By: Sophia S.
Austria is a small, predominantly mountainous country in Central Europe, approximately between Germany, Italy and Hungary. It has a total area of 83,879 km², about twice the size of Switzerland and slightly smaller than the state of Maine. The capital is Vienna. Most of Austria is mountains, valleys, and rivers.
Life In Austria
The family forms the basis of the Austrian social structure. The family is generally small and, due to lack of migration, generally closely knit within a certain town or village. Weekends are generally devoted to family activities such as outdoor activities. Eating dinner together in the evening is very much normal. Sundays are usually bookmarked for visiting grandparents for dinner, and/or, enjoying a hike in the country together.
The Austrian Home
Austrians take much pride in their homes, keeping them neat and tidy. In a formal culture such as theirs, the home is the place where people relax and let their hair down. Only close friends and relatives are invited into the house, so it is a place where more informal communication may occur. Neighbourly etiquette also has its rules that must be observed. It is imperative that common areas such as sidewalks, pavements, corridors (in flats), and steps be kept clean at all times by all associated with them.
Austrians are generally conservative people. They are prudent and moderate in their behaviour. 'Regimentation' and 'compartmentalization' are a useful ways of describing how they organise their lives. They extend social invitations in advance of the event, and the more formal the occasion the greater the time between the invitation and the event itself, so that they can be certain that their guests do not have a prior engagement.
Presentation and dressing well are important to Austrians. Even when dressed informally, they are neat and conservative; their clothes are never ostentatious. There is sometimes a strict protocol for dressing appropriately in different situations: formal wear for the theatre or a concert, and semiformal wear for better restaurants. Some high level events may have a dress code and will turn away patrons who are not dressed properly. Most Austrian women dress up to go shopping, since they dress elegantly, if conservatively, at all times, especially when they will be public.
History of Austria
Austria was dominated by the House of Habsburg (Haus Österreich) from 1273 to 1806, when their empire came to an end. Austria then became the Austrian Empire, a part of the German Confederation until the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, after which Austria continued as the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918) as a dual monarchy with Hungary. When this empire collapsed in 1918, Austria was reduced to the main German speaking areas of the empire (its current frontiers), and adopted the name German Austria, since it wanted to join the new German Weimar Republic. However this union was forbidden by the Allies at the Treaty of Versailles.
Following the First Republic (1918–1933) Austrofascism tried to keep Austria independent from the German Reich, but in 1938 it was annexed by Nazi Germany with the support of the majority of the Austrian people. After the Second World War Austria again became an independent republic as the Second Republic in 1955 and joined the European Union in 1995.
Austria is governed under the constitution of 1920 as revised in 1929, and has a mixed presidential-parliamentary form of government. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by popular vote for a six-year term and nominates the prime minister (chancellor) and confirms the cabinet. The chancellor, who is head of government, heads the cabinet, which is responsible to the house of representatives of parliament. The House of Representatives is popularly elected according to proportional representation. The upper house of parliament, the Senate, is chosen by the provincial assemblies. Administratively, Austria is divided into nine states.
The flag of Austria has three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and red. The Austrian triband is based on the coat of arms of the Babenberg dynasty, recorded in the 13th century. It may have seen use in flags from about the 15th century, alongside the black-and-yellow colours of the House of Habsburg and other insignia of the Holy Roman Empire. It was adopted as a naval ensign in the 18th century, and as national flag in 1918.
There are many holidays in Austria such as the popular New Year's (Neujahr). Others include Epiphany (Heilige Drei Könige), Easter Monday (Ostermontag), International Workers' Day (Staatsfeiertag), Ascension Day (Christi Himmelfahrt), Whit Monday/Pentecost (Pfingstmontag), Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam), Assumption of Mary (Mariä Himmelfahrt), Austrian National Day (Nationalfeiertag), All Saints Day (Allerheiligen), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Mariä Empfängnis), Christmas day (Christtag), and St. Stephen’s Day (Stefanitag).
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