As of 2014, the countries that border Austria are the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Austria was once the center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which fell apart after World War I.
Some of the countries that border Austria are young or have seen major changes since the end of the Cold War. The Czech Republic and Slovakia, which were once a single country called Czechoslovakia, parted peacefully on Jan. 1, 1993. Slovenia declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991, and was recognized as a nation-state in 1992 after a brief war.
West and East Germany reunited in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Hungary was also liberated from the Soviet Union after the Cold War and joined the European Union on May 4, 1994. Liechtenstein and Switzerland are famous for their political stability, but neither one is a member of the European Union. Austria joined the EU on Jan. 1, 1995. Italy is a founding member of the EU.
Austria is a German-speaking nation and shares German as an official language with Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. German is also spoken by some communities in the Italian Tyrol, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.