Austria can be divided into three large natural areas: the Alpine system, the eastern lowlands and the highlands along the border with the Czech Republic.
The Alps occupy about 60% of the earth’s surface and run in several bands from west to east. The central mountain range – Taurine – is divided into Vysoké with the highest mountain Grossglockner (3797 m) and Nízké (2863 m) in the east. The continuation of the Taur to the west are the Zillertal and Ötztal Alps, interrupted on the Italian border by the Brenner Pass (1371 m), which is important for communication. This range ends at the Swiss border with the Silvretta and Rätikon massifs. On both sides of the central crystalline belt stretch the wild and jagged mountain range of the limestone Alps, which merge in the east. In the north are the highest massifs of the Dachstein (2996 m) and Hochkönig (2941 m), in the south the Carnic Alps (2780 m) and Karavanky form the border with Italy and Slovenia. The Limestone Alps descend to the east to the Danube valley, to the southeast to the hills of Styria and Burgenland.
The northeast is filled by the fertile Viennese Basin with limestone hills that represent the outcrops of the Viennese Forest. Behind the Lithuanian Hills on the border with Hungary lies the large and shallow Nezider Lake, surrounded by swamps. To the north of the Danube valley lies the Austrian granite plateau (over 1000 m) stretching to the border Šumava.
According to rctoysadvice, the Danube, the second largest river in Europe, flows through northern Austria from west to east, and its large tributaries and headwaters, the Inn, Salzach, Enns, Müra, Dráva and others, drain almost all of Austria and divide the Alps in long and deep valleys. Only the small Vorarlberg in the west is drained into the bordering Lake Constance and the Rhine.
The lower elevations of Austria have a mild continental climate. Precipitation in most areas exceeds 1000 mm (in the Western Alps even 2000 mm), only the Vienna Basin is in the rain shadow and receives 600–800 mm of precipitation per year. Average January temperatures in the entire territory fall below freezing. It is warmest around Vienna and Feldkirch in the far west. The snow line lies at an altitude of 2500 to 2800 m.
Flora and fauna
Austria is largely covered by forest (almost 40% of the area) and meadows (almost 25%). The east is a cultural steppe. The original forests at lower elevations have practically disappeared. Coniferous forests grow in the Alps at medium altitudes, and colorful alpine meadows stretch above the tree line at an altitude of 2,000 m. In the forest zone of Austria, deer, roe deer and wild boar live, in the Alps chamois, ibex, marmot, and rarely even a bear. Nezider Lake is a unique ornithological area.
Austria has a long and complicated history full of wars, invasions and battles. Current Austria is a stable neutral state with a high international cultural reputation and a tendency towards stronger European integration.
History of Austria
The territory of Austria was inhabited as early as the Stone Age. From the 10th century BC it was inhabited by the Illyrians, who came from the Adriatic Sea and created the flourishing Hallstatt culture of the Iron Age. In 3.-2. century BC, the kingdom of the Celts arose in the Eastern Alps. It was annexed to the Roman Empire in 46 under the name Noricum. Roads, a defensive rampart and the centers of Vindobona and Carnuntum were built. Invasions by Germans and Huns followed, and in the 6th century most of the country was occupied by Bavarians and Slavs. In the 7th century, the first principality was created – Slovenian Carantania, subordinate to Bavaria from 743.
The annexation of the whole area to the Frankish Empire in 788 led to the rapid spread of Christianity. But soon after the collapse of the Frankish Empire, the Hungarians invaded the country (907). Later, the Eastern Mark was restored and in 976 the Duchy of Carinthia and the Margrave of Austria were established within the Holy Roman Empire. During the reign of the Babenberks (976–1246), the territory was expanded and the whole acquired the status of a duchy.
After the short reign of the Przemysl family, the German Habsburgs succeeded , who ruled until 1918. During the 16th century, the Habsburg marriages extended their dominions to Bohemia, Burgundy, Spain, the Netherlands and parts of Italy, and also controlled the Spanish colonies in the Americas. The neighboring Hungarians and Czechs opposed their rule. The 16th and 17th centuries were a period of struggles against Turkish incursions from the southeast and repression of Protestant reformers. In the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48), the Habsburgs fought against Bohemia, Sweden and Denmark. After 1648, the Habsburg dominion over Hungary and Bohemia was consolidated. In the 18th century there was a war with France (1701–14) and after the death of the last male descendant of Charles VI. (1711–40) to the war with Prussia (1740–48) over the Habsburg succession.
Despite the weakening caused by almost continuous warfare, Austria remained a great power until the wars with Napoleonic France (1792 to 1815). At this time, the Austrian Empire included Croatia, Hungary, Bohemia, Italy, Slovakia and part of Poland. In 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, the new borders of the empire were determined, and Austria became the head of the German Confederation, a union of 39 independent German states, and also acquired new territories (Venice, Dalmatia).
The restoration of the Austrian Empire in Europe took place thanks to the political skill of Chancellor Prince Metternich (1773–1859). However, his absolutist conservative policy provoked opposition from the growing bourgeoisie and the national movement. This grew into a revolution in 1848 and Metternich was forced to resign. A short reform period followed, but then the restoration of the so-called Bach absolutism. However, Austria was weakened by internal disputes and wars (it lost Lombardy in 1859 after the Battle of Solferino), and on the contrary, the influence of Prussia grew in Germany. After the Prussian-Austrian War in 1866, Austria was excluded from the German Confederation. The new constitution of 1867 gave rise to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Ethnic unrest continued in the country, especially in connection with the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este (1863–1914), heir to the Austrian throne, in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist triggered World War I. After the defeat in 1918, the Republic of Austria was established within today’s borders.
The loss of territory and resources led to economic decline, dependence on Germany and, in 1939, the establishment of a fascist dictatorship. In 1938, Adolf Hitler annexed Austria and joined the country to the Third Reich. It was at the end of World War II. Austria occupied by the victorious powers (Vienna by Soviet troops). On May 13, 1955, the State Treaty was signed, which marked the creation of an independent and neutral republic. In October, the remaining occupation troops left the country. The country’s economic and political development dates back to that time. Since 1989, the country has become a haven for tens of thousands of refugees from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. In 1994, the population approved the entry into the European Union.
Austria is a federal republic made up of nine federal states (one is represented by the capital city of Vienna). The head of state is the president elected by the population in direct elections for six years. He appoints the Federal Chancellor and the government. The legislative body is a bicameral parliament; consists of the National Council (lower house, 183 deputies) elected for four years by the system of proportional representation. It has greater powers than the Federal Council (upper house, 63 members), which represents the individual federal states. Each country has its own constitution, parliament and government responsible for implementing the country’s laws.