ETHNONYMS: Burgenländer, Kärntner, Niederösterreicher, Oberösterreicher, Österreicher, Salzburger, Steierer, Tiroler, Vorarlberger, Wiener
Identification. Austria is a national culture of early twentieth-century origin (1919). It was created out of the six German-speaking provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the city of Vienna. An eighth province, containing many Hungarian and Croatian speakers, Burgenland, was added in 1945. The national culture is created by a communication system that tries to generate implicit agreement on a small set of values, especially those emphasizing historic, linguistic, and cultural similarities. This system includes the centralized curriculum of the schools, the programming of the national media monopoly, the discourse surrounding national and provincial elections and similar issues reported in the popular press, and customs of various types, including those regarding clothing, food and drink, recreational tastes, and use of dialect. In spite of these linguistic and cultural similarities, the provinces retain social, political, and ideological identities that have resisted complete integration. Also, the national culture is rejected by a growing minority that seeks unification with Germany. The forging of a national identity has fallen disproportionately on the urban centers, notably Vienna.
Location. Austria is bounded on the north by the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic and Germany; on the east by Hungary; on the south by Slovenia, Croatia, and Italy; and on the west by Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Its location is approximately 46° to 49° N and 9° to 17° E. The spine of the Alps runs west to east through the center of Austria. Only the extreme east and northeast edges of the area are hilly lowland plains. The mountains drain primarily north into the Danube
River system. Most of the country has alpine climate with a restricted growing season. In the lowlands, the climate is continental with warm, dry summers, humid autumns, and cold, wet winters. Average high temperature in January is —1o C, while in June it is 18° C. Elevation is a stronger determinant of local climate than latitude.
Demography. The total population in the 1981 census was 7,574,085. Vienna had the largest concentration of Population at 1,524,510, followed by Lower Austria (1,431,400), Upper Austria (1,276,807), Steiermark (1,188,878), Tirol (591,069), Carinthia (537,137), Salzburg (446,981), Vorarlberg (307,220), and Burgenland (270,083). Through migration and changing birthrates, the western provinces and highland areas have lost population to the eastern provinces and urban areas. Twenty-three percent of the population lives in villages of 2,500 or less, 32 percent in market towns of 2,500 to 10,000, 15 percent in cities of 10,000 to 100,000, and 30 percent in cities of 100,000 or more. The population structure has been altered by the mortality of two highly destructive wars in this century and the differential male mortality of advanced industrial societies.
linguistic Affiliation. Most Austrians speak the Southern (Bavarian) dialect of German, a branch of the Indo-European Language Family. Vorarlbergers speak the Alemannic dialect of German more commonly found in northern Switzerland and Swabia. In border provinces, one can find concentrations of speakers of Italian, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, and Czech. In Vienna one can find established enclaves of these languages, as well as speakers of Turkish, Serbian, Greek, Russian, Polish, French, Spanish, Arabic dialects, Persian, and English.
History and Cultural Retenons
Although each province has a documentary history stretching back to the Roman occupation, the events relevant to the formation of the national culture begin after the First World War. After losing the war, the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated into a number of nation-states—Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia—based primarily on language affiliation. The German-speaking provinces, some with sizable non-German populations, became the (First) Republic of Austria. Other provinces, some with large German populations, especially in the regional centers, were ceded to Italy (South Tirol), Poland (Galicia), and Romania (Transylvania) . National integration was hampered by postwar famine, disease, the loss of provincial markets and areas of supply, and the inflationary cycle and depression of 1926-1938. Pan-German nationalist political ideologies that linked the small, vulnerable Austria to the more powerful German state to the north were popular alternatives to Austrian nationalism, and in 1938 a majority of the country welcomed "Anschluss," the annexation of Austria by the Third Reich. The struggle between German and Austrian nationalism led to cultural warfare that severely damaged—or even, in some cases, destroyed—the country's Jewish, Gypsy, Croatian, and Slovene communities during World War II. After the war, the four Allied powers each occupied a separate sector of the country and of Vienna. In 1955, sovereignty was returned to Austria under the condition of perpetual political neutrality. The war experience, the failure of Pan-Germanism, the Permanent neutrality, and the legacy of the destruction of the minority communities became the basis for a new national identity in the Second Republic of Austria.
Germany remains the most significant cultural focus outside Austria. The Austrian schilling is tied to the German mark in international money markets. German corporations are heavily invested in the Austrian economy. The German press is read and German trends in government, society, and consumption are closely monitored. Austria also has Important relationships with Hungary and the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic. Although relations were strained after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the erection of political barriers in the 1950s and 1960s, the three countries now maintain a cordial association. Currently, their citizens may freely cross their frontiers without visas. Ethnic conflicts have created difficult relations with three other neighbors. In northern Italy (South Tirol), German-speaking Tirolese separatists still wage guerrilla actions against Italian institutions from Austria. Although the Austrian government deplores these actions and has successfully prosecuted offenders, relations with Italy have been strained for many years. German nationalist sentiment has also antagonized Yugoslavia. Croatian minorities in Burgenland and Slovene communities in Carinthia have been subject to discrimination by local and provincial officials. Of all its neighbors, Romania has the most strained relations with Austria. A large number of Protestant Upper Austrians migrated to Transylvania after the Counter-Reformation, but they maintained links to their original communities. These new communities were under the direct threat of "Romanianization" and the destruction of their ethnic identities. After the 1989 rebellion in Romania, however, the threat was mitigated and relations between the countries improved.
Austrian ethnographers speak of six identifiable rural settlement forms: (1) single, isolated farms with field blocks; (2) hamlets with tenant holdings; (3) nucleated villages with strip fields; (4) linear villages with strip fields extending through wooded areas; (5) villages built around a central green with rationalized fields; and (6) villages built along a street with rationalized fields. The more diffuse settlements (types 1,2, and 4) are found in alpine zones. The more nucleated settlements (types 3, 5, and 6) are found in lowland areas. Urban settlements are primarily riverine, nucleated, and, originally, walled. These features derive from the early modern period of town formation (1350-1650) in central Europe when waterways were used as transport routes and there was a high level of political and military insecurity. The most important regional centers—Innsbruck (Tirol), Salzburg (Salzburg), Linz (Upper Austria), Villach and Klagenfurt (Carinthia), Eisenstadt (Burgenland), Graz (Steiermark), and Saint Polten and Wiener Neustadt (Lower Austria)—are of this type. Vienna, with 20 percent of the national population, is a world-class metropolis and a center for elite entertainments and tourism. It was originally a Roman frontier fortress (Vindobona, a.d. 140) that declined in the post-Roman period only to revive with the building of Saint Stephan' s Cathedral in the twelfth century. It was a center of commerce in the early modern period, when it enjoyed staple rights over traffic up and down the Danube. Economic Development stagnated in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as the Habsburg dynasty transformed the city into a Ceremonial and administrative center for the empire. The Industrial transformation of the metropolis began late (1820s) and proceeded at a leisurely pace. The razing of the city's walls in 1857 and the development of the broad Ring Boulevard around the central district heralded the beginning of modern city government and planning. By the mid-1890s, all but two of the current twenty-three districts had been annexed from previously autonomous suburbs and the population had swollen to its historic high of 2 million people, two-thirds of whom had been born elsewhere and migrated to the city for industrial employment.
Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Eighty-five percent of Austrians subsist by selling their labor for wages. However, 10 percent of the population in 1982 maintained a self-sufficient agricultural subsistence. The remaining 5 percent represent various professions who subsist on a fee-for-service basis. Among wage earners, more than half are salaried, white-collar employees in the commercial sector or government service. The blue-collar workers, four in ten of whom are certified as skilled, earn an hourly wage based on a 35- to 40-hour work week. All workers and employees work under contract standards established by the federal government and modified to suit the requirements of specific sectors and industries. All wage earners are currently guaranteed four weeks of paid vacation per year, with additional weeks added with seniority. An extensive program of federally administered benefits (health and unemployment insurance, pensions, general relief, family assistance, housing support, retraining programs, and continuing education) is funded through a gradual and progressive income tax. These taxes tend to level the net incomes of wage earners dramatically.
Industrial Arts. Specialty metals, food processing, chemicals (especially petrochemicals), machine tools, and microelectronics are currently the basis for the greatest industrial-sector growth. Major exports include winter-sports articles, dairy products, and construction materials (lumber and concrete). Real-estate transactions are important to the urban Regional economies. Tourism is also an important source of regional income, especially in Vienna and the Tirol.
Division of Labor. A person's work life begins around age 15 and lasts through the early 60s. Retirement is a respected state, made all the more palatable by high pension payments. During a person's work life, promotions to higher pay and responsibility are age-related, although one can find fast-track promotions in young industries and government. Two-fifths of working-age women are employed outside the home. Among urban households of three persons or more, more than 75 percent of adult women are wage earners. In the rural areas, women are more likely to work at home. In two-income households, women continue to perform the traditional household-maintenance and child-care roles.
Land Tenure. In the alpine zones, land tenure is held within family corporations under the leadership of a single person, usually the senior male. As the elevation drops, land is rented for varying periods of time from a titleholder who may reside elsewhere. In lowland regions, land tends to be held by corporations, many of which are wholly owned within families, but with leadership shared among a number of persons.
Kinship, Marriage, and Family
Kinship. The most important kinship group is the bilateral Familie. The group tends to be coterminous with the Household in both urban and rural zones. Relations between lineal relatives, especially parents and their married children or Siblings, is recognized with the cover term Grossfamilie. These extended family ties are activated through frequent visiting. Families are embedded within a wider bilateral kindred, the Verwandschaft. This grouping is activated for life-cycle events.
Marriage. Marriages are monogamous. The age of Marriage in urban centers coincides with the establishment of a career track (early twenties), but many delay marriage until their thirties. In alpine zones, the European late-marriage pattern can be found. The decision to marry signifies an intention to have children, since cohabitation without Marriage, even within one's parents' house, is tolerated. The Roman Catholic practice of permanent marriage between sexually chaste partners remains prevalent among the rural population. According to state law, divorce can be initiated by either husband or wife, and remarriage is permitted. Marriages tie two extended families together. As soon as possible after the marriage, the couple establishes a neolocal residence within close proximity to one of the families, most frequently the wife's family. After the birth of children, the mother Returns to wage earning after a maximum two years of paid leave. Close kin are employed for preschool child care.
Inheritance. Where land tenure is held within the family under the leadership of a single individual (alpine practice), the ideology of inheritance specifies that the entire estate should go to the firstborn male offspring. In the absence of that heir, the next oldest child inherits. In all other situations, landed or not, inheritance ideology tends to be bilateral and partible.
Socialization. Weaning from the breast occurs within 3 to 6 months. There is strong pressure toward early toilet training, which is often completed by the end of the child's second year. Grandparents play an important role in early childhood development. Disciplinary styles differ between the parents, with the father establishing a harsher, more physical approach, and the mother a more patient and verbal one. Preschool activities begin in the child's third year and regular kindergarten/elementary school in the fifth year. All of these institutions are state-supported. Primary school occupies the years 6 through 10 and emphasizes basic social, reading, writing, and arithmetic skills. Secondary school proceeds from ages 10 through 14. At age 10, the child is tested and tracked into either a continuing elementary school, a basic high school (Hauptschule), or a college-preparatory high school (Gymnasium). Education continues through the mandatory fifteenth year in either vocational schools, teacher-training institutes, apprenticeships, or continuing college-preparatory schools. The wage market relies on the school system for credential certification. Thus, educational decisions are among the most important an Austrian will make.
Social Organization. The class structure in Austria has both formal and informal principles. There are five named classes and an all-but-invisible underclass. The named classes are "Bauern" (farmers, especially those with land tenure), "Arbeiter" (workers, especially skilled workers), "Kleinbürger" (bureaucrats, artisans, small-property holders, and shopkeepers), "Grossbürger" (wealthy property owners, industrialists, successful artists, and intellectuals), and "Adelsstand" (nobility with inherited wealth and land). This last class is in decline because public use of one's noble title is now illegal. Families belong to classes; individuals belong to families. Class affiliation is determined by the control of wealth and property or, in lieu of wealth, by educational achievement and the prestige of the position that one's credentials can command. Since real increases in wealth are all but impossible, achieving a higher educational level than one's parents is one of the few paths to social mobility. People tend to socialize, educate, and marry within classes and localities, producing closed, class-based, localized networks that are often activated to solve problems.
Political Organization. Austria is a parliamentary democracy. Representatives are selected for its bicameral legislature from lists prepared by the political parties. The majority party in Parliament or a coalition of parties then names the government ministers. These ministers establish policy, propose laws, and govern the republic on a day-to-day basis. A largely ceremonial official, the federal president, is elected by direct popular vote. Each province has a legislature and a governorship that retain much control over the implementation of federal law. Currently there are four political parties represented in the federal and provincial legislatures: the Social Democrats (Sozialistische Partei Österreichs), the traditional party of working-class interests; the Christian Democrats (Österreichische Volkspartei), the party of clerical, commercial, and industrial interests; the German Nationalists (Freheitliche Partei Österreichs), who call themselves "liberals" but bear no relation in platform or rhetoric to contemporary European liberal parties; and the Green Party (Österreichische Grünen), which represents the environmentalist movement in Austria. A coalition of Christian and Social Democrats has frequently formed the government since the formation of the Second Republic (1955). The Social Democrats enjoyed a majority government from 1971 to 1983. A Communist party also exists and held seats in Parliament in the 1950s and 1960s but is no longer an important political movement. National Socialism is illegal, but at least one fascist underground group operates in the country.
Social Control. The centralized bureaucracy established under the old empire continues to maintain the most publicly visible institutions of social control. Hardly anything of importance to Austrians can take place without a tax stamp, license, or permit. Conformity to group values is established by gossip within tightly maintained kindreds and networks of acquaintances.
Conflict. The Austrian legal system is Napoleonic. Courts and police have sweeping powers to investigate conflicts. The accused must prove innocence by impeaching government evidence. Violent crimes are reported, but they appear to occur less frequently than in other advanced industrial societies. However, property crimes and white-collar crime, especially embezzlement and corruption, are common. Conflicts also occur between the majority group and resident Minorities. Former guest workers from Greece, Yugoslavia, and Turkey, who now reside in Vienna, are often the subject of hate graffiti, racist language, and discrimination in employment and housing. Anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy sentiment is quite common in private discourse and the public media. Private conflicts and alienation are among the biggest social problems Austrians face. Rates of alcoholism, suicide, and absenteeism are among the highest in European societies.
Religion and Expressive Culture
Religious Beliefs and Practices. Since the Counter-Reformation, Roman Catholicism has dominated Austrian religious belief. Although Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists exist in Austria, they have no power to influence the interpretation of public morality to the extent that the Roman Catholics can. Although church and state are officially separate, the Christian Democratic party represents the interests of the Roman Catholic church in Political affairs. In rural zones, this Catholicism can be very conservative. Passion plays with anti-Semitic themes, Latin liturgy, and antimodern ideologies predominate. In urban zones, religious practice is generally sporadic, often limited to life-cycle events.
Arts. In painting, literature, music, architecture, and theater, Austria has produced a significant number of Europe's masters. These artists are celebrated, often deified, in specialized museums, theaters, and concert halls in all of the Regional centers, but especially Vienna and Salzburg. Two themes predominate in Austrian arts: an elaborately developed and sophisticated agro-romanticism that glorifies the rural landscape, and an introspective, highly psychologized celebration of modern metropolitan life. These themes coincide with the polarities of Austrian national consciousness: provincialism and cosmopolitanism.
Medicine. In the nineteenth century, Austrian, especially Viennese, medicine was in the vanguard of the development of modern, industrial medical science. Popular beliefs about health, however, retain a much older, humoral character. Much emphasis is placed on the good and ill effects of winds (fresh air, the alpine Förn ), on the balance of hot and cold meals, and on the natural movements of the body. Homeopathic alternatives to school medicine are so popular that these cures are included in the national health system.
Death and Afterlife. Debilitating disease is feared more than death itself. Death imagery is very important in folk songs, betraying a lighthearted fatalism. Cemeteries play an important role in community life and are visited around 1 November each year. Evergreen wreaths symbolizing resurrection to eternal life are placed on graves.
Cole, John W., and Eric R. Wolf (1974). The Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley. New York: Academic Press.
Honigmann, John (1963). "The Dynamics of Drinking in an Austrian Village." Ethnology 2:157-169.
Naroll, Raoul, and Frada Naroll (1962). "Social Development of a Tyrolese Village." Anthropological Quarterly 35:103-120.
Ringel, Erwin (1984). Die österreichische Seele: 10 Reden über Medizin, Politik, Kunst und Religion. Vienna: Hermann Böhlaus Nachf.
Rotenberg, Robert (1992). Time and Order in Metropolitan Vienna. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
POPULATION: 8.4 million (2007)
LANGUAGE: German; Italian, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, and Czech in the border provinces; English
RELIGION: Roman Catholic; Protestant
From the defense of Vienna against the Turkish Empire in 1683 to the Krushchev-Kennedy summit meeting in 1961, Austria has historically been a place where East meets West. The great 19th-century diplomat Prince Metternich said "Asia begins at the Landstrasse" (the Viennese street that leads eastward from the city's center). A neutral nation since it regained its sovereignty after World War II, Austria is the third home of the United Nations (after the United States and Switzerland) and the seat of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Located at the center of Europe, the landlocked nation of Austria wielded great military and commercial power for much of its history. The Celts who settled there in the middle of the first millennium bc called the area Ostarrichi—the empire in the East. (This name was later Germanized to become Österreich.) The Celts were followed by Romans in 14 bc, Germanic and Slavic tribes beginning in the 5th century ad, and, in the 10th century ad, the Babenburger dynasty, which helped establish Christianity throughout the area. In 1278 Austria's most illustrious historical period began with the accession of the Habsburg monarchy. With its capital city at Vienna, the Habsburgs' Austro-Hungarian Empire was to rule over much of Europe for over 600 years, expanding through war and marriage. At various times the empire included Burgundy (part of present-day France), Bohemia, the Netherlands, Spain, northern Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and parts of the former Yugoslavia. With good reason, the Habsburgs had the letters AEIOU, which stood for Austria est imperare orbi universo— all the earth is subject to Austria—inscribed on their tombstones.
After a century of decline, the Habsburgs were defeated in World War I and their empire was dismantled. The newly created Republic of Austria retained only six German-speaking provinces of the former empire plus Burgenland and Vienna—the empire of over 50 million had become a state of 6.5 million. Once occupying an area as large as Texas, it had shrunk to approximately the size of Maine. Although the Allied powers had forbidden a union, or Anschluss, between Austria and Germany, it was forcibly achieved in 1938 with the invasion by Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. Following Germany's defeat in World War II, Austria was governed by the Allied powers until 1955, when it returned to independence. In 1995 Austria became a member of the European Union. Permanent neutrality is a part of Austria's constitution, although this stance is becoming increasingly controversial.
LOCATION AND HOMELAND
Three-fourths of Austria is mountainous, but valleys and Alpine passes allow for domestic travel and also make the country an important crossroads between different parts of Europe. The Alps, divided into three ranges, are located mostly in western and central Austria; their highest peak is Grossglockner, at 3,797 m (12,457 ft). To the east lie the Carpathian foothills and the lowlands. The fertile Danube Valley lies beyond the Northern Alps and broadens into the Hungarian Plain near Vienna. Still further north is the Bohemian plateau, with elevations of between 351 m and 899 m (1,150 and 2,950 ft).
Austria's population was about 8.4 million in 2007. Unlike the ethnically diverse peoples of the former empire, the Austrians of today are a relatively homogeneous population, with the vast majority of Austrians (91%). There are six ethnic groups officially recognized in Austria: Burgenlandic Croatians, Roma, Slovaks, Slovenians, Czechs and Hungarians. These are concentrated in the east and south of the country. Among the population changes wrought by World War II—in addition to the deaths of 280,000 men drafted into the army—was the decimation of Austria's Jewish population, which had numbered nearly 200,000 in a 1934 census count but was, in ethnic terms, far larger.
Cities and towns with populations over 10,000 are home to about half the population—one-fifth of Austrians live in Vienna alone. The main population trends in modern times have been the shift from rural to urban areas and an east-to-west migration pattern.
Nearly 98% of Austrians speak German, although at least four different dialects are in use. The most common dialect is known as the Southern dialect. It sounds similar to the way people speak in Bavaria. One can also hear Italian, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, and Czech spoken in the border provinces, and many people in large cities and resort areas speak English. Croatian and Slovene are official languages in Burgenland. Certain Austrian words—especially culinary terms—differ from those used in Germany, reflecting Austria's diverse ethnic past. These include Zwetschken (plums) from the Bohemian svestka, Palatschinken (pancakes) from the Hungarian palacsinta, and kafetier, from the French term for a coffee-house owner.
The great German epic, Das Niebelungenlied, was written in Austria around 1250 ad. It combined the warrior gods and goddesses of Teutonic myth with the realities of court life in the Middle Ages. Vienna's Museum für Volkskunde houses exhibits on Austrian folklore.
The religious legacy of the Habsburg empire—whose capital, Vienna, was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire—can be seen in the continuing predominance of Roman Catholicism in present-day Austria. In spite of the official separation of church and state, some 74% of Austrians were Roman Catholic in 2007 and numerous churches, shrines, monasteries, and cathedrals can be seen throughout the country. Other commonly seen signs of religious faith include roofed crosses called Wiesenkreuz, which are found in the Tyrol, and, further south, Bildstöcke, covered posts decorated with religious scenes. In the country, religious festivals, processions, and pageants take place throughout the year. In urban areas, religious observance is often more casual and typically limited to holidays and major events such as births, weddings, and funerals. About 4.7% of the population was Protestant in 2007, with the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Presbyterian Church having the greatest number of members. About 4.2% of the population was Muslim. Less than 1% was Jewish.
Many Roman Catholic holidays are public holidays in Austria. In rural areas, the eve of Epiphany (January 6) is celebrated by children regaling neighborhood farms with a traditional carol in honor of the Three Kings to bless them for the coming year. Epiphany also marks the beginning of the carnival, or Fasching, season, which is celebrated until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Vienna, in particular, is renowned for its two months of festive balls. Other religious holidays include Easter, Easter Monday, the Feast of the Ascension, Whitmonday, Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Assumption (Maria Himmelfahrt) on August 15, All Saints' Day (Allerheiligen) on November 1, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, Christmas, and Boxing Day (Saint Stephen's Day) on December 26.
In some cities the evening of December 5 is a night of mischief in the name of Krampus, a devilish figure who, according to some legends, comes to call on naughty children. On this night, youth (particularly teenage boys) will dress in Krampus masks and costumes and run through the streets rattling chains and bells to frighten their friends and neighbors. In some areas, a parade of costumed Krampus characters is held. According to legend, the arrival of St. Nicholas on December 6 sends Krampus away as the saint forgives all the naughty children and distributes presents. Christmas parties and celebrations often begin with St. Nicholas's Day. Many houses and churches display wooden cribs at this time of year. Labor Day is celebrated on May 1 and there is also a national holiday on October 26 to celebrate the 1955 Declaration of Neutrality.
A number of traditional observances, both religious and secular, are carried out in rural areas. The feast of St. Leonard (the patron saint of livestock) is observed in November by festive horse-and-cart processions to mass and many villages still burn the "demon" of winter during Lent; in Vorarlberg, the explosive-filled figure of a witch is blown up at the top of a water tower and it is said that the weather for the coming year will come from the direction in which the head flies. In the Tyrol, Schemenlaufen (procession of ghosts) is celebrated every four years by a parade of men in masks ringing out the winter with bells. The feast of St. Martin on November 11 is celebrated as children go door to door with paper lanterns and candles to sing for their friends and neighbors. They are generally rewarded with a small treat.
RITES OF PASSAGE
Because of the strength of Roman Catholic practice in Austria, almost all newborns are baptized. The ceremony provides the parents with the opportunity to extend the bonds of godparenthood to close friends. Godparents are expected to visit on the child's birthday, provide presents on important occasions, and to take responsibility for the care of the child in the event of the parents' death. The godparents hold the child at the baptismal font while the priest sprinkles the baby with water. First Communion is practiced only in those families who are themselves church-goers, a much smaller number than the number of baptisms.
Childhood is filled with a number of firsts, from the first tooth to the first school holiday spent entirely with friends and away from parents. There are no special rites to mark puberty, but graduation from the teenagers' last school is marked with a party and gift-giving. Weddings are gala affairs involving fancy clothes and feasting among family and friends. Church weddings are common but are not required socially.
The experience by adults of the death of a parent is a significant moment. Most relations between parents and adult children are close, as both generations play an active role in raising children. This is marked by adult children calling their parents by the same nickname that the grandchildren call them. When these grandparents die, the loss is deeply felt and friends and family rally to support the mourners. Death is marked by the sending of a formal printed notice by mail to all of the deceased's acquaintances and distant family. In the countryside, the funeral is held in the church, followed by interment in a grave. In the cities, and especially in Vienna, it is held in memorial chapels in the cemeteries themselves. Here, grave interment is available, but cremation is more common.
In public Austrians are both courteous and formal, a legacy from the days of empire when many defined themselves by aristocratic position or by their place in an elaborate civil service hierarchy. A doctor or other professional is generally addressed as Herr Doktor, Magister, or Professor. Civil servants have honorifics consisting of various prefixes and the suffix rat (councilor), such as Hofrat (Privy Councilor), Gehiemrat (town councilor), and a variety of others. Women are commonly addressed as gnadige Frau (madam). The greeting Grüss Gott (God bless you) is often used instead of Guten Tag (good day). People shake hands when they meet and part, doors are commonly opened for women, and a woman may have her hand kissed upon being formally introduced.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Austria—and Vienna in particular—was known as a center for innovations in medicine. It was here that Sigmund Freud invented psychoanalysis (his former home at No. 19 Berggasse is now a museum). Austrians continue to enjoy a high standard of health care with the help of the comprehensive national health insurance program. Life expectancy was estimated at 79 years in 2008, with 76 years for men and 82 years for women.
The state controls Austria's modern, efficient transportation system, which includes 6,500 km (4,040 mi) of railroad and 11,102 km (6,900 mi) of highway and expressway (Autobahns). The Danube River is a means of transporting both people and goods. With Austria's well developed road and rail networks, its people rely little on domestic air travel to traverse their small country. However, when it comes to international travel, Austrian Airlines, the national airline, maintains Austria's tradition as a major connecting point between Eastern and Western Europe. During the Cold War, many foreign airlines used Vienna as a transfer point between East and West.
Because of a population shift from the country to larger towns and cities after World War I, housing in rural areas remains plentiful and cheap. Most city dwellers now live in oneor two-room flats with a separate kitchen; less than one-fourth occupy homes with four or more rooms.
While the number of marriages has declined and the number of divorces has increased, the most important Austrian family unit is still the nuclear family (Familie), which often establishes its own household near one partner's (usually the wife's) family soon after marriage and may eventually be joined by a widowed grandparent or unmarried aunt or uncle. Regular visits are exchanged with the extended family (Grossfamilie), consisting of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and first cousins, while a wider network of relations (Verwandschaft) comes together for major events such as weddings. Children who go through baptism may have a godparent, with whom he or she maintains a special relationship until adulthood.
Modern Austrian dress generally resembles that of the northeastern United States. The traditional peasant costumes are largely reserved for holidays and festivals, when one can still see women in embroidered blouses, lace aprons, and full dirndl skirts and men in lederhosen (knee-length leather pants) with wide suspenders, short jackets without collars or lapels, and green-brimmed hats decorated with feathers or other regional adornments. A traditional costume worn on more formal occasions is the Stierer Anzug, consisting of gray or brown breeches embroidered in green, a colorful cummerbund, bright vest, long flared coat with ornamental buttons, and high top hat.
The Austrian love of good food and drink dates back at least as far as the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683, when sacks of coffee beans left behind by the retreating Turks were used to open Vienna's first coffee-house and introduce the Austrians to the then-exotic brew (after slow initial sales, mélange—a local steamed-milk variant still consumed today—was introduced, and the rest is history).
Perhaps the most characteristic Austrian dish is the Wienerschnitzel, a breaded and golden-fried veal or pork cutlet. Traditionally, it is eaten with a few drops of fresh lemon juice and a vinegared potato salad. Also popular are Hungarian goulasch; a variety of soups with special ingredients; stews, typically served with dumplings; and hot sausages, which are often served with beer as snacks. The justly revered Austrian pastry chefs are the creators of such delicacies as apple strudel (apfelstrudel), milchrahmstrudel (a cheese crepe swimming in vanilla custard sauce), Sachertorte (a rich chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam under its thick, smooth icing and plenty of whipped cream, or Schlag), and Dobostorte (alternating layers of sponge cake and chocolate butter cream glazed with caramel). In the 19th century, it became common to eat dinner late in the evening. To assuage their hunger, many city-dwellers would take a break between 4:00 and 5:00 PM for a special meal called Jause that consisted just of pastry and coffee. Many still eat this meal today.
Wine is a very important Austrian food. The area around Vienna and the Burgenland produce wonderful dry white wines. In nice weather, Austrians love to visit vineyards to drink the wine right out of the barrels. The vintners provide pleasant gardens with picnic tables and a buffet where people can buy roast meats, raw vegetables, vinegared salads, fresh cheeses, breads, rolls, and sweets to go with the wine. These are called Heurigen, which means "this year's vintage." The atmosphere of these gardens, the wines, and the foods that are eaten with them are distinctively Austrian.
Children attend primary school from the ages of 6 through 10, when they are tested and tracked into either a continuing elementary school, a basic high school ( Hauptschule ), or a college preparatory school (Gymnasium). Formal secondary education continues through age 14. Some form of secondary training is required through age 15. A majority of students continue with some type of post-secondary schooling, including apprentice training, technical schools, vocational colleges, and universities. After some 200 years of free and compulsory education, Austria has a nearly 100% literacy rate.
Vienna's famed reputation as a center for the arts—particularly music—began and flourished during the Habsburg empire. Maximilian I founded the renowned Vienna Boys' Choir in 1498. The six-year-old Mozart first played for the Empress Maria Theresa in 1762. The musical capital of Europe for much of the 19th century, Vienna was the birthplace or adopted home of many of the greatest classical and romantic composers from Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert to Brahms and Mahler (and continuing on to the 20th-century atonal school of Schöenberg). It was also the home of the waltz, which reached the height of its popularity with such works as Tales from the Vienna Woods by Johann Strauss, Jr. Today, Austria's two great centers for classical music are Vienna—with its world-famous Boys' Choir, Philharmonic, and State Opera—and Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and site of an annual festival that draws thousands from around the world every summer.
For much of Austria's history, the works of its authors were considered part of German literature. However, a uniquely Austrian identity was already present in early-19th-century drama, flowering at the beginning of the 20th century with the influential group of writers and poets, including Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmansthal, and Stefan Zweig, who were known as Jung Wien (Young Vienna). The Austro-Hungarian empire also claimed two of the greatest contemporary writers in German, Rainer Maria Rilke and Franz Kafka, both from Prague.
Spending time at coffeehouse is a cultural tradition that remains strong throughout the country. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the coffeehouses of Vienna were notable as the gathering places for some of the most prominent scholars, philosophers, writers, musicians, and artists in the country. Rather than simply ordering a cup to go, it is not uncommon for patrons to spend a few hours at a coffeehouse, reading, relaxing, or engaging in conversation with friends and colleagues.
Each of the three major economic groups—labor, management, and farmers—is represented by its own organization: trade unions, a management association, and the farmers' federation. In 2005 about 70% of the labor force was employed in some type of service related industry. Industry and manufacturing accounted for about 27% of the work force while only about 3% was employed in agriculture. People generally work from the ages of 15 to 60. Retirees enjoy generous pensions and high social status. Social legislation in Austria is very generous to working people. Even the youngest and most inexperienced workers are guaranteed five weeks of paid vacation per year. This number increases with seniority to eight weeks per year. Workers receive an extra month's salary before Christmas season begins and before the vacation season begins. This means that workers are paid for 14 rather than 12 months every year. Austrians receive free medical care.
Skiing is Austria's leading winter sport, but the natural beauty and variety of the country's scenery are conducive to outdoor activities of all kinds. Other winter activities include ice skating and tobogganing, while popular summer sports include bicycling, mountain climbing, sailing, hiking, canoeing, and swimming. Many Austrians, like their fellow Europeans, are avid fans and players of soccer (which is called football).
ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION
Austrians—most notably the Viennese—are legendary for their gaiety of spirit and enjoyment of life. According to a famous saying, "In Berlin, the situation is serious but not hopeless; in Vienna, the situation is hopeless, but not serious." Austrians are enthusiastic supporters of the arts and participants in all kinds of outdoor activities. Their love of fine food, conversation, and leisure coalesces around the coffeehouses and Konditoreien (pastry shops) where many hours are spent reading, socializing, or just relaxing and sipping a brauner (coffee with milk), a konsul (black coffee with cream), or one of the more elaborate coffee drinks, such as the kaisermelange (black coffee with an egg yolk and brandy).
FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES
Crafts produced by Austrian folk artists include wood carvings, ceramics, jewelry, glassware, wax figures, leather products, and embroidery, as well as items made of wrought iron and pewter. A Heimatwerk (local crafts organization) in each province runs shops that sell the products of area craftspeople.
Austria has a relatively low rate of violent crime for an industrialized nation. However, it has a higher incidence of white-collar and property crime. Alcoholism, suicide, and absenteeism from work are also serious problems. The scale of domestic abuse is emerging as a problem as well. In 2007 the Women's Ministry estimated that about 10% of all adult women had suffered from some type of violence while in a relationship. People from Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, the Middle East, and Africa who settle in Austria are subject to employment and housing discrimination and overt racial hostility, expressed verbally and through graffiti. Anti-Semitic and anti-Roma sentiments are still a point of concern. Austria has a small illegal underground right-wing extremist movement which recruits young people (skinheads) who agitate against foreigners and commit acts of random violence.
Male and female roles in the family are not equal, in spite of the increased responsibilities women assumed in Austrian society during the two world wars and the continuing wages that working women bring to the household. For much of the 20th century, Austria had one of the highest proportions of women in the labor force; however, in 2007 it was estimated that women's salaries were about 17% lower than those for men in equal employment. Generally, more women than men were unemployed and women were more likely to have temporary or part-time positions. Women have been underrepresented in the civil service despite labor laws that require the government to hire women of equivalent qualifications ahead of men in areas in which fewer than 40% of the employees are women. Women are eligible for two years of paid maternity leave after the birth of a child. In many families, the woman's early return to work is made possible by grandparents who are willing to care for the child during the day. Women also are eligible to retire five years earlier with full benefits.
Social legislation alone cannot alter centuries of practices that promoted the role of men as fathers and breadwinners within the family. Austrian men continue to be raised, for the most part, in families that do not encourage them to take an equal share of household responsibilities with their sisters. As adults, Austrian men continue to look at the household and child-rearing as inherently female activities, regardless of the wage contribution of their wives. Women have their first child after their own careers are established. This age can vary from 19 to 30, depending on the woman's education.
Area Handbook for Austria. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976.
Evans, R. J. W. Austria, Hungary, and the Habsburgs: Essays on Central Europe, c.1683-1867. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Gall, Timothy, and Susan Gall, ed. Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. Detroit: UXL, 1996.
Haywood, Anthony, and Kerry Walker. Austria Travel Guide. Footscray: Lonely Planet Publications, 2008.
Hubbard, Monica M., and Beverly Baer, ed. Cities of the World: Europe and the Middle East. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mankind. London: Marshall Cavendish, 1978.
Lichtenberger, Elisabeth. Austria: Society and Regions. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2000.
MacHardy, Karin Jutta. War, Religion and Court Patronage in Habsburg Austria: The Social and Cultural Dimensions of Political Interaction, 1521-1622. New York: Palgrave, 2002.
Moss, Joyce, and George Wilson. Peoples of the World: Western Europeans. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.
Rotenberg, Robert. "Austrians." In Encyclopedia of World Cultures (Europe), ed. Linda A. Bennett. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1992.
—revised by K. Ellicott
POPULATION: 7.5 million
LANGUAGE: German; Italian, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, and Czech in the border provinces; English
1 • INTRODUCTION
Located in the center of Europe, Austria has exercised great military and economic power for much of its history. The Celts (Western Europeans) settled in Austria in the middle of the first millennium bc. They called the area Ostarrichi— the empire in the East. The Celts were followed by Romans and Germanic and Slavic tribes. Around ad 1000 the Babenburger dynasty helped establish Christianity throughout the area. In 1278, Austria's most well-known period of history began when the Hapsburg monarchy came into power. With its capital city in Vienna, the Hapsburg Empire ruled over much of Europe for more than six hundred years and expanded both through war and marriage.
The Hapsburgs were defeated in World War I (1914–18) and their empire was taken apart. Once occupying an area as large as Texas, the newly created Republic of Austria had shrunk to approximately the size of Maine. In 1938, Austria was invaded by Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler. Following Germany's defeat in World War II (1939–45), Austria was governed by the Allied powers (the nations that fought against Germany in World War II, including the United States) until 1955. It then returned to independence. In 1994 Austria was officially approved for membership in the European Community (EC).
2 • LOCATION
A landlocked country, three-fourths of Austria is mountainous. The Alps, divided into three mountain ranges, are located mostly in western and central Austria. Passes through the mountains make Austria an important crossroads between different parts of Europe. The remainder of Austria has varied terrain consisting of foothills, lowlands, plains, plateaus, and the fertile Danube River Valley.
Austria's population is now seven and one-half million, mostly German-speaking Catholic people. The only significant ethnic minorities are Slovenes, Croats, and small numbers of Czechs and Hungarians. World War II destroyed most of Austria's Jewish population, formerly a significant ethnic group in Austria.
About half of the Austrians live in cities and towns of more than ten thousand people. One-fifth of Austrians live in Vienna. The main population trends in recent times have been a shift from country to city areas and a migration from east to west.
3 • LANGUAGE
Nearly ninety-nine percent of Austrians speak German, although at least four different dialects are in use. In the border provinces, Italian, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, and Czech are also spoken. Many people in large cities and resort areas speak English. Although Austrians speak German, certain Austrian words used in cooking differ from those used in Germany, reflecting Austria's diverse ethnic past. These include Zwetschken (plums) from the Bohemian svestka, Palatschinken (pancakes) from the Hungarian palacsinta, and kafetier, from the French term for a coffee-house owner. Some common terms as they are spoken in Austria appear below:
|Good day||Grüss Gott!||grOOS gott|
4 • FOLKLORE
The great German epic, Das Niebelungenlied, was written in Austria around ad 1250. It combined mythical warrior gods and goddesses of Teutonic (ancient northern European) times with real stories of court life in the Middle Ages. Vienna's Museum für Volkskunde houses exhibits on Austrian folklore.
5 • RELIGION
Austria's capital city of Vienna was also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Roman Catholicism is still the dominant religion in Austria, practiced by 89 percent of Austrians. Catholic churches, shrines, monasteries, and cathedrals can be seen throughout the country. Other signs of religious faith that can be seen are roofed crosses and covered posts decorated with religious scenes. In the countryside, religious festivals, processions, and pageants take place throughout the year. In city areas, religious observance is often more casual and usually limited to holidays and major events such as births, weddings, and funerals. About 6 percent of Austrians are Protestant (Baptist or Methodist) or members of sects unique to Austria.
6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
Austria's holidays are primarily the religious ones on the Christian calendar such as Easter and Christmas. Christmas festivities begin on December 6, when children receive presents from St. Nicholas. Many houses and churches display wooden cribs at this time of year. In rural areas, children celebrate the eve of the Epiphany by singing a song in honor of the Three Kings that asks for blessings in the new year. Epiphany, January 6, is also the beginning of a carnival season that is celebrated until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Labor Day is celebrated May 1. There is also a National Holiday on October 26.
Rural Austrians also observe some traditional celebrations. One is the feast of St. Leonard, the patron saint of livestock, who is honored each November with festive horse-and-cart parades. Many villages still burn the "demon" of winter during Lent. In Vorarlberg, a figure of a witch that is stuffed with explosives is blown up on top of a water tower. It is believed that the weather for the coming year will come from the direction in which the figure's head flies. In the Tyrol, Schemenlaufen (procession of ghosts) is celebrated every four years with a parade in which men wearing masks sound bells to ring out the winter.
7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
Because the Roman Catholic faith is so widespread in Austria, almost all newborns are baptized. Godparents, chosen by the baby's parents, hold the baby during the baptism, and are expected to visit on birthdays, to give presents on important occasions, and to care for him if the parents die. Childhood firsts are celebrated, such as the first tooth and the first school holiday spent away from home. There are no special rites to mark puberty, but graduation from the teenagers' last school is marked with a party and gifts. People tend to marry young, and church weddings are common. Women generally establish their own careers before having a first child. Most relations between parents and adult children are close. Both generations play an active role in raising children. Many times adult children call their parents the same nicknames that the grandchildren use.
8 • RELATIONSHIPS
In public, Austrians are both courteous and formal. This is a legacy from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when social position was determined by aristocratic or civil service hierarchy. A doctor or other professional is usually addressed as Herr Doktor, Magister, or Professor. Civil servants have titles of honor or respect consisting of various prefixes and the suffix- rat (councilor). Examples include Hofrat (privy councilor) and Gehiemrat (town councilor). Women are commonly addressed as Gnädige Frau (madam). The greeting Grüss Gott (God bless you) is often used instead of Guten Tag (good day). People shake hands when they meet and part. Doors are normally opened for women, and a woman may be kissed on the hand when being formally introduced.
9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
After World War I (1914–18), the population shifted somewhat from the country to larger towns and cities. As a result, housing in rural or country areas remained plentiful and cheap. Most city-dwellers live in oneor two-room flats (apartments) with a separate kitchen. Fewer than one-fourth of these city people live in homes with four or more rooms. Housing costs are relatively low; Austrians spend less on housing than on recreation. Austrians enjoy excellent health care, all of it covered by a national health insurance program. There are also modern and efficient railroad, highway, and express-way (Autobahn ) systems.
10 • FAMILY LIFE
The most important Austrian family unit is the nuclear family (Familie ). Soon after marriage, a bride and groom customarily establish their own household near one partner's (usually the wife's) family. They may eventually be joined by a widowed grandparent or unmarried aunt or uncle. Regular visits are exchanged with the extended family (Grossfamilie ), consisting of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and first cousins. A wider network of relations (Verwandschaft ) comes together for major events such as weddings. Children maintain a special relationship with godparents until adulthood.
Male and female roles in the family are not equal. For much of the twentieth century, Austria has had a high proportion of women in the labor force. Women are eligible for two years of paid maternity leave after the birth of a child, and many times grandparents take care of children so that a woman may return to work. Regardless of women's significant financial contribution to the household, Austrian men continue to look at domestic tasks and child-rearing as essentially women's jobs.
11 • CLOTHING
Modern Austrians dress like people in the northeastern United States. Traditional peasant costumes are mostly saved for holidays and festivals. Then women wear embroidered blouses, lace aprons, and full, dirndl skirts. Men wear lederhosen (short leather pants) with wide suspenders, short jackets without collars or lapels, and green-brimmed hats decorated with feathers. A traditional costume worn on more formal occasions is the Stierer Anzug: gray or brown breeches (pants that buckle just below the knee) embroidered in green, a colorful cummerbund, bright vest, a long, flared coat with ornamental buttons, and high top hat.
12 • FOOD
Austrians are known for their love of food and drink. Perhaps the most characteristic Austrian dish is the Wienerschnitzel, a veal or pork cutlet that is breaded and fried. Soups and stews with dumplings are very popular, and hot sausages are often served
For the cookies
- 2¼ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅓ cup butter, softened
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup finely ground walnuts
- 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated
For the glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup coffee or water
- 1 teaspoon shortening
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
Directions for cookies
- Measure butter into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.
- Add sugar and corn syrup and beat well.
- Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating.
- Add about half the flour with the cocoa powder and the baking powder, and beat well.
- Beat in the ground walnuts and grated chocolate.
- Switch to a wooden spoon for mixing, and add the rest of the flour.
- Divide dough in half and shape each half into a six-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate about one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350°f. Lightly grease three cookie sheets.
- Mark and cut each log into twelve sections, each one-half inch thick.
- Knead the dough portions to soften, and then roll to make a rope about ten inches long and about as thick as a crayon.
- Place the rope on the greased baking sheet, twisting it into a pretzel shape.
- Repeat until all twelve sections are ready, leaving about one inch between pretzels.
- Bake for nine to eleven minutes.
- Leave on cookie sheet for about two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Directions for glaze
- Sift powdered sugar into a saucepan, and add coffee (or water), shortening, and corn syrup.
- Heat gently to boiling, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat, add chocolate, and stir until chocolate melts.
- Using tongs, dip pretzels into chocolate glaze to coat all over.
as snacks with beer. Austrian pastry chefs are famous for creating such delicacies as apple strudel, Milchrahmstrudel (a cheese crepe in vanilla custard sauce), Sachertorte (a rich chocolate cake with apricot jam and whipped cream), and Dobostorte (layers of sponge cake and chocolate butter cream glazed with caramel). Wine is an important part of Austrian meals. The area around Vienna produces very good white wines. Many Austrians have a late-afternoon snack called Jause (YOWS-seh), which is pastry and coffee, because they eat dinner very late in the evening. Chocolate pretzels (Schokoladen-Brezeln) might be served for Jause.
13 • EDUCATION
Children attend primary school from age six through age ten. Then they are tested and placed into a continuing elementary school, a basic high school, or a college preparatory school. Formal secondary education continues through age fourteen. It is followed by either vocational school, teacher-training college, an apprenticeship in a trade, or more college-preparatory classes. Some form of secondary training is required through age fifteen. Austria has had free and mandatory education for two hundred years. As a result, nearly everyone is literate (able to read and write).
14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
For centuries, Vienna has been famous as a center for the arts, particularly music. The renowned Vienna Boys' Choir was founded in 1498. The six-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first played for the Empress Maria Theresa in 1762. Vienna was either the birthplace or adopted home of many of the greatest classical composers, including Franz Josef Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler, and, in the twentieth century, Arnold Schönberg. Austria's two great centers for classical music are Vienna—with its world-famous Boys' Choir, Vienna Philharmonic, and Vienna State Opera—and Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and site of a festival that draws thousands from around the world every summer. Vienna is also the home of the waltz.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Austria—and Vienna in particular—was known as a center for innovations in medicine. Sigmund Freud invented psychoanalysis there and his former home is now a museum.
15 • EMPLOYMENT
Three major economic groups—labor, management, and farmers—are each represented by their own organization: trade unions, a management association, and the farmers' federation. Roughly 85 percent of Austrians work for hourly wages, 10 percent are self-employed in agriculture, and 5 percent are professionals who are paid fees for their services. White-collar workers, those who work in offices or are professionals, account for more than 50 percent of all wage earners. People usually start working at the age of fifteen and retire at age sixty. Retirees enjoy generous pensions and high social status. Paid vacation time is long, even for the youngest and most inexperienced workers. Workers receive an extra month's salary in December at the start of the Christmas season and in July before the August vacation season begins. This means that workers are paid for fourteen months rather than twelve months every year. Austrians also receive free medical care.
16 • SPORTS
The natural beauty and variety of Austria's scenery are perfect for outdoor activities of all kinds. Skiing is Austria's leading winter sport, followed by ice skating and tobogganing. Popular summer sports include bicycling, mountain climbing, sailing, hiking, canoeing, and swimming. Many Austrians, like other Europeans, are avid fans and players of soccer, which they call football.
17 • RECREATION
Austrians—especially the Viennese—are known for their cheerful spirit and enjoyment of life. According to a famous saying, "In Berlin, the situation is serious but not hopeless; in Vienna, the situation is hopeless, but not serious." Austrians are enthusiastic supporters of the arts and participants in all kinds of outdoor activities. They meet at coffeehouses and Konditoreien (pastry shops) to relax and enjoy fine food and conversation. Austrians spend many hours reading, socializing, or just relaxing and sipping a brauner (coffee with milk), a konsul (black coffee with cream), or a more elaborate coffee drink, such as kaisermelange (black coffee with an egg yolk and brandy).
18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
Crafts produced by Austrian folk artists include wood carvings, ceramics, jewelry, glassware, wax figures, leather products, and embroidery, as well as items made of wrought iron and pewter. A Heimatwerk (local crafts organization) in each province runs shops that sell the products of area craftspeople.
19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
For an industrial nation, Austria has a relatively low rate of violent crime. It has, however, a high rate of property crime and white-collar crime (crime committed by business or professional people while at work), such as embezzlement and fraud. Alcoholism, suicide, and absenteeism from work are also serious problems. Domestic abuse is also a growing problem. People from Greece, the former Yugoslavia, Turkey, the Middle East, and Africa who settle in Austria are sometimes subjected to discrimination in employment and housing, and to open racial hostility, which is expressed verbally and through graffiti. Anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) and anti-Gypsy sentiments are common as well. Austria has an illegal underground right-wing extremist movement that recruits young people (skin-heads) who agitate against foreigners and commit acts of random violence.
20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Eyewitness Travel Guide (Vienna). London: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 1994.
Gall, Timothy, and Susan Gall, eds. Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. Detroit: U•X•L, 1996.
Moss, Joyce, and George Wilson. Peoples of the World: Western Europeans. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.
Austrian National Tourist Office. [Online] Available http://www.anto.com/, 1998.
Austrian Press and Information Service, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available http://www.austria.org/, 1998.
World Travel Guide. Austria. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/at/gen.html, 1998.