Identification. Austria is a national culture of early twentieth-century origin (1919). It was created out of the six German-speaking provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the city of Vienna. An eighth province, containing many Hungarian and Croatian speakers, Burgenland, was added in 1945. The national culture is created by a communication system that tries to generate implicit agreement on a small set of values, especially those emphasizing historic, linguistic, and cultural similarities. This system includes the centralized curriculum of the schools, the programming of the national media monopoly, the discourse surrounding national and provincial elections and similar issues reported in the popular press, and customs of various types, including those regarding clothing, food and drink, recreational tastes, and use of dialect. In spite of these linguistic and cultural similarities, the provinces retain social, political, and ideological identities that have resisted complete integration. Also, the national culture is rejected by a growing minority that seeks unification with Germany. The forging of a national identity has fallen disproportionately on the urban centers, notably Vienna.
Location. Austria is bounded on the north by the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic and Germany; on the east by Hungary; on the south by Slovenia, Croatia, and Italy; and on the west by Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Its location is approximately 46° to 49° N and 9° to 17° E. The spine of the Alps runs west to east through the center of Austria. Only the extreme east and northeast edges of the area are hilly lowland plains. The mountains drain primarily north into the Danube
River system. Most of the country has alpine climate with a restricted growing season. In the lowlands, the climate is continental with warm, dry summers, humid autumns, and cold, wet winters. Average high temperature in January is —1o C, while in June it is 18° C. Elevation is a stronger determinant of local climate than latitude.
Demography. The total population in the 1981 census was 7,574,085. Vienna had the largest concentration of Population at 1,524,510, followed by Lower Austria (1,431,400), Upper Austria (1,276,807), Steiermark (1,188,878), Tirol (591,069), Carinthia (537,137), Salzburg (446,981), Vorarlberg (307,220), and Burgenland (270,083). Through migration and changing birthrates, the western provinces and highland areas have lost population to the eastern provinces and urban areas. Twenty-three percent of the population lives in villages of 2,500 or less, 32 percent in market towns of 2,500 to 10,000, 15 percent in cities of 10,000 to 100,000, and 30 percent in cities of 100,000 or more. The population structure has been altered by the mortality of two highly destructive wars in this century and the differential male mortality of advanced industrial societies.
linguistic Affiliation. Most Austrians speak the Southern (Bavarian) dialect of German, a branch of the Indo-European Language Family. Vorarlbergers speak the Alemannic dialect of German more commonly found in northern Switzerland and Swabia. In border provinces, one can find concentrations of speakers of Italian, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, and Czech. In Vienna one can find established enclaves of these languages, as well as speakers of Turkish, Serbian, Greek, Russian, Polish, French, Spanish, Arabic dialects, Persian, and English.