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Austria

Driving Directions Austria

AUSTRIA is a landlocked country in central Europe which is surrounded by seven nations: Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia. The wall of mountains which runs across the center of the country dominates the scenery. The mountain chains, with their intervening valleys, run in a generally west-east direction and the highest peak, Grossglockner (3,798 meters or 12,457 feet), is located centrally in the Tauern range. The presence of the mountains means that the average height of land in Austria is 914 meters or 3,000 feet above sea level.

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Some lower-lying land does occur, however, in the basin of the River Danube (Donau) and along the country’s eastern border south of Vienna. The Danube, with its tributaries, is the main river system in Austria and its valley provides the country with its most important west-east communications link. There are many other rivers, however, such as the Mur in the south, and numerous lakes, Principally Lake Constance (Bodensee) and Lake Neusiedler. In the warm summers, tourists come to walk in the forests and mountains and, in the cold winters, skiers come to the mountains which now boast over 50 ski resorts

Austria has modest reserves of iron ore, lignite, oil, natural gas, lead, zinc, copper, magnesium, salt, gypsum, talc, and kaolin but fossil fuel reserves are not enough to supply the country’s needs, and the shortfall has to import. Although there is only a limited amount of land available for agriculture, the country can produce enough food to meet most of its own domestic needs.

More than 37 percent of Austria is covered in forest, resulting in the paper-making industry near Graz. Formerly, many of the larger industries were under state control, but in recent years private investors have been able to buy shares in many of these enterprises.

In modern Austria, there are both private, and public industries are producing iron and steel and metal goods, electrical and other machinery, chemicals, foods, paper, and wood products. Unemployment in Austria is very low, and its low strike record has attracted multinational companies. Attachment to local customs, however, is still strong and in rural areas, men still wear lederhosen and women the traditional dirndl skirt on feast days and holidays. For historical reasons, the country has close links with Eastern Europe which continue to maintain.

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