Geography, History, Economy & Religion



In Vienna and the surrounding Vienna Basin, all of Austria’s characteristic landscapes come together. In the west are the Alps and the foothills of the Alps. two thirds of Austria’s area is in the Eastern Alps. In the north are the foothills of the Alps, in the north-west the Bohemian Massif, in the north-east the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, in the south the Danube Valley in the south-east and east the small Hungarian lowland.
Apart from sea, Austria has all natural landscapes to offer. In the western states there are glaciers. The tree-line is between 1.600 and 1.900 metres. Coniferous and mixed coniferous forests predominate. In the flat east and south, deciduous forests predominate.
Most lakes are in Kärnten and in Salzkammergut. In Salzburg, Tyrol and Vorarlberg there are many mountain lakes and artificial lakes. In Burgenland is the steppe lake Neusiedlersee, Europe’s biggest steppe lake.

Climatic peculiarities

The south wind blows from Italy over the Alps. It is a warm wind and is called the Föhn. In Vienna it is less frequent than in the western states, which are right in the Alps.


Most people live in the foothills of the Alps, in the Vienna Basin or in the great valleys. 65 percent of Austrians live in cities. Every fifth Austrian lives in Vienna.

Population of Austria: around 8 million
Population of Vienna: around 1.6 million
Highest mountain: Grossglockner. it is 3,798 metres high.
Longest river: Danube. it flows 351 kilometres through Austria.
Largest lake: Neusiedlersee. it is in Austria and Hungary.
Largest internal lake: Attersee


History: Vienna, city of the Emperors


The Romans called Vienna Vindobona. This name comes from the Celtic word Vendunia and translates as forest stream. The Celts named Vienna after the river by which the first settlements were located. the Vienna River, which has its source in the Vienna Woods. But at that time, Vienna was not yet particularly important.

The formation of Austria

Austria was officially mentioned in 996 AD under the Babenbergs. At the time it was called Ostarrichi, which meant “the kingdom in the east”. In the middle of the 12th Century the Austria of Babenbergs had its heyday, and the rise of Vienna began. A hundred years later, the Babenberg dynasty came to an end. Today, only the red-white-red colours of the Austrian flag remain as a reminder of this important noble family.

The Habsburg dynasty

Under the Habsburgs, Austria became a country where the sun never set, as Austria, through its dominion over Spain, also possessed lands in Mexico. When Rudolf von Habsburg was elected king in 1273, nobody yet suspected how many centuries the Habsburgs would reign in Austria and how large and powerful this empire would one day become. Austria reached a first peak under Emperor Maximilian I. He expanded the empire, introduced important reforms, erected sumptuous buildings, but waged no wars, rather practising the politics of marriage. He gave us the saying: -Tu felix Austria nube. That is Latin, and means in English: “You, happy Austria, marry!”
The next golden age of Austria came under Empress Maria Theresia. She also carried out important reforms, was able to win strategic wars and had many splendid buildings erected.

The disintegration of Austria

The disintegration of Austria became apparent in the 19th Century, and under perhaps the most famous emperor and empress that Austria ever had: under Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Elisabeth, Sissi. Nation-states began forming all over Europe, and even in Austria this development could not be stopped. In 1914 the First World War began, and after its end in the year 1918 Austria was reduced to the small country it now is. It lost its colonies and access to the sea.



Economic centre

Vienna is Austria’s biggest economic centre and produces more than a quarter of the gross domestic product. Among businesses, small and medium businesses predominate.


Almost three quarters of the population of Austria works in the service sector, and tourism plays a particularly important role. Vienna too plays a decisive role for tourism. With its notable buildings and cultural facilities, Vienna is one of Austria’s most important travel destinations. In this regard, Vienna’s trade fairs are also significant. In Vienna, many specialist and public trade fairs are organized, which are of significance for the local as well as the national and international economies.

Administrative centre

85 percent of the workplaces in Vienna operate in the service sector and one of the most important employers is the city of Vienna itself.
As Vienna is the capital of Austria, many national administrative agencies, universities, schools and embassies are located in Vienna. As a UN city, Vienna is also the seat of international organizations and agencies. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and other international associations are located in Vienna.
The eastward extension of the EU will greatly increase the importance of Vienna within Europe in the future. For this reason the number of foreign investors is also increasing.




More than three quarters of all Austrians belong to the Roman Catholic Church. About five percent are Protestants and two percent are Muslims.


In Vienna all world religions are represented, even though Roman Catholic Churches and congregations naturally predominate. In Vienna there are Protestant churches, Islamic mosques, Jewish synagogues, a Hindu temple and a Buddhist religious society.
Vienna will soon have Europe’s first Buddhist cemetery. An area of the Zentralfriedhof has been set aside for this purpose, and was consecrated in the autumn of 2003 by a Tibetan monk.

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