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Magyar Köztársaság
Republic of Hungary
Coat of Arms of Hungary
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: (none current)
historical: Regnum Mariae Patrona Hungariae
(latin: Kingdom of Mary the Patron of Hungary)
Anthem: Himnusz (Isten, áldd meg a magyart)
Location of Hungary
Capital Budapest
47°26′ N 19°15′ E
Largest city Budapest
Official languages Hungarian
Government Democratic republic
László Sólyom
Ferenc Gyurcsány
Foundation: December, 1000 (Independence: November 16, 1918)
 • Total
 • Water (%)
93,030 km² (108th)
 • August 2005 est.
 • 2001 census
 • Density
10,084,000 (80th)
109/km² (94th)
 • Total
 • Per capita
2005 estimate
$162,289 million (49th)
$16,627 (43rd)
Currency Forint (HUF)
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
Internet TLD .hu
Calling code +36

The Republic of Hungary (Magyar Köztársaság ), or Hungary (Magyarország ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. It is known locally as the Country of the Magyars.



Main article: History of Hungary

In the time of the Roman Empire, the Romans called the region Pannonia (west from the Danube river). After Rome fell the Migration Period brought on many invaders. First came the Huns, who built up a powerful empire under Attila. The name "Hungary" is influenced by the name of the Hun people, although it probably comes from the name of a later, 7th century state called Onogur (or possibly from the name of the city Ungvár, which was possibly the first major city the magyars occupied). After the Hunnish rule faded, Germanic tribes Lombards and Gepids ruled in Pannonia for about 100 years, during which the Slavic tribes also began migrating south. In the 560s, these were supplanted by the Avars who would maintain their supremacy of the land for over two centuries. The Franks under Charlemagne from the west and the Bulgars from the southeast finally managed to overthrow the Avars in the early 9th century. Soon after, the Franks retreated, and the Slavonic kingdom of Great Moravia and the Balaton Principality controlled much of Pannonia until the end of the century. Finally, the Magyars migrated to Hungary in the late 9th century.

Tradition holds that the Country of the Magyars (Hungary) was founded by Árpád, who led the Magyars into the Pannonian plains after 895. The Kingdom of Hungary was established in 1000 by King St. Stephen I. Initially the history of Hungary was developed in a triangle with that of Poland and Bohemia, with the many liaisons with Popes and Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. Hungary was partially demolished with a great loss of life in 12411242 by Mongol (Tatar) armies of Batu Khan.

Gradually Hungary under the rule of the dynasty of the Árpáds turned into an independent kingdom which formed a distinct Central European culture with ties to greater West European civilisation. Ruled by the Angevins since 1308, the Kingdom of Hungary briefly extended its control over Wallachia and Moldavia. The non-dynastic king Matthias Corvinus, son of John Hunyadi, ruled the Kingdom of Hungary from 1458 to 1490. He strengthened Hungary and its government. Under his rule, Hungary (notably the northern parts, some of which are in Slovakia today) became an important artistic and cultural centre of Europe during the Renaissance. Hungarian culture influenced others, for example the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Together with Polish and Czech lands, Hungary formed the Visegrád group of countries. Today an alliance of the same name exists again with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

Hungarian independence ended with the Ottoman conquest at the beginning of the 16th century; the parts of Hungary that were not conquered by the Ottomans were annexed by Austria (the rulers of which were Hungarian kings at the same time) in the West, and became the independent Principality of Transylvania in the East, where thus Hungarian statedom was preserved. After 150 years, Austria and her Christian allies retook also the territory of today's Hungary by the end of the 17th century from the Islamic Ottoman Empire.

After the final retreat of the Turks, struggle began between the Hungarian nation and the Habsburg kings for the protection of noblemen's rights (thus guarding the autonomy of Hungary). The fight against Austrian absolutism resulted in the unsuccessful popular freedom fight led by a Transylvanian nobleman, Ferenc II Rákóczi, between 1704 and 1711. The revolution and war of 1848–1849 eliminated serfdom and secured civil rights. The Austrians were finally able to prevail only with Russian help.

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

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

In June 1920, the Treaty of Trianon was signed, fixing Hungary's borders. Compared with the pre-war Kingdom, the size and population of this new Hungary were reduced by about two-thirds; about one-third of the Magyar population became minorities in the neighbouring countries. Therefore, Hungarian politics and culture of the interwar period were saturated with irredentism and revisionism (the restoration of 19th century "greater Hungary" by whatever means necessary).

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

Hungary passed a series of anti-Semitic laws throughot the 1920s and thirties, and some massacres of Jews by Hungarian forces took place in the early part of the Second World War, but Hungary initially resisted large scale deportation of its Jewish population. Ultimately, however, during the German occupation, the Arrow Cross Party and government authorities participated fully in the Holocaust: in May and June of 1944, Hungarian police deported nearly 440,000 Jews in more than 145 trains, mostly to Auschwitz [1]. Ultimately, over 533,000 Jews in Hungary were killed during the Holocaust, as well as several tens of thousands of Roma.

Following the fall of Nazi Germany, Hungary became part of the Soviet area of influence and was appropriated into a communist state following a short period of democracy in 1946–1947. After 1948 Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi established a Stalinist rule in the country, which was barely bearable for the war-torn country. This led to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and an announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact which were met with a massive military intervention by the Soviet Union. From the 1960s on to the late 1980s Hungary enjoyed a distinguished status of "the happiest barrack" within the Eastern bloc, under the rule of late controversial communist leader János Kádár, who exercised autocratic rule during this period. In the late 1980s, Hungary led the movement to dissolve the Warsaw Pact and shifted toward multiparty democracy and a market-oriented economy. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Hungary developed closer ties with Western Europe, joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union on May 1, 2004.

See Also: Kingdom of Hungary, Hungary before the Magyars


Main article: Politics of Hungary

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

The unicameral, 386-member National Assembly (the Országgyűlés) is the highest organ of state authority and initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the prime minister. National parliamentary elections are held every 4 years (the last was in April 2002). A 15-member Constitutional Court has power to challenge legislation on grounds of unconstitutionality.

Administrative divisions

Main article: Counties of Hungary

Hungary is subdivided administratively into 19 counties, in addition to which there is one capital city (főváros): Budapest. There are also 22 so-called urban counties (singular megyei jogú város), These are:

Urban counties Counties (County Capital)

See also: List of historic counties of Hungary


Map of Hungary
Map of Hungary

Main article: Geography of Hungary

Hungary's landscape consists mostly of the flat to rolling plains of the Carpathian Basin, with hills and lower mountains to the north along the Slovakian border (highest point: the Kékes at 1,014 m). Hungary is divided in two by its main waterway, the Danube (Duna); other large rivers include the Tisza and Dráva, while the western half contains Lake Balaton, a major body of water. The largest thermal lake in the world, Lake Hévíz (Hévíz Spa), is located in Hungary. The second largest lake in the Carpathian Basin (and probably the largest artificial lake in Europe) is Lake Theiss (Tisza-tó).


Hungary has a continental climate, with cold, cloudy, humid winters and warm to hot summers. Average annual temperature is 9.7 °C. Temperature extremes are about 38 °C in the summer and −29 °C in the winter. Average temperature in the summer is 27 to 32 °C, and in the winter it is 0 to −15 °C. The average yearly rainfall is approximately 600 mm. A small, southern region of the country near Pécs enjoys a Mediterranean climate.

The relative isolation of the Carpathian Basin makes it susceptible to droughts and the effects of global warming are already felt. According to popular opinion, and many scientists in the latest decades the country became drier, as droughts are quite common; and summers became hotter, winters became milder. Because of these reasons snow has become much more rare in the area than before. Popular opinion also states that the four-season system became a two-season system as spring and autumn are getting shorter and shorter, even vanishing some years.

Most of Hungary is surrounded by thick forests and mountainous plains.


Main article: Economy of Hungary

Hungary continues to demonstrate moderate-to-strong economic growth as one of the newest members of the European Union (since 2004). The private sector accounts for over 80% of GDP. Foreign ownership of and investment in Hungarian firms is widespread, with cumulative foreign direct investment totalling more than US$23 billion since 1989. Hungarian sovereign debt was upgraded in 2000 to the second-highest rating among all the Central European transition economies. Inflation and unemployment – both priority concerns in 2001 – have declined substantially, however the suicide rate remains stubbornly high. Economic reform measures such as health care reform, tax reform, and local government financing have not yet been addressed by the present government.



  • around 900 - according to various sources 250,000 - 400,000 Magyars settled in the Pannonian plain, inhabited predominantly by Slavs and Germans
  • 1222 - 2,000,000 at the time of Golden Bull
  • 1242 - 1,200,000 after the Mongol-Tatars invasion
  • 1370 - 2,500,000 at the time of Angevin kings
  • 1490 - 4,000,000 before the Ottoman conquest (3.2 million Magyars)
  • 1699 - 3,300,000 at the time of Treaty of Karlowitz (less than 2 million Magyars)
  • 1711 - 3,000,000 at the end of Kuruc War (1.6 million Magyars)
  • 1790 - 8,000,000 (39% Magyars)
  • 1828 - 11,495,536
  • 1846 - 12,033,399
  • 1880 - 13,749,603 (46% Magyars)
  • 1900 - 16,838,255 (51,4% Magyars)
  • 1910 - 18,264,533 (54,5% Magyars, 5% Jews)
  • 1920 - 7.516.000 after the Treaty of Trianon (90% Magyars, 6.1% Jews)


Main article: Demographics of Hungary

For some 95% of the population, mostly Hungarians, the mother tongue is Hungarian, a Finno Ugric language unrelated to any neighbouring language. Several ethnic minorities exist: Roma (2%), Germans (1.2%), Romanians (0.8%), Slovaks (0.4%), Croats (0.2%), Serbs (0.2%) and Ukrainians (0.1%).

The largest religion in Hungary is Catholicism – Roman and Greek – (approx 50% of the population), with a Calvinist minority (around 30%) and Lutherans (5%). However, these are book values, as the Hungarian population is not particularly religious; at most 25% practice their faith. Most of the country's Jews (1%) live in Budapest.

Several large Hungarian minority populations exist across the borders in neighbouring countries, notably in Ukraine (in Transcarpathia), Slovakia, Romania (in Transylvania), and Serbia (in Vojvodina). Smaller ones are present in Austria (in Burgenland), Croatia, and Slovenia.


Several ethnic minorities exist: Roma (2%), Germans (1.2%), Romanians (0.8%), Slovaks (0.4%), Croats (0.2%), Serbs (0.2%) and Ukrainians (0.1%). As regards education, there are special problems associated with the Roma minority. Currently slightly more than 70 percent of Roma children complete primary schooling, but only one third continue studies into the intermediate (secondary) level. This is far lower than the more than 90 percent proportion of children of non-Roma families who continue studies at an intermediate level. The situation is made still worse by the fact that a large proportion of young Roma are qualified in subjects that provide them with only limited chances for employment. Less than 1 percent of Roma hold higher educational certificates.


Main article: Culture of Hungary

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