HU flagHungary (On Hungarian: Magyarország),
officially the Republic of Hungary (Magyar Köztársaság), is a landlocked country in Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. Hungary has been a member state of the European Union since May 1, 2004.


In the time of the Roman Empire, the Romans called the region Pannonia (west from the Danube river). After Rome fell under the Germanic tribes migration and Carpians' pressure, the Migration Period continued bringing many invaders. First came the Huns, who built up a powerful empire under Attila. The name "Hungary" comes from the name of a later, 7th century Turkic alliance called On-Ogour, which in Old Turkish meant "(the) Ten Arrows".

After the Hunnish rule faded, the other Germanic tribes Lombards and Gepids ruled in Pannonia for about 100 years, during which the Slavic tribes also began migrating south. In the 560s, these were supplanted by the Avars who would maintain their supremacy of the land for over two centuries. The Franks under Charlemagne from the west and the Bulgars from the southeast finally managed to overthrow the Avars in the early 9th century. Soon after, the Franks retreated, and the Slavonic kingdom of Great Moravia and the Balaton Principality controlled much of Pannonia until the end of the century. Finally, the Magyars migrated to Hungary in the late 9th century.

ArpadTradition holds that the Country of the Magyars (Magyarország) was founded by Árpád, who led the Magyars into the Pannonian plains after 895. The "Ten Arrows" mentioned above referred to ten tribes, the alliance of which founded the basic Magyar invaders' "army".

The Kingdom of Hungary was established in 1000 by King St.Stephen I (Hungarian: Szent István). Stephen, a direct descendant of Árpád, was baptized as a child. He married Gisella, the daughter of Henry II, Duke of Bavaria in 996, becoming the country's ruler in 997- after his father, Prince Géza.

St. Stephen I received his crown from Pope Silvester II in 1000. As a Christian king, he established the Hungarian Church with ten dioceses and the royal administration of the country that was divided into counties (comitatus or vármegye). Hungary became a patrimonial kingdom where the majority of the lands were the private property of the ruler.

Initially, Hungarian history and politics developed in close association with that of Poland and Bohemia, driven by the interventions of various Popes and Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. Between 1241–1242, Hungary was devastated, suffering great loss of life at the hands of Mongol (Tatar) armies of Batu Khan who defeated the Hungarians at the Battle of Muhi.

Gradually Hungary, under the rule of the dynasty of the Árpáds, turned into an independent kingdom, forming a distinct Central European culture with ties to greater West European civilization. Ruled by the Angevins since 1308, the Kingdom of Hungary briefly extended its control over Wallachia and Moldavia. The non-dynastic king Matthias Corvinus, son of János Hunyadi, ruled the Kingdom of Hungary from 1458 to 1490. He strengthened Hungary and its government. Under his rule, Hungary became an important artistic and cultural centre of Europe during the Renaissance. Hungarian culture influenced others, for example the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. King Matthias Corvinus was also successful in many battles against the Ottoman Empire. However, since he had no successors, his empire fell apart after his death.

Hungarian independence ended with the Ottoman conquest in 1526, after severe defeat by the Magyars at the battle of Mohács; the old Kingdom of Hungary then came to be divided into three parts: one third of Hungary fell under Ottoman rule; one third (in the West) was annexed by Austria (the Habsburg rulers of which thus also became "Kings of Hungary"); only the last third, in the East, remained "independent Hungary": the Principality of Transylvania.

It is only more than 150 years later, at the end of the 17th Century, that Austria and its Christian allies regained their territories from the Ottoman Empire.

After the final retreat of the Turks, struggle began between the Hungarian nation and the Habsburg kings for the protection of noblemen's rights (thus guarding the autonomy of Hungary). The fight against Austrian absolutism resulted in the unsuccessful popular freedom fight led by a Transylvanian nobleman, Ferenc II Rákóczi, between 1703 and 1711. The revolution and war of 1848–1849 eliminated serfdom and secured civil rights. The Austrians were finally able to prevail only with Russian help.

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Thanks to the victories against Austria by the French-Italian coalition (the Battle of Solferino, 1859) and Prussia (Battle of Königgrätz, 1866), Hungary would eventually, in 1867, manage to become an autonomous part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (see Ausgleich). Having achieved this, the Hungarian government made an effort to nationally unify the kingdom by Magyarisation of the various other nationalities. This lasted until the end of World War I, when the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed. On November 16, 1918, an independent Hungarian Republic was proclaimed.

In March 1919 the communists took power, and in April, Béla Kun proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic. This government, like its predecessor, proved to be short-lived; after some initial military successes against the Czechoslovak army, the Romanians attacked to prevent a campaign in Transylvania. By August more than half of present-day Hungary, including Budapest, was placed under Romanian occupation, which lasted until November. Rightist military forces, led by the former Austro-Hungarian Admiral Miklós Horthy, entered Budapest in the wake of the Romanian army's departure and filled the vacuum of state power. In January 1920, elections were held for a unicameral assembly, and Admiral Horthy was subsequently elected Regent, thereby formally restoring Hungary to a kingdom, although there were no more Kings of Hungary, despite attempts by the former Habsburg king to return to power. Horthy continued to rule with autocratic powers until 1944.

On June 4, 1920 the Treaty of Trianon was signed, fixing Hungary's borders. Compared with the pre-war Kingdom, Hungary lost 71% of its territory,66% of its population, and with the new borders about one-third of the Magyar population became minorities in the neighbouring countries. Hungary also lost its only sea port in Fiume (today Rijeka).Therefore, Hungarian politics and culture of the interwar period were saturated with irredentism (the restoration of historical "greater Hungary").

Horthy made an alliance with Nazi Germany in the 1930s, in the hope of revising the territorial losses that had followed World War I. The alliance did lead to some territories being returned to Hungary in the two Vienna Awards. Hungary then assisted the German occupation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, occupying the Banat right afterwards, and finally entered World War II in 1941, fighting primarily against the Soviet Union. In October 1944, Hitler replaced Horthy with the Hungarian Nazi collaborator Ferenc Szálasi and his Arrow Cross Party in order to avert Hungary's defection to the Allied side, which was constantly threatened since the Allied invasion of Italy.

Hungary passed a series of anti-Semitic laws throughout the 1920s and thirties, and some massacres of Jews by Hungarian forces took place in the early part of the Second World War, but Hungary initially resisted large scale deportation of its Jewish population. Ultimately, however, during the German occupation, the Arrow Cross Party and government authorities participated in the Holocaust: in May and June 1944, Hungarian police deported nearly 440,000 Jews in more than 145 trains, mostly to Auschwitz. Ultimately, over 400,000 Jews in Hungary were killed during the Holocaust, as well as several tens of thousands of Roma. Raoul Wallenberg, Carl Lutz and other foreign diplomats as well as some Hungarian citizens saved the life of many Jews in Hungary.

Following the fall of Nazi Germany, Hungary became part of the Soviet area of influence and was appropriated into a communist state following a short period of democracy in 1946–1947. After 1948, Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi established a Stalinist rule in the country, which was hardly bearable for the war-torn country. This led to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and an announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact which were met with a massive military intervention by the Soviet Union. Nearly a quarter of a million people left the country left during the brief time that the borders were open in 1956. From the 1960s on to the late 1980s Hungary was sometimes satirically called "the happiest barrack" within the Eastern bloc, under the rule of late controversial communist leader János Kádár, who exercised autocratic rule during this period. In the late 1980s, Hungary led the movement to dissolve the Warsaw Pact and shifted toward multiparty democracy and a market-oriented economy. On October 23, 1989, Mátyás Szűrös declared the Third Hungarian Republic and became interim President of the Republic. The first free elections were held in 1990. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Hungary developed closer ties with Western Europe, as well as with other Central European countries, becoming a member of the Visegrad Group in 1991, and joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union on May 1, 2004.

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Hungary's landscape consists mostly of the flat to rolling plains of the Carpathian Basin, with hills and lower mountains to the north along the Slovakian border (highest point: the Kékes at 3,327 ft; 1,014 m). Hungary is divided in two by its main waterway, the Danube (Duna); other large rivers include the Tisza and Dráva, while the western half contains Lake Balaton, a major body of water. The largest thermal lake in the world, Lake Hévíz (Hévíz Spa), is located in Hungary. The second largest lake in the Carpathian Basin is Lake Theiss (Tisza-tó). On Balaton you can visit few interesting places like Siófok, very popular tourist place beside M7 high-way. Next to the Siófok is Zamárdi, smaller but more quiet place. Or on the other side of the lake is Balatonfüred, most popular town on north side of Balaton lake. 


Hungary has a continental climate, with cold, cloudy, humid winters and warm to hot summers. Average annual temperature is 9.7 °C (49.5 °F). Temperature extremes are about 38 °C (100 °F) in the summer and −29 °C (−20 °F) in the winter. Average temperature in the summer is 27 to 32 °C (81 to 90 °F), and in the winter it is 0 to −15 °C (32 to 5 °F). The average yearly rainfall is approximately 600 millimetres (24 in). A small, southern region of the country near Pécs reputedly enjoys a Mediterranean climate however in reality is just a bit warmer than the rest of the country and still has snow in the winters.

The relative isolation of the Carpathian Basin makes it susceptible to droughts and the effects of global warming are already felt. According to popular opinion, and many scientists, in the latest decades the country became drier, as droughts are quite common. Summers became hotter and winters became milder. For these reasons snow has become much rarer than before. Popular opinion also states that the four-season system became a two-season system as spring and autumn are getting shorter and shorter, even vanishing some years. This supposed tendency unexpectedly reversed in 2006 when the two main rivers, the Danube and the Tisza flooded at the same time. It made hundreds of homes unhabitable despite the hard work of the defenders who reinforced most sections of the rivers with sandbags (with the help of university students and the army of Hungary ("Honvédség")). Most of Hungary is covered by agricultural plains, there are but few remnants of its original forests, mainly in the mountain regions and national parks.

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Main article: Demographics of Hungary Outdoor chess in Budapest, November 1990 Enlarge Outdoor chess in Budapest, November 1990 For some 95% of the population, mostly Hungarians, the mother tongue is Hungarian, a Finno-Ugric language unrelated to any neighbouring language. Several ethnic minorities exist: Roma (5%), Germans (1.2%), Romanians (0.8%), Slovaks (0.4%), Croats (0.2%), Serbs (0.2%) and Ukrainians (0.1%).

The largest religion in Hungary is Catholicism – Roman and Greek – (around half of the population), with a Calvinist minority (around 16%) and some Lutherans (3%). Jews are now approximately 1% of the population. However, these formal figures are not wholly representative, since the Hungarian population is not particularly religious; no more than 25% actively practice their faith. Furthermore, the active suppression of religion by the Communist regimes over 50 years has left religion mostly to older people who no longer were risking advancement opportunities.

For historical reasons, significant Hungarian minority populations can be found in the surrounding countries, notably in Ukraine (in Transcarpathia), Slovakia, Romania (in Transylvania), and Serbia (in Vojvodina). Austria (in Burgenland), Croatia, and Slovenia are also host to a number of ethnic Magyars.

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Hungarian Politics

The President of the Republic, elected by the parliament every 5 years, has a largely ceremonial role, but powers also include appointing the prime minister and choosing the dates of the parliamentary elections. The prime minister selects cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them. Each cabinet nominee appears before one or more parliamentary committees in consultative open hearings and must be formally approved by the president.

The unicameral, 386-member National Assembly (the Országgyűlés) is the highest organ of state authority and initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the prime minister. National parliamentary elections are held every 4 years (the next will be held probably in 2010). An 11-member Constitutional Court has power to challenge legislation on grounds of unconstitutionality. Recommended link: See panoramic image of Parlament in Hi resolution here>

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Administrative divisions of Hungary

Hungary is subdivided administratively into 19 counties, but since the admission to the European Union, Hungary has been subdivided into 7 euro-regions. In addition to these, there is one capital city (főváros): Budapest. There are also 23 so-called urban counties (singular megyei jogú város), These are:

Urban counties Counties (County Capital) Euro-regions
  • Békéscsaba
  • Debrecen
  • Dunaújváros
  • Eger
  • Érd
  • Győr
  • Hódmezővásárhely
  • Kaposvár
  • Kecskemét
  • Miskolc
  • Nagykanizsa
  • Nyíregyháza
  • Pécs
  • Salgótarján
  • Sopron
  • Szeged
  • Székesfehérvár
  • Szekszárd
  • Szolnok
  • Szombathely
  • Tatabánya
  • Veszprém
  • Zalaegerszeg
  • Bács-Kiskun (Kecskemét)
  • Baranya (Pécs)
  • Békés (Békéscsaba)
  • Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén (Miskolc)
  • Csongrád (Szeged)
  • Fejér (Székesfehérvár)
  • Győr-Moson-Sopron (Győr)
  • Hajdú-Bihar (Debrecen)
  • Heves (Eger)
  • Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok (Szolnok)
  • Komárom-Esztergom (Tatabánya)
  • Nógrád (Salgótarján)
  • Pest (Budapest)
  • Somogy (Kaposvár)
  • Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg (Nyíregyháza)
  • Tolna (Szekszárd)
  • Vas (Szombathely)
  • Veszprém (Veszprém)
  • Zala (Zalaegerszeg)
  • Western Transdanubia
  • Southern Transdanubia
  • Central Transdanubia
  • Central Hungary
  • Northern Hungary
  • Northern Great Plain
  • Southern Great Plain

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Hungarian Economy

Hungary continues to demonstrate strong economic growth as one of the countries that become the newest member of the European Union, since 2004. Together with Slovenia and the Czech Republic, Hungary provides one of the highest standard of living among Eastern European countries. The private sector accounts for over 80% of GDP. Hungary gets nearly one third of all foreign direct investment flowing in to Central Europe. Foreign ownership of and investment in Hungarian firms are widespread, with cumulative foreign direct investment totalling more than US$23 billion since 1989. Hungarian sovereign debt was upgraded in 2000 to the second-highest rating among all the Central European transition economies. Inflation and unemployment – both priority concerns in 2001 – have declined substantially.Economic reform measures such as health care reform, tax reform, and local government financing have not yet been addressed by the present government.

The Hungarian government has expressed a desire to adopt the euro currency in 2010, but the introduction of the currency is currently only in the early planning stages.

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Hungarian Culture

is diverse and varied.

Franc ListThe Music of Hungary consists mainly of traditional Hungarian folk music and music by prominent composers such as Franz Liszt, Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály. Hungarian traditional music tends to have a strong dactylic rhythm, just as the language is invariably stressed on the first syllable of each word.

Hungarian cuisine is also a prominent feature of Hungarian culture, with traditional dishes such as goulash a main feature of the Hungarian diet. Dishes are often flavoured with paprika (also Hungarian for pepper). Stews are often to be found with typical elements such as pork or beef, for example as used in pörkölt.

Hungary is famous for its mathematics institute which has trained many Nobel Prize winners. Famous Hungarian mathematicians include Paul Erdős who is famous for publishing in over forty languages and whose Erdős numbers are still tracked, János Bolyai designer of non-Euclidian geometry, John von Neumann one of the pioneers in digital computing, Eugene Wigner, and many others. Erdös, von Neumann, and Wigner, like other Hungarian Jewish scientists, fled rising anti-Semitism in Europe, and made their most famous contributions in the United States.

Hungarians are very proud of their inventions. These include the noiseless match, the Rubik's cube and the aforementioned non-Euclidian geometry. A number of other important inventions, including holography, the ballpoint pen (invented by Bíró, who gave his name to the invention), the theory of the hydrogen bomb, and the BASIC programming language, were invented by Hungarians who fled the country prior to World War II.

Hungarian literature has recently gained some renown outside the borders of Hungary (mostly through translations into German, French and English). Some modern Hungarian authors became increasingly popular in Germany and Italy especially Sándor Márai, Péter Esterházy, Péter Nádas and Imre Kertész. The later is a contemporary Jewish writer who survived the Holocaust and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002.

The older classics of Hungarian literature and Hungarian poetry remained almost totally unknown outside Hungary. Traditionally Hungarians appreciate poetry more than Hungarian prose. János Arany, a famous 19th century Hungarian poet is still much loved in Hungary (especially his collection of Ballads), among several other "true classics" like Sándor Petőfi, the poet of the Revolution of 1848, Endre Ady, Mihály Babits, Dezső Kosztolányi, Attila József and János Pilinszky. Other well-known Hungarian authors are Zsigmond Móricz, Gyula Illyés, Albert Wass and Magda Szabó.

Hungarians are also known for their prowess at water sports, mainly swimming, water polo and canoeing; this can be said to be surprising at first, due to Hungary being landlocked. On the other hand, the presence of two major rivers (Duna/Tisza) and a major lake (Balaton) gives excellent opportunities to practice those sports.

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External links about Hungary

Oficial site of Hungary

Börzsöny mountains - 100 km north from Budapest

Balaton Hotels


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