Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe with a population of almost 9 million, the majority of whom speak German, the official language.
Being part of the Alpine region means that only 32% of the country is below 500 metres (1,640 ft), the highest point being the Grossglockner at 3,798m (12,460ft).
The country is a federal republic comprising of 9 independent states – Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna which is also the capital.
The area was known to be occupied by Celtic tribes before it became part of the Roman Empire, but the first recorded mention of the name Austria was not until 996.
During the Middle Ages the native Hapsburg dynasty was one of the most influential families in Europe, and through various marriages of convenience the Austrian Empire became one of the most dominant powers in Europe.
In 1867 Emperor Franz Joseph oversaw the dual monarchy of Austria and Hungary, but defeat in the First World War saw its collapse.
The rise of the Nazis saw Austria annexed to Germany in 1938, and being on the losing side again, the country came under Allied occupation until 1955, when the new sovereign state declared itself permanently neutral.
Since then, the country has become an integral part of the European Union.