Portal:Austria

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Satellite image of Austria showing the Alps in the middle with the Danube flowing in the northern part

Austria is one of Europe's leading industrialised countries, located in the heart of Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Czech Republic and Germany, to the south by Slovenia and Italy, to the west by Liechtenstein and Switzerland, and to the east by Hungary and Slovakia. Its capital city is Vienna.

The origins of modern Austria date back to the ninth century, when the countryside of upper and lower Austria became increasingly populated. The name of Austria Ostarrîchi is first documented in an official document from 996. Since then this word has developed into the German word Österreich.

Austria's political system is that of a federal, parliamentary representative democracy consisting of nine states. It is one of six European countries that have declared permanent neutrality and one of the few countries that includes the concept of everlasting neutrality in their constitution.

Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955 and joined the European Union in 1995. It also a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, whose headquarters is based in Vienna.

Selected article

Entrance to Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp

Mauthausen Concentration Camp (known from the summer of 1940 as Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp) grew to become a large group of Nazi concentration camps that was built around the villages of Mauthausen and Gusen in Upper Austria, roughly 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of the city of Linz.

Initially a single camp at Mauthausen, it expanded over time and by the summer of 1940, the Mauthausen-Gusen had become one of the largest labour camp complexes in German-controlled Europe.

In January 1945, the camps, directed from the central office in Mauthausen, contained roughly 85,000 inmates. The death toll remains unknown, although most sources place it between 122,766 and 320,000 for the entire complex. The camps formed one of the first massive concentration camp complexes in Nazi Germany, and were the last ones to be liberated by the Allies. Unlike many other concentration camps, intended for all categories of prisoners, Mauthausen was mostly used for extermination through labour of the intelligentsia, who were educated people and members of the higher social classes in countries subjugated by the Nazi regime during World War II.

Mauthausen was liberated by American troops in May 1945. It was declared a national memorial site in 1949 and a museum opened in 1975.

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Selected biography

Bertha von Suttner (1906)

Baroness Bertha von Suttner (9 June 1843 – 21 June 1914) was a novelist, radical (organizational) pacifist, and the first woman to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Suttner became a leading figure in the peace movement with the publication of her novel, Die Waffen nieder! ("Lay Down Your Arms!") in 1889 and founded an Austrian pacifist organization in 1891. She gained international repute as editor of the international pacifist journal Die Waffen nieder!, named after her book, from 1892 to 1899. Her pacifism was influenced by the writings of Henry Thomas Buckle, Herbert Spencer, and Charles Darwin. Though her personal contact with Alfred Nobel had been brief, she corresponded with him until his death in 1896, and it is believed that she was a major influence in his decision to include a peace prize among those prizes provided in his will, which she won in 1905.

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Did you know...

  • ... that the first record showing the name "Austria" is from 996 where it is written as Ostarrîchi, referring to the territory of the Babenberg March?
  • ... that Austria currently produces more than half of its electricity by hydropower?

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