Featured Image : Hallstatt is a small village in the district of Gmunden, in the Austrian state of Upper Austria.
Austria (/ˈɒstriə/ (About this sound listen); German: Österreich [ˈøːstɐˌraɪç] (About this sound listen)), officially the Republic of Austria (German: Republik Österreich, About this sound listen (help·info)), is a federal republic and a landlocked country of over 8.8 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi). The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country’s official language. Other local official languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.
The origins of modern-day Austria date back to the time of the Habsburg dynasty, when the vast majority of the country was a part of the Holy Roman Empire. From the time of the Reformation, many northern German princes, resenting the authority of the Emperor, used Protestantism as a flag of rebellion.
Today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 1.8 million, is Vienna.Other major urban areas of Austria include Graz, Linz, Salzburg and Innsbruck. Austria is consistently ranked as one of the richest countries in the world by per capita GDP terms. The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2014 was ranked 21st in the world for its Human Development Index. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, joined the European Union in 1995, and is a founder of the OECD. Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, and adopted the euro currency in 1999.
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