Country and People
is located in southern Central Europe. Geographically, its territory
encompasses both the Eastern Alps (which cover some two thirds
of its surface area) and the Danube Region. Austria has a land
surface of 83,858 square kilometres (32,369 square miles). Given
its location, it has since time immemorial been a cross-roads
of travel routes between the major European economic and cultural
regions. Austria has common borders with eight other countries:
Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy,
Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
This European heartland combines
a wide variety of landscapes, climatic conditions and flora. Austria's
landscapes range from the peaks of the Alps to hill country and
plains. The foothills of the Alps and the Carpathians, the Vienna
Basin and the Austrian segment of the Pannonian Plain in the East
are the principal areas of settlement and economic activity. Austria's
highest mountain is the Grossglockner (3,797 metres / 12,530 feet).
Its longest river is the Danube, which flows through Austria for
a length of some 350 kilometres (200 miles).
Austria is located within
a temperate climatic zone. In the west and northwest the influence
of the temperate Atlantic climate is felt more strongly, in the
east the influence of the continental climate. Precipitation levels
vary significantly along a west-east axis and rise with altitude.
The diversity of topographical and climatic conditions accounts
for the country's abundant flora and fauna. Austria is one of
Europe's most heavily wooded countries (46% of its surface area).
Austria is a federal state
consisting of nine independent federal states: Burgenland, Carinthia,
Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Upper Austria, Vienna
According to recent census
data for 1998, Austria has 8.1 million inhabitants, of whom approx.
98% speak German. The six ethnic groups officially recognised
in Austria are concentrated on the east and south of the country.
In 1998, the average life expectancy for a new-born male stood
at 74.3 years, for a new-born female at 80.7 years.
In terms of religious allegiances,
78% of Austrians are Roman Catholic, a further 5% Protestant (principally
Augsburg Confession). Some 4.5% of the population belong to another
faith, 9% belong to no religious group, and 3.5% did not respond.
nation with an abundant cultural heritage and a rich artistic
life, an undisputed intermediary and bridgehead between cultures,
ranks throughout the world as a major cultural power. Its wealth
of artistic achievements extends from the architectural monuments
of millennia of history to a packed programme of modern-day cultural
events: from concerts, drama and festivals to folk lore. Austria
prides itself on its illustrious orchestras (like the Vienna Philharmonic
Orchestra, the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony
Orchestra) and choirs (Arnold-Schönberg-Chor, Vienna Boys'
Choir), while its concert halls foster both the chamber music
of past centuries and the music of today.
Austrian literature covers
nine centuries. Its first great masterpiece was the "Nibelungenlied"
("The Lay of the Nibelungs"), dating from around 1200.
The nineteenth century dramatists still performed at Vienna's
Burgtheater include Franz Grillparzer and the two writers of popular
comedies Ferdinand Raimund and Johann Nestroy. More recent Austrian
writers of international renown are Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von
Hofmannsthal, Stefan Zweig, Robert Musil, Ödön von Horváth,
Heimoto von Doderer and Thomas Bernhard. The best-known contemporary
Austrian writer is Peter Handke.
One of the great ages of
Austrian music was the Vienna classical era. Vienna was the home
of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven,
Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms and Anton Bruckner. Gustav Mahler's
symphonies broke down the tonal structure of western music.
The "Second Viennese
School" was made up of Arnold Schönberg (founder of
twelve-tone music), Alban Berg and Anton Webern. Vienna was also
a centre of the operetta whose exponents included Johann Strauss
Junior, Karl Millöcker, Karl Zeller and Franz Lehár.
Austria owes its reputation
as a land of music to such institutions as the Vienna State Opera
but also to its countless festivals throughout the country, from
Lake Constance in the far west (Bregenz Festival) to Lake Neusiedl
in the far East (Mörbisch operetta festival). Every summer
Salzburg hosts this country's most prestigious arts festival (Salzburger
Festspiele), founded in 1920.
The Jugendstil movement,
pioneered by Gustav Klimt, flourished in Vienna around the turn
of the century. Other important twentieth-century artists from
Austria are Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. In the years after
the second world war Albert Paris Gütersloh founded the Viennese
School of Phantastic Realism. Max Weiler is one of today's foremost
painters. The sculptors Fritz Wotruba, Wander Bertoni and Alfred
Hrdlicka have also established international reputations.
Citizens of the United States in possession of a valid U.S.-passport,
are not required to obtain a visa for Austria for a period of
up to three months if traveling as a tourist.
In case that a stay of more
than three but less than six months is intended, a visa is required,
which can be obtained by completing and duly signing the attached
form and submitting an application together with the following
one recent photograph
copy of roundtrip-ticket
proof of sufficient funds
proof of /health/accident
notarized letter of invitation
(Verpflichtungserklärung) if you are visiting friends or
family in Austria. If the person you intend to visit in Austria
is an Austrian citizen, a copy of his/her Austrian passport,
or if the person you intend to visit is not an Austrian citizen,
a copy of his/her passport, copy of his/her valid Austrian visa,
and proof of sufficient funds must be submitted.
letter of acceptance from
your school or university, if you are going on a study abroad
program, receipt that tuition, room & board have been paid
A visa with a maximum validity
of six months will be issued free of charge (FOR US CITIZENS ONLY)
For stays of more than six
months, or if you intend to work or study in Austria, a residency
permit is required. Please contact the Embassy or Austrian Consulate
General for more details.
US citizens may enter Austria
as tourists and apply for a residency permit at the competent
authorities in Austria.
If you are a resident of the U.S. but do not hold U.S. citizenship,
a visa may be required. Wether you do need a visa or not please
check the Pass
and Visa Requirements.
If a "Schengen"
visa is required, the following documents must be submitted by
completed and signed visa
valid passport or Refugee
Travel Document- must be valid at least three months beyond
date of travel. Travel Documents are accepted only if you are
unable to obtain a national passport.
two recent regular size
passport color photographs (must be identical)
copy of complete round-trip
ticket(s) or confirmed itinerary showing exact dates of travel
PLEASE NOTE: Do not purchase your ticket unless you fulfill
all other requirements. The embassy is not responsible for any
loss or penalties incurred!
valid U.S. visa with original
form I-94 and I-20 or IAP-66 (if applicable) or original of
Alien Registration Card of Form I-512
visas of countries you
intend to visit after your stay in Austria
In addition to the above
you must submit the following items :
I). If you are traveling
as a tourist or in transit (other then airport transit) :
Proof of sufficient funds
for your stay in Austria, e.g. recent Bank statement
Letter of continued employment
including income statement
Confirmed hotel reservation
or confirmation of tour
Proof of /health/accident
insurance (minimum of medical coverage EUR 25,000)
II). If you are visiting
friends or family :
Original notarized Verpflichtungserklärung*.
Fax copies will not be accepted. If the person you intend to
visit is an Austrian citizen, a copy of his/her Austrian passport,
copy of Meldezettel and proof of sufficient income or funds
must be attached. If the person you intend to visit is not an
Austrian citizen, then a copy of his/her national passport containing
a valid Austrian visa, Meldezettel, as well as proof of sufficient
income or funds must be produced together with the Verpflichtungserklärung.
* This form may be obtained from the local authorities in Austria
or from this office.
III). If you are going
on business :
Original, notarized letter
from your company or from the company in Austria you are doing
business with specifying that the company will be financially
responsible for you during your stay in Austria.
proof of travel health/accident
insurance (minimum medical coverage EUR25,000.00
Please note: Visas cannot be renewed in Austria!
IV). Applicants holding
a passport of one of the following countries, must apply for an
airport transit visa, when changing planes in Austria. This does
not apply, if you are a permanent resident in the US and are in
possession of a valid "Alien Registration Card":
Please note : If you
need to go through passport control to spend one night in Vienna,
you must apply for a regular transit visa : Afghanistan, Bangladesh,
Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria,
Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka.
V). If you wish to have
your documents returned by overnight mail service, you must include
one of the following items: .
for Express Mail by the
US Postal Service: a self-addressed, stamped return envelope
for return with a private
carrier: pre-paid return Airway Bill or Money Order in the exact
amount for the return by overnight mail.
Processing time for the "Schengen"
visa and regular transit visa is approximately one week to two
weeks, but may take up to a month. Airport transit visas are usually
issued within 2 days.
Visas can only be processed
once all supporting documents have been received.
Please note: Do not
call the Embassy to inquire about the status of your application.
Your passport with the visa will be returned to you as soon as
possible. Otherwise the Embassy will contact you if additional
documentation is required.
Airport Transit (to
change planes only)
Transit (up to five
Short Stay - up to 30
days, single entry
Short Stay - up to 90
days, single entry
Short Stay - two or
PLEASE NOTE: Fees
are subject to change at the beginning of each month. If you have
requested visa information more than a month ago, please inquire
about the correct fee before submitting your application. Fees
must be paid either in cash (exact change) or by Postal Money
Order. Business or personal checks will not be accepted!
Vegetation and Faunn
Austria belongs to the Central
European transitional climatic zone. In much of Austria the prevailing
winds are westerly and northwesterly. In western Austria temperature
variations between day and night and between summer and winter
are less pronounced than in the East. Throughout most of Austria
adequate precipitation figures are registered, although the amount
decreases continuously from West to East. Austria can be divided
into three climatic zones: The east shows a Continental Pannonian
climate (mean temperature for July usually above 66°F, annual
rainfall often less than 800 mm), while the central Alpine region
has the characteristic features of the Alpine climate (high precipitation,
short summers and long winters). The remaining part of the country
belongs to the transitional Central European climatic zone, which
is characterized by a wet and temperate climate (mean temperature
for July 52° to 66°F, annual precipitation 700 - 2.000
mm depending on location, exposure and altitude).
The variety of Austria's
geography and climate has resulted in a wide diversity of vegetation,
in which the main groups coincide with the different climatic
regions. Austria is characterized by oak and beech forests that
predominate in central Europe, while above 1600 ft these give
way to a mixture of beech and fir. At altitudes higher than 4000
ft., fir dominates and in turn gives way to larch and stone pine.
Austria is one of Europe's
most heavily wooded countries, with 47% of its total area being
accounted for by forests. In the Alpine foreland the forests are
to a great extent replaced by arable land, especially on the northern
edge of the Alps, where above an altitude of 2000 ft. grassland
prevails. Characteristic of the Pannonian region are scrub, mixed
deciduous wood and heathland. To the east of Lake Neusiedl in
the Burgenland one can find typical salt steppe flora.
Austrian wildlife is characteristic
of central Europe: red deer, roe deer, hare, fox, badger, marten,
squirrel, pheasant, partridge, etc. Typical Alpine fauna such
as chamois, marmot and the Alpine cough are to be found in the
mountainous regions, and the ibex is also breeding here again.
Typical of Pannonian wildlife is the vast bird population (purple
heron, spoon bill, avocet) abounding in the reed beds which surround
Lake Neusiedl, central Europe's only steppe lake.
According to latest national census (1991) Austria has a population
of 7,795,786. According to the latest population statistics (1999)
Austria has a population of 8.09 million, which represented an
increase of some 300,000 since 1991.
In 1999 3.9 million (48.5%)
of the population were male, 4.1 million (51.5%) female. For those
born in 1999 average life expectancy for men was 75, for women
98% of Austria's population
is German-speaking. Members of the six ethnic groups officially
recognized in Austria are found in five Austrian provinces. Burgenland
is home to Croats and Hungarians, many of whom have migrated to
Vienna. Slovenes are found in the Gail, Rosen and Jaun valleys
of southern Carinthia and in some villages in the southern part
of Styria. Many Czechs and Slovaks live in Vienna and in Lower
Austria, particularly in the Marchfeld and Tullnerfeld regions.
Romany and Sinti, who were recognized as ethnic groups in 1993,
live above all in Burgenland and to some extent in Vienna.
The Ethnic Groups Act of
1976 only recognizes indigenous ("autochthonous") ethnic
groups, which term applies to those who have lived in Austria
for at least three generations and who are Austrian citizens.