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Steiermark or Styria is one of the nine federal provinces contributing to Austria's territory. Located in the central and southern part of the country, Styria is connected to a part of the state border with Slovenia to the south. The area neighbors the federal state Kärnten (Carinthia) on the south, Salzburg on the west, Oberösterreich and Niederösterreich on the north, and Burgenland on the east. Graz, which is said to pose the biggest urbanization in the territory, is the capital city of Steiermark and the second largest city in Austria. The city is considered to be a significant cultural and historical destination and bears the status of a college and university city, with over 60,000 residents being students. Styria is reportedly a land of natural diversity due to the number of different landscapes across the region. This includes the northern mountainous parts, such as the province's highest peak and glacier, Dachstein. These areas change into the lower hills of southern wine regions, with slopes covered by grape wines. Southeastern parts dispose of an abundance of mineral and thermal springs, creating the Styrian spa region.
Styria, or Steiermark in German, is known not only for the rich and diverse nature, mountains and glaciers in the north, and wines in the south, but the region is also said to pride itself on an abundance of castles and palaces. Some of the most popular include the Kornberg Castle, the Riegersburg, and Herberstein, which is said to be the most romantic castle in Styria. Except for the natural, historical, and cultural heritage, the region is also the place of the Formula One Motor racing event, the Styrian Grand Prix. Additionally, Steiermark, specifically the village of Thal, is the birthplace of the world-famous actor, film producer, businessman, bodybuilder, politician, and former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger spent his childhood and early adulthood in Styria, where he launched his bodybuilding career.
Graz is the capital city and is said to be the cultural, economic, and historical hub of the Steiermark region. It is also the second largest city in Austria, following the state capital, Vienna. The city reportedly poses as a major cultural attraction to tourists. Its historical city center is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the various types of architecture and styles that meet in the city. The predominant sight of the old town is the Schlossberg, also known as Castle Hill, which is a residue of a demolished fortress with a panoramic view of the city. Atop Castle Hill is a Clock Tower, which has become a symbol of the city of Graz. The Eggenberg Palace, the gothic cathedral in the city center, and the Graz Opera House also belong among the historical sights.
"The green lungs of Austria" is a nickname used to describe the nature and landscape of Styria. Steiermark is composed of several different landscapes, enhancing the variety and diversity of natural conditions. Northernmost territories are of hilly and mountainous character, with the predominant peak, Dachstein, at an altitude of 2995m, with a glacier atop. Those areas are visited during winter for several winter sports opportunities, such as skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. During summer, a considerable number of hiking and cycling trails are available for tourists in the region. Among the popular trails belongs the "From Glacier to Wine" hiking trail, which leads from the northern mountainous areas to the southern lowland parts of the region, which are popular wine tasting destinations.
The southeastern part of the Steiermark region is a popular touristic destination for the baths and mineral waters found in the area. One such example is the Vulkania curative spring, which is of volcanic origin and is said to have the most mineralized water in the Styrian spa region. The spring rises from a depth of approximately 2843 m, with a temperature of 110°C. Vulkania waters are used by Rogner Bad Blumau, a spa resort offering recreational and health procedures. In the immediate area of southeast Styria, other mineral and thermal springs and a number of different spa resorts can be found.
Styria is located in Austria's central and southern parts, with an area of 16,387 square km. Geographically, the land can be divided into Upper and Lower Styria. Upper Steiermark stretches over the northern parts of the region, from the Limestone Alps to the east, also in the same direction as the Central Alps. Some of the valleys there belong to the Mur, Mürz, Salza, and Upper Enns rivers. Mostly uplands and hilly country represent Lower Steiermark. The central part of Lower Styria is characterized by the Grazerfeld plain, where the capital city of Styria, Graz, is located. Some of the predominant mountains in the area are Koralpe and Packalpe, with an altitude above 2,000 m above sea level.
Concerning the region's natural conditions, approximately 58% of the land is covered in forests. In terms of agriculture, the farming of pumpkins represents the largest sector, followed by apple and wine grapes produce. Southern parts of the region are covered in wine grapes. Thus the part of the territory is often nicknamed "Styrian Tuscany." Three different types of wines are grown and produced in three separate wine regions of southern Styria: the Vulkanland Styria, Southern Styria, and Western Styria. Steiermark is often nicknamed "the green lungs of Austria." The region offers various landscapes and natural conditions, enhancing the variety and diversity of plant and animal species.
Diverse nature and endangered species that can be found across the region are protected by one national park, seven nature parks, and one UNESCO biosphere park. Gesäuse National Park covers approximately 0.7% of Styria's territory and is home to a number of endemic species and over 1,230 butterfly species. Throughout the park, there are six themed trails for families, several high-distance hiking trails, and 15 via ferratas.
Styria's climatic conditions widely correspond to Central European weather conditions. The area is generally cold and wet, with a few warmer summer months during the year. The weather and temperatures depend on the altitude above sea level. The warmest month in the capital city of Graz is July, with an average daily temperature of 26°C, while January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 3°C. January also tends to be the driest month in Graz, with an average of 22 mm of rainfall. The most precipitation falls during July, with an average of 126 mm.
Steiermark, also known as Styria, has been inhabited mainly by Celtic tribes since prehistoric times. Romans later invaded the territory. Thus, the eastern part of Steiermark became part of the Pannonia, one of the districts of the Roman Empire. The western part stayed inhabited by Celts and was part of their kingdom called Noricum. Later, barbarian invasions caused the end of Roman domination. Different tribes such as the Visigoths, Huns, Ostrogoths, Rugii, and Lombards crossed the territory. Around 600, Slavs settled the valleys of Styria under the domination of Avars. However, Bavarians expanded their territory and absorbed the Slavic population of Steiermark.
Entering the eighth century, Styria was subject to the rule of Bavarians under Frankish domination. By the 14th century, Germanization of the population took place in most of the region, except for the southernmost parts. At that time, part of today's Styria was under the administration of Carinthia (Kärnten), and part was ruled by the counts of Traungau, with the main seat in Steyr (Oberösterreich). In 1276, most of the area became part of the Habsburg Monarchy, and in 1282 became one of the Habsburg crownlands. The history of Styria from that point on became identical to the history of Austria itself, concerning the rulers and wars.
1854 marked one of the milestones for Styria's tourism, travel, technological, and engineering advances. The Semmering Railway has been opened in the region and is the oldest of the great European mountain railways. The railway, which is now inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, allowed tourists to comfortably travel through the mountainous landscape of Styria to visit lake resorts as well as mineral and thermal springs, which is said to have enhanced the economy and business in the region. After World War I, Steiermark was divided due to the Treaty of Saint Germain, with Lower Styria becoming part of Yugoslavia and the rest staying under the Austrian administration. Following Second World War, Styria was part of the British occupation zone. The southern third of the region was granted to Yugoslavia and today belongs to Slovenia.
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