Austria on Europe map. Geographical facts about Austria
Map of Austria with cities and administrative borders. Where Austria is on the map of Europe.
Austria Fact File
Official name Republic of Austria
Form of government Federal republic with two legislative bodies (Federal Council and National Council)
Capital Vienna (Wien)
Area 83,850 sq km (32,374 sq miles)
Time zone GMT + 1 hour
Projected population 2015 8,368,000
Population density 97.4 per sq km (272.4 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 78.0
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 4.4
Official language German
Literacy rate 98 %
Religions Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant 6%, other 9%
Ethnic groups Austrian 90.9%, Croatian, Slovene, Bosnian, Serb 4.2%, Turkish 1.7 9 other 3.2%
Economy Services 64%, industry 34c agriculture 2%
GNP per capita US$ 27,700
Climate Temperate with cold winters and mild to warm summers; colder in mountains
Highest point Grossglockner 3,797 m (12,457 ft)
Map reference Page 294
The present borders of this landlocked Central European country date back to the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, which presided over the dismantling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Germany lies directly to the north of Austria's narrow western boundary, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to its west, and Italy to its south. At its wider eastern end Slovenia lies to the south, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, and the Czech Republic to the north.
Austria's history for most of the last seven hundred years is bound up with the fortunes of the archdukes and later emperors of the Habsburg family who ruled it, and at times much of the rest of Europe, from 1278 until the First World War. Roman conquest of most of present-day Austria was followed in the fourth and fifth centuries ad by invasions by Germanic and Celtic tribes and by the Franks under Charlemagne during the eighth century. The land fell to the King of Bohemia in 1252, only to be wrested from him by Rudolf of Habsburg just 26 years later. Rudolf called himself archduke and declared the title hereditary.
From then until the sixteenth century the Habsburg Empire expanded until it dominated much of Europe, including Spain (as well as its American colonies), part of Italy, the Netherlands, and Burgundy. Charles V, 1520-58, proudly stated that he ruled an empire in which the sun never set. During the sixteenth century Hungary and Bohemia came under Habsburg rule, and a Turkish siege of Vienna was repulsed.
Catholic Austria's forced capitulation to German Protestantism at the end of the Thirty Years War saw Austria take second place to France as the leading European power. However, it remained a significant force with dominion over much of Europe, despite its loss of control over Spain in the early eighteenth century, a debilitating War of Succession between 1740 and 1748, and defeat by Prussian forces in 1763.
Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Austerlitz was a low point for Austria, but upon Napoleon's defeat in 1814 Austria emerged as leader of a new German Confederation. Following the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Austria and Hungary were combined under Habsburg rule to form the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, it also meant that Austria lost its dominance in Germany to Prussia and ended up not being part of the German Empire that was created in 1871. The Austrian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 created the circumstances which culminated in the assassination of the
Landscape Liechtenstein, in the background Vaduz Palace (left page bottom). Belvedere Palace in Vienna, one of the political and cultural metropolises in Europe (above). Winter in Zell am See, Austria (right).
heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo in 1914 and the outbreak of the First World War. When the empire ended after the war, the Habsburgs were expelled and Austria became a republic bounded by its present borders.
Annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938 under the Austrian-born Adolf Hitler, Austria was part of the Third Reich until occupied by Allied forces in 1945. The Allies did not withdraw until 1955, when Austria was recognized internationally as an independent, democratic, and permanently neutral state. Today Austria is governed by a bicameral parliament elected for four-year terms. The president, whose role is essentially ceremonial, is directly elected for a six-year term.
Austria Physical features and land use
Almost two-thirds of Austria consists of the Alps, which sweep west to east across the country in a succession of ranges almost as far as Vienna. Much of the alpine area is characterized by snowfields, glaciers, and snowy peaks. About one-third of the country's population lives in the valleys between the ranges. Many passes such as the Brenner or Timmelsjoch have allowed people to traverse the mountain ranges of the
Alps since antiquity. To the north of the Alps, the lower, heavily forested mountains of the Bohemian Massif, which cover about one-tenth of the land area, extend across the borders of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Lowland areas lie along the eastern end of the Alps extending into Hungary, and in the Danube Valley in the north. Most of Austria's main transport routes traverse this northern "corridor," which links Germany with Vienna and countries farther east.
Almost all the arable land is in the northeast, and is divided between pasture and croplands. Root crops, such as potatoes and cereals, are the principal crops. There are also extensive vineyards which supply a significant wine industry. The main livestock are cattle and pigs.
Industry, commerce, and culture Austria
Austria is not rich in mineral resources, although it has some reserves of oil, iron ore, brown coal, and magnesite—a major resource in chemical industries. It imports most of the raw materials it needs for the manufacturing industries that form the backbone of its economy. More than 70 percent of electricity is generated hydroelectrically. Iron and steel-making are the principal heavy industries and are large export earners. Aluminum, chemicals, and food processing are also significant. Tourism, based largely on the many alpine ski resorts, but also on the cultural attractions of such cities as Vienna and Salzburg, contributes greatly to the country's economic well-being. There are about 18 million visitors each year.
Austrians are generally conservative in their social attitudes and financial habits. They are savers rather than spenders or investors and the country has a high proportion of its wealth in savings deposits. Much of the country's industry, including iron and steel, and energy production is nationalized and there is a well-developed system of state social services. Most Austrians enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, exceptions being the many refugees from the former Yugoslav republics who have entered the country during the 1990s.