On beautiful sunny days many years ago the emperor of Austria rode through a famous park called the Prater (meadow). The emperor sat in a fiacre (horse-drawn carriage), where the driver rode high upon a seat on the front. Today Prater is one of Europe’s most beautiful and famous parks, and young people and families still hire fiacres for rides through the park.
People in Austria have always liked to listen to beautiful music, whether it has been played in a famous opera house in the capital city, Vienna, or by a local band in a small mountain village.
Vienna is known as a city of music, and the people enjoy the music of famous composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Johann Strauss, and Franz Schubert. The months of June, July, and August are devoted to music festivals. The admission price to these activities is kept small so everyone can afford to attend.
Between September and June, Austrian children are busy going to school and doing homework. The homework is carried in a briefcase, which is a symbol of the student in Austria. Even small school children have briefcases that are strapped to their backs like a pack.
Because two-thirds of Austria is covered by the Alps, many people go to the ski slopes for their midwinter holiday.
The word gemütlich, which means “kind, generous, and good natured,” describes the Austrian people. They always greet their friends and even strangers with the words grüss Gott (God be with you).
The official language of Austria is German.
The national anthem is “Land der Berge, Land am Strome” (Land of Mountains, Land at the River).
Austria has had the same national flag since 1191. According to legend, it was first used during the Third Crusade when Duke Leopold V took his white jacket off to use as a flag and found it covered with blood except where his belt had kept the blood from staining the jacket. The two red stripes of the Austrian flag are symbolic of the blood, and the white stripe between them represents the part of Duke Leopold’s jacket that was protected by his belt. In 1919 a black and yellow eagle coat of arms was added to the center of the flag.
Salzburg, Austria, is known as the great festival city.
The official name of Austria is Republik Osterreich (Republic of Austria).
Snow-capped mountains (Alps) and their foothills cover much of Austria. Thirty-seven percent of the land is covered by forests.
Boys and girls in Austria are required by law to attend school between the ages of six and fourteen.
The president of Austria is elected by popular vote for a term of six years.