The Top 15 (Weird) Things People Google About Austria

Does Austria exist? Why do Austrian toilets have a shelf? The hive mind sure asks Google some strange questions.

Let’s talk about Austria and its relationship with the search engine: Google, with some 1.2 billion users, is the most visited website in the world; its search engine processes some three billion search requests per day. And there are no limits to what one can google. As your former elementary school teacher would say, “There are no stupid questions.” We agree.

Google keeps records of past search requests – some of which are rather intriguing. We asked ourselves: What do people want to know about Austria? We’ve collected, verbatim, some of the top questions and provided our own answers, to the best of our knowledge and abilities.


“Austria is

famous for…?”

Please, enjoy this list brainstormed by our editorial team in no particular order: Schnitzel, Mozart (Schubert, Haydn, Strauss II), Salzburg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Sound of Music & The von Trapp Family, our part in two worlds wars, Sachertorte, the Alps, the main blood types distinguished by Karl Landsteiner, that one guy who jumped out of a hot air balloon (Felix Baumgartner), Red Bull, Lederhos’n, the Waltz (the Viennese dance and actor Christoph), skiing, Sigmund Freud, Falco, Schrödinger’s cat, yodeling, the Habsburger Dynasty.

weed legal?”

First of all, this is not a full sentence. But, to the question: Nah, we’re not quite there yet. CBD products are sold, but marijuana containing THC is not. The law prohibits the production, acquisition, possession, transfer, import, export and advertising of narcotic drugs. Even the smallest quantities (e.g. the daily dose for personal consumption) are prohibited under Austrian law. On the other hand, if the police catch you smoking a joint, chances are, they will not necessarily press for prosecution – but they could.


…the size of what U.S. state?”

The several Americans on our team confirm that their countrymen prefer United States reference points in order to understand geographical size. That’s weirdly self-centered, but we’ll go with it. Austria has an area of 83,879 km². That puts it somewhere between Maine (79,939 km²) and Indiana (92,902 km²).

…in which continent?”

Not Australia.

…in which country?”

Oh, come on.

“Why does Austria…

…speak German?”

As everyone hopefully knows, Austria is not the only part in the world where a significant number of people speak German. The other countries are Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Languages change, so accents and dialects vary. “It is assumed that the original Germanic language developed from [an] Indo-European language in the first millennium B.C.,” says Wikipedia. The “era of New High German” started in 1650 – a language development phase that linguists say continues to this day. Since people migrate and because Europe has been politically shattered and reformed several times over the last few centuries, Austrians and Germans who are e.g. on TV speak very similar German, with different accents and some vocab differences. But both countries have many regional dialects, though, and a person who lives in Hamburg, Germany is unlikely to understand someone from the province of Vorarlberg in Austria.

…have a navy?”

We… don’t. (We had one until 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved. Afterwards Austria had a few patrol boats on the Danube; they ceased operations in the fall of 2006.)


Why does anything exist, really?

“Why do Austrian…

…toilets have a shelf?”

It is true. Austrian toilets have a “ramp”. We call these constructions “Flachspüler Toiletten” (flat flush toilets). They are like a transit station. They catch excrement before it floods into the abyss of the canal. Why is this useful? You can inspect your poop for disease-related anomalies. Especially in hospitals, this makes is easier to take a stool sample. Also it prevents backsplash, so…

…cows wear bells?”

So that they don’t fall asleep while eating. Just kidding. It’s to help the farmer find his herd again after he has brought them to the pasture – but I’m sure you could have figured that one out yourself. The bells supposedly also scare away wolves or bears.


Does Austria…

…not exist?”

I can assure you we exist.

…not allow dual citizenship?”

According to the government, Austrian citizenship law does not permit dual or multiple citizenships, with few exceptions – such as children born who are the naturalized citizens of both Austria and another country. Anyone who voluntarily acquires a foreign citizenship loses their Austrian citizenship. Also, if it is either in the interest of the Republic of Austria or “justified for a particularly worthy reason,” the government will let people have more than one citizenship.

… have a king?”

Not since 1918. The last emperor and empress were called Karl I (Charles) and Zita.

Karl und Zita

… have Uber?”

It’s kind of an on/off relationship. But yes, currently, we have Uber. And Bolt. And Holmi.

… look like a Wiener?”

More like a Schnitzel, geographically. But whatever helps you sleep at night.

Julia Seidl
Julia started out at "Die Presse." She went on to study "Journalism & Media Management" in Vienna and worked for several local news outlets such as ORF, Kurier and Falter before joining Metropole as online content and social media manager.

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