108 Informative Facts About Austria

Last updated on March 31st, 2018

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Its terrain is highly mountainous. With these facts about Austria, let us learn about its history, geography, culture, people, and more…

About Austria’s history and heritage

1. Austria, which was once the center of power for the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, was reduced to a small republic after its defeat in World War I (28 Jul 1914 – 11 Nov 1918).

2. During the 17th and the 18th century, Austria was a great power of Europe.

3. Austria was occupied by many Celtic tribes in pre-Roman times.

4. Austria became independent on October 26, 1955.

5. After the 1918 collapse of the Austrio – Hungarian Empire, the country experienced more than 25 years of social and economic turbulence.

6. Austria is also the country where first postcards were issued. Austria is slightly smaller than Maine (US state) in the area.

7. Vienna was involved in nine major wars in the 19th century. In the 19th century, the average life expectancy in Vienna was about 38 years.

8. Mozartkugel – Austrian finest chocolate originated in the birthplace of Mozart.

9. Between 1938 and 1955 Austria was under Nazi Germany.

10. The Viennese Clock Museum is the place where more than 1,000 clocks are kept. The center of attraction of the museum is the astronomical clock which was built in 1679.

11. The Austrian National Library located in Vienna, completed in 1726, is one of the world’s major libraries. The library has a collection dating back to the 14th century and today, it houses more than 2.5 million books. The Library was formerly the court library to the Hapsburgs.

12. Austria has sworn itself to a neutral position since the World Wars.

Flag of Austria

Flag of Austria
The national flag of Austria. Description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and red; the flag design is certainly one of the oldest – if not the oldest – national banners in the world; according to tradition, in 1191, following a fierce battle in the Third Crusade, Duke Leopold V of Austria’s white tunic became completely blood-spattered; upon removal of his wide belt or sash, a white band was revealed; the red-white-red color combination was subsequently adopted as his banner. Image credit – CIA

About Austria’s land and nature

13. The highest point of the country is at 3,798 m – Grossglockner (First ascent: 28 July 1800; location: Carinthia & East Tyrol, Austria.)

14. A very small percentage of the Austrians is involved in agriculture (share of agricultural production is less than 1.5 % of the GDP.) The average size of a farm in Austria is 45 acres.

15. Austria is also considered as Europe’s “organic farming country no. 1”. Austrians give emphasis on quality rather than quantity. The country promotes the reduction in the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

16. Austrian corn yields on average are higher than in the United States of America. Austria rejects the use of biotechnology for the production of crops.

17. It is also the first country in the world to register the first organic farm (1927) and also the first country to establish national regulations for organic farming.

The map of Austria

18. Austria has 9 federal states – Vienna, Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg.

19. Austria extends 360 miles from east to west.

20. Lake Neusiedl is the largest natural lake in Austria. It has a surface area of 315 square kilometers and it is 36 kilometers long.

21. The country meets over 60% of its electricity needs by means of renewable energy sources.

22. The country lies at the center of the European traffic between east and west along the great Danubian trade route between north and south.

23. The country shares its longest border with Germany which is approximately 800 kilometers long.

24. Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg are the few landlocked countries in Europe.

25. The biggest Danube port in Austria is in Vienna and Linz.

26. Soccer, volleyball, basketball, ballet and dancing, are among the most popular sports activities in the country.

27. Vienna is the capital and the largest city in the country.

28. There are 26 Schengen countries – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Passport and all other types of border control at the mutual borders of these 26 member countries are not implemented. The region covers a population of over 400 million people and operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes.

29. Austria and Switzerland are called the winter sports capital of Europe.

30. Austria is also famous for historic cities, villages and magnificent scenery of the Alps.

31. Danube River is Europe’s second-longest river after the Volga River. It originates in Germany and flows through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine. The river is approximately 2880 km long and it empties into the Black Sea. It is the only river in the world which flows through ten countries.

32. 2/3rd of Austria is covered by woods and meadows. Forests account for 2/5th of the country. Hence, Austria is one of the most densely forested countries in central Europe.

33. The largest ice cave system in the world– Eisriesenwelt –belongs to Austria. The system is located in Werfen about 40 km south of Salzburg. More than 200,000 tourists visit the ice caves every year.

34. The country is also home to the world’s oldest zoo – The Tiergarten Schönbrunn. It is located on the grounds of the famous Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. It was founded in 1752. The zoo is home to more than 700 animal species, some of them threatened. Its main purpose is to provide a center for species and general nature conservation.

35. The Krimml Falls is the highest waterfall in Austria and central Europe. It has a height of 380m, and it is a tiered waterfall. There are three stages; upper stage – 100m, middle stage – 140m, and the lowest stage – 140m.

36. The Danube River which is 2,860 km long is the chief waterway of the country.

37. Ibex is a species of mountain goats in Austria. They are found in the Alps. They were near extinct but were restored in the last few years.

38. Acid rain is an issue in Austria. Almost 37% of the country’s forest suffered damages at the hand of acid rain and other forms of pollution.

39. Neusiedler See is the lowest point in Austria at 115m above sea level. 

40. The 2/3rd of the country is above 500m.

41. It rains a lot in the country, almost more than 200 times a year.

42. Austria shares its longest border with Germany.

About Austria’s business and economy

43. Austria exports around 30% of the wine produced in the country.

44. Austria has the third-highest per capita income from tourism in the European Union. The country attracts more than 30 million tourists every year.

45. Austria is one of the richest countries per capita in the world. Austria’s GDP per capita (PPP) is $47,700 (2016 est.)

46. Austria adopted the Euro on 1 January 1999. However, the currency existed as only ‘book money’. On 1 January 2002, euro banknotes and coins were introduced in Austria. The schilling and the euro had a legal tender status which ended on 28 February 2002.

47. There are no nuclear power plants in Austria.

48. Due to the slowdown in the economy after the World War II, a large number of Austrians emigrated to the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

49. Most of the taxis in Austria are Mercedes.

About Austrian culture and people

50. There are a total of 21 Nobel Prize winners from Austria. Bertha von Suttner is the first woman to be solely awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Before her, Marie Curie had won the prize but she did it jointly with her husband, Pierre Curie in 1903. See the list of Nobel Laureates by country.

51. Austrian families are small and appearance matters a lot to them. They are meticulous people. 

52. German is the official language of Austria. However, there are some other local official languages as well including Slovene, Hungarian, Croatian, and Burgenland.

53. Rudolf Steiner is a famous Austrian researcher and anthroposophist (the philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience through inner development).

54. Most of the people of Austria speak Bavaria, which is a dialect of the German language.

55. Austria is ranked at the 24th spot on the Human Development Index.

56. Austria became the member of the European Union in 1995. Finland and Sweden also joined the European Union in the same year.

57. Austria became the 70th member of the United Nations Organization (UN) on 14 December 1955.

58. Austria is also the founding member of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The organization has 35 member countries to this day.

59. Austria is also a part of Borderless Europe. Students from various European countries study is Austria and vice versa.

60. Bavaria (South Germany) is a close cultural relative of Austria.

61. Austria is also rated as the fifth most patriotic country in the world. Many Austrians derive their identity from the state/region they belong to.

62. Austrians are very hospitable. They enjoy eating, drinking and chit-chatting with friends and relatives.

63. Austrians also have one of the highest standards of living in the world.

64. The president of Austria is elected by the people for a term of 6 years. However, the president is just a representative. The federal chancellor runs the day-to-day operations of the country.

65. Ethnic Austrians constitute a vast majority of its population.

66. Austria is the only European Union nation that is not a member of NATO.

67. Beethoven, widely considered as the greatest pianist and composer of all time, was born in Germany on December 16, 1770. He died at the age of 56 in Austria. He composed some of his most important work during the last 10 years of his life. Notably, he was unable to hear during his last years.

68. Hitler, the famous ruler, was an Austrian and not German. He was born in Austria-Hungary on 20 April 1889.

69. Austria is also home to the world’s oldest still-operating restaurant St. Peter Stiftskeller. It was established in 803 and now it is still-operational and more than 1200 years old. It is said that Christopher Columbus, Johann Georg Faust, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have been served here.

70. Vienna is home to more than 2.5 million graves in its central cemetery. Vienna has some 52 suburban cemeteries. The Vienna Central Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the world. Contrary to what the name suggests, the cemetery is situated not in the city of Vienna but on the outskirts.

71. Funerals have become an expensive obsession in the country and people would set aside money for their special send-off.

72. Vienna is also amongst the world’s most livable cities. It ranks at number two position on the list of world’s top ten most livable cities placed right after Melbourne which tops the list.

73. The father of psychoanalysis – Sigmund Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) is an Austrian.

74. The father of Doppler Effect, Christian Doppler (29 November 1803 – 17 March 1853) was born in Salzburg, Austria. Doppler Effect states that the observed frequency of a wave depends on the relative speed of the source and the observer.

75. The father of modern genetics – Gregor Mendel (20 July 1822 – 6 January 1884) is also an Austrian.

76. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), born in Salzburg, is also among the famous Austrians. He was widely recognized as one of the greatest composers in the history of the Western music. He was gifted with a near-perfect memory. He composed since he was five years old.

77. Beethoven who lived most of his life in Austria experienced deafness starting the age of 26. He produced some of his life’s best work – Symphony No 9 in D minor.

78. Ernst Mach (18 February 1838 – 19 February 1916) introduced the system of Mach number in 1887. The speed of sound is measured in Mach numbers. The ratio of one’s speed to that of sound is named the Mach number in his honor. The speed of sound (1 Mach) is equal to 1234.8 kilometer per hour.

79. In 2017, Austria is the 95th most populous country in the world. (8,754,413 – July 2017 Est.)

80. Freedom of religion is a fundamental right in Austria.

81. More than 50% men and 20% women in Austria are overweight. These stats are the highest in the European Union.

82. Porsche – the automobile company – is also owned by an Austrian, Ferdinand Porsche (3 September 1875 – 30 January 1951). He also designed the Volkswagen Beetle, the Mercedes-Benz. He founded the Porsche car company in 1931.

83. Austria also has one of the top-earning chefs in the worldWolfgang Puck. His net worth is estimated to be $75 million.

84. For any drink to be classified as an alcoholic drink in Austria, it must contain 20% alcohol. This quantity is twice the quantity of alcohol found in alcoholic drinks in other European countries.

85. Austrians work the longest hours – 45 hours per week among the other working population of the countries in the European Union.

86. Punctuality is a valuable trait in Austria.

87. Prostitution is legal in the country.

88. In Austria, coffee shops, as well as Mc Donalds, serve beer.

89. Retail and grocery shops are closed on Sundays.

90. One can fetch money after returning beer bottles to the grocery store. This is one of the reasons why they are the leaders in recycling waste items.

91. Austrians prefer river or lake instead of the pool.

92. In Austria, people stay in a relationship longer than other countries. Couples usually marry after 8 and more years of dating.

93. The Danube river is the longest river in Europe. Austrian food is influenced by the Hungarian, German and the Italian cuisines.

About Austrian food and cuisines

94. Potatoes are popular in the country. Potatoes are served sliced and friend and panfried as well.

95. For breakfast, the Austrians like to consume bread and bread roll made from white and wholemeal flour which is coupled with muesli.

96. The country is also famous for sweet desserts and cakes – Sachertorte which is a chocolate cake and Strudel, which is a pastry roll filled with apples and cottage cheese.

97. Gelato can be found everywhere in the country.

98. Austrian food is influenced by Hungarian, German and Italian traditions.

99. Pork, beef, and veal are the main contents of some of the most favorite Austrian dishes.

Some random facts

100. Austria also has one of the oldest flags in the world.

101. Vienna, Austria’s capital city is home to the world’s largest Emerald.

102. Since 100 years, downhill skiing is the most popular sport in Austria. Speeds of up to 130 km/h (81 mph) are common in international competition. The first handbook on skiing was published in Austria in 1897 by Mathias Zdarsky. Probably Austria’s first ski instructor, he was an early ski pioneer.

103. The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is world famous for Lipizzan Stallions. Here horses are trained using the traditional methods that are hundreds of year old. The Lipizzan is one of Europe’s oldest breeds of horses (400 years and more.)

104. Due to the confusion between Austria and Australia, a large number of postages were delivered to Australia instead of Austria. Hence, the Australian post offices had to use a special rubber stamp that read “redirected to Austria in Europe”.

105. Austria is one of the top recyclers in Europe. The country recycles almost 63% of the waste it produces.

106. You are not allowed to make a right turn at a red light in Austria. It is only allowed when sign #25 is present. 80 mph on highways is the speed limit.

107. TVs and air conditioning are not so common in Austria.

108. Local people learn to ski when they are in the early years of their lives.

Austria – country at a glance

IndependenceOctober 26, 1955
Capital CityVienna
(48°12′N 16°21′E)
Largest CityVienna
(48°12′N 16°21′E)
Total area83,871 sq km
Population8,754,413 (July 2017 est.)
Official LanguageGerman
BordersCzech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
CurrencyEuro (€) (EUR)
Suffrage16 years of age; universal
DemonymAustrian
ReligionCatholic, Protestant, Muslim and others
Life expectancy81.6 Years (2017)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetemperate; continental, cloudy; cold winters with frequent rain and some snow in lowlands and snow in mountains; moderate summers with occasional showers
Terrainmostly mountains (Alps) in the west and south; mostly flat or gently sloping along the eastern and northern margins
National anthem"Bundeshymne" (Federal Hymn)
Government typefederal parliamentary republic
PresidentAlexander Van der Bellen
ChancellorChristian Kern
National colorsred, white
National symbolgolden eagle, edelweiss, Alpine gentian
Natural resourcesoil, coal, lignite, timber, iron ore, copper, zinc, antimony, magnesite, tungsten, graphite, salt, hydropower
Agricultural land38.4%
Birth rate9.5 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Death rate9.6 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Sex ratio1.05 male(s)/female
Industriesconstruction, machinery, vehicles and parts, food, metals, chemicals, lumber, paper and paperboard, communications equipment, tourism
Exports$142.8 billion (2016 est.)
machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and parts, paper and paperboard, metal goods, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles, foodstuffs
Imports$143 billion (2016 est.)
machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, metal goods, oil and oil products, natural gas; foodstuffs
GDP - per capita (PPP)$47,700 (2016 est.)
Time ZoneCET (UTC+1)
Internet country code.at
Drives on theRight
Calling Code+43
Data sourcesCIA, Wikipedia
Table last updatedDecember 08, 2017

References/further reading:

  1. Austria. Weird Facts About Austria and It’s People. Accessed: December 05, 2017. Retrieved from: http://reallifeexpatwife.blogspot.in/2011/07/weird-facts-about-austria-and-its.html
  2. Austria. TasteofAustria.org. Accessed: December 06, 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.tasteofaustria.org/
  3. Austria. Metropole.at. Accessed: December 05, 2017. Retrieved from: https://metropole.at/cover-story-death-vienna/
  4. Austria. CIA. The World Factbook. Accessed: December 08, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/au.html