|Currency||Hungarian Forint (Ft)|
Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Spanning 93,030 square kilometres (35,920 sq mi) of the Carpathian Basin, it is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the east and southeast, Serbia to the south, Croatia and Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. Hungary has a population of nearly 10 million, mostly ethnic Hungarians and a significant Romani minority. Hungarian, the official language, is the world's most widely spoken Uralic language and among the few non-Indo-European languages widely spoken in Europe. Budapest is the country's capital and largest city; other major urban areas include Debrecen, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs and Győr.
The territory of present-day Hungary has for centuries been a crossroads for various peoples, including Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, Huns, West Slavs and the Avars. The foundations of the Hungarian state were established in the late ninth century AD with the conquest of the Carpathian Basin by Hungarian grand prince Árpád. His great-grandson Stephen I ascended the throne in 1000, converting his realm to a Christian kingdom. By the 12th century, Hungary became a regional power, reaching its cultural and political height in the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, it was partially occupied by the Ottoman Empire (1541–1699). Hungary came under Habsburg rule at the turn of the 18th century, later joining with the Austrian Empire to form Austria-Hungary, a major power into the early 20th century.
Austria-Hungary collapsed after World War I, and the subsequent Treaty of Trianon established Hungary's current borders, resulting in the loss of 71% of its territory, 58% of its population, and 32% of ethnic Hungarians. Following the tumultuous interwar period, Hungary joined the Axis Powers in World War II, suffering significant damage and casualties. Postwar Hungary became a satellite state of the Soviet Union, leading to the establishment of the Hungarian People's Republic. Following the failed 1956 revolution, Hungary became a comparatively freer, though still repressive, member of the Eastern Bloc. The removal of Hungary's border fence with Austria accelerated the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, and subsequently the Soviet Union. On 23 October 1989, Hungary became a democratic parliamentary republic. Hungary joined the European Union in 2004 and has been part of the Schengen Area since 2007.
Hungary is a middle power in international affairs, owing mostly to its cultural and economic influence. It is considered a developed country with a high-income economy and ranks 40th in the Human Development Index, with citizens enjoying universal health care and free-tuition secondary education. Hungary has a long history of significant contributions to arts, music, literature, sports, science and technology. It is the thirteenth-most popular tourist destination in Europe, drawing 15.8 million international tourists in 2017. It is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, WTO, World Bank, IIB, the AIIB, the Council of Europe, and the Visegrád Group.
Hungary in its modern (post-1946) borders roughly corresponds to the Great Hungarian Plain (the Pannonian Basin). During the Iron Age, it was located at the crossroads between the cultural spheres of the Celtic Tribes (such as the Scordisci, Boii and Veneti), Dalmatian Tribes (such as the Dalmatian, Histri and Liburni) and the Germanic Tribes (such as the Luigi and Marcomanni).
The name "Pannonian" comes from Pannonia, a province of the Roman Empire. Only the western part of the territory (the so-called Transdanubia) of modern Hungary formed part of the ancient Roman Province of Pannonia. The Roman control collapsed with the Hunnic invasions of 370–410 and Pannonia was part of the Ostrogothic Kingdom during the late 5th to mid 6th century, succeeded by the Avar Khaganate (6th to 9th centuries) civil. The Magyar invasion took place during the 9th century.
The Magyars were Christianized at the end of the 10th century, and the Christian Kingdom of Hungary was established in AD 1000, ruled by the Árpád dynasty for the following three centuries. In the high medieval period, the kingdom expanded beyond Pannonia, to the Adriatic coast. In 1241 during the reign of Béla IV, Hungary was invaded by the Mongols under Batu Khan. The outnumbered Hungarians were decisively defeated at the Battle of Mohi by the Mongol army. King Béla fled to the Holy Roman Empire and left the Hungarian population at the mercy of the Mongols. In this invasion, more than 500,000 Hungarian people were massacred and the whole kingdom was reduced to ashes. After the extinction of the Árpád dynasty in 1301, the late medieval kingdom persisted, albeit no longer under Hungarian monarchs, and gradually reduced due to the increasing pressure of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Hungary bore the brunt of the Ottoman wars in Europe during the 15th century. The peak of this struggle took place during the reign of Matthias Corvinus (r. 1458–1490). The Ottoman–Hungarian wars concluded in significant loss of territory and the partition of the kingdom after the Battle of Mohács of 1526.
Defence against Ottoman expansion shifted to Habsburg Austria, and the remainder of the Hungarian kingdom came under the rule of the Habsburg emperors. The lost territory was recovered with the conclusion of the Great Turkish War, thus the whole of Hungary became part of the Habsburg Monarchy. Following the nationalist uprisings of 1848, the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 elevated Hungary's status by the creation of a joint monarchy. The territory grouped under the Habsburg Archiregnum Hungaricum was much larger than modern Hungary, following the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement of 1868 which settled the political status of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia within the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen.
After the First World War, the Central Powers enforced the dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy. The treaties of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Trianon detached around 72% of the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary, which was ceded to Czechoslovakia, the Kingdom of Romania, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the First Austrian Republic, the Second Polish Republic and the Kingdom of Italy. Afterwards, a short-lived People's Republic was declared. It was followed by a restored Kingdom of Hungary but was governed by a regent, Miklós Horthy. He officially represented the Hungarian monarchy of Charles IV, Apostolic King of Hungary, who was held in captivity during his last months at Tihany abbey. Between 1938 and 1941, Hungary recovered part of its lost territories. During World War II Hungary came under German occupation in 1944, then under Soviet occupation until the end of the war. After World War II, the Second Hungarian Republic was established within Hungary's current-day borders as a socialist People's Republic, lasting from 1949–to 1989. In October 1989, the Third Republic of Hungary was established under an amended version of the constitution of 1949, with a new constitution adopted in 2011. Hungary joined the European Union in 2004.
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 kőze ("between the Danube and Tisza")—is a reflection of this. The Danube flows north-south right through the centre of contemporary Hungary, and the entire country lies within its drainage basin.
Transdanubia, which stretches westward from the centre of the country towards 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 (Kisalfőld) 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 kőze and Tiszántúl are characterised mainly by the Great Hungarian Plain (Alfőld), 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 (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 terrestrial ecoregion of Pannonian mixed forests. It had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 2.25/10, ranking it 156th globally out of 172 countries.
Government and Politics
Hungary is a unitary, parliamentary, representative democratic republic. The Hungarian political system operates under a framework reformed in 2012; this constitutional document is the Fundamental Law of Hungary. Amendments generally require a two-thirds majority of parliament; the fundamental principles of the constitution (as expressed in the articles guaranteeing human dignity, the separation of powers, the state structure, and the rule of law) are valid in perpetuity. 199 Members of Parliament (országgyűlési képviselő) are elected to the highest organ of state authority, the unicameral Országgyűlés (National Assembly), every four years in a single-round first-past-the-post election with an election threshold of 5%.
The President of the Republic (köztársasági elnök) serves as the head of state and is elected by the National Assembly every five years. The president is invested primarily with representative responsibilities and powers: receiving foreign heads of state, formally nominating the Prime Minister at the recommendation of the National Assembly, and serving as Commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Importantly, the president is also invested with veto power and may send legislation to the 15-member Constitutional Court for review. The third most significant governmental position in Hungary is the Speaker of the National Assembly, who is elected by the National Assembly and responsible for overseeing the daily sessions of the body.
The Prime Minister (miniszterelnök) is elected by the National Assembly, serving as the head of government and exercising executive power. Traditionally, the Prime Minister is the leader of the largest party in parliament. The Prime Minister selects Cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them, although cabinet nominees must appear before consultative open hearings before one or more parliamentary committees, survive a vote in the National Assembly, and be formally approved by the president. The cabinet reports to parliament.
In 2009 Hungary, due to strong economic difficulties, had to request the help of the IMF for about €9 billion (10.4 billion US Dollars). The debt-to-GDP ratio of Hungary had its peak in 2011 when it stood at 83% and decreased since then. According to Eurostat, the government gross debt of Hungary amounts to 25.119 billion HUF or 74.1% of its GDP in 2016. The government achieved a budget deficit of 1.9% of the GDP in 2015. Hungary's credit rating by credit rating agencies Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Ratings stands at Investment Grade BBB with a stable outlook in 2016.
On Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index Hungary's public sector has deteriorated from a score of 51 in 2015 to 44 in 2019 making it the 2nd most corrupt EU member in pair with Romania and behind Bulgaria.
Following a decade of Fidesz-KDNP rule led by Viktor Orbán, Freedom House's Nations in Transit 2020 report reclassified Hungary from a democracy to a transitional or hybrid regime. According to the report, "the right-wing alliance... has gradually undermined the rule of law in Hungary and established tight control over the country's independent institutions... has steadily rewritten the Hungarian constitution, and eliminated democratic safeguards statutorily embodied in the Constitutional Court, Prosecutors Office, Media Authority, and State Audit Office...". It also limited parliamentary oversight, independent media, non-governmental organizations and academics, while consolidating power around the central government.
Hungary is an OECD high-income mixed economy with a very high human development index and skilled labour force with the 16th lowest income inequality in the world. Furthermore, it is the 9th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index. The Hungarian is the 57th-largest economy in the world (out of 188 countries measured by IMF) with $265.037 billion output and ranks 49th in the world in terms of GDP per capita measured by purchasing power parity. Hungary is an export-oriented market economy with a heavy emphasis on foreign trade, thus the country is the 36th largest export economy in the world. The country has more than $100 billion export in 2015 with a high, $9.003 billion trade surplus, of which 79% went to the EU and 21% was extra-EU trade. Hungary has a more than 80% privately owned economy with 39,1% overall taxation, which provides the basis for the country's welfare economy. On the expenditure side, household consumption is the main component of GDP and accounts for 50 per cent of its total use, followed by gross fixed capital formation with 22 per cent and government expenditure with 20 per cent. Hungary continues to be one of the leading nations for attracting foreign direct investment in Central and Eastern Europe, the inward FDI in the country was $119.8 billion in 2015, while Hungary invests more than $50 billion abroad. As of 2015, the key trading partners of Hungary were Germany, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, France, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic. Major industries include food processing, pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, information technology, chemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electrical goods, and tourism (in 2014 Hungary welcomed 12.1 million international tourists). Hungary is the largest electronics producer in Central and Eastern Europe. Electronics manufacturing and research are among the main drivers of innovation and economic growth in the country. In the past 20 years, Hungary has also grown into a major centre for mobile technology, information security, and related hardware research. The employment rate in the economy was 68.3% in 2017, the employment structure shows the characteristics of post-industrial economies, 63.2% of the employed workforce work in the service sector, the industry contributed by 29.7%, while agriculture with 7.1%. The unemployment rate was 4.1% in 2017 September, down from 11% during the financial crisis of 2007–2008. Hungary is part of the European single market which represents more than 508 million consumers. Several domestic commercial policies are determined by agreements among European Union members and by EU legislation.
Large Hungarian companies are included in the BUX, the Hungarian stock market index listed on Budapest Stock Exchange. Well-known companies include the Fortune Global 500 firm MOL Group, the OTP Bank, Gedeon Richter Plc., Magyar Telekom, CIG Pannonia, FHB Bank, Zwack Unicum and more. Besides this Hungary has a large portion of the specialised small and medium enterprises, for example, a significant number of automotive suppliers and technology start-ups among others.
Budapest is the financial and business capital of Hungary. The capital is a significant economic hub, classified as an Alpha–world city in the study by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network and it is the second fastest-developing urban economy in Europe as GDP per capita in the city increased by 2.4 per cent and employment by 4.7 per cent compared to the previous year in 2014. On the national level, Budapest is the primate city of Hungary regarding business and economy, accounting for 39% of the national income, the city has a gross metropolitan product of more than $100 billion in 2015, making it one of the largest regional economies in the European Union. Budapest is also among the Top 100 GDP performing cities in the world, measured by PricewaterhouseCoopers and in a global city competitiveness ranking by EIU, Budapest stands before Tel Aviv, Lisbon, Moscow and Johannesburg among others. Furthermore, Hungary's corporate tax rate is only 9%, which is relatively low for EU states.
Hungary maintains its currency, the Hungarian forint (HUF), although the economy fulfils the Maastricht criteria except for public debt, it is also significantly below the EU average with the level of 75.3% in 2015. The Hungarian National Bank—founded in 1924, after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—is currently focusing on price stability with an inflation target of 3%.
The rich culture of Hungary is strong in folk traditions and has its distinctive style, influenced by the various ethnic groups including the Roma people. Music of all kinds, from classical to folk, is an important part of everyday life, as is the country’s rich literary heritage. Crafts such as ceramics and embroidery, Hungary’s distinct, traditional cuisine, strong fruit brandies, dance and the ever-popular spa treatments all reflect the heritage of this fascinating country.
Hungary’s 10 million people are vibrant, friendly and value the family above all else, with generations living in the same household under one roof and grandparents having a strong say in the upbringing of their grandchildren. Hungarians are a nation of horsemen due to their ancient nomadic past, and visitors often receive an invitation to go riding from their new local friends. Hospitality is a major part of the culture here, and personal questions about your life are all part of the getting-to-know-you process.