Map of Europe
Map of Hungary
Map of Budapest
Hungary, facts and history in brief
Budapest, facts and history in brief
Hungary (Republic of Hungary)
Location: Central Europe 47°N, 20°E, (borders
with Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia,
Background: Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire, until World War I. It lost over 2/3 of its land
and population after W.W.I in the Allies dictated Trianon
Peace Agreement. After W.W.II, it was ruled by Communists.
Moscow met the 1956 popular uprising, announcing the
withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact with a massive military
intervention. During the Gorbachev years, Hungary led
the movement to dissolve the Warsaw Pact and steadily
shifted toward multiparty democracy and a market-oriented
economy. Following the collapse of the USSR in 1991,
Hungary developed close political and economic ties
to Western Europe. It joined NATO in 1999 and is a front-runner
in a future expansion of the EU.
Climate: Continental with Mediterranean and Atlantic
influences, cold, cloudy, humid winters; warm summers.
Average temperatures: January -2C (28F), July
Elevation: lowest point: Tisza River 78 m, highest
point: Kékes 1,014 m
Natural resources: bauxite, coal, natural gas,
fertile soils, and arable land
Land use: arable land: 51%, crops: 3.6%, pastures:
12.4%, forests: 19%, other: 14%
Population: 10,106,017 (July 2001 est.)
Ethnic groups: Hungarian 89.9%, Roma 4%, German
2.6%, Serb 2%, Slovak 0.8%, Romanian 0.7%
Religions: Roman Catholic 67.5%, Calvinist 20%,
Lutheran 5%, atheist and other 7.5%
Languages: Hungarian 98.2%, other 1.8%
Literacy: total population: 99%
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Budapest (2 million inhabitants)
Administration: 19 counties, 169 towns, and 2904
Urban population ratio: 60 percent
Flag: three equal sized horizontal colours, red
(top), white and green.
The Hungarian national anthem
Population increment: -0.1 percent (decreasing!)
Life expectancy: men 66, women 74 (decreasing!!!)
Local time: winter GMT+1 hour, summer GMT+2 hours,
as in West Europe.
Public holidays: January 1, March 15, May 1,
August 20, October 23, December 25, 26
Established: AD 996. King Stephen I, (Saint Stephen)
first legal ruler.
Legal system: rule of law based on Western model
(President, Prime Minister, Cabinet, National Assembly,
366 seats. by popular vote under a system of proportional
and direct representation for 4 year term. Cc. 9 parties
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands
of red (top), white, and green
International organisation participation: Member
of all International Organisations and signatory to
most international and environmental treaties.
Economy - overview: Hungary continues to demonstrate
strong economic growth and to work toward accession
to the European Union. Hungarian sovereign debt was
upgraded in 2000 to the second-highest rating among
all the Central European economies. Inflation - a top
economic concern in 2000 - is still high at almost 10%,
pushed upward by higher world oil and gas and domestic
GDP: purchasing power parity - $113.9 billion
(2000 est.) GDP - real growth: 5.5% GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $11,200 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5%,
industry: 35%, services: 60% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 9.4% (2000 est.)
Budget: revenues: $13 billion
Industries: mining, metallurgy, construction
materials, processed foods, textiles, chemicals
Agriculture - products: wheat, corn, sunflower
seed, potatoes, sugar beets; pigs, cattle, poultry,
Exports: $25.2 billion (f.o.b., 2000) machinery
and equipment 59.5%, other manufactures 29.4%, food
products 6.9%, raw materials 2.4%, fuels and electricity
1.8% (2000) Germany 37%, Austria 9%, Italy 6%, Netherlands
Imports: $27.6 billion (f.o.b., 2000) machinery
and equipment 51.1%, other manufactures 35.9%, fuels
and electricity 8.1%, food products 2.8%, raw materials
2.1% (2000) Germany 25%, Russia 8%, Austria 7%, Italy
Electricity - production: 36.75 billion kWh (1999),
fossil; 61.09%, hydro: 0.51%, nuclear: 38.4%
Debt - external: $29.6 billion (2000)
Currency: forint (HUF)
Exchange rates: forints per US dollar - 282.240
Telephones: - main lines in use: 3.095 million
(1997), cellular: 1.269 million (July 1999) both system
modern and is capable of satisfying all requests for
Internet: Well established, widely used.
International country telephone code: 36
Travelling in Hungary: Hungary has an excellent
transport network. Every part of the country can be
visited within one day trip from Budapest. There are
two main railway stations in Budapest, where both international
and intercity trains. The main central bus stations
are also centrally situated. Regular boat and Hydrofoil
services on the Danube to Vienna etc.
Hungarians in the World: Czech and Slovakia 700.000,
former Yugoslavia 650.000, Romania 2,000.000, former
Soviet Union 200.000, Austria 70.000, Belgium 10.000,
France 35.000, Holland 5.000, Great Britain 10.000,
Italy 10.000, Germany 50.000, Switzerland 10.000, Sweden
16.000, Other West European countries 10.000, United
States 730.000, Canada 140.000, Argentina 10.000, Brazil
70.000, Uruguay 5.000, Other South American countries
10.000, South African Republic 5.000, Australia 55.000,
Israel 220.000. Total=5m.
Who are the Hungarians?
Do extraterrestrial beings exist? -
the Nobel Prize winning Italian physicist, Enrico
Fermi, was once asked by his disciples in California.
Of course, Fermi answered - they are already here among
us, they are called Hungarians.
Why did Fermi think this about Hungarians?
Because Hollywood's dream factories were partly built
by Hungarian producers, directors, writers and cameramen?
Or because - as the saying goes - Hungarians were created
by God to sit on horseback?
Perhaps because Béla Bartók's music in
his own time was considered extraterrestrial by many?
Or because of the Hungarian language, which does not
resemble any world language and sounds so strange?
So, who are these Hungarians? It is not (yet) known
quite precisely. It seems certain they arrived somewhere
from Asia. With regard to Hungary's location, world
languages generally define it as: Eastern Europe. In
fact, our country is situated in the centre of the continent,
in Central Europe, in its eastern part: this is the
Carpathian Basin, where one thousand years ago, visitors
already found a Hungarian state.
This small country is one of the great survivors of
history: states and empires emerged, expanded or disintegrated
and disappeared around it. Hungary and the Hungarian
nation survived the devastation of the Tartars and Turks,
Habsburgs and Russians in the Carpathian Basin; survived
the fact that it belonged among the losers of both world
wars. The national anthem describes the Hungarians as
"people torn by fate".
So we are not extra-terrestrials. They learnt and became
tempered in the tormenting storms of the world: you
can experience a particular organic link between the
old and new, between history and the present-day in
this country, which is still keenly safeguarding its
traditions, culture and arts, but was always perceptive
to what is new, different and the future.
Do you know that one of the centres of the Renaissance
was in Hungary in the 15th century? That the Hungarian
statehood is over 1,000 years old? That after 1945,
the first armed revolution against Stalinism took place
in Hungary? That the iron curtain was dismantled on
the frontier of Hungary and Austria?
In Hungary, you can see regions with a particular atmosphere,
fabulous villages, churches and castles. You are welcome
in Budapest, which many consider to be one of the finest
cities of Europe. If you are fond of tasty food, and
exclusive wines, this is the place that you will like!
The Roman Empire's provinces of Dacia
and Pannonia fell to Germanic tribes in the late 2nd
century. The Germanic tribes were driven out by Attila
the Hun later. The Huns, a nomadic people, ranged over
much of Europe until Attila's death. First the Germanic
tribes, than the Avars, later the Moravians, (Slavic
people), and also the Franks took over the land. In
the late ninth century, the Hungarians (Magyarok) under
the legendary Árpád re-conquered the rich
alluvial plains (There used to be a huge inland lake
many thousands of years ago) interspersed by some rolling
hills and enclosed by the Carpathian Mountains, giving
protection on the north, east and southeast. The land
was sparsely populated and suitable to their pastoral,
agricultural lifestyle. Under Árpád's
leadership and after his death the Hungarians made regular
incursions in parts of Europe, until their defeat in
955 by the Roman Emperor Otto I. After this defeat Duke
Géza converted himself and the Hungarian people
to Christianity and Western culture. His son Stephen
I, the founder of the Árpád dynasty, and
modern Hungary, was made King of Hungary in 1001 by
Pope Sylvester II who also gave him the Holy Crown of
Hungary (Which is revered by all Hungarians even to
this day) and the 'Apostolic Majesty' title. The Hungarian
kings used the title for over nine centuries. King Stephen
was canonised in 1083. He set the foundation of a modern
Hungary. Christianity and Western culture was firmly
established. After his death, there were invasions by
Germans and by some barbarians. His successor Ladislas
I, enacted very enlightened laws, aligned himself with
Pope Gregory VII. and Hungary became a powerful kingdom
again. He conquered Croatia, Bosnia, and part of Transylvania
while one of his successors conquered part of Dalmatia.
In the 12th century the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus
seized the Hungarian throne. During this time, a feudal
system was established, diminishing the King's power.
King Andrew II re-establish the King's power and issued
the Golden Bull in 1222, (The Hungarian Magna Carta)
giving the nobility some rights and some tax exemptions,
for their acceptance of Royal power, with some success.
In 1241 while Béla IV was king, the Mongols invaded
Hungary for a short while. The defence and occupation
of the country weakened it and the royal power and after
the death of Andrew III in 1301, the line of the House
of Árpád died. In 1308, Charles Robert
of Anjou became Charles I of Hungary, starting the Anjou
dynasty in Hungary. He restored order, limited the large
landowners power and re-established royal prerogative.
His son Louis I conquered Venice and was king of Poland
as well. Hungary became one of the largest Kingdoms
of Europe. He affirmed royal rule, developed commerce,
science, and industry. The Ottoman Empire begins its
advance on Hungary's southern parts, on the Balkan Peninsula
in his later years.
In 1387 Sigismund became King and led a crusade against
the Turks, but was defeated in 1396. He suffered another
defeat to the Venetians. In 1411, he was made Holy Roman
Emperor and for years battled against the Hussites,
the religious reformers. After Sigismund's death his
Habsburg son-in-law Albert II became Hungary's King.
The Turks made a number of incursions into Hungary during
these years, but the brilliant leadership of János
Hunyadi and his victory in Belgrade in 1456 saved the
In 1458 Matthias Corvinus, Hunyadi's son was crowned
King. He was one of the most able and enlightened rulers
of his time. He established a standing army, and accelerated
the commercial and cultural development of Hungary.
He was also a brilliant military leader, and gained
control of Austria, Moravia, Silesia, and Lusatia and
moved to Vienna. During his reign, Hungary was the most
formidable kingdom of central Europe.
After his death in 1490, the large landowners re-established
their power and the country became embroiled in feudal
wars and peasant rebellion.
In 1521, the Turks captured Belgrade. In 1526, they
defeated the Hungarian army at Mohács. King Louis
II the infant King and many thousands of the Hungarian
army died, and Buda fell to Turkish hands.
In the following 150 years, Hungary was divided into
three parts. The Turks ruled the central part. The Hungarians
retreated mainly to Transylvania. The Austrian Habsburgs
ruled the western parts. During this time, Reformation
and counterreformation further divided the population.
The Hungarians embraced the Protestant Reformation and
so the Long Wars followed between the Protestant Hungarians
and the Catholic Habsburgs. To settle the aggrieved
Hungarians, Emperor Rudolf II granted large concessions
such as political and religious independence and extra
Soon the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) broke out, led
at first by Gabriel Bethlen, Prince of Transylvania
and King of Hungary and then George I Rákóczy,
and continued the fight to regain western Hungary from
the Habsburgs. With the Swedes and French, Rákóczy
invaded Austria. In 1644, Emperor Ferdinand III granted
many of the Hungarians demands.
During George II Rákóczy's
reign as Prince of Transylvania, the Turks conquered
most of Transylvania. In the western (Habsburg) section
of Hungary returned to the Roman Catholic Church. The
Habsburgs used religious persecutions against Protestants.
These provoked a uprising led by Count Imre Thököly,
with major victories over Emperor Leopold I's armies,
at times with the Turkish army's help. The Habsburg
armies managed to expel the Turks from most of Hungary
and beat Thököly's army too. There were severe
reprisals against the Hungarians including the declaration
that the Crown of Hungary be hereditary to the Habsburgs
in eternity by the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699.
In 1703, Rákóczy II organised an uprising
while the Austrians were involved with their Spanish
War with the help of France but suffered a defeat at
Trencín. The uprising continued until the 1711 peace
treaty with general amnesty, religious freedom, and
many political concessions. The peace lasted over a
Following the French Revolution in 1789, Hungarian nationalism
gained enormous support. In 1815 the Liberal Party was
formed and the movement was headed by many well-known
Hungarian statesmen like Count István Széchenyi,
József Eötvös, Ferenc Deák,
Lajos Kossuth, and Lajos Batthyány. Many enlightened
bills were passed, despite opposition by the government.
Literature and arts flourished.
In March 1848 a Hungarian ministry, Batthyány
as premier was established, cutting all ties with Austria.
Hungarian was made the official language, causing rebellions
with some of the non-Hungarian population, like the
Romanians and Croats. In April 1849, the Hungarian Diet
voted for the independence of Hungary and the dethronement
of the Habsburgs.
In August 1849 the Austrian and Russian armies defeated
the Hungarians. On October 6, 1849, (A day of national
remembrance), Batthyány and 13 other leaders
In March 1867, after the Emperor was defeated in Italy
and Prussia and the resurging Hungarian nationalism,
a Hungarian Compromise was reached making Austria and
Hungary a dual monarchy, granting Hungary full sovereignty.
Soon Emperor Francis Joseph was crowned King of Hungary.
The dual monarchy lasted until the end of the World
Francis Joseph died on November 21, 1916, succeeded
by Emperor Charles I. Under his reign many ties with
the monarchy were broken, nationalism increased, and
On October 25, 1917, Count Mihály Károlyi
formed the national council, established general suffrage,
dissolved parliament, and started peace negotiations
with the Allies.
On November 16, 1918, the Hungarian Democratic Republic
was announced, Károlyi as president.
In March 1919, after further political and social unrest
the Communists with Béla Kun as leader overthrew
Károlyi's government. The Communists nationalised
all banks, commerce and industry. In the meantime, the
Czechs invaded Hungary in the north and the Romanians
in the south.
Béla Kun fled to Austria on August 1, 1919, unable
to cope with the internal unrest and occupations. On
August 4, the Romanians occupied Budapest until November
On November 25, 1919 with Allied supervision an interim
government was formed, led by Miklós Horthy,
a former admiral. General elections were held, and all
links with Austria were severed. Hungary became a monarchy
and Horthy was regent.
Map of Hungary after the Trianon Peace
Agreement (Click to enlarge)
On June 4, 1920, the government accepted
the humiliating terms of the Treaty of Trianon, which
deprived Hungary of Transylvania, Croatia, and Slovakia.
Horthy was to rule the country for more than twenty
While Gyula von Gömbös was Premier, Hitler
made some concessions and returned part of Slovakia
and Ruthenia to Hungary.
Hungary declared neutrality at the start of World War
II, but was indebted to the Germans and Italians for
returning Transylvania in 1940.
In April 1941 the Hungarian troops followed the German
attack on Yugoslavia, to the territory it lost by the
Treaty of Trianon.
On June 27, 1941, Hungary declared war on the Soviet
On December 13, 1941 it declared war on the United States.
But by August 1943 the Hungarian government tried unsuccessfully
to make peace with the Allied powers.
In March 1944 Germany occupied the country. A pro-German
government was formed and began a terror against all
dissidents and Jews.
The Russian armies invaded Hungary on October 7. Budapest
fell on February 13. In March 1945, the new regime embarked
on a major land reforms. Elections were held on November
4 and won by the Zoltán Tildy led Small Landholders'
Party. Hungary was proclaimed a republic, Tildy as President.
A coalition government including Ferenc Nagy as Premier,
and Mátyás Rákosi, the leader of
the Communist party, as Vice-Premier.
For a few months Hungary was on the verge of bankruptcy
because of rampant inflation, food shortages, damaged
transport system, and most of the Capital and the country
in general lay in ruins following the war and occupation.
In January 1947 the Communists charged and arrested
many of the other party leaders for conspiracy. The
army and public offices were purged unless they were
Communist Party members. In 1948, the Social Democratic
Party was forced to join with the Communist Party, forming
the Hungarian Workers' Party. In 1949, after further
purges of the new party the elections were for the Communists
In August 1949 the new constitution, established the
Hungarian People's Republic.
So began Hungary's conversion to Communist policies
in earnest. Economic, military co-operation with the
Soviet Union and other Communist countries begins. Religious
schools were nationalised; hundreds of priests and nuns
were arrested unless they agreed with the actions.
Cardinal Mindszenty was arrested, tried, and sentenced
to life imprisonment. All industry and commerce was
nationalised, farms collectivised. All opposition had
their lands confiscated and opponents sent to labour
There were Soviet inspired show trials of the "enemies
of the state". Including the head of the Hungarian Catholic
Mindszenty of Hungary
(Brief story and my tribute)
After the Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin's death in 1953
the government liberalised many of its policies. Imre
Nagy replaced Mátyás Rákosi as
Premier, but remained the Communist Party leader. A
new economic programme was embarked on. Some amnesties
were granted to political prisoners and labour camps
were closed. However Hungary joined the Warsaw Pact
and the COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance),
with the other Communist countries of Eastern Europe.
In April 1955 Nagy was sacked as Premier and expelled
from the party, signalling the end of his liberal policies.
András Hegedüs was made the new Premier
with Rákosi Ernö Gerö as Party Secretary.
The population's distrust and discontent with the old
communist grew rapidly. Influenced by the Polish unrest
the students organised demonstrations against the compulsory
Russian language courses and other grievances on October
The 1956 Hungarian Revolution. (My
A brief introduction and
links to other articles and works.
Index - (Table of Contents)
Chapter 1 - 1956
Chapter 2 - The Revolution
Chapter 3 - We are
Chapter 4 - The Soviets
return with a vengeance
Chapter 5 - Escape to
Chapter 6 - On the way
to New Zealand
Chapter 7 - New Zealand
Appendix 1 - Some statistics
of the Revolution
Appendix 2 - Some statistics
of the Emigration
Appendix 3 - Some of
Links - Recommended reading
A link here to an Official site: History of the
1956 Hungarian Revolution. The Hungarian documentary
Together with the Writers' Union and the general population,
including the workers, demanding the reinstatement of
Nagy as Premier. Hegedüs called in the occupying
Soviet forces to regain control of the situation. After
a few short hours, Imre Nagy was made Premier and János
Kádár the Party Secretary. Nagy promised
scraping the one-party system, free elections, economic
reforms, freed Cardinal Mindszenty, demanded the withdrawal
of Soviet forces and Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw
Pact and declared Hungary a neutral state. The Soviet
Union agreed to the concessions. While Nagy was confident
and waiting for western support, on the 4th of November
1956 Soviet troops and tanks brutally suppressed the
Revolution. Hundreds were executed, thousands were imprisoned,
and nearly 200,000 fled to the west.
Under János Kádár as Premier and
head of the renamed Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party
(HSWP), the Soviets gave US$250 million in aid and support
of the new regime. Nagy and many of his associates were
executed. Cardinal Mindszenty took refuge in the USA
Embassy in Budapest, until 1971. The reign of terror,
executions and deportations to the Soviet Union lasted
throughout 1957 and 1958.
Kádár was the general secretary of the
party and premier a few times for over thirty years.
In 1967 came a general relaxation of the terror. Multi
party elections were held, but he was still a Moscow
puppet. In 1968, he helped the Russians invading Czechoslovakia.
The same year the New Economic Mechanism (NEM) was announced,
bringing less government control and more individual
freedom. There was some economic and industrial growth
in the following years as well as relaxed trade and
cultural contacts with non-communist countries. In the
following years he negotiated conventions and treaties
with the U.S.A., West Germany and the Roman Catholic
Church. In 1974, the Pope officially agreed to remove
Cardinal Mindszenty as Archbishop of Esztergom.
Relations with the West continued to improve and trade
to increase throughout the following years.
The early 1980s showed a rising inflation, forcing Kádár
to impose an austerity programme.
Mass demonstration for freedom of speech, and civil
In May 1988, the Hungarians demanded Kádár's
replacement as General Secretary.
Károly Grósz, who has been prime minister
since June 1987 was made general secretary, He embarked
on a tough economic programme that included levying
new taxes, cutting subsidies, and encouraged the private
sector, relaxed censorship laws, allowed opposition
parties and groups, and legalised the right to strike
and to demonstrate.
In 1989, a hero's burial was given to Imre Nagy, restrictions
were eased on emigration, the constitution was revised
allowing for democratic multi-party system, and the
country's name was changed from the People's Republic
of Hungary to the Republic of Hungary.
In early 1990 after the first free elections in 45 years,
a coalition of centre-right parties won a parliamentary
majority. After a failed referendum, due to low turnout
the National Assembly voted Árpád Göncz,
a writer as Head of State.
In 1990, Hungary became the first central European nation
in the Soviet block to join the Council of Europe.
In 1991 and 1992 the government enacted treaties of
co-operation with Poland, the Czech and Slovak republics,
Russia, and Ukraine.
Relations with Romania and Slovakia were strained because
of the treatment of Hungarian minorities in those countries,
including some 1.7 million in Romania.
In April 1994 Hungary applied for membership of the
EU. In the May elections the Hungarian Socialist Party
(formerly the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party) won
a majority of 72 per cent Gyula Horn was elected as
Premier and some austerity measures were announced with
budget cuts to reduce the US$28 billion foreign debt.
In April 1995 Eastern Europe's first Gypsy National
Autonomous Authority was set up. In June, the Treaty
of Friendship and Co-operation with Slovakia was signed.
In November the abolishment of exchange control was
introduced for the first time in over 60 years. A large
privatisation programme was started and foreign consortia
took majority holdings in the telecommunications and
gas distribution companies, and minority holdings in
the electricity, oil and gas producing industries.
In early 1997 Hungary and Slovakia went to the International
Court of Justice in The Hague to resolve the dispute
between them concerning the Gabcickovo-Nagmaros hydroelectric
project and diversion of the Danube, both countries
were required to negotiate their compensation payments.
In a national referendum 85 per cent of votes cast were
in favour of Hungary joining the NATO of the proposition.
The two leading opposition parties announced an electoral
pact. In March 1998 Hungary with ten other nations applied
for membership. Hungary is likely to join the EU in
2003 or 2004.
I would like to
acknowledge the contributors to this page; Ms Encarta,
Onko, and the others. Thanks. Webmaster.
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