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Austria

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Austria: Small is beautiful, Attractions for Industry, Influence of the Church, Shot That Started a War, Magnificent Capital City, Vienna, Kitzbuhel, Lower Austria, Linz, Salzburg, Graz




Austria

Austria
Austria

ONCE THE HUB OF AN EMPIRE THAT DOMINATED CENTRAL EUROPE, THIS ALPINE REPUBLIC STANDS AS A POLITICAL BUFFER BETWEEN EAST AND WEST

The wall of mountains that runs across the centre of Austria dominates the nation's economy as well as its scenery. The land of the edelweiss, of dirndl dresses and leather breeches (lederhosen), draws around 14 million visitors a year, making tourism a major industry. They come in the summer to wander the forests, pastures and mountains around scores of glittering lakes and hundreds of tumbling rivers. And they come in the winter to swoop above more than 50 ski resorts such as St. Anton, KITZBUHEL and INNSBRUCK, one of the venues for the Winter Olympics.







For the Austrians themselves - a conservative and largely Roman Catholic people - the mountains are an irreplaceable national asset, treasured and protected from garish modernity. Farmers, for instance, are subsidised by the government to encourage them to maintain the scenic appeal of their land. And many villages lay down stringent bylaws to make sure that new buildings fit in with the local style of the traditional wood-faced, broadeaved chalet. In addition, some 3000 km2 (nearly 1200 sq miles) of the ALPS have been set aside as protected areas.

Even for the people of Austria's larger towns and cities, the mountains are an irresistible lure. There are some 300 000 second homes in Austria - one for about every 25 people - and most are hillside chalets used for weekends and holidays. The mountains are also a source of energy for factories and towns: around two-thirds of Austria's power is generated from hydroelectric dams fed by streams from the Alpine snows.

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