Alpine Landscape
Welcome to Austria! Yes, it is Austria, not Australia. This little sentence describes the emotional situation of the Austrians almost perfectly. Once a great power for centuries, these days, Austria is a little country with about nine million inhabitants and a capital a capital far too large for the country's few inhabitants. Long lost the days of grandeur. Gone are all the former Crown Lands that made Austria the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the disastrous end of World War!

In 1918, Austria had to cope with the loss of what are now the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina as well as huge parts of Poland, the Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Italy. What was left of the former glory became a poor, little and most tragic, insignificant country that was barely able to feed its population. After a short experiment with democracy came civil war and a catholic-fascist government unable and to some extent unwilling to defend its independence from Nazi-Germany.

When Adolf Hitler and the Wehrmacht crossed the Austrian borders, many welcomed the so-called "Anschluss" and incorporation into the Third Reich, because there were no prospects for Austria and no Austrian identity has yet emerged. It took another World War and ten years of occupation by the Allied powers, until the Austrians gradually became more and more content with the idea of an independent and neutral country in the center of Europe.

Nowadays, there is unanimous consent that there is an Austrian identity, mentality, culture and even language that distinguishes us from our Northern neighbor Germany.