This fascinating country rich of history and traditions has succeeded in introducing modernity without destroying its pristine beauty. At the very heart of the European continent, Austria is a magic world suspended between the north and the south, with an open gate to the eastern countries.
Area: 83,858 km² -- Population: about 8 million -- Density: 96 per km² -- Government: federal republic -- Capital: Vienna -- Language: German -- Religion: the majority of the population are Catholic -- Currency: Euro -- Telephone code: +43 -- International car plate: A -- Internet suffix: AT -- Member of: the UNO since 1955, the EU since 1995
Austria is a federation of nine states: Burgenland, capital Eisenstadt; Carinthia (Kärnten) capital Klagenfurt; Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) capital St. Pölten; Upper Austria (Oberösterreich) capital Linz; Salzburg capital Salzburg; Styria (Steiermark) capital Graz; Tyrol (Tirol) capital Innsbruck; Vorarlberg capital Bregenz; Vienna capital Vienna.
Once the seat of the powerful Austrian-Hungarian empire, this land welcomes the visitor with that enchanted fascination of times gone by, accompanied by the well-known courtesy of its people. The landscapes change from the eastern prairies along the blue waters of the majestic Danube to the Alpine slopes covered with green pastures and forests, to the sunny vineyards and orchards of the south, where the largest spa area in Europe promises wellness and health.
Vienna is the heart of the country, with the many smaller mountain localities in strategical positions around. The mountainous territory explains why there are so many local dialects derived from the main South Bavarian group. A typical product of the Austrian textile industry is the loden cloth. Austrians are very proud and hard-working people. Their cuisine is rich of specialities, unique in the world. The best known are the "Strudel", a dough roll baked with fruit, and the "Sachertorte", a chocolate cake.
In the north it borders Germany and the Czech Republic; to the East Slovakia; to the south-east Hungary; to the South Slovenia and Italy; to the West Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It does not have access to the sea. The larger part of the territory is covered by mountains. The southern part is occupied by the Carnic and Atesine Alps. In the North there are the Noriche Alps and the Alti Tauri with their massif, the heighest summit in the country, the Grossglockner (3797 m). The main plain extends in the north of the country, while in the southeast there is the Hungarian Plain. The main rivers are the Danube, the Inn, the Enns and the Morava.
The southern part of Austria enjoys a temperate climate with alpine features, that is cool summers and cold winters. In the East along the Danube valley the climate is continental and less rainy.
Originally occupied by Celtic tribes, Austria became a Roman province. After the Roman occupation ended, Austria was invaded by a series of barbarian peoples: Bavarians, Slavs and Avars, Franks. Charlemagne called the area "marchia Orientalis", in ancient German "Ostmark", from which possibly the name derived. Later on, Austria was included in the Babenberg dominions during the 10th century AD. In 1278 it passed under Rudolf I of Germany, the ancestor of the Habsburg dynasty, who ruled Austria until the end of WW1.
Cities and places of interest
In the capital, Vienna, with over 1.6 million inhabitants, more than a fifth of the population is concentrated. The city rises on the banks of the Danube and many are the signs of the ancient Habsburg Empire: the Imperial Palace (Hofburg), the Cathedral of St. Stephen, the Theatre of the Opera and the Schonbrunn Palace.
Another important center is Graz, with its mechanical and weaving industries and an ancient historical center. And Innsbruck, the capital of Tirol, a region famous for its traditional costumes, interspersed with picturesque hamlets each with its own little church and pub, where time seems to follow a slower rhythm, and where on festive days, after joyous meals, the local musicians with accordions, long horns and yodeling songs accompany the powerful energetic male dances, while beer and drinks are served. Salzburg, the city where Mozart, one of the greatest musicians of all the times was born and whose house can be visited, every year organizes in summer one of the main European festivals of classical music.
An important resource for the country is winter tourism with more 3800 ski-tracks in over 900 skiing localities, among them the celebrated Kitzbühel, Innsbruck and Lech. For those who love nature instead there are the in Austria 37 Nature Parks, covering about 305,000 hectares, mainly in Lower Austria, Styria and Burgenland with fine itineraries in the peace of alpine nature, amid wonderful summits over 3000 meters high. And biking lovers will find here their paradise, the "Bike Trail Tirol" an itinerary over 800 km long, the longest uninterrupted biking trail in Europe.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg * Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn * Hallstatt-Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape * Semmering Railway * City of Graz - Historic Centre * Wachau Cultural Landscape * Fertö / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape * Historic Centre of Vienna