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Austria is a landlocked alpine country in central Europe, bordering Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west, Germany and Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east and Slovenia and Italy to the south.
Once the centre of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which spread east through much of east-central and south-central Europe, Austria’s borders were radically reset at the conclusion of the first world war in 1918. 1938 saw an unopposed occupation of Austria by Nazi Germany with its soldiers fighting in the German army and its cities being heavily bombed by allied forces. In 1955 a State treaty and constitutional law ended the Soviet and allied occupation and recognised Austria’s independence and perpetual neutrality.
Along with its neighbor Switzerland, Austria is considered to be the winter sports capital of Europe. However, it also attracts a large number of tourists in the summer months who visit its historic cities and towns and hike through the magnificent scenery of the alps.
Two thirds of the country is alpine and the alps dominate the regions of Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Salzburg, Styria, Upper Austria and Carinthia, whilst the eastern provinces of Lower Austria, the Burgenland and the federal capital of Vienna are more similar to the geography of the neighboring Czech Republic and Hungary. This diverse mix of landscapes is squeezed into a small area. Spectacular mountains, ancient glaciers, rural meadows, green valleys, wooded foothills, gently rolling farmland, river gorges and some fine vineyards can all be found in Austria, which makes it an appealing destination for tourists in both summer and winter.
One quarter of Ausria’a population live in the capital Vienna, which is the centre of government, commerce and cultural, national media and large corporations.
Austria is a parlimentary federal republic and a full member of the EU.