Austria: Background & Geography

Introduction Austria
Once the center of power for the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, Austria was reduced to a small republic after its defeat in World War I. Following annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938 and subsequent occupation by the victorious Allies in 1945, Austria's status remained unclear for a decade. A State Treaty signed in 1955 ended the occupation, recognized Austria's independence, and forbade unification with Germany. A constitutional law that same year declared the country's "perpetual neutrality" as a condition for Soviet military withdrawal. Following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 and Austria's entry into the European Union in 1995, some Austrian's have called into question this neutrality. A prosperous, democratic country, Austria entered the European Monetary Union in 1999.
Geography Austria
Central Europe, north of Italy and Slovenia
Geographic coordinates:
47 20 N, 13 20 E
Map references:
total: 83,870 sq km
water: 1,426 sq km
land: 82,444 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Maine
Land boundaries:
total: 2,562 km
border countries: Czech Republic 362 km, Germany 784 km, Hungary 366 km, Italy 430 km, Liechtenstein 35 km, Slovakia 91 km, Slovenia 330 km, Switzerland 164 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
none (landlocked)
temperate; continental, cloudy; cold winters with frequent rain and some snow in lowlands and snow in mountains; moderate summers with occasional showers
in the west and south mostly mountains (Alps); along the eastern and northern margins mostly flat or gently sloping
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Neusiedler See 115 m
highest point: Grossglockner 3,798 m
Natural resources:
oil, coal, lignite, timber, iron ore, copper, zinc, antimony, magnesite, tungsten, graphite, salt, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 16.89%
permanent crops: 0.99%
other: 82.12% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
457 sq km (2000 est.)
Natural hazards:
landslides; avalanches; earthquakes
Environment - current issues:
some forest degradation caused by air and soil pollution; soil pollution results from the use of agricultural chemicals; air pollution results from emissions by coal- and oil-fired power stations and industrial plants and from trucks transiting Austria between northern and southern Europe
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geography - note:
landlocked; strategic location at the crossroads of central Europe with many easily traversable Alpine passes and valleys; major river is the Danube; population is concentrated on eastern lowlands because of steep slopes, poor soils, and low temperatures elsewhere

See Also: