Austria is a German-speaking (albeit minor dialect changes) federation. Each of its nine federal states has a unique and distinct culture. As a nation, it is a strong believer in a "borderless Europe"; this allows for many students from all over the European Union studying in Austrian universities and vice verse.
Total area: 83 858 km² (32 377.754 mi²)
Population: 8,404,252 (Jan 2011)
Austria is located in Central Europe and is a land-locked alpine country. It borders GERMANY and the CZECH REPUBLIC to the north, Slovenia and ITALY to the south, SWITZERLAND and Liechtenstein to the west and Slovakia and Hungary to its east. AUSTRIA, along with its neighboring partner Switzerland, is the winter sports capital of EUROPE. Likewise, it is just as popular for summer tourists who visit its historic cities and villages and hike in the magnificent scenery of the Alps.
While the Alps cover three quarters of the country and in contrast to a lot of perception, Austria is not an all-mountain country. In contrast to the mountainous areas of Tyrol, Upper Austria, Styria and others, the eastern provinces of Lower Austria, the Burgenland and the federal capital of Vienna are more similar to the geography of the neighboring Hungary and Czech Republic . This diverse mix of landscapes is packed into a relatively small area of a country. Geographical features in Austria include river gorges, glaciers, meadows, semi-arid steppes, alpine valleys, wooded foothills, plains and vineyards.
The capital Vienna dominates Austria's cultural and political life. One quarter of Austria's population lives in Greater Vienna, a modern metropolis, situated where the Danube meets the easternmost fringe of the Alps and a close distance from the border with Slovakia. It can be said that Vienna has little to do with the rest of mainly rural Austria. Beyond of the cities of Graz and Linz, there really are no other large scale cities to match Vienna within the country.
Politically, Austria consists of 9 independent federal states, each with their own provincial governments. Austria is a member of the European Union, the United Nations as well as most UN organizations.
Sources: Wiki, CIA Factbook
Austria has a temperate continental climate. Summers last from early June to mid-September and can be either hot or rainy. Temperatures in July and August are around 25° C (77° F), but often may well reach 35° C (95° F). Winters are cold in the lower parts of the land and very harsh in the Alpine region with temperatures often dropping below -10° C (14° F). Winter duration commences in December and usually lasts up to March, with an extended period experiences at higher altitudes. In the Alpine region, large temperature fluctuations occur all year round and nights are chilly even in high summer. The northern Alps are generally much wetter than the rest of the country. The South East regions, and most particularly those of Styria and Carinthia are dry and sunny. Vienna and its greater area, usually experiences strong easterly winds.
Austria has a well-structured and much developed market economy. Amongst its economic muscle features boast a skilled labor force, and high standards of living; it is closely tied to other EU economies, especially Germany, the Czech Republic and CROATIA. The economy also supports a large service sector, a sound industrial sector, and a small, but highly developed agricultural sector. Following several years of solid foreign demand for Austrian exports and record employment growth, the international financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent global economic downturn led to a sharp but brief recession. Austria's fiscal position compares favorably with other euro-zone countries, but it faces considerable external risks, such as Austrian banks' continued high exposure to central and eastern Europe as well as political and economic uncertainties caused by the extended European sovereign debt crisis.
Tourism forms an important part of Austria's economy, accounting for almost 9% of the Austrian gross domestic product. The International tourism; number of arrivals in Austria were close to 21.5 million (2009 World Bank report, publ. 2010). Austria is thus clearly one of the most popular summer and winter holiday destinations in Europe and has the tourist industry to match it.
In European tourist arrivals figures, Austria ranked 7th in 2010 with 22 million arrivals. The Capital Vienna attracts a major chunk of all visiting tourists all year round summer and winter. Salzburg receives about 20% of tourist overnight stays compared to Vienna, thus ranking it 2nd in the summer season. In the winter season, a number of winter sport resorts in western Austria overtake Salzburg in the number of tourist overnight stays: Sölden, Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Ischgl, Sankt Anton am Arlberg, Obertauern seem to be the most popular.
As for 2011, the Top 10 countries providing International Arrivals and creating overnight stays in Austria were as follows:
1. Germany – 10.93 million
2. Netherlands – 1.67 million
3. Switzerland & Lichtenstein – 1.20 million
4. Italy – 1.09 million
5. United Kingdom – 0.71 million
6. Czech Republic – 0.60 million
7. France – 0.52 million
8. USA – 0.50 million
9. Belgium – 0.49 million
10. Hungary – 0.47 million
Sources: Trading Economics, Statistics Austria
Why visit Austria
Without downgrading the capital Vienna -the centrepiece of anyone's visit to Austria-, its second largest city of Graz (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Hometown), will capture your senses and “terminate” you with its impressive architecture and culinary delights.
There is truly so much to do and see that will keep you fully occupied when visiting this majestic and culturally vibrant country! To mention a few activities and venues, you can be inspired by Antony Gormley's unique landscape installation in the mountains of Vorarlberg, take your pick and visit a multitude of over 200 international and regional festivals taking place all year round (Austria is renowned for its Cultural Calendar which is always arranged to run to its full capacity throughout any calendar year-so do not feel that choosing to visit one season or the other, you are going to miss out of this musical & cultural heaven). Austria’s museums feature one of the world's most important and stunning collections and hence experience the diversity of Austria's art and culture.
Salzburg city, synonymous with art, architecture and music and of course, the birthplace of Mozart. It is a romantic, well-preserved old city, packed of stunning baroque architecture; the city is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At Innsbruck at the heart of the Alps, you may experience the town’s avant-garde architecture with its gorgeously rich Baroque heritage, fused with the new concepts in architecture. Over last 10 years, a host of futuristic structures have shot up across its skies, creating -what would be for many- a 21st-century vision of what the future holds in modern structures.
Visiting Austria with MisterHire.Com
At MisterHire.Com we make sure through our dedicated purchasing team which compares prices across all the main suppliers on the Continent such as Sixt, Europcar, Budget, Avis, Hertz, as well as other carefully selected reliable local suppliers to find you the best car rental rates possible, 24/7 all year round. Visit any of our pages and receive a concise Online and Inclusive quote today and see how much can be saved on your next car rental in Austria by utilizing our resources and car hire services. Check out our most competitive rates online now, experience a great car rental time in your visit to Austria and feel the savings you can make at hand by pre ordering your hire car from us!
Driving in Austria
The Austrians are renowned to be a car-loving nation. As a result, Austria features an excellent road network. However, be warned that almost all of the bigger cities suffer from severe parking availability problems. Spaces are scarce and prohibitively expensive. If you do find a space, the time you are allowed to park for is usually around 90 minutes in central districts. One way streets and traffic jams also take enjoyment out of the journey.
Austria is also very strict drink & driving laws, only allowing 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood.
If you do decide to either drive your own car to Austria or hire one of our rental cars, you will need to purchase a Vignette which is a way fare toll fee sticker, which allows you to drive on Austria's motorways. These vignettes can be purchased at gas stations, border crossings etc. These stickers are valid for a year, two months or 10 days, according to your travel needs and purchase order. Costs in the Year 2007 for a family car for 10 days were EUR 7.60 and EUR 21.80 for a period of 2 months.
Visibility vests must be worn if walking on any of Austria’s motorways, or anywhere if broken down and/or in times of bad visibility AND under a red warning triangle which must be set by the Driver. All our rental cars come equipped with such vests, however please make sure that this is the case at the time of your hire car pick up.
Speed limits in Austria are:
• 130 km/h on motorways (less in case of rain);
• 100 km/h on Open Road (freeways)
• 50 km/h inside cities/towns.
Sources: Wikipedia, Drive Alive