The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







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 this province Pannonia. After Rome fell, Hungary, like the other provinces, was affected by the migrations. First came the Huns, who built up under Atilla the powerful Hunnish Empire. The name “Hungary” is influenced by the name of the Hun people, although it probably comes from the name of the Turkish tribe Onogur (see Polish Węgrzy, German Ungarn, etc.). After the empire of the Huns disintegrated, German tribes ruled in Hungary for about 100 years, and were followed by the Avars. During the 200 year supremacy of the Avars, the migration of the Slavonic tribes began. Moravians, Bulgars, Croato-Serbians, and Poles all sought to overthrow the Avars, but their power was not broken until Charlemagne. The decline of the kingdom of the East Franks, after the death of Charlemagne, was favourable to the development of a great Slavonic power, and Swatopluk, ruler of Great Moravia, sought to establish a permanent Moravian kingdom, but the appearance of the Magyars put an end to these schemes. [1]

Tradition holds that the Country of the Magyars (Hungary) was founded by Árpád, who led the Magyars into the Pannonian plains at the end of the 9th century. 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 armies of the Golden Horde.

Gradually Hungary turned into a large, independent kingdom which formed a distinct Central European culture with ties to greater West European civilisation. Matthias Corvinus ruled 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 artistic and cultural center 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 nations. 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 territorry of today's Hungary by the end of the 17th century from the Ottoman Empire.

After the final defeat of the Turkish, struggle began between the Hungarian nation and the Habsburg kings for the protection of noblemens' rights (thus guarding the autonomy of Hungary). The fight against Austrian absolutism resulted in the unsuccessful popular freedom fight led by a Transsylvanian nobleman, Ferenc 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, until that Empire's collapse following World War I. Hungary separated from Austria on October 31, 1918.

In March 1919 the communists joined the government, and in April, Béla Kun proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic. This government proved to be short lived; the Romanian army invaded, the communist forces were defeated and the Soviet Republic was toppled on August 6, 1919. Rightist military forces, led by the former Austro-Hungarian Admiral Miklós Horthy, entered Budapest in the wake of the Romanian army's depature and filled the vacuum of state power. In January 1920, elections were held for a unicameral assembly, and Admiral Horthy was subsequently elected Regent. In June, the Treaty of Trianon was signed, fixing Hungary's borders. Compared with the prewar Kingdom, the size and population of this new Hungary were reduced by about two-thirds. Miklós Horthy ruled with autocratic powers for most of the interwar period. Hungarian politics and culture of the era was saturated with irredentism and revisionism (the resurrection of pre-Trianon sized Hungary by whatever means it takes).

Horthy made an alliance with Nazi Germany in the 1930s, in the hope of revising the territorial losses that had followed World War I. Hungary was rewarded by Germany with historical Hungarian territories belonging to Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania, and took an active part in World War II. However, 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 on schedule since the Allied invasion of Italy. During the Holocaust more than 400,000 Jews and several tens of thousands of Roma perished in Hungary, but the Jewish population of Budapest (approx.200,000) wasn't let to be transported into eliminatory camps because Horthy hindered it.

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/revolt and announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact were met with military intervention by the Soviet Union and the deposition and execution of the reform-minded communist prime minister Imre Nagy. From the 1960's on to the late 1980's 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 at most of this era. 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 joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

See Also: Kingdom of Hungary, Hungary: Pre-History and Early History


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. A party must win at least 5% of the national vote to form a parliamentary faction. 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.


Main article: Counties of Hungary

Hungary is subdivided administratively into 40 regions. Of these, 19 are counties (megyék, singular megye) and 20 are so-called urban counties (singular megyei jogú város), in addition to which there is one capital city (főváros): Budapest. The other 39 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 Tisza (Tisza-tó).


Hungary has continental climate, with cold, cloudy, humid winters and warm to hot summers. Average annual temperature is 9.7°C. Temperature extremes are app. 35°C in the summer and −29°C in the winter. Average temperature in the summer is 27–32°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.


Main article: Economy of Hungary

Hungary continues to demonstrate 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 totaling 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.


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 two thirds of the population), with a Calvinist minority (around 20%) and Lutherans (5%). However, these are book values, as the Hungarian population is not particularly religious; at most 25% practise their faith. Most of the country's Jews (1%) live in Budapest.

Several large Hungarian minorities exist across the border in neighbouring countries, notably in Ukraine (in Transcarpathia), Slovakia, Romania (in Transylvania), Serbia (in Vojvodina) and a smaller ones in Austria (in Burgenland), Croatia and Slovenia.


Main article: Culture of Hungary

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