Lower Austria (German: Niederösterreich; Austro-Bavarian: Niedaöstareich, Niedaestareich) is one of the nine states of Austria, located in the northeastern corner of the country. Since 1986, the capital of Lower Austria has been Sankt Pölten, replacing Vienna which became a separate state in 1921. With a land area of 19,186 km2 (7,408 sq mi) and a population of 1.685 million people, Lower Austria is the second most populous federal state (after Vienna). Other large cities are Amstetten, Krems an der Donau and Wiener Neustadt.
With a land area of 19,186 km2 (7,408 sq mi) situated east of Upper Austria, Lower Austria is the country's largest state. Lower Austria derives its name from its downriver location on the Enns River which flows from the west to the east. Lower Austria has an international border, 414 km (257 mi) long, with the Czech Republic (South Bohemia and South Moravia Regions) and Slovakia (Bratislava and Trnava Regions). The state has the second longest external border of all Austrian states.
It also borders the other Austrian states of Upper Austria, Styria and Burgenland as well as surrounding Vienna.
Lower Austria is divided into four regions, known as Viertel (quarters):
These regions have different geographical structures. Whilst the Mostviertel is dominated by the foothills of the Limestone Alps with mountains up to 2,000 m (AA) high, most of the Waldviertel is a granite plateau. The hilly Weinviertel lies to the northeast, descends to the plains of Marchfeld in the east of the state, and is separated by the Danube from the Vienna Basin to the south, which in turn is separated from the Vienna Woods by a line of thermal springs (the Thermenlinie) running north to south.
- Schneeberg (Klosterwappen; 2,076 m)
- Rax (Scheibwaldhöhe; 1,943 m; highest summit: Heukuppe; 2,007 m – Styria)
- Ötscher (1,893 m)
- Dürrenstein (1,878 m)
- Schneealpe (Ameisbühel; 1,828 m; highest summit: Windberg; 1,903 m – Styria)
- Hochkar (1,808 m)
- Gamsstein (1,774 m)
- Stumpfmauer (1,770 m)
- Göller (1,766 m)
- Hochwechsel (1,743 m)
- Gippel (1,669 m)
- Großer Sonnleitstein (1,639 m)
- Großer Zellerhut (1,639 m)
- Gemeindealpe (1,626 m)
- Scheiblingstein (1,622 m) (not to be confused with Scheiblingstein (2,197 m), which is in Styria)
- Drahtekogel (1,565 m)
- Sonnwendstein (1,523 m)
- Obersberg (1,467 m)
- Königsberg (1,452 m)
- Großer Sulzberg (1,400 m)
- Reisalpe (1,399 m)
- Gahns (1,380 m)
- Tirolerkogel (1,377 m)
- Türnitzer Höger (1,372 m)
- Unterberg (1,342 m)
- Traisenberg (1,230 m)
- Dürre Wand (1,222 m)
- Hohenstein (1,195 m)
- Eisenstein (1,185 m)
- Hohe Wand (1,132 m)
- Großer Peilstein (1,061 m)
- Weinsberg (1,041 m)
- Hocheck (1,036 m)
- Nebelstein (1,017 m)
- Eibl (1,007 m)
- Hohe Mandling (967 m)
- Jauerling (961 m)
- Hoher Lindkogel also named Eisernes Tor (834m)
- Anninger (675 m)
- Buschberg (491 m)
Other mountains in Lower Austria may be found at Category:Mountains of Lower Austria.
The state border with Styria runs over both passes.
Almost all of Lower Austria is drained by the Danube. The only river that flows into the North Sea (via the Moldau and the Elbe) is the Lainsitz in northern Waldviertel, the Erlauf river.
The most important rivers north of the Danube (on its left bank) are the Ysper, Kamp, Krems, Lainsitz, March and Thaya. South of the Danube (on its right bank) are the Enns, Ybbs, Erlauf, Melk, Pielach, Traisen, Schwechat, Fischa, Schwarza, Triesting, Pitten and the Leitha.
Lower Austria is rich in natural caves; in all 4,082 have been recorded. Most of the caves have formed in limestone and dolomite rocks and are therefore called karst caves. Cavities also form in the marble of the Central Alps and the Bohemian Massif. Among the largest caves in Lower Austria are:
The last two are open as show caves, along with the Allander stalactite cave, the Unicorn Cave, the Hochkarschacht, the Nixhöhle and the Ötschertropfsteinhöhle.
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The history of Lower Austria is very similar to the history of Austria. Many castles are located in Lower Austria. Klosterneuburg Abbey, located here, is one of the oldest abbeys in Austria. Before World War II, Lower Austria had the largest number of Jews in the country.
The names Lower Austria and Upper Austria are derived from the earlier names Austria below the Enns and Austria above the Enns, references to the river Enns. Going down from its source on the northern edge of the Central Eastern Alps, the river crosses Upper Austria, then on its lower reaches forms the boundary between Upper Austria and Lower Austria.
The gross domestic product (GDP) of the state was 61.0 billion € in 2018, accounting for 15.8% of Austria's economic output. GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was 32,300 €, or 107% of the EU27 average in the same year. Lower Austria is the state with the second-lowest GDP per capita in Austria.
Lower Austria is divided into four regions: Waldviertel, Mostviertel, Industrieviertel, and Weinviertel. The Wachau valley, situated between Melk and Krems in the Mostviertel region, is famous for its landscape, culture, and wine.
Administratively, the state is divided into 20 districts (Bezirke), and four independent towns (Statutarstädte). In total, there are 573 municipalities within Lower Austria.