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Situated in the heart of Europe, Austria is a landlocked country bordered by the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. The country was a centre of power in Europe at the time when it was ruled by the mighty Habsburgs. Today, a minor player in the European Union, Austria presents some of the most impressive destinations on the Continent. The city is famous for the ski resorts and sightseeing which magnetizes tourists from all over the world every year. The major cities in the country are Salzburg, Vienna and Innsbruke. These are the major cities which are visited by people from all over the world either for business or spending a cherishable and lovely vacations.



Fact File
Official name : Republic of Austria
Government : Federal republic
Nationality : Austrian
Capital city : Vienna
Ethnic groups : 97% Germanic origin, 2% Slovene & Croat and 1% Turkish
Location : Austria is a small, predominantly mountainous country located in south-central Europe
Continent : Europe
Currency : Euro; 1 Euro = 52.443 Indian Rupee = 1.2047 US $ = 0.678141 GBP(subject to change)
AustriaPopulation : 8.02 million
Languages : German, Turkish, Slovenian, Croatian, English
Religion : 88% Roman Catholic, 6% Protestant
Area : 83,858 sq km
Neighbouring countries : Italy, Switzerland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia
Famous for : Austria is famous for its castles, palaces, cemeteries, natural scenery and ski hills.
Major cities : Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna
Clothing : Summers : light cottons ; Winters : heavy woolens
Major events : The cycle of music festivals, New Year concerts, Fasching (Shrovetide carnival) in February, Corpus Christi (the second Thursday after Whitsun), The Vienna International Festival (from mid-May to mid-June) Midsummer Night's celebrations on 21 June, The Salzburg International Festival takes place in late July, August National Day on 26 October, St Nicholas Day (on 5 to 6 December)

Things to do : Summer is hiking, trekking, caving, mountain climbing - outdoors activities - Winter is Skiing and winter activities including hiking
Cuisine : Derived from the cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It has also been influenced above all by Hungarian,Czech, Jewish, and Italian cuisines. Goulash is one example of this. Austrian pastries and sweets are famous. In recent times a new regional cuisine has also developed which is centred on regional produce and employs modern and easy methods of preparation. The national dish of Austria is Tafelspitz which is a boilded beef dish.
Beverage : Beer


Visa Permit
EU, US, Canadian, EEA, Israeli, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Indian, Singaporean, Australian and New Zealand citizens do not require visas for stays of up to three months. Nationals of African and Arabic countries generally require a visa, also valid for up to three months.

Culture
Salzburg Cathedral Austrian culture can be traced back to around 1050 B.C. with the Hallstatt and La Tene cultures. Austrian culture began to take shape when the Austrian lands were part of the Holy Roman Empire, with the Privilegium Minus of 1156, which promoted Austria to the status of a Duchy, marking an important step in its development. Austrian culture has largely been influenced by its neighbours, Italy, Germany, Hungary and Bohemia. Moreover, it is the country that made such an enormous musical contributions to the world or had such a permanent influence on the international musical scene as has Austria over the course of its long and distinctive history.
Austria offers everything from spectacular vistas to Alpine splendor to pulsating nightlife to sophisticated shopping to classical culture to culinary adventure. Furthermore, Austria is a country with a rich cultural heritage where Vienna is the center of the important and large Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire. Vienna is also the capital of the baroque architecture, and the capital of music with names such as Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, Haydn, Wagner and Viennese Walz.

When to go
Summer sightseeing and winter sports make Austria a year-round destination. In the summer high season (July to August) crowds are huge and prices higher. Winter sports are in full swing from mid-December to late March. Spring in the Alps is in June, when the Alpine flowers start coating the mountains with colour.

Climate
Austria has a moderate continental climate exhibiting four distinct seasons namely spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Summers are generally warm and pleasant with cool nights where summer rainfalls are usually heavy and of short duration only, Winters are sunny, with reliable and frequent snowfalls whereas Winters are rather cold in the North-East and can be lightened up by frequent and heavy foehn winds ( a warm and dry wind) in some valleys in the Alps.
The maximum temperature during summers is around 18 C and the temperatures fall below 0 C during winters.

Getting there
Prince Eugene MonumentBy Air : Vienna international airport is Austria's main air transport hub, but there are international airports at Linz, Graz, Salzburg, Innsbruck and Klagenfurt. If one visits Austria from outside Europe, it is less expensive to fly to a European 'gateway' city and travel overland from there. Munich, for example, is only two hours by train from Salzburg.
By Trains: Austria has excellent rail connections to all major European destinations. They are probably the most comfortable and environmentally responsible way to travel overland.
By Road : Buses are slower and less comfortable than trains, but they are cheaper and they travel to all major European countries.
By Sea : Steamers they ply the Danube between Vienna and the German border town of Passau from May to late September. This a slow and expensive medium of transport and geared to scenic excursions rather than functional transport.



Getting around
Transport systems in Austria are highly developed and very efficient.
By Air : Tyrolean Airways is the main domestic carrier and operates several flights a day between Austria's major cities.
By Trains : A modern network of trains travels between key cities and Austrian trains are comfortable, clean and reasonably frequent
By Road : The Bundesbus (federal bus) network supports the rail service, and is generally used for local trips. Some ski resorts in Tirol and Vorarlberg can only be reached by Bundesbus or private transport.
Trams are also a common feature in Austrian cities.
One can also hire bicycles from over 160 railway stations and returned to any other station. Separate bike tracks are common and the Danube cycling trail runs from the Black Forest in Germany to Vienna and beyond.
High-altitude destinations are reached via gondolas, cable cars or similar devices.

Major attractions
Vienna : This capital city of Austria is a medley of ornamentation with a spirit of art nouveau. Circling the old town (the Innere Stadt ) is the striking revivalist architecture of the Ringstrasse Vienna’s main pathway. These buildings range from the charming Opera House to the monumental Natural History Museum. Nestled throughout the city are the graceful art-nouveau buildings of great architects Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos. The buildings are one of the many remnants of the artistic and intellectual flowering that took place in Vienna at the turn of the century. Vienna is famous for its coffee houses and one of the best known is Hawelka, on Dorotheergasse. The city today is an architectural gem and a centre of music from the medieval times. The Hofburg (Imperial Palace) and the adjoining Augustinian Church are the exemplifications of the marvelous architecture. Other important places in Vienna encompass the Museum of Fine Arts, Belvedere Palace, and the Sigmund Freud Museum.
Vienna
Eisriesenwelt Caves : Perched at an elevation of 1640m (5380ft), these caves are the largest approachable ice caves in the world with more than 40km (25mi) of passage. The caves were first discovered in 1879 by Anton Posselt. The caves are decorated with all kinds of ice formations including gigantic columns and towers, waterfalls and glaciers. The cave remains frozen throughout the year and even in summer the temperature remains at around 1 degree centigrade.

Grossglockner Road : It is the most famous of all alpine roads and terminates at the highest mountain and the largest glacier in Austria, the Grossglockner (3798m). Driving up the Grossglockner Alpine Road is an experience not to be missed. It offers a great 50km (30mi) mountain tour where the most interesting part is the Hohe Tauern National Park where there are dramatic views of several peaks, including the mighty Grossglockner. Built between 1930 and 1935, it is the course that has been an important trading route between Germany and Italy since the Middle Ages.

St Anton : St. Anton holds the crown of 'Europe's liveliest ski resort' and is set to stamp its identity even more firmly on the global winter sports industry by hosting the first Alpine World Championships of the new millennium in 2001. Calling itself a Weltdorf or 'World Village,' the resort has a genuinely international outlook.
St. Anton's skiing and boarding are legendary, attracting winter sports fans from all over the world to the Arlberg area of western Austria, one of the places where Alpine skiing began nearly a century ago.

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