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AUSTRALIA

The name Austria conjures up in our mind the image of Maria from the film “The Sound of Music” dancing in high green fields with bright skies and rolling countryside. This European country of magical beauty is blessed by Mother Nature with breathtaking scenery - snow covered mountains with gorges, waterfalls and caves, marquise lakes and endless forests. Austria, known as the Land of Music, has been a centre for musical development and produced composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Bruckner, and Berg, gifted the world orchestra conductors like Herbert von Karajan, and Felix Weingartner, playwrights Arthur Schnitzler and Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Centrally located in Europe, Austria is a pear-shaped mountainous country with the Alps covering about 62 percent of the total land area of 83,859 sq km. The picturesque River Danube drains over 96% of the country’s territory. The country is a host to a great variety of flora and fauna. A predominantly Central European fauna- deer, stag, rabbit, pheasant, fox, badger, marten, partridge along with a vast population of birds like heron, spoonbill, scooper, wild goose and many more can be found. The chamois, groundhog, eagle and mountain jackdaw are native to Alpine regions. It is one of Europe's most heavily wooded countries characterised by oak and beech at low altitudes and in the higher elevations conifers predominate. Above 2000m the trees yield to Alpine meadows and colourful orchids, edelweiss and poppies impart an awesome beauty to the landscape.

Austria is a country synonymous with culture. All of the nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites it boasts are cultural. Ethnically a blend of West and East, the Austrians have a strong sense for celebrations, rituals and symbolism that is reflected in their many holidays and festivals like La Strada, Weiner Festwochen, ImPuls Tanz Festival, Carinthian Summer, Grafenegg Music Festival, Bregenz Festival and many more that are held in an annual cycle preserving the ancient traditions and customs. The ornate palaces, imperial monuments and echoes of Mozart’s music recapture the spirit of a bygone era. The architectural style includes Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Biedermeier styles. We have Austria to thank for the creation of yodelling. The schrammelmusik is the best-known form of Austrian folk music, which combines both rural folk songs and more urban dance music featuring the accordion, the double-necked guitar and the clarinet. The folk dances (volkstanz) are mostly associated with Schuhplattler, Landler, Polka or Waltz. The other dance forms are Zwiefacher, Kontratanze, and Sprachinseltanze. Skilled Austrian folk artists produce crafts that include wood carvings, ceramics, jewellery, glassware, wax figures, leather products, and embroidery, as well as items made of wrought iron and pewter.

With its diverse harmonious range of dishes Austrian cuisine boasts one of the world’s most famous culinary traditions. Caraway seed is integral to their cuisine and coffee is enjoyed with all meals. Weiner schnitzel (breaded and fried veal or pork cutlet) is the Austrian food ambassador.


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