Bordering eight countries in the heart of Europe, Austria was created in 1918 after the collapse of the Habsburg Empire. Neutral after World War II, it joined the EU in 1995.
Geography: Mainly mountainous. Alps and foothills cover the west and south. Lowlands in the east are part of the Danube River basin.
Climate: Temperate continental climate. The western Alpine regions have colder winters and more rainfall.
People and Society: Though Austrians speak German, they like to stress their distinctive identity in relation to Germany. Vienna is a major cultural center. Minorities are few; there are some ethnic Croats, Slovenes, and Hungarians, plus refugees from conflict in former Yugoslavia. Though strongly Roman Catholic, Austrian society is less conservative than some southern German Länder. Class divisions remain strong.
The Economy: Large manufacturing base, despite lack of energy resources. The skilled labour force is key to high-tech exports. Euro-zone membership since 2002 has boosted investment.
Insight: Many of the world’s great composers were Austrian, including Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, and Strauss
Official Name: Republic of Austria
Date of Formation: 1918
Population: 8.36 million
Total Area: 32,378 sq. miles (83,858 sq. km)
Density: 262 people per sq. mile
Languages: German*, Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian (Magyar)
Religions: Roman Catholic 78%, nonreligious 9%, other 8%, Protestant 5%
Ethnic Mix: Austrian 93%, Croat, Slovene, and Hungarian 6%, other 1%
Government: Parliamentary system
Currency: Euro = 100 cents