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Austria

Austria

Summary

Upon regaining its freedom in 1955, after World War II, Austria declared itself to be a permanently neutral country with the Austrian State Treaty.1 Under this treaty, Austria is exempt from engaging in military alliances, and other nations are not permitted to establish military bases within its borders.2 Austria is extremely open to foreign investments and trading, both of which have contributed to a thriving banking sector, as well as to economic expansion.3 The country has a low unemployment rate at 5.8 percent, yet unemployment is at its worst since World War II, as refugees and migrants now comprise a portion of the labor force.4 Austria recycles 63 percent of its municipal waste — the highest recycling rate in Europe — with Germany close behind at 62 percent.5 The European Union set a goal for all members to be recycling 50 percent of their municipal waste by 2020, and Austria’s rate makes them one of the five nations to have reached this deadline thus far.6 1 http://nato.gov.si/eng/topic/national-security/neutral-status/neutral-countries 2 Ibid 3 http://www.heritage.org/index/country/austria 4 Ibid 5 https://www.eea.europa.eu/media/newsreleases/highest-recycling-rates-in-austria 6 Ibid

Demographics

Nationality
Austrian
Population
8,221,646 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Austria Subcases

Click and view Austria subcases and learn more about our Austria

Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Austria recycles 63 percent of its municipal waste, the highest recycling rate in Europe, with Germany close behind at 62 percent.1 The European Union set a goal for all EU members to recycle 50 percent of municipal waste by 2020, and Austria’s recycling rates make them one of the five nations to have reached the goal thus far.2 The nation’s capital of Vienna houses one of the world’s most extensive, inventive waste processing plants.3 The plant utilizes incineration to support the city’s heating system, accounting for almost a third of Vienna’s supply.4 The Alps cover 62 percent of the country, and provide a home for many animal species.5

Family

Austria has a divorce rate of 41 percent, affecting upwards of 18,000 children.1 In 1997, the Anti-Violence Act was established to both prevent violence and provide protection under the state for victims of domestic violence and assault.2 Under this legislation, the offender can be physically removed from the residence by local law enforcement, and an amendment in 2013 allows officials to bar the offender from schools if children are at risk.3 The act also implemented educational training programs to be given by law enforcement or local shelters, and requires local authorities to undergo training themselves.4

Human Rights

As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, human rights are at the forefront of both Austria’s foreign and national policy.1 After the events of World War II, the UN established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ensuring that the basic human rights of citizens are upheld, and offering avenues for legal action to be taken when such rights are not maintained.2 However, in October of 2017 a law was signed banning full-face coverings, such as burqas and niqabs, as well as medical masks and clown makeup.3 Austria also has laws that restrict the freedom of speech for people who wish to deny, approve or justify the Nazi genocide during World War II.4

Education

Austria’s education system — from primary to tertiary — lasts until the child is 16.1 The Federal Ministry for Education, Arts, and Culture oversees, and funds, the education system and evaluates its performance annually.2 Upon completion of mandatory schooling, Austrian students have the option to continue their education through a technical school or university, which comprise the tertiary level of the education system.3 Austria’s literacy rate is 98 percent,4 and their primary school enrollment rate is 100 percent.5

Poverty

Austria has the lowest poverty rate in Europe.1 Only 4 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.2 However, 18.1 percent is considered at-risk of falling below the line.3 In response to the Europe 2020 strategy to reduce the number of people in poverty or social exclusion by 20 million collectively, Austria has reduced their at-risk population by 136,000 since 2008.4

Religion

Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in Austria. 73.8 percent identify as Catholic, and 12 percent claim no religious affiliation, with the remainder of the population claiming a Protestant, Muslim or Orthodox faith.1 The freedom of religion is a guaranteed right for Austrians established by the 1781 Patents of Tolerance and affirmed by subsequent legislature, including Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950.2 The Austrian government is religiously neutral.3

Clean Water

Virtually the entire Austrian population has access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.1 The Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism has invested over $63 billion (€55 billion) in water supply and sewage system development since 1959.2 Since 1991, Austrian groundwater, rivers and lakes have been evaluated against a series of national standards under the Water Rights Act.3 On an international level, Austria is a leader in wastewater purification.4

Economy

Austria is extremely open to foreign investments and trading, both of which have contributed to a thriving banking sector, as well as to economic expansion.1 The Heritage Foundation ranks Austria at 17th out of 44 countries in overall economic health.2 The nation boasts highly developed service and industrial sectors, as well as a small agricultural sector.3 The unemployment rate sits at a low 5.8 percent, yet is at its worst since World War II as refugees and migrants now comprise a portion of the labor force.4 On a whole, Austria’s economic situation is stable, though faces challenges in the international Eurozone debt issue, and the conflict in Russia and Ukraine.5 Its GDP in purchasing power is $434.1 billion, and per capita is $49,200.6

Government

The Republic of Austria is governed by a president, as well as a chancellor, who run the state and the government, respectively. There are three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. The judiciary has been able to function with a high degree of transparency.1 Upon regaining its freedom in 1955, after World War II, Austria declared itself to be a permanently neutral country in the Austrian State Treaty.2 Under this treaty Austria is exempt from engaging in military alliances.3 Additionally, other nations are not permitted to establish military bases in the country.4 Transparency International ranks Austria in the 92 percentile for their control of corruption.5

Health

Overall, Austria’s healthcare system accounts for 11.2 percent of the GDP.1 and is known for its accessibility — 99 percent of the population is covered by health insurance.2 The leading causes of death are heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and lung cancer.3 The country has a high life expectancy of 81 years, and a low infant mortality rate of 3.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.4

Children

Austria has been a member of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1992, ensuring that Austria is in compliance with their own laws regarding the protection of children, as well as supporting similar international initiatives.1 The Federal Child and Youth Support Act of 2013 implemented a child welfare program which protects children whose parents or guardians are not offering sufficient means of care or protection.2 Children who are proven neglected may be placed in another care situation via an agreement with guardians, or by order of the court.3 The Child and Youth Employment Act, revised in 2013, prohibits children age 15 and under from entering the workforce.4 In addition to such protections, the Austrian National Youth Council was formed in 2001, Read More subsequent to the signature of the Federal Youth Representation Act, as a means to allow youth to have a voice in discussions on national issues.5 This youth council holds the same station as that of other legal groups represented, such as trade, farmers and senior citizens.6 Show Less

Animals

As a member of the European Union, Austria has legislation in place for the protection of animals under the EU’s animal welfare policy.1 The World Animal Protection Agency rates Austria as an A level nation for their legislation and active efforts to prevent animal abuse, making Austria one of the leading nations in animal protection alongside New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.2 The Alps cover 62 percent of the country, and provide a home for many animal species.3

Austria

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