Famous for its spectacular mountain scenery, Austria is no longer the dominant political force it was in Central Europe under the Habsburg dynasty which ruled until the first world war.
However, its position at the geographical heart of Europe on the key Danube trade route enhances its strategic importance.
After being joined to Nazi Germany from 1938-1945, Austria was occupied by the Allies, who divided up the country and the capital Vienna into separate sectors.
However, the 1955 State Treaty – signed by the Allies – guaranteed Austria’s unity, ensuring it did not suffer Germany’s fate of being split between the Soviets and the Western Cold War blocs.
Vienna is nowadays home to several key international organisations, including the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Opec, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
- Capital: Vienna
- Population 8.4 million
- Area 83,871 sq km (32,383 sq miles)
- Major language German
- Major religion Christianity
- Life expectancy 78 years (men), 84 years (women)
- Currency euro