Austria (in German, Österreich), officially Republic of Austria, republic in central Europe, bordered on the north by the Czech Republic; on the north-east by Slovakia; on the east by Hungary; on the south by Slovenia, Italy, and Switzerland; and on the west by Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Germany. Austria is about 580 km (360 mi) long and has an area of 83,859 sq km (32,378 sq mi). Vienna is the country’s capital and largest city.
Austria is predominantly a mountainous country, with an average elevation of about 910 m (3,000 ft). Most of the land falls within the eastern division of the Alps. In general the major mountain ranges of Austria run in an east-west direction and are separated from one another by rather broad valleys. The northernmost line of ranges includes the North Tirol Alps and the Salzburg Alps. Among the central ranges is the Hohe Tauern, which culminates in the Grossglockner, the highest elevation (3,797 m/12,457 ft) in the country; the Pasterze Glacier, one of Europe’s largest, descends from the Grossglockner peak. The southernmost ranges include the Ötztal Alps, the Zillertal Alps, the Carnic Alps, and the Karawanken Mountains. Besides these latitudinal ranges, several series of mountain spurs extend in a north-south direction. The mountain barriers of Austria are broken in many places by passes, including the Brenner Pass and the Semmering Pass.
The principal areas of Austria that are not within the Alps are the northern and eastern border sections. The northern section consists of rolling upland, and the eastern border section comprises part of the Danube Basin, including Vienna.
The Austrian climate varies with altitude; with location in relation to Atlantic, continental, and Mediterranean influences; and with certain local wind characteristics. Mountainous regions are partially subject to moderate Atlantic conditions and experience more precipitation than the eastern lowlands, which are under continental influences. Spring and autumn are usually mild throughout the country. Summers are short, with moderate temperatures. Cold and often severe winters last about three months in the valleys, where they are usually ended by the foehn, a warm, dry wind from the south that is often accompanied by damp fog and sudden thaws that precipitate avalanches. Mean annual temperatures range between about 6.7° and 8.9° C (44° and 48° F) throughout the country. Average annual rainfall is between about 1,016 and 1,270 mm (40 and 50 in). In some interior valleys, the average annual rainfall is between 1,542 and 2,032 mm (60 and 80 in).…
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