Austria is a landlocked country in central Europe. It 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. Its capital is the city of Vienna.

Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy consisting of nine federal states and is one of six European countries that have declared permanent neutrality. Austria is a member of the United Nations (since 1955) and the European Union (since 1995).

Vienna has long been an important center of musical innovation. Composers of the 18th and 19th centuries were drawn to the city by the patronage of the Habsburgs, and made Vienna the European capital of classical music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johann Strauss, Jr., among others, were associated with the city. During the Baroque period, Slavic and Hungarian folk forms influenced Austrian music. Vienna's status began its rise as a cultural center in the early 1500s, and was focused around instruments including the lute.

Austrian folk dancing is mostly associated with Schuhplattler, Landler, Polka, or Waltz. However, there are other dances, such as Zwiefacher, Kontratänze, and Sprachinseltänze. The ländler is a folk dance of uncertain origin. Known under several names for a long period, it became known as Landl ob der Enns, which was eventually shortened to ländler. The dance became popular in about 1720. It required close contact between members of the opposite sex, and was thus denounced as lustful by some church authorities. Ländlers were brought first to Vienna, and later to places as far away as the Ukraine. The ländler eventually evolved into what is known as the waltz.


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