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Located in Central Europe's southernmost region, Austria is a landlocked nation known formally as the Republic of Austria. Austria is made up of nine federated states, one of which is Vienna, the country's capital and biggest city, while the other eight are smaller states. To the northwest, it has borders with Germany; to the north, it has borders with Slovakia; to the east, it has borders with Slovenia and Italy; and to the west, it shares borders with Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Austria has a population of almost 9 million people and a land area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi). Austria has a population of about 9 million people and a land area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi). However, although Austrian German is the main language of the nation, many Austrians speak with one another informally in a range of Bavararian dialects.

As a margraviate circa 976, Austria grew in power until it became a duchy and then an archduchy. Austria grew in importance as the centre of the Habsburg Monarchy and the junior branch of the House of Habsburg — one of the most powerful royal families throughout history – beginning in the 16th century. Because it was an archduchy, it was a vital component of the Holy Roman Empire and served as its administrative centre. The Austrian Empire was established early in the nineteenth century and rose to great power status, becoming the dominant force in the German Confederation. However, following its defeat in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, Austria pursued its own course, completely separate from that of the other German states. The Austria-Hungary Dual Monarchy was founded in 1867 as a result of a deal with Hungary.

When Archduke Ferdinand, the presumed heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was killed, Austria became embroiled in World War I under the leadership of Emperor Franz Joseph. It was only after the defeat and disintegration of the Monarchy that the Republic of German-Austria was declared, with the intention of joining forces with Germany. However, the Allied Powers refused to recognise the new state, and it remained unrecognised for the remainder of World War II. Following the dissolution of the Austrian Empire in 1918, Austria was legally replaced by the First Austrian Republic. The Anschluss, which was completed in 1938 under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, an Austrian-born politician who rose to become Chancellor of the German Reich, resulted in the annexation of Austria. Following the defeat of Germany in 1945 and a protracted period of Allied occupation, Austria was re-established as a sovereign and self-governing democratic republic, known as the Second Republic, after a long period of international isolation.