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Austria is situated in southern Central Europe, covering a part of the eastern Alps and the Danube region; although it is land-locked, it borders on the Mediterranean area. Austria has common borders witheight other countries: Switzerland, Principality of Liechtenstein, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy.  Once the center of power for the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, Austria was reduced to a small republic after its defeat in World War I. Following annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938 and subsequent occupation by the victorious Allies, Austria's 1955 State Treaty declared the country "permanently neutral" as a condition of Soviet military withdrawal. 

Neutrality, once ingrained as part of the Austrian cultural identity, has been called into question since the Soviet collapse and Austria's increasingly prominent role in European affairs. A prosperous country, Austria joined the European Union in 1995 and the euro monetary system in 1999.Austria is a federal state with a total area of 32,368 sq. miles (83,858 sq. km) and consists of nine provinces - Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Upper Austria, Vienna and Vorarlberg. Their inhabitants belong to the major European ethnic groups: the Germanic, Neo-Latin and Slav peoples (the Magyars of Hungary are an exception, deriving from the Ural-Altaic group). The main cities in Austria are : Vienna, Salzburg, Linz, Graz, Klagenfurt and Innsbruck. The population of the country amounts to about 8 million people.

The country has a wide variety of landscape, vegetation and climate and, situated as it is at the heart of a continent, it has always been a junction for communication links between the trade and cultural centers of Europe.Austria's border has an overall length of 1,682 miles. Of these, 509 miles are shared with Germany, 291 miles with the Czech Republic, 64 miles with Slovakia, 220 miles with Hungary, 205 miles with Slovenia, 267 miles with Italy, 104 miles with Switzerland and 22 miles with Liechtenstein.Austria's highest mountain is the Grossglockner (12,465 ft.) On its way from the Black Forest in southern Germany to the Black Sea, the Danube flows some 220 miles of its course through Austria.

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