Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes

Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes (CIIE)


  • Accession to the EU: 1995
  • Accession to the Council of Europe: 1956
  • Surface area: 83 858 km2
  • Population: 8,5 million inhabitants (2014)
  • Capital city: Vienna (2,2 million inhabitants)
  • Official languages: German
  • Main religion: Catholic
  • Currency: Euro
  • Political system: Republic
  • Head of state : Alexander van der Bellen President since 4th december 2016
  • Head of government: Sebastian Kurz
  • International code: +43
  • National holiday: October 26
  • The Austrian members of the European Parliament

Austria’s history has been marked by the virtually uninterrupted reign of the Habsburg dynasty. The first of this line, Rudolph I, became the monarch of the German Holy Roman Empire in 1273.

Belvedere Palace, Vienna © ANTO/Trumler

  • 1815 The Congress of Vienna results in the creation of the German Confederation, consolidating Austria’sdominant position.
  • 1867 The defeat of Austria by Prussia in 1866 leads to the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire led by Emperor Franz Joseph.
  • 1908 Annexation of Bosnia Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
  • 1914 Assassination in June of the Emperor’s nephew,Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo. One month later, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, leading to the outbreak of the First World War.
  • 1918 At the end of the war, Austria is forced to give up three quarters of its territory.
  • 1919 The Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye prevents Austria from becoming unified with the rest of Germany.
  • 1920 The vote on the Constitution sees the birth of the Austrian State.
  • 1933 Chancellor Dollfuss assumes dictatorial powers.
  • 1938 German troops enter Austria. Renamed the “Ostmark”, Austria now becomes a province of the German Reich.
  • 1945 With the end of the Second World War, Austria recovers its 1937 borders, but the country is divided into four zones of occupation.
  • 1955 The State Treaty guarantees Austrian neutrality. Austria becomes a member of the United Nations.
  • 1995 Austria joins the European Union.
  • 2000 The extreme right wing FPÖ party, led by Jörg Haider, joins the government coalition of Wolfgang Schüssel, leading to condemnation throughout the European Union.
  • 2007 Composition of a grand coalition of social democrats (SPÖ) and popular party (ÖVP), under leadership of the social democratic chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer.
  • 2008 Elections for the National Council are held on September 28th because of a rupture in the coalition. The elections are marked by record votes for the right demagogues. Werner Faymann (SPÖ) becomes Head of Government. Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) have the same number of ministers.

Located at the point where the Alps open out onto the Pannonian plains, on the right bank of the river Danube, Vienna is today a major industrial and commercial crossroads. Traditionally the center of power of the German Holy Roman Empire and of the Habsburgs, Vienna is brimming with architectural features from
the medieval period (including the gothic cathedral of Saint Stephen), long promenades running past palaces and baroque, neogothic or neoclassical buildings (the Opera, the Parliament, the City Hall, the Art History Museum and the Burgtheater). As a meeting point of the Latin, Germanic, Magyar and Slavic cultures, Vienna developed very early on a cultural vibrancy that is entirely its own. As the town of some of the world’s greatest thinkers and writers (including Freud, Wittgenstein or Zweig) or composers (Mozart, Strauss), the city remains synonymous with these great individuals, even today.

Saint Stephan’s Cathedral © ANTO/ Mayer

Three quarters of the Austrian landscape is covered with mountains, and skiing is an integral part of Austrian culture. More than just a sport, skiing is a way of life here. The Austrian Alps cover approximately
60% of the surface area of the country. Thanks to its favourable climatic conditions, there are more than a thousand winter sports resorts dotted throughout the country, with some 22 000 km of Alpine ski slopes and 16 000 km of cross country slopes. In summer as well as in winter, it offers some of Europe’s finest ski slopes and the best hiking trails. Beginners or experts alike never fail to be impressed by everything that Austria has to offer. This snowy wonderland has enabled Austria to produce many great champions such as Toni Sailer, Karl Schranz, Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Franz as the “Herminator” or Benjamin Raich.

© ANTO/ Mayer

Anyone who enjoys tucking into a delicious croissant will probably be surprised to learn about the curious origins of this Viennese pastry. One night back in 1683, while working in their bakehouse, the Austrian bakers heard their Turkish enemies approaching. By raising the alarm, they made it possible to drive the enemy out of Vienna. To symbolize their victory, they created this Viennese pastry, its crescent shape symbolizing the Ottoman flag.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the famous actor from the film Terminator (and the former Governor of California) is originally from Austria. He was born in Graz, in Styria, on July 30th 1947, where he practiced his favourite sport of bodybuilding from the age of fifteen.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California © 2007 State of California
Austria has the advantage of sharing common borders with eight countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.


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