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AUSTRIA – GENERAL INFORMATION

   
                      Fig.1 – Austria Flag

GEOGRAPHY

Located in central Europe, Austria covers an area of about 83,871 square miles. The country shares borders with the Czech Republic to the North, Germany to the northwest, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to the west, Italy to the southwest, Slovenia to the south, and Hungary and Slovakia to the east. The Danube River passes through the northern part of the country flowing west to east. The west and south are mostly covered by mountains (Alps), while the eastern and northern regions offer rolling hills and flat lands. The country’s landscapes are scenic. As many European capitals, Vienna is historically interesting and has for several years ranked highest on Quality of Living Indexes.

HISTORY

Credit: Central Intelligence Agency

The history of Austria goes as far back as the late first millenium, before the Habsburg Empire took over in 1276 when Rudolph I became king. The Habsburgs ruled over Austria into the 19th century. By the end of the 18th century, a growing nationalism spread across Europe. Many ethnic groups and regions wanted independence which threatened the future leadership of the Habsburg Empire. In reaction to this, a dual monarchy was created in 1867 within the Empire when Austria and Hungary united and formed the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This new empire lasted until its defeat in World War I when the Empire collapsed and was reduced to the Austrian Republic. By World War II, after threats from Germany, the Austrian government was forced to allow Austrian National Socialists, or Nazis, into its government. In 1938, Germany annexed Austria, which many Austrians welcomed. From this point on until 1945, Jews and other minorities were incarcerated and displaced. Many lost their lives. Following World War II, Austria was divided into zones much like Germany with many of its assets being taken by the Soviets. A State Treaty, signed in Vienna in 1955, allowed for the properties to be returned to Austria and all occupying military forces pulled out of the country, once again creating an independent Austria. The country declared itself permanently neutral until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Austria entered into the EU in 1995. With a growing economy it joined the Monetary Union (Euro) in 1999.

THE PEOPLE

Most citizens of Austria are native to the land although there has been an uptick in migration from the Balkan countries and Turkey. There are two minority indigenous groups; the Slovenes in Carinthia and Croats in Burgenland. Most Austrians identify as Roman Catholic.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS

Most consider it impolite not to use formal greetings when entering and leaving a place of business like a shop or restaurant. Guten Tag (which means good day) is the common greeting when entering and Auf Wiedersehen (which means goodbye) when leaving.

LANGUAGES

German is the official language spoken in Austria. There are minority languages spoken by Slovenes in Carinthia and Croats in Burgenland.

GOVERNMENT

Federal Republic

TIME ZONE

UTC + 1 – (observes summer daylight savings time)

ELECTRICITY

230V supply voltage and 50Hz

Plugs and Sockets Type C & F

CLIMATE

The climate is continental with cold, cloudy winters with frequent rain and some snow in lowlands and snow in the mountains. Summers are moderate with occasional showers. The hottest months with the least amount of rainfall are June to September. The coldest months are November to March.

Clothes to Wear:

Light breathable clothing will work in the summer months but always be prepared for some occasional rainfall. Winter months require warmer clothing with layers. Heavy warm jackets, gloves and scarves will be needed in the mountainous regions. We usually don’t recommend traveling long distances with an umbrella. If you feel you need an umbrella, rather purchase one overseas. Pack some smart layered clothing. Even in summer it can get cool especially in the higher elevations.

LOGISTICAL

Entry & Exit Requirements:

Austria is a party to the Schengen Agreement. Visit the Embassy of Austria website for the most current visa information. For US and Canadian residents who are not US or Canadian citizens (green-card-holders) with foreign passports please consult https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/ for correct European Union visa rules. 

Traveling Through Europe: If you are planning to visit or travel through European countries, you should be familiar with the requirements of the Schengen Agreement.

  • Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay if you plan on transiting a Schengen country.
  • You will need sufficient proof of funds and a return plane ticket.
  • Prospective residents or anyone intending to stay longer than 90 days must obtain the appropriate visa. Visit the Embassy of Austria’s website at https://www.austria.org for the most current visa information or the Government of Austria’s website on migration at https://www.migration.gv.at. Austria collects the fingerprints of all U.S. visa applicants.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Austria.

Embassy Locations:

U.S. Embassy Vienna
Boltzmanngasse 16
1090 Vienna, Austria
Telephone: 43 (0)1-313-390
Email: embassy@usembassy.at

  Canada Embassy Vienna
Laurenzenberg 2,
A-1010 Vienna, Austria
Telephone: 43 (1) 531-38-3000
Fax: 43 (1) 531-38-3910
Email: vienn-cs@international.gc.ca

Health:

Medical facilities and staff are generally excellent and widely available for emergency services.

  • For emergency services in Austria, dial 112.
  • Ambulance services are widely available.

Local hospitals will not settle accounts directly with American insurance companies. You must pay the bill to the local hospital and later claim a refund from the insurance carrier in the United States. The Austrian Medicine Import Act generally prohibits the import of prescription drugs into Austria, however, non- European Union residents are allowed medicines as part of their personal luggage, but only the quantity required during the course of the stay. Travelers may not receive medicine by mail while staying in Austria. If a particular medication is not available locally in Austria, an Austrian pharmacy may be able to order the medication prescribed by a local physician from a pharmacy in the U.S.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.

  • We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
  • Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Austrian Ministry for Health to ensure the medication is legal in Austria.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals on their website. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or via the CDC website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/topics/infectious_ diseases/en/. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

BANKS & CURRENCY

Currency is in Euros (EUR). Most banks operate Mon-Wed and Fri from 8:00am-12:30pm and 1:30pm-3:00pm. Thursday hours are the same but the latter half of the day stays open until 5:30pm.

COMMUNICATION

Country code: 43
Internet country code: .at

Cell Phone Usage:

Please contact your cell phone provider to determine whether your contract includes coverage in the country you are visiting. Depending on your contract you may have to add international services and/or country specific services.

ENTERTAINMENT

Food & Drink:

Austrian cuisine is influenced by the Balkans, northern Italy and southern Germany. However, it has a taste all to itself. Likely, one of the most famous dishes is the Wiener Schnitzel. Austria also has a wonderful pastry culture. The most famous is the Vienna Sacher Torte. Also try the Kaiserschmarren, a delightful, sweet, egg-based dish. When in Vienna, don’t forget to visit the famous Naschmarkt, an open air market where you can shop for a variety of sweets. The Manner Shop in Vienna is a place where you can find what Austria has to offer in chocolates.

Nightlife:

Visitors to Austria will have many options for night time entertainment. In Vienna, there are opera theaters as well as cinema, nightclubs and bars. Beer gardens are popular and can be found all over Austria as well as wine gardens in Vienna. Nightlife is very versatile, and there are a variety of venues for different types of music, from trendy pop, rock, and some that offer the cultural sounds of yodeling. The Vienna New Year’s concert at the Musikverein is a desirable event for many visitors to Austria and tickets usually need to be reserved far in advance.

Shopping:

Shoppers in Austria can find lots of high quality items in small shops and department stores. Known for winter sports, Austria provides many options to find great winter sports equipment. The Designer Outlet Parndorf is an area that provides lots of shops for shoes, clothing, sports equipment and many other items at reasonable prices. The Europark Mall in Salzburg is another place that offers a variety of options for shopping.

BAGGAGE

Baggage rules for international and domestic air travel have changed much in recent years, differ from carrier to carrier and these days even may cover your on-board bags. Checking luggage may cost a separate fee or may be free depending on your personal status with the carrier. We therefore encourage you to read your ticket’s small print and/or contact your carrier for exact rules.

TIPPING

Most restaurants and bars already include a 10% service charge in the bill. It is customary to leave a bit extra for good service. When the service charge is not included in the bill, 10-15% is the general rule. Tips are not expected by taxi drivers, although most people tell the driver to keep the change. Airport and hotel porters should receive the equivalent of US$ 1.00 per bag.

LAUNDRY

Most hotels will arrange laundry services for guests.

PHOTOS & VIDEOS

In some countries you must refrain from photographing sites such as Military bases and industrial installations. Also be aware of cultural sensitivities when taking pictures of or near churches and other religious sites. It is always courteous to ask for permission before taking photographs of people.

USE OF DRONES

The use of drones is being legislated by many countries. In some cases, drones are already forbidden, and their unauthorized use may carry severe penalties. If you plan to travel with a drone, please contact the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to visit.

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