The population of Graz has soared by more than 13 per cent during the past nine years, outdoing all of Austrias other provincial capitals.Statistik Austria and the Federation of Austrian Cities (Städtebund) announced yesterday (Thurs) 257,000 people were currently living in the provincial capital of Styria, up by 13.7 per cent compared to 2001.The authorities pointed out this was the strongest increase in population among the countrys nine provincial capitals. Eisenstadt in Burgenland, with 12,900 residents the smallest provincial capital, comes second with a 13.4 per cent rise ahead of Vienna. almost 1.7 million people are currently living in the federal capital, up by 9.6 per cent to figures recorded in 2001.Graz has been praised for its cultural offerings like opera performances and exhibitions. Commentators have stressed that the range of events have increased and improved in quality since the city was designated the European Capital of Culture in 2003.The citys living quality standard has, however, been hit by the high number of days the city is kept under a cloud of smog every year. City Hall has vowed to fight the problem by introducing a string of measures which should encourage drivers to take public transport or replace their old cars with new and more eco-friendly models.Brunn am Gebirge just outside Vienna registered the strongest population increase among Austrias 72 biggest cities with a plus of 17.8 per cent. Wörgl in Tyrol comes second (14 per cent).Seventeen of the countrys 72 largest towns and cities, however, suffered a decline in residents during the past nine years. Knittelfeld in Styria was hit worst (minus 7.7 per cent), but the Styrian cities of Leoben (minus 4.2 per cent) and Bruck an der Mur (minus 3.9 per cent) struggled too.Another survey presented earlier this year revealed that people working in Vienna are earning almost 400 Euros more than those in the eastern province of Burgenland.Statistics show people employed in the capital rake in an average 2,298 Euros a month, 395 Euros more than those working for companies in Burgenland.People in the western province of Vorarlberg are in second with an average monthly income of 2,292 Euros, followed by Upper Austria (2,243 Euros) and Styria (2,145 Euros).The average Austrian income is 2,197 Euros before tax.