corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

AUSTRIA. (Ger. Osterreich ), a country of central Europe, bounded E. by Russia and Rumania, S. by Hungary, the Adriatic Sea and Italy, W. by Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the German empire (Bavaria), and N. by the German empire (Saxony and Prussia) and Russia. It has an area of 115,533 sq. m., or about twice the size of England and Wales together. Austria is one of the states which constitute the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) monarchy (see Austria-Hungary: History ), and is also called Cisleithania, from the fact that it contains the portion of that monarchy which lies to the west of the river Leitha. Austria does not form a geographical unity, and the constituent parts of this empire belong to different geographical regions. Thus, Tirol, Styria and Carinthia belong, like Switzerland, to the system of the Alps, but these provinces together with those lying in the basin of the Danube form, nevertheless, a compact stretch of country. On the other hand Galicia, extending on the eastern side of the Carpathians, belongs to the great plain of Russia; Bohemia stretches far into the body of Germany; while Dalmatia, which is quite separated from the other provinces, belongs to the Balkan Peninsula.

1 Coasts

2 Mountains

3 Rivers

4 Lakes

5 Mineral Springs


Austria has amongst all the great European countries the most continental character, in so far as its frontiers are mostly land-frontiers, only about one-tenth of them being coast-land. The Adriatic coast, which stretches for a distance of about moo m., is greatly indented. The Gulf of Trieste on the west, and the Gulf of Fiume or Quarnero on the east, include between them the peninsula of Istria, which has many sheltered bays. In the Gulf of Quarnero are the Quarnero islands, of which the most important are Cherso, Veglia and Lussin. The coast west of the mouth of the Isonzo is fringed by lagoons, and has the same character as the Venetian coast, while the Gulf of Trieste and the Istrian peninsula have a steep coast with many bays and safe harbours. The principal ports are Trieste, Capodistria, Pirano, Parenzo, Rovigno and Pola, the great naval harbour and arsenal of Austria. The coast of Dalmatia also possesses many safe bays, the principal being those of Zara, Cattaro and Ragusa, but in some places it is very steep and inaccessible. On the other hand a string of islands extends along this coast, which offer many safe and easily accessible places of anchorage to ships during the fierce winter gales which rage in the Adriatic. The principal are Pago, Pasman, Isola Lunga and Isola Incoronata, Brazza, Lesina, Curzola and Meleda.

The political divisions of Austria correspond, for the most part, so closely to natural physical divisions that the detailed account of the physical features, natural resources and the movement of the population has been given under those separate headings. In this general article the geography of Austria - physical, economical and political - has been treated in its broad aspects, and those points insisted upon which give an adequate idea of the country as a whole.


Austria is the most mountainous country of Europe after Switzerland, and about four-fifths of its entire area is more than 600 ft. above the level of the sea. The mountains of Austria belong to three different mountain systems, namely, the Alps, the Carpathians, and the Bohemian-Moravian Mountains. The Danube, which is the principal river of Austria, divides the Alpine region, which occupies the whole country lying at its south, from the Bohemian-Moravian Mountains and their offshoots lying at its north; while the valleys of the March and the Oder separate the last-named mountains from the Carpathians. Of the three principal divisions of the Alps - the western, the central and the eastern Alps - Austria is traversed by several groups of the central Alps, while the eastern Alps lie entirely within its territory. The eastern Alps are continued by the Karst mountains, which in their turn are continued by the Dinaric Alps, which stretch through Croatia and Dalmatia. The second great mountain-system of Austria, the Carpathians, occupy its eastern and north-eastern portions, and stretch in the form of an arch through Moravia, Silesia, Galicia and Bukovina, forming the frontier towards Hungary, within which territory they principally extend. Finally, the BohemianMoravian Mountains, which enclose Bohemia and Moravia, and form the so-called quadrilateral of Bohemia, constitute the link of the Austrian mountain-system with the hilly region (the Mittelgebirge) of central Europe. Only a little over 25% of the area of Austria is occupied by plains. The largest is the plain of Galicia, which is part of the extensive Sarmatic plain; while in the south, along the Isonzo, Austria comprises a small part of the Lombardo-Venetian plain. Several smaller plains are found along the Danube, as the Tulner Becken in Lower Austria, and the Wiener Becken, the plain on which the capital is situated; to the north of the Danube this plain is called the Marchfeld, and is continued under the name of the Marchebene into Moravia as far north as Olmi tz. Along the other principal rivers there are also plains of more or less magnitude, some of them possessing tracts of very fertile soil.


Austria possesses a fairly great number of rivers, pretty equally distributed amongst its crown lands, with the exception of Istria and the Karst region, where there is a great scarcity of even the smallest rivers. The principal rivers are: the Danube, the Dniester, the Vistula, the Oder, the Elbe, the Rhine and the Adige or Etsch. As the highlands of Austria form part of the great watershed of Europe, which divides the waters flowing northward into the North Sea or the Baltic from those flowing southward or eastward into the Mediterranean or the Black Sea, its rivers flow in three different directions - northward, southward and eastward. With the exception of the small streams belonging to it which fall into the Adriatic, all its rivers have their mouths in other countries, and its principal river, the Danube, has also its source in another country. When it enters Austria at the gorge of Passau, where it receives the Inn, a river which has as large a body of water as itself, the Danube is already navigable. Till it leaves the country at Hainburg, just before Pressburg, its banks are pretty closely hemmed by the Alps, and the river passes through a succession of narrow defiles. But the finest part of its whole course, as regards the picturesqueness of the scenery on its banks, is between Linz and Vienna. Where it enters Austria the Danube is 898 ft. above the level of the sea, and where it leaves it is only Too ft.; it has thus a fall within the country of 498 ft., and is at first a very rapid stream, becoming latterly much slower. The Danube has in Austria a course of 234 m., and it drains an area of 50,377 sq.m. Its principal affluents in Austria, besides the Inn, are the Traun, the Enns and the March. The Dniester, which, like the Danube, flows into the Black Sea, has its source in the Carpathians in Eastern Galicia, and pursues a very winding course towards the south-east, passing into Russia. It has in Austria a course of 370 m. of which 300 are navigable, and drains an area of 12,000 sq. m. The Vistula and the Oder both fall into the Baltic. The former rises in Moravia, flows first north through Austrian Silesia, then takes an easterly direction along the borders of Prussian Silesia, and afterwards a north-easterly, separating Galicia from Russian Poland, and leaving Austria not far from Sandomir. Its course in Austria is 240 m., draining an area of 15,500 sq. m. It is navigable for nearly zoo m., and its principal affluents are the Dunajec, the San and the Bug. The Oder has also its source in Moravia, flows first east and then north-east through Austrian Silesia into Prussia. Its length within the Austrian territory is only about 55 m., no part of which is navigable. The only river of this country which flows into the North Sea is the Elbe. It has its source in the Riesengebirge, not far from the Schneekoppe, flows first south, then west, and afterwards north-west through Bohemia, and then enters Saxony. Its principal affluents are the Adler, Iser and Eger, and, most important of all, the Moldau. The Elbe has a course within the Austrian dominions of 185 m., for about 65 of which it is navigable. It drains an area of upwards of 21,000 sq. m. The Rhine, though scarcely to be reckoned a river of the country, flows for about 25 m. of its course between it and Switzerland. The principal river of Austria which falls into the Adriatic is the Adige or Etsch. It rises in the mountains of Tirol, flows south, then east, and afterwards south, into the plains of Lombardy. It has in Austria a course of 138 m., and drains an area of 4266 sq. m. Its principal affluent is the Eisak. Of the streams which have their course entirely within the country, and fall into the Adriatic, the principal is the Isonzo, 75 m. in length, but navigable only for a short distance from its mouth.


Austria does not possess any great lakes; but has numerous small mountain lakes situated in the Alpine region, the most renowned for the beauty of their situation being found in Salzburg, Salzkammergut, Tirol and Carinthia. There should also be mentioned the periodical lakes situated in the Karst region, the largest of them being the Lake of Zirknitz. The numerous and large marshes, found now mostly in Galicia and Dalmatia, have been greatly reduced in the other provinces through the canalization of the rivers, and other works of sanitation.

Mineral Springs

No other European country equals Austria in the number and value of its mineral springs. They are mostly to be found in Bohemia, and are amongst the most frequented watering-places in the world. The most important are, the alkaline springs of Carlsbad, Marienbad, Franzensbad and Bilin; the alkaline acidulated waters of Giesshiibel, largely used as table waters; the iron springs of Marienbad, Franzensbad and of Pyrawarth in Lower Austria; the bitter waters of Piillna, Saidschitz and Sedlitz; the saline waters of Ischl and of Aussee in Styria; the iodine waters of Hall in Upper Austria; the different waters of Gastein; and lastly the thermal waters of Teplitz-SchOnau, Johannisbad, and of Rcmerbad in Styria. Altogether there are reckoned to exist over 150o mineral springs, of which many are not used. (0. BR.) Geology. - The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy is traversed by the great belt of folded beds which constitutes the Alps and the Carpathians; a secondary branch proceeding from the main belt runs along the Adriatic coast and forms the Julian and Dinaric Alps. In the space which is thus enclosed, lies the Tertiary basin of the Hungarian plain; and outside the belt, on the northern side, is a region which, geologically, is composite, but has uniformly resisted the Carpathian folding. In the neighbourhood of Vienna a gap in the folded belt - the gap between the Alps and the Carpathians - has formed a connexion between these two regions since the early part of the Miocene period. On its outer or convex side the folded belt is clearly defined by a depression which is generally filled by modern deposits. Beyond this, in Russia and Galicia, lies an extensive plateau, much of which is covered by flat-lying Miocene and Pliocene beds; but in the deep valleys of the Dniester and its tributaries the ancient rocks which form the foundation of the plateau are laid bare. Archaean granite is thus exposed at Yampol and other places in Russia, and this is followed towards the west by Silurian and Devonian beds in regular succession - the Devonian being of the Old Red Sandstone type characteristic of the British Isles and of Northern Russia. Throughout, the dip is very low and the beds are unaffected by the Carpathian folds, the strike being nearly from north to south. After Devonian times the region seems to have been dry land until the commencement of the Upper Cretaceous period, when it was overspread by the Cenomanian sea, and the deposits of that sea lie flat upon the older sediments.

Some 25 or 30 m. of undulating country separate the Dniester from the margin of the Carpathian chain, and in this space the Palaeozoic floor sinks far beneath the surface, so that not even the deep-cut valley of the Pruth exposes any beds of older date than Miocene. Towards the north-west, also, the Palaeozoic foundation falls beneath an increasing thickness of Cretaceous beds and lies buried far below the surface. At Lemberg a boring 1650 ft. in depth did not reach the base of the Senonian. West of Cracow the Cretaceous beds are underlaid by Jurassic and Triassic deposits, the general dip being eastward. It is not till Silesia that the Palaeozoic formations again rise to the surface. Here is the margin, often concealed by very modern deposits, of the great mass of Archaean and Palaeozoic rocks which forms nearly the whole of Bohemia and Moravia. The Palaeozoic beds no longer lie flat and undisturbed, as in the Polish plain. They are faulted and folded. But the folds are altogether independent of those of the Carpathians; they are of much earlier date, and are commonly different in direction. The principal folding took place towards the close of the Carboniferous period, and the massif is a fragment of an ancient mountain chain, the Variscische Gebirge of E. Suess, which in Permian and Triassic times stretched across the European area from west to east.

In Bohemia and Moravia the whole of the beds from the Cambrian to the Lower Carboniferous are of marine origin; but after the Carboniferous period the area appears to have been dry land until the beginning of the Upper Cretaceous period, when the sea again spread over it. The deposits of this sea are now visible in the large basin of Upper Cretaceous beds which stretches from Dresden southeastward through Bohemia. Since the close of the Cretaceous period the Bohemian massif has remained above the sea; but the depression which lies immediately outside the Carpathian chain has at times been covered by an arm of the sea and at other times has been occupied by a chain of salt lakes, to which the salt deposits of Wieliczka and numerous brine springs owe their origin.

The large area which is enclosed within the curve of the Carpathians is for the most part covered by loess, alluvium and other modern deposits, but Miocene and Pliocene beds appear around its borders. In the hilly region of western Transylvania a large mass of Quaternary Tertiary Cretaceous Jurassic Geological Map Of Austria-Hungary.

more ancient rocks is exposed; the Carboniferous system and all the Mesozoic systems have been recognized here, and granite and volcanic rocks occur. In the middle of Hungary a line of hills rises above the plain, striking from the Platten See towards the northeast, where it merges into the inner girdle of the Carpathian chain. These hills are largely formed of volcanic rocks of late Tertiary age; but near the Platten See Triassic beds of Alpine type are well developed. The Tertiary eruptions were not confined to this line of hills. They were most extensive along the inner border of the Carpathians, and they occurred also in the north of Bohemia. Most of the eruptions took place during the Miocene and Pliocene periods.

The mineral wealth of Austria is very great. The older rocks are in many places peculiarly rich in metalliferous ores of all kinds. Amongst them may be mentioned the silver-bearing lead ores of Erzgebirge and of P?ibram in Bohemia; the iron ores of Styria and Bukovina; and the iron, copper, cobalt and nickel of the districts of Zips and GSmor. The famous cinnabar and mercury mines of Idria in Carniola are in Triassic beds; and the gold and silver of northern Hungary and of Transylvania are associated with the Tertiary volcanic rocks. The Carboniferous coal-fields of Silesia and Bohemia are of the greatest importance; while Jurassic coal is worked at Steyerdorf and Ftinfkirchen in Hungary, and lignite at many places in the Tertiary beds. The great salt mines of Galicia are in Miocene deposits; but salt is also worked largely in the Trias of the Alps. (See also Alps; Carpathians; Hungary and Tirol.) (P. La.) Climate. - The climate of Austria, in consequence of its great extent, and the great differences in the elevation of its surface, is very various. It is usual to divide it into three distinct zones. The most southern extends to 46° N. lat., and includes Dalmatia and the country along the coast, together with the southern portions of Tirol and Carinthia. Here the seasons are mild and equable, the winters are short (snow seldom falling), and the summers last for five months. The vine and maize are everywhere cultivated, as well as olives and other southern products. In the south of Dalmatia tropical plants flourish in the open air. The central zone lies between 46° and 49° N. lat., and includes Lower and Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Central and Northern Tirol, Southern Moravia Triassic Siluro-Cambrian Permian Carboniferous R. t *1 Plutonic Rocks Devonian - Volcanic Rocks and a part of Bohemia. The seasons are more marked here than in the preceding. The winters are longer and more severe, and the summers are hotter. The vine and maize are cultivated in favourable situations, and wheat and other kinds of grain are generally grown. The northern zone embraces the territory lying north of 49° N. lat., comprising Bohemia, Northern Moravia, Silesia and Galicia. The winters are here long and cold; the vine and maize are no longer cultivated,the principal crops being wheat, barley, oats, rye, hemp and flax. The mean annual temperature ranges from about 59° in the south to 48° in the north. In some parts of the country, however, it is as low as 46° 40' and even 36°. In Vienna the average annual temperature is 50°, the highest temperature being 94°, the lowest 2° Fahr. In general the eastern part of the country receives less rain than the western. In the south the rains prevail chiefly in spring and autumn, and in the north and central parts during summer. Storms are frequent in the region of the south Alps and along the coast. In some parts in the vicinity of the Alps the rainfall is excessive, sometimes exceeding 60 in. It is less among the Carpathians, where it usually varies from 30 to 40 in. In other parts the rainfall usually averages from 20 to 24 in.

Flora.-From the varied character of its climate and soil the vegetable productions of Austria are very diverse. It has floras of the plains, the hills and the mountains; an alpine flora, and an arctic flora; a flora of marshes, and a flora of steppes; floras peculiar to the clay, the chalk, the sandstone and the slate formations. The number of different species is estimated at 12,000, of which one-third are phanerogamous,or flowering plants, and two-thirds cryptogamous, or flowerless. The crown land of Lower Austria far surpasses in this respect the other divisions of the country, having about four-ninths of the whole, and not less than 1700 species of flowering plants. As stated above, Austria is a very mountainous country and the mountains are frequently covered with vegetation to a great elevation. At the base are found vines and maize; on the lower slopes are green pastures, or wheat, barley and other kinds of corn; above are often forests of oak, ash, elm, &c.; and still higher the yew and the fir may be seen braving the climatic conditions. Corn grows to between 3400 and 4500 ft. above the level of the sea, the forests extend to 5600 or 6400 ft., and the line of perpetual snow is from 7800 to 820o ft.

Fauna.-The animal kingdom embraces, besides the usual domestic animals (as horses, cattle, sheep, swine, goats, asses, &c.), wild boars, deer, wild goats, hares, &c.; also bears, wolves, lynxes, foxes, wild cats, jackals, otters, beavers, polecats, martens, weasels and the like. Eagles and hawks are common, and many kinds of singing birds. The rivers and lakes abound in different kinds of fish, which are also plentiful on the sea-coast. Among the insects the bee and the silkworm are the most useful. The leech forms an article of trade. In all there are 90 different species of mammals, 248 species of birds, 377 of fishes and more than 13,000 of insects.

Divisions.-Austria is composed of seventeen "lands," called also "crown lands." Of these, three-namely, Bohemia, Galicia and Lodomeria, and Dalmatia-are kingdoms; two-Lower and Upper Austria-archduchies; six-Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Silesia and Bukovina-duchies; two-Gorz-Gradisca and Tirol-countships of princely rank ( gefitrstete Grafschaften); two -Moravia and Istria-margraviates (march counties). Vorarlberg bears the title simply of "land." Trieste, with its district, is a town treated as a special crown land. For administrative purposes Trieste, with Gorz-Gradisca and Istria, constituting the Kiistenland (the Coast land) and Tirol and Vorarlberg, are each comprehended as one administrative territory. The remaining lands constitute each an administrative territory by itself.

Population.-Austria had in 1900 a population of 26,107,304 inhabitants,' which is equivalent to 226 inhabitants per sq. m. As seen from the above table the density of the population is unequal in the various crown lands. The most thickly populated province is Lower Austria; the Alpine provinces are sparsely populated, while Salzburg is the most thinly populated crown land of Austria. As regards sex, for every 1000 men there were 1035 women, the female element being the most numerous in every crown land,except the Kustenland,Bukovina and Dalmatia. Compared with the census returns of 1890, the population shows an increase of 2,211,891, or 9.3% of the total population. The increase between the preceding census returns of 1880 and 1890 1 The census returns of 1857, and of 1869, which were the first systematic censuses taken, gave the population of Austria as 18,224,500 and 20 ,394,9 80 respectively. It must be noticed that between these two dates Austria lost its Lombardo-Venetian territories, with a population of about 5,000,000 inhabitants.

was of 1,750,093 inhabitants, or 7.9% of the total population.

A very important factor in the movement of the population is the large over-sea emigration, mostly to the United States of America, which has grown very much during the last quarter of the 19th century, and which shows a tendency to become still larger. Between 1891 and 1900 the number of over-sea emigrants was 387,770 persons. The movement of the population shown in the other vital statistics-births, marriages, deaths-are mostly satisfactory, and show a steady and normal progress. The annual rate per thousand of population in 1900 was: births, 37.0; still-births, 1.1; deaths, 25.2; marriages, 8.2. The only unsatisfactory points are the great number of illegitimate births, and the high infant mortality. Of the total population of Austria 14,009,233 were scattered in 26,321 rural communities with less than 2000 inhabitants; while the remainder was distributed in 1742 communities with a population of in 260 communities with a population of 5000-10,00o; in 96 towns with a population of 10,000-20,000; in 41 towns with a population of 20,000-50,000; in 6 towns with a population of 50,000-Ioo,000; and in 6 towns with a population of over 100,000 inhabitants. The principal towns of Austria are Vienna (1,662,269), Prague (460,849), Trieste (132,879), Lemberg (159,618), Graz (138,370), Bruenn (108,944), Cracow (91,310), Czernowitz (67,622), Pilsen (68,292) and Linz (58,778).

1, 69?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Austria'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
Search for…
Enter query in the box:
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

Prev Entry
Next Entry
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology