Austria is a parliamentary republic officially known
as the Republic of Austria. It is located in central Europe and is
bordered by Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Czech Republic,
Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia. The country has a population of more
than 8 million and German is the main language spoken, however there are
many dialects and variations resulting from all the nearby
countries. Austria dominated the politics of Europe under the
Hapsburgs in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Austria Empire
collapsed at the end of World War I and the country was annexed by Hilter
during World War II. When democracy was restored in 1955, Austria
made a commitment to political neutrality. In recent decades Austria
has been a major economic influence in Europe and it has one of the
highest standards of living in the world.
The Alps dominate the landscape of Austria and, but the
country is also well known for its music. Famous composers born in
Austria include Mozart, Haydn, Liszt, Schubert and Strauss, while
Beethoven spent most of his career in Austria.
Austria participates in the Schengen
Zone and Schengen Visa requirements. That means there
are no border controls between members and no border inspections by
rail or vehicle when traveling from Austria to Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Czech Republic,
Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia. Some countries that are not
members of the Schengen Zone require a Schengen Visa to enter Europe. More
than 40 countries outside the Schengen Zone do not require a visa. Exemptions include citizens of Australia,
Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United
States. For a list of
exempt countries and requirements, refer to the Austrian
Embassy in Washington for excellent information.
Austria is a member of the
European Union and its currency is the Euro.
The Austrian Rail
System (OBB) offers many ticket options for rail transport. In
addition to participating in Eurail passes, they also have an Einfach-Raus
ticket that offers single day rates for small groups on smaller regional
trains, similar to the Bayern Ticket in Germany.
Summer is the best
time to visit Austria as a tourist, while winter is the best time for
skiers to plan a vacation.