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  • Just remember:

  • When in Austria

  • No matter how much German these people speak,

  • DO NOT call them German!

  • It's time to learn Geography NOW!!!

  • Hey peeps, I'm your host Paul Barbato. Let's dissect the flag.

  • The flag is one of the oldest used flags of Europe.

  • Disputably, legend as it that the flag comes from the Siege of Acre

  • after Leopold V came back from battle and removed his belt with his blood-soaked tunic

  • leaving a red-white banner.

  • Keep in mind that the Austrian flag looks very similar to the flag of Latvia

  • however the Latvian flag has unequal sized band and is a darker shade of red.

  • Keep in mind, many other countries in the eastern European region, specifically the pan-Slavic areas

  • still retain a part or a complete version of the white/red pattern on their flags like Austria

  • We'll explain a little more about this but first

  • Let's talk about the borders

  • In terms of its location, Austria is landlocked, bordered by 8 other countries

  • (Don't forget Liechtenstein!)

  • in the central European region.

  • With the Alps dominating three quarters of the country in the west and in the centre.

  • The country is divided into 9 states

  • Although it's kinda funny because the state of Lower Austria

  • is technically a little higher than Upper Austria geographically.

  • The capital and the largest city is Vienna

  • located on the eastern side of the country

  • where 1 out of every 8 Austrians can be found.

  • The city is a wonderful assimilation

  • of centuries-old stone churches,

  • palaces,

  • opera houses,

  • and monuments

  • as well as modern highrises

  • skyscrapers

  • and business offices.

  • Oh, and there's dozens of castles speckled throughout the entire country

  • Remember how in the Albania video, I told you to play that whole "find the bunker" game?

  • Well in Austria it's kind of like "find the castle" game.

  • As a member of the EU, Austria's borders are pretty open with all of its neighbours

  • and are pretty much virtually invisible, with the exception of the occasional river or mountain blocking the way.

  • The only controversy it really has is in the South Tyrol region

  • which historically belonged to a number of different kingdoms and empires

  • but for a long while it belonged to the House of Hapsburg

  • a historically fascinating lineage that would eventually play a pivotal role in providing

  • half of Europe with all of their monarchical lineages.

  • In short, it kind of initially belonged to Austria.

  • However, after the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1919

  • the entire southern part of this region was kind of reluctantly given to the kingdom of Italy.

  • This explains why Austria has a relatively narrow eastern parameter that stretches into the Alps

  • as the South Tyrol region, which previously gave the country a wider range of dominion, was ceded to Italy.

  • Austria was kind of like, "Okay Italy"

  • "we'll give you this piece of land, but, you know... Just a little heads up"

  • "pretty much everybody in there is Austrian and they speak German, and they... kind of want to be part of Austria."

  • "but hey... it's all yours."

  • The most confusing part of the region though would have to be the Jungholz enclave.

  • Located right on the border of the Bavarian region of southern Germany

  • This place only has about 300 people, separated into four small towns.

  • This area is strange, because it is one of Europe's only three quadripoint borders

  • and is technically joined by Austria by only a small narrow corridor

  • only a few metres wide on the top of the adjacent Sorgschrofen Mountain

  • that crosses over into the Austria side.

  • Otherwise, the only way to get into Austria from this region

  • is by driving through Germany.

  • This means that if you don't want to go through Germany to get into Austria from this region

  • the only way is to literally climb to the top of Sorgschrofen Mountain

  • to the very point where the four borders meet and climb all the way down to the rest of Austria.

  • Since the 19th century, the borders have been literally marked every single step of the way

  • and the top has a mark stone that distinguishes the narrow crossing.

  • Believe it or not, this is actually a common hike that a lot of people take

  • despite the fact that many of them don't even understand the significance of the markers.

  • Speaking of mountains and hikes, let's talk about the physical geography!

  • As mentioned before, about three quarters of Austria is mountainous

  • with the Alps dominating the centre and western parts of the country.

  • These mountains are the characterizing segments that give Austria its distinct national identity, both historically and culturally.

  • In short

  • even though the vast majority of people in Austria live in the low-lying plains around the mountains

  • Austria would not be Austria without the Alps.

  • These mountains can actually be quite quirky, almost with minds of their own.

  • For example, every spring, in the Hochschwab Mountains and forests on the east side of the Alps

  • the snow melt from the mountains completely and gorges the Grüner See, or the "Green Lake"

  • engulfing the entire park with trees and benches underneath it.

  • These mountains also provide the perfect setting for Austria's favourite sport, skiing

  • The problem though is that, although these mountains are very beautiful

  • they do kinda make a lot of the country uninhabitable or difficult to cultivate.

  • Although 40% of the land is covered in forests, less than 20% of the land is arable.

  • And for the record

  • YES, the Sound of Music was filmed in parts of Austria

  • No, not everybody has seen or even cared about seeing that movie.

  • Of course the mighty Danube river flows through the northern part of the country

  • and has historically played a vital role in Austria's economy and trade sector

  • especially after the construction of the Rhine-Main-Danube river canal back in 1992

  • which allows ships to finally pass from the North Sea, through Europe, into the Balkans, and ending into the Black Sea.

  • The low-laying areas of eastern Austria have nice grassy hills and plains

  • perfect for cattle-raising and of course, dairy production

  • where some of the classiest Austrian cheeses are produced.

  • Now of course, Austria's economy is not really that heavily based on agriculture

  • but rather services and industry, specifically in engine and medication manufacturing.

  • But who does all the manufacturing?

  • Let's find out in...Demographics!

  • You know, as the home country of Mozart

  • Austria still kinda lives up to its classy expectation.

  • Austria has a population of about 8 and a half million

  • about 90% of whom are ethnically Austrian, and 10% from other nations

  • mostly from Germany, and the former Yugoslavian states such as Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia

  • with an influx of Turkish people having immigrated over the past few decades.

  • The reason why there are so many eastern Europeans in Austria

  • has somewhat to do with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Hapsburg dynasty

  • which was one of the most pivotal monarchies that shaped the entire course of European history

  • in every corner from Spain to France, England to Russia, and so on.

  • The Hapsburgs even took over Mexico for a short period of time

  • That's how powerful these people were.

  • Yes, Austrians speak German. However

  • Rule number 1: DO NOT call them German

  • They're kind of reluctant to even tell you that they speak German

  • and will be very quick to point out that it's Austrian-German, not German-German.

  • The language has a very distinct vocabulary

  • a lot of the words influenced from eastern European nation words

  • and they also have their own standard dictionary set apart from the German and Swiss dictionaries.

  • The dialects can change drastically in Austria.

  • Sometimes it only takes about 40 kilometres travelling inward

  • until you reach an area that has a completely different accent

  • and don't even get started on those Liechtensteiners.

  • In contrast to Germans, Austrians like to define themselves as more soft-spoken and reserved.

  • They don't like to upset anybody

  • and courtesy is very highly expected in this country

  • Educational accomplishments and achievements are very highly prized in Austria.

  • One thing Austrians do kind of obsess over though are titles.

  • They prefer to be addressed by every title that they have obtained for themselves

  • even if it equates to like fifteen titles.

  • Mr. Dr. Chairman Vice CEO Chairman Otto von Schnitzelbachkrakengeschäftmeier(???)

  • One thing that Austrians will tell you that they really like to do

  • is just taking simple walks

  • whether it's just for an hour, to clear their head

  • and in any weather, whether it's great or whether it's raining.

  • They even have a word for it: "spazieren gehen"

  • Don't be surprised if an Austrian invites you to just go for a walk

  • Go with it.

  • They're a little bit more conservative in their politics

  • which can possibly be attributed to the growing elderly population

  • However, the youth have always been known to ruffle up a few controversy feathers here and there.

  • I mean, the winner of last year's Eurovision contest

  • was an Austrian drag queen with a beard.

  • They keep things a little bit on the down low

  • However, once every so often, one notable figure comes and shines through

  • Like Christoph Waltz

  • and everyone's favourite bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • which, by the way, contrary to some stupid rumours

  • NO, the last name Schwarzenegger does not have a racist connotation behind it

  • it literally just means "the person from Schwarzen"

  • Schwarzen meaning "black", Egge(r) meaning "soil"

  • "black soil" "fertile soil"

  • It basically just means "the place of the fertile soil"

  • The family is descended from a long line of prosperous farmers

  • which is what the name refers to.

  • CASE CLOSED

  • Speaking of relationships, let's talk about the Friend Zone.

  • In the simplest way I can put this

  • this is kind of what Austria's relationships kinda look like:

  • Now shut up and dance with me!

  • Pretty much all of Austria's best friends have some kind of a love-hate relationship with them

  • but ehhh... love always wins in the end.

  • It's kinda crazy too because in the nicest, softest way I can put this:

  • Austria did kind of start or influence both world wars.

  • WWI with the attacks from the empire on Serbia after the Archduke was assassinated

  • and WWII because

  • well... I mean... Hitler was kind of born in Austria

  • I mean... No Austria, no Hitler

  • To this day Austria is incredibly neutral in their affairs

  • and lies in a very interesting alliance limbo

  • as they have neither joined NATO or the Warsaw Pact.

  • But enough on that

  • In regards to their eastern neighbours

  • because of the whole Austro-Hungarian Empire

  • Austria and many of the other central and Balkan states like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and so on

  • have close ties to Austria

  • even though historically they had lots of drama under the Hapsburg Dynasty

  • but hey... It was either the Hapsburgs or the Ottomans

  • and they HATED the Ottomans.

  • In regards to Italy

  • Italy has always been a huge trade partner

  • but of course, like mentioned before

  • the whole South Tyrol region thing kinda causes a little bit of tension

  • They aren't going to war or anything

  • but Austria is kinda like "Look, Italy, I mean... C'mon"

  • "Everybody there is Austrian"

  • In terms of their best friends

  • Austria would kind of reluctantly say Germany

  • but more specifically Bavaria, the region of south Germany.

  • Bavarians and Austrians are very similar in their culture and traditions.

  • Some Austrians will tell you that because they get along so well

  • Bavaria is said to be the 10th Bundesland or "state" of Austria.

  • although Bavaria alone has more inhabitants that the whole of Austria.

  • You know all that stereotypical lederhosen and dirndl costume stuff that you see on all those Oktoberfest commercials?

  • Yeah, that's kind of what you would attribute to Bavarian and somewhat Austrian culture

  • But they only do that on special occasions.

  • I mean... if it was up to me I would wear that stuff 24/7

  • but hey... to each his own.

  • In conclusion

  • Austria is kind of like the country that secretly changed the entire course of all of European history

  • right under our noses without us even knowing about it.

  • Here's one more picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • And get ready, because Azerbaijan is coming up next.

Just remember:

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B1 US austria austrian region german eastern country

Geography Now! Austria

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    Elma Kung posted on 2017/09/18
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