Introduction Once the center of power for the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, Austria was reduced to a small republic after its defeat in World War I. Following annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938 and subsequent occupation by the victorious Allies in 1945, Austria's status remained unclear for a decade. A State Treaty signed in 1955 ended the occupation, recognized Austria's independence, and forbade unification with Germany. A constitutional law that same year declared the country's "perpetual neutrality" as a condition for Soviet military withdrawal. The Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 and Austria's entry into the European Union in 1995 have altered the meaning of this neutrality. A prosperous, democratic country, Austria entered the EU Economic Monetary Union in 1999.

Prehistory and the Middle Ages

Settled in prehistoric times,[8] the central European land that is now Austria was occupied in pre-Roman times by various Celtic tribes. The Celtic kingdom of Noricum was claimed by the Roman Empire and made a province. After the fall of the Roman Empire, of which most of Austria was part (all parts south of the Danube), the area was invaded by Bavarians, Slavs and Avars.[9] Charlemagne conquered the area in 788 and encouraged colonization and Christianity.[9] 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.[10]

The first record showing the name Austria is from 996 where it is written as Ostarrîchi, referring to the territory of the Babenberg March.[10] The term Ostmark is not historically ascertained and appears to be a translation of marchia orientalis that came up only much later.

The following centuries were characterized by the settlement of the country. 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 Babenbergers went extinct.[11] Otakar II of Bohemia effectively controlled the duchies of Austria, Styria and Carinthia after that.[11] His reign came to an end with his defeat at Dürnkrut at the hand of Rudolf I of Germany in 1278.[12] Thereafter, until World War I, Austria's history was largely that of its ruling dynasty, the Habsburgs.
Rise of The Habsburgs

In the fourteenth and fifteenth 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, from then on, every emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was a Habsburg, with only one exception.

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 Low Countries for the family.[13][14] His son Philip the Fair married the heiress of Castile and Aragon, and thus acquired Spain and its Italian, African, and New World appendages for the Habsburgs.[13][14]

In 1526, following the Battle of Mohács, Austrian rulers expanded their territories, bringing Bohemia and the part of Hungary not occupied by the Ottomans under their rule.[15] Ottoman expansion into Hungary led to frequent conflicts between the two powers, particularly evident in the so-called Long War of 1593 to 1606.

Austria as a European Power

The long reign of Leopold I (1657–1705) saw the culmination of the Austrian conflict with the Turks. Following the successful defense of Vienna in 1683,[16] a series of campaigns resulted in the return of all of Hungary to Austrian control by the Treaty of Carlowitz in 1699. The later part of the reign of Emperor Charles VI (1711–1740) saw Austria relinquish many of these fairly impressive gains, largely due to Charles's apprehensions at the imminent extinction of the House of Habsburg. Charles was willing to offer concrete advantages in territory and authority in exchange for other powers' worthless recognitions 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 became engaged in the war with Revolutionary France, which lasted until 1797 and at the beginning proved unsuccessful for Austria. Defeats by Napoleon meant the end of the old Holy Roman Empire in 1806. Just two years before the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806,[17] in 1804 the Empire of Austria was founded, which was transformed in 1867 into the dual-monarchy Austria-Hungary. However, in 1814 Austria was part of the Allied forces invading France and conquering it. Following the Napoleonic wars Austria emerged from the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as one of four of the continent's dominant powers (together with Russia, Prussia and defeated France). In 1815 the German Confederation, (German: Deutscher Bund) was founded under the presidency of Austria. Austria and Prussia were the leading powers of the German Confederation. Its central institution was the Bundesversammlung in Frankfurt. Because of unsolved social, political and national conflicts some of the German inhabitants took part in the 1848 revolution to create a unified Germany.[18] The Frankfurt Parliament in the St. Paul's Church elected the arch duke Johann of Habsburg as a Reichsverweser, an administrator of the German Empire. For a new German empire would have been possible three options: a Greater Germany Großdeutschland with the German-speaking territories of the Habsburg Empire, a Greater Austrian solution, Großösterreich, the German Confederation with the whole Habsburgian territories, and a smaller German solution, Kleindeutsche 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 parliament offered the crown to the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Austria grew out of Germany, Prussia grew in. In 1864 Austria and Prussia fought together against Denmark, to free the independent duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Austria and Prussia could not agree on a solution to the administration of Schleswig and Holstein, which led to the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. Austria, together with most of the other German states, was defeated by Prussia in the Battle of Königgrätz in Bohemia.[18] Austria had to leave the Germanic Confederation and subsequently no longer took part in German politics.[19][20] After 1871, it was one of two Empires: the German Empire to the north and Austria-Hungary to the south.

The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the Ausgleich, provided for a dual sovereignty, the empire of Austria and the kingdom of Hungary, under Franz Joseph I, who ruled until his death on 21 November 1916.[21] The German-Hungarian rule of this diverse empire included various Slav groups such as Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Serbs and Croats, as well as large Italian and Romanian communities. As a result, ruling Austria-Hungary became increasingly difficult in an age of emerging nationalist movements. Yet the central government tried its best to be accommodating in some respects; minorities were entitled to schools in their own language, for example.

World War I and its aftermath

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 by Gavrilo Princip (a member of the Serbian nationalist group the Black Hand)[22] was the immediate cause for the outbreak of World War I, leading to the downfall and the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. War left the country in political chaos and economic ruin, the Central Powers (being Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany and Turkey) having been defeated in 1918. The Empire was broken up - Austria, with most of the German-speaking parts became a republic (see Treaty of Saint-Germain) and the remaining subordinate territories became independent states. However, over 3 million German Austrians found themselves living outside of the Allied inspired borders of the Austrian Republic in the nations of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Italy. A particular large German minority was found in the newly-established Czechoslovakia with the entire historic German populations of Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia cut off from their motherland of Austria. Austria was also deprived of half of Tyrol, which was awarded to Italy as a prize for entering the war on the Allied side.[23] Austria has sustained this loss to the present day and this had been a major source of friction with Italy until the 1980's. Today the situation in South Tyrol is resolved, serving as a model for inter-ethnic and transnational cooperation in Europe.

Between 1918 and 1919, Austria was officially known as the Republic of German Austria (Republik Deutschösterreich). Many territories it claimed under its control included regions that were later assigned to neighboring nations. Not only did the Entente powers forbid German Austria to unite with Germany, they also forbade the name; it was therefore changed to the Republic of Austria.[24] The monarchy was dissolved in 1919 and a parliamentary democracy was set up under the constitution of 10 November 1920.

In the autumn of 1922, Austria was granted an international loan supervised by the League of Nations.[25] The purpose of the loan was to avert bankruptcy, stabilize the currency, and improve its general economic condition. With the granting of the loan, Austria passed from an independent state to the control exercised by the League of Nations. At the time, the real ruler of Austria became the League, through its commissioner in Vienna. The commissioner was a Dutchman not formally part of the Austrian government. Austria had fallen under an international receivership, which had not been seen openly since Lord Croner became the financial adviser to the bankrupt Khedivial Government of Egypt a little less than half a century earlier.

Austrofascism and the Third Reich
See also: Austrofascism and Austrian Civil War

The First Austrian Republic, lasted until 1933 when Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss dissolved parliament and established an autocratic regime tending towards Italian fascism, (Austrofascism) in order, partly, to check the power of Nazis who were still advocating union with Germany.[26][27] The two big parties at this time —the Social Democrats and the Conservatives— had paramilitary armies, which fought each other.[28] The "Heimwehr" (later integrated into the "Vaterländische Front") , the paramilitary arm of the Conservative party supported Dollfuss' s Fascist regime; the "Republikanischer Schutzbund", was the military arm of the Social Democrats which was outlawed in 1933 but still existed underground - civil war was to break out.[26][27][29]

After the Austrian Civil War in February 1934, several members of the Schutzbund were executed,[30] the Social Democratic party was outlawed and many of its members were imprisoned or emigrated.[29] In May of that year the Fascists introduced a new constitution ("Maiverfassung") which cemented Dollfuss's power but on 25 July he was assassinated in a Nazi coup attempt.[31][32]

His successor Kurt Schuschnigg, struggled to keep Austria independent (even a restoration of the Habsburgs was contemplated), but on 12 March 1938 German troops occupied the country[33] and established a plebiscite confirming union with Germany. Hitler, himself a native of Austria who had lost Austrian citizenship in 1925, proclaimed its Anschluss with Germany, incorporating it to the Third Reich. Austria thus ceased to exist as an independent state; the Nazis called it Ostmark[33] until 1942 when it was again renamed Alpen-Donau-Reichsgaue.

Just before the collapse of the Third Reich, the defeat of Germany and the end of the war in 1945, Karl Renner astutely set up a Provisional Government in Vienna in April of that year with the tacit approval of the Soviet forces,[34] and declared Austria's secession from the Third Reich.

After the defeat of Germany, Allied Occupation
See also: Allied-administered Austria

Much like Germany, Austria, too, was divided into a British, a French, a Soviet and an American Zone and governed by the Allied Commission for Austria.[35] Largely owing to Karl Renner's action on April 27th in setting up a Provisional Government, however, there was a subtle difference in the treatment of Austria by the Allies.[34] The Austrian Government was recognized and tolerated by the Four Powers. Austria, in general, was treated like it had been originally invaded by Germany and liberated by the Allies.

Although the Eastern part of Austria, including the greater Vienna area, lay in the Soviet Zone, the capital itself was equally divided into four occupational zones. Outside of Vienna, however, travel across zone borders, in particular leaving or entering the Soviet zone, was difficult and time-consuming if possible at all. During the time of the Berlin Air Lift, Soviet military pressure was increased further, but could be successfully overcome by skillful military, political and diplomatic influence on the part of the other Allies.

On 15 May 1955 Austria regained full independence by concluding the Austrian State Treaty with the Four Occupying Powers. On 26 October 1955 Austria was declared "permanently neutral" by act of Parliament, which it remains to this day.[36]

Recent history

The political system of the Second Republic came to be characterized by the system of Proporz, meaning that most posts of some political importance were split evenly between members of the Social Democrats (Labour Party) and the People's Party (Conservatives).[37]

Interest group representations with mandatory membership (e.g. for workers, businesspeople, farmers etc.) 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.[38] The Proporz and consensus systems largely held even during the years between 1966 and 1983, when there were non-coalition governments, but this era has now passed.

Austria today has five major political parties: The SPÖ (Labour Party) , the ÖVP (Conservatives) , the "Greens" (Environmental, social-liberal) and FPÖ/BZÖ (both right-wing, nationalist). SPÖ and ÖVP share about 75% of the parliamentary mandates, while the remaining 25% are divided between the other three parties.

Austria became a member of the European Union in 1995[39] and retained its constitutional neutrality, like some other EU members, such as Sweden. The major parties SPÖ and ÖVP have contrary opinions about the future status of Austria's military neutrality: While the SPÖ supports a neutral role in the EU (together with other neutral EU members like Sweden), the ÖVP argues for stronger integration into the EU's security policy; even a future NATO is not ruled out by some ÖVP politicians. Since the "permanent neutrality" forms part of the Austrian constitution, a two-thirds majority in the Austrian parliament would be needed for such a change in policy.

Geography Location: Central Europe, north of Italy and Slovenia
Geographic coordinates: 47 20 N, 13 20 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 83,870 sq km
land: 82,444 sq km
water: 1,426 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Maine
Land boundaries: total: 2,562 km
border countries: Czech Republic 362 km, Germany 784 km, Hungary 366 km, Italy 430 km, Liechtenstein 35 km, Slovakia 91 km, Slovenia 330 km, Switzerland 164 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: temperate; continental, cloudy; cold winters with frequent rain and some snow in lowlands and snow in mountains; moderate summers with occasional showers
Terrain: in the west and south mostly mountains (Alps); along the eastern and northern margins mostly flat or gently sloping
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Neusiedler See 115 m
highest point: Grossglockner 3,798 m
Natural resources: oil, coal, lignite, timber, iron ore, copper, zinc, antimony, magnesite, tungsten, graphite, salt, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 16.59%
permanent crops: 0.85%
other: 82.56% (2005)
Irrigated land: 40 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 84 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 3.67 cu km/yr (35%/64%/1%)
per capita: 448 cu m/yr (1999)
Natural hazards: landslides; avalanches; earthquakes
Environment - current issues: some forest degradation caused by air and soil pollution; soil pollution results from the use of agricultural chemicals; air pollution results from emissions by coal- and oil-fired power stations and industrial plants and from trucks transiting Austria between northern and southern Europe
Environment - international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: landlocked; strategic location at the crossroads of central Europe with many easily traversable Alpine passes and valleys; major river is the Danube; population is concentrated on eastern lowlands because of steep slopes, poor soils, and low temperatures elsewhere

Political system

The Parliament of Austria is located in Vienna, the nation's largest city and capital. Austria became a federal, parliamentarian, democratic republic through the Federal Constitution of 1920. It was reintroduced in 1945 to the nine states of the Federal Republic.[40] The head of state is the Federal President, 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.

The Parliament of Austria consists of two chambers. The composition of the Nationalrat is determined every five years by a general election in which every citizen over 16 years (since 2007) is allowed to vote to fill its 183 seats. A recent extension of that term from four to five years will become effective after the next election. While there is a general threshold of 4 percent 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[41] was convened in June 30, 2003 to decide upon suggestions to reform the constitution, but has failed to produce a proposal that would receive the two thirds of votes in the Nationalrat necessary for constitutional amendments and/or reform. However, some important parts of the final report were generally agreed upon and are still expected to be implemented.

Recent political developments

In February 2000 the conservative People's Party formed a coalition with the controversial nationalistic Freedom Party, headed by Jörg Haider. The (at that time) 14 other member states of the European Union - but not the EU itself - condemned Austria's new coalition and froze diplomatic contacts. These measures were commonly referred to as "sanctions" although they were more or less just motions of diplomatic unfriendliness. Given the controversy, Haider chose not to join the government, but he continued to wield influence from the sidelines. This was not, however, the first time that the Republic of Austria had displeased international opinion. In 1986, the population voted for Kurt Waldheim as president despite his revelation that he had been active in the Wehrmacht as an intelligence officer during World War II

In September 2002, the coalition between the People's Party and the Freedom Party dissolved after a shake-up in the Freedom Party. In November 2002, the People's Party made large gains in general elections again. After a lot of coalition talks with other parties, the People's Party again formed a government with the Freedom Party in February 2003 with Wolfgang Schüssel as Chancellor.

After general elections held in October 2006, the Social Democrats emerged as the largest party, whereas the People's Party lost about 8% in votes. Political realities prohibited any of the two major parties from forming a coalition with smaller parties. In January 2007 the People's Party and Social Democrats formed a Grand Coalition with the social democrat Alfred Gusenbauer as Chancellor.

Foreign policy

Main article: Foreign relations of Austria

The 1955 Austrian State Treaty ended the occupation of Austria following World War II and recognized Austria as an independent and sovereign state. In October 1955, the Federal Assembly passed a constitutional law 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.

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, contemplating participation in the EU's evolving security structure. Also in 1995, it joined the Partnership for Peace and subsequently participated in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia.

Austria attaches great importance to participation in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other international economic organizations, and it has played an active role in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Energy politics

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 50.5% against nuclear power, 49.5% for,[42] and parliament subsequently unanimously passed a law forbidding the use of nuclear power to generate electricity.

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 nearly 80% of total use in Austria. The rest is produced by gas and oil powerplants.

People Population: 8,199,783 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.1% (male 633,375/female 603,459)
15-64 years: 67.5% (male 2,781,291/female 2,749,539)
65 years and over: 17.5% (male 585,747/female 846,372) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 41.3 years
male: 40.2 years
female: 42.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.077% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 8.69 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 9.84 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.012 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.692 male(s)/female
total population: 0.953 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.54 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.56 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.21 years
male: 76.32 years
female: 82.26 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.37 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 10,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Austrian(s)
adjective: Austrian
Ethnic groups: Austrians 91.1%, former Yugoslavs 4% (includes Croatians, Slovenes, Serbs, and Bosniaks), Turks 1.6%, German 0.9%, other or unspecified 2.4% (2001 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 73.6%, Protestant 4.7%, Muslim 4.2%, other 3.5%, unspecified 2%, none 12% (2001 census)
Languages: German (official nationwide) 88.6%, Turkish 2.3%, Serbian 2.2%, Croatian (official in Burgenland) 1.6%, other (includes Slovene,official in Carinthia, and Hungarian, official in Burgenland) 5.3% (2001 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: NA
female: NA
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Austria
conventional short form: Austria
local long form: Republik Oesterreich
local short form: Oesterreich
Government type: federal republic
Capital: name: Vienna
geographic coordinates: 48 12 N, 16 22 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 9 states (Bundeslaender, singular - Bundesland); Burgenland, Kaernten (Carinthia), Niederoesterreich (Lower Austria), Oberoesterreich (Upper Austria), Salzburg, Steiermark (Styria), Tirol (Tyrol), Vorarlberg, Wien (Vienna)
Independence: 976 (Margravate of Austria established); 17 September 1156 (Duchy of Austria founded); 11 August 1804 (Austrian Empire proclaimed); 12 November 1918 (republic proclaimed)
National holiday: National Day, 26 October (1955); note - commemorates the passage of the law on permanent neutrality
Constitution: 1920; revised 1929; reinstated 1 May 1945; note - during the period 1 May 1934-1 May 1945 there was a fascist (corporative) constitution in place
Legal system: civil law system with Roman law origin; judicial review of legislative acts by the Constitutional Court; separate administrative and civil/penal supreme courts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 16 years of age; universal; note - reduced from 18 years of age in 2007
Executive branch: chief of state: President Heinz FISCHER (SPOe) (since 8 July 2004)
head of government: Chancellor Alfred GUSENBAUER (SPOe) (since 11 January 2007); Vice Chancellor Wilhelm MOLTERER (OeVP) (since 11 January 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers chosen by the president on the advice of the chancellor
elections: president elected by direct popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); presidential election last held 25 April 2004 (next to be held in April 2010); chancellor formally chosen by the president but determined by the coalition parties forming a parliamentary majority; vice chancellor chosen by the president on the advice of the chancellor
election results: Heinz FISCHER elected president; percent of vote - Heinz FISCHER 52.4%, Benita FERRERO-WALDNER 47.6%
note: government coalition - SPOe and OeVP
Legislative branch: bicameral Federal Assembly or Bundesversammlung consists of Federal Council or Bundesrat (62 seats; members chosen by state parliaments with each state receiving 3 to 12 members according to its population; to serve a five- or six-year term) and the National Council or Nationalrat (183 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: National Council - last held 1 October 2006 (next scheduled for the fall of 2010)
election results: National Council - percent of vote by party - SPOe 35.3%, OeVP 34.3%, Greens 11.1%, FPOe 11.0%, BZOe 4.1%, other 4.2%; seats by party - SPOe 68, OeVP 66, Greens 21, FPOe 21, BZOe 7
Judicial branch: Supreme Judicial Court or Oberster Gerichtshof; Administrative Court or Verwaltungsgerichtshof; Constitutional Court or Verfassungsgerichtshof
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for the Future of Austria or BZOe [Peter WESTENTHALER]; Austrian People's Party or OeVP [Wilhelm MOLTERER]; Freedom Party of Austria or FPOe [Heinz Christian STRACHE]; Social Democratic Party of Austria or SPOe [Alfred GUSENBAUER]; The Greens [Alexander VAN DER BELLEN]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Austrian Trade Union Federation (nominally independent but primarily Social Democratic) or OeGB; Federal Economic Chamber; OeVP-oriented Association of Austrian Industrialists or IV; Roman Catholic Church, including its chief lay organization, Catholic Action; three composite leagues of the Austrian People's Party or OeVP representing business, labor, and farmers and other non-government organizations in the areas of environment and human rights
International organization participation: ACCT (observer), ADB (nonregional members), AfDB, Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 9, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PFP, Schengen Convention, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNOMIG, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WEU (observer), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Eva NOWOTNY
chancery: 3524 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008-3035
telephone: [1] (202) 895-6700
FAX: [1] (202) 895-6750
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Scott KILNER
embassy: Boltzmanngasse 16, A-1090, Vienna
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [43] (1) 31339-0
FAX: [43] (1) 3100682
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and red

Austria's past as a European power and its cultural environment have generated a broad contribution to various forms of art, most notably among them music. Austria has been the birthplace of many famous composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss, Sr., Johann Strauss, Jr. and Gustav Mahler as well as members of the Second Viennese School such as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg.

Vienna has long been especially an important center of musical innovation. Eighteenth and nineteenth 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 center in the early 1500s, 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 was chosen after World War II to replace the traditional Austrian anthem by Joseph Haydn. The composition, which was initially attributed to Mozart, was most likely not composed by Mozart himself.

Austria has also produced one notable jazz musician, keyboardist Josef Zawinul who helped pioneer electronic influences in jazz as well as being a notable composer in his own right. Falco was an internationally acclaimed pop and rock musician.

Art and architecture
See also: List of Austrian artists and architects

Among Austrian artists and architects one can find painters Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele or Friedensreich Hundertwasser, photographer Inge Morath or architect Otto Wagner.

Science, philosophy and economics
See also: Austrian School and List of Austrian scientists

Austria was the cradle of numerous scientists with international reputations. Among them are Ludwig Boltzmann, Ernst Mach, Victor Franz Hess and Christian Doppler, prominent scientists in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth 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 greatest philosophers of the twentieth 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 psychologists Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, 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 Joseph Schumpeter, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek.

Other noteworthy Austrian-born émigrés include the management thinker Peter Drucker and the 38th Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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, Franz Kafka, and Robert Musil, of poets Georg Trakl, Franz Werfel, Franz Grillparzer, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Adalbert Stifter, and of writer Karl Kraus.

Famous contemporary playwrights and novelists are Nobel prize winner Elfriede Jelinek and writer Peter Handke.

Main article: Cuisine of Austria

Austria's cuisine is derived from the cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In addition to native regional traditions, it has been influenced above all by Hungarian, Czech, Jewish, Italian and Bavarian cuisines, from which both dishes and methods of food preparation have often been borrowed. The Austrian Cuisine is therefore one of the most multi and transcultural cuisines in Europe.

Typical Austrian dishes include Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten, Kaiserschmarren, Knödel, Sachertorte and Tafelspitz. There are also Kasnockn, a macaroni dish with fresh Pinzgauer cheese and parsley, and Eierschwammerl (chanterelle) dishes. The Eierschwammerl are the native yellow, tan mushrooms. These mushrooms are delicious, especially when in a thick Austrian soup, or on regular meals.

The candy PEZ was invented in Austria. Austria is also famous for its Apfelstrudel.


The most popular sport in Austria is alpine skiing and Austria shows constant dominance in the Nations-Cup. Similar sports such as snowboarding or ski-jumping are also widely popular. The most popular team sport in Austria is football. However, Austria rarely has international success in this discipline, though the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship is jointly being held with Switzerland. Besides football, Austria also has professional national leagues for most major team sports including ice hockey and basketball.

Economy Economy - overview: Austria, with its well-developed market economy and high standard of living, is closely tied to other EU economies, especially Germany's. The Austrian economy also benefits greatly from strong commercial relations, especially in the banking and insurance sectors, with central, eastern, and southeastern Europe. The economy features a large service sector, a sound industrial sector, and a small, but highly developed agricultural sector. Membership in the EU has drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by Austria's access to the single European market and proximity to the new EU economies. The outgoing government has successfully pursued a comprehensive economic reform program, aimed at streamlining government and creating a more competitive business environment, further strengthening Austria's attractiveness as an investment location. It has implemented effective pension reforms; however, lower taxes in 2005-06 led to a small budget deficit in 2006 and 2007. Boosted by strong exports, growth nevertheless reached 3.3% in both 2006 and 2007, although the economy may slow in 2008 because of the strong euro, high oil prices, and problems in international financial markets. To meet increased competition - especially from new EU members and Central European countries - Austria will need to continue restructuring, emphasizing knowledge-based sectors of the economy, and encouraging greater labor flexibility and greater labor participation by its aging population.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $319.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $366.7 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3.3% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $39,000 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.6%
industry: 30.4%
services: 67.3% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 3.56 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 3%
industry: 27%
services: 70% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate: 4.3% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 5.9% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.3%
highest 10%: 22.5% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 26 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.9% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 21.4% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $176.4 billion
expenditures: $178.3 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 61% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: grains, potatoes, sugar beets, wine, fruit; dairy products, cattle, pigs, poultry; lumber
Industries: construction, machinery, vehicles and parts, food, metals, chemicals, lumber and wood processing, paper and paperboard, communications equipment, tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 2.5% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 61.02 billion kWh (2005 est.)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 29.3%
hydro: 67.2%
nuclear: 0%
other: 3.5% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 60.25 billion kWh (2005 est.)
Electricity - exports: 17.73 billion kWh (2005 est.)
Electricity - imports: 20.4 billion kWh (2005 est.)
Oil - production: 23,320 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - consumption: 295,100 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 34,680 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 157,500 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - proved reserves: 62 million bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 1.57 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - consumption: 9.217 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - exports: 936.1 million cu m (2005)
Natural gas - imports: 9.063 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 14.39 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $12.61 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $158.3 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and parts, paper and paperboard, metal goods, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partners: Germany 30.2%, Italy 9%, US 5.8%, Switzerland 4.7% (2006)
Imports: $157.4 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, metal goods, oil and oil products; foodstuffs
Imports - partners: Germany 45.5%, Italy 7%, Switzerland 4.5%, Netherlands 4.1% (2006)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $681 million (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $12.91 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external: $752.5 billion (30 June 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $66.32 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $74.89 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $126.3 billion (2005)
Currency (code): euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code: EUR
Exchange rates: euros per US dollar - 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004), 0.886 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 3.564 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 9.255 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: highly developed and efficient
domestic: fixed-line subscribership has been in decline since the mid-1990s with mobile-cellular subscribership elipsing it by the late 1990s; the fiber-optic net is very extensive; all telephone applications and Internet services are available
international: country code - 43; satellite earth stations - 15; in addition, there are about 600 VSATs (very small aperture terminals) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 65 (plus several hundred repeaters), shortwave 1 (2001)
Radios: 6.08 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 10 (plus more than 1,000 repeaters) (2001)
Televisions: 4.25 million (1997)
Internet country code: .at
Internet hosts: 2.427 million (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 37 (2000)
Internet users: 4.2 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 55 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 25
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 15 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 30
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 26 (2007)
Heliports: 1 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 2,722 km; oil 663 km; refined products 157 km (2007)
Railways: total: 6,383 km
standard gauge: 5,924 km 1.435-m gauge (3,772 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 371 km 1.000-m gauge; 88 km 0.760-m gauge (25 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways: total: 133,718 km
paved: 133,718 km (includes 1,677 km of expressways) (2003)
Waterways: 358 km (2007)
Merchant marine: total: 7 ships (1000 GRT or over) 31,705 GRT/40,627 DWT
by type: cargo 5, container 2
foreign-owned: 2 (Netherlands 2)
registered in other countries: 4 (Cyprus 1, Malta 1, St Vincent and The Grenadines 2) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Enns, Krems, Linz, Vienna
Military Military branches: Land Forces (KdoLdSK), Air Forces (KdoLuSK)
Military service age and obligation: 18-35 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age for male or female voluntary service; service obligation 7 months of training, followed by an 8-year reserve obligation (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 1,914,800
females age 18-49: 1,870,134 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 1,550,441
females age 18-49: 1,515,365 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 48,967
females age 18-49: 46,633 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 0.9% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: in 2006, Austrian public protests for the Czech Republic to close the Temelin nuclear power plant resulted in a parliamentary motion threatening international legal action
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine destined for Western Europe; increasing consumption of European-produced synthetic drugs