is a federal republic and a landlocked country of over 8.5 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,879 square kilometers (32,386 sq mi). Austria's terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 meters (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 meters (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speak local Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, and Austrian German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other local official languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene. The greater part of Austria lies in the cool/temperate climate zone, where humid westerly winds predominate. With nearly three-quarters of the country dominated by the Alps, the alpine climate is predominant. In the east—in the Pannonian Plain and along the Danube valley—the climate shows continental features with less rain than the alpine areas. Although Austria is cold in the winter (-10 -0 °C), summer temperatures can be relatively high.

Standard of living

Today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 1.7 million, is Vienna. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $52,216 (2014 est.). The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2014 was ranked 21st in the world for its Human Development Index. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, joined the European Union in 1995, and is a founder of the OECD. Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995 and adopted the European currency, the Euro, in 1999.


Austria has a well-developed social market economy. Until the 1980s, many of Austria's largest industry firms were nationalized; in recent years, however, privatization has reduced state holdings to a level comparable to other European economies. Labour movements are particularly strong in Austria and have large influence on labour politics. Next to a highly developed industry, international tourism is the most important part of the national economy. Since the fall of communism, Austrian companies have been quite active players and consolidators in Eastern Europe. Between 1995 and 2010, 4,868 mergers and acquisitions with a total known value of 163 billion EUR with the involvement of Austrian firms have been announced. The largest transactions with involvement of Austrian companies have been: the acquisition of Bank Austria by Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank for 7.8 billion EUR in 2000, the acquisition of Porsche Holding Salzburg by Volkswagen Group for 3.6 billion EUR in 2009, and the acquisition of Banca Comercială Română by Erste Group for 3.7 billion EUR in 2005. Tourism accounts for almost 9% of the Austrian gross domestic product. In 2007, Austria ranked 9th worldwide in international tourism receipts, with 18.9 billion US$. In international tourist arrivals, Austria ranked 12th with 20.8 million tourists. Austria currently produces more than half of its electricity by hydropower. Together with other renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass power plants, the electricity supply from renewable energy amounts to 62.89% of total use in Austria, with the rest being produced by gas and oil power plants.


School attendance is compulsory for nine years, i.e. usually to the age of fifteen. Pre-school education (called Kindergarten in German), free in most states, is provided for all children between the ages of three and six years. Primary education, or Volksschule, lasts for four years, starting at age six. As in Germany, secondary education consists of two main types of schools, attendance at which is based on a pupil's ability as determined by grades from the primary school. The Gymnasium caters for the more able children, in the final year of which the Matura examination is taken, which is a requirement for access to university. The Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education but also for various types of further education (Höhere Technische Lehranstalt HTL = institution of higher technical education; HAK = commercial academy; HBLA = institution of higher education for economic business; etc.).  The Austrian university system had been open to any student who passed the Matura examination until recently. A 2006 bill allowed the introduction of entrance exams for studies such as Medicine. In 2001, an obligatory tuition fee ("Studienbeitrag") of €363.36 per term was introduced for all public universities. Since 2008, for all EU students the studies have been free of charge, as long as a certain time-limit is not exceeded (the expected duration of the study plus usually two terms tolerance).  When the time-limit is exceeded, the fee of around €363.36 per term is charged. Some further exceptions to the fee apply, e.g. for students with a year's salary of more than about €5000. In all cases, an obligatory fee of €17 is charged for the student union and insurance.

Process of buying Property

There are no restrictions on foreigners buying properties in Austria. For legal fees 1-3%, property transfer tax 3.5%, notary’s fee 120 Euro and the real estate agent’s fee 1.5-2% have to be paid by the buyer. Totally an equivalent of the amount of 7.5-10.5% should be counted on. When the seller accepts the offer, a purchase agreement or sale contract is drawn by an Austrian solicitor/notary. When the contract is signed, the buyer may be expected to pay 10% of the purchase price as deposit. It takes an average of 32 days to complete all the buying. After completing the process of buying, a temporary residence permit can be requested.