Styria is a state, or Bundesland, located in the southeast of Austria. Covering 16,401 km2, Styria is the second largest of the nine component states of Austria, after Lower Austria. Styria's neighbor to the South is Slovenia. Within Austria, the contiguous states are Carinthia, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, The Burgenland, The capital city is Graz, which had 276,526 inhabitants at the beginning of 2015; the March of Styria derived its name from the original seat of its ruling Otakar dynasty: Steyr, in today's Upper Austria. In German, the area is still called "Steiermark"; the ancient link between Steyr and Styria is apparent in their nearly identical coats of arms, a white Panther on a green background. The term "Upper Styria" refers to the northwestern parts of the federal-state; the term "Western Styria" is used for the districts to the west of Graz. The districts east of Graz are referred to as "Eastern Styria"; the western and eastern parts of the district Graz-Umgebung may or may not be considered parts of West and East Styria, respectively.

The southern parts of the Duchy of Styria, which formed part of former Yugoslavia and Slovenia, were referred to as "Lower Styria". During early Roman times, Styria was inhabited by Celtic tribes. After its conquest by the Romans, the eastern part of what is now Styria was part of Pannonia, while the western one was included in Noricum. During the Barbarian invasions, it was conquered or crossed by the Visigoths, the Huns, the Ostrogoths, the Rugii, the Lombards. Slavs, who first were under the domination of the Avars, settled in the valleys of this country. At the same time Bavarian people began to expand their area to the south and east and absorbed the Slavic population. In 1180 Styria became a Duchy of its own. Styria formed the central part of Inner Austria. Styria developed culturally and economically under Archduke John of Austria between 1809 and 1859. In 1918, after World War I, it was divided into a northern section, a southern one, called Lower Styria, now inhabited by Slovenians, and, annexed to Yugoslavia, became part of Slovenia.

As a result of the turbulence of the two world wars, the German-speaking population of Lower Styria, concentrated in the cities, migrated out of the region or was expelled. As elsewhere in the developed world, there has been a shift away from the manufacturing sector towards the service sector in Styria; this has had negative consequences for the industrial regions of upper Styria, which have suffered a steady decline in population in recent years. In 2004 Styria had the strongest economic growth rate in Austria at 3.8%—mainly due to the Graz area which saw strong economic growth that year and has continued to grow in economic and population terms since then. Styria is home to more than 150 clean technology companies, of which one dozen are world technology leaders in their field; the revenue of Styrian cleantech companies totals €2.7 billion. This equals to 8 percent of the Gross Regional Product, is one of the highest concentrations of leading clean technology companies in Europe; the companies have an average growth rate of 22 percent per year—well above the worldwide cleantech market growth of 18 percent per year.

The region created 2,000 additional green jobs in 2008 alone. The state is divided into one of them a statutory city. Graz Bruck-Mürzzuschlag Deutschlandsberg Graz-Umgebung Hartberg-Fürstenfeld Leibnitz Leoben Liezen Murau Murtal Südoststeiermark Voitsberg Weiz The state had been a stronghold of the Austrian People's Party since 1945. Graz however is more left leaning than the more rural parts of the province, with strong representation of the Green Party in local politics and elections, a less-than-marginal presence of the far left Communist Party; the governor has been a member of the ÖVP. In the 2005 elections for state parliament the Social Democrats under their regional chairman Franz Voves won the majority after the ÖVP had damaged its credibility through scandals and the secession of a high-ranking party member who took part in the 2005 elections after setting up his own party. In these elections, the KPÖ received many votes after it had gained much popularity through its role in local politics in Graz during the preceding few years.

The two right-wing populist parties, the Freedom Party of Austria and the Alliance for the Future of Austria, failed to win seats. In subsequent elections in 2010 and 2015, the Social Democrats, the Austrian People's Party, the Communist Party each lost between one fourth and one third of their shares of the vote relative to 2005; the Freedom Party grew from 4.6 percent to 26.8 percent. The current government of Styria is a coalition of Social Democrats and People's Party, with

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip, or Gaza, is a self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km border. Gaza and the West Bank are claimed by the de jure sovereign State of Palestine; the territories of Gaza and the West Bank are separated from each other by Israeli territory. Both fell under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, but Gaza has since June 2007 been governed by Hamas, a Palestinian fundamentalist militant Islamic organization which came to power in free elections in 2006, it has been placed under an Israeli and U. S.-led international economic and political boycott from that time onwards. The territory is 41 kilometers long, from 6 to 12 kilometers wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometers. With around 1.85 million Palestinians on some 362 square kilometers, Gaza ranks as the 3rd most densely populated polity in the world. An extensive Israeli buffer zone within the Strip renders much land off-limits to Gaza's Palestinians.

Gaza has an annual population growth rate of 2.91%, the 13th highest in the world, is referred to as overcrowded. The population is expected to increase to 2.1 million in 2020. By that time, Gaza may be rendered unliveable. Due to the Israeli and Egyptian border closures and the Israeli sea and air blockade, the population is not free to leave or enter the Gaza Strip, nor allowed to import or export goods. Sunni Muslims make up the predominant part of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip. Despite the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza, the United Nations, international human rights organisations, the majority of governments and legal commentators consider the territory to be still occupied by Israel, supported by additional restrictions placed on Gaza by Egypt. Israel maintains direct external control over Gaza and indirect control over life within Gaza: it controls Gaza's air and maritime space, six of Gaza's seven land crossings, it reserves the right to enter Gaza at will with its military and maintains a no-go buffer zone within the Gaza territory.

Gaza is dependent on Israel for its water, telecommunications, other utilities. The system of control imposed by Israel is described as an "indirect occupation"; some other legal scholars have disputed the idea. In addition, the extent of self-rule exercised in the Gaza Strip has led some to describe the territory as a de facto independent state; when Hamas won a majority in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, the opposing political party Fatah refused to join the proposed coalition, until a short-lived unity government agreement was brokered by Saudi Arabia. When this collapsed under joint Israeli and United States pressure, the Palestinian Authority instituted a non-Hamas government in the West Bank while Hamas formed a government on its own in Gaza. Further economic sanctions were imposed by the European Quartet against Hamas. A brief civil war between the two Palestinian groups had broken out in Gaza when under a U. S.-backed plan, Fatah contested Hamas's administration. Hamas emerged the victor and expelled Fatah-allied officials and members of the PA's security apparatus from the Strip, has remained the sole governing power in Gaza since that date.

Gaza was part of the Ottoman Empire, before it was occupied by the United Kingdom and Israel, which in 1994 granted the Palestinian Authority in Gaza limited self-governance through the Oslo Accords. Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been de facto governed by Hamas, which claims to represent the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian people; the territory is still considered to be occupied by Israel by the United Nations, International human rights organisations, the majority of governments and legal commentators, despite the 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza. Israel maintains direct external control over Gaza and indirect control over life within Gaza: it controls Gaza's air and maritime space, six of Gaza's seven land crossings, it reserves the right to enter Gaza at will with its military and maintains a no-go buffer zone within the Gaza territory. Gaza is dependent on Israel for its water, telecommunications, other utilities; the Gaza Strip acquired its current northern and eastern boundaries at the cessation of fighting in the 1948 war, confirmed by the Israel–Egypt Armistice Agreement on 24 February 1949.

Article V of the Agreement declared. At first the Gaza Strip was administered by the All-Palestine Government, established by the Arab League in September 1948. All-Palestine in the Gaza Strip was managed under the military authority of Egypt, functioning as a puppet state, until it merged into the United Arab Republic and dissolved in 1959. From the time of the dissolution of the All-Palestine Government until 1967, the Gaza Strip was directly administered by an Egyptian military governor. Israel captured the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the Six-Day War in 1967. Pursuant to the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, the Palestinian Authority became the administrative body that governed Palestinian population centers while Israel maintained control of the airspace, territorial waters and border crossings with the exception of the land border with Egypt, controlled by Egypt. In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip under their unilateral disengagement plan. In July 2007, after winning the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Hamas became the elected government.

In 2007, Hamas expelled the rival

Occitan cross

The Occitan cross is a heraldic cross, today chiefly used as a symbol of Occitania. The design was first used in the coat of arms of the counts of Forcalquier, in the 12th century, by the counts of Toulouse in their capacity as Marquises of Provence, on 13th century coins and seals, it spread to the other provinces of Occitania, namely Provence, Gascony, Dauphiné, Auvergne and Limousin. A yellow Occitan cross on a blood-red background with the seven-armed golden star of the Felibritge makes up the flag of modern-day Occitania, it can be found in the emblems of Midi-Pyrénées, Languedoc-Roussillon and Hautes-Alpes, among many others, as well as in cemeteries and at country crossroads. The blazon of the modern emblem is gules, a cross cleché pommettée voided or described as cross pattée botonnée, cross pommettée, cross toulouse, or cross fleury voided. In the Chanson de la Croisade Albigeoise, it goes by the name of "Raymondine cross"; the Occitan cross first appears in the coat of arms of the counts of Forcalquier and during the reign of Raymond V, count of Toulouse, as a particular description of his official seal dated from 1165 corroborates.

It soon spreads across the whole south-western part of today's France and is spotted in various towns up north throughout the 12th century. Several interpretations have been proposed for the cross stressing the symbolic side of it and leaving aside the fact that "heraldry is not a science of symbols, but one of emblems". In 1950, Henri Rolland suggested that the origin of the Occitan cross be traced back to the marquisate of Provence, north of the Durance, more the town of Venasque. In 1966, in the L'Auta review, Roger Camboulives voices his idea that the Occitan cross derives from a sun cross and the Nestorian cross found in China's Turkestan, it would have arrived in Toulouse via northern Italy and Provence sometime in the 10th century. Camboulives in 1980 again emphasizes the role played by the Visigoths in the presence of small spheres at the end of the arms of the cross: they could represent the twelve houses of the zodiac. In 1986, Jean-Yves Royer claims that the cross was from Provence but admits that Henri Rolland's theory was flawed and built around wrong dates.

Royer concludes that Rolland mistook the Occitan cross with that of Forcalquier. He draws evidence most notably from two crosses carved in the lid of a sarcophagus found in the small Alpes-de-Haute-Provence commune of Ganagobie. Pierre Saliès in 1994 once again maintains that the cross is from Toulouse and is the fruit of successive local evolutions from the Jerusalem cross. Two years after, in L'Auta, Jean Rocacher confirms that the Occitan cross "is first the own emblem of the old county of Venasque torn between the houses of Toulouse and Forcalquier." In 2000, Laurent Macé claims that the Occitan cross became the counts' emblem after Raymond IV took part in the First Crusade. It would originate from Constantinople. Macé indicates that its pattern was first found in the Byzantine area and spread across Western Europe through Italy and Provence; the crosses of Venasque and Forcalquier would thus share the same origin, though one was not inspired by the other. In the same year, Bertran de la Farge locates the original Occitan cross somewhere in the marquisate of Provence Venasque.

He argues it could be a mixture of the Constantinople cross and the Coptic cross, brought to Provence by monks and maybe through Saint Maurice. The Occitan cross can be found on a number of flags, coats of arms and logos. Here follows a non-exhaustive list of occurrences: Flag of Languedoc-Roussillon Flag and emblem of Midi-Pyrénées Flag of the Aran Valley Coat of arms of Aude and the General Council of Aude Coat of arms of Gard Coat of arms of Hautes-Alpes Coat of arms of Haute-Garonne Coat of arms of Hérault Coat of arms of Tarn Coat of arms of Tarn-et-Garonne Coat of arms of Ansignan Coat of arms of Buoux Coat of arms of Céreste Coat of arms of Colomiers Coat of arms of Fanjeaux Coat of arms of Gigondas Coat of arms of Laissac Coat of arms of Llupia Coat of arms of Méthamis Coat of arms of Moissac Coat of arms of Monclar Coat of arms of Port-la-Nouvelle Coat of arms of Saint-Didier Coat of arms of Sévérac-le-Château Coat of arms of the City of Toulouse Coat of arms of Travaillan Coat of arms of Venasque Flag of Vianne Coat of arms of Villeneuve-d'Aveyron Coat of arms of Villefranche-de-Lauragais Coat of arms of Villefranche-de-Rouergue Logo of Toulouse FC Place du Capitole, Toulouse 43°36′16″N 1°26′36″E) Coat of arms of La Tour d'Auvergne Street signs in Toulouse Roadsigns in Limousin Sign of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc Cercelée Les Comtes de Toulouse et leur entourage: Rivalités, alliances et jeux de pouvoir XIIe-XIIIe siècles by Laurent Macé La Croix occitane by Bertran de la Farge Le Pays de Forcalquier by Jean-Yves Royer Media related to Occitan cross at Wikimedia Commons