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Austria's Slavic minority, located mostly in the south and the east, speak Slovenian and Croatian as their first language.English is taught in all schools as a second language. The black eagle on the Austrian coat of arms is the national emblem.Austrians call their country Osterreich (eastern empire).The name dates to about 800, when Charlemagne, emperor of the Germanic Franks, took control of the region, naming it Eastern March because it was meant to stem invasions by marauders from the east.Surrounded by so many other cultures, Austria has often been subjected to cultural "invasions," which are a source of the differences among the provinces.Another source of the diversity is the Alps, which cover 62 percent of the country.Austria has one of the world's lowest birthrates, and much of the population is under age twenty-five or over sixty-five.
Areas of major settlement are in the Danube valley and in the lowlands or hills north, east, and south of the Alps.
Austria is divided into nine provinces, Vorarlberg, Tirol, Salzburg, Upper Austria, Carinthia, Styria, Burgenland, Lower Austria, and Vienna, the capital city and a major river port on the Danube.
The Alps are the distinguishing physical feature of Austria, dominating the western, southern, and central regions of the country, with the highest point at Grossglockner, 12,457 feet (3,797 meters).
They were defeated by the German king Otto I at the Battle of the Lech in 955.
Otto established a strong march (protective zone) along Germany's eastern border to keep tribes to the east at bay. Austria emerged as a distinct political entity in 976 when Otto II gave the area to the Bavarian nobleman Leopold of Babenberg, largely to keep the Magyars at bay.