Austria – An Introduction for visitors

Austria is a central European country sharing its borders with 8 other European countries. It has Germany and Czech republic in the north, Italy and Slovenia in the south, Hungary and Slovakia to the east and Switzerland and Liechtenstein in the west. The capital is Vienna.

Official Languages in Austria – Hungarian, German, Slovenian and Croatian.
Terrain – Most of the country is mountainous – dominated by the Alps. It has only about 25% of its land as low lying.
Climate – Cool/temperate. The Alpine climate is predominant. In the plains along the  Denube valley region it is more continental with lesser rains. Summer highs range is 20-35 degrees Celsius.
Religion – Roman Catholics form the majority.
Austria Phone code is +43.

Because of the Alps, skiing is a major sport here. Other related popular sporting activities include ski-jumping and snowboarding.
Vienna has been a cultural hub in the medieval and early modern centuries. A number of famous composers were either based from Vienna or stayed in Vienna for a significant period of their lives. They include Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, Beethoven etc.

Modern Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy. After the WWII, Austria gained its independence and sovereignty from the Allies in 1955. The Anschluss (annexation of Austria into Germany in 1938) was revoked.  In the same year (1955) Austria declared permanent neutrality and also became a member of the U.N. It joined the European Union in 1995.

Austria, though a relatively small country, has produced an unbelievable number of world famous artists, composers, actors, writers, entrepreneurs, inventors, religious leaders et al. It would be impossible to list all of them. But some of the famous names that have their roots in Austria include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ferdinand Porsche (of car brand Porsche), Daniel Swarovski (founder of the crystals company, Swarovski), the Rothschilds (Bankers), Gaston Glock (founder of Glock –weapons manufacturing) Sigmund Freud, Marie Antoinette etc.

A drive across Austria is a very enjoyable experience. Everything looks so much “in place” and beautiful. It is difficult to imagine that this land has seen some horrendous atrocities during the world wars and Nazi era.