Much of the western and southern parts of Austria are mountainous, the mountains being part of the Alps. The eastern part of the country is more flat and open. Austria was once the center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which for a short and turbulent time dominated the Germanic speaking parts of Europe. This ended with World War I which saw Austria reduced to a small republic. It was then annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, and liberated by the Allies in 1945. The country was split into four districts governed by the various victorious armies, with Vienna in the Russian zone. There are still numerous monuments in Vienna, such as the Denkmal der Roten Armee, built by the Russians. Total independence was not officially recognized for another 10 years. Austria joined the European Union in 1995, following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Austria has a well developed industrial economy, with travel and tourism playing an increasing role. Not only is Vienna a prime tourist attraction with classical architecture and fantastic restaurants, but thousands also visit Salzburg each year to explore the town most closely linked to Mozart. The western and southern parts of the country becomes increasingly mountainous, and this attracts both skiing in the winter and mountain walking and climbing in the summer.