Austria: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government in the country of Austria



Location--In the heart of Central Europe, landlocked Austria is bounded by West Germany and Czechoslovakia on the north, Hungary on the east, Yugoslavia and Italy on the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein on the west.

How Created--The name Osterreich means the "Eastern Empire," that is, the territory which came into Charlemagne's conglomerate in 788 A.D. After the ascension of the Hapsburgs to the throne in 1273, Austria expanded its borders by successful wars and even more successful political marriages, and by 1700 Austria was unquestionably one of Europe's great powers. Then in the 18th century, Austria gradually lost power to Prussia. The current state of Austria owes its basic size and governmental structure to the Treaty of Saint-Germain in 1919 which ended W.W.I. Annexed by Germany in 1938, Austria was liberated by U.S. and Soviet troops in 1945 and then occupied by the Allied powers until 1955, when it again became independent.

Size--32,375 sq. mi. (83,850 sq. km.), slightly smaller than Maine.

Population--7,600,000: Austrian, 98.6%; German, 0.6%; Italian, Hungarian, and others, 0.8%. Over 90% Roman Catholic.

Who Rules-The President is elected for a 6-year term. He shares power with a 2-house legislature. The 183 members of the National Council are popularly elected to 4-year terms. The 54 members of the Federal Council are chosen by the 9 state assemblies.

Who REALLY Rules--The most powerful person is the Chancellor, who is appointed by the President. Generally the Chancellor is chosen because he is the head of the ruling party. The vast majority of private enterprise is financed or owned by West Germans.

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