Styria is the second largest state in Austria, with 1.2 million people. It is located in the southeast of the country on the border with Slovenia. The state is known as the "green heart of Austria", with many forests and vineyards covering the rolling hillside.
The state is divided into 16 districts along with the statutory city of Graz, the capital of the area. Due to its size, many Austrians simply refer to the state in different quadrants.
- Upper Styria includes the north and western districts Liezen, Judenburg, Leoben, Murau, Knittelfeld, Bruck an der mur and Murzzuschlag.
- Lower Styria includes the area which was part of Slovenia.
- West Styria covers the districts west of Graz including Deutschlandsberg, Leibnitz and Voitsberg.
- East Styria includes the districts east of Graz such as Feldbach, Weiz, Furstenfeld, Hartberg and Radkersburg.
- Graz-Umgebung is the district surrounding Graz and falls partly into both east and west Styria.
Styria was ruled by the Slavs from 595AD and became part of Austria in 1192. After World War I the southern part of Styria was annexed to Yugoslavia, later becoming Slovenia. Consequently is still inhabited mainly by ethnic Slovenians and the men can still be seen wearing traditional peasant dress made of dull green fabric.
As the state includes the city of Graz it has a strong economy, particularly in the service and technology industries. Beyond the city it offers mountain climbing, scenic hiking and trout fishing. Zimmer rooms and characterful country lodging or B&B establishments offer reasonably priced accommodation for those visiting the area. Bad Gleichenberg is a delightful natural spa, along with the market town of Bad Aussee and the pilgrimage area around Mariazell.
Styria is slowly emerging as a winter ski area and chalet vacation rentals are reasonably priced compared to other more developed ski resorts. Murau is the best place to head for winter sports.