Sunday, May 16, 2021

Austria | Introduction

EuropeAustriaAustria | Introduction

Austria, formally the Republic of Austria, is a constitutional and land-locked state in the heart of Europe with a population of approximately 8.7 million. It is surrounded by the Czech and German Republics to the north, by Hungary and Slovakia to the east, to the south by Slovenia and Italy, as well by Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The area covered by Austria stretches over 83,879 square kilometers. The area is very mountainous and located inside the Alps; only some 32% of the area is below 500 meters and the peak is at 3,798 meters. The main part of the country’s population speaks the local dialect of Bavaria German as their native language, and the Austrian German is the country’s official language. Other local official languages are Hungarian, the Burgenland Croatian and the Slovenian.

The origins of modern Austria date back to the time of the Habsburgs, when most of the country’s territory was part of the Holy Roman Empire. Since the time of the Reformation, many of the princes in northern Germany who resisted the authority of the Emperor have used Protestantism as a banner of rebellion. The 30-year war, combined with the influence of the Kingdom of Sweden and the Kingdom of France, the rise of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Napoleonic invasions diminished the Emperor’s power in North Germany, and also in the South and other countries.

The German regions of the Empire, the Kaiser and Catholicism retained control. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Austrian was able to maintain its status as being one of the most powerful countries in Europe, and as a reaction to Napoleon’s being crowned Emperor of France, the Austrian Empire was declared officially in 1804. When Napoleon was defeated by the Prussians, they became the major rival of the Austrian Empire for the governance of a larger Germany. When Austria was defeated by Prussia in the Battle of Königgrätz during the Austrian-Prussian War in 1866, Prussia paved the way to gain complete control of the rest of Germany. In 1867 this empire was re-formed in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Austrian was excluded from the establishment of a new German Empire, although its policy and foreign politics in the decades that followed came more and more close to the politics of the Prussian-led empire.

During the 1914 July crisis, that followed to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Germany guided the government of Austria in issuing the ultimatum to Serbia, which resulted in the declaration of the World War I.

Following the collapse of the Habsburg ( Austrian-Hungarian ) Empire in 1918 by the end of World War I, Austria changed its name to the Republic of Germany-Austria (Deutschösterreich, later Österreich) and used it to join Germany, but it fell due to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919). Finally, the First Republic of Austria was established in 1919. At the Anschluss of 1938, it was annexed to National Socialist Germany. This process lasts until the Second World War ends in 1945, after which the Allies occupied Germany and restored the old democratic constitution of Austria.. In the year 1955 the Austrian State Treaty reestablished Austria as a sovereign country and ended the Nazi occupation. In the same year, the Austrian government issued the Declaration of Neutrality, which proclaimed the Second Republic of Austria to be permanently neutral.

- Advertisement -

Nowadays Austria is a parliamentary and representative democracy consisting of 9 federal districts. The country’s capital and its largest city with more than 1.7 million citizens is Vienna. Today Austria is considered one of the world’ s richest countries with a nominal GDP per capita of $43,724. The Austria has a high standard of living and in 2014 was ranked 21st worldwide with its World Human Development Index. Since 1955 Austria has been a member of the UN, in 1995 it joined the European Union and was one of the founders of the OECD. In 1995 Austria also signed the so-called Schengen Agreement and also introduced the Euro in 1999.

Geography

Despite common belief, Austria is not only a country of mountains. Although the Alps comprise about 3/4 of the country, which is mainly dominated by the provinces of Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Salzburg, Styria, Upper Austria and Carinthia, the provinces of Lower Austria, Burgenland and the capital Vienna are more similar to the geography of its neighbors, the Czech Republic and Hungary. This varied mixture of sceneries is packed in a relatively small territory. Austria has glaciers, meadows, alpine valleys, forested foothills, gently rolling farmland, wineyards, river gorges, plains and even semi-arid steppes.

25% of the population lives in Greater Vienna, a major European metropolis in which the Danube meets the most eastern edge of the Alps, very close to the Slovakian border and to its capital Bratislava.

Practically all governmental, economic and cultural institutions including national media and major corporations have their headquarters in Vienna, mainly due to its geography and history. Therefore the capital city is dominating the political and cultural life of Austria and is obviously a world of its own. It has very little in common with the rest of mainly rural Austria and there are really no other large cities in the country except Graz and Linz. For example, in the Vorarlberg province, a funny joke is being made about Vienna’s domination of national affairs, which says: “The people in Western Austria earn the money and Vienna is spending it”.

Culture

Austria is a federation. Each of its 9 federal states has its own unique and diverse culture.

It is not easy to classify Austrians. The main reason why Austrians stand out from their European neighbors is that they are not different from others in any particular way. Austrians are moderate in their attitudes as well as in their behavior. The European culture is at a crossroads and is being influenced from several sides. The stereotype of a xenophobe singing, slapping his legs, and drinking beer (eating schnitzel) may be true for a few people, but it certainly is not true for the majority of Austrians.

The typical Austrian in the street is most likely friendly, but slightly restrained and formal, quiet and polite, law-abiding, socio-conservative, grounded, familiar, compliant, and a bit nepotistic, in the heart Catholic, not very religious, but a follower. He is traditionally polite, if not being cosmopolitan like other European cousins, cynical, and has a sarcastic and dry sense of humor.

In general, Austrians define themselves simply by what they are not. Tourists often make the mistake of classifying Austrians as Germans, which is not the case despite the common language (at least on paper). Southern Germany, especially Bavaria, is probably in many ways a close cultural relative of Austria. In fact, Austria’s regions resemble their neighbors, so you won’t notice that you have crossed a border, be it in South Tyrol to Italy, north of Bavaria or east of Hungary.

Austria and Germany are sister nations and enjoy excellent relations, but Mozart was Austrian or a Salzburg native, not a German! Austrians have had a hard time defining their nation for most of their history. Perhaps they are currently exposed to the greatest media influence in Germany, but they have a very different culture, especially from northern Germany. Historical minorities and individual cultures are valued, but they have to fight to survive.

Austria has a long history as a multicultural country – a look in the Vienna telephone book is enough to find out. Ironically, Northern Germany is a pioneer in integrating foreigners into Central European society. With the exception of Vienna, Austria remains a largely conservative and rural country. In fact, cultural conflicts and national identity are as complicated and difficult to understand for many Austrians as they are for visitors. The degree of personal awareness and opinions on this topic varies greatly from person to person but is usually subject to a particularly Austrian avoidance of the topic. It is better to try to see diversity and appreciate diversity than to jump to conclusions.

Therefore, many Austrians derive their identity from their region or state. For example, typical Corinthians would say that they are the first Corinthians and the second and perhaps third Austrians are Austrians. Asking which state someone comes from is usually the first question that Austrians ask when they first meet.

The fact that Austrians do not like manifestations of national identity can also be explained in part by Austria’s historical experiences in the Third Reich and especially by the violent use of national symbols in the growing Austro-fascist movement. as well as far-right. Freedom Party. This is also due to the fact that the current federal state of Austria is a relatively young and flexible federal republic with only 8 million inhabitants.

However, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago ranks Austria as the fifth most patriotic country in the world. Austrians love their country very much, but it is unlikely that they will falter. Perhaps Austria’s accession to the EU in 1995 and its recent introduction of the euro and Europe without borders have given it a stronger sense of meaning and self-esteem in the wider context of Europe.

The majority of Austrians are enjoying in the good life. Spending a significant amount of time enjoying themselves, eating, and drinking and having fun with their friends in a cozy atmosphere that makes them very hospitable. Members of the senior generation may be conservative in the sense of disapproving of extremes in some manner and being generally against changes. Generally, they enjoy some of the world’s highest living standards and want to keep it that way.

There is no well-defined class structure in Austria. The rural and provincial differences are tendency to be more pronounced than in neighboring countries. In general, people are more socially conservative the more westerly and rural you are.

Demographics

The Austrian population has been estimated by Statistik Austria in April 2016 to be 8.72 million. The population of Vienna, the country’s capital, is more than 1.8 million (2.6 million people including suburban areas), which represents approximately 1/4 of the country’s population. It is well known for its variety of cultural activities and its high living standard.

Vienna is without doubt the biggest city in the country. Graz is the 2nd most populous city with its population of 265,778, which is followed by Linz (191,501), Salzburg (145,871) and Innsbruck (122,458). All remaining cities has a population of less than 100,000.

In 2010, according to Eurostat, Austria had 1.27 million people born outside of Austria, which is 15.2% of the entire population. Of which 764,000 (9.1%) were born in countries outside the EU and 512,000 (6.1%) in some other EU member state.

Statistik Austria has estimated in 2011 that 81% or 6.75 million residents had no immigration background and more than 19% or 1.6 million people have at least one or more parents with immigrant background. There are more than 415 thousand descendants of non-Austrian-born immigrants living in Austria, the majority of which have been naturalized.

185,592 Turks ( which includes a minority of Turkish Kurds) constitute the second most numerous ethnic minority in Austria after Germans (2.5%) and make up 2.2% of the country’s total population. In the year 2003, 13,000 Turks have been naturalized and during the same period an unknown number of Turks migrated to Austria. In the same year, 2,000 Turks left Austria, 10,000 emigrated to the country, which confirmed a clear growth trend. Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Slovenes combined make up about 5.1% of the total population of Austria.

In the year 2013, the total fertility rate (TFR) was estimated at 1.42 children born per one woman, which is significantly lower than the replacement rate of 2.1. In the year 2014 about 41.7% of the births were single women. In 2013, life expectancy has been estimated to be 80.04 years (77.13 years for men, 83.1 years for women).

Foreign-born population – top 15 countries:

RankNationalityPopulation
1Germany210,735
2Turkey159,958
3Bosnia and Herzegovina155,050
4Serbia132,553
5Romania79,264
6Poland66,802
7Hungary55,038
8Czech Republic40,833
9Croatia39,782
10Slovakia32,633
11Russia30,249
12Italy27,720
13Macedonia22,430
14Slovenia19,663
15Bulgaria18,481

Ethnic groups

From a historical perspective, Austrians have been considered ethnic Germans and considered ourselves as such, despite the fact that this national identity was questioned by Austrian nationalism in the decades following the end of WWI and particularly after WWII. Until the end of 1806, Austria was an integral part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and was a member of the German Confederation until the Austrian-Prussian War of 1866, a free association of 39 different German-speaking nations. In 1871 Germany was founded as a nation state, but Austria did not participate.

After the First World War and the break-up of the Austrian monarchy, the leaders of the newly founded republic proclaimed it to be called “German Austria” and to be an integral part of the German Republic. Unification of the German states was prohibited by the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye as one of the terms that the victorious allies of World War I imposed on the conquered nation to avoid the establishment of a territorially expanded German state. In conjunction with the events of the World War II and the Nazi era, Austria as a nation has made an effort to establish its own national identity among its population, and nowadays the majority of people do not consider themselves to be German, although a minority still considers themselves to be Germans, a movement known historically as ” Großdeutsch “, which suggests that they consider the historical borders of the people of Germany to extend beyond the borders of the present countries. Nowadays it is estimated that 91.1% of the population are of Austrian descent.

With approximately 300,000 people, Serbs are one of the largest ethnic groups in Austria. From a historical perspective, Serbian immigrants migrated to Austria in the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, during which time Vojvodina has been under Austrian imperial control. After World War II the number of Serbs grew again and today there is a very large Serbian community. The Serbian-Austrian Association was established in 1936. Nowadays Austrian Serbs primarily live in Vienna, Salzburg and Graz.

It is estimated that approximately 13,000 to 40,000 Slovenians in the Austrian state of Carinthia (the Slovenes from Carinthia) as also Croats ( approximately 30,000) and Hungarians in Burgenland were recognized as minorities and were given special rights under the treaty. Slovenes in Styria ( approximately 1,600 to 5,000) is not recognized as a minority and has no particular privileges, though some consider that the State Treaty of 27 July 1955 specifies otherwise.

The legal right to use bilingual topographic signs for areas in which Slovenians and Austro-Croatians live together alongside the German-speaking population (as specified in the State Treaty of 1955) was not fully implemented, in the opinion of some people, although others consider that the treaty – the obligations arising from it – have been respected.

The right to bilingual topographic signage for regions where Slovenians and Austrian-Croatians live alongside the German-speaking population (as stipulated in the State Treaty of 1955) has not yet been fully implemented, according to some, while others believe that the treaty – the obligations arising from it – have been respected (see below). Many people in Carinthia are afraid of Slovenian territorial claims, note that Yugoslav army invaded the territory after both World Wars, and realize that some official Slovenian atlases consider parts of Carinthia to be a Slovenian cultural area. The Recently died Governor Jörg Haider in the fall of 2005 made this a point of public discussion by rejecting to expand the number of bilingual survey panels in Carinthia. A survey carried out by the Carinthian Human Institute in 2006 revealed that 65% of Carinthians do not support an increased number of bilingual topographical road signs, in their opinion the original requirements of the State Treaty of 1955 exist.

One other very interesting phenomenon is the so-called “Windisch theory”, which says that Slovenians can be classified into 2 groups: modern-day Slovenians and Windisch (a traditional German name for Slavs), which is based on linguistic distinctions among Austrian Slovenians who taught the standard Slovenian language at school and Slovenians who spoke the local Slovenian dialect but who attended German schools. The term “Windische” was used to distinguish the latter group. That politically inspired theory, which divides Slovenian Austrians into “loyal Windians” and “Slovenian citizens”, was not generally adopted and was discontinued several decades ago.

Religion

YearPopulationCatholicsPercentageLutherans
19717,491,5266,548,31687.4%447,070
19817,555,3386,372,64584.3%423,162
19917,795,7866,081,45478.0%338,709
20018,032,9265,915,42173.6%376,150
20118,430,5585,403,72264.1 %319,752
20148,573,0005,265,75761.4 %309,173

By the end of the 20th century, approximately 74% of the population of Austria was declared to be Roman Catholic, while approximately 5% declared to be Protestant. The Austrian christians are required to pay an obligatory contribution ( determined by income, about 1%) for the membership of their church; such a payment is called “Kirchenbeitrag” (“church / ecclesiastical contribution”).

Starting in the second half of the 20th century, there has been a decline in the number of believers and church members. The statistics of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria from late 2014 shows 5,265,378 members, which represents 61.4% of Austria’s total population. In 2005, the number of Sunday church attendances was 623,195 or 11.84% of the entire Austrian population. The Lutheran Church also recorded a decline of 47,904 members during the period from 2001 to 2008. The European Commission’s 2012 survey indicates that considerably over 86% of the population of Austria are Christians 77% are Roman Catholics.

Approximately 12% of the population declared that they had no religion. in 2001; this percentage rose to 20% in 2015. Among the remaining people, approximately 340,000 are members of several Muslim communities, mostly due to the migration influx from Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Some 180,000 are members of Orthodox churches ( predominantly Serbs), approximately 21,000 are registered as active Jehovah’s Witnesses and around 8,100 are Jews.

The Austrian Jewish community of 1938 – there were only more than 200,000 in Vienna – decreased to about 4,500 during WWII, with around 65,000 Austro Jews killed in the Holocaust and 130,000 emigrated. The majority of today’s Jewish population are post-war immigrants, particularly from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (including Jews from Bukhara). In 1983 Buddhism became legally recognized as a religion in Austria.

According to the most recent Eurobarometer 2010 survey:

44% of the Austrian population answered that they “believe there is a God”.

38% answered that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force”.

12% answered that “they do not actually believe there is any kind of spirit, God or life force”.

Although Northern and Central Germany were the source of the Reformation, Austria and Bavaria were at the very heart of the Counter-Reformation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during which the absolute Habsburg Monarchy enforced a strict regime to re-establish the power and influence of Catholicism among the Austrians. For a very long time the Habsburgs considered itself the avant-garde of Catholicism and all other denominations and other religions have been suppressed.

In 1775 Maria Theresa allowed the Mechristliche Congregation of the Armenian Catholic Church to establish its official residence in the Habsburg Empire.

In 1781, during the Austrian Enlightenment, Emperor Joseph II approved a Patent of Tolerance for Austria, which granted other denominations limited religious freedom. Religious freedom became a constitutional right in Cisleithania after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, thus honoring the fact that the monarchy was home to many different religions in addition to Roman Catholicism, which included Greek Orthodox, Serbs, Romanians, Russians and Bulgarians. (for many centuries near the Austria of the Ottoman Empire), Calvinists, Protestant Lutherans and Jews. Following the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, Islam was given official recognition in Austria in 1912.

Austria was still strongly influenced by Catholicism. After 1918, Catholic leaders of the First Republic, such as Theodor Innitzer and Ignaz Seipel, occupied leading positions within or close to the Austrian government and strengthened their influence during the period of Austro-Fascism. Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg considered Catholicism to be the state religion.

Although Catholic (and Protestant) leadership welcomed the Germans in 1938 during the annexation of Austria to Germany, Austrian Catholicism would later break its support for Nazism and former religious prominent figures in public life were involved in the resistance during the Third Reich. Following the end of the World War II in 1945, a more strict secularism was established in Austria and the influence of religion on politics was diminished.

Economy

Austria is the 12th wealthiest country in the world in per capita terms of GDP (gross domestic product), and has a well-developed social market economy and a very high standard of living. Many of Austria’s largest industrial companies had been nationalized by the 1980s; however, in recent years the process of privatization has lowered state stocks to a level that is comparable to other European economies. Trade union movements are especially prominent in Austria and have a major influence on labor policy. Together with a highly developed industry, international tourism is the most important part of the economy.

Historically, Germany was Austria’s most important trading partner and therefore Austria is vulnerable to rapid economic changes in Germany. Since becoming a member of the EU, Austria has established stronger ties with other EU economies and has decreased its economic dependence on Germany. Additionally, EU membership has attracted an inflow of foreign investments, which has been boosted by Austria’s access to the single European market and its proximity to emerging EU economies. In 2006, GDP growth reached 3.3%. A minimum of 67% of Austrian imports come from other member states of the European Union.

On November 16, 2010, Austria announced its intention to withhold the December portion of its EU rescue contribution to Greece, pointing to the significant deterioration in Greece’s debt position and the country’s obvious inability to collect on its debt. . . tax revenues which had been promised earlier.

The Eurozone crisis has affected the Austrian economy in several other ways. For example, in December 2009, due to financial difficulties, the government took over Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank for EUR 1 and wiped out the EUR 1.63 billion from BayernLB. In February 2014, the problems with HGAA were not resolved, and Chancellor Werner Faymann has warned that its collapse would be similar to the Creditanstalt event of 1931.

Since the fall of communism, Austrian companies have been very active players and consolidators in Eastern Europe. From 1995 to 2010, 4,868 mergers and acquisitions were carried out with a total value of 163 billion euros announced with the participation of Austrian companies . The most significant transactions with Austrian companies have been: the takeover of Bank Austria from Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank for 7.8 billion € in 2000, the takeover of Porsche Holding Salzburg by the Volkswagen Group for 3.6 billion € in 2009 and the takeover of Banca Comercială Română from Erste Group for 3,700 million €.

Tourism represents almost 9% of the gross domestic product of Austria. In 2007, Austria ranked 9th in the world in international tourism income with 18.9 billion US dollars. In terms of international tourist-arrivals, Austria ranked 12th with 20.8 million visitors.

Politics

Austria is a federal parliamentary republic made up of 9 federal states. The head of state is the President, who is directly elected by the people for a six-year period of office. However, the President’s role is mostly ceremonial, and the Chancellor, who is chosen by the Federal Minister, is in charge of most daily politics.

The Parliament of Austria has two chambers, the National Council with 183 seats as the primary chamber and the Federal Council. While members of National Council is elected by popular vote in a five-yearly election, the 62 representatives of Bundesrat are chosen by each of the Austrian provincial parliaments for periods of 4 to 6 years. The constitution of the Bundesrat changes after every election to the state legislature of a country. The Constitution of Austria grants the Bundesrat the right of veto of the National Council; in most of the cases it is a suspensive veto only, meaning the National Council can override it by passing the law a second time.

Austria has 4 main parties: the Social Democrats (SPÖ), the Austrian People’s Party (conservative) (ÖVP), the Freedom Party (right) (FPÖ) and the Greens (left). The present state government is formed by a coalition of SPÖ and ÖVP. Traditionally, SPÖ and ÖVP received between 40 and 50 % of the votes each, but frustration over their politics (SPÖ and ÖVP have often been considered almost identical) and their almost constant domination of the government (alone or combined in “grand coalitions “) since the 1990s has eliminated several smaller parties, most of which are somewhere in the (neo)liberal and/or nationalistic spectrum and some of them with the reputation of a charismatic leader.