|Republic of Austria
||German, Slovenian, Croatian, Hungarian
|Form of government
||Parliamentary-democratic Federal Republic
||UTC + 1 CET, March to October: UTC + 2 CEST
|Telephone area code
The Republic of Austria, with an area of 83.870
km², is roughly twice the size of Switzerland, but has
only an insignificantly more population with 8.19
million residents. In addition to this neighbor in the
west and southwest, the central European landlocked
country has borders with seven other countries: likewise
in the southwest with Liechtenstein , in the south with
Slovenia and Italy , in the east with Hungary and
Slovakia , in the northeast with the Czech Republic and
in the northwest with Germany .
Mountains make up two thirds of Austria's land area.
The mountain ranges of the eastern part of the Alps
mostly run from east to west and are separated from one
another by wide and deep valleys. The northern Alps in
Austria are occupied by the Tyrolean Alps and the
Salzburg Alps. The Grossglockner rises in the Central
Massif of the Hohe Tauern, at 3,797 m the highest
mountain in the country. Immediately at the foot of the
Grossglockner is the largest glacier in Europe with 20
km² of ice and 9 km in length, the Pasterze. In the
south of the country are the Ötztaler, the Zillertal and
the Carnic Alps as well as the Karawanken, along which
the Austrian-Slovenian border runs.
The mountain ranges mentioned are broken through at
numerous points by passes. The most important and most
famous are the Brenner Pass in Tyrol, which is the
shortest connection from southern Germany to Italy, and
the Semmering Pass in the Eastern Alps.
Due to the numerous mountains, the average height of
Austria is 910 m above sea level. The lowest point in
Austria is 113 m to the northeast in Burgenland on Lake
Neusiedl. At 320 km², it is also the largest lake in the
country. To the east is the Little Hungarian Lowland and
the Pannonian Basin, which was a Roman province between
the Eastern Alps, Danube and Sava in Roman times. In the
north, a flat, undulating plateau landscape, which also
occupies Bohemia, extends into Austria. The plateau
reaches a height of up to 800 m above sea level.
Austria's most important river is the Danube, which
crosses the country in a northeasterly direction in the
north and includes almost all of the republic's rivers
in its catchment area.The only exception is the federal
state of Vorarlberg, whose water courses flow into the
Rhine. The country's capital, Vienna, is located in the
east of the country and also on the Danube.
Austria lies in the central European west wind zone
in the transition area from a continental climate to an
Atlantic one. In the mountain regions there is an alpine
climate with very high rainfall, short cool summers
alternate with long and snowy winters. In the flatter
parts of the country there are hot summers and cold,
The annual precipitation values show a west-east
gradient: they decrease from the outer edge of the Alps
towards the inside and are also dependent on the
respective height of the landscape. This means that
precipitation in the high mountains on the southern and
northern flanks of the Alps can reach maximum values
of up to 3,000 mm per year, whereas in the valleys in
the rain shadow only 600 to 700 mm per year are
measured. Statistics show an average of 935 mm per year
in Klagenfurt, 840 mm in Innsbruck and 660 mm in Vienna.
Also in relation to the three cities of Klagenfurt,
Innsbruck and Vienna, average temperatures in January of
-5 ¡ã C, -3 ¡ã C and -1.5 ¡ã C, in July they are 19 ¡ã C in
Klagenfurt and 20 ¡ã C in Innsbruck and Vienna.
Flora and fauna
Austria is one of the most forested countries in
Europe. Almost half of its total area is covered by
closed forest areas. Numerous forms of vegetation can be
distinguished: Beech-fir forests can be found in the
northern and southern limestone Alps, especially in the
north there is a subspecies of mountain pine, the
mountain pine. There are extensive spruce forests and
fir-spruce forests in the Central Alps. With increasing
height follow to the tree line at 1,500 to 2,200 m Swiss
pine and European larch, then there are shrubs, then
grass heaths and cushion plants.
A granite and gneiss area forms the foothills of the
Alps between the Alps and the Danube, the M¨¹hl and
Waldviertel north of the Danube and the hilly
Weinviertel with forest-free loess soil. In these
regions there are isolated oak-beech forests or pines
that covered the majority of the country until extensive
clearing. The small Hungarian lowland, on the other
hand, has a pronounced steppe flora.
Chamois, ibex, deer, roe deer, mountain hares,
marmots, capercaillie and black grouse, alpine
salamander and black adder are characteristic of the
animal world of the Austrian Alps. The endangered golden
eagle can also be found here. In the mixed mountain
forests, which lie a little lower, there are hazel
grouse, and a little higher the capercaillie. The
subalpine coniferous forests are home to the black
grouse, the ptarmigan is protected in the crevices in
the high alpine area. Numerous bird species - about a
hundred breeding bird species find their habitat in the
Alps - leave the alpine area in the cold season and
hibernate in the south.
Predatory game such as bear, wolf and lynx as well as
beard and griffon vulture were eradicated by the
advancing civilization in the lowlands as well as in the
more remote mountain valleys as early as the 19th
century, but today some of them migrate from the
countries of the former Eastern Bloc or are resettled.
Austria's population is 98% German-speaking; in
Carinthia is Slovenian, in Burgenland Croatian and
Hungarian are other official languages. About 91% of the
citizens are Austrians. Six nationally recognized ethnic
groups preferably live in the east and south of the
federal territory: Croatian citizens from Burgenland (a
small minority of Magyars still live in Burgenland),
Slovaks in the border area with Slovakia, Slovenes in
southern Carinthia and Styria, Czechs and Slovaks in and
around Vienna and Hungary and Roma. According to COUNTRYAAH,
over 73% of the
population are Roman Catholic, almost 5% Protestant.
Muslims make up another minority with 4%.
The majority of the population lives in the foothills
of the Alps and the Carpathian Mountains, in the Vienna
Basin ( more than 1.61 million residents in Vienna
alone) and the Austrian share in the Pannonian Lowlands
in the east. Other cities that are significantly smaller
than the capital are Graz with 227,000 and Linz with
185,000 residents. The population density is lowest in
Tyrol, Carinthia and Salzburg, 60% of the country's area
is unpopulated due to the extensive mountains.
At 79 years, life expectancy corresponds to the
European average; population growth is low (0.6%).
The Federal Republic of Austria is, according to the
constitution of 1920 in the version of 1929, a
parliamentary-democratic Federal Republic. The head of
state (Heinz Fischer since July 2004) is directly
elected as Federal President for six years, is
commander-in-chief of the armed forces and names the
Federal Chancellor (Werner Faymann since December 2008)
and the cabinet in accordance with the Chancellor's
proposals. The National Council and the Federal Council
form the Federal Assembly, which only meets to swear in
the Federal President and to decide on a declaration of
The representative body is called the Federal
Assembly and consists of the National Council with 183
seats and the Federal Council (State Chamber) with 62
seats. The members of the National Council are elected
directly for five years, the members of the Federal
Council are determined by the state parliaments
according to the proportional representation law.
Important parties in Austria are the Social Democratic
Party of Austria (SPÖ), the Austrian People's Party
(ÖVP), the Freedom Party (FPÖ), the Alliance Future
Austria (BZÖ) and the Greens.
Austria is divided into nine federal states: Vienna,
Lower and Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg,
Carinthia, Styria and Burgenland have their own
parliament with its own government, each headed by a
governor. The lower administrative units in the federal
states are the urban and rural districts.
Austria is a highly developed industrial country. As
a member of the European Union, it has been aligning its
economic system with that of the Community since 1995.
As one of the wealthiest Member States, Austria also
joined Economic and Monetary Union in 1999 and
introduced the euro in 2002.
Two thirds of the exports go to the EU, and Eastern
European nations are traditionally important trading
partners. Many industries and companies are medium-sized
and the majority are in the eastern parts of the
country. The most important branches of industry produce
in the areas of chemicals and vehicles as well as
machines and steel construction. Engine and transmission
production is particularly export-oriented, with an
export quota of 90%, but high-tech products such as
electronic components, chips and circuits are also
exported. In contrast, the importance of the food and
beverage industry has decreased.
Almost 5% of working Austrians are still active in
agriculture and forestry. Forestry (sawmills, wood
processing) in particular is highly developed due to the
large forest stocks, which occupy around 39% of the
state. Austria is one of the largest exporters of sawn
Existing resources of iron ore and non-ferrous
metals, oil and gas were and are the basis of industrial
development. In the meantime, the deposits are no longer
sufficient for the company's own needs and raw materials
have to be imported. Nevertheless, iron ores are still
mined in Styria and processed in steel factories near
Linz. Numerous hydropower plants on the many Alpine
rivers also enable the domestic production of more than
two thirds of the Austrian energy supply.
Another important economic factor is tourism, which
brings high foreign exchange earnings into the country.
Measured by the number of tourists arriving annually,
the country is among the top tourist nations in the
world. Tirol, Salzburg and Carinthia in particular are
primarily geared towards winter sports enthusiasts, but
also towards summer vacationers. Tourism also plays an
important role in the capital Vienna, with more than
twelve million overnight stays annually.