Official languagesGerman, also Slovene, Croatian and Hungarian
AreaTotal 83,872 km2
Country Profile: Austria
Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It borders both Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The capital is the city of Vienna on the Danube River. The origins of Austria date back to the ninth century, when the territory later known as Upper and Lower Austria became increasingly populated.
Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states and is one of six European countries that have declared permanent neutrality and one of the few countries that includes the concept of everlasting neutrality in its constitution. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955 and joined the European Union in 1995.
In 1972, the country began construction of a nuclear-powered electricity-generation station at Zwentendorf on the River Danube, following a unanimous vote in parliament. However, in 1978, a referendum voted approximately 50.5% against nuclear power, 49.5% for and parliament subsequently unanimously passed a law forbidding the use of nuclear power to generate electricity. Austria currently produces more than half of its electricity by hydropower. Together with other renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass powerplants, the electricity supply from renewable energy amounts to nearly 80% of total use in Austria with the rest being produced by gas and oil powerplants.
The greater part of Austria lies in the cool/temperate climate zone in which humid westerly winds predominate. With over half of the country dominated by the Alps, the alpine climate is the predominant one. In the East, in the Pannonian Plain and along the Danube valley, the climate shows continental features with less rain than the alpine areas. Although Austria is cold in the winter, in the summer temperatures can be relatively warm reaching 20-35 degrees Celsius. Austria has a humid continental climate. Austria is well aware of the effect of climate change and global warming and they have joined their European neighbors in initiating studies and research to combat climate change and global warming.
Austria is one of the 10 richest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, has a well-developed social market economy, and a high standard of living. Until the 1980s, many of Austria's largest industry firms were nationalised; in recent years, however, privatisation has reduced state holdings to a level comparable to other European economies. Labour movements are particularly strong in Austria and have large influence on labour politics. Next to a highly-developed industry, international tourism is the most important part of the national economy.
Germany has historically been the main trading partner of Austria, making it vulnerable to rapid changes in the German economy. However, since Austria became a member state of the European Union it has gained closer ties to other European Union economies, reducing its economic dependence on Germany. In addition, membership in the EU has drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by Austria's access to the single European market and proximity to the aspiring economies of the European Union.
Austria looks to keep expanding its economy, while continuing to produce other forms of renewable energy, such as wind, solar, nuclear etc... Austria has been able to remain neutral in most negative foreign affairs, and will look to continue to do so. Austria will look to strengthen their renewable resource industry and make themsleves a competitive producer in the European marketplace, not only for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the world.
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