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Austria - Overview

Capital: Vienna

Population: 8,192,880 (July 2006 est.)

Languages: German

Religions: 88% Roman Catholic, 6% Protestant, 6% other

Currency: Euro

Timezone: GMT/UTC +1

Austria is located in Central Europe and is a land-locked country bordering Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. It is a spectacularly scenic country, with its Alpine mountains, glassy lakes and vast areas of forest. While the western and southern regions of the country are mainly mountainous and forested, there is gently undulating farmland to the east and north of the country. Austria has been a member of the EU since 1995.

Austria is a politically stable, democratic country, which offers a high standard of living, and is one of the safest countries in the world. Its capital, Vienna, on the River Danube, recently achieved 4th place in a 2006 international quality of life city survey. Austria also has a very rich cultural and intellectual heritage, being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, Siegmund Freud and Ludwig Wittgenstein, to name just a few.

Visitors are drawn to the country by its magnificent scenery, its world-class ski resorts and its cultural heritage, while foreign businesses and investors are attracted by Austria's access to the single European market, its proximity to the rapidly growing new EU economies of Eastern Europe, an excellent private banking sector and a Government which pro-actively promotes a favourable business environment.

Around a quarter of Austria's population live in the Vienna area, and the capital has a large expatriate community. It is also the major business, commercial and government centre, and home to a number of international organisations.

Vienna is also the cultural and entertainment hub of Austria, and is full of concert halls, theatres, museums and a diverse range of magnificent architecture from the Baroque period onwards. At the same time, Vienna is a very modern, efficient city, and with a good range of lively nightlife and entertainment, and a fast and efficient public transport system.

Other major centres include Salzburg, Innsbruck and Graz.

The Austrians are reported to be a tolerant people who respect ethnic and cultural diversity. However, their relaxed attitudes towards nudity in public areas such as the beach may offend some visitors from less liberal countries.

Read more about this country

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