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Austria Information - Page 2
The Danube area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In 10 AD it became part of the Roman Empire and remained in the hands of the Romans for around five hundred years.

Various peoples settled in Austria. Two families, the Babenbergs and the Habsburgs were major influences in the country's history. The Babenberg family ruled from the 980s until 1246 when the lands went to Bohemia. Rudolf of Habsburg defeated the Bohemians in 1282 and the Habsburgs (or Hapsburgs) began their six hundred years' reign. The Habsburgs married into royal families and extended their Empire to include Bohemia, Hungary and Spain dividing into the Austro-German Habsburgs and the Spanish-Dutch Habsburgs.

The Habsburgs were Roman Catholics. War between 1618 and 1648, known as the Thirty Years War, took place between the Habsburgs and German Protestants. Most of the European powers were involved.

In the eighteenth century the male line of Austrian Habsburgs died out and Maria Theresa became Archduchess of Austria. The Silesian War (1740-1748) and the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) were fought to maintain the rule of Habsburg lands. The Habsburg dynasty was continued by Maria Theresa's son, Joseph II, succeeded by his nephew, Francis II.

During the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century Austria joined Britain, Prussia and Russia in a coalition against France and Napoleon.

In 1867 unrest in the Austrian Empire led to the formation of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy.

The First World War (1914-18) broke out after the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferndinand, the Habsburg heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne. Austria-Hungary joined Germany and Italy to form the Triple Alliance. After the War the Habsburg ruler, Emperor Charles, abdicated and Austria became a Republic. Hungary gained independence and parts of the old Austrian Empire were broken up. Czechoslovakia was formed and Slovenia became part of Yugoslavia.

In 1938 Nazi Germany took control of Austria (Austrian Anschluss) for the duration of the Second World War. The Nazis were defeated in 1945 and Austria was occupied by the USSR, the USA, the UK and France. The Allied occupation was withdrawn in 1955 and Austria's State Treaty declared the country "permanently neutral".

The Republic of Austria joined the European Union in January 1995 at the same time as Finland and Sweden. The country is an economically strong European partner with its population enjoying a high standard of living.

Austria is a leading European country in the production of hydroelectric power. Other resources include timber, coal, oil, iron ore, copper, lignite, zinc, salt and graphite. Industries are steel, construction, machinery, vehicles, communications equipment, chemicals, electronics and paper.

Agricultural products are grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruit, wine and dairy products.

The services sector produces the largest percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product. Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner. (2008)

Today, Vienna is known worldwide for music, especially the Vienna Boys' Choir and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Throughout the years famous Austrian musicians have included Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Franz Schubert (1797-1828), Anton Bruckner (1824-1896), Johann Strauss (1804-1849) and his sons Johann (1825-1899), Josef and Eduard, and Arnold Schonberg (1874-1951).

Internationally known Viennese artists are Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Egon Schiele (1890-1918) and Oscar Kokoschka (1886-1980).

Elfriede Jelinek was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004.

Mountain climbing, mountain bike riding and skiing are popular sporting activities, especially in areas such as Kaprun.

The lakes provide opportunities for sailing. Football is the most popular spectator sport.

Austria is a predominately Roman Catholic country celebrating all the Catholic religious festivals including Christmas and Easter. St Nicholas Day is on 6th December. National Day is on 26 October.

News from Austria is available in Newslink.

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