State: Austria

Lat/Long: 47.3333, 13.3333

Situated in central Europe at the crossroads with the Near East and Asia, Austria played an important role in the evolution of European culture and geopolitics. With its capital Vienna as its nucleus, Austria from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century was the vast, multi-ethnic empire of the Hapsburgs, which stretched at various times from Spain to Romania. The nineteenth century witnessed the gradual disintegration of the empire and the Hapsburgs' power in Central Europe. Austria emerged from the disastrous Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna as a major power, but the rise of liberalism and the Revolutions of 1848 convulsed the empire. In 1859, Austria lost all of its Italian lands except Venice during the Franco-Austrian War. In 1866, Prussia defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War, forcing Austria to retire from German affairs and leaving Prussia in leadership of the German movement toward unification. To offset growing Hungarian resentment of Austrian rule, the Hapsburgs created the "dual monarchy" of Austria-Hungary in 1867, but this did little to ease ethnic and religious conflicts with other nationalities. The empire continued to decline until its collapse during World War I.

Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1988), 97; Courtlandt Canby, The Encyclopedia of Historic Places (New York: Facts on File, 1984), 1:62-63.