lies in the cool/temperate climate zone, where humid westerly winds predominate With nearly three-quarters of the country dominated by the Alps, the alpine climate is predominant 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 −10 – 0 °C, summer temperatures can be relatively high, with average temperatures in the mid-20s and a highest temperature of 405 °C 105 °F in August 2013


Main article: Economy of Austria See also: List of Austrian companies Modern Vienna, Vienna International Centre with the United Nations Office at Vienna and the DC Tower 1

Austria is the 12th richest country 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 Since Austria became a member state of the European Union, it has gained closer ties to other EU economies, reducing its economic dependence on Germany In addition, membership of 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 reached 33% in 2006 At least 67% of Austria's imports come from other European Union member states

Austria is part of a monetary union, the eurozone dark blue, and of the EU single market

Austria indicated on 16 November 2010 that it would withhold the December installment of its contribution to the EU bailout of Greece, citing the material worsening of the Greek debt situation and the apparent inability of Greece to collect the level of tax receipts it had previously promised

The Eurozone crisis dented the economy of Austria in other ways as well It caused, for example, the Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International to be purchased in December 2009 by the government for 1 euro owing to credit difficulties, thus wiping out the euro 163bn of BayernLB As of February 2014, the HGAA situation was unresolved, causing Chancellor Werner Faymann to warn that its failure would be comparable to the 1931 Creditanstalt event

Since the fall of communism, Austrian companies have been quite active players and consolidators in Eastern Europe Between 1995 and 2010, 4,868 mergers and acquisitions with a total known value of 163 bil EUR with the involvement of Austrian firms have been announced The largest transactions with involvement of Austrian companies have been: the acquisition of Bank Austria by Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank for 78 billion EUR in 2000, the acquisition of Porsche Holding Salzburg by Volkswagen Group for 36 billion EUR in 2009, and the acquisition of Banca Comercială Română by Erste Group for 37 bil EUR in 2005

Tourism accounts for almost 9% of the Austrian gross domestic product In 2007, Austria ranked 9th worldwide in international tourism receipts, with 189 billion US$ In international tourist arrivals, Austria ranked 12th with 208 million tourists


See also: Wind power in Austria and Renewable energy in the European Union The Kölnbrein Dam in Carinthia

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 505% against nuclear power, 495% for, and parliament subsequently unanimously passed a law forbidding the use of nuclear power to generate electricity although the nuclear power plant was already finished

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 6289% of total use in Austria, with the rest being produced by gas and oil power plants


Main article: Transport in Austria


Main article: Demographics of Austria Children in Austria, near Au, Vorarlberg

Austria's population was estimated to be 872 million in April 2016 by the Statistik Austria The population of the capital, Vienna, exceeds 18 million 26 million, including the suburbs, representing about a quarter of the country's population It is known for its cultural offerings and high standard of living

Vienna is by far the country's largest city Graz is second in size, with 265,778 inhabitants, followed by Linz 191,501, Salzburg 145,871, and Innsbruck 122,458 All other cities have fewer than 100,000 inhabitants

According to Eurostat, in 2010 there were 127 million foreign-born residents in Austria, corresponding to 152% of the total population Of these, 764,000 91% were born outside the EU and 512,000 61% were born in another EU Member State

Statistik Austria estimated in 2011 that 81% or 675 million residents had no migration background and more than 19% or 16 million inhabitants had at least one or more parents of migration background There are more than 415,000 descendants of foreign-born immigrants residing in Austria, the great majority of whom have been naturalised

185,592 Turks including a minority of Turkish Kurds make up the second biggest single ethnic minority in Austria after Germans 25%, representing 22% of the total population 13,000 Turks were naturalised in 2003 and an unknown number have arrived in Austria at the same time While 2,000 Turks left Austria in the same year, 10,000 immigrated to the country, confirming a strong trend of growth Together, Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and Slovenes make up about 51% of Austria's total population

The total fertility rate TFR in 2013 was estimated at 142 children born per woman, which is lower than the replacement rate of 21 In 2014, 417% of births were to unmarried women The life expectancy in 2013 was estimated at 8004 years 7713 years male, 831 years female

Foreign-born population – top 15 countries:

The birthplace of foreign-born naturalised residents in Austria
Rank Nationality Population 1 January 2014
1 Germany 210,735
2 Turkey 159,958
3 Bosnia and Herzegovina 155,050
4 Serbia 132,553
5 Romania 79,264
6 Poland 66,802
7 Hungary 55,038
8 Czech Republic 40,833
9 Croatia 39,782
10 Slovakia 32,633
11 Russia 30,249
12 Italy 27,720
13 Macedonia 22,430
14 Slovenia 19,663
15 Bulgaria 18,481

Largest cities

Main article: List of cities and towns in Austria


Austrian German is Austria's official language and, according to the 2001 census, is spoken natively by 886% of the population including the 25% Germans who reside in Austria — followed by Turkish 2,28%, Serbian 2,21%, Croatian 1,63%, English 0,73%, Hungarian 0,51%, Bosnian 0,43%, Polish 0,35%, Albanian 0,35%, Slovenian 0,31%, Czech 0,22%, Arabic 0,22%, Romanian 0,21%, etc

The official language used in education, publications, announcements and websites is Austrian German, which is mostly identical to the German used in Germany but with some vocabulary differences The German language is standardised between countries of German mother tongue, ie, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as those with significant German speaking minorities: Italy, Belgium and Denmark The German population in Alsace-Lorraine in France has no minority rights Many local dialects are spoken in Austria, and though their base is Austrian German, their corresponding speakers have certain degrees of difficulty when trying to understand each other

The national and regional standard varieties of the German language

The Austrian federal states of Carinthia and Styria are home to a significant indigenous Slovene-speaking minority while in the easternmost state, Burgenland formerly part of the Hungarian portion of Austria–Hungary, there are significant Hungarian- and Croatian-speaking minorities 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 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 have been an officially recognised ethnic minority in Austria

According to census information published by Statistik Austria for 2001 there were a total of 710,926 foreign nationals living in Austria Of these, the largest by far are 283,334 foreign nationals from the former Yugoslavia of whom 135,336 speak Serbian; 105,487 Croatian; 31,591 Bosnian – ie 272,414 Austrian resident native speakers in total, plus 6,902 Slovenian and 4,018 Macedonian speakers

The second largest population of linguistic and ethnic groups are the Turks including minority of Kurds with a number of 200,000 to 300,000 who currently live in Austria The Turks and the Kurds are the largest single immigrant group in Austria, closely followed by the Serbs

The next largest population of linguistic and ethnic groups are the 124,392 who speak German as their mother tongue even though they hail from outside of Austria mainly immigrants from Germany, some from Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, Romania, or the former Soviet Union; 123,417 English; 24,446 Albanian; 17,899 Polish; 14,699 Hungarian; 12,216 Romanian; 10,000 Malayali; 7,982 Arabic; 6,891 Slovak; 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 numbers for other languages fall off sharply below 3,000

In 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 For the national rules, see Austrian nationality law – Naturalisation

Ethnic groups

Bilingual sign of Oberwart in Hungarian Felsőőr in Burgenland

Historically Austrians were regarded as ethnic Germans and viewed themselves as such, although this national identity was challenged by Austrian nationalism in the decades after the end of World War I and even more so after World War II Austria was part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation until its ending in 1806 and had been part of the German Confederation, a loose association of 39 separate German-speaking countries, until the Austro-Prussian war in 1866, which resulted in the exclusion of Austria from the German Confederation and the creation of the North German Confederation led by Prussia In 1871, Germany was founded as a nation-state, Austria was not a part of it After World War I and the breakup of the Austrian monarchy, politicians of the new republic declared its name to be "Deutschösterreich" Republic of German-Austria and that it was part of the German Republic A unification of the two countries was forbidden by the treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye as one of the conditions imposed by the victorious Allies of World War I upon the vanquished nation, to prevent the creation of a territorially extensive German state Along with the events of World War II and Nazism Austria as a country has made efforts to develop its own distinct national identity among its populace, and nowadays most do not consider themselves Germans, while a minority still feels German, a movement historically known as "Grossdeutsch", pointing to the fact that they consider historic boundaries of the German people going beyond the boundaries of the actual states Today 911% of the population are regarded as ethnic Austrians

Serbs form one of the largest ethnic groups in Austria, numbering around 300,000 people Historically, Serbian immigrants moved to Austria during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when Vojvodina was under Imperial control Following World War II the number of Serbs expanded again, and today the community is very large The Austrian Serbian Society was founded in 1936 Today, Serbs in Austria are mainly found in Vienna, Salzburg, and Graz

An estimated 13,000 to 40,000 Slovenes in the Austrian state of Carinthia the Carinthian Slovenes as well as Croats around 30,000 and Hungarians in Burgenland were recognised as a minority and have had special rights following the Austrian State Treaty Staatsvertrag of 1955 The Slovenes in the Austrian state of Styria estimated at a number between 1,600 and 5,000 are not recognised as a minority and do not have special rights, although some believe the State Treaty of 27 July 1955 states otherwise

The right for bilingual topographic signs for the regions where Slovene- and Croat-Austrians live alongside the German-speaking population as required by the 1955 State Treaty is still to be fully implemented in the view of some, while others believe that the treaty-derived obligations have been met see below 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" 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


Main article: Religion in Austria
Main Denominations in Austria
Year Population Catholics Percentage Lutherans Percentage
1971 7,491,526 6,548,316 874% 447,070 60%
1981 7,555,338 6,372,645 843% 423,162 56%
1991 7,795,786 6,081,454 780% 338,709 50%
2001 8,032,926 5,915,421 736% 376,150 47%
2011 8,430,558 5,403,722 641 % 319,752 38%
2014 8,573,000 5,265,757 614 % 309,173 36%

At the end of the 20th century, about 74% of Austria's population were registered as Roman Catholic, while about 5% considered themselves Protestants Austrian Christians are obliged to pay a mandatory membership fee calculated by income—about 1% to their church; this payment is called "Kirchenbeitrag" "Ecclesiastical/Church contribution"

The Basilica of Mariazell is Austria's most popular pilgrimage site View of Salzburg Cathedral

Since the second half of the 20th century, the number of adherents and churchgoers has declined Data for the end of 2014 from the Austrian Roman Catholic church lists 5,265,378 members, or 614% of the total Austrian population Sunday church attendance was 623195 or 1184% of the total Austrian population in 2005 The Lutheran church also recorded a loss of 47,904 adherents between 2001 and 2008 European Commission survey of 2012 indicates that a significantly higher 86% of the Austrian population is Christian and 77% are Roman Catholic

About 12% of the population declared that they have no religion in 2001; this share had grown to 20% by 2015 Of the remaining people, around 340,000 are registered as members of various Muslim communities, mainly due to the influx from Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo About 180,000 are members of Orthodox Churches mostly Serbs, about 21,000 people are active Jehovah's Witnesses and about 8,100 are Jewish

The Austrian Jewish community of 1938—Vienna alone counted more than 200,000—was reduced to around 4,500 during the Second World War, with about 65,000 Jewish Austrians killed in the Holocaust and 130,000 emigrating The large majority of the current Jewish population are post-war immigrants, particularly from eastern Europe and central Asia including Bukharan Jews Buddhism was legally recognised as a religion in Austria in 1983

According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2010,

  • 44% of Austrian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God"
  • 38% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force"
  • 12% answered that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force"

While northern and central Germany was the origin of the Reformation, Austria and Bavaria were the heart of the Counter-Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries, when the absolute monarchy of Habsburg imposed a strict regime to restore Catholicism's power and influence among Austrians The Habsburgs for a long time viewed themselves as the vanguard of Catholicism and all other confessions and religions were repressed

In 1775, Maria Theresa gave official permission to the Mechistarist Congregation of the Armenian Catholic Church to settle in the Habsburg Empire

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, Islam was officially recognised in Austria

Austria remained 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 Although Catholic and Protestant leaders initially welcomed the Germans in 1938 during the Anschluss of Austria into Germany, Austrian Catholicism stopped its support of Nazism later on and 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


Main article: Education in Austria Stiftsgymnasium Melk is the oldest Austrian school

Education in Austria is entrusted partly to the Austrian states Bundesländer and partly to the federal government School attendance is compulsory for nine years, ie usually to the age of fifteen

Pre-school education called Kindergarten in German, free in most states, is provided for all children between the ages of three and six years and, whilst optional, is considered a normal part of a child's education due to its high takeup rate Maximum class size is around 30, each class normally being cared for by one qualified teacher and one assistant

Primary education, or Volksschule, lasts for four years, starting at age six The maximum class size is 30, but may be as low as 15 It is generally expected that a class will be taught by one teacher for the entire four years and the stable bond between teacher and pupil is considered important for a child's well-being The 3Rs Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic dominate lesson time, with less time allotted to project work than in the UK Children work individually and all members of a class follow the same plan of work There is no streaming

Standard attendance times are 8 am to 12 pm or 1 pm, with hourly five- or ten-minute breaks Children are given homework daily from the first year Historically there has been no lunch hour, with children returning home to eat However, due to a rise in the number of mothers in work, primary schools are increasingly offering pre-lesson and afternoon care

As in Germany, secondary education consists of two main types of schools, attendance at which is based on a pupil's ability as determined by grades from the primary school The Gymnasium caters for the more able children, in the final year of which the Matura examination is taken, which is a requirement for access to university The Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education but also for various types of further education Höhere Technische Lehranstalt HTL = institution of higher technical education; HAK = commercial academy; HBLA = institution of higher education for economic business; etc Attendance at one of these further education institutes also leads to the Matura Some schools aim to combine the education available at the Gymnasium and the Hauptschule, and are known as Gesamtschulen In addition, a recognition of the importance of learning English has led some Gymnasiums to offer a bilingual stream, in which pupils deemed able in languages follow a modified curriculum, a portion of the lesson time being conducted in English

The University of Vienna The campus of the Vienna University of Economics and Business

As at primary school, lessons at Gymnasium begin at 8 am and continue with short intervals until lunchtime or early afternoon, with children returning home to a late lunch Older pupils often attend further lessons after a break for lunch, generally eaten at school As at primary level, all pupils follow the same plan of work Great emphasis is placed on homework and frequent testing Satisfactory marks in the end-of-the-year report "Zeugnis" are a prerequisite for moving up "aufsteigen" to the next class Pupils who do not meet the required standard re-sit their tests at the end of the summer holidays; those whose marks are still not satisfactory are required to re-sit the year "sitzenbleiben"

It is not uncommon for a pupil to re-sit more than one year of school After completing the first two years, pupils choose between one of two strands, known as "Gymnasium" slightly more emphasis on arts or "Realgymnasium" slightly more emphasis on science Whilst many schools offer both strands, some do not, and as a result, some children move schools for a second time at age 12 At age 14, pupils may choose to remain in one of these two strands, or to change to a vocational course, possibly with a further change of school

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 In 2001, an obligatory tuition fee "Studienbeitrag" of €36336 per term was introduced for all public universities There are some non-state exceptions to this, where students can still study for a subsidized education, for example within the campsus system of the The English Teacher Training College Since 2008, for all EU students the studies have been free of charge, as long as a certain time-limit is not exceeded the expected duration of the study plus usually two terms tolerance When the time-limit is exceeded, the fee of around €36336 per term is charged Some further exceptions to the fee apply, eg for students with a year's salary of more than about €5000 In all cases, an obligatory fee of €17 is charged for the student union and insurance


Main article: Culture of Austria


Main article: Music of Austria Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756–1791

Austria's past as a European power and its cultural environment generated a broad contribution to various forms of art, most notably among them music Austria was the birthplace of many famous composers such as Joseph Haydn, Michael Haydn, Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss, Sr and Johann Strauss, Jr as well as members of the Second Viennese School such as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, then an independent Church Principality of the Holy Roman Empire, though one that was culturally closely connected to Austria, and much of Mozart's career was spent in Vienna

World-famous Vienna State Opera

Vienna was for a long time an important centre of musical innovation 18th- and 19th-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 centre in the early 16th century, 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

Austrian Herbert von Karajan was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years He is generally regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, and he was a dominant figure in European classical music from the 1960s until his death

Art and architecture

Further information: List of Austrian artists and architects The Belvedere Palace, an example of Baroque 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 recipient of the 1985 Pritzker Architecture Prize Contemporary artist Herbert Brandl

Cinema and theatre

Sascha Kolowrat was an Austrian pioneer of filmmaking Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Josef von Sternberg, and Fred Zinnemann originally came from Austria before establishing themselves as internationally relevant movie makers Willi Forst, Ernst Marischka, or Franz Antel enriched the popular cinema in German language speaking countries Michael Haneke became internationally known for his disturbing cinematic studies, before receiving a Golden Globe for his critically acclaimed film The White Ribbon in 2010

The first Austrian film director to receive an Academy Award was Stefan Ruzowitzky A number of Austrian actors were able to pursue a career, the impact of which was sensed beyond national borders Among them were Peter Lorre, Helmut Berger, Curd Jürgens, Senta Berger, Oskar Werner, and Klaus Maria Brandauer Hedy Lamarr and Arnold Schwarzenegger became American as well as international movie stars The latter also became the 38th Governor of California Christoph Waltz rose to international fame with his performance in Inglourious Basterds, earning the Best Actor Award at Cannes in 2009, and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2010 and finally two Oscars Max Reinhardt was a master of spectacular and astute theatre productions Otto Schenk not only excelled as a stage actor, but also as an opera director

Science and philosophy

Further information: Austrian School, Vienna circle, and List of Austrian scientists Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis

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 19th century In the 20th 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 most noteworthy philosophers of the 20th 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 Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, Alfred Adler, founder of Individual psychology, psychologists Paul Watzlawick and Hans Asperger, and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl

The Austrian School of Economics, which is prominent as one of the main competitive directions for economic theory, is related to Austrian economists Carl Menger, Joseph Schumpeter, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek Other noteworthy Austrian-born émigrés include the management thinker Peter Drucker, sociologist Paul Felix Lazarsfeld and scientist Sir Gustav Nossal


See also: List of Austrian writers and Austrian 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, and Robert Musil, of poets Georg Trakl, Franz Werfel, Franz Grillparzer, Rainer Maria Rilke, Adalbert Stifter, Karl Kraus and children's author Eva Ibbotson

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

Food and beverages

Main article: Austrian cuisine

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 jam or custard, and "Strudel" such as "Apfelstrudel" filled with apple, "Topfenstrudel" filled with a type of cheese curd called "topfen", and "Millirahmstrudel" milk-cream strudel

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

Wiener Schnitzel

Typical Austrian dishes include Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten, Kaiserschmarren, Knödel, Sachertorte and Tafelspitz There are also Kärntner Kasnudeln, which are pockets of dough filled with Topfen, potatoes, herbs and peppermint which are boiled and served with a butter sauce Kasnudeln are traditionally served with a salad Eierschwammerl dishes are also popular The sugar block dispenser Pez was invented in Austria, as well as Mannerschnitten Austria is also famous for its Mozartkugeln and its coffee tradition

Beer is sold in 02 litre a Pfiff, 03 litre a Seidel, kleines Bier or Glas Bier and 05 litre a Krügerl or großes Bier or Halbe measures At festivals one litre Maß and two litre Doppelmaß in the Bavarian style are also dispensed The most popular types of beer are lager known as Märzen in Austria, naturally cloudy Zwicklbier and wheat beer At holidays like Christmas and Easter bock beer is also available

The most important wine-producing areas are in Lower Austria, Burgenland, Styria and Vienna The Grüner Veltliner grape provides some of Austria's most notable white wines and Zweigelt is the most widely planted red wine grape

In Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia, Most, a type of cider or perry is widely produced

Schnapps of typically up to 60% alcohol or fruit brandy is drunk, which in Austria is made from a variety of fruits, for example apricots and rowanberries The produce of small private schnapps distilleries, of which there are around 20,000 in Austria, is known as Selbstgebrannter or Hausbrand

Local soft drinks such as Almdudler are very popular around the country as an alternative to alcoholic beverages Another popular drink is the so-called "Spetzi", a mix between Coca-Cola and the original formula of Orange Fanta or the more locally renowned Frucade Red Bull, the highest-selling energy drink in the world, was invented in Austria


Main article: Sport in Austria Ski racer Franz Klammer won a gold medal at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck

Due to the mountainous terrain, alpine skiing is a prominent sport in Austria Similar sports such as snowboarding or ski-jumping are also widely popular Austrian athletes such as Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Franz Klammer, Hermann Maier, Toni Sailer, Benjamin Raich, Marlies Schild & Marcel Hirscher are widely regarded as some of the greatest alpine skiers of all time, Armin Kogler, Andreas Felder, Ernst Vettori, Andreas Goldberger, Andreas Widhölzl, Thomas Morgenstern & Gregor Schlierenzauer as some of the greatest ski jumpers of all time 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 The first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012 were held in Innsbruck as well

A popular team sport in Austria is football, which is governed by the Austrian Football Association Austria was among the most successful football playing nations on the European continent placing 4th at the 1934 FIFA World Cup, 3rd at the 1954 FIFA World Cup and 7th at the 1978 FIFA World Cup However, recently Austrian football has not been internationally successful It also co-hosted the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship with Switzerland The national Austrian football league is the Austrian Bundesliga, which includes teams such as record-champions SK Rapid Wien, FK Austria Wien, Red Bull Salzburg and Sturm Graz

Besides football, Austria also has professional national leagues for most major team sports, including the Austrian Hockey League for ice hockey, and the Österreichische Basketball Bundesliga for basketball Horseback riding is also popular; the famed Spanish Riding School of Vienna is located in Vienna

Niki Lauda is a former Formula One driver who was three times F1 World Champion, winning in 1975, 1977 and 1984 He is currently the only driver to have been champion for both Ferrari and McLaren, the sport's two most successful constructors Other known Austrian F1 drivers are for example Gerhard Berger and Jochen Rindt Austria also hosts F1 races Austrian Grand Prix; now held at Red Bull Ring, in the past also at Österreichring and Zeltweg Airfield

Thomas Muster is a former tennis player and one of the greatest clay courters of all time He won the 1995 French Open and in 1996 he was ranked number 1 in the ATP Ranking Other known Austrian tennis players are for example Horst Skoff, Jürgen Melzer and Dominic Thiem

See also

  • Austria portal
  • Tyrol portal
  • Vienna portal
  • Index of Austria-related articles
  • Outline of Austria


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External links

  • "Austria" The World Factbook Central Intelligence Agency 
  • Austria entry at Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Austria information from the United States Department of State
  • Austria at UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Austria at DMOZ
  • Information on Austria Sorted by regions Choose from 5 languages
  • Austria profile from the BBC News
  • Wikimedia Atlas of Austria
  • Geographic data related to Austria at OpenStreetMap
  • Key Development Forecasts for Austria from International Futures
  • Things to see and do in Austria
  • Federal Chancellery of Austria official government portal
  • AEIOU Austria Albums in German, English
  • Chief of State and Cabinet Members
  • Austrian Law Information on Austrian Law
  • World Bank Summary Trade Statistics Austria
  • Austriainfo Official homepage of the Austrian National Tourist Office
  • Austriamu Homepage of the Austrian Museums
  • TourMyCountrycom Website on Austrian culture, cuisine and tourist attractions
  • Europe Pictures – Austria

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