- 415 sq km
- 1.6 million
- Time zone:
- GMT/UTC +1 (Central European Time)
- Telephone country code:
- Telephone city code:
- Emergency numbers:
- Call tel. 122 to report a fire, tel. 133 for the police, or tel. 144 for an ambulance.
- 220 volts AC, with the European 50-cycle circuit.
- Business hours:
- Most shops are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm, and Saturday from 9am to noon, 12:30pm, or 1pm. On the first Saturday of every month, shops remain open until 4:30 or 5pm, a tradition known as langer Samstag.
- Hotel and restaurant bills include a service charge of 10% to 15%, but it's a good policy to leave something extra for waiters and 2€ per day for your hotel maid.
- Vienna has a number of public toilets, labeled WC, scattered at convenient locations throughout the city. Don't hesitate to use them, as they are clean, safe, and well maintained. All major sightseeing attractions also have public facilities.
The origins of the word Osterreich (eastern empire, or eastern realm), stretch back over a thousand years to the era when the Austrian lands were joined to the Holy Roman Empire. In AD 966, a document marked the existence of the Ostarrichi domains.
Austrian power on the world stage reached its zenith under the Habsburg dynasty, who reigned from 1298 to 1918. The Habsburgs really got into their stride in the sixteenth century, and the defeat of the Turks at the gates of Vienna in 1683 saved Austria from disaster.
Austria remained a major player on the world stage, with the Habsburgs piecing together a vast swathe of Central Europe. Vienna provided the location for the famed Congress of 1814-15, when the kings, dukes and princes of Europe tried to undo the changes that Napoleon had created. However, in the age of rising nationalism, the Habsburgs struggled to keep their Empire under control - concessions to the Hungarians, Poles and fellow nations were introduced.
After losing the First World War, Austria was divided up amidst the clamour for independence of the nation states. The Austrians voted to be joined to Germany, but the Allies declined, wary of a swift return to power. The 20's and 30's were a trying era, and Austria was ultimately absorbed into Hitler's German Reich in 1938. Hence followed one of the blackest periods in Austria's history.
After the Second World War, Austria was temporarily administered by the Allies, with Vienna itself divided into French, Russian, English and American zones. However, fortune turned in Austria's favour and the country was not subjected to long-term Soviet, or indeed any other other form of foreign rule. In 1955, the Allies agreed for a withdrawal and the Republic of Austria was declared.
Today, Austria is one of the wealthiest countries in the European Union, with a high standard of living. It is a land-locked country, bordered - following the arm of the clock - by the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany. Austria's landscapes endure as amongst the country's leading attractions, and the Austrian stretch of the Alps remains a favourite with skiers. Politically, the country has been a democracy since 1955, but it has not all been plane-sailing. Waldheim's late 80's presidency sparked controversy, whilst the Far Right caused a rumpus in 1999 when they gained 27.2 per cent of the vote. In 2006, the socialists returned to power, with the Far Right vote shrinking to 15%. However, as a democracy, Austria's post-war Human Rights record remains impeccable.