Head of State:
Federal President, Heinz Fischer (since 2004)
Austria is a federal state composed of nine independent federal
provinces (Burgenland, Carinthia, Upper Austria, Lower Austria,
Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Voralberg and Vienna). The Federal
President is the highest representative of the state, and is
elected directly by the people for a term of six years. The
current President is Dr. Heinz Fischer.
Legislative power is held by a bicameral federal parliament.
The Nationalrat, or lower house of parliament, is the
principal legislative body and has 183 elected members. The
Bundesrat, or upper house, has 62 members representing the
Austria is an active member of the United Nations, and has served
in many peace-keeping missions over the years. It became a member
of the European Union on 1 January 1995, following a referendum in
which 66.4% of the electorate approved the country's accession.
Austria last held the EU Presidency in the first half of 2006.
Austria has a well-developed market economy and a high standard of
living. The economy has strong industrial, agricultural and
service sectors. Membership of the EU and Austria’s proximity
to, and close historical connections with, the economies of Central
and Eastern Europe, have all contributed to the growth of the
Austrian economy in recent years.
Diplomatic relations were established between Ireland and Austria
in May 1951 and both countries have maintained resident embassies