Ges.m.b.H., SALZBURG

Physical geography

Location: Central Europe, between Germany and Hungary. Area: total area 83,850 sq km. Divided into nine provinces, the land area is 82,730 sq. Land boundaries: total 2,496km, Czech Republic 362km, Germany 784km, Hungary 366km, Italy 430km, Liechtenstein 37km, Slovakia 91km, Slovenia 262km, Switzerland 164km. Terrain: in the west and south mostly mountains (Alps); along the eastern and northern margins, mostly flat or gently sloping.

Natural resources include: iron ore, petroleum, timber, magnesite, aluminium, lead, coal, lignite, copper, hydropower. Land use: arable land 17 per cent, permanent crops one per cent, meadows and pastures 24 per cent, forest and woodland 39 per cent, other 19 per cent. Irrigated land: 40 sq km (1989).


Temperate; continental, cloudy; cold winters with frequent rain in lowlands and snow in mountains; cool summers with occasional showers.

Economic geography

Austria boasts a prosperous and stable socialist market economy with a sizeable but falling proportion of nationalised industry and extensive welfare benefits. Thanks to its raw material endowment, a technically skilled labour force and strong links to German industrial firms, Austria occupies specialised niches in European industry and services (tourism, banking) and produces almost enough food to feed itself with only eight per cent of the labour force in agriculture. Increased export sales resulting from German unification boosted Austria's economy through 1991.

Unemployment has risen. Problems for the l990s include an ageing population, the high level of subsidies, and the struggle to keep welfare benefits within budgetary capabilities.

Austria's Government has taken measures to make the economy more liberal and open by introducing a major tax reform, privatising state-owned firms, and liberalising cross-border capital movements. Although it will face increased competition, Austria should benefit from the continued opening of Eastern European markets, as well as the European Economic Area which extends the European Union rules on the free movement of people, capital and goods and services to members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Austria joined the European Union in early 1995.

National product: GDP - purchasing power equivalent - $134.4 billion (1993).

Exports: $39.9 billion (f.o.b., 1993): commodities - machinery and equipment, iron and steel, lumber, textiles, paper products, chemicals.

Partners EU: 63.5 per cent (Germany 38.9 per cent); EFTA: nine per cent, Eastern Europe/FSU 12.3 per cent, Japan 1.5 per cent, US 3.35 per cent (1993).

Imports: $48.5 billion (f.o.b., 1993). Commodities - petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, vehicles, chemicals, textiles and clothing, pharmaceuticals partners: EC 66.8 per cent (Germany 41.3 per cent), EFTA 6.7 per cent, Eastern Europe/FSU 7.5 per cent, Japan 4.4 per cent, US 4.4 per cent (1993).


Population: 7,954,974 (July 1994 est.). Population growth rate: 0.45 per cent (1994 est.).

Languages spoken by nationals



GMT + one hour.


The unit of currency is the Austrian schilling, which is divided into 100 groschen. There are bank notes to the value of 5000, 1000 500,- 100,- 50,- 20,- and coins to the value of 20- schilling, 10- schilling, 5- schilling, 1-schiling, 50 groschen, etc.

Foreign currency, traveller's cheques, etc, may be changed into Austrian Schillings at all banks at the official rate fixed by the Vienna Stock Exchange. Currency exchange offices at railway stations and airports charge an additional 'handling fee'. Most travel agencies and hotels also have facilities for changing money. Currencies not listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange are traded at free market rates. There is no limit placed on the amount of foreign and Austrian currency which can be brought into Austria and taken out again.

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

1 January, New Year's Day - 6 January, Epiphany - 31 March, Easter Monday - 1 May, Labour Day - 8 May, Ascension - 19 May, Whit Monday - 29 May, Corpus Christi (variable) - 15 August, Assumption - 1 November, All Saints - 8 December, Immaculate Conception - 25, 26 December, Christmas.

What one should not fail to see

Vienna: Museum of Fine Art, Museum of Modern Art Natural History Museum, Austrian Gallery, Academy of Fine Arts, Gallery of Paintings, Hundertwasser, Museum of Austrian History, Treasury, Historical Museum of the City of Vienna, St Stephens' Cathedral, Sigmund Freud's house, Haydn's residence, Schubert's birthplace, Schubert's last residence, Johann Strauss' residence, big ferris wheel at Prater park, Baroque palaces, the Hofburg, Schönbrunn and Belvedere palaces, Spanish Riding School, Opera house, Parliament tours. Journey out to wine taverns on the foothills of the Vienna Woods which offer the famous Viennese wines.

Salzburg: the Hohensalzburg fortress, the Baroque Cathedral, the abbey of St. Peter, the residence of the Salzburg Prince-Archbishop, the Getreidegasse with Mozart's birthplace, Hellbrunn Palace with its trick fountains.

Beautiful countryside, Innsbruck in Tyrol region, etc.

Austria is an important skiing destination.

What to eat and drink

Viennese cafes are world famous. Stop and have a coffee and delicious pastry.

Frontier formalities

Nationals of all Western European countries and many overseas countries need no visa to enter Austria; a valid passport expired within less than five years is sufficient. Foreign nationals need no customs documents for their own cars when driving into Austria. Recognition is accorded to most driving licences and registration documents issued in other countries. Motor vehicles must be covered by a third party insurance. Motorists from some countries are required to be in possession of a Green Card as proof of third party insurance. Information may be obtained from all automobile clubs. Dogs and cats are allowed into Austria if their owners produce a valid vaccination certificate (rabies) with an officially certified German translation. This vaccination must have been performed at least 30 days, but no longer than one year before entering Austria.