Burgenland is one of nine "Bundeslands" or states contributing to the territory of Austria. Located in the easternmost part of Austria, Burgenland constitutes part of the state border with Hungary and neighbors Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) on the northwest and Steiermark (Styria) on the southwest. Burgenland stretches over an area of approximately 3,965 square kilometers. The land can be geographically divided into the mostly flat and low-lying northern parts and hilly, mountainous central, and southern parts. The predominant natural feature of the state is Lake Neusiedler in the north part of the region, which protrudes into Hungary. The Burgenland area has belonged to different nations and states throughout the years. The northern part is historically connected to the House of Esterházy, a Hungarian noble family. A considerable number of historic buildings, castles, and territories continue to belong to the family to this day. Another figure connected to Burgenland is composer Joseph Haydn, who lived and worked in the region's capital city, Eisenstadt, on the court of the Esterházy Castle. Nowadays, Burgenland territory attracts a considerable number of tourists, as various recreational activities are available in the area, ranging from history and culture sightseeing to hiking the mountains or exploring the wildlife of the preserved nature areas.
The name Burgenland stands for "Castle Land" in German. The Burgenland area is known for its history with the various empires, monarchies, and states until it eventually became one of the states of Austria. Different nations left influences on culture and traditions in the Burgenland area. The capital city of Burgenland is Eisenstadt, located in the northern part of the region in the vicinity of Lake Neusiedler. The predominant feature of the city is Castle Esterházy, a baroque castle that currently gives visitors an insight into the life of the Esterházy princes in the past. The city Eisenstadt and Esterházy Castle are also connected to one of the world-famous composers, Joseph Haydn. Haydn composed and worked as a court dirigent in the castle for over 40 years. Haydnsaal is a concert hall in the Esterházy Castle named after the composer, where concerts are held to this day. In the city, a Haydnkirche (Haydn church), also known as Bergkirche (church on the hill), can also be found and is considered by many to be "the most beautiful" baroque church in Burgenland. Located under the church is the Haydn mausoleum, where the composer has been buried. Within the city, tourists can also visit the Haydn House, with Haydn's original herb garden. The house and gardens showcase the past lifestyle and traditions of the composer.
Another castle located in the "Castle Land" is Forchtenstein Castle. The castle is located in the northern part of Burgenland, at an altitude of 511 m above sea level. Built in the 15th century, the castle belonged to various families and underwent several changes throughout the course of its existence. To this day, the castle is owned by the Esterházy family, together with Castle Esterházy in Eisenstadt. Nowadays, the castle is open to the public.
One particularly notable natural touristic site of Burgenland is the Neusiedler Lake, one of the largest steppe lakes in Europe. The lake is the largest in Burgenland, stretching across the border to Hungary. Most of the lake belongs to the Esterházy family, and the whole area is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the high diversity of landscape, flora, and fauna. Tourists often visit the lake for the number of leisure activities the area offers.
Burgenland is located in the easternmost part of Austria, on the borders of Hungary. Northern parts of the region are primarily flat and low-lying, as they belong to the Pannonian Basin, connected to the Vienna basin through the gates in the north and south of the Leitha Mountains. The predominant feature of northern Burgenland is the Neusiedler Lake, which stretches across the border to Hungary. The flora and topography that characterize the land in the north are classified as steppe with saline-heath vegetation. The Rosalia Mountain Range is an outlier of the Alps, stretching through the central part of Burgenland. Middle and southern Burgenland is a predominantly mountainous area, continuing westward to the Landsee and Bernstein Mountains and to the south to the Günser Mountains.
Approximately three-fifths of the land is arable and used for agriculture, with the main crops being corn, vines, fruits, vegetables, tobacco, and hemp. Along the shores of the Neusiedler Lake, lumbering and reed production takes place. Limestone for building and basalt are quarried in the area of Leitha Mountain. Predominant industries in the territory include sugar refining, food processing, textile manufacturing, sawmilling, and furniture making. About one-third of the Burgenland region is forested.
Various parts of Burgenland territory are under state protection. The Neusiedler See-Seewinkel National Park is among such protected areas inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The national park is inhabited by numerous protected species, typical in Alpine, Asian, or Mediterranean areas. Some endangered species inhabiting the national park area is the spoonbill and the marsh vole. A lake area is also a resting place for birds during migrations, thus used for bird watching as well. Flora of the park has a transitional character, as the national park and the area of Neusiedler Lake are located on the borders between mountainous conditions of the Alps and steppes of Hungarian Plain.
Burgenland is located in an area where different climate conditions meet. The climate is characterized by the Mediterranean and Alpine to the south, whereas the rest of the territory is characterized by Pannonian climate conditions. The warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 26°C, in contrast to January, the coldest month, with an average temperature of 3°C. January is also considered to be the driest month, with an average of 28 mm of rainfall. The most precipitation falls during July, with an average of 87 mm.
Burgenland territory has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with the earliest archeological finds dating back to approximately 400 BC, when Celts settled the area. Later, the area became part of the Roman Empire, known as the province of Pannonia. After the fall of the Roman Empire, tribes, such as Ostrogoths, Huns, Lombards, and Avars, inhabited the area. In the 9th century, Burgenland fell under the rule of Slavic Balaton Principality and the Great Moravian Empire; later, in 907, Magyars started to rule over the territory.
The area of Burgenland stayed under Hungarian rule until the 16th century. However, Germans composed the prevailing part of the population during that time. In the 15th century, Burgenland land became under the administration of the Habsburgs of Austria. Since then, the ownership of the area changed several times between Hungary, Bohemia, and Austria; however, in the 16th century, Hungary became under the rule of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy, under the name of "Royal Hungary." Hungarian counties of Moson, Sopron, and Vas covered the territory of today's Burgenland. At that time, part of Hungary had been occupied by Ottoman Turks, who left the Hungarian territory in the 17th century due to lost battles against the Habsburg Monarchy. Thus, most of the Hungarian territory was under Habsburg rule. In the 19th century, the administration changed, and the Habsburg Empire transformed into Austria-Hungary, which functioned as a dual monarchy.
After World War I, The Treaty of Trianon established Burgenland as part of Austria; however, a considerable number of Hungarians and Croatians inhabited the Burgenland area and refused to live under Austrian rule, which resulted in protests. Those events led to Burgenland being divided between Hungary and Austria. Burgenland later ceased to exist after the Nazi Anschluss of Austria, which resulted in forced Jewish emigration. Hungarian and Croatian minorities were also affected. In 1945, Burgenland was reestablished under Soviet rule; later, in 1955, an Austrian Independence Treaty of Vienna was signed, and the Soviet army left the territory.
In today's time, Burgenland plays the connecting role between western and eastern Europe. The population is predominantly Austrian, with the most used language being German. The most represented minorities are Croats and Magyars. In the recent century, the population decreased significantly due to emigration, mainly to Germany and the United States. The most represented religion in the area is the people of the Roman Catholic church.
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