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This article is about the European country. For other uses, see Hungary (disambiguation).
Magyarország   (Hungarian)
Flag Coat of arms
Cum Deo pro Patria et Libertate! (Historically latin)
"With the help of God for Homeland and Freedom!"
Anthem: Himnusz
Location of  Hungary  (dark green)– in Europe  (green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (green)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Hungary  (dark green)

– in Europe  (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (green)  –  [Legend]

and largest city
47°26′N 19°15′E / 47.433°N 19.250°E / 47.433; 19.250
Official languages Hungarian
Ethnic groups (2011[1])
Demonym Hungarian
Government Unitary parliamentary
constitutional republic
 -  President János Áder
 -  Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
 -  Speaker of the National Assembly László Kövér
Legislature Országgyűlés
(National Assembly)
 -  Principality of Hungary 895[2] 
 -  Christian Kingdom 25 December 1000[3] 
 -  Golden Bull of 1222 24 April 1222 
 -  Ottoman rule
of Buda
29 August 1541 
 -  Hungarian Revolution 15 March 1848 
 -  Austro-Hungarian Compromise 20 March 1867 
 -  Treaty of Trianon 4 June 1920 
 -  Third Republic 23 October 1989 
 -  Joined the European Union 1 May 2004 
 -  Total 93,030[4] km2 (109th)
35,919 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 0.74%
 -  2014 estimate 9,877,365[5] (84th)
 -  2011 census 9,937,628[6]
 -  Density 107.2/km2 (94th)
279.0/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
 -  Total $225.285 billion[7] (57th)
 -  Per capita $21,239[7] (49th)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
 -  Total $145.153 billion[7] (58th)
 -  Per capita $14,703[7] (57th)
Gini (2013) 28.0[8]
HDI (2013) Increase 0.831[9]
very high · 37th
Currency Forint (HUF)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Date format yyyy/mm/dd
Drives on the right
Calling code +36
Patron saint Saint Stephen
ISO 3166 code HU
Internet TLD .hua
a. Also .eu as part of the European Union.

Hungary Listeni/ˈhʌŋɡəri/ (Hungarian: Magyarország [ˈmɒɟɒrorsaːɡ], formally, until 2012, the Republic of Hungary (Hungarian: Magyar Köztársaság [ˈmɒɟɒr ˈkøstaːrʃɒʃaːɡ]) is a landlocked country in Central Europe.[10] It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The country's capital and largest city is Budapest. Hungary is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the Visegrád Group, and the Schengen Area. The official language is Hungarian, which is the most widely spoken non-Indo-European language in Europe.[11]

Following centuries of successive habitation by Celts, Romans, Huns, Slavs, Gepids, and Avars, the foundation of Hungary was laid in the late 9th century by the Hungarian grand prince Árpád in the Honfoglalás ("homeland-conquest"). His great-grandson Stephen I ascended to the throne in 1000 CE, converting the country to a Christian kingdom. By the 12th century, Hungary became a middle power within the Western world, reaching a golden age by the 15th century.[12] Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526 and about 150 years of partial Ottoman occupation (1541–1699), Hungary came under Habsburg rule, and later formed a significant part of the Austro–Hungarian Empire (1867–1918).

Hungary's current borders were first established by the Treaty of Trianon (1920) after World War I, when the country lost 71% of its territory, 58% of its population, and 32% of ethnic Hungarians. Following the interwar period, Hungary joined the Axis Powers in World War II, suffering significant damage and casualties. Hungary came under the influence of the Soviet Union, which contributed to the establishment of a four-decade-long communist dictatorship (1947–1989). The country gained widespread international attention regarding the Revolution of 1956 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 again became a democratic parliamentary republic, and is today an upper-middle-income country with a very high Human Development Index.[13][14] Hungary is a popular tourist destination attracting 10.675 million tourists a year (2013).[15] It is home to the largest thermal water cave system[16] and the second-largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest natural grasslands in Europe (the Hortobágy National Park).


Main article: History of Hungary

It is believed that the origin of the name "Hungary" originated from the 7th century, when Magyar tribes were part of a Bulgar alliance called On-Ogur, which in Bulgar Turkic meant "(the) Ten Arrows".[17]

Before 895

Italian fresco depicting a Hungarian warrior shooting backwards

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. In 41–54 CE, a Roman legion of about 600 men settled in the Pannonian region; this settlement was named Aquincum. In the neighborhood of the military settlement a civil city grew gradually and in 106 CE Aquincum became the focal point of the commercial life of this area and the capital city of the Pannonian Inferior region. This area now corresponds to the Óbuda district of Budapest with the Roman ruins now forming part of the modern Aquincum museum.[18] Later came the Huns, who built a powerful empire. After Hunnish rule, the Germanic Ostrogoths, Lombards, and Gepids, and the polyethnic Avars, had a presence in the Carpathian Basin.[19]

In the late 9th century, the land was inhabited mainly by Slavic peoples and Avars.[20] On the eve of the arrival of the Hungarians, East Francia, the First Bulgarian Empire and Great Moravia ruled the territory of the Carpathian Basin. Additionally, the Avars formed a significant part of the population of the Carpathian Basin at the end of the 9th century; both contemporary sources[21][22] and a growing number of archaeological evidence suggest that groups of the Avars survived the disintegration of their empire.

The freshly unified Hungarians[23] led by Árpád settled in the Carpathian Basin starting in 895.[22][24] According to linguists, they originated from an ancient Uralic-speaking population that formerly inhabited the forested area between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains.[25]

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)[26] was a state consisting of a semi-nomadic people. It accomplished an enormous transformation into a Christian realm during the 10th century.[27]

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.[27] The Hungarians defeated no fewer than three major East Frankish Imperial Armies between 907 and 910.[28] 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 Árpádian kings

Main article: Árpád dynasty
King Saint Stephen, the first King of Hungary, converted the nation to Christianity
The Holy Crown ( Szentkorona), one of the key symbols of Hungary

The year 972 marked the date when the ruling prince (Hungarian: fejedelem) Géza of the Árpád dynasty officially started to integrate Hungary into the Christian Western Europe.[29] His first-born son, Saint Stephen I, became the first King of Hungary after defeating his pagan uncle Koppány, who also claimed the throne. Under Stephen, Hungary was recognized as a Catholic Apostolic Kingdom.[30] 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 had 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. Hungary became a powerful kingdom.[31] Ladislaus I extended Hungary's frontier in Transylvania and invaded Croatia in 1091.[32][33][34][35] 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. Könyves Kálmán.[36]

The most powerful and wealthiest king of the Árpád dynasty was Béla 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.[37]

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.[38] 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.[39] King Béla IV let Cumans and Jassic people into the country, who were fleeing the Mongols.[40] Over the centuries, they were fully assimilated into the Hungarian population.[41]

As a consequence, after the Mongols retreated, King Béla 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[42] 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

Main article: Ottoman–Hungarian Wars
A map of lands ruled by Louis the Great
Western conquests of Matthias Corvinus
The Gothic-Renaissance Hunyad Castle in Transylvania (now Romania), built by King Charles I of Hungary

The Kingdom of Hungary reached one of its greatest extent during the Árpádian 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 Árpád 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 Árpád 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.[43] 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. The library is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[44]

The serfs and common people considered him a just ruler because he protected them from excessive demands from and other abuses by the magnates.[45] 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.[43] Hungary's international role declined, its political stability shaken, and social progress was deadlocked.[46] In 1514, the weakened old King Vladislaus II faced a major peasant rebellion led by György Dózsa, which was ruthlessly crushed by the nobles, led by John Zápolya.

The resulting degradation of order paved the way for Ottoman pre-eminence. In 1521, the strongest Hungarian fortress in the South, Nándorfehérvár (today's Belgrade, Serbia), fell to the Turks. The early appearance of Protestantism further worsened internal relations in the country.

Ottoman wars 1526–1699

Ottoman ravage in Hungary, 16th century
Painting commemorating the Siege of Eger, a major victory against the Ottomans

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 Mohács in 1526, where King Louis II died while fleeing. Amid political chaos, the divided Hungarian nobility elected two kings simultaneously, John Zápolya 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 thousands Ottoman soldiers in service in the Ottoman fortresses in the territory of Hungary were Orthodox and Muslim Balkan Slavs instead of ethnic Turkish people.[47] Orthodox Southern Slavs were also acting as akinjis and other light troops intended for pillaging in the territory of present-day Hungary.[48]

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.[49] 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.[50] 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.[51]

From the 18th century to World War I

Francis II Rákóczi, leader of the uprising against Habsburg rule in 1703–11

Between 1703 and 1711, there was a large-scale uprising led by Francis II Rákóczi, who after the dethronement of the Habsburgs in 1707 at the Diet of Ónod, 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. After 8 years of war with the Habsburg Empire, the Hungarian Kuruc army lost the last main battle at Trencsén (1708).[52]

The Period of Reforms

Count István Széchenyi offered one year's income to establish the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

During the Napoleonic Wars and afterwards, the Hungarian Diet had not convened for decades.[53] In the 1820s, the Emperor was forced to convene the Diet, which marked the beginning of a Reform Period (1825–1848, Hungarian: reformkor).

Count István Széchenyi, 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, Mihály Táncsics) were imprisoned by the authorities.

Revolution and War of Independence

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 Batthyány, 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.[54] In July 1849 the Hungarian Parliament proclaimed and enacted the first laws of ethnic and minority rights in the world.[citation needed] Many members of the nationalities gained the coveted highest positions within the Hungarian Army, like General János Damjanich, an ethnic Serb who became a Hungarian national hero through his command of the 3rd Hungarian Army Corps or Józef Bem, who was Polish and also became a national hero in Hungary.

Lajos Kossuth, Regent-President during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848

Initially, the Hungarian forces (Honvédség) 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 Artúr Görgey 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 Batthyány in October 1849. Lajos Kossuth escaped into exile.

Following the war of 1848 – 1849, the whole country was in "passive resistance".

Austria–Hungary 1867–1918

Territories of the Kingdom of Hungary and the Kingdom of Croatia (green parts) within the Austro-Hungarian Empire

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 Óbuda were officially united with Pest,[55] thus creating the new metropolis of Budapest.

Many of the state institutions and the modern administrative system of Hungary were established during this period.

World War I 1914–1918

Main article: Hungary in World War I
Hungarian built dreadnought battleship SMS Szent István in World War I

After the Assassination in Sarajevo, the Hungarian prime minister István 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 9 million (fighting forces: 7.8 million) soldiers in World War I (over 4 million 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,[citation needed] 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.[56] In October 1918, Hungary's union with Austria was dissolved.

Between the World Wars 1918–1941

With the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary lost 72% of its territory, its sea ports and 3,425,000 ethnic Hungarians [57] [58]
  Majority Hungarian areas (according to the 1910 census) detached from Hungary
Miklós Horthy, Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary (1920–1944)

The success of the 1918 Aster Revolution in Budapest brought Mihály Károlyi to power as prime minister and later as president of the first republic of Hungary. Károlyi ordered the full disarmament of the Hungarian Army, leaving Hungary without any national defence.

Romania took control of Transylvania and other parts of eastern Hungary, Czechoslovakia took control of the northern parts (also known as Upper Hungary), and a joint Serbian and French Army took control of the southern parts. These territories had majority populations of the respective occupying nations, but territories were occupied further than the ethnic boundaries, and so each had a significant Hungarian population as well. The post-War Entente backed the subsequent annexations of these territories.

In March 1919, the Communists took power in Hungary. In April, Béla Kun proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Kun's government, like its immediate predecessor, proved to be short-lived. Despite some initial military successes against the Czechoslovakian Army, the Romanian Army defeated Kun's troops and took Budapest, ousting his regime.

On 4 June 1920, the Treaty of Trianon was signed, which established new borders for Hungary. Hungary lost 71% of its territory and 66% of its population. About one-third of the ethnic Hungarian population (3.4 of 10 million Hungarians) became minorities in neighboring countries. The new borders separated Hungary's industrial base from its sources of raw materials, and Hungary also lost its only sea port at Fiume (today Rijeka). The revision of the Treaty of Trianon rose to the top of Hungary's political agenda. Some wanted to restore the full pre-Trianon area, others only the ethnic Hungarian majority territories.

Rightist Hungarian 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. Admiral Horthy was elected Regent, thereby formally restoring the monarchy to Hungary. However, there would be no more kings of Hungary despite attempts by the former Habsburg ruler Charles IV to return to his former seat of power. Horthy ruled as Regent until 16 October 1944. Hungary remained a parliamentary democracy, but after 1932, autocratic tendencies gradually returned as a result of Nazi influence and the Great Depression.

World War II 1941–1945

Kingdom of Hungary, 1941–44

The Germans and Italians granted Hungary a part of southern Czechoslovakia and Subcarpathia in the First Vienna Award of 1938. In early 1939 Hungary occupied the rest of Subcarpathia and, following the Slovak–Hungarian War, part of eastern Slovakia. Northern Transylvania was occupied following the Second Vienna Award of 1940. In 1941, the Hungarian army took part in the invasion of Yugoslavia, regaining some more territories. On 22 June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union under Operation Barbarossa. On 26 June, unidentified planes bombed the regained cities of Kassa, Munkács, and Rahó; as a response the next day Prime Minister László Bárdossy declared war on the Soviet Union, and formally entered World War II on the side of the Axis Powers. In late 1941, the Hungarian troops on the Eastern Front experienced success at the Battle of Uman.[59]

In 1943, after the Hungarian Second Army suffered extremely heavy losses at the River Don, the Hungarian government sought to negotiate a surrender with the Allies. On 19 March 1944, as a result of this duplicity, German troops occupied Hungary in what was known as Operation Margarethe. As the front reached Hungary, Miklós Horthy made a token effort to disengage Hungary from the war on 15 October 1944, but he was replaced by a puppet government under the pro-German Prime Minister Ferenc Szálasi of the Arrow Cross Party.[59]

Jewish women being arrested on Wesselényi Street in Budapest during The Holocaust, ca. 20–22 October 1944

The newly established fascist regime pledged all the country's capabilities in service of the German war machine. By October 1944, the Eastern Front was moving towards the river Tisza. Although the German and Hungarian troops experienced success at the Battle of Debrecen, it only delayed the advancing Soviet armies. By the end of December the soviets encircled the capital city - beginning the two months long Battle of Budapest.

During the Holocaust in Hungary and especially during the period of German occupation in May–June 1944, the fascist Arrow Cross Party and Hungarian police deported nearly 440,000 Jews, most to Auschwitz extermination camp, and nearly all were murdered.[60] The Swedish Diplomat Raoul Wallenberg managed to save a considerable number of Hungarian Jews by giving them Swedish passports.[61] Rudolf Kastner (original spelling Kasztner), one of the leaders of the Hungarian Aid and Rescue Committee, negotiated with senior SS officers such as Adolf Eichmann to allow a number of Jews to escape in exchange for money, gold, and diamonds.[62][63][64] Other diplomats also organized false papers and safe houses for Jews in Budapest and hundreds of Hungarian people were executed by the Arrow Cross Party for sheltering Jews.[citation needed]

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Buda Castle in ruins after World War II (1946)

The war left Hungary devastated, destroying over 60% of the economy and causing significant loss of life. As many as 280,000[65][66] Hungarians were raped, murdered and executed or deported for slave labor by Czechoslovaks,[67][68][69][70][71][72] Soviet Red Army troops,[73][74][75] and Yugoslavs.[76]

On 13 February 1945, the Hungarian capital city surrendered unconditionally, two months later the last German troops were pushed out of Hungary, and the Soviet occupation was complete. After the war and by the agreement between the Czechoslovakian president Edvard Beneš and Joseph Stalin, expulsions of 200,000 Hungarians from Czechoslovakia and 70,000 Slovaks from Hungary started. 202,000 (two thirds) of the ethnic Germans were also expelled to Germany pursuant to article XIII of the Potsdam Protocol of 2 August 1945.[77]

All the territories regained with the Vienna Awards and during World War II were again lost by Hungary with the Paris Peace Treaty in 1947.

Communist era 1947–1989

A destroyed Soviet tank in Budapest during the 1956 Revolution; Time's Man of the Year for 1956 was the Hungarian Freedom Fighter [78]

Following the fall of Nazi Germany, Soviet troops occupied the entire country with the goal of forming Hungary into a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union. The Soviet leadership selected Mátyás Rákosi to helm the Stalinization of the country; 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 Rákosi government established a secret political police, the ÁVH, to enforce the new regime. The purges that followed saw approximately 350,000 officials and intellectuals imprisoned or executed from 1948 to 1956.[79] Many freethinkers and democrats were secretly arrested and taken to inland or foreign Nazi concentration camps without any judicial sentence. According to some estimates some 600,000 Hungarians were deported to Soviet labor camps, and at least 200,000 died in captivity.[80]

After Stalin's death in 1953, the Soviet Union pursued a program of destalinization that was inimical to Rákosi, leading to the latter's deposition from the premiership. 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 Rákosi opposed both vigorously. Rákosi 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 Soviet soldiers and secret police firing on peaceful demonstrations and rallies throughout the country on 23 October 1956, protesters took the streets in Budapest, inciting the 1956 Revolution. In an effort to quell the chaos, Nagy resumed the premiership, promised free elections, and pulled Hungary from the Warsaw Pact.

Nonetheless the violence continued as revolutionary militias sprung up against the Soviet Army and the ÁVH; 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, most Soviet troops had withdrawn from Budapest to garrison the Hungarian countryside. For a time, the Soviet leadership was unsure how to respond to developments in Hungary, but soon decided to intervene to prevent Hungary from breaking away from the Soviet bloc. On November 4 reinforcements of more than 150,000 troops and 2,500 tanks entered the country from Soviet Union.[81] Nearly 20,000 Hungarians were killed resisting the intervention while an additional 21,600 were imprisoned afterwards for political reasons with 13,000 interned and 230 brought to trial and executed. Nagy was captured, only to be executed later in 1958. Because borders had been briefly open, nearly a quarter of a million people fled the country by the time the revolution was suppressed.[82]

Kádár era 1956–1988

See also: Goulash Communism
János Kádár, General Secretary of MSZMP, the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (1956–1988)

After a brief period of Soviet military occupation, János Kádár, Nagy's former Minister of State, was chosen by the Soviet leadership to act as the head of the new government. Kádár 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. Kádár 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." Kádár introduced new planning priorities in the economy, such as allowing farmers significant plots of private land within the collective farm system (háztáji gazdálkodás). The living standard rose as consumer good and food production took precedence over military production, which was reduced to one-tenth of the pre-revolutionary level.

This was followed in 1968 by the New Economic Mechanism (NEM), which 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.[83] As a result of this relatively high standard of living, a more liberalised 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 Eastern Europe during communism. In the 1980s, however, living standards steeply declined yet again due to a worldwide recession to which communism was unable to respond.[84] By the time Kádár 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 Hungarian Republic 1989–present

Hungary acceded to the European Union in 2004.

Hungarian history since the fall of communism has been marked by turbulent shifts in the political landscape. In 1989, reformers within the Communist Party agreed to "round table" talks with notable opposition leaders, laying the groundwork for multi-party democracy and a free market economy. That May, Hungary began taking down its barbed wire fence along the Austrian border – the first tear in the Iron Curtain — and in the first free elections in 1990, the centre-right Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) led by József Antall won an overwhelming majority in the Parliament with a clear mandate.

The MDF advocated a gradual transition towards open markets, but the economic changes of the early 1990s resulted in declining living standards for most people in Hungary. In 1991 most state subsidies were removed, leading to a severe recession exacerbated by the fiscal austerity necessary to reduce inflation and stimulate investment. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), consisting in large part of former communists such as its leader Gyula Horn, won the 1994 elections and formed a coalition government with the Free Democrats (SzDSz). The tide turned yet again four years later with the center-right Fidesz winning its first mandate under Viktor Orbán's leadership.

During this period, all four main political parties advocated economic liberalization and closer ties with the West. Hungary joined NATO in 1999, followed almost immediately thereafter by its involvement in the Yugoslav Wars. In 1998, the European Union began negotiations with Hungary on full membership. In a 2003 national referendum, 85% voted in favor of Hungary acceding to the European Union, which followed on 1 May 2004.

Fidesz lost the 2002 election and MSZP and SZDSZ formed a coalition government for the second time. MSZP was the first governing party to be reelected since communist rule in the subsequent 2006 election, but turmoil ensued when a speech by Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány was leaked to the media that September. Extensive protests followed in Budapest and other cities, exacerbated by the fiftieth anniversary of the 1956 Revolution. Gyurcsány resigned from office in 2009. The 2008 global financial crisis caused a severe recession in the economy of Hungary. Following the resignation of Gyurcsány, Gordon Bajnai and the Socialists formed a technocratic minority government, which was externally supported by SZDSZ.

The 2010 election saw the current Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's alliance of Fidesz and Christian Democrats win a supermajority in Parliament. Though Orbán had led the government from 1998 to 2002, his second premiership has been decidedly more conservative. Using its supermajority, the new government adopted a new constitution in 2012 that modified several aspects of the institutional and legal framework in Hungary. These changes have been the target of international criticism.[85] Fidesz won a second supermajority in the 2014 election under new electoral laws.[86]


Main article: Geography of Hungary
A flock of Racka sheep in the Fertő-Hanság National Park

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—Dunántúl ("beyond the Danube", Transdanubia), Tiszántúl ("beyond the Tisza"), and Duna-Tisza köze ("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 eastward 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 Villány Mountains in the south. The highest point of the area is the Írott-kő in the Alps, at 882 metres (2,894 ft). The Little Hungarian Plain (Kisalföld) is found in northern Transdanubia. Lake Balaton and Lake Hévíz, the largest lake in Central Europe and the largest thermal lake in the world, respectively, are in Transdanubia as well.

The Duna-Tisza köze and Tiszántúl are characterized mainly by the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld), 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 Kékes at 1,014 m or 3,327 ft 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 continental climate,[87] with hot summers with low overall humidity levels but frequent rainshowers and mildly cold snowy winters. Average annual temperature is 9.7 °C (49.5 °F). Temperature extremes are about 41.9 °C (107.4 °F) on 20 July 2007 at Kiskunhalas in the summer and −35 °C (−31.0 °F) on 16 February 1940 Miskolc-Görömbölytapolca in the winter. Average high temperature in the summer is 23 to 28 °C (73 to 82 °F) and average low temperature in the winter is −3 to −7 °C (27 to 19 °F). The average yearly rainfall is approximately 600 mm (23.6 in). A small, southern region of the country near Pécs enjoys a reputation for a Mediterranean climate, but in reality it is only slightly warmer than the rest of the country and still receives snow during the winter.

Hungary is ranked sixth in an environmental protection index by GW/CAN.[88]


Main article: Politics of Hungary
The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest

Hungary is a unicameral parliamentary representative democratic republic. Members of Parliament (országgyűlési képviselő, pl. képviselők) are elected to the highest organ of state authority, the Országgyűlés, or National Assembly, every four years. Up until 2012, 386 MPs were elected to the National Assembly in two rounds of voting guaranteeing proportional representation with an election threshold of 5%. In 2012, the new Constitution lowered the number of MPs to 199 and instituted a first-past-the-post election with a single round.

The Prime Minister (miniszterelnök) serves as the head of government and is elected by the National Assembly. Therefore, traditionally, the Prime Minister is the leader of the party with the most seats in parliament. The Prime Minister selects Cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them. 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 President of the Republic (köztársasági elnök or less formally: államelnök or államfő) serves as the head of state and is elected by the National Assembly every five years. The President has a largely ceremonial role. He receives foreign heads of state and formally nominates the Prime Minister at the recommendation of the National Assembly. He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the country's armed forces. Importantly, the President may veto a piece of legislation or send it to the 15-member Constitutional Court for review.

The Hungarian government operates according to its Basic Law, which was adopted by the governing parties two-thirds majority in 2012 but based on the post-war Constitution of West Germany.

Political parties

Since the fall of communism, Hungary has had a multi-party system. The current political landscape in Hungary is dominated by the conservative Fidesz, who have a supermajority, and two medium-sized parties, the left-wing Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and nationalist Jobbik.

Parliamentary parties

Steadily Fidesz SMCs (inset shows Budapest)
Steadily MSZP SMCs
Name Ideology MPs MEPs
Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union
Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség
Fidesz Conservatism
National conservatism
117 11
Hungarian Socialist Party
Magyar Szocialista Párt
MSZP Social democracy 29 2
Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary)
Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom
Jobbik Hungarian nationalism
Political radicalism
23 3
Christian Democratic People's Party
Kereszténydemokrata Néppárt
KDNP Christian democracy
National conservatism
Social conservatism
16 1
Politics Can Be Different
Lehet Más a Politika
LMP Green liberalism 5 1
Democratic Coalition
Demokratikus Koalíció
DK Social liberalism 4 2
Together 2014
Együtt 2014
E14 Social democracy
Social liberalism
3 0
Dialogue for Hungary
Párbeszéd Magyarországért
PM Green liberalism 1 1
Hungarian Liberal Party
Magyar Liberális Párt
MLP Liberalism 1 0

Foreign relations

Since 1990, 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 was invited to join both the NATO and the European Union in 1997. It became a member of NATO in 1999, and a member of the EU in 2004. Hungary took on the presidency of the Council of the European Union for half a year in 2011.

Hungary also has 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. Hungary was a signatory to the Helsinki Final Act in 1975, has signed all of the CSCE/OSCE follow-on documents since 1989, and served as the OSCE's chairman-in-Office in 1997. Hungary's record of implementing CSCE Helsinki Final Act provisions, including those on reunification of divided families, remains among the best in Central and Eastern Europe. Hungary has been a member of the United Nations since December 1955.

Administrative divisions

Administratively, Hungary is divided into 19 counties (megye, plural megyék). In addition, the capital (főváros), Budapest, is independent of any county government. The counties and the capital are the 20 NUTS third-level units of Hungary. The counties are further subdivided into 198 ridings (járás, plural járások) as of 1 January 2013. There are also 23 towns with county rights (singular megyei jogú város), sometimes known as "urban counties" in English (although there is no such term in Hungarian). The local authorities of these towns have extended powers, but these towns belong to the territory of the respective county instead of being independent territorial units.

Since 1996, the counties and City of Budapest have been grouped into 7 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.

HU counties names.svg
Population Region
BlasonHU-bacs-kiskun.svg Bács-Kiskun Kecskemét 524,841 Southern Great Plain
BlasonHU-baranya.svg Baranya Pécs 391,455 Southern Transdanubia
BlasonHU-bekes.svg Békés Békéscsaba 361,802 Southern Great Plain
BlasonHU-borsod-abauj-zemplen.svg Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén Miskolc 684,793 Northern Hungary
BlasonHU-budapest.svg Capital City of Budapest Budapest 1,744,665 Central Hungary
BlasonHU-csongrad.svg Csongrád Szeged 421,827 Southern Great Plain
BlasonHU-fejer.svg Fejér Székesfehérvár 426,120 Central Transdanubia
BlasonHU-gyor-moson-sopron.svg Győr-Moson-Sopron Győr 449,967 Western Transdanubia
BlasonHU-hajdu-bihar.svg Hajdú-Bihar Debrecen 565,674 Northern Great Plain
BlasonHU-heves.svg Heves Eger 307,985 Northern Hungary
BlasonHU-jasz-nagykun-szolnok.svg Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok Szolnok 386,752 Northern Great Plain
BlasonHU-komarom-esztergom.svg Komárom-Esztergom Tatabánya 311,411 Central Transdanubia
BlasonHU-nograd.svg Nógrád Salgótarján 201,919 Northern Hungary
BlasonHU-pest.svg Pest Budapest 1,237,561 Central Hungary
BlasonHU-somogy.svg Somogy Kaposvár 317,947 Southern Transdanubia
BlasonHU-szabolcs-szatmar-bereg.svg Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg Nyíregyháza 552,000 Northern Great Plain
BlasonHU-tolna.svg Tolna Szekszárd 231,183 Southern Transdanubia
BlasonHU-vas.svg Vas Szombathely 257,688 Western Transdanubia
BlasonHU-veszprem.svg Veszprém Veszprém 353,068 Central Transdanubia
BlasonHU-zala.svg Zala Zalaegerszeg 287,043 Western Transdanubia


Main article: Military of Hungary
Hungarian special forces soldiers (KMZ)
JAS 39s of the Hungarian Air Force

The Military of Hungary, or "Hungarian Armed Forces", currently has two branches, the "Hungarian Ground Force" and the "Hungarian Air Force". The Hungarian Ground Force (or Army) is known as the "Corps of Homeland Defenders" (Honvédség). This term was originally used to refer to the revolutionary army established by Lajos Kossuth and the National Defence Committee of the Revolutionary Hungarian Diet in September 1848 during the Hungarian Revolution.

Hussar: A type of irregular light horsemen was already well established by the 15th century in medieval Hungary. Hussar (huszár) refers to a number of types of light cavalry created in Hungary[89] in the 15th century and used throughout Europe and even in America since the 18th century. Some modern military units retain the title 'hussar' for reasons of tradition.

In 1997, Hungary spent about 123 billion HUF ($560 million) on defense. Hungary became a member of NATO on 12 March 1999. Hungary provided airbases and support for NATO's air campaign against Serbia and has provided military units to serve in Kosovo as part of the NATO-led KFOR operation. Hungary sent a 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. The parliament refused to extend the one-year mandate of the logistics unit, and all troops had returned from Iraq by mid-January 2005.

Hungarian troops are still in Afghanistan as of early 2014 to assist in peace-keeping and de-talibanization. Hungary will most probably replace its old GAZ 4x4 vehicles with the modern Iveco LMV types. Hungarian forces deploy the Gepárd anti-materiel rifle, which is a heavy 12.7 mm (0.50 in) portable gun. This equipment is also in use by the Turkish and Croatian armed forces, among other armies.

New transport helicopter purchases are on the list before. Most probably this will happen before 2015.

In a significant move for modernization, Hungary decided in 2001 to buy 14 JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft (the contract includes 2 dual-seater airplanes and 12 single-seaters as well as ground maintenance facilities, a simulator, and training for pilots and ground crews) for 210 billion HUF (about 800 million EUR). Five Gripens (3 single-seaters and 2 two-seaters) arrived in Kecskemét on 21 March 2006, expected to be transferred to the Hungarian Air Force on 30 March. 10 or 14 more aircraft of this type might follow up in the coming years.

Hungary has one of the heaviest and most qualified warship battalion in East-Central Europe, only Hungary operates river-based military forces of the surrounding NATO-members. The Home Defence Pyrotechnician and Warship Battalion of the Hungarian Defence Forces based in Újpest Port, on the River Danube, Budapest. In the 2000s (decade), the army bought new minesweepers, restored or retired the old ones. On national holidays warships come along the River Danube in Budapest.[90][91][92]

According to the 2014 Global Peace Index, Hungary is one of the world's most peaceful countries (21st on the list).

Royal castle – Budapest


Banknotes and coins of the Hungarian forint.
Hungary is a member of the Schengen Area and the EU single market.
Main article: Economy of Hungary

The economy of Hungary is a medium-sized, upper-middle-income, structurally, politically and institutionally open economy, which is part of the European Union's (EU) single market.[93] The economy of Hungary experienced market liberalization in the early 1990s as part of the transition from a socialist economy to a market economy, similarly to most countries in the former Eastern Bloc. Hungary is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 1995,[94] a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1996,[95] and a member of the European Union since 2004.[96] Hungary hosts the first foreign office of the China Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA).[97]

The private sector accounts for more than 80% of the Hungarian gross domestic product (GDP). Foreign ownership of and investment in Hungarian firms are widespread, with cumulative foreign direct investment worth more than $70 billion. Hungary's main industries are mining, metallurgy, construction materials, processed foods, textiles, chemicals (especially pharmaceuticals), and motor vehicles. Hungary's main agricultural products are wheat, corn, sunflower seed, potatoes, sugar beets; pigs, cattle, poultry, and dairy products.[98]

The currency of Hungary is called "forint" (sign: Ft; code: HUF) which was introduced in 1946. Hungary, as a member state of the European Union, may seek to adopt the common European currency, the Euro. To achieve this, Hungary would need to fulfill the Maastricht criteria.

In foreign investments, Hungary has seen a shift from lower-value textile and food industry to investment in luxury vehicle production, renewable energy systems, high-end tourism, and information technology. states that "Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party won another majority in 2014 and this should continue to provide further stability to Hungary, although some of his policies are seen as controversial to some. The economy should increase by over 1% as Hungary along with the rest of the European Union economies continue to recover."[99]


Main article: Education in Hungary
Albert Szent-Györgyi, Nobel laureate physiologist; discoverer of vitamin C

School system

Education in Hungary is compulsory from 5 to 18 (16 for the students in grade 10 and below).[100] At the age of six, pupils enters in primary schools: the curriculum is divided in two phase of 4 years each. Afterward, they can choose between three different kind of secondary education school: Grammar school(leading to academic higher education), secondary vocational school(leading to vocational higher education) and vocational school(leading to 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).[101]

The Hungarian higher education is a dual system, divided into colleges(that usually provide bachelor degree) and universities (that usually provide master degree).[102] Hungary's higher education and training has been ranked 44 out of 148 countries in the Global competitiveness Report 2013/2014.[103]


In the year 1276, the university of Veszprém was destroyed by the troops of Peter Csák and it was never rebuilt. A university was established in Pécs in 1367. Sigismund established a university at Óbuda in 1395. Another, Universitas Istropolitana, was established 1465 in Pozsony (now Bratislava in Slovakia) by Mattias Corvinus. Nagyszombat University was founded in 1635 and moved to Buda in 1777 and it is called Eötvös Loránd University today. The world's first institute of technology was founded in Selmecbánya, Kingdom of Hungary (since 1920 Banská Štiavnica, now Slovakia) in 1735. Its legal successor is the University of Miskolc in Hungary. The Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) 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.

The first steam engine of continental Europe was built in Újbánya – Köngisberg, Kingdom of Hungary (Today Nová Baňa Slovakia) in 1722. It was a Newcomen type engine, used for pumping water from mines.[104][105][106][107]

Science and technology

Hungary is famous for its excellent mathematics education which has trained numerous outstanding scientists. Famous Hungarian mathematicians include father Farkas Bolyai and son János 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;[108] 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. Many Hungarian scientists, including Erdős, von Neumann, Leó Szilárd, Eugene Wigner, Rudolf E. Kálmán, and Edward Teller emigrated to the US.

Thirteen Hungarian or Hungarian-born scientists have received the Nobel Prize, all of whom emigrated, mostly because of persecution of communist and/or fascist regimes. Until 2012 three individuals: Csoma, János 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 László Lovász, physicist Albert-László Barabási, physicist Ferenc Krausz, and biochemist Árpád Pusztai.

Hungarian inventions

Rubik's Cube, invented by Ernő Rubik, 1974
Ballpoint Pen, invented by László Bíró, 1938


Main article: Transport in Hungary
Motorway (red) and planned motorway (orange) network of Hungary (2010)

Hungary has a highly developed road, railway, air and water transport system. Budapest, the capital of the state, serves as an important hub in the public transport network.

The Hungarian railway system (MÁV) is centralized around Budapest. The capital is served by three large train stations called Keleti (Eastern), Nyugati (Western), and Déli (Southern) pályaudvars. Szolnok is the most important railway hub outside Budapest, while Tiszai Railway Station in Miskolc and the main stations of Pécs, Győr, Szeged, and Székesfehérvár 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 and is a World Heritage Site. The system consists of four lines. A commuter rail system, HÉV, operates in the Budapest metropolitan area.

Hungary has a total length of approximately 1,314 km (816.48 mi) motorways (Hungarian: autópálya). 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 Dunaújváros and Baja.

There are five international airports in Hungary: Budapest Liszt Ferenc, Debrecen, Sármellék (also called Hévíz-Balaton Airport), Győr-Pér, and Pécs-Pogány. The national carrier, MALÉV, operated flights to over 60, mostly European cities, but ceased operations in 2012. Low-budget airline WizzAir is based in Hungary, at Ferihegy.


Main article: Demographics of Hungary

Hungary's population was 9,937,628 in 2011. 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.[1] Like most other European countries, Hungary is experiencing sub-replacement fertility, with the total fertility rate (TFR) in 2013 estimated at 1.41 children born/woman, lower than the replacement rate of 2.1.[112] This is leading to gradual population decline and rapid aging. In 2012, 44.5% of births were to unmarried women.[113] Life expectancy was 71.55 years for men and 78.38 years for women in 2012, growing continuously since the fall of the Communism.[114]


Main article: Languages of Hungary
Present-day regions in Europe where the Hungarian language is spoken

According to the 2011 census, 9,896,333 people (99.6%) speak Hungarian, 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.[115] Hungarian is a Uralic language unrelated to any neighboring language and distantly related to Finnish and Estonian. 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 (Croatian, German, Romanian, Romani, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Ukrainian).[1]

Ethnic groups

According to the 2011 census, there were 8,314,029 (83.7%) 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. Excluding these people Hungarians made up 98.0% of the total population.[115] In Hungary, people can declare more than one ethnicity, so the sum of ethnicities is higher than the total population.[116]

Largest groups of foreign residents[117]
Nationality Population (2011)
 Romania 38,574
 Germany 16,987
 Ukraine 11,820
 China 8,852
 Slovakia 8,246


Main article: Religion in Hungary
Esztergom Basilica, central and largest church of Roman Catholics in Hungary

Hungary is a historically Christian country. Stephen I instituted Roman Catholicism as the official religion of the realm at its founding, and his successors were traditionally known as the Apostolic Kings. The Church in Hungary remained strong through the centuries, and the Archbishop of Esztergom (Esztergomi érsek) was granted extraordinary temporal privileges as prince-primate (hercegprímás) of Hungary. Although contemporary Hungary has no official religion, its constitution "recognizes Christianity's nation-building role."[118] The power to grant the officially recognized status of a church is vested in the legislature, and not the judiciary; this setup has been the subject of criticism.[119]

After 16th century and the Reformation, most Hungarians took up first Lutheranism, then soon afterwards Calvinism. In the second half of the 16th century, however, Jesuits led a successful campaign of counterreformation and the country once again became predominantly Catholic. Eastern parts of the country, especially around Debrecen (called "the Calvinist Rome"), retained strong Protestant communities.[120] Orthodox Christianity in Hungary is associated with the country's ethnic minorities including the Romanians, Rusyns, Ukrainians, and Serbs.

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[121]) either were deported to concentration camps, from which the majority did not return, or were murdered by the Hungarian Arrow Cross fascists. Because most deported Jews were from the countryside, Budapest is the center of Hungarian Jewish life today.

The most recent, 2011 census shows that the majority of Hungarians are Christians (52.9%), with Roman Catholics (Katolikusok) (37.1%) and Hungarian Reformed Calvinists (Reformátusok) (11.1%) making up the bulk of these alongside Lutherans (Evangélikusok) (2.2%), Greek Catholics (0.3%), and Jehovah's Witnesses (0.1%). Jewish (0.1%), and Muslim (0.06%) communities are in the minority, although this is complicated by the fact that 27.2% of respondents did not declare their religion while 16.7% declared themselves irreligious, another 1.5% atheist.[115]

In the Eurostat – Eurobarometer poll of 2005, 44% of Hungarians answered that they believed there is a God, 31% answered they believed there is some sort of spirit or life force, and 19% that they do not believe there is a God, spirit, nor life force.[122]



Rank City County City Agglomeration Metro


1 Budapest Budapest 1,735,711Increase 2,540,608 3,095,259
2 Debrecen Hajdú-Bihar 204,333Decrease 230,506 248,611
3 Miskolc Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen 162,905Decrease 200,187 259,851
4 Szeged Csongrád 161,837Decrease 200,187 228,771
5 Pécs Baranya 147,719Decrease 167,295 197,301
6 Győr Győr-Moson-Sopron 128,567Decrease 178,317 201,408
7 Nyíregyháza Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg 118,185Decrease 132,875 155,721
8 Kecskemét Bács-Kiskun 111,863Increase 145,054 205,881
9 Székesfehérvár Fejér 99,247Decrease 120,654 145,876
10 Szombathely Vas 77,547Decrease 117,402 -
11 Szolnok Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok 73,123Decrease 90,917 -
12 Tatabánya Komárom-Esztergom 67,406Decrease 125,879 -
13 Kaposvár Somogy 65,337Decrease 80,321 -
14 Érd Pest 63,333Increase Budapest -
15 Veszprém Veszprém 60,876Decrease 80,007 -
16 Békéscsaba Békés 60,046Decrease 145,473 -
17 Zalaegerszeg Zala 59,618Decrease 72,328 -
18 Sopron Győr-Moson-Sopron 60,528Increase 71,875 -
19 Eger Heves 54,867Decrease 71,762 -
20 Nagykanizsa Zala 49,070Decrease 49,070 -


Main article: Culture of Hungary


Eszterháza, the "Hungarian Versailles"

Hungary is home to the largest synagogue in Europe (Great Synagogue), built in 1859 in Moorish Revival style with a capacity of 3000 people, the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Széchenyi Medicinal Bath), completed in 1913 in Modern Renaissance Style and located in the City park, the biggest building in Hungary with its 268 meters 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 (Pécs).

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, Ödön 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.

The Museum of Applied Arts, an Art Nouveau building designed by Ödön Lechner

Turning away from the style of Lechner, yet taking inspiration from his approach, the group of "Young People" (Fiatalok), which included Károly Kós and Dezsö 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. Béla 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. Aladár Árkay took almost the same route. István 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 hundred years old, with thick walls, high ceilings, and motifs on the front wall.[24][123]


Main article: Music of Hungary
Hungarian State Opera House on Andrássy út (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

The music of Hungary consists mainly of traditional Hungarian folk music and music by prominent composers such as Liszt and Bartók, considered to be the greatest Hungarian composers .[by whom?] Other composers of international renown are Dohnányi, Franz Schmidt, Zoltán Kodály, Gabriel von Wayditch, Rudolf Wagner-Régeny, László Lajtha, Franz Lehár, Imre Kálmán, Sándor Veress, and Rózsa. Hungarian traditional music tends to have a strong dactylic rhythm, as the language is invariably stressed on the first syllable of each word.

Hungary also has a number of internationally renowned composers of contemporary classical music, György Ligeti, György Kurtág, Péter Eötvös, Zoltán Kodály and Zoltán Jeney among them. One of the greatest Hungarian composers, Béla Bartók 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 .[citation needed]

Ferenc (Franz) Liszt, one of the greatest pianists of all time; well-known composer and conductor

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 neighboring countries such as Romania, Slovakia, southern Poland and especially in southern Slovakia and the 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:

Béla Bartók, a composer of utmost importance from the early 20th century; one of the founders of ethnomusicology

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 southern Poland".[124] It is also strong in the Szabolcs-Szatmár area and in the southwest part of Transdanubia, near the border with Croatia. The Busójárás carnival in Mohács is a major Hungarian folk music event, formerly featuring the long-established and well-regarded Bogyiszló orchestra.[125]

Hungarian classical music has long been an "experiment, made from Hungarian antedecents and on Hungarian soil, to create a conscious musical culture [using the] musical world of the folk song".[126] 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.[127] For example, Bartók collected folk songs from across Eastern Europe, including Romania and Slovakia, whilst Kodály 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 Károly Binder and, in a modernized form of Hungarian folk, Ferenc Sebő and Márta Sebestyén. The three giants of Hungarian rock, Illés, Metró 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.


Main article: Hungarian literature
The alphabet of the Székely-Hungarian Rovás script; the country switched to using the Latin alphabet under king Saint Stephen (reign: 1000–1038)

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 Fehérvár" The rest of the document was written in Latin.

The oldest extant Hungarian poem, Old Hungarian Laments of Mary (1190s)

The oldest remained complete text in Hungarian language is the Funeral Sermon and Prayer (Halotti beszéd és könyörgés) (1192–1195), a translation of a Latin sermon.
The oldest remained poem in Hungarian is the Old Hungarian Laments of Mary (Ómagyar Mária-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 Kézai. Both are in Latin. These chronicles mix history with legends, so historically they are not always authentic. Another chronicle is the Képes krónika (Illustrated Chronicle), which was written for Louis the Great.

The Chronicon Pictum, a medieval illustrated chronicle from the 14th century

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 András Hess, in Buda. The first book printed in Hungary was the Chronica Hungarorum. The most important poets of the period was Bálint Balassi (1554–1594) and Miklós Zrínyi (1620–1664).

Balassi's poetry shows Mediaeval influences, his poems can be divided into three sections: love poems, war poems and religious poems. Zrínyi'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 Szigetvár, where his great-grandfather died while defending the castle of Szigetvár. Among the religious literary works the most important is the Bible translation by Gáspár Károli (The second Hungarian Bible translation in the history), the Protestant pastor of Gönc, in 1590. The translation is called the Bible of Vizsoly, after the town where it was first published. (See Hungarian Bible translations for more details.)

Sándor Márai, Hungarian writer and journalist

The Hungarian enlightenment took place about fifty years after the French enlightenment. The first enlightened writers were Maria Theresia's bodyguards (György Bessenyei, János Batsányi and others). The greatest poets of the time were Mihály Csokonai Vitéz and Dániel 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 Sándor Márai, Péter Esterházy, Péter Nádas and Imre Kertész. 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. János Arany, a famous 19th-century Hungarian poet is still much loved in Hungary (especially his collection of Ballads), among several other "true classics" like Sándor Petőfi, the poet of the Revolution of 1848, Endre Ady, Mihály Babits, Dezső Kosztolányi, Attila József and János Pilinszky. Other well-known Hungarian authors are László Krasznahorkai, Ferenc Móra, Géza Gárdonyi, Zsigmond Móricz, Gyula Illyés, Albert Wass, Miklós Szentkuthy and Magda Szabó.


Main article: Hungarian cuisine

Hungarian cuisine is a prominent feature of the Hungarian culture, just like the art of hospitality. Traditional dishes such as the world famous Goulash (gulyás stew or gulyás soup) feature prominently. Dishes are often flavoured with paprika (ground red peppers), a Hungarian innovation.[128] The paprika powder, obtained from a special type of pepper, is one of the most common spices used in typical Hungarian cuisine. The best quality of paprika comes from the city of Kalocsa .[citation needed] Thick, heavy Hungarian sour cream called tejföl is often used to soften the dishes' flavour. The famous Hungarian hot river fish soup called Fisherman's soup or halászlé is usually a rich mixture of several kinds of poached fish.

Other dishes are chicken paprikash, foie gras made of goose liver, pörkölt stew, vadas, (game stew with vegetable gravy and dumplings), trout with almonds and salty and sweet dumplings, like túrós csusza, (dumplings with fresh quark cheese and thick sour cream). Desserts include the iconic Dobos Cake, strudels (rétes), filled with apple, cherry, poppy seed or cheese, Gundel pancake, plum dumplings (szilvás gombóc), somlói dumplings, dessert soups like chilled sour cherry soup and sweet chestnut puree, gesztenyepüré (cooked chestnuts mashed with sugar and rum and split into crumbs, topped with whipped cream). Perec and kifli are widely popular pastries.

The csárda is the most distinctive type of Hungarian inn, an old-style tavern offering traditional cuisine and beverages. Borozó usually denotes a cozy old-fashioned wine tavern, pince is a beer or wine cellar and a söröző is a pub offering draught beer and sometimes meals. The bisztró is an inexpensive restaurant often with self-service. The büfé is the cheapest place, although one may have to eat standing at a counter. Pastries, cakes and coffee are served at the confectionery called cukrászda, while an eszpresszó is a cafeteria.

Pálinka: 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: Beer goes well with many traditional Hungarian dishes. The five main Hungarian brands are: Borsodi, Soproni, Arany Ászok, Kõbányai, and Dreher.

The famous Tokaji wine. It was called "Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum" ("Wine of Kings, King of Wines") by Louis XIV of France

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 choice of quality wine is widening from year to year. The country can be divided to six wine regions: North-Transdanubia, Lake Balaton, South-Pannónia, Duna-region or Alföld, 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 (Villány and Szekszárd). The main varieties are: Olaszrizling, Hárslevelű, Furmint, Pinot gris or Szürkebarát, Chardonnay (whites), Kékfrankos (or Blaufrankisch in German), Kadarka, Portugieser, Zweigelt, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot. The most famous wines from Hungary are Tokaji Aszú and Egri Bikavér .[citation needed] 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 .[citation needed] Louis XV and Frederick the Great tried to outdo one another in the excellence of the vintages they stocked when they treated guests like Voltaire to Tokaji .[citation needed] Napoleon III, the last Emperor of the French, ordered 30–40 barrels of Tokaji for the Court every year .[citation needed] Gustav III, King of Sweden, never had any other wine to drink .[citation needed] In Russia, customers included Peter the Great and Empress Elizabeth of Russia .[citation needed]

For over 150 years, a blend of 40 Hungarian herbs has been used to create the liqueur Unicum. Unicum is a bitter, dark-coloured liqueur that can be drunk as an apéritif or after a meal, thus helping the digestion.


Lake Hévíz, the largest thermal lake in Europe

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.[129]

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.[citation needed]

The Romans heralded the first age of spas in Hungary. The remains of their bath complexes are still to be seen in Óbuda. 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 (Király 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 Gellért Baths, Lukács Baths, Margaret Island, and Széchenyi Medicinal Bath are a reflection of this resurgence in popularity. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is the largest spa complex in Europe[citation needed] and it was the first thermal bath built in the Pest side of Budapest .[citation needed] This building is a noted example of modern Renaissance Style. Located on the Buda side of Budapest, the Gellért spa is the most famous and luxurious thermal complex of the capital city.[citation needed]

Folk art

Hungarians dancing csárdás in traditional garments / folk costumes

Ugrós (Jumping dances): 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.

Karikázó: a circle dance performed by women only accompanied by singing of folksongs.

Csárdás: New style dances developed in the 18–19th centuries 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, Csárdás demonstrates the infectious exuberance of the Hungarian folk dancing still celebrated in the villages.

Verbunkos: a solo man's dance evolved from the recruiting performances of the Austro-Hungarian army.

The Legényes 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 performed freestyle usually by one dancer at a time in front of the band. Women participate in the dance by standing in lines to the side and sing/shout verses while the men dance. Each lad does a number of points (dance phrases) typically 4 to 8 without repetition. Each point consists of 4 parts, each lasting 4 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, Sárköz in Transdanubia and the Matyóföld in the Great Hungarian Plain produce the finest embroideries. In the Sárköz 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.


Main articles: Herend Porcelain and Zsolnay

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.[130]

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 Miklós Zsolnay in Pécs, 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.


The Hungary men's national water polo team (in blue caps) is considered among the best in the world, holding the world record for Olympic golds and overall medals

Hungary has the third-highest number of Olympic medals per capita and second-highest number of gold medals per capita in the world.[131] Only seven countries (United States, USSR/Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, Italy, and Germany) have won more Olympic medals than Hungary. At the all time total medal count for Olympic Games, Hungary reaches the 8th ranking out of 211 participating nations, with a total of 476 medals.

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 canoe.

Some of the world's leading best sabre athletes have historically hailed from Hungary.[132][133]

In 2009, the Hungarian national ice hockey team qualified for their first IIHF World Championship.


Ferenc Puskás, footballer, was the highest goalscorer of the 20th century

Hungary has remarkable football history, having won three Olympic titles, finishing 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 remarkable Aranycsapat ("Golden Team") which included legends like Ferenc Puskás, top goalscorer of the 20th century,[134][135][136] whom FIFA dedicated[137] its newest award, the Puskás 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 over more than 4 years and including matches such as the Match of the Century.

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[138] and 2006 FIFA World Cup winner Italy 3–1.[139] Although they have not qualified for a major tournament's finals since 1986, they came semi-finalists at the 2008 European Under-19 Championship and qualified for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup which saw their U-20 national team gaining third place to bring home Hungary's first major tournament medal in nearly half a century, feeding their hopes of a future revival.

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 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

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