Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe that borders Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. Austria's terrain is highly mountainous due to the presence of the Alps. The country’s capital Vienna is also one of its nine states, the other eight of which are: Burgenland; Carinthia; Lower Austria; Upper Austria; Salzburg; Styria; Tyrol; and Voralberg.
Schonbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial family, is considered one of the most beautiful baroque palaces in Europe. The Habsburgs resided here the better part of the year in numerous rooms for the large imperial family in addition to representational rooms. Emperor Franz Joseph, who later married the enchanting Sisi and reigned from 1848 to 1916, was born here in 1830. The Vienna Boys' Choir is a Viennese institution, having been formed as the Boys' Choir of the Royal Court in 1498. Together with members of the chorus and orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, they form the Hofmusikkapelle, which performs at Mass in the Chapel of the Imperial Palace throughout the year. The Vienna Boys' Choir also performs in the Brahms-Saal (Brahms Hall), the venue for chamber music in the Musikverein, and at the Volksoper (People's Opera), a smaller venue that stages opera, operettas, ballets and musicals. The renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra also perform here.
Austria is famous for its well-balanced variations of beef and pork and countless variations of vegetables. There is also the "Mehlspeisen" Bakery, which created particular delicacies such as Sachertorte, "Krapfen" which are doughnuts usually filled with apricot marmalade or custard, and "Strudel" such as "Apfelstrudel" filled with apple and "Topfenstrudel" filled with sweetened sour cream. Typical Austrian dishes include Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten, Kaiserschmarren, Knödel, Sachertorte and Tafelspitz. There are also Kärntner Kasnudeln, a cooked filled dough-bag with a type of cottage cheese and spearmint, and Eierschwammerl dishes. The Eierschwammerl, also known as Pfifferling, are native yellow, tan mushrooms.
Austria's main airports are in Vienna; Innsbruck; Salzburg; Klagenfurt; Linz; and Graz. An excellent motorway, highway and federal road network connects Austria with all its neighboring states. österreichische Bundesbahnen operates a wide network of trains throughout and beyond Austria. International connections from Vienna include trains to Germany (Berlin), to the Russian Federation (Moscow, via Warsaw/Kiev and Minsk), to Romania (Bucharest, via Budapest). The greater part of Austria lies in the cool/temperate climate zone in which humid westerly winds predominate. With over half of the country dominated by the Alps, the alpine climate is the predominant one. Austria can be quite cold in the winter, but summer temperatures can also be very warm.