Table of Contents
Way of Life
Vegetation and Animal Life
Austria, a small country in Central Europe famous for its gorgeous mountain scenery. The towering Alps, and the foothills stretch across the western, southern and central parts of the country. Broad green valleys, lovely mirror lakes and thick forest cover a good portion of the land. Austria with no coastline shares its surrounded borders with Liechtenstein and Switzerland to the west; Germany and the Czech Republic to the north; Hungary and Slovakia to the east; and to the south Italy and Slovenia. North-East is Vienna, Austria's capital and largest city, where about a fifth of the people live.
Austria has a population of about 7" million. Most Austrian's choose to live in the lower east areas of the country and just south of the Danube River. Also the capital and largest city, more than one and a half-million of the Austrian population lives in Vienna. Other cities with more than 100,000 people living in them consist of Graz, Innsbruck, Linz, and Scuzburg.
Austrians do not like being classified as Germans, Austria is basically Germanic in language and ethnic association. Some minorities include 40,000 Croats, 70,000 Solvenes, and a small group of Hungarians (11,000) and Czechs (5,000). Most Austrian's live south of the Danube River. Austrians enjoy an array of fine foods such as a Viennese Clich otherwise known as a Wiener Schnitzel, and many fine cakes and pastries. The average life expectancy for males is 72 and females 78.
In May and June Vienna hosts the Vienna Festival. This festival is a celebration of music, arts, and theater. Austrians have a great love for music, many of the greatest composers were born and played there, many like Beethoven and other popular composers. Operas are also very popular, and The Vienna State Opera House is the most popular for such an activity. Festivals play an important part of Austria. One festival takes place throughout the province of Tyrol, in the beginning of spring. People dress up and pretend to chase the evil spirits of winter away.
Way of Life
Most Austrians living in the cities live in four and five story apartments. Others live in single story homes, or high rises. Clothing is very much like the style here in the U.S. but Austrians tend to dress up more often. On special occasions Austrian's dress in the national dress, a green trimmed, gray wool suit with a coat and knickers for men, the women's dress consists of a dirndl; a peasant coat, a blouse, a wide Girdle, and a bright full apron. Austrians eat elegant foods and many exquisite desserts. Beer or wine is usually served with meals.
Austrians love the outdoors, and the many different physical features of Austria allow the people to enjoy many different types of sports. In winter Austrians enjoy ice skating, skiing, tobogganing, bobsledding, ice hockey, ski jumping, and curling, a game in which the players slide heavy stones along the ice toward a circular target. Summer sports include boating, fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, swimming, and water skiing. The people also enjoy biking, camping, picnics, and soccer.
Vegetation and Animal Life
Deciduous trees, including beech, birch, and oak, are very populated in the lower altitudes. In Alpine areas conifers extend all over. Bare rocks and grass slops continue to the snow line.
The boar, bear, wolf, and lynx have disappeared, but red deer, chamois, marmot, and grouse still live in the protected Alpine reserves. In the grassy flats gray goose, white tailed, and spotted eagles, and great white herons breed. In the village of Rust, white storks return annually to their chimney nests.
Around 400 B.C. Celtic tribes occupied Austria. Around 15 B.C. Rome took control from the Celtic tribes. After the collapse of the Roman Empire many different empires took control of Austria. In 955 the king of Germany, Otto I, took control of Austria, this empire later came to be know as the Holy Roman Empire. In 1806 the empire ended.
The Babenberg family controlled north-eastern Austria from 976 until 1246, when the last Bebenberg duke died without an heir and the king of Bohemia seized the region.
The Hapsburgs lost the Holy Roman crown in the 1300's, but a Habsburg was once again elected emperor in 1438. From then on, the Habsburgs held the title.
Between the 1400's and 1500's, the Habsburg emperors acquired new lands of Bohemia and Hungary, but their control was shaken by the Protestant Reformation in the 1500's and the Thirty Years' War of 1618 to 1648. During these centuries, Austria emerged as the chief state in the empire. The ottoman turks tried to drive Austria from Hungary and made two unsuccessful attacks on Vienna, but they were defeated in the late 1600's.
In 1806, after losing many battles in the Napoleonic Wars in the 1700's and 1800's, Emperor Francis II was forced to end the Holy Roman Empire.
During the 1800's, revolutions broke out across Europe. Austria's minister of foreign affairs, Prince Klemens von Metternich, tried to suppress al revolutionary movements in the Austrian Empire, but in 1848, revolutionaries demanded the establishment of a constitutional government and Metternich fled.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's, Slavs in Austria-Hungary demanded the right to govern themselves. Then, in 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Slavic nationalist movement in Serbia, killed Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungaraian throne. In response, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, which started Word War I. Germany, Britain, Francs, Russia, and the United States helped Austria Hungary in fighting.
In 1918, Austria-Hungary was defeated. The last Habsburg emperor was overthrown and the empire was slip into several countries. Austria became a republic. It adopted a democratic Constitution in 1920, but conflicting political parties struggled for supremacy. In 1934, members of the Austrian Nazi Party killed Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, and in 1938, German troops seized Austria. Adolf Hitler united Austria and Germany and led both countries into World War II in 1939.
After Germany was defeated in 1945, Austria was occupied by the Allies, and a government based on Austria's 1920 Constitution was established. In 1955, the Allies ended their occupation with the understanding that Austria would not be on anyone's side in a war.
Since the 1950's, Austria economy has grown steady, and the country has been politically stable. As a neutral nation, Austria has been the site of many international meetings.
Austrian's religions consist of 84% Roman Catholic, 6% Protestant, 6% Atheist, and 4% other. Austria and the pope have an agreement in which the Roman Catholic Church in Austria receives financial support from the national government. But Austrians have freedom of worship, Austria also has about 12,000 Jews, must of whom live in Vienna.
For quite some time Austria has been on the of the great cultural European countries. Austria has made some outstanding achievements in architecture, literature, and painting. Austria's most famous and important contribution to the western culture has been music. During the late 1700,'s and early 1800's Austria has released many Great Composers like; Joseph Hayan, Mozart, Schubert, Mahler, Wolf, and many more. Austria's state opera house presents opera 10 months of the year.
Architecture in Austria's has some of Europe's best examples of baroque architecture. This style has been dated back to the 1600's. Gold, marble, and wood has pleased the sense of many people. Painting and literature are also very important in Austria.
98% of the Austrian people speak German, the nation language. Different parts of the country speak various dialects of German. Only about a percent of the population speaks other languages. In Burgenland 24,000 people speak Serbo Croation and Magyar. In Carinthia 20,000 speak Slovene, and small groups in Vienna speak Czech or Slovak.
Education and Health
The Austrian literacy rate is virtually 100%. Between the ages of six and fifteen years of age, Austrian's are required to attend school. The school system gives eight years of elementary school. Outside of the rural areas, some students go to either a vocational school to train for a trade, or to a secondary school, where they prepare over an eight year period to enter a University.
Austria's standards for health care are very high. All citizens are covered by national health insurance. Vienna was Europe's greatest medical center in the early 20th century, known for the modern psychiatry under Sigmund Freud.
The official name of Austria is Republic of Austria, Austria has a Federal Government that is made up of provinces which include: Burgenland; Cariuthia; Lower Austria; Salzburg; Sytria; Tyrol; Upper Austria; the city of Vienna; and Volaryburg. All Austrians 19 years and older are permitted to vote.
Austrian's head of state is the President. The President serves a six year term. The President is allowed to serve as many terms as desired, but no more than two terms in a row. The President may not declare war, or veto a bill passed by parliament. The Chancellor and Cabinet run the Austrian Government. The President appoints the Chancellor which serves as head of Government.
Austria's political parties consist of the conservative People's Party and the liberal Socialist Party, the third largest party, The Freedom Party. In Austria, the supreme court is the highest court of appeal in civil and criminal cases. Special courts judge juvenile matters, labor deputes, etc. Austria's armed forces consists of approximately of 55,000 men. All men 18 years old, must serve a six month term in the army and additional time.
Altitude, wind, and mountains is the key to the climate in Western and Central Austria. A warm, dry wind coming from the south is called a Foen. A Foen can cause snow to thaw suddenly and result in an avalanche. Eastern Austria tends to have a harsher and much colder climate compared to the west. The east has cold winters, short moderate summers, and a bit of rain. The low temperature in four major Austrian cities can range between -3.3 degrees Celsius and 2.2 degrees Celsius. The highs for the summer can be between 17.8 and 20 degrees Celsius.
Austria's had a negative balance of trade since 1945, Although Austria has a large income from visitors. Austria imports transport equipment, heavy machinery, fuels, foodstuffs, and raw materials. Austria exports lumber, paper, pulp, textiles, iron, steel, electric power, and machinery.
The greatest natural resources in Austria is it's waterpower. "Much of the potential hydroelectric capacity, however, remains to be exploited" (Prodigy 1994) 40% of the land is taken up by forests, which is used for timber. The most important resources of Austria are magnesite graphite; iron; ore; lignite; oil, and natural gas.
"Two trends have characterized post war Austrian agriculture: a decline in the portion of the labor force engaged in farming and a decrease in small-scale farming, with farms of less than twelve acres either disappearing or being consolidated." (Prodigy 1994) Some of the leading crops include barley, wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, sugar beets, and corn. Meat production has risen sharply, and dairy farming is more than adequate to meet national needs.