Vienna is the capital and largest city of Austria, and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria’s primary city, with a population of about 1.8 million (2.6 million within the metropolitan area, nearly one third of Austria’s population), and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Apart from being regarded as the City of Musicbecause of its musical legacy, Vienna is also said to be “The City of Dreams” because it was home to the world’s first psycho-analyst – Sigmund Freud. The city’s roots lie in early Celtic and Roman settlements that transformed into a Medieval and Baroque city, and then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is well known for having played an essential role as a leading European music centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, and the late-19th-century Ringstraße lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks.
Vienna is known for its high quality of life. In a 2005 study of 127 world cities, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked the city first (in a tie with Vancouver, Canada and San Francisco, US) for the world’s most livable cities. Between 2011 and 2015, Vienna was ranked second, behind Melbourne, AustraliaFor seven consecutive years (2009–2015), the human-resource-consulting firm Mercer ranked Vienna first in its annual “Quality of Living” survey of hundreds of cities around the world, a title the city still holds in 2015. Monocle’s 2015 “Quality of Life Survey” ranked Vienna second on a list of the top 25 cities in the world “to make a base within.
The UN-Habitat has classified Vienna as being the most prosperous city in the world in 2012/2013. The city was ranked 1st globally for its culture of innovation in 2007 and 2008, and sixth globally (out of 256 cities) in the 2014 Innovation Cities Index, which analyzed 162 indicators in covering three areas: culture, infrastructure, and markets. Vienna regularly hosts urban planning conferences and is often used as a case study by urban planners
Between 2005 and 2010, Vienna was the world’s number-one destination for international congresses and conventions. It attracts over 3.7 million tourists a year.
See also Other names of Vienna
The English name Vienna is borrowed from the homonymous Italian version of the city’s name or the French Vienne. The etymology of the city’s name is still subject to scholarly dispute. Some claim that the name comes from Vedunia, meaning “forest stream”, which subsequently produced the Old High German Uuenia (Wenia in modern writing), the New High German Wien and its dialectal variant Wean.
Others believe that the name comes from the Roman settlement name of Celtic extraction Vindobona, probably meaning “fair village, white settlement” from the Celtic roots vindo-, meaning “bright” or “fair” – as in the Irish fionn and the Welsh gwyn –, and -bona “village, settlement”A variant of this Celtic name could be preserved in the Czech and Slovak names of the city (Vídeň and Viedeň respectively) and in that of the city’s district Wieden
The name of the city in Hungarian (Bécs), Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian (Beč) and Ottoman Turkish (Beç) has a different, probably Slavonic origin, and originally referred to an Avar fort in the area.Slovene-speakers call the city Dunaj, which in other Central European Slavic languages means the Danube River, on which the city stands.
Evidence has been found of continuous habitation since 500 BC, when the site of Vienna on the Danube River was settled by the Celts. In 15 BC, the Romans fortified the frontier city they called Vindobona to guard the empire against Germanic tribes to the north.
Close ties with other Celtic peoples continued through the ages. The Irish monk Saint Colman (or Koloman, Irish Colmán, derived from colm “dove”) is buried in Melk Abbey and Saint Fergil (Virgil the Geometer) was Bishop of Salzburg for forty years, and twelfth-century monastic settlements were founded by Irish Benedictines. Evidence of these ties is still evident in Vienna’s great Schottenstift monastery, once home to many Irish monks.
Vienna from Belvedere by Bernardo Bellotto, 1758
In 976, Leopold I of Babenberg became count of the Eastern March, a 60-mile district centering on the Danube on the eastern frontier of Bavaria. This initial district grew into the duchy of Austria. Each succeeding Babenberg ruler expanded the march east along the Danube eventually encompassing Vienna and the lands immediately east. In 1145, Duke Henry II Jasomirgott moved the Babenberg family residence from Klosterneuburg to Vienna. Since that time, Vienna remained the center of the Babenberg dynasty.
In 1440, Vienna became the resident city of the Habsburg dynasty. It eventually grew to become the de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire (1483–1806) and a cultural centre for arts and science, music and fine cuisine. Hungary occupied the city between 1485–1490.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman armies were stopped twice outside Vienna (see Siege of Vienna, 1529 and Battle of Vienna, 1683). A plague epidemic ravaged Vienna in 1679, killing nearly a third of its population
Austro-Hungarian Empire and the early 20th century
Vienna Ringstraße and State Opera around 1870
Color photo lithograph of Vienna, 1900
In 1804, during the Napoleonic Wars, Vienna became the capital of the Austrian Empire and continued to play a major role in European and world politics, including hosting the Congress of Vienna in 1814/15. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Vienna remained the capital of what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city was a centre of classical music, for which the title of the First Viennese School is sometimes applied.
During the latter half of the 19th century, the city developed what had previously been the bastions and glacis into the Ringstraße, a new boulevard surrounding the historical town and a major prestige project. Former suburbs were incorporated, and the city of Vienna grew dramatically. In 1918, after World War I, Vienna became capital of the Republic of German-Austria, and then in 1919 of the First Republic of Austria.
From the late 19th century to 1938, the city remained a centre of high culture and modernism. A world capital of music, the city played host to composers such as Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler and Richard Strauss. The city’s cultural contributions in the first half of the 20th century included, among many, the Vienna Secession movement, psychoanalysis, the Second Viennese School, the architecture of Adolf Loos and the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle. In 1913, Adolf Hitler, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Tito, Sigmund Freud and Joseph Stalin all lived within a few miles of each other in central Vienna, some of them being regulars at the same coffeehouses.Within Austria, Vienna was seen as a centre of socialist politics, for which it was sometimes referred to as “Red Vienna”. The city was a stage to the Austrian Civil War of 1934, when Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss sent the Austrian Army to shell civilian housing occupied by the socialist militia.
Anschluss and World War II
Main article: Anschluss
In 1938, after a triumphant entry into Austria, Austrian-born Adolf Hitler spoke to the Austrian Germans from the balcony of the Neue Burg, a part of the Hofburg at the Heldenplatz. Between 1938 (after the Anschluss) and the end of the Second World War, Vienna lost its status as a capital to Berlin as Austria ceased to exist and became a part of Nazi Germany. It was not until 1955 that Austria regained full sovereignty.
On 2 April 1945, the Soviets launched the Vienna Offensive against the Germans holding the city and besieged it. British and American air raids and artillery duels between the SS and Wehrmacht and the Red Army crippled infrastructure, such as tram services and water and power distribution, and destroyed or damaged thousands of public and private buildings. Vienna fell eleven days later. Austria was separated from Germany, and Vienna was restored as the republic’s capital city, but the Soviet hold on the city remained until 1955.
After the war, Vienna was part of Soviet-occupied Eastern Austria until September 1945. As in Berlin, Vienna in September 1945 was divided into sectors by the four powers: the US, the UK, France and the Soviet Union and supervised by an Allied Commission. The four-power occupation of Vienna differed in one key respect from that of Berlin: the central area of the city, known as the first district, constituted an international zone in which the four powers alternated control on a monthly basis. The control was policed by the four powers on a de facto day-to-day basis, the famous “four soldiers in a jeep” method.The Berlin Blockade of 1948 raised Western concerns that the Soviets might repeat the blockade in Vienna. The matter was raised in the UK House of Commons:
What plans have the Government for dealing with a similar situation in Vienna? Vienna is in exactly a similar position to Berlin. It is surrounded by a Soviet Zone of occupation and we have our sector of responsibility in Vienna the same as the Americans and the French. What plans have the Government to deal with a similar situation arising in Vienna in the near future? I hope we shall have an answer, because this is of vital importance. – Sir Anthony Nutting, Honourable Member for Melton, 30 June 1948, House of Commons, London.
There was a lack of airfields in the Western sectors, and authorities drafted contingency plans to deal with such a blockade. Plans included the laying down of metal landing mats at Schönbrunn. The Soviets did not blockade the city. The Potsdam Agreement included written rights of land access to the western sectors, whereas no such written guarantees had covered the western sectors of Berlin. During the 10 years of the four-power occupation, Vienna became a hot-bed for international espionage between the Western and Eastern blocs. In the wake of the Berlin Blockade, the Cold War in Vienna took on a different dynamic. While accepting that Germany and Berlin would be divided, the Soviets had decided against allowing the same state of affairs to arise in Austria and Vienna. Here, the Soviet forces controlled districts 2, 4, 10, 20, 21 and 22 and all areas incorporated into Vienna in 1938.
They put up barbed wire fences around the perimeter of West Berlin in 1953, but not in Vienna. By 1955, the Soviets, by signing the Austrian State Treaty, agreed to relinquish their occupation zones in Eastern Austria as well as their sector in Vienna. In exchange they required that Austria declare its permanent neutrality after the allied powers had left the country. Thus they ensured that Austria would not be a member of NATO and that NATO forces would therefore not have direct communications between Italy and West Germany.
The atmosphere of four-power Vienna is the background for Graham Greene’s screenplay for the film The Third Man (1949). Later he adapted the screenplay as a novel and published it. Occupied Vienna is also depicted in the Philip Kerr novel, A German Requiem.
Austrian State Treaty and afterwards
The four-power control of Vienna lasted until the Austrian State Treaty was signed in May 1955. That year, after years of reconstruction and restoration, the State Opera and the Burgtheater, both on the Ringstraße, reopened to the public. The Soviet Union signed the State Treaty only after having been provided with the political guarantee by the federal government to declare Austria’s neutrality after the withdrawal of the allied troops. This law of neutrality, passed in late October 1955 (and not the State Treaty itself), ensured that modern Austria would align with neither NATO nor the Soviet bloc, and is considered one of the reasons for Austria’s late entry into the European Union.
In the 1970s, Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky inaugurated the Vienna International Centre, a new area of the city created to host international institutions. Vienna has regained much of its former international stature by hosting international organizations, such as the United Nations (United Nations Industrial Development Organization, United Nations Office at Vienna and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Because of the industrialization and migration from other parts of the Empire, the population of Vienna increased sharply during its time as the capital of Austria-Hungary (1867–1918). In 1910, Vienna had more than two million inhabitants, and was the fourth largest city in Europe after London, Paris and BerlinAround the start of the 20th century, Vienna was the city with the second-largest Czech population in the world (after Prague)After World War I, many Czechs and Hungarians returned to their ancestral countries, resulting in a decline in the Viennese population. After World War II, the Soviets used force to repatriate key workers of Czech, Slovak and Hungarian origins to return to their ethnic homelands to further the Soviet bloc economy.
Under the Nazi regime, 65,000 Jewish people were deported and murdered in concentration camps by Nazi forces; approximately 130,000 fled
By 2001, 16% of people living in Austria had nationalities other than Austrian, nearly half of whom were from former Yugoslavia; the next most numerous nationalities in Vienna were Turks (39,000; 2.5%), Poles (13,600; 0.9%) and Germans (12,700; 0.8%)
As of 2012, an official report from Statistics Austria showed that more than 660,000 (38.8%) of the Viennese population have full or partial migrant background, mostly from Ex-Yugoslavia, Turkey, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Hungary.
From 2005 to 2015 the city’s population grew by 10.1%According to UN-Habitat, Vienna could be the fastest growing city out of 17 European metropolitan areas until 2025 with an increase of 4.65% of its population, compared to 2010
Geography and climate
Vienna is located in northeastern Austria, at the easternmost extension of the Alps in the Vienna Basin. The earliest settlement, at the location of today’s inner city, was south of the meandering Danube while the city now spans both sides of the river. Elevation ranges from 151 to 542 m (495 to 1,778 ft). The city has a total area of 414.65 square kilometres (160.1 sq mi), making it the largest city in Austria by area.Vienna lies within a transition of oceanic climate and humid subtropical climate (hovering just below 22°C in July and August), and features, according to the Köppen classification, a Cfb (oceanic) -climate. The city has warm summers with average high temperatures of 24 to 33 °C (75 to 91 °F), with maximum exceeding 38 °C (100 °F) and lows of around 17 °C (63 °F). Winters are relatively dry and cold with average temperatures at about freezing point. Spring and autumn are mild. Precipitation is generally moderate throughout the year, averaging 550 mm (21.7 in) annually, with considerable local variations, the Vienna Woods region in the west being the wettest part (700 to 800 mm (28 to 31 in) annually) and the flat plains in the east being the driest part (500 to 550 mm (20 to 22 in) annually). Snow in the winter is not uncommon, but rare compared to Western and Southern regions in Austria.
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