Austrians (German: Österreicher) are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent. The English term Austrians was applied to the population of Habsburg Austria from the 17th or 18th century. Subsequently during the 19th century, it identified the citizens of the Empire of Austria (1804–1867), and from 1867 until 1918 to the citizens of Cisleithania. In the closest sense, the term Austria originally referred to the historical March of Austria, corresponding roughly to the Vienna Basin in what is today Lower Austria.
Historically, Austrians were regarded as Austrian Germans due to Austria being part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation until its ending and as part of the German Confederation until the German war in 1866 which saw the debated German question come to an end. Following the founding of the nation-state German Empire in 1871 without Austria, and along with the events of World War II and Nazism, Austrians have developed their own distinct national identity.