Situated in the high Alps and along the Danube Valley, Austria is one of the world's most picturesque countries. Formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, modern Austria dates back to the end of World War I (1918). Today its beautiful cities, Tyrolean hamlets, and ski resorts draw tourists from all over the world.
The country is even more famous for its musical history than for its scenery. Austria was the native land of Mozart, Johann and Richard Strauss, Brückner, Mahler, and many other famous musicians. The Vienna Philharmonic and the Wiener Stadtsoper are frequently regarded as the world's best orchestra and opera respectively.
The capital, Vienna, is the quintessential European city. Known for its beautiful old skyline of church spires and domes, it is now building some of the most innovative modern skyscrapers in Europe.