Republik Österreich
Republic of Austria
Flag of Austria Coat of arms of Austria
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: none
Anthem: Land der Berge, Land am Strome
(German for "Land of Mountains, Land on the River")
Capital Vienna
Largest city Vienna
Official language German 1
Government Republic
 - President Heinz Fischer
 - Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer
 - Austrian State Treaty in force July 27 1955 
 - Declaration of Neutrality October 26 1955 
Accession to EU January 1, 1995
 - Total 83,871 km² (115th)
32,378 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 1.3
 - 2006 estimate 8,292,322 (92nd)
 - 2001 census 8,032,926
 - Density 99/km² (99th)
256/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $275.02 billion (34th)
 - Per capita $33,615 (8th)
GDP (nominal) 2005 estimate
 - Total $307.07 billion (23rd)
 - Per capita $37,117 (12th)
HDI  (2004) 0.944 (high) (14th)
Currency Euro (€) 2 (EUR)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Internet TLD .at 3
Calling code +43 (details)
1 Slovenian, Croatian, Hungarian are officially recognised regional languages and Austrian Sign Language is a protected minority language throughout the country.
2 Prior to 1999: Austrian Schilling.
3 The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Austria (German: Österreich, see also other languages) is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It borders Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. Its capital city is Vienna.

The origins of the modern Austria date back to the 9th century when the countryside of upper and lower Austria was increasingly populated. The name "Ostarrichi" is first documented in an official document from 996. Since then this word has developed into the German word "Österreich."

Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy consisting of nine federal states and is one of six European countries that have declared permanent neutrality and one of the few countries that includes the concept of everlasting neutrality in their constitution. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955 and joined the European Union in 1995.



Origin and history of the name

The German name Österreich can be translated into English as the "eastern empire", which is derived from the Old German Ostarrîchi. The name was Latinized as "Austria", so it has no etymological connection with the name of Australia (which correctly means The South). Reich can also mean "empire", and this connotation is the one that is understood in the context of the Austrian/Austro-Hungarian Empire, Holy Roman Empire, although not in the context of the modern Republic of Österreich. The term probably originates in a vernacular translation of the Medieval Latin name for the region: Marchia orientalis, which translates as "eastern borderland", as it was situated at the eastern edge of the Holy Roman Empire, that was also mirrored in the name Ostmark, for a short period applied after Anschluss to Germany.

The current official designation is the Republic of Austria (Republik Österreich). It was originally known after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1918 as the Republic of German Austria (Republik Deutschösterreich), but the state was forced to change its name to "Republic of Austria" in 1919 peace Treaty of Saint-Germain. The name was changed again during the Austro-fascist regime (1934–1938), into Federal State of Austria (Bundesstaat Österreich), but restored after regaining independence and the birth of the Second Austrian Republic (1955–present).

During the monarchy, Austria was known as the Austrian Empire (Kaisertum Österreich), however no official designation existed since the empire was strongly multiethnic. After the Ausgleich with Hungary in 1867, the empire became known as Austria-Hungary in reflection of the dual monarchy character. Some historians argue that the term The Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of St. Stephen (Die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und Länder und die Länder der heiligen ungarischen Stephanskrone) was the correct official name for Austria-Hungary.




Prehistory and middle ages

Coats of arms of the Habsburg Emperor
Coats of arms of the Habsburg Emperor

Settled in prehistoric times, the central European land that is now Austria was overrun in pre-Roman times by various tribes, including the Celts. After the fall of the Roman Empire, of which most of Austria was part (all parts below the Danube), the area was invaded by Bavarians, Slavs and Avars. Charlemagne conquered the area in 788 and encouraged colonization and Christianity. As part of Eastern Francia, the core areas that now encompass Austria were bequested to house of Babenberg. The area was known as the marchia orientalis and was given to Leopold of Babenberg in 976.

The first record showing the name Austria is 996 were it is written as Ostarrîchi, referring to the territory of the Babenberg March. 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 first 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 slaughter of his son Frederick II in 1246, the line of the Babenbergers went extinct. Otakar III of Bohemia effectively controlled the duchies of Austria, Styria and Carinthia after his death. His reign came to a end with his defeat at Dürnkrut at the hand of Rudolf of Habsburg in 1278. Thereafter, until World War I, Austria's history was largely that of its ruling house, the Hapsburgs.


Rise of Austria to a World Power

In the 14th and 15th 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, the Archduke Maximilian, only son of Emperor Frederick III, married the heiress of Burgundy, thus acquiring most of the Low Countries for the family. 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.

In 1526, following the Battle of Mohács, Austria expanded his territories, bringing Bohemia and that part of Hungary not occupied by the Ottomans under his rule. Habsburg expansion into Hungary, however, led to frequent conflicts with the Turks, particularly the so-called Long War of 1593 to 1606.


Austria as a world power

See also Congress of Vienna, Ausgleich and Austria-Hungary

The Congress of Vienna by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, 1819.
The Congress of Vienna by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, 1819.

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, a series of campaigns resulted in the return of all of Hungary to Austrian control by the Treaty of Carlowitz in 1699.

The latter 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.

Austria became engaged in the war with Revolutionary France, which lasted until 1797 and at the beginning proved unsuccessful for Austria. Defeats against 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, 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 Napoleon wars Austria emerged from the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as one of three of the continent's dominant powers (together with Russia and Prussia).

The Ausgleich of 1867 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. The Austrian-Hungarian minority rule of this immensely diverse empire, which included German, Czech, Romanian, Serbian, and many other lands, became increasingly difficult in an age of emerging nationalist movements.


World War I and aftermath

When Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo in 1914, World War I, as well as the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, began. During World War I, Austria-Hungary was one of the Central powers with Germany, Bulgaria, and Turkey, and the conflict left the country in political chaos and economic ruin. Austria, shorn of Hungary, was proclaimed a republic in 1918. The empire was split into several independent states in after the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, with most of the German-speaking parts becoming a republic. (See Treaty of Saint-Germain.)

Between 1918 and 1919 it was officially known as the Republic of German Austria (Republik Deutschösterreich). After the Entente powers forbade German Austria to unite with Germany, they also forbade the name, and then it was changed to simply Republic of Austria.

The monarchy was dissolved in 1919. A parliamentary democracy was set up by the constitution of 10 November 1920.


Austrofascism and the Third Reich

German troops march into Austria on 12 March 1938.
German troops march into Austria on 12 March 1938.

This democratic republic, the First Austrian Republic, lasted until 1933 when the chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß established an autocratic regime oriented towards Italian fascism (Austrofascism) to check the power of Nazis advocating union with Germany, Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, but he was assassinated by the Nazis on 25 July 1934. Kurt Schuschnigg, his successor, struggled to keep Austria independent, but on 12 March 1938, German troops occupied the country, and Hitler proclaimed its Anschluss with Germany, annexing it to the Third Reich.

After World War II, the United States and Britain declared the Austrians a “liberated” people, but the Russians prolonged the occupation. Finally Austria concluded a state treaty with the USSR and the other occupying powers and regained its independence on 15 May 1955. The second Austrian republic, established 19 December 1945, on the basis of the 1920 constitution (amended in 1929), was declared by the federal parliament to be permanently neutral.


Recent History

The political system of the Second Republic came to be characterized by the system of Proporz, meaning that posts of some political importance were split evenly between members of the Social Democrats and People's Party. 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. The Proporz and consensus systems largely held even during the years between 1966 and 1983, when there were non-coalition governments.

Austria became a member of the European Union in 1995, but it retained its strict constitutional neutrality and forbade the stationing of foreign troops on its soil.




Political System

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. The head of state is the Federal President, who is directly elected. 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 four years by a free general election in which every citizen is allowed to vote to fill its 183 seats. A "Four Percent Hurdle" prevents a large splintering of the political landscape in the Nationalrat by awarding seats only to political parties that have obtained at least a four percent threshold of the general vote, or alternatively, have won 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 most cases — pass the respective bill a second time bypassing the Bundesrat altogether). A convention, called the Österreich–Konvent [1] 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 far-right Freedom Party, headed by Jörg Haider. The European Union condemned Austria's new coalition, froze diplomatic contacts, which were commonly referred to "sanctions", although they were more or less dipomatic unfriendliness. Given the controversy, Haider chose not to join the government, but he continued to wield influence from the sidelines.

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. After failed coalition talks with other parties, the People's Party again formed a government with the Freedom Party in February 2003.

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. Poltical realities prohibited any of the two major parties to form a colation with smaller parties. In January 2007 the People's Party and Social Democrats formed a Grand Coalition with the social democraft Alfred Gusenbauer as Chancellor.


Legal System


Foreign Policy

See Foreign relations of Austria

The 1955 Austrian State Treaty ended the occupation of Austrian 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 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



For the main article see Military of Austria

The main branches of the Austrian Army ("Bundesheer") are Land Forces (Kommando Landstreitkräfte; KdoLaSK), Air Forces (Kommando Luftstreitkräfte; KdoLuSK), Mission Support (Kommando Einsatzunterstützung; KdoEU), International Missions (Kommando Internationale Einsätze; KdoIE), Command Support (Kommando Führungsunterstützung; KdoFüU) and Special Forces (Kommando Spezialeinsatzkräfte; KdoSEK). In 2004 Austria expensed about 0.9% of its GDP for defense. The Army currently has about 35,000 soldiers, of which about half are conscripts. In peacetime the Bundesheer is commanded by the Minister of Defense, currently Norbert Darabos, in times of war the Austrian President, currently Heinz Fischer becomes head of the Army.

With the end of the Cold War, the Austrian military has increasingly assisted the border police in controlling the influx of illegal immigrants through Austrian borders. Austria has been engaged in UN peacekeeping missions despite its neutrality. Currently larger contigents of Austrian forces are deployed in Kosovo and the Golan heights.


Administrative divisions

A federal republic, Austria is divided into nine states, (German: Bundesländer). These states are divided into districts (Bezirke) and cities (Statutarstädte). Districts are subdivided into municipalities (Gemeinden). Cities have the competencies otherwise granted to both districts and municipalities. The states are not mere administrative divisions, but have some distinct legislative authority separate from the federal government.

State (Bundesland) Capital Population [2] (Rank)
The States of Austria
1 Burgenland Eisenstadt 280,350 (9.)
2 Carinthia (Kärnten) Klagenfurt 560,753 (6.)
3 Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) St. Pölten 1,588,545 (2.)
4 Upper Austria (Oberösterreich) Linz 1.405.986 (3.)
5 Salzburg Salzburg 529,085 (7.)
6 Styria (Steiermark) Graz 1,203,986 (4.)
7 Tyrol (Tirol) Innsbruck 698,472 (5.)
8 Vorarlberg Bregenz 364,611 (8.)
9 Vienna (Wien) Vienna (Wien) 1,660,534 (1.)


Topography of Austria
Topography of Austria

Austria is a largely mountainous country due to its location in the Alps. The Central Eastern Alps, Northern Limestone Alps and Southern Limestone Alps are all partly in Austria. Of the total area of Austria (84 000 km² or 32,000 sq. mi), only about a quarter can be considered low lying, and only 32% of the country is below 500 metres (1,640 ft). The high mountainous Alps in the west of Austria flatten somewhat into low lands and plains in the east of the country.

Map of Austria
Map of Austria

Austria may be divided into 5 different areas. The biggest area are the Austrian Alps, which constitute 62% of Austria's total area. The Austrian foothills at the base of the Alps and the Carpathians account for around 12% of its area. The foothills in the east and areas surrounding the periphery of the Pannoni low country amount to about 12% of the total landmass. The second greater mountain area (much lower than the Alps) is situated in the north. Known as the Austrian granite plateau, it is located in the central area of the Bohemian Mass, and accounts for 10% of Austria. The Austrian portion of the Viennese basin comprises the remaining 4%.



The greater part of Austria lies in the cool/temperate climate zone in which humid westerly winds predominate. With over half of the country dominated by the Alps the alpine climate is the predominant one. In the East, in the Pannonian Plain and along the Danube valley, the climate shows continental features with less rain than the alpine areas.

The six highest mountains in Austria are:

Name Height Range
   1 Großglockner 3797 m (12,457 ft) Hohe Tauern
   2 Wildspitze 3768 m (12,362 ft) Ötztal Alps
   3 Weißkugel 3739 m (12,267 ft) Ötztal Alps
   4 Großvenediger 3674 m (12,054 ft) Hohe Tauern
   5 Similaun 3606 m (11,831 ft) Ötztal Alps
   6 Großes Wiesbachhorn 3571 m (11,715 ft) Hohe Tauern


The Belvedere Palace, an example of the Baroque
The Belvedere Palace, an example of the Baroque

Austria has a well-developed social market economy and a high standard of living. Until the 1980s many of Austria's largest industry firms were nationalised, however in recent years privatisation has reduced state holdings to a level comparable to other European economies. Labour movements are particularly strong in Austria and have large influence on labour politics.

Germany has historically been the main trading partner of Austria, making it vulnerable to rapid changes in the German economy. Slow growth in Germany and elsewhere in the world affected Austria, slowing its growth to 0.8% in 2001. But since Austria became a member state of the European Union it has gained closer ties to other European Union economies, reducing its economic dependence on Germany. In addition, membership in the EU has drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by Austria's access to the single European market and proximity to EU aspiring economies. Therefore estimates of growth in 2006 (about 3%) are much more favourable than in the crippled German economy.

See also: List of Austrian companies


Education in Austria

For the main article see Education in Austria

Responsibility for educational oversight in Austria lies partly at the Austrian states (Bundesländer), partly with the federal government. Optional kindergarten education is provided for all children between ages four and six years old. School attendance is compulsory for nine years, that is normally up to the age of 15.

Primary education lasts for four years. Alongside Germany, secondary education includes two main types of schools based on a pupil's ability as determined by grades from the primary school: the Gymnasium for the more gifted children which normally leads to the Matura which is a requirement for access to universities and the Hauptschule which prepares pupils for vocational education.

Austria's educational system principally dates back to the 19th century. Due to lack of funding and a number of problems that have been neglected to address, recent PISA student assessments demonstrated weaknesses in all subjects when compared to other OECD countries. Especially pupils who have attended Hauptschulen yielded poor test results.

The Austrian university system had been open to any student who passed the Matura examination until recently. A 2006 bill allowed the introduction of entrance exams for studies such as Medicine. Currently all students are charged a fee of about €370 per semester for all university studies. A recent OECD report critizised the Austrian education system for the low number of students attending universities and the overall low number of academics compared to other OECD countries. With 19% academics Austria ranked at the bottom of all OECD countries together with Turkey.



Vienna during the first half of the 18th century, painting by Canaletto.
Vienna during the first half of the 18th century, painting by Canaletto.

Austria's population was estimated in October, 2006 as 8,292,322 persons. The population of the capital, Vienna, exceeds 1.6 million (2.2 million with suburbs), representing about a quarter of the country's population, and is said to constitute a melting pot of citizens from all over Central and Eastern Europe. In contrast to the capital, other cities do not exceed 1 million inhabitants: the second largest city Graz is home to 250,099 people, followed by Linz with 188,968, Salzburg with 150,000, and Innsbruck with 117,346. All other cities have fewer than 100,000 inhabitants.

German-speaking Austrians, by far the country's largest group, form roughly 90% of Austria's population. The Austrian federal states of Carinthia and Styria are home to a significant (indigenous) Slovenian minority with around 14,000 members (Austrian census; unofficial numbers of Slovene groups speak of about 40,000). Around 20,000 Hungarians and 30,000 Croatians live in the east-most Bundesland, Burgenland (formerly part of the Hungarian half of Austria-Hungary). The remaining number of Austria's people are of non-Austrian descent, many from surrounding countries, especially from the former East Bloc nations. So-called guest workers (Gastarbeiter) and their descendants, as well as refugees from Yugoslav wars and other conflicts, also form an important minority group in Austria.

According to the 2001 census, the mother tongue of the population by prevalence, is German (88.6%) followed by Turkish (2.3%), Serbian (2.2%), Croatian (1.6%), Hungarian (0.5%) and Bosnian (0.4%).[1]

The official language, German, is spoken by almost all residents of the country. Austria's mountainous terrain led to the development of many distinct German dialects. All of the dialects in the country, however, belong to Austro-Bavarian groups of German dialects, with the exception of the dialect spoken in its west-most Bundesland, Vorarlberg, which belongs to the group of Alemannic dialects. There is also a distinct grammatical standard for Austrian German with a few differences to the German spoken in Germany.

As of 2006 some of the Austrian states introduced standardised tests for new citizens, to assure their language and cultural knowledge and accordingly their ability to integrate into the Austrian society.[2]


Politics concerning ethnic groups (Volksgruppenpolitik)

An estimated 25,000–40,000 Slovenians in the Austrian state of Carinthia as well as Croatians and Hungarians in Burgenland were recognized as a minority and have enjoyed special rights following the Austrian State Treaty (Staatsvertrag) of 1955. The Slovenians in the Austrian state of Styria (estimated at a number between 1,600 and 5,000) are not recognized as a minority and do not enjoy special rights, although the State Treaty of July 27 1955 states otherwise.

The right for bilingual topographic signs for the regions where Slovene- and Croat-Austrians live alongside the Germanic population (as required by the 1955 State Treaty) is still to be fully implemented. Many Carinthians are afraid of Slovenian territorial claims, pointing to the fact that Yugoslav troops entered the state after each of the two World Wars and considering that some official Slovenian atlases still show parts of Carinthia as Slovenian cultural territory. The current governor, Jörg Haider, has made this fact a matter of public argument in autumn 2005 by refusing to increase the number of bilingual topographic signs in Carinthia. A poll by the Kärntner Humaninstitut conducted in January 2006 states that 65% of Carinthians are not in favour of an increase of bilingual topographic signs, since the original requirements set by the State Treaty of 1955 have already been fulfilled according to their point of view. Another interesting phenomenon is the so called "Windischen-Theorie" [3] stating that the Slovenians can be split in two groups: actual Slovenians and Windische, based on differences in language between Austrian Slovenians, who were taught Slovenian standard language in school and those Slovenians who spoke their local Slovenian dialect but went to German schools. To the latter group the term "Windische" (originally the German word for Slovenians) was applied, claiming that they were a different ethnic group. This theory was never generally accepted and has been ultimately rejected several decades ago.



Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor Austrian Habsburg ruler and one of the major figures within the Counter-Reformation.
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor Austrian Habsburg ruler and one of the major figures within the Counter-Reformation.

While northern and central Germany was the origin of the Reformation, Austria (and Bavaria) was the heart of the Counter-Reformation in the 16th and 17th century, when the absolute monarchy of Habsburg imposed a strict regime to maintain Catholicism's power and influence among Austrians. The Habsburgs viewed themselves as the vanguard of Roman Catholicism and all other confessions and religions were oppressed. In 1781 Emperor Joseph II issued a Patent of Tolerance that allowed other Christian confessions a limited freedom of worship. Religious freedom was declared a constitutional right in the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich in 1867 thus paying tribute to the fact that the monarchy was home of numerous religions beside Roman Catholicism such as Greek, Serbian, Romanian, Russian, and Bulgarian Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims (Austria neighboured the Ottoman empire for centuries), Mormons and both Calvinist and Lutheran Protestants.

Still Austria remained largely influenced by Catholicism. After 1918 First Republic Catholic leaders such as Theodor Innitzer and Ignaz Seipel took leading positions within or close to the Austrian Government and increased their influence during the time of the Austrofascism—Catholicism was treated much like a state religion by dictators Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg. Although Catholic leaders welcomed the Germans in 1938 during the Anschluss of Austria into Germany, Austrian Catholicism stopped its support of Nazism later on and many former religious public figures became involved with the resistance during the Third Reich. After 1945 a stricter secularism was imposed in Austria and religious influence on politics has nearly vanished.

As of the end of the twentieth century about 73% of Austria's population were registered as Roman Catholic, while about 5% considered themselves Protestants. Both these numbers have been on the decline for decades, especially Roman Catholicism, which has suffered an increasing number of seceders of the church. Austrian Catholics are obliged to pay a mandatory tax (calculated by income—ca. 1%) to the Austrian Roman Catholic Church, which might act as an incentive to leave the church.

About 12% of the population declare that they do not belong to any church or religious community. Of the remaining people, about 180,000 are members of the Eastern Orthodox Church and about 7,300 are Jewish. It has to be noted that the Austrian Jewish Community of 1938 – Vienna alone counted more than 200,000 - was reduced to solely 4,000 to 5,000 after the Second World War. The influx of Eastern Europeans, especially from the former Yugoslav nations, Albania and particularly from Turkey largely contributed to a substantial Muslim minority in Austria—around 300,000 are registered as members of various Muslim communities. The numbers of people adhering to the Islam has increased largely during the last years and is expected to grow in the future. Buddhism, which was legally recognized as a religion in Austria in 1983, enjoys widespread acceptance and has a following of 20,000 (10,402 at the 2001 census). A 2005 survey among 8,000 people in various European countries showed that Austria is among those nations whose populations maintain the strongest belief in God. 84% of all Austrians state a belief in God, with only the people of Poland (97%), Portugal (90%) and Russia (87%) yielding higher numbers. This is a much larger figure than the European average of 71% or Germany with 67%. [4]

See also: Buddhism in Austria, Hinduism in Austria, Islam in Austria, Paganism in the Eastern Alps, Roman Catholicism in Austria



These are articles of the
List of Austrians series
Artists and architects


Though Austria is a small country, its history as a European power and its cultural environment have generated a broad contribution to various forms of art, most notably among them to 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. or Gustav Mahler as well as members of the Second Viennese School such as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern or Alban Berg.

Especially Vienna has long been an important center of musical innovation. 18th and 19th 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.


Art and architecture

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.



See also Austrian School, List of Austrian scientists

Austria was the cradle of numerous scientists. Especially Austrian physicists are worldknown. Among them are Ludwig Boltzmann, Ernst Mach, Victor Franz Hess or Christian Doppler who were prominent scientists in the 19th century. In the 20th century scientific contributions of Lise Meitner, Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli to nuclear research and quantum mechanics contributed to the major leap of physics in the 1920s and 1930s.

In addition to physicists, Austria was the birthplace of two of the greatest philosophers of the 20th 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. Austria was home to psychologists Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Paul Watzlawick and Hans Asperger and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl.

The Austrian School, 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.



See also List of Austrian writers

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

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






See also



  1. (German) Statistik Austria, Die Bevölkerung nach Umgangssprache, Staatsangehörigkei und Geburtsland, Page 75 PDF
  2. (German) Requirements to become Austrian citizen in Vienna, provided by the Viennese state government

External links

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