|General background: Once the center
of power for the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, Austria
was reduced to a small republic after its defeat in
World War I. Following annexation by Nazi Germany in
1938 and subsequent occupation by the victorious Allies
in 1945, Austria's status remained unclear for a decade.
A State Treaty signed in 1955 ended the occupation,
recognized Austria's independence, and forbade unification
with Germany. A constitutional law of that same year
declared the country's "perpetual neutrality"
as a condition for Soviet military withdrawal. This
neutrality, once ingrained as part of the Austrian cultural
identity, has been called into question since the Soviet
collapse of 1991 and Austria's entry into the European
Union in 1995. A prosperous country, Austria entered
the European Monetary Union in 1999.
comparative: slightly smaller than Maine
Climate: Temperate; continental, cloudy; cold
winters with frequent rain in lowlands and snow in mountains;
cool summers with occasional showers.
In the west and south mostly mountains (Alps); along
the eastern and northern margins mostly flat or gently
Population: 8,169,929 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: German 88%, non-nationals 9.3%
(includes Croatians, Slovenes, Hungarians, Czechs,
Slovaks, Roma), naturalized 2% (includes those who
have lived in Austria at least three generations)
Religions: Roman Catholic 78%, Protestant
5%, Muslim and other 17%
Government type: Federal republic
Legal system: Civil law system with Roman
law origin; judicial review of legislative acts by
the Constitutional Court; separate administrative
and civil/penal supreme courts; accepts compulsory
Economic overview: Austria, with its well-developed
market economy and high standard of living, is closely
tied to other EU economies, especially Germany's.
Membership in the EU has drawn an influx of foreign
investors attracted by Austria's access to the single
European market and proximity to EU aspirant economies.
Slowing growth in Germany and elsewhere in the world
slowed the economy to only 1.2% growth in 2001; the
economy is expected to do little better in 2002. To
meet increased competition from both EU and Central
European countries, Austria will need to emphasize
knowledge-based sectors of the economy, continue to
deregulate the service sector, and lower its tax burden.
Communication/Telephone system: Highly developed
and efficient, there are 48 main lines for every 100
persons; the fibre-optic net is very extensive; all
telephone applications and Internet services are available.
Satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic
Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Eutelsat; in addition,
there are about 600 VSAT (very small aperture terminals)
Places of interest: