Religion in Austria

Austria is a beautiful and vibrant country located in Central Europe. It is bordered by eight other countries, including Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Italy. Vienna is the capital city of Austria and one of its most popular tourist destinations. The country has a rich cultural heritage that can be found in its architecture, art galleries, museums and music venues. Its stunning natural scenery includes the Alps, forests and lakes which attract visitors from all over the world. Austria has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons; winter brings snow to the mountains while summer brings mild temperatures to the lowlands. The economy of Austria is highly developed with a strong emphasis on manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. It also has a high standard of living with one of the highest per capita incomes in Europe. Austria is known for its culture and friendly people who make it a great place to visit or live! See for other countries that start with letter A.


With an average population density of 105 residents per km2 (2019), Austria does not belong to Europe’s more densely populated countries. More than 40 percent of the population lives around Vienna in the northeast (just over 1/4 of the country’s residents live in Vienna’s metropolitan area) and about 1/3 in the Upper Austria and Styria, while the alpine-dominated areas in the west and south (with the exception of Vorarlberg) are relatively sparse.. The largest cities are Vienna (1.8 million residents, 2014), Graz (270,300), Linz (193,800), Salzburg (146,600) and Innsbruck (124,600).

According to thesciencetutor, population growth in Austria was slow for most of the 20th century. In 1900, the present Austria had about 6 million residents, 7 million reached in 1952, 7.5 million in 1981 and 8 million in 2000. Birth rates have long been low, and the world wars and periods of strong emigration have left clear traces. During the post-war period, immigration surpluses have usually been moderate, despite the occasional large immigration. However, during the early 1990s, the eastern parts of the country saw a significant increase in population, mainly as a result of a strong influx of refugees and to a certain extent labor immigration to the Vienna area. At the beginning of the 1990s, Austria’s immigration and asylum laws were sharpened and thereafter the number of asylum seekers has fallen sharply. In 2015, 17.2 percent of Austria’s population was born abroad. Of these, 7.9 percent were born in another EU country.

For information on life expectancy and other demographic statistics, see Country facts.

People in Austria


Austria is mainly German-speaking. The German standard language is spoken with a distinctive southern German accent that is part of the national identity. The vocabulary contains over 1,000 so-called Austriacisms, ie. words that are typically Austrian. In the southernmost part of the state of Carinthia there is a Slovenian-speaking minority of about 20,000 people (2010) and in the state of Burgenland a roughly equal Croatian-speaking minority and a small Hungarian-speaking minority of about 5,000 people. The rights of language minorities are guaranteed in the 1955 Austrian state treaty.


Christianity reached Austria as early as the 300s, and in the following centuries a number of monasteries were built. The Archbishop’s seat in Salzburg came to about 700. A true ward division took place only during Karl the Great’s time. The following medieval development was entirely parallel to German. Vienna became bishop’s seat in 1469. The reformation was initially successful but was forced back in the 1600s. Mary Teresia and Joseph II made the Catholic Church a state church, marked by the ideas of the Enlightenment (Compare Joseph II).

The state church system was abolished in 1848, when religious freedom was also introduced; In 1870 the church was once again tied to the state. Despite strong anti-clericalism, there was no equivalent to the cultural struggle in Germany. The authoritarian Catholic regime under Engelbert Dollfuss struck a concord with the Pope in 1934. This was renewed in 1957 and still exists. 78% of the population (1995) are Roman Catholics, 5% belong to the evangelical churches (Lutheran and Reformed); about 8.5% refer to themselves as religious.

Historical overview

Year Event
4th millennium BCE Oldest agricultural culture
About 750-500 BCE. Hallstatt culture (older Iron Age), after the important site of Hallstatt near Salzburg
About 500 BCE Celtic Immigration: La Tène Culture
16–15 BCE Roman conquests up to the Danube. Vienna is founded as the military colony of Vindobona
The 500’s possibly The Germanic bajovars (Bavarians) settle in the west, slaves and avars in the east
About 790 Charles the Great creates a field county, Marchia Austria, to protect his kingdom from the slaves and the avars
900s The Madjars conquer the country, but are beaten by the German king Otto 1 in 955, and the land county resurfaces
1156 duchy
1192 The Duke of Austria also ruled over Styria
1200s Habsburgs come to power in an extended Austria (also Carinthia and Krain)
1438 The dignity of German King and Roman Emperor is permanently linked to the Habsburg Archdukes of Austria. From the end of the Middle Ages until about 1760, France and the Habsburg Empire were the main opponents in the battle for hegemony in Europe
1493 Emperor Maximilian 1 gathers the Austrian heirs under his rule
1526 By marriage and inheritance, Emperor Karl 5’s son Ferdinand wins the Bohemian and Hungarian throne
1529, 1683 Turkish push against Vienna is halted
1556 At Karl 5’s abdication, the Austrian branch of the Habsburg house retains the imperial dignity
17th and 18th centuries Counter-Reformation wins. The emperor becomes a monarch in his Austrian heritage, but loses much of the power in Germany. The Czech area is closely linked to Austria
1699-1737 Austria wins Hungary from the Turks
1700s Austria loses Silesia to its new German main rival, Protestant Prussia, but conquers large areas of Italy, moreover the Spanish Netherlands. Reform policy under Maria Teresia and Joseph 2: Germanization, peasant liberation, restriction of noble privileges and the power of the Catholic Church
1770-1820 Vienna Classicism in Music (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven)
1793-1809 Austria suffers a series of defeats in the wars against France, and eventually allies with Napoleon
1804 Franz 2 takes the title of heirloom emperor of Austria
1806 The German-Roman Empire is being dissolved
1809-1848 First Metternich heads Austria’s policy
1815 Vienna Congress after Napoleon’s defeat. Austria consolidates its position but loses Belgium. Austria plays a major role in the politics of great power, as Russia’s allies during the reaction period 1815-1848. The German Confederation is established with Austria and Prussia as leading members
1848 Civil and labor uprising in Vienna; national tours in Italy and Hungary. Liberal reforms are halted with military force
1848-1916 Emperor Franz Joseph
1850s Austria’s alliance with Russia ends with the Crimean War. The country loses dominion in northern Italy
1866 Austria loses war on Prussia. The German Confederation is dissolved; Austria does not join the German national assembly
1867 Hungary is granted the status of an equal national element in the double-monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The German-Austrians and the Madjars fortify the hegemony in each of their respective regions
1879 Alliance with Germany
1883 Alliance also with Italy (Triple Alliance)
1880 Political parties are growing. The tendencies of fragmentation due to national contradictions gradually become stronger
1908 Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia and Herzegovina; relations with Serbia and Russia become tense
1914-1918 The contradictions of the Balkan Peninsula trigger the First World War. Austria-Hungary’s efforts as one of the central powers have little impact on the outcome of the war, but the adversity stimulates nationalism and leads to national dissolution
1918 The Republic of German-Austria is proclaimed, as a pure nation-state
1919 Federal Republic; accession to Germany is banned by the Allies. The new state faces major economic and social problems; strong political contradictions between the socialists and the Christian-social
1930 A Nazi movement is emerging and requires joining Germany; the movement is banned in 1933
1934 Civil dictatorship; in an attempt to curb the German pressure, Austria joins Italy
1938 Anschluss: Austria is incorporated into Germany, which has now become Italy’s ally
1945 Austria is divided into 4 occupation zones (Soviet, American, British and French). Limited self-government is introduced, with the Catholic People’s Party and the Social Democrats as the leading parties
1955 Occupation is canceled; Austria becomes fully independent, but pledges in a state pact, among other things, to “eternal neutrality”. The economy is slowly improving
1959 Austria participates in the creation of EFTA
1960 Conflict with Italy regarding South Tyrol is resolved peacefully
1970 Social Democratic election winner; Bruno Kreisky forms government; his party achieves absolute majority in the 1971 National Assembly
1983 The Social Democrats lose the majority, but retain the government by Fred Sinowatz
1986 Kurt Waldheim is elected president despite revealing his role during World War II. He is declared undesirable in most western countries
1990 Following Germany’s collection, Austria is exempt from several of the provisions of the 1955 state pact
1995 Austria becomes a member of the EU
2000 Austria subject to EU political boycott after the high-nationalist FPÖ joins the government
2000 On November 11, 2000, a fire occurred in a cable car that ran between the village of Kaprun and the Kitzsteinhorn mountain. The cable car was inside a 3000 meter long tunnel when the fire occurred and 155 people lost their lives.
2002 Austria joins the first group of EU countries to introduce the new currency euro
2006 SPÖ will again be the biggest party in the November elections. Initiates a period of 11 years with major coalition governments between SPÖ and ÖVP.
2015 The Austrian government supported German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy and welcomed around 90,000 refugees in 2015. However, due to strong political opposition, the government quickly turned and tightened in the period thereafter.
2016 In the federal presidential election, Alexander Van der Bellen (former leader of the Die Grünen party) wins by as little margin as possible over right-wing populist FPÖ politician Norbert Hofer. The election is declared invalid by the Austrian Constitutional Court, Van der Bellen wins the re-election by a larger margin.
2017 At the November 2017 parliamentary elections, Die Grünen collapses. ÖVP and FPÖ are vigorously advancing and forming a bourgeois government under Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
2019 Sebastian Kurz’s bourgeois government falls in May 2019 after FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache has to resign as a result of the so-called Ibiza affair. A business ministry led by Hartwig Löger takes over pending new elections in September 2019.
2020 After new elections and months of negotiations, ÖVP and Die Grünen join forces in a coalition government led by Sebastian Kurz. This is the first time the two parties are cooperating on government power in Austria.

Austria Religion