Republic of Austria
CAPITAL: Vienna (Wien)
FLAG: The flag consists of a white horizontal stripe between two red stripes.
ANTHEM: Land der Berge, Land am Ströme (Land of Mountains, Land on the River).
MONETARY UNIT: The euro replaced the schilling as the national currency in 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. €1 = $1.25475 (or $1 = €0.79697) as of 2005.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in use.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Epiphany, 6 January; May Day, 1 May; Assumption, 15 August; National Day, 26 October; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Immaculate Conception, 8 December; Christmas, 25 December; St. Stephen's Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Easter Monday, Ascension, Whitmonday, and Corpus Christi. In addition, there are provincial holidays.
TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.
Austria, with an area of 83,858 sq km (32,378 sq mi), is a land-locked country in Central Europe, extending 573 km (356 mi) e–w and 294 km (183 mi) n–s. Comparatively, Austria is slightly smaller than the state of Maine. Bounded on the n by Germany and the Czech Republic, on the e by Hungary, on the s by Slovenia and Italy, and on the w by Liechtenstein and Switzerland, Austria has a total boundary length of 2,562 km (1,588 mi).
While not making any territorial claims, Austria oversees the treatment of German speakers in the South Tyrol (now part of the autonomous province of Trentino-Alto Adige), which was ceded to Italy under the Treaty of St.-Germainen-Laye in 1919.
Austria's capital city, Vienna, is located in the northeastern part of the country.
Most of western and central Austria is mountainous, and much of the flatter area to the east is hilly, but a series of passes and valleys permits travel within the country and has made Austria an important bridge between various sections of Europe. The principal topographic regions are the Alps, constituting 62.8% of Austria's land area; the Alpine and Carpathian foothills (11.3%); the Pannonian lowlands of the east (11.3%); the granite and gneiss highlands of the Bohemian Massif (10.1%); and the Vienna Basin (4.4%).
The highest point of the Austrian Alps is the Grossglockner, 3,797 m (12,457 ft). The Danube (Donau) River, fully navigable along its 350-km (217-mi) course through northeastern Austria, is the chief waterway, and several important streams—the Inn, Enns, Drava (Drau), and Mur—are tributaries to it. Included within Austria are many Alpine lakes, most of the Neusiedler See (the lowest point in Austria, 115 m/377 ft above sea level), and part of Lake Constance (Bodensee).
Climatic conditions depend on location and altitude. Temperatures range from an average of about -7 to -1°c (20 to 30°f) in winter to about 18 to 24°c (65 to 75°f) in July. Rainfall ranges from more than 102 cm (50 in) annually in the western mountains to less than 66 cm (26 in) in the driest region, near Vienna.
Plants and animals are those typical of Central Europe. Austria is one of Europe's most heavily wooded countries, with 47% of its area under forests. Deciduous trees (particularly beech, birch, and oak) and conifers (fir) cover the mountains up to about 1,200 m (4,000 ft); above that point fir predominates and then gives way to larch and stone pine. There is a large variety of wildlife. Although chamois are now rare, deer, hare, fox, badger, marten, Alpine chough, grouse, marmot, partridge, and pheasant are still plentiful. The birds of the reed beds around the Neusiedler See include purple heron, spoonbill, and avocet. The ibex, once threatened, has begun breeding again. Hunting is strictly regulated.
The Ministry of Health and Environmental Protection, established in 1972, is responsible for the coordination at the national level of all environmental protection efforts, addressing its efforts toward problems including waste disposal, pollution, noise, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide levels, as well as emissions by the iron, steel, and ceramics industries. A toxic waste law enacted in 1984 established strict regulations for the collection, transport, and disposal of dangerous substances. The Austrian government has imposed strict regulations on gas emissions, which helped to reduce sulphur dioxide by two-thirds over an eight-year period beginning in 1980. In 1992 Austria was among the 50 countries with the highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, producing 56.6 million metric tons of emissions, or 7.29 m tons per capita. In 1996, the level rose to 59.3 million metric tons. In 2000, the total was 60.8 million metric tons.
Austrians continue to fight the problem of acid rain which has damaged 25% of the country's forests. In general, environmental legislation is based on the "polluter pays" principle. The water resources fund of the Ministry for Buildings and Technology distributed more than s20 billion for canalization and waste-water purification plants between 1959 and the early 1980s; the Danube and the Mur have been the special focus of efforts to improve water quality.
Endangered species include Freya's damselfly and the dusky large blue butterfly. As of 2002, there were at least 83 species of mammals, 230 breeding and wintering bird species, and over 3,000 species of plants. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 5 types of mammals, 8 species of birds, 7 species of fish, 22 types of mollusks, 22 other invertebrates, and 3 species of plants. Endangered species include Freya's damselfly, slender-billed curlew, bald ibis, Danube salmon, and the European mink. About 33% of the total land area is protected, including19 Ramsar wetland sites.
The population of Austria in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 8,151,000, which placed it at number 92 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 15% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 16% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 96 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be 0.1%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 8,396,000. The population density was 97 per sq km (252 per sq mi).
The UN estimated that 54% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of just 0.08%. The capital city, Vienna (Wien), had a population of 2,179,000 in that year. Other large cities and their estimated populations include Graz, 237,810; Linz, 188,968; Salzburg, 145,000; and Innsbruck, 140,000.
Every Austrian has the constitutional right to migrate. For several years after the end of World War II (1945), fairly large numbers of Austrians emigrated, mostly to Australia, Canada, and the United States, but as the economy recovered from war damage, emigration became insignificant. Austria retains the principle of the right of asylum, and the benefits of Austrian social legislation are granted to refugees and displaced persons. Between 1945 and 1983, 1,942,782 refugees from more than 30 countries came to Austria, of whom about 590,000 became Austrian citizens (including some 302,000 German-speaking expatriates from Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia). Following the political upheavals in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Poland in 1981, Austria received large numbers of refugees from these countries: 180,432 Hungarians, about 100,000 Czechs and Slovaks, and 33,142 Poles. Between 1968 and 1986, 261,857 Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union passed through Austria, about one-third of them going to Israel and the rest to other countries, primarily the United States. Of Austrians living abroad, some 186,900 were residents of Germany in 1991. Estimated as of 2005, Austria had a net migration rate of 1.97 migrants per 1,000 population.
In 2003 of Austria's roughly eight million inhabitants, 9.4% were foreign residents, with about two-thirds of them coming from the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, Germany, and Turkey. Between 1985 and 2001, over 254,000 foreigners were naturalized. Austria's proportion of foreign-born residents in 2001 was even higher than that of the United States, reaching a level of 12.5%.
By the end of 2004 there were 38,262 asylum seekers and 18,319 refugees in Austria. The majority of those seeking asylum were from the Russian Federation, Serbia and Montenegro, Moldova, India, Turkey, China, and Pakistan. Approximately 16% of the asylum seekers were from the Russian Federation alone. Citizenship legislation has been changed to allow foreign spouses to become citizens only after five years of marriage to the same Austrian spouse.
In 2003, the foreign labor force was 11.8% of the total labor force. Turkish workers traditionally have had the highest unemployment rate of all foreign worker groups.
Austrians are a people of mixed Dinaric, Nordic, Alpine, and East Baltic origin. In a 2001 census, about 91.1% of respondents were Austrian. Minority groups include Croatians, Slovenes, Slovaks, Romas, Czechs, Serbs, Bosniaks, and Hungarians. These make up about 4% of the population. Turks make up about 1.6% of the population and Germans constitute less than 1%.
The official national language is German and nearly 99% of the inhabitants speak it as their mother tongue. People in Vorarlberg Province speak German with an Alemannic accent, similar to that in Switzerland. Slovene is the official language in Carinthia and both Croatian and Hungarian are official languages in Burgenland. In other provinces, Austrians speak various Bavarian dialects. There are also small groups of Czech, Slovak, and Polish speakers in Vienna.
As of 2001, about 74% of the people were Roman Catholic, but reports indicate that only about 17% of all Roman Catholics were active participants in formal religious service. About 4.7% of the population belonged to the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches (Evangelical Church, Augsburg and Helvetic Confessions). Muslims accounted for about 4.2% of the population. The Jewish community stood at about 0.1% of the population; and Eastern Orthodox (Russian, Greek, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian) at 2.2%. Other Christian churches had accounted for about 0.9% of the population. These include the Armenian Apostolic Church, the New Apostolic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, and the Methodist Church of Austria, among others. The Church of Scientology reportedly had somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 members and the Unification Church had about 700 members. Other small groups within the country, which are termed as "sects" by the government, include: Hare Krishna, the Divine Light Mission, Eckankar, the Osho movement, Sai Baba, Sahaja Yoga, Fiat Lux and the Center for Experimental Society Formation. About 12% of respondents claimed to be atheists and 2% indicated no religious affiliation at all.
The constitution provides for freedom of religion and this right is generally respected in practice. The government is secular, but many Roman Catholic holidays are celebrated as public holidays. Religious organizations are divided into three legal categories under the 1874 Law on Recognition of Churches and the 1998 Law on the Status of Religious Confessional Communities, and each division offers a different level of rights. Those divisions are: officially recognized religious societies, religious confessional communities, and associations. There were 13 officially recognized religious societies in 1998. The Ecumenical Council of Austrian Churches provides an interfaith forum for discussions on a variety of issues. Pro Oriente, an international organization of Catholic and Orthodox churches, also holds an active chapter in the country.
Austria has a dense transportation network. The Federal Railway Administration controls some 90% of Austria's 6,021 km (3,745 mi) of railways in 2004, which is made up of standard and narrow gauge track. Of the 5,565 km (3,461 mi) of standard-gauge track, 3,859 km (2,400 mi) are electrified, while 146 km (91 mi) of the 456 km (284 mi) of narrow-gauge track are electrified.
In 2003, paved highways totaled 133,718 km (83,172 mi) and included 1,677 km (1,043 mi) of expressways. In 2003, there were 4,054,308 passenger cars, and 335,318 commercial vehicles in use.
Austria has 358 km (223 mi) of inland waterways, over 80% of which are navigable by engine-powered vessels. Most of Austria's overseas trade passes through the Italian port of Trieste; the rest is shipped from German ports. In 2005, the oceangoing merchant fleet of Austria consisted of 8 ships of 1,000 GRT or over, with a capacity of 29,624 GRT.
In 2004, there were an estimated 55 airports in Austria. As of 2005, a total of 24 had paved runways, and there was also one heliport. Of the six major airports in Austria—Schwechat (near Vienna), Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz, and Salzburg—Schwechat is by far the most important. In 2003, Austrian air carriers provided flights for 6.903 million passengers and carried 431,000 freight ton km.
Human settlements have existed in what is now Austria since pre-historic times. In 14 bc, the region, already overrun by various tribes, including the Celts, was conquered by the Romans, who divided it among the provinces of Noricum, Pannonia, and Illyria. The Romans founded several towns that survive today: Vindobona (Vienna), Juvavum (Salzburg), Valdidena (Innsbruck), and Brigantium (Bregenz). After the fall of the Roman Empire, Austria became (about ad 800) a border province of Charlemagne's empire until the 10th century, when it was joined to the Holy Roman Empire as Österreich ("Kingdom of the East").
From the late 13th to the early 20th century, the history of Austria is tied to that of the Habsburg family. In 1282, Rudolf von Habsburg (Rudolf I, newly elected German emperor) gave Austria (Upper and Lower Austria, Carinthia, Styria, and Carniola) to his sons, Albrecht and Rudolf, thus inaugurating the male Habsburg succession that would continue unbroken until 1740. The highest point of Habsburg rule came in the 1500s when Emperor Maximilian I (r.1493–1519) arranged a marriage between his son and the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Maximilian's grandson became King Charles I of Spain in 1516 and, three years later, was elected Holy Roman emperor, as Charles V. Until Charles gave up his throne in 1556, he ruled over Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, and much of Italy, as well as over large possessions in the Americas. Charles gave Austria to his brother Ferdinand, who had already been elected king of Hungary and Bohemia in 1526; the Habsburgs maintained their reign over Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary until 1918.
When the last Habsburg king of Spain died in 1700, France as well as Austria laid claim to the throne. The dispute between the continental powers erupted into the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14) and drew in other European countries in alliance with the respective claimants. At the end of the war, Austria was given control of the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium), Naples, Milan, and Sardinia. (It later lost Naples, together with Sicily, in the War of the Polish Succession, 1733–35.) In 1740, after the death of Charles VI, several German princes refused to acknowledge his daughter and only child, Maria Theresa, as the legitimate ruler of Austria, thus provoking the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48). Maria Theresa lost Silesia to Prussia but held on to her throne, from which she proceeded to institute a series of major internal reforms as ruler of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia. After 1765, she ruled jointly with her son, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (r.1765–90). Following his mother's death in 1780, Joseph, an enlightened despot, sought to abolish serfdom and introduce religious freedom, but he succeeded only in creating considerable unrest. Despite the political turmoil, Austria's cultural life flourished during this period, which spanned the careers of the composers Haydn and Mozart.
During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, Austria suffered a further diminution of territory. In 1797, it gave up Belgium and Milan to France, receiving Venice, however, in recompense. In 1805, Austria lost Venice, as well as the Tyrol and part of Dalmatia, to Napoleon. Some restitution was made by the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), convened after Napoleon's defeat; it awarded Lombardy, Venetia, and Istria and restored all of Dalmatia to Austria, but it denied the Habsburgs the return of former possessions in Baden and the Netherlands.
From 1815 to 1848, Austria, under the ministry of Prince Klemens von Metternich, dominated European politics as the leading power of both the German Confederation and the Holy Alliance (Austria, Russia, and Prussia). Unchallenged abroad, the reactionary Metternich achieved peace at home through ruthless suppression of all liberal or nationalist movements among the people in the Habsburg Empire. In 1848, however, revolutions broke out in Hungary and Bohemia and in Vienna itself; Metternich resigned and fled to London. Although the revolutions were crushed, Emperor Ferdinand I abdicated in December. He was succeeded by his 18-year-old nephew, Franz Josef I, who was destined to occupy the Austrian throne for 68 years, until his death in 1916. During his reign, Austria attempted to set up a strong central government that would unify all the Habsburg possessions under its leadership. But nationalist tensions persisted, exacerbated by outside interference. In 1859, in a war over Habsburg-controlled Lombardy, French and Sardinian troops defeated the Austrians, ending Austrian preeminence in Italian politics; and in 1866, Prussia forced Austria out of the political affairs of Germany after the Seven Weeks' War. In 1867, Hungarian nationalists, taking advantage of Austria's weakened state, compelled Franz Josef to sign an agreement giving Hungary equal rights with Austria. In the ensuing Dual Monarchy, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary were united under one ruler. Each country had its own national government, but both shared responsibility for foreign affairs, defense, and finance. Self-government for the empire's Magyar (Hungarian) population was balanced by continued suppression of the Slavs.
On 28 June 1914, at Sarajevo, Serbian patriots, members of the Slavic movement, assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand, nephew of the emperor and heir to the Austrian throne. Their act set off World War I, in which Austria-Hungary was joined by Germany (an ally since 1879), Italy (a member, with the first two, of the Triple Alliance of 1882), and Turkey. They became known as the Central Powers. In 1915, Italy defected to the side of the Allies—France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and (from 1917) the United States. After the defeat of the Central Powers and the collapse of their empires in 1918, Austria, now reduced to its German-speaking sections, was proclaimed a republic. The Treaty of St.-Germainen-Laye (1919) fixed the borders of the new state and forbade it any kind of political or economic union with Germany without League of Nations approval.
During the next decade, Austria was plagued by inflation, food shortages, unemployment, financial scandals, and, as a consequence, growing political unrest. The country's two major political groupings, the Christian Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party, were almost equal in strength, with their own private paramilitary movements. A small Austrian Nazi party, advocating union with Germany, constituted a third group. In March 1933, Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, leader of the Christian Socialists, dissolved the Austrian parliament, suspended the democratic constitution of 1920, and ruled by decree, hoping to control the unrest. In February 1934, civil strife erupted; government forces broke up the opposition Social Democratic Party, executing or imprisoning many persons. Dollfuss thereupon established an authoritarian corporate state along Fascist lines. On 25 July, the Nazis, emboldened by Adolf Hitler's rise in Germany, assassinated Dollfuss in an abortive coup. Kurt von Schuschnigg, who had served under Dollfuss as minister of justice and education, then became chancellor. For the next four years, Schuschnigg struggled to keep Austria independent amid growing German pressure for annexation (Anschluss ). On 11 March 1938, however, German troops entered the country, and two days later Austria was proclaimed a part of the German Reich. In 1939, Austria, now known as Ostmark, entered World War II as part of the Axis alliance.
Allied troops entered Austria in April 1945, and the country was divided into US, British, French, and Soviet zones of occupation. Declaring the 1920 constitution in force, the occupying powers permitted Austrians to set up a provisional government but limited Austrian sovereignty under an agreement of 1946. Austria made effective use of foreign economic aid during the early postwar years. The United States and the United Kingdom supplied $379 million worth of goods between 1945 and 1948; another $110 million was provided by private organizations; and Marshall Plan aid amounted to $962 million. Inflation was checked by the early 1950s, and for most of the remainder of that decade the economy sustained one of the world's highest growth rates.
On 15 May 1955, after more than eight years of negotiations, representatives of Austria and the four powers signed, at Vienna, the Austrian State Treaty, reestablishing an independent and democratic Austria, and in October all occupation forces withdrew from the country. Under the treaty, Austria agreed to become permanently neutral. As a neutral nation, Austria has remained outside the political and military alliances into which postwar Europe is divided. Economically, however, it has developed close links with Western Europe, joining EFTA in 1960 and concluding free-trade agreements with the EEC (now the EU) in 1972. Because of its location, Austria served as an entrepôt between the Western trade blocs and the CMEA, with which it also had trade relations. Austria was twice the site of US-USSR summit meetings. In June 1961, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev conferred in Vienna, and in June 1979, presidents Jimmy Carter and Leonid I. Brezhnev signed a strategic arms limitation agreement in the Austrian capital. Austria joined the EU in 1995 and European economic and monetary union in 1999.
On 8 July 1986, following elections in May and June, former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim was sworn in as president of Austria. During the presidential campaign, Waldheim was accused of having belonged to Nazi organizations during World War II and of having taken part in war crimes while stationed in Greece and Yugoslavia with the German army from 1942 to 1945; he denied the charges. After his inauguration, diplomats of many nations made a point of avoiding public contact with the new president, and on 27 April 1987, the US Justice Department barred him from entering the United States. To the dismay of many leaders, Pope John Paul II granted Waldheim an audience at the Vatican on 25 June.
Waldheim declined to run for a second term, and in July 1992, Thomas Klestil was elected federal president and he was reelected on 19 April 1998. Relations with Israel, which had been strained under Waldheim's presidency, returned to normal.
The growing strength of Austria's Freedom Party, headed by Jörg Haider, is evidence of a turn to the right in Austrian politics. Although the party did not capture the votes it wanted to in the 17 December 1995 legislative elections, in the elections for European Parliament on 14 October 1996 the aggressively nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-European Freedom Party took 28% of the vote, 2% behind the Social Democrats. The People's Party and Social Democrats remained together in a coalition throughout the 1990s and prepared Austria for entry into the European economic and monetary union. Cautious reforms took place, and the administration privatized state-owned enterprises, brought down inflation to less than 1% in 1998, and reduced the budget deficit to 2%. Average growth rates between 1997 and 2000 were over 2%. Unemployment fell to 4% in 2000. However, the global economic downturn that began in 2001 caused Austria's economy to suffer; coupled with costs resulting from severe flooding in August 2002, Austria's budget deficit increased sharply. In 2004–05 the economy rebounded: GDP growth was once again at 2%, allowing Austria to retain its position among the top European economies.
The Freedom Party scored a triumph in the general election of October 1999, coming in second behind the Social Democrats with 27% of the vote. After the traditional coalition of Social Democrats and the conservative People's Party failed to reach agreement on the next government in early 2000, the leader of the People's Party, Wolfgang Schüssel, turned to Haider and the Freedom Party to form a new administration. President Klestil had no choice but to accept the new coalition agreement. Its installation on 3 February 2000 provoked widespread protests both within Austria and from other members of the European Union. The EU partners decided to boycott Austria in all official meetings, a decision that caused a severe crisis in the EU itself. Haider resigned as party chairman in April 2000 although he remained governor of Carinthia. His withdrawal from federal politics did not soften the views of the EU, which imposed diplomatic sanctions on Austria. (They were lifted in September 2000.) A power struggle within the Freedom Party between Haider and Austria's Vice-Chancellor and Freedom Party chair Susanne Riess-Passer in September 2002 resulted in Riess-Passer's resignation, along with that of two Freedom Party ministers. The People's Party/Freedom Party coalition government collapsed, and new elections were called for 24 November 2002. In those elections, Schüssel's People's Party made wide gains; the Freedom Party suffered a major defeat. It dropped to 10% of the vote, down from its 2000 showing of 27%. Despite these results, and after failed negotiations with the Social Democrats and Greens, Schüssel formed a coalition government with the Freedom Party, which was sworn in on 1 April 2003. Schüssel subsequently moved closer to the right, notably on asylum and immigration issues (in October 2003, his government introduced a package of asylum legislation which are seen as the most restrictive in Europe). In April 2005, the Freedom Party split when Haider left to form the Alliance for Austria's Future. Members of both groups remain in government.
After the new government took office in 2003, it launched a series of austerity measures designed to save the government €8 billion. Early retirement was to be cancelled, cuts were planned in public services and the health care system was to be reformed, and, most controversially, drastic cuts were proposed in the nation's pension system. As a result, approximately 500,000 Austrians took part in nationwide strikes in May 2003, the largest in 50 years.
In January 2001, the Austrian government and several Austrian companies agreed to provide $360 million to a general settlement fund to compensate Jews who had their property and assets seized by the Nazis during World War II. Each victim of Nazi persecution was to receive $7,000. Austria also created a social fund to pay pensions to survivors no longer living in the country, in the amount of $100 million.
Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Austria passed a Security and Defense Doctrine, representing a shift in Austria's longstanding policy of neutrality. Although Austria will not participate in military alliances requiring mutual defense commitments, the country is gradually moving towards closer integration with European security structures, which would allow for participation in the EU rapid reaction force and NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Austria contributed peacekeeping forces to the former Yugoslavia, and supported NATO strikes on Serbia during the Kosovo conflict. Austria contributed 60 soldiers to the international military protection force in Afghanistan following the USled military campaign there.
In April 2004, Heinz Fischer was elected president. In May 2005, the Austrian parliament ratified the EU constitution. However, the rejection of that constitution by the French and Dutch in referenda held later in May and June 2005 doomed the plan for further European union indefinitely. Concerns about immigration, poor economies, EU expansion, and loss of national identity are some of the reasons French and Dutch voters gave for rejecting the constitution.
The second Austrian republic was established on 19 December 1945. According to the constitution of 1920, as amended in 1929, Austria is a federal republic with a democratically elected parliament. The president, elected by popular vote for a six-year term, appoints a federal chancellor (Bundeskanzler ), usually the leader of the largest party in parliament, for a term not exceeding that of parliament (four years); upon the chancellor's proposal, the president nominates ministers (who should not serve in parliament at the same time) to head the administrative departments of government. The ministers make up the cabinet, which formulates and directs national policy. Cabinet ministers serve out their terms subject to the confidence of a parliamentary majority. The president is limited to two terms of office.
The parliament, known as the Federal Assembly (Bundesvers-ammlung ), consists of the National Council (Nationalrat ) and Federal Council (Bundesrat ). The Bundesrat has 62 members, elected by the country's unicameral provincial legislatures (Landtage ) in proportion to the population of each province. The Nationalrat has 183 members (prior to 1970, 165 members), elected directly in nine election districts for four-year terms by secret ballot on the basis of proportional representation. All citizens 25 years of age or older are eligible to serve in parliament; all citizens 18 years of age or older may vote. Voting is compulsory for presidential elections. The electoral law was amended in February 1990 to extend the franchise to Austrians living permanently or temporarily abroad. All legislation originates in the Nationalrat; the Bundesrat exercises only a suspensory veto.
The restoration of the republic in 1945 revived political activity in Austria. In general elections that November, the Austrian People's Party (Österreichische Volkspartei—ÖVP), successor to the prewar Christian Socialists, emerged as the strongest party, with the reborn Socialist Party of Austria (Sozialistische Partei Österreichs—SPÖ) trailing slightly. The ÖVP and SPÖ, controlling 161 of the 165 seats in the Nationalrat, formed a coalition government and worked closely with the Allies to construct an independent and democratic Austria. This coalition held until after the elections of 1966, when the ÖVP, with a majority of 11 seats, formed a one-party government headed by Chancellor Josef Klaus. In 1970, the SPÖ won a plurality in the Nationalrat and was able to put together a minority Socialist government under its leader, Bruno Kreisky. Kreisky remained in power until 1983—longer than any other non-Communist European head of government. The Socialist Party was renamed the Social Democratic Party in 1991, and began to advocate free-market oriented policies. It has also supported Austria's entry into the EC (now EU).
The ÖVP, also referred to as Austria's Christian Democratic Party, favors free enterprise, competition, and the reduction of class differences. Organized into three constituencies—businessmen, farmers, and employees—it advocates provincial rights and strongly supports the Catholic Church. The SPÖ, also known as the Social Democratic Party, advocates moderate reforms through democratic processes. It favored continued nationalization of key industries, economic planning, and widespread social welfare benefits. It is closely allied with the Austrian Trade Union Federation and its constituent unions. The economic policy differences between the two parties diminished in the 1990s as both recognized the need to introduce structural reforms and bring down budget deficits. Their main disagreements are on the pace of change, rather than on the need to introduce reforms.
A third political group, the Union of Independents (Verband der Unabhängigen—VdU), appeared in 1949. Strongly antisocialist, with anticlerical, panGerman elements, it challenged the coalition in the elections of that year, winning 16 seats. By the mid-1950s, however, the VdU, consistently denied a voice in government by the two major parties, had begun to disintegrate. In 1955, it was reorganized, under new leadership, as the Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs—FPÖ). In 1970, with six seats in the Nationalrat, the FPÖ was accepted as a negotiating partner by the SPÖ. The party favors individual initiative over collective security. By the turn of the 21st century, under the leadership of Jörg Haider, the FPÖ was an extreme nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-European party. In June 1992, FPÖ dissidents founded the Free Democratic Party. In 2005, Haider split from the FPÖ to form the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ).
The Communist Party of Austria (Kommunistische Partei Österreichs—KPÖ) has declined steadily in strength since the end of World War II. It has had no parliamentary representation, for example, since 1959, when it lost the three seats won in 1956. The KPÖ was the first party in the Nationalrat to propose, in 1953, that Austria become a neutral nation.
In the elections of 24 April 1983, dominated by economic issues, the SPÖ (with 47.8% of the vote) won 90 seats, down from 95 in 1979; the ÖVP (with 43.21%) 81; and the FPÖ (with 4.97%) 12. The KPÖ polled 0.66% of the vote but won no seats. Two new environmentalist groups, the United Greens of Austria (Vereinten Grünen Österreichs) and the Alternative List–Austria (Alternative Liste Österreichs), likewise failed to gain representation in the Nationalrat, although they collectively polled more than 3% of the total vote. In May, Kreisky, having failed to win a clear majority, resigned. He was succeeded as party leader and chancellor by Fred Sinowatz, who proceeded to form a coalition government with the FPÖ.
Following the election of Kurt Waldheim to the presidency in June 1986, Sinowatz resigned and was succeeded by Franz Vranitzky, a former finance minister. The SPÖ-FPÖ coalition broke down in September 1986. Following parliamentary elections on 23 November 1986, a new government was sworn in on 21 January 1987, with Vranitzky from the SPÖ as chancellor and Alois Mock, FPÖ chairman, as vicechancellor and prime minister.
In the general election of 7 October 1990, the "grand coalition" continued. The 183 seats in the Nationalrat were distributed as follows: SPÖ (80), ÖVP (60), FPÖ (33), and the Green Alternative (10). It also governed after the 1995 elections.
The 1999 elections finally brought change and was a watershed event. In the legislative election held on 3 October 1999, the 183 seats in the Nationalrat were distributed as follows: SPÖ (65), ÖVP (52), FPÖ (52), Greens (14), and Liberal Forum (0). Compared to the 1995 elections, the SPÖ lost 6 seats, the Liberal Forum lost all of its 10 seats and had no representation in the new National Assembly, the ÖVP retained more or less its share of the vote, while the Greens went from 9 to 14 seats and the FPÖ went from 40 seats to 52 seats and became, together, with the People's Party, the second-largest bloc in parliament. The leader of the ÖVP, Wolfgang Schüssel, formed a coalition with the FPÖ, and became chancellor.
Following the 24 November 2002 elections, party strength in the Nationalrat was distributed as follows: ÖVP, 42.3% (79 seats); SPÖ, 36.5% (69 seats); FPÖ, 10% (18 seats); the Greens, 9.5% (17 seats); the Liberal Forum, 1% (no seats); and the KPÖ, 0.6% (no seats). Schüssel remained chancellor, and formed a government with the FPÖ, as he was unable to persuade the SPÖ and the Greens to join in a coalition with the ÖVP. As of 2005, a coalition government comprising the ÖVP and Jörg Haider's Alliance for the Future of Austria, which split from the FPÖ that April, was ruling the country.
In the presidential election held on 25 April 2004, Heinz Fischer of the SPÖ was elected president with 52.4% of the vote, defeating Benita Ferrero-Waldner of the ÖVP (47.6% of the vote). Fischer succeeded Thomas Klestil, who had served as president since 1992.
Austria is divided into nine provinces (Länder): Vienna (Wien), Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), Upper Austria (Oberösterreich), Styria (Steiermark), Carinthia (Kärnten), Tyrol (Tirol), Salzburg, Burgenland, and Vorarlberg. The relationship between the provinces and the central government is defined by the constitution. Most administrative, legislative, and judicial authority—including taxation, welfare, and police—is granted to the central government. The Länder, which enjoy all residual powers, act as executors of federal authority.
Each province has its own unicameral legislature, elected on the basis of proportional representation. All legislation must be submitted through the provincial governor (Landeshauptmann ) to the competent federal ministry for concurrence. If such concurrence is not obtained, the provincial legislature can reinstate the bill by majority vote. In case of prolonged conflict between the federal authorities and the provincial legislatures, the Constitutional Court may be appealed to for settlement.
The provincial governor, elected by the provincial legislature (Landtag ), is assisted by a cabinet (Landesrat ) consisting of ministries analogous to those at the federal level. Each province is divided into several administrative districts (Bezirke ), each of which is under a district commissioner (Bezirkshauptmann ). Local self-government is vested in popularly elected communal councils which, in turn, elect various local officers, including the mayor (Bürgermeister ) and his deputies. There are some 2,300 communities in Austria, as well as 15 cities that have independent charters and fall directly under provincial authority rather than that of the districts. Vienna is both a municipality and a province.
Austria in 2005 had 140 local courts (Bezirksgerichte ) with civil jurisdiction. There were also 20 provincial and district courts (Landesgerichte and Kreisgerichte ) with civil and criminal jurisdiction and four higher provincial courts (Oberlandesgerichte ) with criminal jurisdiction, located in Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, and Linz. The Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof ), in Vienna, acts as the final appellate court for criminal and civil cases. The Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof ) has supreme jurisdiction over constitutional and civil rights issues. The Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof ) ensures the legal functioning of public administration. A central auditing authority controls financial administration. Judges are appointed by the federal government and cannot be removed or transferred. Trial by jury was reintroduced in 1951. There is no capital punishment.
The judiciary is independent of the other branches. Judges are appointed for life and can only be removed for specific reasons established by law and only after formal court action has been taken.
Before the mid 1990s, the law allowed for detention of suspects for 48 hours without judicial review and up to two years of detention during the course of a criminal investigation. Amendments to the law in 1994 required more stringent judicial review of pretrial and investigative detention. Criminal defendants are afforded a presumption of innocence, public trials, and jury trial for major offenses, as well as a number of other procedural rights.
As of 2005, Austria's active armed forces totaled 39,900 personnel plus another 9,500 civilians. In addition, another 60,000 reservists undergo refresher training annually. The Army is the largest service in terms of manpower, with 33,200 personnel in 2005. Equipment included 114 main battle tanks, 220 light tanks, 637 armored personnel carriers, and 684 artillery pieces. Austria's Air Force in 2005 had 6,700 active personnel, which operated 40 combat capable aircraft, which included 12 fighters. There were also 17 transport and 44 training aircraft. The 2005 defense budget totaled $2.29 billion. Austrian armed forces in 2005 were deployed to 12 countries or regions under UN, NATO or European Union command.
The Federal Constitutional Law on the Neutrality of Austria, adopted on 26 October 1955, bound the nation to neutrality and banned it from joining any military alliances or permitting the establishment of foreign military bases on its territory. However, since 1995, the country has been rethinking this position on neutrality. In December 2001, Austria adopted a Security and Defense Doctrine; although Austria will not participate in military alliances requiring mutual defense commitments, the country is gradually moving toward greater integration with European security arrangements, which would allow for participation in the EU rapid reaction force and NATO's Partnership for Peace program.
Austria became a member of the UN on 14 December 1955. It is a member of ECE and all the nonregional specialized agencies, such as FAO, IFC, ILO, WHO, and the World Bank. The country became a member of the WTO 1 January 1995 and of the OSCE on 30 January 1992. Vienna has served an important role as a meeting place and headquarters site for a variety of international activities. The headquarters of OPEC, IAEA, UNIDO, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis are located in Vienna. Austria belongs to the Council of Europe, the OECD, the Paris Club, the European Space Agency, and the European Union. Austria's interest in the Third World is exemplified by membership in the Asian and Inter-American development banks and by its permanent observer status with the OAS.
Austria is part of the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Austrian troops have been part of UN peacekeeping forces in Kosovo (est. 1999), Western Sahara (est. 1991), Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), Georgia (est. 1993), and Cyprus (est. 1964).
In environmental cooperation, the country is part of the Antarctic Treaty; the Basel Convention; Conventions on Biological Diversity, Whaling, and Air Pollution; Ramsar; CITES; the International Tropical Timber Agreements; the Kyoto Protocol; the Montréal Protocol; MARPOL; and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Liberalization inspired by the EU and greater acceptance of the values of competition have transformed Austria's economy since the 1980s. Previously, the state maintained a strong presence in the Austrian economy, but in the 21st century private enterprise increasingly takes on a primary position. Basic industries, including mineral production, heavy industry, rail and water transport, and utilities, were nationalized during 1946–47 and in 1970 were reorganized under a state-owned holding company, the Austrian Industrial Administration (Österreichische Industrieverwaltungs-Aktiengesellschaft—ÖIAG). In 1986, the ÖIAG was renamed the Österreichische Industrieholding AG, and a process of restructuring and privatization took place that traversed the 1990s and early 2000s. German companies in particular took advantage of the privatization of Austrian firms.
Austria's period of unparalleled prosperity lasted from the 1950s through the early 1970s; the economy was characterized by a high rate of growth, modest price increases, and a favorable climate in industrial relations. By 1975, Austrian industry, the single most important sector of the economy, had more than quadrupled in value over 1945. But the general economic slowdown that followed the oil price hike of late 1973 affected Austria as it did other European countries. During 1978–81, annual real growth averaged 2.6%, about standard for the OECD countries, but there was no real growth in 1981 and only 1.1% growth in 1982, as Austria endured its most prolonged recession since World War II. The following years saw an improvement. Between 1984 and 1991, annual real GDP growth averaged 2.8%. In 1992, it was 1.7%. Following the mild recession in 1993, Austria's economy—driven by strong exports, investment, and private consumption—expanded an average of 2% throughout the 1990s. GDP growth stood at 2.4% in 2004, and dropped to an estimated 1.7% in 2005. GDP growth was forecast at 1.8% for 2006, and to accelerate to 2.1% for 2007. Despite the impact of high oil prices projected for 2006, inflation was expected to ease over the 2006–07 period. The inflation rate (at consumer prices) stood at 1.8% in 2004.
Due in large measure to a global economic downturn and resulting low domestic demand, in 2002 Austria was experiencing its worst slowdown in over a decade. However, in 2001, Austria balanced its budget for the first time in 30 years, in part due to an increase in taxes. (The only countries with higher tax burdens than Austria are Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.) However, the conservative government led by the Austrian People's Party that came into power in November 2002 gave less priority to maintaining a balanced budget, and by 2003, the budget deficit was -1.1%, and was expected to rise to -2% in 2006, with a modest improvement in 2007. Austria's ratio of government debt to GDP remained high among European countries in the early 2000s, at over 65%. Austria benefited from its proximity to the faster-growing economies of Central and Eastern Europe in the early 2000s, but was negatively impacted by the low growth in Germany, its largest trading partner. Severe flooding in Central Europe during August 2002 resulted in extra budget outlays for flood damage. The unemployment rate stood at 4.5% in 2004. Austria profits from a high productivity rate. It has also met with success in privatizing most of its large manufacturing firms. Austria in the early 2000s invested in high-growth industries such as telecommunications, biotechnology, medical and pharmaceutical research, and electronics.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Austria's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $269.4 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $32,000. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.9%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 2.3%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 2.3% of GDP, industry 30.8%, and services 66.9%.
According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $2.294 billion or about $284 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.9% of GDP.
The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Austria totaled $144.16 billion or about $17,819 per capita based on a GDP of $253.1 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.3%. It was estimated that in 1999 about 3.9% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.
In 2005, the labor force was estimated at 3.49 million workers. As of 2005, an estimated 70% of the workforce was engaged in the services sector, 27% in industry, and 3% in agriculture. Foreign laborers, mainly from the former Yugoslavia and Turkey, constitute a significant part of the total workforce. The unemployment rate has risen slightly in recent years, from 3.6% in 1994 to 4.8% in 2002. As of 2005, Austria's unemployment rate was estimated at 5.1%.
Workers were organized into the 13 trade unions affiliated in the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichische Gewerk-schaftsbund—ÖGB), accounting for an estimated 47% of the na-tion's workforce, as of 2005. This confederation negotiates collective bargaining agreements with the Federal Economic Chamber (Bundeskammer der gewerblichen Wirtschaft) representing employers. Although the right to strike is recognized, strikes are rarely used due to cooperation between labor and management. Collective bargaining is prevalent. Disputes over wages, working hours, working conditions, and vacations are settled by a labor court or an arbitration board.
The workweek is set at a maximum of 40 hours, although most Austrian workers put in 38–38.5 hours per week. A 50% differential is generally paid for overtime on weekdays, 100% on Sundays and holidays. In addition, it is required that an employee be given at least 11 hours off between workdays. There is no national minimum wage. Most employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements, which set wages by industry. However, the unofficial accepted minimum is $14,880 to $17,360 per year which provides a family with a decent standard of living. The minimum legal age for employment is 15 years, and this is effectively enforced.
Although small, the agricultural sector is highly diversified and efficient. Most production is oriented toward local consumption.
Of Austria's total area, about 18% was arable in 2002; meadows and pasturelands constituted another 24%. The best cropland is in the east, which has the most level terrain. Farms are almost exclusively family-owned. Most holdings are small or medium-sized and, in many cases, scattered. As of 2003, agriculture employed 4.5% of the labor force. In 2003, agriculture (together with forestry) contributed 2.3% to Austria's total GDP.
The use of farm machinery has been increasing steadily; 330,000 tractors were in operation in 2002, up from 78,748 in 1957. Austria today uses less land and manpower and produces more food than it did before World War II (1939–45). Better seeding and more intensive and efficient application of fertilizers have helped raise farm yields and have enhanced self-sufficiency in foodstuffs. Agriculture is highly protected by the government; overproduction, especially evidenced by recurring grain surpluses, requires a hefty subsidy to be paid by the government in order to sell abroad at market prices. Nevertheless, the Austrian government has been able to maintain farm income, although Austria has some of the highest food costs in Europe.
Chief crops, in terms of sown area and yield, are wheat, rye, oats, barley, potatoes, and sugar beets. Austria is near self-sufficiency in wheat, oats, rye, fruits, vegetables, sugar, and a number of other items. Major crop yields in 2004 included (in tons) sugar beets, 2,935,000; barley, 1,007,000; wheat, 1,719,000; potatoes, 693,000; rye, 213,000; and oats, 139,000. Vineyards yielded 351,000 tons of grapes crushed for wine.
Dairy and livestock breeding, traditionally the major agricultural activities, account for about three-fifths of gross agricultural income.
Milk, butter, cheese, and meat are excellent, and Austria is self-sufficient in dairy products and in most meats. In 2004, livestock included 3,245,000 hogs, 2,052,000 head of cattle, 325,000 sheep, 85,000 horses, and 11,600,000 million poultry. Meat and poultry production in 2004 totaled 996,000 tons. During 2004, Austrian dairy farms produced 3,559,000 tons of milk, 169,000 tons of cheese, and 32,000 tons of butter. In 2004, some 88,700 tons of eggs were produced, which satisfied over 90% of domestic demand. By specializing in quality strains of cattle, hogs, and horses, Austrian breeders have gained wide international recognition. Livestock products, primarily milk, account for about 35% of agricultural exports.
Fishing is not important commercially, and fish do not constitute a large part of the Austrian diet. Commercial catches consist mainly of carp and trout. The total catch in 2003 was 2,605 tons. Aquacultural production in 2003 was 2,233 tons, mostly rainbow trout. A sizable segment of the population engages in sport fishing.
Austria has the second-largest percentage of forest in the European Union. About 47% of Austria's total area is forested, mostly in the foothills and mountains. Styria, in the southeast, is 60% covered with forests, while Burgenland in the east has only 32% forest coverage. About two-thirds of the trees are coniferous, primarily spruce; beech is the most important broadleaf type.
Over-cutting during World War II (1939–45) and in the post-war period resulted in a decline in timber production from 9.5 million cu m (335 million cu ft) in 1936 to a low of about 7.1 million cu m (251 million cu ft). From 1950 to 2003, sawn lumber output rose from 4,000 cu m (141,000 cu ft) to 10.5 million cu m (370.7 million cu ft). Competition reduced the number of sawmills from 5,100 in 1950 to 1,400 in 2003, with about 10,000 employees. Bark beetle infestations adversely affected production in the mid-1990s. Total roundwood yield was 17.1 million cu m (602 million cu ft) in 2003. In 2004, about 7.8 million cu m (247 million cu ft) of softwood lumber logs were produced. To prevent over cutting, export restrictions have been introduced, and reforestation on both public and private land is compulsory. Exports of raw timber and cork are supplemented by exports of such forestry products as paper, cardboard boxes, prefabricated houses, toys, matches, turpentine, and volatile oils. Austria is the world's fourth-largest softwood lumber exporter, with shipments valued at €1.28 billion in 2003.
After a period of postwar expansion, mineral production has stagnated in recent decades, and metals mining continues to decline, because of high operating costs, increased foreign competition, low ore grades, and environmental problems. All the metal mines in the country were closed, except an iron ore operation at Erzberg (producing 1.8 million tons of iron ore and concentrate in 2000) and a tungsten operation at Mittersill, which was the West's largest underground tungsten mine. Most of the growth in the mineral resources area was in the production of industrial minerals, the area in which future mining activities will most likely be concentrated, mostly for domestic consumption.
Austria produces 2.5% of the world's graphite, ranking 10th in the world, and is one of the world's largest sources of high-grade graphite. In 2000, estimated output was 12,000 metric tons, down from 30,000 metric tons in 1996. The country produces 1.6% of the world's talc, ranking ninth, with a reported output in 2003 of 137,596 tons of crude talc and soapstone. The country's only producer of talc, Luzenac Naintsch AG, operated three mines, in the Styria region, and produced a range of talc, chloritic talc, dolomite talc, and chlorite-mica-quartz ores.
Output of other minerals in 2003 output in metric tons, include: limestone and marble, 24,477,000 metric tons; dolomite, 6,079,000 metric tons, for the domestic cement industry, along with calcite and limestone; gypsum and anhydrite, 1,004,000 metric tons; brine salt, 3,422,000 cubic meters (salt mines are owned by the government, with plans to privatize the operations); tungsten, 1,400 tons; pumice (trass), 4,000 tons; and crude kaolin, 100,000 metric tons. Gold production in 2003 was 25 kg. Crude magnesite production was reported at 767,000 metric tons in 2003.
Lignite production has been declining since 1963. In 2003, lignite production totaled 1,152,000 metric tons. Production of bituminous coal declined steadily after World War II, and in 1968 ceased altogether.
Austria is one of the foremost producers of hydroelectric power in Europe. The most important power facilities are publicly owned; 50% of the shares of the large private producers are owned by provincial governments.
In 2000, net electricity generation was 58.8 billion kWh, of which 28.5% came from fossil fuels, 68.6% from hydropower, none from nuclear energy, and the remainder from other sources. In the same year, consumption of electricity totaled 54.8 million kWh. Total installed capacity at the beginning of 2001 was 14.2 million kW. In 2000 petroleum accounted for 39% of energy consumption, natural gas 20%, coal 10%, nuclear energy 0%, and hydroelectric power 31%. During the winter, when there is less flowing water for hydroelectric power, domestic electricity demands must be supplemented by imports from neighboring countries.
Oil, first produced in 1863, is found both in Upper Austria, near Wolfsegg am Hausruck, and in Lower Austria, in the vicinity of Vienna. After reaching a peak of about 3,700,000 tons in 1955, oil production gradually declined to 22,000 barrels per day in 2000. Natural gas production was 1.698 billion cu m (60 billion cu ft) in 1998, far short of domestic needs; consumption amounted to 6.862 billion cu m (242 billion cu ft) in that year.
Industrial output has increased vastly since the beginning of World War II and contributed 30.8% of the GDP in 2004. The industrial production growth rate in 2004 was 3.3%. In 1946, the federal parliament nationalized basic industries. Major parts of the electric and electronics, chemical, iron and steel, and machinery industries remained state controlled until the 1990s, when the Austrian government embarked upon a privatization program. As of 2005, the steel, aluminum, and petroleum industries were majority-owned by private shareholders. Other privatizations in the early 2000s were the Austrian tobacco company, the Vienna airport company, Telekom Austria, Voest-Alpine Steel, and Boehler Uddeholm, an important tool and specialty steel manufacturer.
Iron and steel production greatly expanded its output after 1937. A total of 155,403 automobiles were manufactured in 2001 and 24,988 heavy trucks were produced in 2000. The sale of automotive parts and equipment was a $3 billion industry in 2004, albeit a decline from $3.35 billion in 2003 and $3.87 billion in 2002.
Traditionally, the most important sectors of the textile industry have been embroidery, spinning, weaving, and knitting. However, foreign competition cut into the Austrian textile industry. Following the expiration of the World Trade Organization's longstanding system of textile quotas at the beginning of 2005, the EU signed an agreement with China in June 2005, imposing new quotas on 10 categories of textile goods, limiting growth in those categories to between 8% and 12.5% a year. The agreement runs until 2007, and was designed to give European textile manufacturers time to adjust to a world of unfettered competition. Nevertheless, barely a month after the EU-China agreement was signed, China reached its quotas for sweaters, followed soon after by blouses, bras, T-shirts, and flax yarn. Tens of millions of garments piled up in warehouses and customs checkpoints, which affected both retailers and consumers.
The chemical industry, which was relatively unimportant before World War II, now ranks second in value of production, behind the mechanical and steel industry. Other leading industries, in terms of production value and employment, are electrical and electronic machinery and equipment, pulp and paper, ceramics, and especially foodstuffs and allied products. Austria has always been famous for its skilled craftsmen, such as glassblowers, goldsmiths, jewelers, lacemakers, potters, stonecutters, and wood-carvers.
The country is taking steps to change its image from one in which traditional "rust belt" industries such as steel and heavy engineering dominate. In 2005, the electronics, biotechnology, and medical and pharmaceutical sectors were high growth industries.
Numerous research institutes in Austria play an important role in conducting and coordinating advanced agricultural, medical, scientific, and technical research. The Austrian Research Council supports and coordinates scientific research. The major learned society is the Austrian Academy of Sciences (founded in 1847 and headquartered in Vienna). The Austrian Science Foundation (founded in 1967) and the Austrian Industrial Research Fund together form the Austrian Research Council, which supports and coordinates scientific, applied, and industrial research and development and advises federal and state governments on scientific matters. The Natural History Museum and the Trade and Industrial Museum of Technology, both in Vienna and founded in 1748 and 1907, respectively, each have large libraries.
Austria has 11 universities offering training in basic and applied sciences and 13 federal colleges of technology. In 2004, provisional data showed Austrian spending on research and development (R&D) as totaling €5.273 billion, of which 41.5% came from business, 36.7% from the government and 21.5% from foreign sources. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 29% of college and university enrollments. In 2002, of all bachelor's degrees awarded, 26.5% were in the sciences (natural, mathematics and computers, and engineering). As of 1998 (the latest year for which data was available), there were 2,346 researchers and 993 technicians per million people, that were actively engaged in R&D. In 2002, hightech exports were valued at $8.433 billion and accounted for 15% of all manufactured exports.
Vienna is the commercial, banking, and industrial center. Railroad lines passing through it connect Austria with all neighboring countries. Vienna is also the major, but not the only, distribution center; every large provincial city is the hub of marketing and distribution for the surrounding area. Most items are sold in privately owned general or special stores, but consumer cooperatives are also active. Though small specialty shops have accounted for about 90% of retail establishments, larger outlets and shopping malls are becoming popular. For instance, close to the small village of Parndorf, Burgenland, 40 minutes outside of Vienna, there is a designer outlet featuring more than 90 department stores and specialty shops selling over 350 international brands. Although modeled after the American shopping mall, the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet resembles an Austrian baroque village.
By law, most Austrian shops may be open no more than 66 hours per week. Legal shopping hours are from 6 am to 7:30 pm Monday through Friday, and 6 am to 5 pm on Saturdays. However, normal business hours are from 8 or 9 am to 6 pm, Mondays through Fridays. Saturday shopping hours are normally 8 or 9 am to 12 or 1 pm. Banks usually stay open from 8 am to 12:30 pm and from 1:30 to 3 pm (5:30 pm on Thursday) on the weekdays. Retail establishments are governed by stricter rules than in the United States. Sunday hours are generally not permitted.
Advertising is displayed in newspapers, periodicals, and trade journals, and on posters on public conveyances, public stands, and billboards. Considerable advertising is done in cinemas. International fairs are held every spring and autumn in Vienna, and specialized fairs are held regularly in Dornbirn, Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Ried im Innkreis, and Wels.
Austria depends heavily on foreign trade. During the Cold War, the government consistently maintained strong ties with the West while being careful to preserve the country's neutrality. In 1972, Austria achieved association with the EEC without encountering much Soviet opposition. Austria formerly had long-term bilateral trade agreements with CMEA nations, and played an important role as a mediator in East–West trade dealings. It applied
|Italy-San Marino-Holy See||8,007.6||6,426.8||1,580.8|
|(…) data not available or not signiïcant.|
for membership in 1989, ushering a new era in relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Austria became a member of the EU in 1995, and a member of the EMU in 1999; euro notes and coins were introduced in place of the Austrian schilling in 2002.
Austria's commodity trade pattern has changed significantly since the 1930s. Because of its increasing self-sufficiency in agricultural production, expansion in output of certain basic industries, and development of new industries, Austria is no longer as dependent as in pre-World War II years on imports of food and raw materials.
The rise in industrial capacity has resulted in an extensive rise in export volume, with finished and semifinished goods accounting for well over 80% of the total export value. The major industry and export commodity in Austria is the automobile and its components, made up of plates and sheets of iron or steel, internal combustion engines and piston parts, motor vehicle parts and accessories, and complete passenger motor cars. These exports comprise a large portion of Austria's exports, while machinery and paper products continue to be important commodities. Medicinal and pharmaceutical product exports are increasing, but are still low compared to those of the automobile industry.
Approximately 71% of Austria's trade is with EU nations. Although Germany, Italy, and the United States remain Austria's main trading partners, expanding trade with the new EU members of Central and Eastern Europe that joined the EU in May 2004 represent a sizeable element of Austrian economic activity.
In 2004, exports totaled an estimated $102.7 billion, and the total value of imports was estimated at $101.2 billion, for a trade surplus of $1.5 billion.
Revenues in 2004 were estimated at $142.5 billion; expenditures were estimated at $146.4 billion. Austria's current account balance in 2004 was estimated at -$3.283 billion.
The Austrian National Bank (Österreichische Nationalbank), originally opened on 2 January 1923 but taken over by the German
|Balance on goods||1,140.0|
|Balance on services||1,662.0|
|Balance on income||-1,836.0|
|Direct investment abroad||-7,061.0|
|Direct investment in Austria||7,276.0|
|Portfolio investment assets||-18,414.0|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||22,992.|
|Other investment assets||-15,117.0|
|Other investment liabilities||10,610.0|
|Net Errors and Omissions||-203.0|
|Reserves and Related Items||2,036.0|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
Reichsbank in 1938, was reestablished on 3 July 1945. The bank is a corporation with capital shares fixed by law at s150 million; 50% of the shares are, by law, owned by the government. The central bank and the bank of issue, it preserves the domestic purchasing power of the Austrian currency and its value in terms of stable foreign currencies, and controls external transactions affecting the balance of payments. It also sets reserve requirements for credit institutions.
The Austrian banking system also includes joint-stock banks, banking houses, and private banks, as well as postal savings banks, private savings banks, mortgage banks, building societies, and specialized cooperative credit institutions. The most important credit institutions are the joint-stock commercial banks, the two largest of which, the Creditanstalt-Bankverein and the Österreichische Länderbank, were nationalized in 1946; shares representing 40% of the nominal capital of the two were sold to the public in 1957.
On 12 January 1997, the coalition partners, after long and intensive negotiations, agreed to sell Credit and staff-Bankverein to the indirectly state-owned Bank Austria, which is dominated by the senior coalition party, the Social Democratic Party (SPO). The sale created a financial and industrial giant in Austria, which holds about one-quarter of the assets of all financial institutions.
The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $52.9 billion. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $171.2 billion.
A special decree of Empress Maria Theresa (1 August 1771) provided for the establishment of a stock exchange in Vienna. From the mid-19th century to the beginning of World War I, it was the main capital market of middle and eastern Europe, and from 1918 to 1938, it had continuous international importance as an equity market for the newly founded nations originating from the former monarchy. The exchange also deals in five Austrian and seven foreign investment certificates. The Austrian Traded Index has grown steadily in the past few years, growing 8.71% in 2002, and averaging a growth rate of 10.15% in the past five years. Market capitalization as of December 2004 stood at $85.815 billion, with the index up 57.4% at 2,431.4 from the previous year. There were 99 companies listed on the Wiener Borse AG in 2004.
Insurance in Austria is regulated by the Ministry of Finance under legislation effective 1 January 1979. Motor-vehicle third-party liability, aviation accident and third-party liability, workers' compensation, product liability, professional indemnity for certain professions, and nuclear-risk liability coverage are compulsory. Armed sportsmen, accountants, pipeline operators, and notaries are also required to carry liability insurance. In 2003, the value of all direct premiums written totaled $14.996 billion, of which non-life premiums accounted for the largest portion at $8.410 billion. The nation's top nonlife insurer for 2003 was Allianz Elementar with gross nonlife written premiums of $983.5 million. Austria's top life insurer that same year was Sparkassen-Vericherung, with gross life written premiums of $857.5 million.
The government's proposed annual budget is submitted to the Nationalrat before the beginning of each calendar year (which coincides with the fiscal year). Within certain limits, the Finance Minister can subsequently permit the maximum expenditure levels to be exceeded, but any other excess spending must receive the approval of the Nationalrat in the form of a supplementary appropriations bill or an amendment to the budgetary legislation. Annual expenditures, which in the early 1960s rose markedly owing to increases in defense expenditures, social services, federal operations, and capital expenditures, were less expansionary in 1965–70. During the 1970s, the annual budget again began to rise, expenditures increasing at a faster rate than revenues, but by
|Revenue and Grants||85,652||100.0%|
|General public services||13,710||15.6|
|Public order and safety||2,683||3.1%|
|Housing and community amenities||1,007||1.1%|
|Recreational, culture, and religion||651||0.7%|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
the mid-1980s, both expenditures and revenues were increasing at about the same rate. As a result of a minirecession in 1993, the budget deficit widened to 4.7% of GDP in 1994. The increase in the budget deficit was mainly due to the government's decision to let automatic stabilizers work, when it became apparent that business activity was slowing down. Rising budget deficits present an economic challenge to the government. Despite these problems, Austria managed to meet the criteria necessary to join the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Austria's central government took in revenues of approximately $148.6 billion and had expenditures of $154.5 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$5.9 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 64.5% of GDP. Total external debt was $510.6 billion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2002, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were €85,652 million and expenditures were €87,934 million. The value of revenues was us$80,606 million and expenditures us$82,537 million, based on an exchange rate for 2002 of us$1 = €1.0626 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 15.6%; defense, 2.2%; public order and safety, 3.1%; economic affairs, 6.4%; environmental protection, 0.3%; housing and community amenities, 1.1%; health, 13.0%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.7%; education, 10.2%; and social protection, 47.4%.
The income tax for individuals in 2005 was progressively set up to 50% on a four-bracket progressive schedule: 21% (on taxable income from €3,640 to €7,270; 31% (€7,270 to €21,800); 41% (€21,800 to 50,870); and 50% above €51,000. Married people are taxed separately. Payroll withholding tax is in effect.
Taxes are levied on corporations (25% on distributed and undistributed profits), trade income, real estate, inheritance, dividends, gifts, and several miscellaneous services and properties. A value-added tax was introduced 1 January 1973 at a basic rate of 16%. The standard rate in 2005 was 20%. A reduced rate of 10% applied to basic foodstuffs, agricultural products, rents, tourism, and entertainment; banking transactions are exempt and exports are untaxed. There was also an augmented rate of 32% on automobiles, airplanes, and ships.
Capital gains and dividend income are taxed at 25% and are withheld at the source. There is no wealth tax. In accordance with EU guidelines, tax exemptions and reductions are included in incentive packages for investment in economically depressed and underdeveloped areas along Austria's eastern border.
Austria is committed to a program of progressive trade liberalization. As a member of the European Union, non-EU imports are covered by the EU's common tariff policy, the TARIC (integrated tariff). For most manufactured goods, this tariff results in the addition of a 3.5% duty. Import quotas affect other imports such as raw materials or parts. In addition, imports are levied an import value-added tax, which is 20% for everything except food products, for which it is 10%.
Import licenses are required for a variety of products, including agricultural produce and products, tobacco and tobacco products, salt, war materials, and poisons. An automatic licensing procedure is applied to certain products. Free-trade zones are located at Graz, Linz, Bad Hall, and Vienna.
Between 1948 and 1954, an estimated $4 billion was invested in the Austrian economy. Austria raised foreign capital largely through loans rather than as direct investment. Many post-World War II projects were financed by US aid; US grants and loans in the post-war period totaled about $1.3 billion before they began to taper off in 1952. To stimulate domestic and foreign investment, especially in underdeveloped areas of Austria, two specialized investment credit institutions were founded in the late 1950s.
The Austrian government welcomes productive foreign investment, offering a wide range of assistance and incentives at all levels ranging from indirect tax incentives to direct investment grants. Until 2006, 41% of Austria's land area is eligible for support under various EU structural reform programs. In 2005, Austria lowered its corporate tax from 34% to 25%, making the investment climate more agreeable to foreign companies. Of particular interest are investments in industries that are seeking to create new employment in high technology, promoting capital-intensive industries linked with research activities, improving productivity, replacing imports, increasing exports, and are environmentally "friendly." Austria has strict environmental laws, rejects nuclear energy, and has tight restrictions on biotech products. Full foreign ownership is permitted, except in nationalized sectors, and such enterprises have the same rights and obligations as domestic companies.
Austria has sizeable investments in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and continues to move low-tech and labor-intensive production to those regions. Austria has the potential to attract EU firms seeking convenient access to developing markets in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Following record inflows in 2000 and 2001 and a significant drop in 2002, foreign direct investment rebounded in 2003 to $8.1 billion, equal to 2.9% of GDP, the third highest ever. New FDI in the first half of 2004 amounted to $2.1 billion. This raised the value of FDI stock in Austria to $62 billion by mid-2004. New Austrian direct investment abroad reached $7.7 billion in 2003, equal to 2.7% of GDP. In the first half of 2004, the amount was $3.1 billion. This raised the value of Austrian direct investment stock abroad to $61.5 billion by mid-2004.
The federal government held a majority share in two of the three largest commercial banks and all or most of the nation's electricity, coal and metal mining, and iron and steel production, as well as part of Austria's chemical, electrical, machine, and vehicle industries. The republic's share in the nationalized industries was handed over on 1 January 1970 to the Austrian Industrial Administration Co. (Österreichische Industrieverwaltungs-Aktiengesellschaft—ÖIAG), of which the government was the sole shareholder. The ÖIAG, in line with the government's industrialization program, regrouped the nationalized industries into six sectors: iron and steel; nonferrous metals; shipbuilding and engineering; electrical engineering; oil and chemicals; and coal. This was later regrouped into five sections: steel; metals; machinery and turnkey operations; electronics, petroleum, petrochemicals and plastics; and chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizers.
The nationalized establishments operated according to free-enterprise principles and did not receive tax concessions. Private investors were subsequently allowed to buy shares in them. The government, however, maintained voting control in these transactions. The legislation providing for ÖIAG's reorganization of the iron and steel industry included codetermination provisions granting employees the right to fill one-third of the seats on the board of directors. The postal, telephone, and telegraph services and radio and television transmission were state monopolies, as was the trade in tobacco, alcohol, salt, and explosives.
During the 1970s, the government placed new emphasis on centralized economic planning. Key elements in the new policy were the planning of public investment, selective promotion of private sector investment, coordinated expansion of the energy sector and state-owned industry, and assistance for the structural improvement of agriculture. Special emphasis was given to the reform of the handicrafts industry.
In 1986, the ÖIAG was renamed the Österreichische Industrie-holding AG, and a process of restructuring and privatization took place in 1993. In 1996, the post and telecommunications monopoly was privatized, and other companies were split up and taken over by foreign, and especially German, companies. The agricultural sector has gone through substantial reform through the EU's common agricultural policy. Computer software and services, telecommunications, advertising, and Internet services are growing commercial enterprises.
In the 21st century, Austria needs to emphasize its knowledge-based sectors of the economy, continue to deregulate the service sector, and encourage greater participation in the labor market of its aging population. The aging phenomenon, together with already high health and pension costs, poses problems in tax and welfare policies.
Austria has one of the most advanced and comprehensive systems of social legislation in the world. The General Social Insurance Bill of 1955 unified all social security legislation and greatly increased the scope of benefits and number of insured. All wage and salary earners must carry sickness, disability, accident, old age, and unemployment insurance, with varying contribution levels by employer and employee for each type of insurance. Health insurance is available to industrial and agricultural workers, federal and professional employees, and members of various other occupational groups. For those without insurance or adequate means, treatment is paid for by public welfare funds.
Unemployment benefits mostly range from 40–50% of previous normal earnings. After three years' service, regular benefits are paid up to between 20 and 30 weeks; thereafter, for an indefinite period, a worker, subject to a means test, may receive emergency relief amounting to 92–95% of the regular benefit. Work injury laws were first enacted in 1887. Citizens are eligible for old age pensions after age 65 (men) and age 60 (women) if they have 35 years of contributions paid or credited. In 2004 the age for retirement began increasing by one month per quarter.
Employers must contribute 4.5% of payroll earnings to a family allowance fund. Family allowances are paid monthly, depending on the number of dependent children, with the amount doubled for any child who is severely handicapped. The state provides school lunches for more than 100,000 children annually. In addition, it administers the organization of children's holiday programs and provides for the care of crippled children, for whom there is a state training school. The state also grants a special birth allowance and a payment for newlyweds setting up their first home; unmarried people establishing a common household may apply for tax remission. The government provides maternity benefits, takes care of destitute old people, and provides for war victims and disabled veterans. Administration of social insurance is carried out in the provinces by autonomous bodies in which both employers and employees are represented. Payment is also made to victims of political persecution during the Nazi era and to victims of violent crime.
Women make up an increasing percentage of the work force. Austrian women earn 79% as much as men. While the number of women in government is low in relation to the overall population, there are female members of parliament, cabinet ministers, state secretaries, town councilors, and mayors. The law proscribes sexual harassment in the workplace, and the government generally enforces these laws. It is believed that violence against women is a widespread problem, and cases generally remain unreported. The government provides shelters and hotlines for victims. Children's rights are fully protected by law.
The constitution provides for the freedoms of religion and assembly, and the government respects these rights. A growing problem is rightwing extremism and the emergence of neo-Nazi groups. Racial violence against ethnic minorities in Austria is evident. In 2005, Austria adopted an Equal Treatment Bill to combat racism and discrimination.
Austria's federal government formulates health policy directive and public hygiene standards are high. The country spent an estimated 8.2% of GDP on health care annually as of 1999 and, in recent years, has expanded its public health facilities. Virtually every Austrian has benefits of health insurance. In principle, anyone is entitled to use the facilities provided by Austria's health service. The costs are borne by the social insurance plan or, in cases of hardship, by the social welfare program.
As of 2004, there were an estimated 324 physicians and 589 nurses per 100,000 people. Life expectancy in 2005 was 78.92 years. The infant mortality rate for that year was 4.66 per 1,000 live births that year. In 1999, 6% of births were low weight. Improvement has been made in lowering the under-age-five mortality rate from 43 children per 1,000 in 1960 to 5 per 1,000 in 2004. An estimated 90% of married women (ages 15–49) used contraceptives.
As of 1999, Austria immunized its one-year-old children as follows: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (90%) and measles (90%). The overall death rate in 2002 was 10 per 1,000 people, and in 1999 there were 16 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.30 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 10,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 100 deaths from AIDS in 2003. Vienna's medical school and research institutes are world famous; spas (with thermal springs), health resorts, and sanatoriums are popular among Austrians as well as foreigners.
During the First Republic (1919–38), Vienna and several other Austrian municipalities supported a progressive housing policy and built model apartment houses for workers. From the end of World War II until 1967, 157,386 small homes were built under the Federal Accommodation Fund, and 75,663 damaged homes were repaired under the Housing Reconstruction Fund. A system of subsidies for public housing has since been decentralized, and control turned over to local authorities. The Housing Improvement Act of 1969 provided for state support for modernization of outdated housing.
In 2003, there were an estimated 3,863,262 dwellings in the nation. About 74% of all dwellings were privately owned. As of 1990, 25% of Austria's housing stock had been built before 1919; 19% between 1971 and 1980; 18% between 1961 and 1970; 15% between 1945 and 1960; 13% after 1981; and 10% between 1919 and 1944. About 53,000 new dwellings were completed in 2000 and 41,914 were built in 2002.
The Austrian educational system has its roots in the medieval monastic schools that flourished toward the end of the 11th century. The present state education system goes back to the school reforms introduced by Maria Theresa in 1774. In 1869, the Imperial Education Law unified the entire system of compulsory education.
In 1962, Austria's education system was completely reorganized under a comprehensive education law, and compulsory education was extended from eight to nine years. Since 1975, all schools are coeducational and education at state schools is free of charge. Primary education lasts for four years. After primary school, pupils may either attend a general secondary school (Hauptschule ), which is organized into two four-year courses of study (lower and upper secondary), or an academic secondary school, which also covers an eight-year program. Financial support is provided for postsecondary schooling. Secondary age students may also choose a five-year vocational program. Those who complete their studies at secondary or higher vocational school are qualified to attend the universities. Disabled students either attend special schools or are mainstreamed into regular classrooms. The primary language of instruction is German. The school year runs from October to June.
In 2001, about 84% of children ages three to five attended pre-school programs. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 90% of age-eligible students; 89% for boys and 91% for girls. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 89%, with equal percentages of boys and girls. The pupil to teacher ratio for primary school was at about 13:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 11:1.
Austria maintains a vigorous adult education system. Almost all adult education bodies owe their existence to private initiative. The Ministry of Education, under the auspices of the Development Planning for a Cooperative System of Adult Education in Austria, has joined private bodies in setting up projects for enhancing the quality of adult education programs. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5.7% of GDP.
As of 2002, the adult literacy rate was estimated at 98%. There are 12 universitylevel institutions and six fine-art colleges offering 430 subjects and about 600 possible degrees. There are several other institutes of higher education throughout the country. In 2003, about 49% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program.
Austria is rich in availability of large library collections and is filled with strong, unique collections. The largest and most important of Austria's 2,400 libraries is the Austrian National Library, which contains more than 2.6 million books and over 3 million non-book materials. It includes nine special collections: manuscripts and autographs, incunabula (old and precious prints), maps and globes, music, papyri, portrait and picture archives, Austrian literature archives, pamphlets and posters, and a theater collection. The National Library serves as a center for the training of professional librarians, prepares the Austrian national bibliography, and provides a reference service for Austrian libraries. The largest university libraries are the University of Vienna (5.5 million volumes), Graz University (3 million), and Innsbruck University (1.4 million). There are at least 12 prominent scientific libraries in the country, primarily associated with universities. Austria also has several hundred private libraries, such as the renowned libraries in the monasteries at Melk and Admont. The Austrian Institute of Economic Research in Vienna maintains an internationally renowned research library and electronic databases on international economic trends and forecasts.
The Haus-, Hof-, and Staatsarchiv, founded in Vienna in 1749, was combined in 1945 with the Allgemeine Verwaltungsarchiv to form the Austrian State Archives. The Archives' collection ranks as one of the most important in the world, with more than 100,000 manuscripts and documents, some dating as far back as the year 816. Most notable are the state documents of the Holy Roman Empire—including those of the Imperial Court Council (from 1555), the Imperial Court Chancellery (from 1495), and the Mainz Imperial Chancellery (from 1300); documents of the subsequent Austrian State Chancellery; and those of the Austro-Hun-garian Foreign Ministry.
There are over 700 museums in Austria, including art museums, archaeology and history museums, science and technology museums, and regional museums. There are eight recognized historical sites in the country. The most important museums had their origins in the private collections of the House of Habsburg. The Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum) in Vienna (1871) contains a vast collection of Flemish, Italian, and German paintings by old masters. It also houses distinguished collections of Egyptian and Oriental objects, classical art, sculpture and applied art, tapestries, coins, and old musical instruments. The Albertina Museum houses the world's largest graphic art collection, including the most extensive collection in existence of the works of Albrecht Dürer. The Secular Treasury (Schatzkammer) houses the jewels and insignia of the Holy Roman Empire and of all the Austrian emperors. The numerous collections formerly in the possession of the imperial court have in large part been brought together for display in the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Hofburg (Innsbruck). Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace contains a collection of imperial coaches from the Habsburg court. The Austrian Gallery in Belvedere Castle (Vienna), formerly the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, houses unique examples of medieval Austrian art as well as works of 19th- and 20th-century Austrian artists. The Museum of Modern Art was opened in Vienna's Palais Liechtenstein in 1979; incorporated into it was the Museum of the 20th Century, founded in 1962. Also of interest is Vienna's Lipizzaner Museum, featuring the city's famous white horses, and a museum of Sigmund Freud's apartment and office.
There are also other castles, manor houses, monasteries, and convents, many of which date from the Middle Ages and which are of interest for their architecture as well as for their contents. Important scientific collections are housed in the Natural History Museum, the Museums of Anthropology and Folklore, and the Technical Museum, all in Vienna; the Joanneum, in Graz; the Ferdinandeum, in Innsbruck; the Carolino Augusteum and the House of Nature, in Salzburg; and the Folk Museum, in Hallstatt, Upper Austria, which contains local prehistoric discoveries dating from the 4th and 3rd centuries bc. Salzburg has two historical museums dedicated to Mozart—the house where he was born and another house in which he lived. In Vienna, there is a museum dedicated to Sigmund Freud.
The Jewish Museum Vienna contains a memorial to Austrian victims of the Holocaust and a 40,000-volume research library on the history of the Jews in Austria and Vienna. There is also a Holocaust memorial at the site of the Maunthausen concentration camp.
The Austrian Post and Telegraph Administration operates all telephone, telegraph, teletype, and postal services. In 2003, there were an estimated 481 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 879 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.
Oesterreichischer Rundfunk (ORF) is the primary public broadcasting company in Austria. The first national commercial television license was granted to ATV in 2000. Commercial radio stations began in the 1990s. As of 2001, there were a total of about 2 AM and 65 FM radio stations in the country and 10 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 763 radios and 637 television sets for every 1,000 people. Nearly 157 of every 1,000 people held subscriptions to cable television. The same year, there were 369.3 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 462 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 1,586 secure servers in the country in 2004.
As of 2005, Austria had 15 national and regional daily newspapers. Vienna accounts for about half of total readership. The two most widely read papers are the tabloids Kronen Zeitung (circulation 850,000 in 2005) and Der Kurier (circulation 172,000 in 2005). Other leading dailies (with 2005 circulation figures unless noted) include Kleine Zeitung (171,405 in 2004), Oberöster-reichische Nachrichten (in Linz, 123,000 in 2002), Salzburger Nachrichten (126,000), Tiroler-Tageszeitung (in Innsbruck, 103,600 in 2002), and Die Presse (76,000), and Der Standard (71,000). Neue Zeit, published in Graz, is a major daily for the Social Democrat party with a circulation of about 66,100 in 2002. The leading periodicals include the weeklies Wochenpresse—Wirtschaftswoche and Profil and the monthly Trend which had a circulation of 95,000 in 1995.
Freedom of the press is constitutionally guaranteed and there is no state censorship; the Austrian Press Council is largely concerned with self-regulatory controls and the effective application of a code of ethics. The Austrian Press Agency is independent of the government and operates on a nonprofit basis; most major newspapers share in its financing.
The Federal Economic Chamber, including representatives of commerce, industry, trade, and transport, has official representatives in most counties. Every province has an economic chamber organized in the same way as the federal chamber. District chambers of agriculture are combined into provincial chambers, which are further consolidated in a national confederation. Provincial chambers of labor are combined in a national chamber. Austria has a committee on the International Chamber of Commerce.
The Federation of Austrian Industrialists, with an organizational membership of almost 5,000, is subdivided into departments for trade, industry, finance, social policies, and communications, with sections for press relations and organization. There are associations of bankers, insurance companies, and publishers, as well as other commercial and professional groups.
Austria has a large number of scholarly associations, as well as several groups dedicated to the support and promotion of various arts and sciences. The latter include the Association for Sciences and Politics, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Austrian Association of Music, the Austrian Physical Society, the Austrian P.E.N. Center, and the Austrian Science Fund. Filling a specialty niche, Vienna is home to the International Confederation of Accordionists and the International Gustav Mahler Society.
The Austrian Medical Chamber is a notable institution for the promotion of health education, research, and policy making. There are numerous associations representing a wide variety of specialized medical fields and promoting research for the treatment and prevention of particular diseases and conditions.
The Austrian Sports Federation represents over three million athletes in the country in promoting education and competition in a wide variety of sports. There are numerous association for particular sports, including Frisbee, football (soccer), baseball, golf, ice hockey, tennis, and badminton. There is an Austrian Paralympic Committee, an Olympic Committee, and a Special Olympics committee.
The Austrian Union of Students (AUS), the national university student coordinating body, is incorporated under Austrian federal public law to serve as a legal representative body for Austrian university students through Federal Ministries responsible for higher education and through the National Parliament. The secretariat of the National Unions of Students of Europe (ESIB) is housed within the AUS. Other youth organizations, representing a variety of concerns and interests, include the Austrian Socialist Youth Organization, Young Austrian People's Party, Union of Liberal Youth, Communist Youth of Austria, Austrian Catholic Youth Group, Cartel Association of Austrian Catholic Student Unions, Protestant Youth Welfare Organization, Protestant Student Community, Austrian Trade Union Youth Organization, Austrian Friends of Nature Youth Organization, Junior Chamber Austria, and Austrian Alpine Youth Organization. Scouting organizations are also present for both boys and girls.
Organizations of Greenpeace, The Red Cross, and Amnesty International are also present. There are active chapters of Lions Clubs and Kiwanis International.
Austria ranks high among European tourist countries. It has a yearround tourist season: in winter, tourists come to the famous skiing resorts and attend outstanding musical events in Vienna; in summer, visitors are attracted by scenery, sports, and cultural festivals, notably in Vienna and Salzburg. Of the 4,000 communities in Austria, nearly half are considered tourist centers.
Tourist attractions in the capital include 15 state theaters and the Vienna State Opera (which also houses the Vienna Philharmonic); the Vienna Boys' Choir; St. Stephen's Cathedral; the Schönbrunn and Belvedere palaces; and the Spanish Riding Academy, with its famous Lippizaner stallions. Just beyond the city boundary are the Vienna Woods, with their picturesque wine taverns.
About 40 or 50 towns and villages qualify as major resorts for Alpine skiing, and Innsbruck has been the site of two Winter Olympics, in 1964 and 1976. Mountaineering is another Austrian specialty, with Austrian climbers having scaled high peaks all over the world. Austrians have frequently taken titles in world canoeing championships. Football (soccer) is a very popular sport. Austria also puts on a number of prominent annual events for cyclists. Probably the most challenging tour on the amateurs' program is the "Tour d'Autriche," which has been held every year since 1949. This race through Austria's mountains covers a total distance of almost 1,500 kilometers. Motor racing, motorcycle racing and speedway racing are also extremely popular sports in Austria.
Foreign tourist traffic is the leading single source of foreign exchange, and tourism is a major contributor to the Austrian economy. An estimated 13,748,371 foreign visitors arrived in Austria in 2003. Receipts from tourism amounted to $16 billion. That year there were 282,614 rooms in hotels, inns, and pensions with 631,085 beds and a 36% occupancy rate. The average length of stay was four nights.
Visitors entering Austria for a short stay need only a valid passport if from the United States or the European Union countries, but an Austrian visa is required for visits exceeding three months.
In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Austria at $255 to $276.
Monarchs who played a leading role in Austrian and world history include Rudolf I of Habsburg (1218–91), founder of the Habsburg dynasty and Holy Roman emperor from 1273; Maria Theresa (1717–80), who succeeded to the Habsburg dominions by means of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1740; her son Joseph II (1741–90), the "benevolent despot" who became Holy Roman emperor in 1765; Franz Josef (1830–1916), emperor of Austria at the outbreak of World War I; and his brother Maximilian (Ferdinand Maximilian Josef, 1832–1867), who became emperor of Mexico in 1864, ruling on behalf of Emperor Napoleon III of France, and was deposed and executed. Prince Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar von Metternich (1773–1859), Austrian foreign minister from 1809 to 1848, was the architect of the European balance of power established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Adolf Hitler (1889–1945), born in Braunau, was dictator of Germany from 1933 until his death. Leading Austrian statesmen since World War II are Bruno Kreisky (1911–1990), Socialist Party chairman and chancellor of Austria from 1970 to 1983; and Kurt Waldheim (b.1918), Austrian diplomat and foreign minister, who was UN secretary-general from 1971 to 1981 and was elected to the presidency in June 1986.
Austria has produced many excellent artists, writers, and scientists but is probably most famous for its outstanding composers. Beginning in the 18th century and for 200 years, Vienna was the center of European musical culture. Among its great masters were Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–91), Franz Schubert (1797–1828), Anton Bruckner (1824–96), Gustav Mahler (1860–1911), Hugo Wolf (1860–1903), Arnold Schönberg (1874–1951), Anton von Webern (1883–1945), and Alban Berg (1885–1935). Although born in northwestern Germany, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) and Johannes Brahms (1833–97) settled in Vienna and spent the rest of their lives there. Composers of light music, typical of Austria, are Johann Strauss, Sr. (1804–49), Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825–99), Dalmatian-born Franz von Suppé (Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegil-do Cavaliere Suppe-Demelli, 1819–95), Hungarian-born Franz Lehár (1870–1948), and Oskar Straus (1870–1954). Outstanding musicians are the conductors Clemens Krauss (1893–1954), Karl Böhm (1894–1981), and Herbert von Karajan (1908–89); the pianists Artur Schnabel (1882–1951) and Alfred Brendel (b.1931); and the violinist Fritz Kreisler (1875–1962).
Leading dramatists and poets include Franz Grillparzer (1791–1872), Nikolaus Lenau (1802–50), Ludwig Anzengruber (1839–81), and Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874–1929). Novelists and short-story writers of interest are Adalbert Stifter (1805–68), Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), Arthur Schnitzler (1862–1931), Hermann Bahr (1863–1934), Stefan Zweig (1881–1942), Robert Musil (1880–1942), Hermann Broch (1886–1952), Yakov Lind (b.1927), Peter Handke (b.1942), and Elfriede Jelinek (b.1946), who won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature. Although born in Czechoslovakia, the satiric polemicist Karl Kraus (1874–1936), the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926), the novelist and short-story writer Franz Kafka (1883–1924), and the poet and novelist Franz Werfel (1890–1946) are usually identified with Austrian literary life. Film directors of Austrian birth include Max Reinhardt (Maximilian Goldman, 1873–1943), Erich von Stroheim (Erich Oswald Stroheim, 1885–1957), Fritz Lang (1890–1976), Josef von Sternberg (1894–1969), Otto Preminger (1905–86), and Billy Wilder (1906–2002). Internationally known performers born in Austria include Lotte Lenya (Karoline Blamauer, 1900–81) and Maximilian Schell (b.1930).
Two great architects of the Baroque period were Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (1656–1723) and Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt (1668–1745). Three prominent 20th-century painters were Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980), and Egon Schiele (1890–1918).
Psychoanalysis was founded in Vienna by Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) and extended by his Austrian colleagues Alfred Adler (1870–1937), Otto Rank (1884–1939), Theodor Reik (1888–1969), and Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957). Eugen Böhm-Bawerk (1851–1914) and Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883–1950) were out-standing economists. A renowned geneticist was Gregor Johann Mendel (1822–84). Christian Johann Doppler (1803–53), a physicist and mathematician, described the wave phenomenon known today as the Doppler shift. Lise Meitner (1878–1968) was the physicist who first identified nuclear fission. Austrian Nobel Prize winners in physics are Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961), in 1933; Victor Franz Hess (1883–1964), authority on cosmic radiation, in 1936; and atomic theorist Wolfgang Pauli (1900–1958), discoverer of the exclusion principle, in 1945. Winners of the Nobel Prize in chemistry are Fritz Pregl (1869–1930), who developed microanalysis, in 1923; Richard Zsigmondy (1865–1929), inventor of the ultramicroscope, in 1925; biochemist Richard Kuhn (1900–1967), a pioneer in vitamin research, in 1938; and biochemist Max Ferdinand Perutz (1914–2002) for research in blood chemistry, in 1962. Winners of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine are otologist Robert Bárány (1876–1936), in 1914; psychiatrist Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1857–1940), for developing a treatment for general paresis, in 1927; Karl Landsteiner (1868–1943), discoverer of blood groups, in 1930; German-born pharmacologist Otto Loewi (1873–1961), for his study of nerve impulse transmission, in 1936; Carl Ferdinand Cori (1896–1984) and his wife, Gerti Theresa Radnitz Cori (1896–1957), whose work with enzymes led to new ways of fighting diabetes, in 1947; and Konrad Lorenz (1903–1989), discoverer of the "imprinting" process of learning, in 1973. In 1974, Friedrich August von Hayek (1899–1992), a noted monetary theorist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Baroness Berta Kinsky von Suttner (b.Prague, 1843–1914), founder of the Austrian Society of Peace Lovers and author of Lay Down Your Arms!, in 1905; and to Alfred Hermann Fried (1864–1921), a prolific publicist for the cause of international peace, in 1911. One of the most influential philosophers of the contemporary age was Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (1889–1951). Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), the founder of anthroposophy, was an Austrian. Theodor Herzl (b.Budapest, 1860–1904), founder of the Zionist movement, was an early advocate of the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Simon Wiesenthal (b.Poland, 1908–2005), a Nazi concentration-camp survivor, searched for Nazi war criminals around the world.
Austrians have excelled in international Alpine skiing competition. In 1956, Toni Sailer (b.1935) won all three Olympic gold medals in men's Alpine skiing events. Annemarie Moser-Pröll (b.1953) retired in 1980 after winning a record six women's World Cups, a record 62 World Cup races in all, and the 1980 women's downhill skiing Olympic championship. Franz Klammer (b.1953), who won the 1976 men's downhill Olympic title, excited spectators with his aggressive style. Arnold Schwarzenegger (b.1947) was once the foremost bodybuilder in the world and became a successful Hollywood actor and governor of California.
Austria has no territories or colonies.
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