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Austria

Austria played a central role in European History from the late 18th to the early 20th century. It initially emerged as a margraviate around 976 and developed into a duchy and later archduchy. In the 16th century, Austria started serving as the heart of the Habsburg Monarchy and the junior branch of the House of Habsburg one of the most influential royal houses in history. As archduchy, it was a major component and administrative centre of the Holy Roman Empire. Following the Holy Roman Empire's dissolution, Austria founded its own empire in the 19th century, which became a great power and the leading force of the German Confederation. Subsequent to the Austro-Prussian War and the establishment of a union with Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was created. Austria was involved in both world wars; it started the first one under Emperor Franz Joseph and served as the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, who provoked the second one.
The Central European land that is now Austria was settled in pre-Roman times by various Celtic tribes. The Celtic kingdom of Noricum was later claimed by the Roman Empire and made a province. Present-day Petronell-Carnuntum in eastern Austria was an important army camp turned capital city in what became known as the Upper Pannonia province. Carnuntum was home for 50,000 people for nearly 400 years.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Habsburgs began to accumulate other provinces in the vicinity of the Duchy of Austria. In 1438, Duke Albert V of Austria was chosen as the successor to his father-in-law, Emperor Sigismund. Although Albert himself only reigned for a year, henceforth every emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was a Habsburg, with only one exception.
Emperor Charles VI relinquished many of the gains the empire made in the previous years, largely due to his apprehensions at the imminent extinction of the House of Habsburg. Charles was willing to offer concrete advantages in territory and authority in exchange for recognition of the Pragmatic Sanction that made his daughter Maria Theresa his heir. With the rise of Prussia, the Austrian-Prussian dualism began in Germany. Austria participated, together with Prussia and Russia, in the first and the third of the three Partitions of Poland (in 1772 and 1795).
The various different possibilities for a united Germany were: a Greater Germany, or a Greater Austria or just the German Confederation without Austria at all. As Austria was not willing to relinquish its German-speaking territories to what would become the German Empire of 1848, the crown of the newly formed empire was offered to the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. In 1864, Austria and Prussia fought together against Denmark and secured the independence from Denmark of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. As they could not agree on how the two duchies should be administered, though, they fought the Austro-Prussian War in 1866. Defeated by Prussia in the Battle of Koniggratz, Austria had to leave the German Confederation and subsequently no longer took part in German politics.
As a result, ruling AustriaHungary became increasingly difficult in an age of emerging nationalist movements, requiring considerable reliance on an expanded secret police. Yet, the government of Austria tried its best to be accommodating in some respects: The Reichsgesetzblatt, publishing the laws and ordinances of Cisleithania, was issued in eight languages; all national groups were entitled to schools in their own language and to the use of their mother tongue at state offices, for example.
Over 3 million German-speaking Austrians found themselves living outside the new Austrian Republic as minorities in the newly formed or enlarged states of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Italy. These included the provinces of South Tyrol (which became part of Italy) and German Bohemia (Czechoslovakia). The status of German Bohemia (Sudetenland) later played a role in sparking the Second World War.
The First Austrian Republic lasted until 1933, when Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, using what he called "self-switch-off of Parliament", established an autocratic regime tending towards Italian fascism. The two big parties at this time, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives, had paramilitary armies; the Social Democrats' Schutzbund was now declared illegal, but was still operative as civil war broke out.
On 12 March 1938, Austria was annexed to the Third Reich and ceased to exist as an independent country. The Aryanisation of the wealth of Jewish Austrians started immediately in mid-March, with a so-called "wild" (i.e. extra-legal) phase, but was soon structured legally and bureaucratically to strip Jewish citizens of any assets they possessed. The Nazis renamed Austria in 1938 as "Ostmark" until 1942, when it was again renamed and called "Alpine and Danubian Gaue" (Alpen-und Donau-Reichsgaue).
Germany has historically been the main trading partner of Austria, making it vulnerable to rapid changes in the German economy. Since Austria became a member state of the European Union, it has gained closer ties to other EU economies, reducing its economic dependence on Germany. In addition, membership of the EU has drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by Austria's access to the single European market and proximity to the aspiring economies of the European Union. Growth in GDP reached 3.3% in 2006. At least 67% of Austria's imports come from other European Union member states.

 
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