Austria Country Report
The majority of trips to stable and prosperous Austria (population 8.6 million) go smoothly.
Crime rates are low; however, an increase in petty theft (pickpocketing) has been observed over the past few years. Violent crime is rare and organized crime in the country focuses on burglary. Take basic precautionary measures at tourist sites, train stations, cafés, and while taking public transportation. Vienna witnesses many burglaries especially in its Favoriten, Donaustadt, and Leopoldstadt districts.
Austria held presidential elections on December 4, 2016, after the country's highest court annulled the results of the vote initially held in May 2016, due to procedural irregularities. Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer from the the Freedom Party of Austria conceded defeat to independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, former leader of the Green party.
Like many countries in Europe, Austria is facing the issue of some citizens leaving to fight for the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. It is estimated that 150 Austrians have left to fight for IS, one of the highest per capita rates in Europe. In response, the government changed laws in 2014 to grant police enhanced powers. Travelers should remain vigilant to the possibility of a terrorist attack, particularly in large public areas.
Peaceful protests are common in the country, however, demonstrations near Austria’s borders descended into violence in early 2016 over opposition to newly enforced border controls seeking to stem the flow of refugees.
Austria has highway and road infrastructure meeting the western European standard and public transportation is well equipped and easily accessible. Mountain roads are well tended, but winter weather can see snow blocking some areas. Snow tires and other equipment is recommended for driving in mountainous areas.
Austria is vulnerable to certain natural disasters. Floods are regular occurrences, and while death tolls are usually low or nonexistent, the resulting impact on infrastructure and daily life can be significant. In 2002, heavy rains caused the Danube to overflow, resulting in the most serious flooding the country had seen in a century; approximately half of the country was affected, including the capital Vienna, and seven people were killed.
Floods are regularly accompanied by landslides. Avalanches are also common during winter months. Violent storms can also occur, such as the one in April 2015 that killed one in Austria and eight in neighboring Germany and Switzerland. Travelers are advised to follow local weather reports to avoid potential risks.
Austria remains a focal point in the European migrant crisis. Austria became a transit point for their journey, which led to chaotic scenes and tensions with the country’s neighborhoods. Austria effectively suspended the Schengen Agreement in January 2016 and reintroduced controls on the borders with Germany, Slovenia, Hungary, and Italy where refugees are entering the country. Austria has substantially increased the security presence at all borders and in April 2016 officials ordered the construction of a 250 foot fence along the Brenner Pass border crossing with Italy.
Austria is a member of the European Union and uses the euro as its national currency. It is also a member of the visa- and border checkpoint-free Schengen Area, though as of early 2016 Austria effectively suspended the agreement and reintroduced border controls (identity checkpoints).
Finally, and unsurprisingly, the quality of medical care is high and health conditions in the country are very good.
Austria's climate is continental in the north and the east of the country, with heavy rain in the summer. Temperatures fluctuate significantly between seasons and snowstorms are common in winter months in the west of the country (mountainous region).
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +43 Emergency Services: 112 Police: 122 Fire Department: 133 Ambulance: 144
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz
Austria: Pro-Kurdish demonstration in Vienna on February 3
TIMEFRAME: from 2/2/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/3/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Vienna).
Austria: Demonstrations in central Vienna January 26
TIMEFRAME: from 1/24/2018, 12:00 AM until 1/26/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Vienna).