The history of Austria is a complex as any in Europe. The area that is now called Austria has been a part of numerous empires and wanna-be empires for more than a thousand years. Almost exactly a century ago, however, it emerged from the shadow of the Hapsburgs to proclaim itself an independent nation and today it is one of the jewels of Europe. Crisscrossed by the Eastern Alps and boasting an idyllic landscape that only seems to get more astonishing as you drive your car rental in Austria from valley to valley, it’s a land rich in tradition that’s home to some of the friendliest, most industrious people you’ll ever meet. There are 8.7 million of those Austrians and their efforts have combined to make their relatively small country the 12th richest country in the world. If you’re traveling to Europe this year pick up a rental car in Austria and make a time of it.