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Austria

HISTORY
Inhabited since the Stone Age, the Austrian area has a long history of occupations, territorial struggles, war and rulers. The most significant rulers, the Germanic Habsburgs, ruled Austria for 640 years. Their imperial culture was centered in  Vienna, a true masterpiece of a city.

That Austrian Empire (Habsburgs) were completely dismantled by 1918, at the end of World War I. During World War II, Adolf Hitler annexed all that remained into the German Third Reich. That war ended in 1945, with Hitler defeated, and the Allies began a brief occupation and reconstruction effort.




On May 15th, 1955, the Austrian State Treaty proclaimed Austria to be an independent republic, and its modern history began in earnest.

Landlocked in central Europe, Austria is today one of the continent's most influential countrys in both economic and political issues. Over the last half-century, the extraordinary Alpine scenery and cultural attractions of Austria and its cities, have transformed it into a major tourism destination.

Perhaps no one country can match the musical resumé of Austria. It's the homeland of legendary composers like Brahms, Haydn, Mahler, Mozart, Schubert and the Strausses - both father and son. In addition, the German-born Ludwig van Beethoven lived in Vienna for most of his adult life.

The current biography of Austria (the home of the Viennese Waltz, the Vienna Boys Choir and dancing Lipizzaner horses), is one of progress and stability.

Combine that with an abundance of natural beauty, spectacular mountain vistas, castles, cosmopolitan cities, the Danube River Valley, music festivals, and of course - world class Alpine skiing and resorts - and Austria paints a very pleasant picture, indeed.

LOCATION

(Absolute) Latitude/Longitude 47° 20' N, 13° 20' E

(Relative) Austria is a landlocked, central European country.

Bordering Countries (8) Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland

Border Length 1,682 miles, 2707 km

Area 32,377 sq miles, 83,858 sq km
(Land) 31,945 sq miles, 82,738 sq. km
(Water) 432 sq miles, 1,120 sq. km

Highest Point Grossglockner 12,460 ft. (3,798 m)
Web Cam: (here) Photo Page: (here)

Lowest Point Neusiedler See 508 ft. (155 m)

 

Administrative Divisions 9 states:

  • Burgenland
  • Kaernten
  • Niederoesterreich (Lower Austria)
  • Oberoesterreich (Upper Austria)
  • Salzburg
  • Steiermark
  • Tirol
  • Vorarlberg
  • Wien



TOURISM
Austria is an attractive destination for visitors at anytime of the year. The country is organized, the roads are good, the trains run on time, and there are lodging facilities for every budget.




July and August are (high season) months; the country is crowded and the prices are higher. The Christmas and Easter seasons (especially in Vienna), and to a lesser degree in the other large cities, bring significant crowds, so advance reservations are recommended.

CLIMATE
Climate Austria has three very distinct climate zones.

In the eastern lowlands, the average high temperature in July is near 68° (20° C), while the January lows average near 30° (-1° C). Annual rainfall in this area is often less than 31 inches (800 mm).

The central region has a typical Alpine climate, with higher precipitation levels and shorter summers. Winters are long, and bring frequent rain to the lowlands and heavy snow to the mountains.




In the west, the weather is milder, but wetter. Precipitation amounts vary here depending on location and altitude, but annual amounts near 78 inches (2,000 mm) are possible. The average high temperature in July is near 62° (16° C), while the January lows average near 38° (3° C).

 

DRIVING IN AUSTRIA

Austria requires all vehicles using the autobahn to display an “Autobahn Vignette” highway tax sticker on the inside of the vehicle’s windshield.  The sticker may be purchased at border crossings, gas stations in Austria, and small “Tabak” shops located in Austrian towns.  Fines for failing to display a valid autobahn vignette on the windshield of your car are usually around $120.

Austrian autobahns have a maximum speed limit of 130 km/hr, although drivers often drive much faster and pass aggressively.  The use of hand-held cell phones while driving is prohibited.  Turning right on red is also prohibited throughout Austria.  The legal limit for blood alcohol content in Austria is .05 percent and penalties for driving under the influence tend to be high.

Tourists driving rented vehicles should pay close attention to the provisions of their rental contract.  Many contracts prohibit drivers from taking rented vehicles into eastern European countries.  Drivers attempting to enter countries listed as “prohibited” on the car rental contract may be arrested, fined, and/or charged with attempted auto theft.  Austrian police are authorized to hold the rented vehicle for the car rental company.

Emergency roadside help and information may be reached by dialing 123 or 120 for vehicle assistance and towing services (Austrian automobile clubs), 122 for the fire department, 133 for police, and 144 for ambulance.  The European emergency line is 112.