Austria Alpine country The eastern state of Tyrol is home to the highest point in Austria: the Grossglockner, and the resorts of St Anton, Kitzbühel and Sölden, which are popular with tourists as well as competition organisers. Since 1993 Sölden has hosted the opening of alpine skiing's World Cup season. (Keystone) Keystone Football Despite having qualified for the World Cup seven times, Austria had never made it to a European Championships before this year – and its appearance in 2008 is only because it is co-host. Manager Josef Hickersberger is shouldering the burden of the nation's hopes. (EQ images) eqimages Danube Although its source is in Germany, the 2,850km Danube has a special place in the Austrian heart, as reflected in the popularity of Johan Strauss's "blue" waltz. At one point the Austro-Hungarian Empire stretched along the river for 1,300km, giving it its nickname, "the Danube Monarchy". Today, only 350km of the Danube meanders through northern Austria towards the Black Sea. (Allover) allover Wiener schnitzel Sure, veal escalopes are also eaten outside Austria, but along with sausages and dumplings – not forgetting Sachertorte and strudel – a not inconsiderable amount of them are eaten here. Paradoxically the Wiener schnitzel is believed to have been imported in 1848 by General Radetzky (yeah, the one with the famous march) – from Italy! (Keystone) Keystone Language and ethnicity Ninety-eight per cent of Austria's 8.2 million inhabitants speak German. There are six official national minorities: Croatian, Slovene, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak and Roma. (Peter Schatz) peter schatz Europe and borders Austria's 83,858 square kilometres share borders with eight countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It has been neutral since 1955 but unlike neutral Switzerland, Austria is a member of the European Union, which it joined in 1995. The Austrian schilling was replaced by the euro in 2002. (Keystone) Keystone Famous expats Austria might be a discreet little country, but when they go abroad, they make it big: Arnold Schwarzenegger, a world champion bodybuilder, has been governor of California since 2003. Sigmund Freud shook up the world of psychology from Vienna, also the birthplace of Falco, whose Rock Me Amadeus became the first German-language record to top the US charts. As for a certain Adolf Hitler, it would have been preferable if he had remained a mediocre painter... (cinétext) cinetext Picture perfect The governor of California isn't the only Austrian to have carved a name for himself on the big screen. Others have shone in the US (Josef von Sternberg, Erich von Stroheim, Fred Zinnemann, Otto Preminger), Germany (Fritz Lang) or France (Romy Schneider, who gained fame thanks to another Austrian: Sissi, Empress Consort of Austria). One should also mention two painters, Schiele and Klimt. internet Politics Austria is a parliamentary democracy comprised of nine federal states (Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tirol, Vorarlberg and Vienna, which is also the capital and government seat). Each state has an executive and legislative authority. Austria is one of six European countries that have declared permanent neutrality. (Keystone) Keystone Economy Only three per cent of gross domestic product comes from the primary sector (agriculture and forestry). The secondary sector provides 35 per cent, thanks largely to the food-processing industry, mechanical engineering, chemistry and the automobile industry. The tertiary sector represents the remaining 62 per cent. (phototek.net) photothek.net Habsburgs AEIOU was a little trick used by the Habsburg emperors, who reigned over Austria and much of Europe for centuries. No one is certain what it stands for, but one interpretation is "Austriae est imperare orbi universo: It is Austria's destiny to rule the whole world". The Habsburg name also appears in Switzerland: Habsburg Castle is in canton Aargau, and was at one time the family seat of the dynasty. internet Mozart Hail to the genius! Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756 and died a mere 35 years later. Mozart's prodigious output gained a magical air from the so-called "Mozart effect", an unfortunately baseless theory that listening to the great man's music makes children – and even embryos – more intelligent. Mozart might have been a dissolute rascal, but what he created was sublime. (Mozartkugel.at) internet The Danube, Wiener schnitzel and Sissi... but so much more! This content was published on January 23, 2008 - 11:50 January 23, 2008 - 11:50 Share Facebook Twitter E-mail Print Copy link You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us! If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at email@example.com. Sort by Newest first Oldest first Load more More More Swiss federal elections 2023 It's time to decide who sits in the Swiss parliament by casting your vote in the federal elections on October 22. Here's our election guide.