OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Austria
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal Multiparty Republic
AREA: 83,853 Sq Km (32,376 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 7,995,500
LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY: Austria is a small mountainous landlocked
country in South Central Europe. It is bound by Germany
and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia to the northeast,
Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south as
well as Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. Although
almost 75% of the country is mountainous and Austria can
be topographically divided into (1.) the Eastern Alps, (2.)
the northern Alpine forelands, (3.) the Bohemian Plateau,
(4.) the Vienna Basin and (5.) the eastern and southern
lowlands. The principal river is the Danube and its tributaries
which flow eastward through central Austria. Austria has
the highest percentage of forest in Central Europe with
forests covering around 37% of the land area, of which conifers
account for 85% while 10% are beech, 2% are oak and deciduous
trees account for the remainder. Major Cities (pop. est.);
Vienna 1,540,000, Graz 238,000, Linz 203,000, Salzburg 144,000,
Innsbruck 118,000 (1991). Land Use; forested 39%, pastures
24%, agricultural-cultivated 18%, other 19% (1993).
CLIMATE: Austria's climate is influenced by three climatic systems,
(1.) the North Atlantic maritime, (2.) the Mediterranean and (3.) the continental.
The country can also be divided into three climatic regions, (1.) the Alps
where it is often sunny in winter but cloudy in summer. (2.) The Danube
Valley and Vienna Basin, the driest regions where winter snow is rarely
deep. (3.) The southeast region which experiences heavy thunderstorms and
where winters can be severe, although summers are warmer and sunnier than
the Alps region. Winters are generally cold throughout the country and
the summer months are often the wettest with heavy rainfall that is also
short in duration. Average temperature ranges in Vienna are from -4 to
1 degrees Celsius (25 to 34 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 15 to 25
degrees Celsius (59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) in July.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Austrians who account
for around 98% of the population and are of German origin. The principal
ethnic minority groups are the Croats who account for .7% of the population,
the Slovenes for .3% and others which include Magyars, Czechs and Slovaks.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 93 persons per sq km (241
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 57.7% urban, 42.3% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 47.7% male, 52.3% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
72.1 years male, 78.8 years female (1989). Age Breakdown; 17% under 15,
24% 15 to 29, 21% 30 to 44, 18% 45 to 59, 13% 60 to 74, 7% 75 and over
(1990). Birth Rate; 11.6 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 10.7 per 1,000 (1990).
Increase Rate; 0.9 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 7.9 per 1,000
live births (1990).
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 85 to 90% of the population
Roman Catholic while around 6% are Evangelical Lutherans and 1% are Muslims.
There is also a small number of Jews.
LANGUAGES: The official language is German with 99% of the population
speaking it, although different dialects are associated with class distinctions.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: through lower
secondary 40.0%, general secondary or vocational 54.3%, higher 5.7% (1989).
Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over virtually 100% (1989).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: During 1943, a conference in Moscow
announced the intentions to recreate Austria as an independent sovereign
state with democratic foundations. It was recognized internationally as
an independent state in Dec. 1945. In 1955 the Austrian State Treaty banned
any future economic and political union with Germany, reaffirmed the 1919
Habsburg Law and ensured Austria's future and permanent neutrality. In
1972 Austria signed a free trade industrial agreement with the EC and applied
for membership in July 1989. An international panel of historians issued
a report in 1988 which concluded that Pres. Kurt Waldheim knew of war crimes
in Greece and Yugoslavia while serving in the German army during World
War II, did nothing to stop them and later covered up his war record, however,
the panel also found no evidence that Waldheim himself committed war crimes.
In Oct. 1990 National Council elections resulted in the continuation of
a SPO/OVP coalition government. On June 21, 1991 the controversial leader,
Jorg Haider, of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO) lost his post as Karnten
provincial governor over continued remarks in "Nazi jargon",
although regional election in November resulted in substantial gains for
the FPO after campaigning with an anti-immigration agenda. In 1991 the
Austrian government for the first time formally acknowledged that many
Austrians had supported Adolf Hitler during his invasion and in mid-1991
received notice from the EU that negotiations for entry to the union should
begin in 1993. During 1991 the worldwide recession hit Austria while the
escalation of the Yugoslav war and continued violations of the Yugoslav-Austria
border resulted in a military operation in the region. Also in the largest
murder trial in the country's history four nurses were convicted of killing
numerous elderly patients at a Vienna hospital. Spring Presidential elections
in 1992 resulted in the election of Thomas Klestil of the OVP. In June
1992 the 32-year old controversy over South Tyrol (Sudtirol) came to an
end when Italy and Austria announced the completion of a 1969 plan that
contained 137 measures which would guarantee Sudtirol's autonomy. During
1992 the flow of European refugees swelled so that by September the country
was harboring some 57,000 Yugoslav refugees. As a result the government
and authorities were plagued with right-wing anti-immigration and anti-foreigner
activities. On Feb. 1, 1993 negotiations began on Austria's full membership
to the EU which resulted in Austria's plan for a referendum on the issue.
In June 1993 after decades of tension Israel and Austria established new
diplomatic relations that greatly broaden cooperation between the two countries.
In Dec. 1993 there were a series of right-wing letter box bombings, one
in which injured the mayor of Vienna. During 1993 unemployment reached
its highest level in 40 years while the government further privatized state-owned
property, curtailed social services and increased taxes as austerity measures.
In the political front nationalism and the radical right grew stronger
with the FPO winners at further regional elections while a number of former
officials faced trial for their alleged involvement in the illegal exports
of arms to Iran with Interior Minister Karl Blecha convicted.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Euro divided into 100
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $183,530,000,000 (1993).
National Debt; USD $88,149,000,000 (1992). Imports; S 593,900,000,000 (1993).
Exports; S 487,600,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $13,400,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; S -89,300,000,000 (1994). Economically Active
Population; 3,679,000 or 46.7% of total population (1992). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Germany,
Italy, Switzerland, France, the former USSR and the UK.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Anhydrous Gypsum, Barley, Cattle, Clay, Copper,
Graphite, Hay and Fodder, Iron Ore, Kaolin, Lignite, Maize, Manganese,
Natural Gas, Oil, Potatoes, Salt, Sheep, Sugar Beets, Talc, Temperate Fruits,
Timber, Vines, Wheat.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Aluminum and Lead Processing, Beer,
Ceramics, Chemicals, Clothing, Electrical Goods, Food Processing, Forestry,
Glassware, Iron and Steel, Oil and Gas Production, Oil and Gas Refining,
Textiles, Tourism, Wine, Wood Products.
MAIN EXPORTS: Chemical, Iron and Steel, Machinery, Meat and Dairy
Products, Textiles, Timber, Wood Products.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 6,662 km (4,140 mi) (1989),
passenger-km 8,464,000,000 (5,259,000,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km
12,691,000,000 (8,692,000,000 short ton-mi) (1990). Roads; length 107,099
km (66,548 mi) (1989). Vehicles; cars 2,902,949 (1989), trucks and buses
256,228 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels 32 (1990), deadweight tonnage
233,618 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 2,819,000,000 (1,752,000,000
passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 45,400,000 (31,094,000 short ton-mi)
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 27 with a total circulation
of 3,108,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 4,710,000 (1994). Television; receivers
2,706,000 (1994). Telephones; units 3,579,000 (1993).
MILITARY: 51,250 (1994) total active duty personnel with 85.9%
army, 0.0% navy and 14.1% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 1.0% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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