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[ Countries ]  [ Austria ]

Continent : Europe
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Information about Austria

Austria- a small country with an area of 83.84 square kilometres (32.274 square miles) and 7.8 million inhabitants - is situated in the very heart of Europe. With no immediate access to the sea, Austria shares its borders with eight countries: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy.

Due to this geographical position and out of a historical role as a link between the Orient and the Occident, Austria has successfully established its role as a stabilizing political factor in Central Europe and as a turn-table of East-West trade. Important international organizations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have chosen Vienna, Austria's capital, as their headquarters.

As stated in its constitution, Austria is a democratic republic, composed of nine federal provinces. The legislative authority, on the federal level, lies in the hands of a two-chamber Parliament: the first chamber, called 'Nationalrat' (National Council), is elected at four-year intervals and, at present, consists of representatives from five political parties. The second chamber, the 'Bundesrat' (Federal Council), represents the interests of the nine provinces. Laws passed by both chambers of the Parliament must be signed by the Federal President, who is the Head of State, elected in direct polls for a term of six years. The executive, on the federal level, is a government headed by the Chancellor ('Bundeskanzler'). In each of the provinces there is a provincial legislative dealing with matters reserved to the provinces by the Federal Constitution and a provincial government headed by a 'Landeshauptmann'.

The capital, Vienna, is one of the nine provinces.

Austria's climate is moderate: the average temperatures during the summer (June to mid-September) are around 20° C/68° F, with occasional temperatures as high as 35° C/95° F; during winter (mid-November to February) it may get as cold as -15° C/4° F, but the average lies around -4° C/25° F. There may be heavy snowfall, in particular in the mountains (by the way, Austria's highest mountain is the 'Großglockner' at 3.797 metres). Most of the rain is to be expected in May and June, but there is no distinct rainy season.

Approximately 19% of the total territory is arable land, 25% is grassland, 40% consists of forests and the remaining 15% is mountain regions. Like in all Western industrialized countries, we also find in Austria the tendency towards concentration of population and settlements: 50% of the Austrian population live on 5% of the territory. The most important of these concentrations are the provincial capitals.

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