Geography of Austria

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The situation of Austria in the European Union , Europe and the world

This article describes the geography of Austria . Austria is a country in Central Europe , located southeast of Germany and south of the Czech Republic . The land area of ​​Austria is around 83,879 square kilometers. The highest point is the Großglockner at 3798 meters.

physical geography

Large landscapes

Satellite image of Austria ( NASA ), with the large landscapes

Austria comprises three basic natural areas, which can be understood as follows from a general geographical perspective:

Foreland and rim-alpine basins
These plains and hilly lands make up around a third of the most important settlement areas in Austria. They are divided into:
  1. Alpine and Carpathian foothills , namely Salzburg- Upper Austrian Alpine foothills with the Hausruck hill range and Lower Austrian Alpine foothills with the Tullnerfeld , these are the shares of the Alpine foothills and the Waschbergzone , the shares of the Carpathian foothills (9,500  km² , 11.3%)
  2. Vienna Basin with the Marchfeld , and small parts of the small Hungarian lowlands (3,700 km², 4.4%)
  3. South-eastern Alpine foothills , the peripheral areas to the main part of the Pannonian lowlands (9,500 km², 11.3%)
Gneiss and granite highlands
The granite and gneiss plateau lies north of the Danube and is the Austrian share of the Bohemian mass (8,500 km², 10.1%)
Austrian Alps
That is Austria's share of the Alps . The mountain zone of Austria covers almost two thirds of the country and lies entirely in the Eastern Alps , with about two thirds of this mountain range in Austria. (52,600 km², 62.8% of the national area)
The Austrian Alps can be roughly divided into:
Embedded in the mountain ranges of the Alps are the longitudinal valley furrows  - mainly from the Inn , Salzach , Enns , Mur / Mürz and Drau  - and the Rhine valley , as well as the inner-alpine basins , especially the Klagenfurt basin . They form the main settlement areas in the Austrian Alpine zone


Topographic map of Austria
Satellite image of Austria

Of the total area of ​​Austria (according to the latest investigations 83,878.99  km² ) only 32% are deeper than 500 m, but 40% are over 1000 m.


The 35 highest mountains in Austria are:

Surname height Mountains
000000000000001.00000000001 Grossglockner 3,798 m Hohe Tauern
000000000000002.00000000002 Kleinglockner 3,770 m Hohe Tauern
000000000000003.00000000003 Wildspitze (southern summit) 3,768 m Ötztal Alps
000000000000004.00000000004th White ball 3,739 m Ötztal Alps
000000000000005.00000000005 Pöschl Tower 3,721 m Hohe Tauern
000000000000006.00000000006th Hörnagelturm 3,719 m Hohe Tauern
000000000000007.00000000007th Hofmannspitze 3,711 m Hohe Tauern
000000000000008.00000000008th Weitzenbock tower 3,702 m Hohe Tauern
000000000000009.00000000009 Drash tower 3,701 m Hohe Tauern
10 Gerinturm 3,700 m Hohe Tauern
11 Glocknerhorn 3,680 m Hohe Tauern
12 Devil horn 3,677 m Hohe Tauern
13 Großvenediger 3,674 m Hohe Tauern
14th Hinterer Brochkogel 3,628 m Ötztal Alps
15th Back blackness 3,624 m Ötztal Alps
16 Similaun 3,599 m Ötztal Alps
17th Great Wiesbachhorn 3,564 m Hohe Tauern
18th Rainerhorn 3,560 m Hohe Tauern
19th Ötztal certificate 3,556 m Ötztal Alps
20th Eastern Marzellspitze 3,550 m Ötztal Alps
21st Great Ramolkogel 3,549 m Ötztal Alps
22nd Schalfkogel 3,537 m Ötztal Alps
23 Watzespitze 3,533 m Ötztal Alps
24 Hochvernagtspitze 3,530 m Ötztal Alps
25th Western Marzellspitze 3,529 m Ötztal Alps
26th Weißseespitze 3,526 m Ötztal Alps
27 Mutmalspitze 3,522 m Ötztal Alps
28 Fineil tip 3,516 m Ötztal Alps
29 Inner spring tip 3,515 m Ötztal Alps
30th Hochfeiler 3,510 m Zillertal Alps
31 Teufelskamp 3,509 m Hohe Tauern
32 Romaris wall head 3,508 m Hohe Tauern
33 Zuckerhütl 3,505 m Stubai Alps
34 High streak 3,504 m Hohe Tauern
35 Fluchtkogel 3,500 m Ötztal Alps

(All altitude data refer to the Trieste 1875 gauge used in Austria - meters above the Adriatic Sea )


Austrian river basins :
  • Rhine
  • Elbe
  • Danube
  • Most of Austria, 80,566 km², is drained via the Danube to the Black Sea , only small areas via the Rhine (2,366 km²) or the Elbe (918 km²) to the North Sea .

    Major tributaries of the Danube are (from east to west):

    The Danube tributaries of the Pannonian Alps and the granite and gneiss highlands are:

    • The Raab of Eastern Styria , in Hungary to the Danube
    • The Leitha drains southern Lower Austria and northern Burgenland via Hungary.
    • The Thaya covers north-eastern Lower Austria ( Waldviertel , Weinviertel ), only eastwards and is the border river to the Czech Republic . At Hohenau , at the main boundary stone XI / 6 at 147.5 m above sea level. A. the Thaya flows into the March, which is the border river to Slovakia to the south .
    • The Kamp also comes from the Waldviertel .

    The following flows are the major North Alpine rivers to northern Alpenvorland by the Atlantic northern barrier layers are characterized:

    • The Enns drains the Salzburg Ennspongau, the northern edge of Styria and the south-east of Upper Austria , in the upper reaches it forms the eastern end of the Salzach-Enns long valley furrow and then pierces the Northern Limestone Alps
    • The Traun , the river of the Salzkammergut
    • The Inn : It comes from Switzerland , crosses Tyrol, and then flows into Bavaria - in the lower reaches it is the border river to Upper Austria. It is the most water-rich tributary of the Danube in Austria.
      • The Salzach drains most of Salzburg; like the Enns, it first flows eastwards and then turns abruptly to the north.
      • The Lech rises in Austria, but remains a smaller mountain river here.

    The Rhine , which drains most of Vorarlberg, comes from Switzerland, forms the border, and leaves Austria in Lake Constance . It flows into the North Sea . For catchment area Rhine belongs to the majority of Vorarlberg .

    The Lainsitz and the Kettenbach are not important because of their size, but they are the only larger Austrian streams that drain over the Czech Republic to the Elbe and thus to the North Sea. The Elbe catchment area includes the Gmünd area in the Waldviertel and small areas on the northern edge of the Mühlviertel .


    The largest lake is the Neusiedler See in Burgenland, which is in Austria with approx. 77% of its total area of ​​315 km², followed by the Attersee with 46 km² and the Traunsee with 24 km² in Upper Austria. Even the large Lake Constance with its 536 km² in the border triangle with Germany and Switzerland is to a small extent on Austrian territory. However, the state borders within Lake Constance are not precisely defined.

    In addition to the mountains , the lakes are of the greatest importance for summer tourism in Austria , especially the Carinthian lakes and those of the Salzkammergut . The best known are the Wörthersee , the Millstätter See , the Ossiacher See and the Weißensee . Other well-known lakes are Mondsee and Wolfgangsee on the border between Salzburg and Upper Austria. The Zeller See in Salzburg and the Achensee in Tyrol are also to be mentioned as large alpine lakes .

    see also: List of lakes in Austria


    The climate in Austria can be classified according to the descriptive classification of the humid- warm temperate zone . In the west and north of Austria there is an oceanic climate , often characterized by humid westerly winds . In the east, on the other hand, a more Pannonian- continental climate with little precipitation with hot summers and cold winters predominates . The influence of low- pressure areas with heavy rainfall from the Mediterranean area is particularly noticeable in the Southern Alps .

    In fact, the regional climate of Austria is strongly influenced by the alpine topography. There are often considerable climatic differences within short distances and slight differences in altitude. With increasing altitude, boreal and tundra climates are initially encountered, and even polar climates in the summit areas. Not only the main Alpine ridge acts as a climatic divide . Sun- rich Föhntal valleys (e.g. Inntal ) contrast with fog-prone basin landscapes (e.g. Klagenfurt Basin), mountain rims with high rainfall (e.g. Bregenzerwald) contrast with inner-alpine dry valleys (e.g. Ötztal Alps ).

    Air temperature

    Average annual air temperature in Austria

    The total range of the annual mean air temperature in Austria extends from over 11 ° C in the inner districts of Vienna to below –9 ° C on the summit of the Grossglockner. In the densely populated lowlands it is mostly between 8 and 10 ° C. The area average is 6.0 ° C. The annual mean zero degree isotherm is at an altitude of about 2200 m. In closed basins, valleys and hollows below 800 to 1200 m above sea level, temperature increases with altitude often occur in the winter months ( temperature inversion ).

    While in most of Austria January and July are on average the coldest and warmest months of the year, in the high mountains it is February and August. The long-term January mean air temperature in the flat landscapes of the east is between 0 ° and –2 ° C and drops between –4 ° and –6 ° C at around 1000 m above sea level. The lowest value in the area of ​​the highest peaks is around –15 ° C. In July, the long-term mean values ​​fluctuate between 18 and 20 ° C in the east and between 13 and 15 ° C in 1000 m. On the Grossglockner, the average zero degree limit is not exceeded even in midsummer.


    Mean annual total precipitation in Austria

    With the frequent west to north-west locations, the Bregenzerwald and the entire Northern Limestone Alps are to the windward . The same applies to the southern border of Austria, which receives intense stagnant precipitation when it flows in from the Mediterranean area . Together with the central alpine Hohe Tauern, the measured annual precipitation totals in the regions mentioned reach a long-term average of around 2000 mm , in some cases around  3000 mm. In contrast, the eastern Waldviertel, Weinviertel, Vienna Basin and Northern Burgenland receive less than 600 mm of precipitation over the course of a year. As the place with the lowest rainfall in Austria, Retz can be named with just under 450 mm.

    The average area in Austria is around 1100 mm for the year. The summer half-year (April to September) accounts for slightly more than 60% of the annual total, and the winter half-year (October to March) accordingly a little less than 40%. This distribution of precipitation proves to be very favorable in terms of vegetation development. While in the vast majority of the country the wettest month due to convection (showers and thunderstorms) falls in June or July, the Carinthian Lesach Valley is the only exception: With a primary precipitation maximum in October, it is part of the Mediterranean precipitation climate.

    The abundance of snow depends mainly on the altitude and the location of the area in relation to the main flow directions and varies accordingly. While the average annual snowfall in Austria is around 3.3 m of fresh snow, it is only 0.3 m at Krems and 22 m at the Sonnblick .

    Political geography

    Federal states

    The Austrian federal states: B  Burgenland , K  Carinthia , Lower Austria Lower 
    Austria , Upper Austria Upper  Austria , S  Salzburg , St  Styria , T  Tyrol , V  Vorarlberg , W  Vienna

    The nine Austrian federal states are divided into 95 districts , 15 of which are statutory cities . The districts in turn are divided into municipalities .

    Land use (2009)
    state Capital population Area
    in km²
    density in [E./km²]
    Communities including
    1. Burgenland Eisenstadt 284,900 3,961.80 71.91 171 13
    2. Carinthia Klagenfurt 558,300 9,538.01 58.53 132 17th
    3. Lower Austria St. Polten 1,612,000 19,186.26 84.02 573 78
    4th Upper Austria Linz 1,412,700 11,979.91 117.92 440 32
    5. Salzburg Salzburg 531,800 7,156.03 74.31 119 10
    6th Styria Graz 1,210,700 16,401.04 73.82 542 34
    7th Tyrol innsbruck 710.100 12,640.17 56.18 279 11
    8th. Vorarlberg Bregenz 370,800 2,601.12 142.55 96 5
    9. Vienna Vienna 1,714,200 414.65 4,134.09 1 1


    Satellite image of Austria ( NASA ), with all state and district capitals, various places, mountains and passes.

    By far the largest settlement area in Austria is the metropolitan region of Vienna with a population of 2,067,652 (as of January 1, 2005) . A quarter of the country's population is thus concentrated in the capital region. In Austria, 203 own communities , the town charter . A major problem, especially in economically weak areas, is the migration ( rural exodus ) of the rural population to urban areas.

    For a list of all cities as well as the largest cities and metropolitan areas, see: List of cities in Austria

    Exclaves and enclaves

    The Kleinwalsertal is located on Austrian territory and belongs to Vorarlberg , but according to the topography it is a so-called functional exclave of Austria and an enclave of Germany, as it can only be reached via federal German territory or Bavarian roads. Further functional exclaves are the community of Jungholz , which only touches the rest of the national territory at one point at the 1636 m high Sorgschrofen , and the Riss valley ; both exclaves are in Tyrol and are also enclaves of Germany and Bavaria.

    A formerly functional enclave of Austria was the Swiss municipality of Samnaun , which for a long time could only be reached by road via Tyrol . This geographical connection once led the inhabitants to give up their Romansh mother tongue in the 19th century in favor of a Bavarian dialect similar to neighboring Tyrol. There is now a road to Samnaun that runs exclusively on Swiss territory, but the duty-free zone that was once established still exists . The Tyrolean community of Spiss in the border area with Switzerland had a similar status until 1980 , and for a long time it was only accessible via Samnaun. Due to its location, the place had little economic development and many of its residents migrated in search of a job.

    Limits, distances, extreme points

    Austria and its neighboring countries

    Lengths of the borders with 8 neighboring states in total 2706 km a b (the national administrative units counterclockwise):

    a Article state borders in the Austria Lexicon
    b The neighboring countries share Lake Constance . An exact boundary course is not specified. Therefore the length of the boundary line cannot be determined exactly
    c Statistical regions: Slovenia does not yet have an administrative structure that is comparable to the NUTS levels of the federal states

    Since Liechtenstein is surrounded by Austria and Switzerland, Austria has nine triangles , making it the country with the most triangles in Europe.

    Some extreme points in Austria

    Distances (beeline)

    Austria extends a maximum of 577 km in a west-east direction, and over 296 km in a north-south direction.
    The outermost border points of Austria are:



    • Ingeborg Auer u. a .: ÖKLIM - Austria's Digital Climate Atlas. In: Christa Hammerl u. a. (Ed.): The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics 1851–2001. Leykam, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-7011-7437-7 .
    • Max H. Fink, Otto Moog, Reinhard Wimmer: River Natural Areas of Austria. Umweltbundesamt, Vienna 2000, ISBN 3-85457-558-0 (= Monographs Volume 128).
    • Johann Hiebl u. a .: Multi-methodical realization of Austrian climate maps for 1971–2000. In: Advances in Science & Research. No. 6, 2010, pp. 19-26, doi: 10.5194 / asr-6-19-2011 .

    Web links

    Commons : Geography of Austria  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ Community initiative LEADER + programming document Austria. Structural Funds 2000-2006. Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. Approved March 26, 2001 K (2001) 820 ( web document , pdf 1.1 MB)
    2. Fink, Moog, Wimmer: watercourses-natural areas 6.1 The main regions , p 26ff
    3. Statistics Austria (Ed.): Statistisches Jahrbuch 2011 . 37 Regional data for Austria in NUTS breakdown 37.01 Breakdown of Austria in NUTS units, territorial status 1 January 2010 , p. 506 , col. Area km² ( pdf Chap. 37 Regional data for Austria in NUTS classification , [accessed on July 7, 2011] In the 2009 yearbook, 83,871.97 were stated there).
    4. a b c Ingeborg Auer u. a .: ÖKLIM - Austria's Digital Climate Atlas. In: Christa Hammerl u. a. (Ed.): The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics 1851–2001. Leykam, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-7011-7437-7 .
    5. a b c d Johann Hiebl u. a .: Multi-methodical realization of Austrian climate maps for 1971–2000. In: Advances in Science & Research. No. 6, 2010, pp. 19-26, doi: 10.5194 / asr-6-19-2011 .
    6. Entry on Austria, Republic in the Austria Forum  (in the AEIOU Austria Lexicon )
    7. a b Geographical centers of Austria and the federal states . In: , accessed on August 20, 2019.