Austria

A map of Europe



Where is Austria?

Austria is located in central Europe. It is north of Italy and Slovenia. It is a land-locked country being bordered on all sides by other countries and having a total land boundary of 2, 562 km. The border countries are the Czech Republic (362 km), Germany (784 km), Hungary (366 km), Italy (430 km), Liechtenstein (35 km), Slovakia (91 km), Slovenia (330 km) and Switzerland (164 km).

The Austrian Flag



There is a legend that the colours on the Austrian flag are to commemorate the feats of Duke Leopold V who fought in the Battle of Ptolemais in 1191. It is said that the whole of his tunic, except for the white area under his belt, became stained with blood. This, however, is not thought to be true. The present flag was adopted in 1918 after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The white band is sometimes said to represent the River Danube. The imperial eagle, with either one or two heads, is featured on the flag flown by the Government.


The geography of Austria

Austria has a total area of 83,858 sq km with a population of some 8,020,000. This compares with an area of 129,720 sq km and a population of 51,000,000 for England. You can see that although the area of England is only one and a half times greater that that of Austria the population is almost six and a half times greater. Another way of looking at this is through population density – the number of people there are for every square km. In Austria this is 95 people per sq km while in England it is almost four times that number at 393.



The capital and the largest city in Austria is Vienna. It has a population of 2,041.300. (Compare this to the population of London – 7,172,091). There are many beautiful buildings in Vienna, like the one in the photograph. Vienna is well known for its art, architecture and music. Mozart, a famous composer, was born in the city. Other major cities are Graz (219,500), Linz (185,300), Salzburg (145,500) and Innsbruck (115,600).

Weather and Climate

Austria has a temperate, continental climate and it is often cloudy. This means that there are no great extremes of temperature. There are cold winters with frequent rain in the lower parts of the country and snow in the mountain areas. The summers are cool with occasional showers.

The Terrain

In the west and south it is mostly mountainous as the Alps run through this area. The highest point is the Grossglockner at 3,797 metres. Upland forests run north to the Czech border. The area within the Danube valley and the lowlands in the east are where most of the arable land is. Nearly half of Austria is forested, mainly with oak and beech at the lower levels. In the mountain areas the trees are mainly conifers.


This photograph shows a view of the Austrian Alps.




17% of the land is used for growing arable crops, 1% for permanent crops, 23% is permanent pasture, 39% is forest and woodland and the remaining 20% is for other uses. Natural resources include iron ore, timber, magnesite, lead, coal, lignite, copper and hydropower.

Population


The map shows how the population is concentrated on the eastern lowlands. This is because of steep slopes, poor soils and low temperatures in other parts of the country.

The national language is German. Ethnic groups within Austria are German (98%), with the other 2% being made up of Croatian, Slovene and other, smaller ethnic groups.

Of the total population of 8,020,000 some 3.7 million make up the labour force. Within this number 68% work in the service industries, 29% in industry and crafts and 3% in agriculture and forestry.

The unemployment rate is 4.4% and no families are living below the poverty line.

Austria is a member of the European Union and its currency is the euro. It has a well-developed market economy and the |Austrian people enjoy a high standard of living. The major industries are construction, machinery, vehicles and parts, food, chemicals, lumber and wood processing, paper and paperboard, communications equipment and tourism.



Austria is a democratic republic. The population elects members to the two legislative houses – the Federal Council and the National Council – who are then responsible for formulating laws for the running of the country. The Chief of State is the President and the Head of Government is the Chancellor.