By Alan Allport

- Information-packed volumes supply accomplished overviews of every nation's humans, geography, historical past, govt, financial system, and tradition- plentiful full-color illustrations consultant the reader on a voyage of discovery- Maps mirror present political barriers

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In those days Austria was at the center of a much larger multinational empire of which the nine provinces of modern Austria were just a minor subsection, although Vienna was the imperial capital. So when someone before World War I referred to “Austrians,” they could mean several different things, depending on the context: They might be talking about the provinces of Lower and Upper Austria or the empire’s German-speaking peoples or everyone living in the half of the empire directly administered from Vienna— many of whom were not ethnically German—or they could mean something else entirely.

The conservative attitude continued to some extent into the early years of the First Republic, and the political turmoil of the interwar period encouraged a so-called Lager, or camp, mentality within each group, expressed in fierce parliamentary divisions: The workers of Vienna united behind the Social Democrats, while the farmers and burghers of the provinces adhered to the Christian Social movement. Political allegiances were expressed in every form of life, even in recreational activities like sports, hiking, and music so that, for example, Viennese workers would join socialist swimming and mountain-climbing clubs.

As a general rule most Austrian Catholics no longer attend regular Mass, and the church’s teachings on divorce, contraception, and abortion have largely gone ignored. But Austrians still celebrate the key rites of passage—baptisms, marriages, and funerals—in religious style, and the farther west one goes in the country, the more conventionally spiritual the people tend to be. Although formal affiliation to Catholicism has declined in recent years, this may be partly because Austrian law requires registered churchgoers to pay a “church tax,” or a small percentage of their earnings to the church of their choice each year.

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