Austria Country Overview

By | September 13, 2021

The Republic of Austria is a parliamentary democracy in Central Europe. The country is divided into nine federal states, the capital is Vienna. Most of the landlocked state is made up of the Eastern Alps with the Grossglockner taken as the highest mountain. Almost half of the country’s area is covered with forest. Austria lies in the moderate climatic zone. Due to its geographical location, Austria has always been a transit and immigration country. The affluent country offers high social standards, there is a statutory minimum wage and social security systems. Over half of the population lives in urban areas, the mountain regions are sparsely populated. The majority of the population is German-speaking and belongs to a Christian religious community. The Slovenes, Croats, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and Roma are recognized minorities. Today’s Austria is the rest of the Danube Monarchy, which occupied large parts of Central Europe until 1918. From 1938 to 1945 the country was part of the German Reich Since 1945 it has been an independent republic again, and since 1955 a sovereign republic. Services are the largest sector, and year-round tourism is particularly important. The share of renewable energy in energy use is among the highest in Europe. The country has been part of the EU since 1995. Despite constant neutrality, Austria entered into the NATO Partnership for Peace in 1997 for reasons of security policy.


Austria consists of 9 federal states (Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna). The states are divided into 79 rural districts, which in turn are subdivided into 2,100 municipalities, as well as into 15 statutory cities. The administration of the federal government in the federal states is carried out under the direction of the federal ministers, as a rule, by the state governors and the authorities subordinate to them (“indirect federal administration”). In all instances, certain (sensitive) areas are (“directly”) the responsibility of the federal authorities (e.g. security and financial administration). At the head of the state administration are the state government (governor, state councilors) as a college and the state councils as individual bodies. They are elected according to the political balance of power by the respective Landtag to which they are responsible.

Administrative division in Austria

Administrative structure (January 1, 2017)
FederalState Area (in km 2) Population Residents (per km 2) capital city
Burgenland 3,962 291 900 74 Eisenstadt
Carinthia 9 538 561 100 59 Klagenfurt
Lower Austria 19 186 1 665 800 87 Sankt Pölten
Upper Austria 11 980 1,465,000 122 Linz
Salzburg 7 156 549 300 77 Salzburg
Styria 16 401 1,237,300 75 Graz
Tyrol 12 640 746 200 59 innsbruck
Vorarlberg 2 601 388 800 150 Bregenz
Vienna 415 1,867,600 4,500


Freedom of opinion and freedom of the press are guaranteed, the media landscape is diverse. German media companies are heavily involved, in particular the Funke media group (Mediaprint; press) and ProSiebenSat. 1 Media AG (television). –

Press: The concentration on the daily newspaper market is well advanced. State press funding is available to maintain the regional diversity of the press and to ensure quality and the future, as well as to promote sales and support journalist education. The press landscape is determined by the major Viennese tabloid “Neue Kronen Zeitung” (founded in 1959). Other national newspapers are »Kurier«, »Austria«, »Der Standard«, »Die Presse« and the »WirtschaftsBlatt«. The largest regional newspapers include the »Kleine Zeitung« (Graz and Klagenfurt), »Oberösterreichische Nachrichten« (Linz), »Tiroler Tageszeitung« (Innsbruck), »Salzburger Nachrichten« and »Vorarlberger Nachrichten« (Schwarzach). The Viennese newspaper “Today” is published as a daily free newspaper. There are a total of 340 weekly papers, Magazines and journals. The largest include »News«, »The Whole Week«, »Profil« (news), »Format« (economy), »Sportwoche« and »Sportmagazin« (twice a week). – News agency: Austria Press Agency (APA), Vienna (founded in 1946) as a cooperative of Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) and newspaper publishers. – Broadcasting: The ORF, a foundation under public law, broadcasts four television programs as well as three national and nine regional radio programs, also in the minority languages. The ORF is involved in the joint program 3Sat. The 40 or so commercial private radio stations include, among others. the broadcasting network of »Kronehit« (Mediaprint) and »Welle 1« as well as »Energy 104.2« and »Radio Arabella«.

In the television sector, the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Act of July 1, 1997 allowed cable providers to broadcast their own programs in a locally limited area. The Private Television Act of July 5, 2001, which for the first time allowed nationwide terrestrial private television to be broadcast, finally privatized the broadcasting market and ended the ORF’s monopoly. The largest private television stations are “ATV” (“Austria Television”, two channels), “Servus TV” and “Puls 4” from ProSiebenSat. 1 media; their German stations each have an Austria branch. – The broadcasting regulatory authority is the communications authority Austria (KommAustria), which has since also controlled the advertising practice of all Austrian radio and television broadcasters, including the ORF.


The settlement of Austria began around 8000 BC. In the Paleolithic. Most of today’s Austria is around 15 BC. Occupied by the Romans. With the spread of Christianityin the 2nd century AD the decline of the Roman Empire began. From the 6th century Bavarians (populated Bavaria) the country. In order to stop the advance of the Avars, Charlemagne set up a border mark around 800 AD in what is now Lower Austria. Around 996 the name “Ostarrichi” was first mentioned in a document, which later became Austria. In the 12th century Austria became a duchy under Heinrich II Jasomirgott . The Babenbergs were followed by the Habsburgs in 1278 – the Duchy of Austria rose to become an Archduchy. From the Austrian Empire (1804–67) the dual monarchy Austro-Hungarian (1867–1918), which after the World War I disintegrated. In 1918, Emperor Karl I renounced his rule and cleared the way for the First Republic of Austria (1918–38). From 1938–45 Austria was part of the German Reich. After the end of the Second World War, the country was divided into four zones of occupation for ten years. With the Vienna State Treaty of 1955, Austria’s Second Republic regained its full sovereignty. The country committed itself to “perpetual neutrality.” In 1995 it joined the European Union.

Austria Country Overview