Austria History: The Austro – Hungarian Monarchy

In pre-war Europe, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (OsterreichischUngarische Monarchie) constituted the second largest state by area (after Russia, which was 9 times larger) and the third by number of residents (after Russia and Germany); by population density it was instead exceeded by Germany, Italy, England, Holland, Belgium. According to the basic law of 21 December 1867, it consisted of the empire of Austria and the kingdom of Hungary (other denominations: Cisleitania and Transleitania; kingdoms and countries represented at the Council of the Austrian empire and countries of the Hungarian Crown), two inseparable constitutional monarchies, inherited in the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty; they had for the management of some common affairs some common parliamentary and executive bodies (delegations and common ministries). It was, among other things,

The empire of Austria was made up of 17 provinces, very different from each other in physical, ethnic characteristics, size, density, economic conditions; the kingdom of Hungary was made up of Hungary (divided into 63 committees) and Croatia and Slavonia (8 committees). The last census (December 31, 1910) had given the following results:

The average annual increase in the population during the last decade had been about 420,000 people; however, it is necessary to subtract on average 220,000 people, who every year emigrated especially to America (1912: United States, 179,000; Canada, 24,000).

The most salient feature of the Empire’s population was its multiple nationality. The 1910 census had given the following results, which must be considered only approximate, given the interest of the dominant populations (Germans, Hungarians) in making their dominance appear justified, and given the basis that served to determine nationality (the language of use).

The Austrian empire appears thus composed for 3 / 5 by Slavs, the Kingdom of Hungary for Hungarians and half from the rest by Slavs, Romanians, Germans. Even the cities that followed Vienna and Budapest (in the order Trieste, Prague, Lviv, Krakow) had populations different from the dominant ones.

Relatively more homogeneous was the monarchy as far as religion is concerned, with a prevalence of Catholics both in one and in the other state, but with high percentages of Protestants and Orthodox especially in Hungary. For Austria history, please check

Great differences between region and region and between nationalities and nationalities were instead noted on the cultural side. In 1900 illiterates were just 5.7% among Germans and Czechs, 16% among Italians, 24% among Slovenes, to rise to 41% among Poles, 44% among Hungarians, 61% among the Croats, 72% among the Romanians of Bucovina, 74% among the Ruthenians and 76% among the Slavs of Dalmatia.

Populated by different nationalities and composed of regions with very uneven physical and climatic characteristics (Bohemian Massif, Eastern Alps, Carpathians, Chain and Dinaric Plateaus, Hungarian Plain, Adriatic coastal region), Vienna was its center or crossing point of the routes. main; located in a favorable position to serve as an intermediary in the relations between West and East and crossed from Passau to the Iron Gates by the Danube (Austro-Hungarian river only in its middle course), open to the Adriatic through the ports of Trieste and Rijeka, both distant from the vital parts of the state, which was therefore more continental than maritime (1914 merchant fleet tonnage: 605.551 tons), with rather weak borders and no colonies, the The Austro-Hungarian Empire showed the tendency to constitute an economically autonomous organism, in which the products of the different parts, endowed with different characteristics, were integrated through the exchange obtained with an intense internal trade. The main bases of the economy were agriculture and livestock, which occupied two thirds of the residents. The wider plains and valleys produced large quantities of cereals, Galicia and Hungary potatoes, Bohemia beets and sugar; and then again fruit, wine, oil, hemp, tobacco. The breeding found favorable conditions in the Hungarian plain and in the Alpine regions; the latter also yielded copious timber. The mining industry offered hard coal (Bohemia), iron (Austria), oil (Galicia), the driving force of the Alpine rivers; next to industry connected to agricultural products (milling, sugar factory, beer) the textile, glass and mechanical industries had developed (especially in Bohemia and Vienna). The railway network (1914: 47.037 km.), The construction of which was partly regulated by political and military intent, but at the same time commercial, connected the various provinces with Vienna and Budapest, facilitating the exchange of these various products.

Foreign trade, which had been active until 1906, subsequently marked a steady deterioration (liabilities 1907: 44.7 million; 1909: 417; 1911: 787) reaching 823 million in liabilities in 1912. Main imported products were cotton (329 millions), hard coal (222), metals (166), wool (162), machines (151); main exported products: wood (290), sugar (254), eggs (144), cottons (123). This strong imbalance of the trade balance, the growing emigration, the increase of the public debt (1914: 13 and a half billion), accompanied by the lack of a national personality, which was opposed by the intense struggle of the nationalities, which they opposed in vain historical tradition, political needs and economic unity, meant that the modus vivendi (federalism, trialism, etc.): the solution was sought – perhaps – in a war, and was given by Vittorio Veneto.

The Austro - Hungarian Monarchy