Famous for its spectacular mountain scenery, Austria is no longer the dominant political force it was in Central Europe under the Habsburg dynasty which ruled until the first world war.
However, its position at the geographical heart of Europe on the key Danube trade route enhances its strategic importance.
After being joined to Nazi Germany from 1938-1945, Austria was occupied by the Allies, who divided up the country and the capital Vienna into separate sectors.
However, the 1955 State Treaty – signed by the Allies – guaranteed Austria’s unity, ensuring it did not suffer Germany’s fate of being split between the Soviets and the Western Cold War blocs.
In return, Austria declared permanent neutrality, to which it still adheres.
The city of Salzburg is a centre for classical music
At a glance
- Politics: Under the “grand coalition” tradition, the centre-left SPOe and conservative People’s Party have shared power for much of the post-World War II period
- Economy: Banking and insurance predominate. A strong industrial sector depends on exports, with Germany a key market. An austerity package aims to balance the budget by 2016
- International: Permanent neutrality is a cornerstone of foreign policy. Vienna is home to key international organisations
There were some questions surrounding this when two thirds of voters supported EU membership in a referendum in 1994 and entry followed in 1995.
The entry into Austria’s coalition government of the far-right Freedom Party in February 2000 sent shockwaves across Europe. Austria’s relations with the EU were severely strained after some states imposed sanctions in protest. These were lifted some months later.
The capital, Vienna, is home to key international organisations, including the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Opec, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Austria has a very rich cultural heritage. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart occupies a place of his own as composer of some of the best loved European classical music while the works of Franz Schubert enjoy great popularity too.
In the world of philosophy and ideas, Sigmund Freud still provokes controversy while Ludwig Wittgenstein was one of the major influences in 20th century thinking. In fine art, the paintings of Gustav Klimt are widely admired.
Situated in the heart of Europe, Austria offers great variety concentrated in a small area. Here you can find peace and a unique quality of life, big city flair and a rich culture. Austria combines a long tradition of higher education with state-of-the-art research – it’s higher education institutions have accomplished outstanding achievements on an international level and gained a high reputation. Austrian higher education institutions offer an ever-growing number of degree programmes: you can choose between first-class research-based courses, a world-famous education at any of the universities of the arts, high-quality practice-oriented degree courses at the universities of applied sciences, and sound, up-to-date teacher education and innovative courses at private universities. All in all, Austria offers you a broad spectrum of educational opportunities – not to mention great social security, economic stability and the great hospitality of the Austrians. This is why Austria is an ideal place for studying and living! Higher Education Institutions
Austria combines a long tradition of higher education with state-of-the-art research. Austrian higher education institutions offer an ever-growing number of degree programmes: one can choose between first-class research-based courses at Austrian universities, a world-famous education at any of the universities of the arts, high-quality practice-oriented degree courses at the universities of applied sciences, and sound and up-to-date teacher education and innovative courses at private universities.