Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarorszg [ˈmɒɟɒrorsaːɡ] (
The territory of modern Hungary was for centuries inhabited by a succession of peoples, including Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, Huns, West Slavs and the Avars. The foundations of the Hungarian state were established in the late ninth century CE by the Hungarian grand prince rpd following the conquest of the Carpathian Basin. His great-grandson Stephen I ascended the throne in 1000, converting his realm to a Christian kingdom. By the 12th century, Hungary became a regional power, reaching its cultural and political height in the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohcs in 1526, Hungary was partially occupied by the Ottoman Empire (1541–1699). It came under Habsburg rule at the turn of the 18th century, and later joined Austria to form the Austro–Hungarian Empire, a major European power.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed after World War I, and the subsequent Treaty of Trianon established Hungary’s current borders, resulting in the loss of 71% of its territory, 58% of its population, and 32% of ethnic Hungarians. Following the tumultuous interwar period, Hungary joined the Axis Powers in World War II, suffering significant damage and casualties. Hungary became a satellite state of the Soviet Union, which contributed to the establishment of a socialist republic spanning four decades (1949–1989). The country gained widespread international attention as a result of its 1956 revolution and the seminal opening of its previously-restricted border with Austria in 1989, which accelerated the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. On 23 October 1989, Hungary became a democratic parliamentary republic.
Hungary is an OECD high-income economy and has the world’s 58th largest economy by PPP. It ranks 45th on the Human Development Index, owing in large part to its social security system, universal health care, and tuition-free secondary education. Hungary’s rich cultural history includes significant contributions to the arts, music, literature, sports, science and technology. It is the 13th most popular tourist destination in Europe, attracting 15.8 million international tourists in 2017, owing to attractions such as the largest thermal water cave system in the world, second largest thermal lake, the largest lake in Central Europe and the largest natural grasslands in Europe. Hungary’s cultural, historical, and academic prominence classify it as a middle power in global affairs.
Hungary joined the European Union in 2004 and has been part of the Schengen Area since 2007. It is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, WTO, World Bank, the AIIB, the Council of Europe, and the Visegrd Group.
The “H” in the name of Hungary (and Latin Hungaria) is most likely due to early founded historical associations with the Huns, who had settled Hungary prior to the Avars. The rest of the word comes from the Latinized form of Byzantine Greek Oungroi (Οὔγγροι). The Greek name was borrowed from Old Bulgarian ągrinŭ, in turn borrowed from Oghur-Turkic Onogur (‘ten [tribes of the] Ogurs‘). Onogur was the collective name for the tribes who later joined the Bulgar tribal confederacy that ruled the eastern parts of Hungary after the Avars.
The Hungarian endonym is Magyarorszg, composed of magyar (‘Hungarian’) and orszg (‘country’). As a matter of fact, the name “Magyar”, which refers to the people of the country, more accurately reflects the name of the country in some other languages such as Turkish, Persian and other languages as Magyaristan or Land of Magyars or similar. The word magyar is taken from the name of one of the seven major semi-nomadic Hungarian tribes, magyeri. The first element magy is likely from Proto-Ugric *mńć- ‘man, person’, also found in the name of the Mansi people (mńćī, mańśi, mńś). The second element eri, ‘man, men, lineage’, survives in Hungarian frj ‘husband’, and is cognate with Mari erge ‘son’, Finnish archaic yrk ‘young man’.
|895–1000||Principality of Hungary||Middle Ages|
|1000–1301||Kingdom of Hungary||Middle Ages|
|1301–1526||Kingdom of Hungary||Middle Ages|
|1526–1867||Kingdom of Hungary||Crownland of Habsburg Monarchy and Austrian Empire|
|1867–1918||Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen||Part of Austria-Hungary|
|1918–1919||Hungarian People’s Republic||First Republic|
|1919–1920||Hungarian Soviet Republic|
|1920–1946||Kingdom of Hungary||Puppet State of Nazi Germany from 1944 to 1945.|
|1946–1949||Hungarian Republic||Second Republic.|
|1949–1989||Hungarian People’s Republic||Satellite state of the Soviet Union|
|1989–2012||Hungarian Republic||Third Republic, constitution of 1949 amended.|
The Roman Empire conquered the territory west of the Danube between 35 and 9 BC. From 9 BC to the end of the 4th century, Pannonia was part of the Roman Empire, located within part of later Hungary’s territory. Around AD 41–54, a 500-strong cavalry unit created the settlement of Aquincum and a Roman legion of 6,000 men was stationed here by AD 89. A civil city grew gradually in the neighbourhood of the military settlement and in AD 106 Aquincum became the focal point of the commercial life of this area and the capital city of the province of Pannonia Inferior. This area now corresponds to the buda district of Budapest, with the Roman ruins now forming part of the modern Aquincum museum. Later came the Huns, a Central Asian tribe who built a powerful empire. After Hunnish rule, the Germanic Ostrogoths, Lombards, and Gepids, and the Avar Khaganate, had a presence in the Carpathian Basin.
In the 9th century, East Francia, the First Bulgarian Empire and Great Moravia ruled the territory of the Carpathian Basin. The freshly unified Hungarians led by rpd (by tradition a descendant of Attila), settled in the Carpathian Basin starting in 895. According to linguistic evidence, they originated from an ancient Uralic-speaking population that formerly inhabited the forested area between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains.
Medieval Hungary 895–1526
As a federation of united tribes, Hungary was established in 895, some 50 years after the division of the Carolingian Empire at the Treaty of Verdun in 843, before the unification of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Initially, the rising Principality of Hungary (“Western Tourkia” in medieval Greek sources) was a state consisting of a semi-nomadic people. It accomplished an enormous transformation into a Christian realm during the 10th century.
This state was well-functioning and the nation’s military power allowed the Hungarians to conduct successful fierce campaigns and raids from Constantinople to as far as today’s Spain. The Hungarians defeated no fewer than three major East Frankish Imperial Armies between 907 and 910. A later defeat at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955 signaled a provisory end to most campaigns on foreign territories, at least towards the West.
Age of rpdian kings
The year 972 marked the date when the ruling prince (Hungarian: fejedelem) Gza of the rpd dynasty officially started to integrate Hungary into the Christian Western Europe. His first-born son, Saint Stephen I, became the first King of Hungary after defeating his pagan uncle Koppny, who also claimed the throne. Under Stephen, Hungary was recognized as a Catholic Apostolic Kingdom. Applying to Pope Sylvester II, Stephen received the insignia of royalty (including probably a part of the Holy Crown of Hungary, currently kept in the Hungarian Parliament) from the papacy.
By 1006, Stephen consolidated his power, and started sweeping reforms to convert Hungary into a Western feudal state. The country switched to using the Latin language, and until as late as 1844, Latin remained the official language of Hungary. Around this time, Hungary began to become a powerful kingdom.Ladislaus I extended Hungary’s frontier in Transylvania and invaded Croatia in 1091. The Croatian campaign culminated in the Battle of Gvozd Mountain in 1097 and a personal union of Croatia and Hungary in 1102, ruled by Coloman i.e. Knyves Klmn.
The most powerful and wealthiest king of the rpd dynasty was Bla III, who disposed of the equivalent of 23 tonnes of pure silver a year. This exceeded the income of the French king (estimated at 17 tonnes) and was double the receipts of the English Crown.
Andrew II issued the Diploma Andreanum which secured the special privileges of the Transylvanian Saxons and is considered the first Autonomy law in the world. He led the Fifth Crusade to the Holy Land in 1217, setting up the largest royal army in the history of Crusades. His Golden Bull of 1222 was the first constitution in Continental Europe. The lesser nobles also began to present Andrew with grievances, a practice that evolved into the institution of the parliament (parlamentum publicum).
In 1241–1242, the kingdom received a major blow with the Mongol (Tatar) invasion. Up to half of Hungary’s then population of 2,000,000 were victims of the invasion. King Bla IV let Cumans and Jassic people into the country, who were fleeing the Mongols. Over the centuries, they were fully assimilated into the Hungarian population.
As a consequence, after the Mongols retreated, King Bla ordered the construction of hundreds of stone castles and fortifications, to defend against a possible second Mongol invasion. The Mongols returned to Hungary in 1285, but the newly built stone-castle systems and new tactics (using a higher proportion of heavily armed knights) stopped them. The invading Mongol force was defeated near Pest by the royal army of Ladislaus IV of Hungary. As with later invasions, it was repelled handily, the Mongols losing much of their invading force.
Age of elected kings
The Kingdom of Hungary reached one of its greatest extents during the rpdian kings, yet royal power was weakened at the end of their rule in 1301. After a destructive period of interregnum (1301–1308), the first Angevin king, Charles I of Hungary – a bilineal descendant of the rpd dynasty – successfully restored royal power, and defeated oligarch rivals, the so-called “little kings”. The second Angevin Hungarian king, Louis the Great (1342–1382), led many successful military campaigns from Lithuania to Southern Italy (Kingdom of Naples), and was also King of Poland from 1370. After King Louis died without a male heir, the country was stabilized only when Sigismund of Luxembourg (1387–1437) succeeded to the throne, who in 1433 also became Holy Roman Emperor. Sigismund was also (in several ways) a bilineal descendant of the rpd dynasty.
The first Hungarian Bible translation was completed in 1439. For half a year in 1437, there was an antifeudal and anticlerical peasant revolt in Transylvania, the Budai Nagy Antal Revolt, which was strongly influenced by Hussite ideas.
From a small noble family in Transylvania, John Hunyadi grew to become one of the country’s most powerful lords, thanks to his outstanding capabilities as a mercenary commander. He was elected governor then regent. He was a successful crusader against the Ottoman Turks, one of his greatest victories being the Siege of Belgrade in 1456.
The last strong king of medieval Hungary was the Renaissance king Matthias Corvinus (1458–1490), son of John Hunyadi. His election was the first time that a member of the nobility mounted to the Hungarian royal throne without dynastic background. He was a successful military leader and an enlightened patron of the arts and learning. His library, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was Europe’s greatest collection of historical chronicles, philosophic and scientific works in the 15th century, and second only in size to the Vatican Library. Items from the Bibliotheca Corviniana were inscribed on UNESCO‘s Memory of the World Register in 2005.
The serfs and common people considered him a just ruler because he protected them from excessive demands from and other abuses by the magnates. Under his rule, in 1479, the Hungarian army destroyed the Ottoman and Wallachian troops at the Battle of Breadfield. Abroad he defeated the Polish and German imperial armies of Frederick at Breslau (Wrocław). Matthias’ mercenary standing army, the Black Army of Hungary, was an unusually large army for its time, and it conquered parts of Austria, Vienna (1485) and parts of Bohemia.
Decline of Hungary (1490–1526)
King Matthias died without lawful sons, and the Hungarian magnates procured the accession of the Pole Vladislaus II (1490–1516), supposedly because of his weak influence on Hungarian aristocracy. Hungary’s international role declined, its political stability shaken, and social progress was deadlocked. In 1514, the weakened old King Vladislaus II faced a major peasant rebellion led by Gyrgy Dzsa, which was ruthlessly crushed by the nobles, led by John Zpolya.
The resulting degradation of order paved the way for Ottoman pre-eminence. In 1521, the strongest Hungarian fortress in the South, Nndorfehrvr (today’s Belgrade, Serbia), fell to the Turks. The early appearance of Protestantism further worsened internal relations in the country.
Ottoman wars 1526–1699
After some 150 years of wars with the Hungarians and other states, the Ottomans gained a decisive victory over the Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohcs in 1526, where King Louis II died while fleeing. Amid political chaos, the divided Hungarian nobility elected two kings simultaneously, John Zpolya and Ferdinand I of the Habsburg dynasty. With the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, Hungary was divided into three parts and remained so until the end of the 17th century. The north-western part, termed as Royal Hungary, was annexed by the Habsburgs who ruled as Kings of Hungary. The eastern part of the kingdom became independent as the Principality of Transylvania, under Ottoman (and later Habsburg) suzerainty. The remaining central area, including the capital Buda, was known as the Pashalik of Buda.
The vast majority of the seventeen and nineteen thousand Ottoman soldiers in service in the Ottoman fortresses in the territory of Hungary were Orthodox and Muslim Balkan Slavs rather than ethnic Turkish people. Orthodox Southern Slavs were also acting as akinjis and other light troops intended for pillaging in the territory of present-day Hungary. In 1686, the Holy League’s army, containing over 74,000 men from various nations, reconquered Buda from the Turks. After some more crushing defeats of the Ottomans in the next few years, the entire Kingdom of Hungary was removed from Ottoman rule by 1718. The last raid into Hungary by the Ottoman vassals Tatars from Crimea took place in 1717. The constrained Habsburg Counter-Reformation efforts in the 17th century reconverted the majority of the kingdom to Catholicism. The ethnic composition of Hungary was fundamentally changed as a consequence of the prolonged warfare with the Turks. A large part of the country became devastated, population growth was stunted, and many smaller settlements perished. The Austrian-Habsburg government settled large groups of Serbs and other Slavs in the depopulated south, and settled Germans (called Danube Swabians) in various areas, but Hungarians were not allowed to settle or re-settle in the south of the Great Plain.
From the 18th century to World War I
Between 1703 and 1711, there was a large-scale uprising led by Francis II Rkczi, who after the dethronement of the Habsburgs in 1707 at the Diet of nod, took power provisionally as the Ruling Prince of Hungary for the wartime period, but refused the Hungarian Crown and the title “King”. The uprisings lasted for years. The Hungarian Kuruc army, although taking over most of the country, lost the main battle at Trencsn (1708). Three years later, because of the growing desertion, defeatism and low morale, the Kuruc forces finally surrendered.
During the Napoleonic Wars and afterwards, the Hungarian Diet had not convened for decades. In the 1820s, the Emperor was forced to convene the Diet, which marked the beginning of a Reform Period (1825–1848, Hungarian: reformkor). Count Istvn Szchenyi, one of the most prominent statesmen of the country, recognized the urgent need of modernization and his message got through. The Hungarian Parliament was reconvened in 1825 to handle financial needs. A liberal party emerged and focused on providing for the peasantry. Lajos Kossuth – a famous journalist at that time – emerged as leader of the lower gentry in the Parliament. A remarkable upswing started as the nation concentrated its forces on modernization even though the Habsburg monarchs obstructed all important liberal laws relating to civil and political rights and economic reforms. Many reformers (Lajos Kossuth, Mihly Tncsics) were imprisoned by the authorities.
On 15 March 1848, mass demonstrations in Pest and Buda enabled Hungarian reformists to push through a list of 12 demands. Under governor and president Lajos Kossuth and the first Prime Minister, Lajos Batthyny, the House of Habsburg was dethroned.
The Habsburg Ruler and his advisors skillfully manipulated the Croatian, Serbian and Romanian peasantry, led by priests and officers firmly loyal to the Habsburgs, and induced them to rebel against the Hungarian government, though the Hungarians were supported by the vast majority of the Slovak, German and Rusyn nationalities and by all the Jews of the kingdom, as well as by a large number of Polish, Austrian and Italian volunteers. In July 1849 the Hungarian Parliament proclaimed and enacted the first laws of ethnic and minority rights in the world. Many members of the nationalities gained the coveted highest positions within the Hungarian Army, like General Jnos Damjanich, an ethnic Serb who became a Hungarian national hero through his command of the 3rd Hungarian Army Corps or Jzef Bem, who was Polish and also became a national hero in Hungary. Initially, the Hungarian forces (Honvdsg) defeated Austrian armies. To counter the successes of the Hungarian revolutionary army, Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I asked for help from the “Gendarme of Europe”, Czar Nicholas I, whose Russian armies invaded Hungary. This made Artr Grgey surrender in August 1849. The leader of the Austrian army, Julius Jacob von Haynau, became governor of Hungary for a few months, and ordered the execution of the 13 Martyrs of Arad, leaders of the Hungarian army, and Prime Minister Batthyny in October 1849. Lajos Kossuth escaped into exile. Following the war of 1848– 1849, the whole country was in “passive resistance”.
Because of external and internal problems, reforms seemed inevitable and major military defeats of Austria forced the Habsburgs to negotiate the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, by which the dual Monarchy of Austria–Hungary was formed. This Empire had the second largest area in Europe (after the Russian Empire), and it was the third most populous (after Russia and the German Empire). The two realms were governed separately by two parliaments from two capital cities, with a common monarch and common external and military policies. Economically, the empire was a customs union. The old Hungarian Constitution was restored, and Franz Joseph I was crowned as King of Hungary. The era witnessed impressive economic development. The formerly backward Hungarian economy became relatively modern and industrialized by the turn of the 20th century, although agriculture remained dominant until 1890. In 1873, the old capital Buda and buda were officially united with Pest, thus creating the new metropolis of Budapest. Many of the state institutions and the modern administrative system of Hungary were established during this period.
After the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the Hungarian prime minister Istvn Tisza and his cabinet tried to avoid the outbreak and escalating of a war in Europe, but their diplomatic efforts were unsuccessful. Austria–Hungary drafted 9million (fighting forces: 7.8million) soldiers in World War I (over 4million from the Kingdom of Hungary) on the side of Germany, Bulgaria and Turkey. The troops raised in the Kingdom of Hungary spent little time defending the actual territory of Hungary, with the exceptions of the Brusilov Offensive in June 1916, and a few months later, when the Romanian army made an attack into Transylvania, both of which were repelled. In comparison, of the total army, Hungary’s loss ratio was more than any other nations of Austria-Hungary. The Central Powers conquered Serbia. Romania declared war. The Central Powers conquered Southern Romania and the Romanian capital Bucharest. In 1916 Emperor Franz Joseph died, and the new monarch Charles IV sympathized with the pacifists. With great difficulty, the Central powers stopped and repelled the attacks of the Russian Empire.
The Eastern front of the Allied (Entente) Powers completely collapsed. The Austro-Hungarian Empire then withdrew from all defeated countries. On the Italian front, the Austro-Hungarian army made no progress against Italy after January 1918. Despite great Eastern successes, Germany suffered complete defeat on the more important Western front. By 1918, the economic situation had deteriorated (strikes in factories were organized by leftist and pacifist movements) and uprisings in the army had become commonplace. In the capital cities, the Austrian and Hungarian leftist liberal movements (the maverick parties) and their leaders supported the separatism of ethnic minorities. Austria-Hungary signed a general armistice in Padua on 3 November 1918. In October 1918, Hungary’s union with Austria was dissolved.
Between the World Wars 1918–1941
Following the First World War, Hungary underwent a period of profound political upheaval, beginning with the Aster Revolution in 1918, which brought the social-democratic Mihly Krolyi to power as Prime Minister. Krolyi dissolved the union with Austria and disarmed the Hungarian Army, leaving the country without any national defense. The Little Entente, sensing an opportunity, invaded the country from three sides—Romania invaded Transylvania, Czechoslovakia annexed Upper Hungary (today’s Slovakia), and a joint Serb–French coalition annexed Vojvodina and other southern regions. In March 1919, communists led by Bla Kun ousted the Krolyi government and proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic (Tancskztrsasg), followed by a thorough Red Terror campaign. Despite some successes on the Czechoslovak front, Kun’s forces were ultimately unable to resist the Romanian invasion; by August 1919, Romanian troops occupied Budapest and ousted Kun.
In November 1919, rightist forces led by former Austro-Hungarian admiral Mikls Horthy entered Budapest; exhausted by the war and its aftermath, the populace accepted Horthy’s leadership. In January 1920, parliamentary elections were held and Horthy was proclaimed Regent of the reestablished Kingdom of Hungary, inaugurating the so-called “Horthy era” (Horthy-kor). The new government worked quickly to normalize foreign relations while turning a blind eye to a White Terror that swept through the countryside; extrajudicial killings of suspected communists and Jews lasted well into 1920. On June 4 of that year, the Treaty of Trianon established new borders for Hungary. The country lost 71% of its territory and 66% of its antebellum population, as well as many sources of raw materials and its sole port, Fiume. Though the revision of the Treaty quickly rose to the top of the national political agenda, the Horthy government was not willing to resort to military intervention to do so.
The initial years of the Horthy regime were occupied by putsch attempts by Charles IV, the Austro-Hungarian pretender; continued suppression of communists; and a migration crisis triggered by the Trianon territorial changes. Though free elections continued, Horthy’s personality, and those of his personally selected prime ministers, dominated the political scene. The government’s actions continued to drift right with the passage of antisemitic laws and, due to the continued isolation of the Little Entente, economic and then political gravitation toward Italy and Germany. The Great Depression further exacerbated the situation and the popularity of fascist politicians such as Gyula Gmbs and Ferenc Szlasi, promising economic and social recovery, rose.
Horthy’s nationalist agenda reached its apogee in 1938 and 1940, when the Nazis rewarded Hungary’s staunchly pro-Germany foreign policy in the First and Second Vienna Awards, respectively, peacefully restoring ethnic-Hungarian-majority areas lost after Trianon. In 1939, Hungary regained further territory from Czechoslovakia through force. Hungary formally joined the Axis Powers on 20 November 1940, and in 1941, participated in the invasion of Yugoslavia, gaining some of its former territories in the south.
World War II 1941–1945
Hungary formally entered World War II as an Axis Power on 26 June 1941, declaring war on the Soviet Union after unidentified planes bombed Kassa, Munkcs, and Rah. Hungarian troops fought on the Eastern Front for two years. Despite some early successes, the Hungarian government began seeking a secret peace pact with the Allies after the Second Army suffered catastrophic losses at the River Don in January 1943. Learning of the planned defection, German troops occupied Hungary on 19 March 1944 to guarantee Horthy’s compliance. In October, as the Soviet front approached and the Hungarian government made further efforts to disengage from the war, German troops ousted Horthy and installed a puppet government under Szlasi’s fascist Arrow Cross Party. Szlasi pledged all the country’s capabilities in service of the German war machine. By October 1944, the Soviets had reached the river Tisza, and despite some losses, succeeded in encircling and besieging Budapest in December.
After German occupation, Hungary participated in the Holocaust. During the German occupation in May–June 1944, the Arrow Cross and Hungarian police deported nearly 440,000 Jews, mainly to Auschwitz. Nearly all of them were murdered. The Swedish Diplomat Raoul Wallenberg managed to save a considerable number of Hungarian Jews by giving them Swedish passports.Rezső Kasztner, one of the leaders of the Hungarian Aid and Rescue Committee, bribed senior SS officers such as Adolf Eichmann to allow some Jews to escape. The Horthy government’s complicity in the Holocaust remains a point of controversy and contention.
The war left Hungary devastated, destroying over 60% of the economy and causing significant loss of life. In addition to the over 600,000 Hungarian Jews killed, as many as 280,000 other Hungarians were raped, murdered and executed or deported for slave labor by Czechoslovaks, Soviet Red Army troops, and Yugoslavs.
On 13 February 1945, Budapest surrendered; by April, German troops left the country under Soviet military occupation. 200,000 Hungarians were expelled from Czechoslovakia in exchange for 70,000 Slovaks living in Hungary. 202,000 ethnic Germans were expelled to Germany, and through the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties, Hungary was again reduced to its immediate post-Trianon borders.
Following the defeat of Nazi Germany, Hungary became a satellite state of the Soviet Union. The Soviet leadership selected Mtys Rkosi to front the Stalinization of the country, and Rkosi de facto ruled Hungary from 1949 to 1956. His government’s policies of militarization, industrialization, collectivization, and war compensation led to a severe decline in living standards. In imitation of Stalin’s KGB, the Rkosi government established a secret political police, the VH, to enforce the new regime. In the ensuing purges approximately 350,000 officials and intellectuals were imprisoned or executed from 1948 to 1956. Many freethinkers, democrats, and Horthy-era dignitaries were secretly arrested and extrajudicially interned in domestic and foreign Gulags. Some 600,000 Hungarians were deported to Soviet labor camps, where at least 200,000 died.
After Stalin’s death in 1953, the Soviet Union pursued a program of destalinization that was inimical to Rkosi, leading to his deposition. The following political cooling saw the ascent of Imre Nagy to the premiership, and the growing interest of students and intellectuals in political life. Nagy promised market liberalization and political openness, while Rkosi opposed both vigorously. Rkosi eventually managed to discredit Nagy and replace him with the more hard-line Ernő Gerő. Hungary joined the Warsaw Pact in May 1955, as societal dissatisfaction with the regime swelled. Following the firing on peaceful demonstrations by Soviet soldiers and secret police, and rallies throughout the country on 23 October 1956, protesters took to the streets in Budapest, initiating the 1956 Revolution. In an effort to quell the chaos, Nagy returned as premier, promised free elections, and took Hungary out of the Warsaw Pact.
The violence nonetheless continued as revolutionary militias sprung up against the Soviet Army and the VH; the roughly 3,000-strong resistance fought Soviet tanks using Molotov cocktails and machine-pistols. Though the preponderance of the Soviets was immense, they suffered heavy losses, and by 30 October 1956 most Soviet troops had withdrawn from Budapest to garrison the countryside. For a time, the Soviet leadership was unsure how to respond to developments in Hungary, but eventually decided to intervene to prevent a destabilization of the Soviet bloc. On 4 November reinforcements of more than 150,000 troops and 2,500 tanks entered the country from the Soviet Union. Nearly 20,000 Hungarians were killed resisting the intervention, while an additional 21,600 were imprisoned afterwards for political reasons. Some 13,000 were interned and 230 brought to trial and executed. Nagy was secretly tried, found guilty, sentenced to death and executed by hanging in June 1958. Because borders were briefly opened, nearly a quarter of a million people fled the country by the time the revolution was suppressed.
Kdr era 1956–1988
After a second, briefer period of Soviet military occupation, Jnos Kdr, Nagy’s former Minister of State, was chosen by the Soviet leadership to head the new government and chair the new ruling Socialist Workers’ Party (MSzMP). Kdr quickly normalized the situation. In 1963, the government granted a general amnesty and released the majority of those imprisoned for their active participation in the uprising. Kdr proclaimed a new policy line, according to which the people were no longer compelled to profess loyalty to the party if they tacitly accepted the Socialist regime as a fact of life. In many speeches, he described this as, “Those who are not against us are with us.” Kdr introduced new planning priorities in the economy, such as allowing farmers significant plots of private land within the collective farm system (hztji gazdlkods). The living standard rose as consumer good and food production took precedence over military production, which was reduced to one tenth of pre-revolutionary levels.
In 1968, the New Economic Mechanism (NEM) introduced free-market elements into socialist command economy. From the 1960s through the late 1980s, Hungary was often referred to as “the happiest barrack” within the Eastern bloc. During the latter part of the Cold War Hungary’s GDP per capita was fourth only to East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union itself. As a result of this relatively high standard of living, a more liberalized economy, a less censored press, and less restricted travel rights, Hungary was generally considered one of the more liberal countries in which to live in Central Europe during communism. In the 1980s, however, living standards steeply declined again due to a worldwide recession to which communism was unable to respond. By the time Kdr died in 1989, the Soviet Union was in steep decline and a younger generation of reformists saw liberalization as the solution to economic and social issues.
Third Republic 1989–present
Hungary’s transition from communism to democracy and capitalism (rendszervlts, “regime change”) was peaceful and prompted by economic stagnation, domestic political pressure, and changing relations with other Warsaw Pact countries. Although the MSzMP began Round Table Talks with various opposition groups in March 1989, the reburial of Imre Nagy as a revolutionary martyr that June is widely considered the symbolic end of communism in Hungary. Over 100,000 people attended the Budapest ceremony without any significant government interference, and many speakers openly called for Soviet troops to leave the country. Free elections were held in May 1990, and the Hungarian Democratic Forum, a major conservative opposition group, was elected to the head of a coalition government. Jzsef Antall became the first democratically elected Prime Minister since World War II.
With the removal of state subsidies and rapid privatization in 1991, Hungary was affected by a severe economic recession. The Antall government’s austerity measures proved unpopular, and the Communist Party’s legal and political heir, the Socialist Party, won the subsequent 1994 elections. This abrupt shift in the political landscape was repeated in 1998 and 2002; each electoral cycle, the governing party was ousted and the erstwhile opposition elected. Like most other post-communist European states, however, Hungary broadly pursued an integrationist agenda, joining NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. As a NATO member, Hungary was involved in the Yugoslav Wars.
In 2006, major protests erupted after it was revealed that Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsny had claimed in a private speech that his party “lied” to win the recent elections. The popularity of left-wing parties plummeted in the ensuing political upheaval, and in 2010, Viktor Orbn‘s national-conservative Fidesz was elected to a parliamentary supermajority. The legislature consequently approved a new constitution, among other sweeping governmental and legal changes. Although these developments were met with and still engender controversy, Fidesz secured a second parliamentary supermajority in 2014 and a third in 2018.
In September 2018, the European parliament voted to act against Hungary, under the terms of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. Proponents of the vote claimed that the Hungarian government posed a “systematic threat” to democracy and the rule of law. The vote was carried with the support of 448 MEPs, narrowly clearing the two-thirds majority required. The vote marked the first the European parliament had triggered an article 7 procedure against an EU member state. Pter Szijjrt, the Hungarian foreign minister, described the vote as “petty revenge” which had been provoked by Hungary’s tough anti-migration policies. Szijjrt alleged that the vote was fraudulent because abstentions were not counted which made it easier to reach the two-thirds majority required to pass the vote.
Hungary’s geography has traditionally been defined by its two main waterways, the Danube and Tisza rivers. The common tripartite division of the country into three sections—Dunntl (“beyond the Danube”, Transdanubia), Tiszntl (“beyond the Tisza”), and Duna-Tisza kze (“between the Danube and Tisza”)—is a reflection of this. The Danube flows north-south right through the center of contemporary Hungary, and the entire country lies within its drainage basin.
Transdanubia, which stretches westward from the center of the country toward Austria, is a primarily hilly region with a terrain varied by low mountains. These include the very eastern stretch of the Alps, Alpokalja, in the west of the country, the Transdanubian Mountains in the central region of Transdanubia, and the Mecsek Mountains and Villny Mountains in the south. The highest point of the area is the rott-kő in the Alps, at 882 metres (2,894ft). The Little Hungarian Plain (Kisalfld) is found in northern Transdanubia. Lake Balaton and Lake Hvz, the largest lake in Central Europe and the largest thermal lake in the world, respectively, are in Transdanubia as well.
The Duna-Tisza kze and Tiszntl are characterized mainly by the Great Hungarian Plain (Alfld), which stretches across most of the eastern and southeastern areas of the country. To the north of the Plain are the foothills of the Carpathians in a wide band near the Slovakian border. The Kkes at 1,014m or 3,327ft is the tallest mountain in Hungary and is found here.
Phytogeographically, Hungary belongs to the Central European province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Hungary belongs to the ecoregion of Pannonian mixed forests.
Hungary has 10 national parks, 145 minor nature reserves, and 35 landscape protection areas.
Hungary has a temperate seasonal climate, with generally warm summers with low overall humidity levels but frequent rainshowers and cold snowy winters. Average annual temperature is 9.7C (49.5F). Temperature extremes are 41.9C (107.4F) on 20 July 2007 at Kiskunhalas in the summer and −35C (−31.0F) on 16 February 1940 Miskolc-Grmblytapolca in the winter. Average high temperature in the summer is 23 to 28C (73 to 82F) and average low temperature in the winter is −3 to −7C (27 to 19F). The average yearly rainfall is approximately 600mm (23.6in).
Government and politics
Hungary is a unitary, parliamentary, representative democratic republic. The Hungarian political system operates under a framework reformed in 2012; this constitutional document is the Fundamental Law of Hungary. Amendments generally require a two-thirds majority of parliament; the fundamental principles of the constitution (as expressed in the articles guaranteeing human dignity, the separation of powers, the state structure, and the rule of law) are valid in perpetuity. 199 Members of Parliament (orszggyűlsi kpviselő) are elected to the highest organ of state authority, the unicameral Orszggyűls (National Assembly), every four years in a single-round first-past-the-post election with an election threshold of 5%.
The President of the Republic (kztrsasgi elnk) serves as the head of state and is elected by the National Assembly every five years. The president is invested primarily with representative responsibilities and powers: receiving foreign heads of state, formally nominating the Prime Minister at the recommendation of the National Assembly, and serving as Commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Importantly, the president is also invested with veto power, and may send legislation to the 15-member Constitutional Court for review. The third most-significant governmental position in Hungary is the Speaker of the National Assembly, who is elected by the National Assembly and responsible for overseeing the daily sessions of the body.
The Prime Minister (miniszterelnk) is elected by the National Assembly, serving as the head of government and exercising executive power. Traditionally, the Prime Minister is the leader of the largest party in parliament. The Prime Minister selects Cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them, although cabinet nominees must appear before consultative open hearings before one or more parliamentary committees, survive a vote in the National Assembly, and be formally approved by the president. The cabinet reports to parliament.
In 2009 Hungary, due to strong economic difficulties, had to request the help of the IMF for about €9 billion. The debt-to-GDP ratio of Hungary had its peak in 2011 when it stood at 83% and decreased since then. According to Eurostat, the government gross debt of Hungary amounts to 25.119 billion HUF or 74.1% of its GDP in 2016. The government achieved a budget deficit 1.9% of the GDP in 2015. Hungary’s credit rating by credit rating agencies Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch Ratings stands at Investment Grade BBB with a stable outlook in 2016.
Since the fall of communism, Hungary has a multi-party system. The last Hungarian parliamentary election took place on 8 April 2018. This parliamentary election was the 7th since the 1990 first multi-party election. The result was a victory for Fidesz–KDNP alliance, preserving its two-thirds majority with Viktor Orbn remaining Prime Minister. It was the second election according to the new Constitution of Hungary which went into force on 1 January 2012. The new electoral law also entered into force that day. The voters elected 199 MPs instead of previous 386 lawmakers. The current political landscape in Hungary is dominated by the conservative Fidesz, who have a near supermajority, and two medium-sized parties, the left-wing Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and nationalist Jobbik.
The democratic character of the Hungarian parliament was reestablished with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist dictatorship in 1989. Today’s parliament is still called Orszggyűls just like in royal times, but in order to differentiate between the historical royal diet is referred to as “National Assembly” now. The Diet of Hungary was a legislative institution in the medieval kingdom of Hungary from the 1290s, and in its successor states, Royal Hungary and the Habsburg kingdom of Hungary throughout the Early Modern period. The articles of the 1790 diet set out that the diet should meet at least once every 3 years, but, since the diet was called by the Habsburg monarchy, this promise was not kept on several occasions thereafter. As a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, it was reconstituted in 1867. The Latin term Natio Hungarica (“Hungarian nation”) was used to designate the political elite which had participation in the diet, consisting of the nobility, the Catholic clergy, and a few enfranchised burghers, regardless of language or ethnicity.
Law and judicial system
The judicial system of Hungary is a civil law system divided between courts with regular civil and criminal jurisdiction and administrative courts with jurisdiction over litigation between individuals and the public administration. Hungarian law is codified and based on German law and in a wider sense, civil law or Roman law. The court system for civil and criminal jurisdiction consists of local courts (jrsbrsg), regional appellate courts (tlőtbla), and the supreme court (Kria). Hungary’s highest courts are located in Budapest.
Law enforcement in Hungary is split among the police and the National Tax and Customs Administration. The Hungarian Police is the main and largest state law enforcement agency in Hungary. It carries nearly all general police duties such as criminal investigation, patrol activity, traffic policing, border control. It is led by the National Police Commissioner under the control of the Minister of the Interior. The body is divided into county police departments which are also divided into regional and town police departments. The National Police also have subordinate agencies with nationwide jurisdiction, such as the “Nemzeti Nyomoz Iroda” (National Bureau of Investigation), a civilian police force specialised in investigating serious crimes, and the gendarmerie-like, militarised “Kszenlti Rendőrsg” (Stand-by Police) mainly dealing with riots and often reinforcing local police forces. Due to Hungary’s accession to the Schengen Treaty, the Police and Border Guards were merged into a single national corps, with the Border Guards becoming Police Officers. This merger took place in January 2008. The Customs and Excise Authority remained subject to the Ministry of Finance under the National Tax and Customs Administration.
Hungary is a unitary state nation divided into 19 counties (megye). In addition, the capital (fővros), Budapest, is an independent entity. The counties and the capital are the 20 NUTS third-level units of Hungary. The states are further subdivided into 174 districts (jrs) as of 1January2013[update]. The districts are further divided into towns and villages, of which 23 are designated towns with county rights (megyei jog vros), sometimes known as “urban counties” in English. The local authorities of these towns have extended powers, but these towns belong to the territory of the respective district instead of being independent territorial units. County and district councils and municipalities have different roles and separate responsibilities relating to local government. The role of the counties are basically administrative and focus on strategic development, while preschools, public water utilities, garbage disposal, elderly care and rescue services are administered by the municipalities.
Since 1996, the counties and City of Budapest have been grouped into seven regions for statistical and development purposes. These seven regions constitute NUTS‘ second-level units of Hungary. They are Central Hungary, Central Transdanubia, Northern Great Plain, Northern Hungary, Southern Transdanubia, Southern Great Plain, and Western Transdanubia.
|Bcs-Kiskun||Kecskemt||524,841||Southern Great Plain|
|Bks||Bkscsaba||361,802||Southern Great Plain|
|Capital City of Budapest||Budapest||1,744,665||Central Hungary|
|Csongrd||Szeged||421,827||Southern Great Plain|
|Hajd-Bihar||Debrecen||565,674||Northern Great Plain|
|Jsz-Nagykun-Szolnok||Szolnok||386,752||Northern Great Plain|
|Szabolcs-Szatmr-Bereg||Nyregyhza||552,000||Northern Great Plain|
Hungary wields considerable influence in Central and Eastern Europe and is a middle power in international affairs. The foreign policy of Hungary is based on four basic commitments: to Atlantic co-operation, to European integration, to international development and to international law. The Hungarian economy is fairly open and relies strongly on international trade.
Hungary has been a member of the United Nations since December 1955 and a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the Visegrd Group, the WTO, the World Bank, the AIIB and the IMF. Hungary took on the presidency of the Council of the European Union for half a year in 2011 and the next will be in 2024. In 2015, Hungary was the fifth largest OECD Non-DAC donor of development aid in the world, which represents 0.13% of its Gross National Income.
Hungary’s capital city, Budapest, is home to more than 100 embassies and representative bodies as an international political actor. Hungary hosts the main and regional headquarters of many international organizations as well, including European Institute of Innovation and Technology, European Police College, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, International Centre for Democratic Transition, Institute of International Education, International Labour Organization, International Organization for Migration, International Red Cross, Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Danube Commission and others.
Since 1989, Hungary’s top foreign policy goal has been achieving integration into Western economic and security organizations. Hungary joined the Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and has actively supported the IFOR and SFOR missions in Bosnia. Hungary since 1989 has also improved its often frosty neighborly relations by signing basic treaties with Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. These renounce all outstanding territorial claims and lay the foundation for constructive relations. However, the issue of ethnic Hungarian minority rights in Romania, Slovakia and Serbia periodically causes bilateral tensions to flare up. Since 2017, the relations with Ukraine rapidly deteriorated over the issue of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine. Hungary since 1989 has signed all of the OSCE documents, and served as the OSCE’s Chairman-in-Office in 1997.
The 2016 Global Peace Index ranked Hungary 19th out of 163 countries. The President holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces. The Ministry of Defence jointly with Chief of staff administers the armed forces, including the Hungarian Ground Force and the Hungarian Air Force. Since 2007, the Hungarian Armed Forces is under a unified command structure. The Ministry of Defence maintains the political and civil control over the army. A subordinate Joint Forces Command is coordinating and commanding the HDF corps. In 2016, the armed forces had 31,080 personnel on active duty, the operative reserve brought the total number of troops to fifty thousand. In 2017, military spending will be $1.21 billion, about 0.94% of the country’s GDP, well below the NATO target of 2%. In 2012, the government adopted a resolution in which it pledged to increase defence spending to 1.4% of GDP by 2022.
Hungarian Ground Force
HDF 34th Special Forces Battalion
Hungarian Air Force
JAS 39 Gripen multirole combat aircraft
Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime. In a significant move for modernization, Hungary decided in 2001 to buy 14 JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft for about 800 million EUR. Hungarian National Cyber Security Center was re-organized in 2016 in order to become more efficient through cyber security.
In 2016, the Hungarian military has about 700 troops stationed in foreign countries as part of international peacekeeping forces, including 100 HDF troops in the NATO-led ISAF force in Afghanistan, 210 Hungarian soldiers in Kosovo under command of KFOR, and 160 troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hungary sent 300 strong logistics unit to Iraq in order to help the US occupation with armed transport convoys, though public opinion opposed the country’s participation in the war. One soldier was killed in action because of a roadside bomb in Iraq.
During the 18th and 19th century, Hungarian Hussars rose to international fame and served as a model for light cavalry in many European countries. In 1848–49, the HDF achieved successes against better-trained and equipped Austrian forces, despite the Austrian advantage in numbers. In 1872, the Ludovica Military Academy officially began training cadets. By 1873, the HDF already had over 2,800 officers and 158,000 men organized into eighty-six battalions and fifty-eight squadrons. During WWI, out of the eight million men mobilized by Austro Hungarian Empire, over one million died. During the 1930s and early 1940s, Hungary was preoccupied with regaining the territories and population lost in the Trianon peace treaty at Versailles in 1920. Conscription was introduced on a national basis in 1939. The peacetime strength of the Royal Hungarian Army grew to 80,000 men organized into seven corps commands. During WWII the Hungarian Second Army was near to total devastation on banks of the Don River in December 1942 in the Battle for Stalingrad. During the Socialist and the Warsaw Pact era (1947–1989), the entire 200,000 strong Southern Group of Forces was garrisoned in Hungary, complete with artillery, tank regiments, air force and missile troops with nuclear weapons.
Hungary is an OECD high-income mixed economy with very high human development index and skilled labour force with the 16th lowest income inequality in the world, furthermore it is the 15th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index. The Hungarian is the 57th-largest economy in the world (out of 188 countries measured by IMF) with $265.037 billion output, and ranks 49th in the world in terms of GDP per capita measured by purchasing power parity. Hungary is an export-oriented market economy with a heavy emphasis on foreign trade, thus the country is the 36th largest export economy in the world. The country has more than $100 billion export in 2015 with high, $9.003 billion trade surplus, of which 79% went to the EU and 21% was extra-EU trade. Hungary has a more than 80% privately owned economy with 39,1% overall taxation, which provides the basis for the country’s welfare economy. On the expenditure side, household consumption is the main component of GDP and accounts for 50 percent of its total use, followed by gross fixed capital formation with 22 percent and government expenditure with 20 percent. Hungary continues to be one of the leading nations for attracting foreign direct investment in Central and Eastern Europe, the inward FDI in the country was $119.8 billion in 2015, while Hungary invests more than $50 billion abroad. As of 2015[update], the key trading partners of Hungary were Germany, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, France, Italy, Poland and Czech Republic. Major industries include food processing, pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, information technology, chemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electrical goods, and tourism (in 2014 Hungary welcomed 12.1 million international tourists).
Hungary is the largest electronics producer in Central and Eastern Europe. Electronics manufacturing and research are among the main drivers of innovation and economic growth in the country. In the past 20 years Hungary has also grown into a major center for mobile technology, information security, and related hardware research.
The employment rate in the economy was 68.3% in 2017, the employment structure shows the characteristics of post-industrial economies, 63.2% of employed workforce work in service sector, the industry contributed by 29.7%, while agriculture with 7.1%. Unemployment rate was 4.1% in 2017 September, down from 11% during the financial crisis of 2007–08.
Hungary is part of the European single market which represents more than 508 million consumers. Several domestic commercial policies are determined by agreements among European Union members and by EU legislation.
Large Hungarian companies are included in the BUX, the Hungarian stock market index listed on Budapest Stock Exchange. Well-known companies include the Fortune Global 500 firm MOL Group, the OTP Bank, Gedeon Richter Plc., Magyar Telekom, CIG Pannonia, FHB Bank, Zwack Unicum and more. Besides this Hungary has a large portion of specialised small and medium enterprise, for example a significant number of automotive suppliers and technology start ups among others.
Budapest is the financial and business capital of Hungary. The capital is a significant economic hub, classified as an Alpha – world city in the study by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network and it is the second fastest-developing urban economy in Europe as GDP per capita in the city increased by 2.4 per cent and employment by 4.7 per cent compared to the previous year in 2014. On the national level, Budapest is the primate city of Hungary regarding business and economy, accounting for 39% of the national income, the city has a gross metropolitan product more than $100 billion in 2015, making it one of the largest regional economies in the European Union. Budapest is also among the Top 100 GDP performing cities in the world, measured by PricewaterhouseCoopers and in a global city competitiveness ranking by EIU, Budapest stands before Tel Aviv, Lisbon, Moscow and Johannesburg among others. Furthermore, Hungary’s corporate tax rate is only 9%, which is relatively low for EU states.
Hungary maintains its own currency, the Hungarian forint (HUF), although the economy fulfills the Maastricht criteria with the exception of public debt, but it is also significantly below the EU average with the level of 75.3% in 2015. The Hungarian National Bank—founded in 1924, after the dissolution of Austro-Hungarian Empire—is currently focusing on price stability with an inflation target of 3%.
Science and technology
Hungary’s achievements in science and technology have been significant, and research and development efforts form an integral part of the country’s economy. Hungary spent 1.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on civil research and development in 2015, which is the 25th highest ratio in the world. Hungary ranks 32nd among the most innovative countries in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, standing before Hong Kong, Iceland or Malta. The Global Innovation Index places Hungary 33rd among the countries of the world in 2016. In 2014, Hungary counted 2,651 full-time equivalent researchers per million inhabitants, steadily increasing from 2,131 in 2010 and compares with 3,984 in the US or 4,380 in Germany. Hungary’s high technology industry has benefited from both the country’s skilled workforce and the strong presence of foreign high-tech firms and research centres. Hungary also has one of the highest rates of filed patents, the sixth highest ratio of high-tech and medium high-tech output in the total industrial output, the 12th highest research FDI inflow, placed 14th in research talent in business enterprise and has the 17th best overall innovation efficiency ratio in the world.
The key actor of research and development in Hungary is the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NRDI Office), which is a national strategic and funding agency for scientific research, development and innovation, the primary source of advice on RDI policy for the Hungarian Government, and the primary RDI funding agency. Its role is to develop RDI policy and ensure that Hungary adequately invest in RDI by funding excellent research and supporting innovation to increase competitiveness and to prepare the RDI strategy of the Hungarian Government, to handle the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund, and represents the Hungarian Government and a Hungarian RDI community in international organizations.
Scientific research in the country is supported partly by industry and partly by the state, through the network of Hungarian universities and by scientific state-institutions such as Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Hungary has been the home of some of the most prominent researchers in various scientific disciplines, notably physics, mathematics, chemistry and engineering. As of 2018, twelve Hungarian scientists have been recipients of a Nobel Prize. Until 2012 three individuals: Csoma, Jnos Bolyai and Tihanyi were included in the UNESCO Memory of the world register as well as the collective contributions: Tabula Hungariae and Bibliotheca Corviniana. Contemporary, internationally well-known Hungarian scientists include: mathematician Lszl Lovsz, physicist Albert-Lszl Barabsi, physicist Ferenc Krausz, and biochemist rpd Pusztai. Hungary is famous for its excellent mathematics education which has trained numerous outstanding scientists. Famous Hungarian mathematicians include father Farkas Bolyai and son Jnos Bolyai, who was one of the founders of non-Euclidean geometry; Paul Erdős, famed for publishing in over forty languages and whose Erdős numbers are still tracked, and John von Neumann, a key contributor in the fields of quantum mechanics and game theory, a pioneer of digital computing, and the chief mathematician in the Manhattan Project.
Hungary has a highly developed road, railway, air and water transport system. Budapest, the capital, serves as an important hub for the Hungarian railway system (MV). The capital is served by three large train stations called Keleti (Eastern), Nyugati (Western), and Dli (Southern) plyaudvars. Szolnok is the most important railway hub outside Budapest, while Tiszai Railway Station in Miskolc and the main stations of Szombathely, Győr, Szeged, and Szkesfehrvr are also key to the network.
Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc, and Szeged have tram networks. The Budapest Metro is the second-oldest underground metro system in the world; its Line 1 dates from 1896. The system consists of four lines. A commuter rail system, HV, operates in the Budapest metropolitan area.
Hungary has a total length of approximately 1,314km (816.48mi) motorways (Hungarian: autplya). Motorway sections are being added to the existing network, which already connects many major economically important cities to the capital.
The most important port is Budapest. Other important ones include Dunajvros and Baja.
There are five international airports in Hungary: Budapest Liszt Ferenc (informally called “Ferihegy” after its previous name), Debrecen, Srmellk (also called Hvz-Balaton Airport), Győr-Pr, and Pcs-Pogny. The national carrier, MALV, operated flights to over 60, mostly European cities, but ceased operations in 2012. Low-budget airline WizzAir is based in Hungary, at Ferihegy.
Hungary’s population was 9,937,628 according to the 2011 census, making it the fifth most populous country in Central and Eastern Europe and medium-sized member state of the European Union. Population density stands at 107 inhabitants per square kilometre, which is about two times higher than the world average. More than one quarter of the population lived in the Budapest metropolitan area, 6,903,858 people (69.5%) in cities and towns overall.
Like most other European countries, Hungary is experiencing sub-replacement fertility; its estimated total fertility rate of 1.43 children per woman is well below the replacement rate of 2.1, albeit higher than its nadir of 1.28 in 1999, and remains considerably below the high of 5.59 children born per woman in 1884. As a result, its population has gradually declining and rapidly aging. In 2011, the conservative government began a program to increase the birth rate with a focus on ethnic Magyars by reinstating 3 year maternity leave as well as boosting part-time jobs. The fertility rate has gradually increased from 1.27 children born/woman in 2011. The natural decrease in the first 10 months of 2016 was only 25,828 which was 8,162 less than the corresponding period in 2015. In 2015, 47.9% of births were to unmarried women. Hungary has one of the oldest populations in the world, with the average age of 42.7 years.Life expectancy was 71.96 years for men and 79.62 years for women in 2015, growing continuously since the fall of Communism.
Hungary recognizes two sizable minority groups, designated as “national minorities” because their ancestors have lived in their respective regions for centuries in Hungary: German community of about 130,000 that lives throughout the country, and a Romani minority numerous around 300,000 that mainly resides in the northern part of the country. Some studies indicate a considerably larger number of Romani in Hungary (876,000 people – ca. 9% of the population.). According to the 2011 census, there were 8,314,029 (83.7%) ethnic Hungarians, 308,957 (3.1%) Romani, 131,951 (1.3%) Germans, 29,647 (0.3%) Slovaks, 26,345 (0.3%) Romanians, and 23,561 (0.2%) Croats in Hungary; 1,455,883 people (14.7% of the total population) did not declare their ethnicity. Thus, Hungarians made up more than 90% of people who declared their ethnicity. In Hungary, people can declare more than one ethnicity, so the sum of ethnicities is higher than the total population.
Today approximately 5 million Hungarians live outside Hungary.
Hungarian is the official and predominant spoken language in Hungary. Hungarian is the 13th most widely spoken first language in Europe with around 13 million native speakers and it is one of 24 official and working languages of the European Union. Outside Hungary it is also spoken by communities of Hungarian people in neighbouring countries and by Hungarian diaspora communities worldwide. According to the 2011 census, 9,896,333 people (99.6%) speak Hungarian in Hungary, of whom 9,827,875 people (99%) speak it as a first language, while 68,458 people (0.7%) speak it as a second language. English (1,589,180 speakers, 16.0%), and German (1,111,997 speakers, 11.2%) are the most widely spoken foreign languages, while there are several recognized minority languages in Hungary (Armenian, Bulgarian, Croatian, German, Greek, Romanian, Romani, Rusyn, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Ukrainian).
Hungarian (Magyar) is a member of the Uralic language family, unrelated to any neighboring language and distantly related to Finnish and Estonian. It is the largest of the Uralic languages in terms of the number of speakers and the only one spoken in Central Europe. There are sizable populations of Hungarian speakers in Romania, the Czech and Slovak Republics, the former Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Israel, and the U.S. Smaller groups of Hungarian speakers live in Canada, Slovenia, and Austria, but also in Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela and Chile. Standard Hungarian is based on the variety spoken in the capital of Budapest, although use of the standard dialect is enforced, Hungarian has a number of urban and rural dialects.
Hungary is a historically Christian country. Hungarian historiography identifies the foundation of the Hungarian state with Stephen I’s baptism and coronation with the Holy Crown in A.D. 1000. Stephen promulgated Roman Catholicism as the state religion, and his successors were traditionally known as the Apostolic Kings. The Catholic Church in Hungary remained strong through the centuries, and the Archbishop of Esztergom was granted extraordinary temporal privileges as prince-primate (hercegprms) of Hungary. Contemporary Hungary, however, has no official religion. While the constitution “recognizes Christianity’s nation-building role”,freedom of religion is a fundamental right.
With the onset of the Protestant Reformation, most Hungarians took up first Lutheranism, then soon afterwards Calvinism. In the second half of the 16th century, however, Jesuits led a Counterreformation campaign and the population once again became predominantly Catholic. However, in comparison to other European regions where such efforts were undertaken, it was not at all successful largely because of religious freedom secured by Hungarian nobles, who often happened to be Calvinist themselves. Some localities all over Hungary are still majority Protestant (either Lutheran or Reformed) and the country’s eastern regions, especially around Debrecen (the “Calvinist Rome”), remain predominantly Reformed.
Historically, Hungary was home to a significant Jewish community. Some Hungarian Jews were able to escape the Holocaust during World War II, but most (perhaps 550,000) were either deported to concentration camps, whence most did not return, or murdered in Hungary by Arrow Cross members.
The 2011 census showed that the majority of Hungarians were Christians (54.2%), with Roman Catholics (Katolikusok) (37.1%) and Hungarian Reformed Calvinists (Reformtusok) (11.1%) making up the bulk of these alongside Lutherans (Evanglikusok) (2.2%), Greek Catholics (1.8%), and other Christians (1.3%). Jewish (0.1%), Buddhist (0.1%) and Muslim (0.06%) communities are in the minority. 27.2% of the population did not declare a religious affiliation while 16.7% declared themselves explicitly irreligious, another 1.5% atheist.
Education in Hungary is predominantly public, run by the Ministry of Education. Preschool–kindergarten education is compulsory and provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is also compulsory until the age of sixteen.Primary education usually lasts for eight years. Secondary education includes three traditional types of schools focused on different academic levels: the Gymnasium enrolls the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies; the secondary vocational schools for intermediate students lasts four years and the technical school prepares pupils for vocational education and the world of work. The system is partly flexible and bridges exist, graduates from a vocational school can achieve a two years program to have access to vocational higher education for instance. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) rated 13–14-year-old pupils in Hungary among the bests in the world for maths and science.
Most of the Hungarian universities are public institutions, and students traditionally study without fee payment. The general requirement for university is the Matura. The Hungarian public higher education system includes universities and other higher education institutes, that provide both education curricula and related degrees up to doctoral degree and also contribute to research activities. Health insurance for students is free until the end of their studies. English and German language is important in Hungarian higher education, there are a number of degree programs that are taught in these languages, which attracts thousands of exchange students every year. Hungary’s higher education and training has been ranked 44 out of 148 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report 2014.
Hungary has a long tradition of higher education reflecting the existence of established knowledge economy. The established universities in Hungary include some of the oldest in the world, the first was the University of Pcs founded in 1367 which is still functioning, although, in the year 1276, the university of Veszprm was destroyed by the troops of Peter Csk, but it was never rebuilt. Sigismund established buda University in 1395. Another, Universitas Istropolitana, was established 1465 in Pozsony by Mattias Corvinus.
Nagyszombat University was founded in 1635 and moved to Buda in 1777 and it is called Etvs Lornd University today. The world’s first institute of technology was founded in Selmecbnya, Kingdom of Hungary in 1735, its legal successor is the University of Miskolc. The Budapest University of Technology and Economics is considered the oldest institute of technology in the world with university rank and structure, its legal predecessor the Institutum Geometrico-Hydrotechnicum was founded in 1782 by Emperor Joseph II.
Hungary ranks fourth (above neighbour Romania, and after China, the United States and Russia) in the all-time medal count at the International Mathematical Olympiad with 336 total medals, dating back to 1959.
Hungary maintains a universal health care system largely financed by government national health insurance. According to the OECD, 100% of the population is covered by universal health insurance, which is absolutely free for children, students, pensioners, people with low income, handicapped people, and church employees. Hungary spends 7.2% of GDP on healthcare, spending $2,045 per capita, of which $1,365 is provided by the government.
Hungary is one of the main destinations of medical tourism in Europe, particularly in dental tourism, in which its share is 42% in Europe and 21% worldwide.Plastic surgery is also a key sector, with 30% of the clients coming from abroad. Hungary is well known for its spa culture and is home to numerous medicinal spas, which attract “spa tourism”.
In common with other developed countries, cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality, accounting for 49.4% (62,979) of all deaths in 2013. However, this number peaked in 1985 with 79,355 deaths, and has been declining continuously since the fall of Communism. The second leading cause of death is cancer with 33,274 (26.2%), which has been stagnant since the 1990s. Deaths from accidents dropped from 8,760 in 1990 to 3,654 in 2013; the number of suicides has declined precipitously from 4,911 in 1983 to 2,093 in 2013 (21.1 per 100,000 people), the lowest since 1956. There are considerable health disparities between the western and eastern parts of Hungary; heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and suicide is prevalent in the mostly agricultural and low-income Great Plain region in the east, but infrequent in the high-income, middle class areas of Western Transdanubia and Central Hungary.
Smoking is a leading cause of death in the country, although it is in steep decline: The proportion of adult smokers declined to 19% in 2013 from 28% in 2012, owing to strict regulations such as a nationwide smoking ban in every indoor public place and the limiting of tobacco sales to state-controlled “National Tobacco Shops”.
Hungary ranks as the 17th safest country in the world: Its homicide rate is 1.3 per 100,000 people, which is among the lowest in the World. Hungary listed as number 27 best country to live in the world according to USNews, with Budapest, Szeged, Eger, and Sopron ranking among the most livable cities in the country.
Hungary is home to the largest synagogue in Europe (Great Synagogue), built in 1859 in Moorish Revival style with a capacity of 3,000 people, the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Szchenyi Medicinal Bath), completed in 1913 in Modern Renaissance Style and located in the Budapest city park, the biggest building in Hungary with its 268 metres (879 feet) length (the Parliament building), one of the largest basilicas in Europe (Esztergom Basilica), the second largest territorial abbey in the world (Pannonhalma Archabbey), and the largest early Christian necropolis outside Italy (Pcs).
Notable architectural styles in Hungary include Historicism and Art Nouveau, or rather several variants of Art Nouveau. In contrast to Historicism, Hungarian Art Nouveau is based on the national architectural characteristics. Taking the eastern origins of the Hungarians into account, dn Lechner (1845–1914), the most important figure in Hungarian Art Nouveau, was initially inspired by Indian and Syrian architecture, and later by traditional Hungarian decorative designs. In this way, he created an original synthesis of architectural styles. By applying them to three-dimensional architectural elements, he produced a version of Art Nouveau that was specific to Hungary.
Turning away from the style of Lechner, yet taking inspiration from his approach, the group of “Young People” (Fiatalok), which included Kroly Ks and Dezs Zrumeczky, were to use the characteristic structures and forms of traditional Hungarian architecture to achieve the same end.
Besides the two principal styles, Budapest also displays local versions of trends originating from other European countries. The Sezession from Vienna, the German Jugendstil, Art Nouveau from Belgium and France, and the influence of English and Finnish architecture are all reflected in the buildings constructed at the turn of the 20th century. Bla Lajta initially adopted Lechner’s style, subsequently drawing his inspiration from English and Finnish trends; after developing an interest in the Egyptian style, he finally arrived at modern architecture. Aladr rkay took almost the same route. Istvn Medgyaszay developed his own style, which differed from Lechner’s, using stylised traditional motifs to create decorative designs in concrete. In the sphere of applied arts, those chiefly responsible for promoting the spread of Art Nouveau were the School and Museum of Decorative Arts, which opened in 1896.
Foreigners have unexpectedly “discovered” that a significantly large portion of the citizens live in old and architecturally valuable buildings. In the Budapest downtown area almost all the buildings are about one hundred years old, with thick walls, high ceilings, and motifs on the front wall.
Hungarian music consists mainly of traditional Hungarian folk music and music by prominent composers such as Liszt and Bartk, considered to be among the greatest Hungarian composers. Other renowned composers are Dohnnyi, Franz Schmidt, Zoltn Kodly, Gabriel von Wayditch, Rudolf Wagner-Rgeny, Lszl Lajtha, Franz Lehr, Imre Klmn, Sndor Veress and Rzsa. Hungarian traditional music tends to have a strong dactylic rhythm, as the language is invariably stressed on the first syllable of each word.
Hungary has renowned composers of contemporary classical music, Gyrgy Ligeti, Gyrgy Kurtg, Pter Etvs, Zoltn Kodly and Zoltn Jeney among them. One of the greatest Hungarian composers, Bla Bartk, was also among the most significant musicians of the 20th century. His music was invigorated by the themes, modes, and rhythmic patterns of the Hungarian and neighboring folk music traditions he studied, which he synthesized with influences from his contemporaries into his own distinctive style.
Hungary has made many contributions to the fields of folk, popular and classical music. Hungarian folk music is a prominent part of the national identity and continues to play a major part in Hungarian music. Hungarian folk music has been significant in former country parts that belong– since the 1920 Treaty of Trianon– to neighbouring countries such as Romania, Slovakia, Poland and especially in southern Slovakia and Transylvania; both regions have significant numbers of Hungarians.
After the establishment of a music academy led by Ferenc Erkel and Franz Liszt Hungary produced an important number of art musicians:
- Pianists: Ernő von Dohnnyi, Ervin Nyiregyhzi, Andor Fldes, Tams Vsry, Gyrgy Sndor, Gza Anda, Annie Fischer, Gyrgy Cziffra, Edward Kilnyi, Blint Vzsonyi, Andrs Schiff, Zoltn Kocsis, Dezső Rnki, Jenő Jand and others.
- Violists: Joseph Joachim, Leopold Auer, Jenő Hubay, Jelly d’Arnyi, Joseph Szigeti, Sndor Vgh, Emil Telmanyi, Ede Zathurecky, Zsigmondy, Franz von Vecsey, Zoltn Szkely, Tibor Varga and newcomers Antal Szalai, Vilmos Szabadi, Kristf Barti (b. 79) and others.
- Opera singers: Astrid Varnay, Jzsef Simndy, Jlia Vrady, Jlia Hamari, Kolos Kovts (Bluebeard in Bartk’s Bluebeard)
- Conductors: Eugene Ormandy, George Szell, Antal Dorti, Jnos Ferencsik, Fritz Reiner, sir Georg Solti, Istvn Kertsz, Ferenc Fricsay, Zoltn Rozsnyai, Sndor Vgh, rpd Jo, dm Fischer, Ivn Fischer, Pter Etvs, Zoltn Kocsis, Tams Vsry, Gilbert Varga and others
- String Quartets: Budapest Quartet, Hungarian Quartet, Vgh Quartet, Takcs Quartet, Kodly Quartet, der Quartet, Festetics Quartet,
Broughton claims that Hungary’s “infectious sound has been surprisingly influential on neighboring countries (thanks perhaps to the common Austro-Hungarian history) and it’s not uncommon to hear Hungarian-sounding tunes in Romania, Slovakia and Poland”. It is also strong in the Szabolcs-Szatmr area and in the southwest part of Transdanubia, near the border with Croatia. The Busjrs carnival in Mohcs is a major Hungarian folk music event, formerly featuring the long-established and well-regarded Bogyiszl orchestra.
Hungarian classical music has long been an “experiment, made from Hungarian antecedents and on Hungarian soil, to create a conscious musical culture [using the] musical world of the folk song”. Although the Hungarian upper class has long had cultural and political connections with the rest of Europe, leading to an influx of European musical ideas, the rural peasants maintained their own traditions such that by the end of the 19th century Hungarian composers could draw on rural peasant music to (re)create a Hungarian classical style. For example, Bartk collected folk songs from across Central and Eastern Europe, including Romania and Slovakia, while Kodly was more interested in creating a distinctively Hungarian musical style.
During the era of communist rule in Hungary (1944–1989), a Song Committee scoured and censored popular music for traces of subversion and ideological impurity. Since then, however, the Hungarian music industry has begun to recover, producing successful performers in the fields of jazz such as trumpeter Rudolf Tomsits, pianist-composer Kroly Binder and, in a modernized form of Hungarian folk, Ferenc Sebő and Mrta Sebestyn. The three giants of Hungarian rock, Ills, Metr and Omega, remain very popular, especially Omega, which has followings in Germany and beyond as well as in Hungary. Older veteran underground bands such as Beatrice, from the 1980s, also remain popular.
In the earliest times, Hungarian language was written in a runic-like script (although it was not used for literature purposes in the modern interpretation). The country switched to the Latin alphabet after being Christianized under the reign of Stephen I of Hungary (1000–1038).
The oldest remained written record in Hungarian language is a fragment in the Establishing charter of the abbey of Tihany (1055) which contains several Hungarian terms, among them the words feheruuaru rea meneh hodu utu rea, “up the military road to Fehrvr” The rest of the document was written in Latin.
The oldest remaining complete text in Hungarian language is the Funeral Sermon and Prayer (Halotti beszd s knyrgs) (1192–1195), a translation of a Latin sermon.
The oldest remaining poem in Hungarian is the Old Hungarian Laments of Mary (magyar Mria-siralom), also a (not very strict) translation from Latin, from the 13th century. It is also the oldest surviving Uralic poem.
Among the first chronicles about Hungarian history were Gesta Hungarorum (“Deeds of the Hungarians”) by the unknown author usually called Anonymus, and Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum (“Deeds of the Huns and the Hungarians”) by Simon Kzai. Both are in Latin. These chronicles mix history with legends, so historically they are not always authentic. Another chronicle is the Kpes krnika (Illustrated Chronicle), which was written for Louis the Great.
Renaissance literature flourished under the reign of King Matthias (1458–1490). Janus Pannonius, although he wrote in Latin, counts as one of the most important persons in Hungarian literature, being the only significant Hungarian Humanist poet of the period. The first printing house was also founded during Matthias’ reign, by Andrs Hess, in Buda. The first book printed in Hungary was the Chronica Hungarorum.
The most important poets of the period was Blint Balassi (1554–1594) and Mikls Zrnyi (1620–1664).
Balassi’s poetry shows Mediaeval influences, his poems can be divided into three sections: love poems, war poems and religious poems. Zrnyi’s most significant work, the epic Szigeti veszedelem (“Peril of Sziget”, written in 1648/49) is written in a fashion similar to the Iliad, and recounts the heroic Battle of Szigetvr, where his great-grandfather died while defending the castle of Szigetvr.
Among the religious literary works the most important is the Bible translation by Gspr Kroli (The second Hungarian Bible translation in the history), the Protestant pastor of Gnc, in 1590. The translation is called the Bible of Vizsoly, after the town where it was first published. (See Bible translations into Hungarian for more details.)
The Hungarian enlightenment took place about fifty years after the French Enlightenment. The first enlightened writers were Maria Theresia‘s bodyguards (Gyrgy Bessenyei, Jnos Batsnyi and others). The greatest poets of the time were Mihly Csokonai Vitz and Dniel Berzsenyi.
The greatest figure of the language reform was Ferenc Kazinczy. The Hungarian language became feasible for all type of scientific explanations from this time, and furthermore many new words were coined for describing new inventions.
Hungarian literature has recently gained some renown outside the borders of Hungary (mostly through translations into German, French and English). Some modern Hungarian authors have become increasingly popular in Germany and Italy especially Sndor Mrai, Pter Esterhzy, Pter Ndas and Imre Kertsz. The latter 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 have remained almost totally unknown outside Hungary. Jnos Arany, a famous 19th-century Hungarian poet, is still much loved in Hungary (especially his collection of Ballads), among several other “true classics” like Sndor Petőfi, the poet of the Revolution of 1848, Endre Ady, Mihly Babits, Dezső Kosztolnyi, Attila Jzsef, Mikls Radnti and Jnos Pilinszky. Other well-known Hungarian authors are Lszl Krasznahorkai, Ferenc Mra, Gza Grdonyi, Zsigmond Mricz, Gyula Illys, Albert Wass, Mikls Szentkuthy, Magda Szab and Stephen Vizinczey.
Traditional dishes such as the world-famous Goulash (gulys stew or gulys soup) feature prominently in Hungarian cuisine. Dishes are often flavoured with paprika (ground red peppers), a Hungarian innovation. The paprika powder, obtained from a special type of pepper, is one of the most common spices used in typical Hungarian cuisine. Thick, heavy Hungarian sour cream called tejfl is often used to soften the dishes’ flavour. The famous Hungarian hot river fish soup called Fisherman’s soup or halszl is usually a rich mixture of several kinds of poached fish.
Other dishes are chicken paprikash, foie gras made of goose liver, prklt stew, vadas, (game stew with vegetable gravy and dumplings), trout with almonds and salty and sweet dumplings, like trs csusza, (dumplings with fresh quark cheese and thick sour cream). Desserts include the iconic Dobos Cake, strudels (rtes), filled with apple, cherry, poppy seed or cheese, Gundel pancake, plum dumplings (szilvs gombc), somli dumplings, dessert soups like chilled sour cherry soup and sweet chestnut puree, gesztenyepr (cooked chestnuts mashed with sugar and rum and split into crumbs, topped with whipped cream). Perec and kifli are widely popular pastries.
The csrda is the most distinctive type of Hungarian inn, an old-style tavern offering traditional cuisine and beverages. Boroz usually denotes a cozy old-fashioned wine tavern, pince is a beer or wine cellar and a srző is a pub offering draught beer and sometimes meals. The bisztr is an inexpensive restaurant often with self-service. The bf is the cheapest place, although one may have to eat standing at a counter. Pastries, cakes and coffee are served at the confectionery called cukrszda, while an eszpressz is a caf.
Plinka is a fruit brandy, distilled from fruit grown in the orchards situated on the Great Hungarian Plain. It is a spirit native to Hungary and comes in a variety of flavours including apricot (barack) and cherry (cseresznye). However, plum (szilva) is the most popular flavour. Beer goes well with many traditional Hungarian dishes. The five main Hungarian beer brands are: Borsodi, Soproni, Arany szok, Kbnyai, and Dreher.
Wine: As Hugh Johnson says in The History of Wine, the territory of Hungary is ideal for wine-making. Since the fall of communism there has been a renaissance in Hungarian wine-making. The country can be divided to six wine regions: North-Transdanubia, Lake Balaton, South-Pannnia, Duna-region or Alfld, Upper-Hungary and Tokaj-Hegyalja.
Hungarian wine regions offer a great variety of styles: the main products of the country are elegant and full-bodied dry whites with good acidity, although complex sweet whites (Tokaj), elegant (Eger) and full-bodied robust reds (Villny and Szekszrd). The main varieties are: Olaszrizling, Hrslevelű, Furmint, Pinot gris or Szrkebart, Chardonnay (whites), Kkfrankos (or Blaufrankisch in German), Kadarka, Portugieser, Zweigelt, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot. The most famous wines from Hungary are Tokaji Asz and Egri Bikavr.Tokaji, meaning “of Tokaj”, or “from Tokaj” in Hungarian, is used to label wines from the wine region of Tokaj-Hegyalja. Tokaji wine has received accolades from numerous great writers and composers including Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert and Goethe; Joseph Haydn‘s favorite wine was a Tokaji.Louis XV and Frederick the Great tried to outdo one another when they entertained guests with Tokaji. Napoleon III, the last Emperor of France, ordered 30–40 barrels of Tokaji at the French Royal Court every year. Gustav III, King of Sweden, loved Tokaji. In Russia, customers included Peter the Great and Empress Elizabeth, while Catherine the Great actually established a Russian garrison in the town of Tokaj with the aim of assuring regular wine deliveries to St. Petersburg.
For over 150 years, a blend of forty Hungarian herbs has been used to create the liqueur Unicum. Unicum is a bitter, dark-coloured liqueur that can be drunk as an apritif or after a meal, thus helping the digestion.
Hungary is a land of thermal water. A passion for spa culture and Hungarian history have been connected from the very beginning. Hungarian spas feature Roman, Greek, Turkish, and northern country architectural elements.
Because of an advantageous geographical location, good quality thermal water can be found in great quantities on over 80% of Hungary’s territory. Approximately 1,500 thermal springs can be found in Hungary (more than 100 just in the Capital area). There are approximately 450 public baths in Hungary.
The Romans heralded the first age of spas in Hungary. The remains of their bath complexes are still to be seen in buda. Spa culture was revived during the Turkish Invasion and the thermal springs of Buda were used for the construction of a number of bathhouses, some of which such as (Kirly Baths, Rudas Baths) are still functioning.
In the 19th century, the advancement in deep drilling and medical science provided the springboard for a further leap in bathing culture. Grand spas such as Gellrt Baths, Lukcs Baths, Margaret Island, and Szchenyi Medicinal Bath are a reflection of this resurgence in popularity. The Szchenyi Thermal Bath is the largest spa complex in Europe and it was the first thermal bath built in the Pest side of Budapest. This building is a noted example of modern Renaissance style. Located on the Buda side of Budapest, the Gellrt spa is the most famous and luxurious thermal complex of the capital city.
Ugrs (Jumping dances) are old style dances dating back to the Middle Ages.
Solo or couple dances accompanied by old style music, shepherd and other solo man’s dances from Transylvania, and marching dances along with remnants of medieval weapon dances belong in this group.
Karikz is a circle dance performed by women only accompanied by singing of folk songs.
Csrds are new style dances developed in the 18–19th centuries. Csrds is the Hungarian name for the national dances, with Hungarian embroidered costumes and energetic music. From the men’s intricate bootslapping dances to the ancient women’s circle dances, Csrds demonstrates the infectious exuberance of the Hungarian folk dancing still celebrated in the villages.
The Legnyes is a men’s solo dance done by the ethnic Hungarian people living in the Kalotaszeg region of Transylvania. Although usually danced by young men, it can be also danced by older men. The dance is generally performed freestyle by one dancer at a time in front of a band. Women participate in the dance by standing in lines to the side, and singing or shouting verses while the men dance. Each man performs a number of points (dance phrases), typically four to eight without repetition. Each point consists of four parts, each lasting four counts. The first part is usually the same for everyone (there are only a few variations).
It was in the beginning of the 18th-century that the present style of Hungarian folk art took shape, incorporating both Renaissance and Baroque elements, depending on the area, as well as Persian Sassanide influences. Flowers and leaves, sometimes a bird or a spiral ornament, are the principal decorative themes. The most frequent ornament is a flower with a centerpiece resembling the eye of a peacock’s feather.
Nearly all the manifestations of folk art practiced elsewhere in Europe also flourished among the Magyar peasantry at one time or another, their ceramics and textile being the most highly developed of all.
The finest achievements in their textile arts are the embroideries which vary from region to region. Those of Kalotaszeg in Transylvania are charming products of Oriental design, sewn chiefly in a single color– red, blue, or black. Soft in line, the embroideries are applied on altar cloths, pillow-cases and sheets.
In Hungary proper, Srkz in Transdanubia and the Matyfld in the Great Hungarian Plain produce the finest embroideries. In the Srkz region the women’s caps show black and white designs as delicate as lace, and give evidence of the people’s wonderfully subtle artistic feeling. The embroidery motifs applied to women’s wear have also been transposed to tablecloths and runners suitable for modern use as wall decorations.
These vessels, made of black clay, reflect more than three hundred years of traditional Transdanubian folk patterns and shapes. No two are precisely alike, since all work is done by hand, including both the shaping and the decorating. The imprints are made by the thumb or a finger of the ceramist who makes the piece.
Founded in 1826, Herend Porcelain is one of the world’s largest ceramic factories, specializing in luxury hand painted and gilded porcelain. In the mid-19th century it was purveyor to the Habsburg Dynasty and aristocratic customers throughout Europe. Many of its classic patterns are still in production. After the fall of communism in Hungary, the factory was privatised and is now 75% owned by its management and workers, exporting to over 60 countries of the world.
Zsolnay Porcelain Manufacture is a Hungarian manufacturer of porcelain, pottery, ceramics, tiles and stoneware. The company introduced the eosin glazing process and pyrogranite ceramics.
The Zsolnay factory was established by Mikls Zsolnay in Pcs, Hungary, to produce stoneware and ceramics in 1853. In 1863, his son, Vilmos Zsolnay (1828–1900) joined the company and became its manager and director after several years. He led the factory to worldwide recognition by demonstrating its innovative products at world fairs and international exhibitions, including the 1873 World Fair in Vienna, then at the 1878 World Fair in Paris, where Zsolnay received a Grand Prix.
Hungarian athletes have been successful contenders in the Olympic Games, only ten countries have won more Olympic medals than Hungary, with a total of 498 medals ranking eighth in an all-time Olympic Games medal count. Hungary has the third-highest number of Olympic medals per capita and second-highest number of gold medals per capita in the world. Hungary has historically excelled in Olympic water sports. In water polo the Hungarian team is the leading medal winner by a significant margin and in swimming Hungarian men are fourth most successful overall, while the women are eighth most successful overall. They have also seen success in canoeing and kayaking they are the third most successful overall.
In 2015 the Assembly of the Hungarian Olympic Committee and the Assembly of Budapest decided to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics but eventually awarded to Paris. Budapest has also lost several bids to host the games, in 1916, 1920, 1936, 1944, and 1960 to Berlin, Antwerp, London, and Rome, respectively.
Hungary hosted many global sport event in the past, among others the 1997 World Amateur Boxing Championships, 2000 World Fencing Championships, 2001 World Allround Speed Skating Championships, 2008 World Interuniversity Games, 2008 World Modern Pentathlon Championships, 2010 ITU World Championship Series, 2011 IIHF World Championship, 2013 World Fencing Championships, 2013 World Wrestling Championships, 2014 World Masters Athletics Championships, 2017 World Aquatics Championships and 2017 World Judo Championships, only in the last two decade. Besides these, Hungary was the home of many European-level tournaments, like 2006 European Aquatics Championships, 2010 European Aquatics Championships, 2013 European Judo Championships, 2013 European Karate Championships and will be the host of 4 matches in the UEFA Euro 2020, which will be held in the 67,889-seat new multi-purpose Pusks Ferenc Stadium.
The Hungarian Grand Prix in Formula One has been held at the Hungaroring just outside Budapest, which circuit has FIA Grade 1 license. Since 1986, the race has been a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. At the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix, it was confirmed that Hungary will continue to host a Formula 1 race until 2021. The track was completely resurfaced for the first time in early 2016, and it was announced the Grand Prix’s deal was extended for a further five years, until 2026.
Chess is also a popular and successful sport in Hungary, the Hungarian players are the 10th most powerful overall on the ranking of World Chess Federation. There are about 54 Grandmasters and 118 International Masters in Hungary, which is more than in France or United Kingdom. World top junior player is the Hungarian Richrd Rapport currently on the FIDE World Rankings, while Judit Polgr generally considered the strongest female chess player of all time. Some of the world’s best sabre athletes have historically also hailed from Hungary, and in 2009, the Hungarian national ice hockey team qualified for their first IIHF World Championship, in 2015, they qualified for their second World Championship in the top division.
Hungary has won three Olympic football titles, finished runners-up in the 1938 and 1954 FIFA World Cups, and third in the 1964 UEFA European Football Championship. Hungary revolutionized the sport in the 1950s, laying the tactical fundamentals of total football and dominating international football with the Aranycsapat (“Golden Team”), which included Ferenc Pusks, top goalscorer of the 20th century, to whom FIFA dedicated its newest award, the Pusks Award. The side of that era has the second all-time highest Football Elo Ranking in the world, with 2166, and one of the longest undefeated runs in football history, remaining unbeaten in 31 games spanning more than four years.
The post-golden age decades saw a gradually weakening Hungary, though recently there is renewal in all aspects. The Hungarian Children’s Football Federation was founded in 2008, as youth development thrives. For the first time in Hungarian football’s history, they hosted the 2010 UEFA Futsal Championship in Budapest and Debrecen, the first time the MLSZ staged a UEFA finals tournament. Also, the national teams have produced some surprise successes such as beating Euro 2004 winner Greece 3–2 and 2006 FIFA World Cup winner Italy 3–1. During UEFA Euro 2016 Hungary won Group F and were eventually defeated in the round of 16.
- Official site of the Hungarian Government
- Official site of the Hungarian Prime Minister
- Official site of the President of Hungary
- Official Hungarian Tourism website
- General information
- Hungary Encyclopdia Britannica
- Hungary from the OECD
- Hungary at the EU
- Wikimedia Atlas of Hungary
- Forecasts for Hungary from International Futures
- Hungary from the BBC News
- “Hungary”. The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
- Statistical Profile of Hungary at the Association of Religion Data Archives
- Hungary at Curlie
- FAO Country Profiles: Hungary
- Daily News Hungary
- Hungary Today – The latest news about Hungary
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