Austria is famously the land of mountains and music. It is the land of Mozart and The Sound of Music, and towering Alps and stunning scenery. There are classic ski towns here by the score, and year-round glacial slopes to carve. There are more champion alpine skiers per capita here than anywhere else in Europe, and more forest land per square inch of the country than in any other part of the continent. The capital city of Vienna is where the Habsburgs redefined decadence, and where symphonies and orchestras have regaled music lovers for centuries. This is where the Vienna Coffee was created, together with the pervasive coffeehouse culture – a coffee, a newspaper, and the marble-top coffeehouse table. And last but not least, this is also the home of California's most colorful governor – oops, Gubernator – Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Republic of Austria spans some 83,853 square km in south-central Europe. The entire western third of the nation lies in the Alps, and much of its central and southern territories are Alpine as well – some 75% of the country is mountainous. The nation boasts a greater percentage of forested land than any other European nation – about 39% of its terrain is covered with trees. Austria shares its borders with eight other nations: Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west, Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia to the northeast, Hungary to the east, and Italy and Slovenia to the south.
Austria’s government is partitioned into nine states and its capital is Vienna. It maintains a parliamentary democracy, with a strong central government. The president presides as the chief of state, and the head of government is the chancellor. From 1955, Austrian politics have vacillated between conservative and socialist policies. Recent issues include the influx of Yugoslav refugees and subsequent right-wing anti-immigration movements. Also controversial over the past decade have been growing unemployment levels, tax increases, and cuts in social services. Austria’s unemployment rate hovers around 5.1%.
Austria’s population is approximately 98% ethnic Austrian, with the remaining 2% split among several eastern European ethnicities, including Croat, Hungarian, Slovene, and Czech – minorities that cluster along Austria’s eastern border. Approximately 80% of the population claims a Roman Catholic religion, with 5% claiming some faction of the Protestant faith. Some 65% of all Austrians reside in urban settings, with 25% of the population living in the country’s five largest cities: Vienna, Graz, Linz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. The population density is approximately 97 people per square kilometer.
Cuzco is the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, and the epicenter of the Andean Quechua culture. It has a monumental... Read More
Thimphu is the seat of the last of the Himalayan kingdoms. It sits in splendid isolation in a long, high valley in the... Read More
Mostar is where Christians converted to Islam, and where moussaka – consisting of sliced eggplants sautéed in... Read More
Santiago is Chile's capital of cool. It's mostly a modern metropolis, but with more than 500 years of history and relics... Read More
Tampere is a city of rock. In fact, Tampere, Finland, like Manchester, England, evolved from a market town into a major... Read More
Ischgl is a small mountain village turned hip ski resort, with massive appeal among the party-hearty young crowds. It is... Read More
Andorra la Vella is its own little world, and not just because it’s a 290-square-mile independent principality (a fifth the... Read More
Bariloche (officially San Carlos de Bariloche) is the place to be seen. It is to Argentina what Aspen is to the... Read More
Aspen is America's most famous ski resort. And that's an understatement. For, as a ski complex, Aspen is unsurpassed. Its... Read More
Zermatt is a small but glamorous mountain resort town, with a population of approximately 5,700. It is one of Switzerland's... Read More
St. Moritz is a glitzy, alpine resort town in the celebrated Engadin Valley of Switzerland, with huge notoriety as the... Read More
Lake Tahoe is the premier lake resort of America, and the largest alpine lake in all of North America. It is an absolutely... Read More
St. Anton, Sankt Anton am Arlberg in German, is Austria's premier ski-bum resort! It's actually a small village cum... Read More
Kitzbühel, a small, Tyrolian resort town in the Kitzbüheler Alps, comes with international renown and huge snob appeal, and... Read More