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Coordinates: 47°N 20°E / 47°N 20°E / 47; 20

Magyarország  (Hungarian)
Anthem: "Himnusz" (Hungarian)[1]
(English: "Hymn")
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 languagesHungarian[2]
Ethnic groups
(microcensus 2016)
(census 2011)[4]
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional republic
• President
János Áder
Viktor Orbán
László Kövér
LegislatureNational Assembly
25 December 1000[6]
24 April 1222
29 August 1526
2 September 1686
15 March 1848
30 March 1867
4 June 1920
23 October 1989
1 May 2004
1 January 2012
• Total
93,030[7] km2 (35,920 sq mi) (108th)
• Water (%)
• 2021 estimate
9,730,000[9] (91st)
• Density
105/km2 (271.9/sq mi) (78th)
GDP (PPP)2021 estimate
• Total
Increase $359.901 billion[10] (53rd)
• Per capita
Increase $36,848[10] (41st)
GDP (nominal)2021 estimate
• Total
Increase $180.959 billion[10] (53th)
• Per capita
Increase $18,527 [10] (45th)
Gini (2020)Negative increase 28.3[11]
HDI (2019)Increase 0.854[12]
very high · 40th
CurrencyForint (HUF)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+36
ISO 3166 codeHU
  1. ^ The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Hungary (Hungarian: Magyarország [ˈmɒɟɒrorsaːɡ] (About this soundlisten)) is a landlocked country in Central Europe.[2] 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 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.[13] 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.[14][15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18][19][20] Following the tumultuous interwar period, Hungary joined the Axis Powers in World War II, suffering significant damage and casualties.[21][22] 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.[23] On 23 October 1989, Hungary became a democratic parliamentary republic.[24] Hungary joined the European Union in 2004 and has been part of the Schengen Area since 2007.[25]

Hungary is a middle power in international affairs, owing mostly to its cultural and economic influence.[26] It is considered a developed country with a high-income economy and ranks "very high" in the Human Development Index, with citizens enjoying universal health care and tuition-free secondary education.[27][28] Hungary has a long history of significant contributions to arts, music, literature, sports, science and technology.[29][30][31][32] It is the thirteenth-most popular tourist destination in Europe, drawing 15.8 million international tourists in 2017.[33] It is a member of numerous international organisations, including the United Nations, NATO, WTO, World Bank, IIB, the AIIB, the Council of Europe, and the Visegrád Group.[34]


The "H" in the name of Hungary (and Latin Hungaria) is most likely due to historical associations with the Huns, who had settled Hungary prior to the Avars. The rest of the word comes from the Latinized form of Byzantine Greek Oungroi (Οὔγγροι). The Greek name was borrowed from Old Bulgarian ągrinŭ, in turn borrowed from Oghur-Turkic Onogur ('ten [tribes of the] Ogurs'). Onogur was the collective name for the tribes who later joined the Bulgar tribal confederacy that ruled the eastern parts of Hungary after the Avars.[35][36]

The Hungarian endonym is Magyarország, composed of magyar ('Hungarian') and ország ('country'). The name "Magyar", which refers to the people of the country, more accurately reflects the name of the country in some other languages such as Turkish, Persian and other languages as Magyaristan or Land of Magyars or similar. The word magyar is taken from the name of one of the seven major semi-nomadic Hungarian tribes, magyeri.[37][38][39] The first element magy is likely from Proto-Ugric *mäńć- 'man, person', also found in the name of the Mansi people (mäńćī, mańśi, måńś). The second element eri, 'man, men, lineage', survives in Hungarian férj 'husband', and is cognate with Mari erge 'son', Finnish archaic yrkä 'young man'.[40]


Before 895

Roman provinces: Illyricum, Macedonia, Dacia, Moesia, Pannonia, Thracia
Attila, king of the Huns (434/444–453)
Italian fresco - Hungarian warrior shooting backwards

The Roman Empire conquered the territory between the Alps and the area west of the Danube River from 16 to 15 BCE, the Danube River being the new frontier of the empire.[41] In 14 BCE, Pannonia, the western part of the Carpathian Basin, which includes today's west of Hungary, was recognised by emperor Augustus in the Res Gestae Divi Augusti as part of the Roman Empire.[41] The area south-east of Pannonia and south of Dacia was organised as the Roman province Moesia in 6 BCE.[41] An area east of the river Tisza became the Roman province of Dacia in 106 CE, which included today's east Hungary. It remained under Roman rule until 271 CE.[42]

From 235 CE, the Roman Empire went through troubled times, caused by revolts, rivalry and rapid succession of emperors. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th century CE under the stress of the migration of Germanic tribes and Carpian pressure. [42] This period brought many invaders into Central Europe, beginning with the Hunnic Empire (c. 370–469). The most powerful ruler of the Hunnic Empire was Attila the Hun (434–453), who later became a central figure in Hungarian mythology.[43]

After the disintegration of the Hunnic Empire, the Gepids, an Eastern Germanic tribe, who had been vassalized by the Huns, established their own kingdom in the Carpathian Basin.[44] Other groups which reached the Carpathian Basin in the Migration Period were the Goths, Vandals, Lombards, and Slavs.[42]

In the 560s, the Avars founded the Avar Khaganate, a state that maintained supremacy in the region for more than two centuries. The Franks under Charlemagne defeated the Avars in a series of campaigns during the 790s.[45]

Between 804 and 829, the First Bulgarian Empire conquered the lands east of the Danube river and took over the rule of the local Slavic tribes and remnants of the Avars.[46] By the mid-9th century, the Balaton Principality, also known as Lower Pannonia, was established west of the Danube river as part of the Frankish March of Pannonia.[47]

Medieval Hungary (895–1526)

Hungarian Conquest (of the Carpathian Basin) - painting by Mihály Munkácsy

The freshly unified Hungarians[48] led by Árpád (by tradition a descendant of Attila), settled in the Carpathian Basin starting in 895.[49][50] According to the Finno-Ugrian theory, they originated from an ancient Uralic-speaking population that formerly inhabited the forested area between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains.[51]

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)[52] was a state created by a semi-nomadic people. It accomplished an enormous transformation into a Christian realm during the 10th century.[53]

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.[53] The Hungarians defeated no fewer than three major East Frankish imperial armies between 907 and 910.[54] 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

King Saint Stephen, the first King of Hungary, converted the nation to Christianity.

The year 972 marked the date when the ruling prince (Hungarian: fejedelem) Géza of the Árpád dynasty officially started to integrate Hungary into Christian Western Europe.[55] 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 recognised as a Catholic Apostolic Kingdom.[56] 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 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. Around this time, Hungary began to become a powerful kingdom.[citation needed] Ladislaus I extended Hungary's frontier in Transylvania and invaded Croatia in 1091.[57][58][59][60] 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.[61]

The Holy Crown (Szent Korona), one of the key symbols of Hungary
Jesus Christ, the Pantocrator on the Holy Crown of Hungary. Hungary is traditionally a Christian country.

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.[62]

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.[63] 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.[64] King Béla IV let Cumans and Jassic people into the country, who were fleeing the Mongols.[65] Over the centuries, they were fully assimilated into the Hungarian population.[66]

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[67] 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

A map of lands ruled by Louis the Great

The Kingdom of Hungary reached one of its greatest extents 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.

Western conquests of Matthias Corvinus

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.[68] 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. Items from the Bibliotheca Corviniana were inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2005.[69]

The serfs and common people considered him a just ruler because he protected them from excessive demands and other abuses by the magnates.[70] 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.[68] Hungary's international role declined, its political stability shaken, and social progress was deadlocked.[71] 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)

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 thousand Ottoman soldiers in service in the Ottoman fortresses in the territory of Hungary were Orthodox and Muslim Balkan Slavs rather than ethnic Turkish people.[72] Orthodox Southern Slavs were also acting as akinjis and other light troops intended for pillaging in the territory of present-day Hungary.[73] 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.[74] 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.[75] 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.[76]

From the 18th century to World War I (1699–1918)

Francis II Rákóczi, leader of the uprising against Habsburg rule in 1703–11
Count István Széchenyi offered one year's income to establish the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Lajos Kossuth, Regent-President during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848
Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen consisted of the territories of the Kingdom of Hungary (16) and the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia (17).

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. The Hungarian Kuruc army, although taking over most of the country, lost the main battle at Trencsén (1708). Three years later, because of the growing desertion, defeatism and low morale, the Kuruc forces finally surrendered.[77]

During the Napoleonic Wars and afterward, the Hungarian Diet had not convened for decades.[78] 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, recognised the urgent need for modernisation 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 a leader of the lower gentry in the Parliament. A remarkable upswing started as the nation concentrated its forces on modernisation 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.

5 July 1848: The opening ceremony of the first parliament, which was based on popular representation. The members of the first responsible government are on the balcony.

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.[79] In July 1849 the Hungarian Parliament proclaimed and enacted the first laws of ethnic and minority rights in the world.[80] 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. 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", Tsar 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".

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 industrialised 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,[81] thus creating the new metropolis of Budapest. Many of the state institutions and the modern administrative system of Hungary were established during this period.

After the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand 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,[82][self-published source?] both of which were repelled. In comparison, of the total army, Hungary's loss ratio was more than any other nation 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.

Hungarian-built dreadnought battleship SMS Szent István in World War I

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 organised 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.[83] 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[84][85]
  Majority Hungarian areas (according to the 1910 census) detached from Hungary

Following the First World War, Hungary underwent a period of profound political upheaval, beginning with the Aster Revolution in 1918, which brought the social-democratic Mihály Károlyi to power as Prime Minister. The Hungarian Royal Honvéd army still had more than 1,400,000 soldiers[86][87] when Mihály Károlyi was announced as prime minister of Hungary. Károlyi yielded to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's demand for pacifism by ordering the disarmament of the Hungarian army. This happened under the direction of Béla Linder, minister of war in the Károlyi government.[88][89] Due to the full disarmament of its army, Hungary was to remain without a national defence at a time of particular vulnerability. During the rule of Károlyi's pacifist cabinet, Hungary lost control over approx. 75% of its former pre-WW1 territories (325,411 square kilometres (125,642 sq mi)) without a fight and was subject to foreign occupation. The Little Entente, sensing an opportunity, invaded the country from three sides—Romania invaded Transylvania, Czechoslovakia annexed Upper Hungary (today's Slovakia), and a joint Serb-French coalition annexed Vojvodina and other southern regions. In March 1919, communists led by Béla Kun ousted the Károlyi government and proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic (Tanácsköztársaság), followed by a thorough Red Terror campaign. Despite some successes on the Czechoslovak front, Kun's forces were ultimately unable to resist the Romanian invasion; by August 1919, Romanian troops occupied Budapest and ousted Kun.

Miklós Horthy, Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary (1920–1944)

In November 1919, rightist forces led by former Austro-Hungarian admiral Miklós Horthy entered Budapest; exhausted by the war and its aftermath, the populace accepted Horthy's leadership. In January 1920, parliamentary elections were held and Horthy was proclaimed Regent of the reestablished Kingdom of Hungary, inaugurating the so-called "Horthy era" (Horthy-kor). The new government worked quickly to normalize foreign relations while turning a blind eye to a White Terror that swept through the countryside; extrajudicial killings of suspected communists and Jews lasted well into 1920. On 4 June of that year, the Treaty of Trianon established new borders for Hungary. The country lost 71% of its territory and 66% of its antebellum population, as well as many sources of raw materials and its sole port, Fiume.[90][91] Though the revision of the Treaty quickly rose to the top of the national political agenda, the Horthy government was not willing to resort to military intervention to do so.

The initial years of the Horthy regime were preoccupied with putsch attempts by Charles IV, the Austro-Hungarian pretender; continued suppression of communists; and a migration crisis triggered by the Trianon territorial changes. Though free elections continued, Horthy's personality, and those of his personally selected prime ministers, dominated the political scene. The government's actions continued to drift right with the passage of antisemitic laws and, due to the continued isolation of the Little Entente, economic and then political gravitation towards Italy and Germany. The Great Depression further exacerbated the situation and the popularity of fascist politicians such as Gyula Gömbös and Ferenc Szálasi, promising economic and social recovery, rose.

Horthy's nationalist agenda reached its apogee in 1938 and 1940, when the Nazis rewarded Hungary's staunchly pro-Germany foreign policy in the First and Second Vienna Awards, respectively, peacefully restoring ethnic-Hungarian-majority areas lost after Trianon. In 1939, Hungary regained further territory from Czechoslovakia through force. Hungary formally joined the Axis Powers on 20 November 1940, and in 1941, participated in the invasion of Yugoslavia, gaining some of its former territories in the south.

World War II (1941–1945)

Kingdom of Hungary, 1941–44

Hungary formally entered World War II as an Axis Power on 26 June 1941, declaring war on the Soviet Union after unidentified planes bombed Kassa, Munkács, and Rahó. Hungarian troops fought on the Eastern Front for two years. Despite some early successes,[92] the Hungarian government began seeking a secret peace pact with the Allies after the Second Army suffered catastrophic losses at the River Don in January 1943. Learning of the planned defection, German troops occupied Hungary on 19 March 1944 to guarantee Horthy's compliance. In October, as the Soviet front approached and the Hungarian government made further efforts to disengage from the war, German troops ousted Horthy and installed a puppet government under Szálasi's fascist Arrow Cross Party.[92] Szálasi pledged all the country's capabilities in service of the German war machine. By October 1944, the Soviets had reached the river Tisza, and despite some losses, succeeded in encircling and besieging Budapest in December.

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

After German occupation, Hungary participated in the Holocaust.[93][94] During the German occupation in May–June 1944, the Arrow Cross and Hungarian police deported nearly 440,000 Jews, mainly to Auschwitz. Nearly all of them were murdered.[95][96] The Swedish Diplomat Raoul Wallenberg managed to save a considerable number of Hungarian Jews by giving them Swedish passports.[97] Rezső Kasztner, one of the leaders of the Hungarian Aid and Rescue Committee, bribed senior SS officers such as Adolf Eichmann to allow some Jews to escape.[98][99][100] The Horthy government's complicity in the Holocaust remains a point of controversy and contention.

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. In addition to the over 600,000 Hungarian Jews killed,[101] as many as 280,000[102][103] other Hungarians were raped, murdered and executed or deported for slave labour by Czechoslovaks,[104][105][106][107][108][109] Soviet Red Army troops,[110][111][112] and Yugoslavs.[113]

On 13 February 1945, Budapest surrendered; by April, German troops left the country under Soviet military occupation. 200,000 Hungarians were expelled from Czechoslovakia in exchange for 70,000 Slovaks living in Hungary. 202,000 ethnic Germans were expelled to Germany,[114] and through the 1947 Paris Peace Treaties, Hungary was again reduced to its immediate post-Trianon borders.

Communism (1945–1989)

Following the defeat of Nazi Germany, Hungary became a satellite state of the Soviet Union. The Soviet leadership selected Mátyás Rákosi to front the Stalinization of the country, and Rákosi de facto ruled Hungary from 1949 to 1956. His government's policies of militarization, industrialisation, 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. In the ensuing purges, approximately 350,000 officials and intellectuals were imprisoned or executed from 1948 to 1956.[115] Many freethinkers, democrats, and Horthy-era dignitaries were secretly arrested and extrajudicially interned in domestic and foreign Gulags. Some 600,000 Hungarians were deported to Soviet labour camps, where at least 200,000 died.[116]

A destroyed Soviet tank in Budapest during the 1956 Revolution; Time's Man of the Year for 1956 was the Hungarian Freedom Fighter[117]

After Stalin's death in 1953, the Soviet Union pursued a programme of destalinization that was inimical to Rákosi, leading to his deposition. 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 the firing on peaceful demonstrations by Soviet soldiers and secret police, and rallies throughout the country on 23 October 1956, protesters took to the streets in Budapest, initiating the 1956 Revolution. In an effort to quell the chaos, Nagy returned as premier, promised free elections, and took Hungary out of the Warsaw Pact.

The violence nonetheless 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 1956, most Soviet troops had withdrawn from Budapest to garrison the countryside. For a time, the Soviet leadership was unsure how to respond to developments in Hungary but eventually decided to intervene to prevent a destabilization of the Soviet bloc. On 4 November, reinforcements of more than 150,000 troops and 2,500 tanks entered the country from the Soviet Union.[118] Nearly 20,000 Hungarians were killed resisting the intervention, while an additional 21,600 were imprisoned afterward for political reasons. Some 13,000 were interned and 230 brought to trial and executed. Nagy was secretly tried, found guilty, sentenced to death, and executed by hanging in June 1958. Because borders were briefly opened, nearly a quarter of a million people fled the country by the time the revolution was suppressed.[119]

Kádár era (1956–1988)

János Kádár, General Secretary of MSZMP, the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (1956–1988)

After a second, briefer period of Soviet military occupation, János Kádár, Nagy's former Minister of State, was chosen by the Soviet leadership to head the new government and chair the new ruling Socialist Workers' Party (MSzMP). 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 goods and food production took precedence over military production, which was reduced to one-tenth of pre-revolutionary levels.

In 1968, the New Economic Mechanism (NEM) introduced free-market elements into the 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.[120] As a result of this relatively high standard of living, a more liberalized 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 Central Europe during communism. In the 1980s, however, living standards steeply declined again due to a worldwide recession to which communism was unable to respond.[121] 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 Republic (1989–present)

The Visegrád Group signing ceremony in February 1991

Hungary's transition from communism to democracy and capitalism (rendszerváltás, "regime change") was peaceful and prompted by economic stagnation, domestic political pressure, and changing relations with other Warsaw Pact countries. Although the MSzMP began Round Table Talks with various opposition groups in March 1989, the reburial of Imre Nagy as a revolutionary martyr that June is widely considered the symbolic end of communism in Hungary. Over 100,000 people attended the Budapest ceremony without any significant government interference, and many speakers openly called for Soviet troops to leave the country. Free elections were held in May 1990, and the Hungarian Democratic Forum, a major conservative opposition group, was elected to the head of a coalition government. József Antall became the first democratically elected Prime Minister since World War II.

With the removal of state subsidies and rapid privatization in 1991, Hungary was affected by a severe economic recession. The Antall government's austerity measures proved unpopular, and the Communist Party's legal and political heir, the Socialist Party, won the subsequent 1994 elections. This abrupt shift in the political landscape was repeated in 1998 and 2002; each electoral cycle, the governing party was ousted and the erstwhile opposition elected. Like most other post-communist European states, however, Hungary broadly pursued an integrationist agenda, joining NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. As a NATO member, Hungary was involved in the Yugoslav Wars.

In 2006, major nationwide protests erupted after it was revealed that Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány had claimed in a closed-door speech that his party "lied" to win the recent elections. The popularity of left-wing parties plummeted in the ensuing political upheaval, and in 2010, Viktor Orbán's national-conservative Fidesz was elected to a parliamentary supermajority. The legislature consequently approved a new constitution, among other sweeping governmental and legal changes. Although these developments were met with and still engender controversy, Fidesz secured a second parliamentary supermajority in 2014 and a third in 2018.[122] In the late 2010s, Orbán's government came under increased international scrutiny over alleged rule-of-law violations. In 2018, the European Parliament voted to act against Hungary under the terms of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. Hungary has and continues to dispute these allegations.[123]

Hungary was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the Hungarian parliament passed a law granting the government the power to rule by decree, suspending by-elections and outlawing certain forms of medical disinformation.[124][125][126][127][128][129][130][131] Parliament rescinded this law on 16 June 2020 due to the improving epidemiological situation in Hungary.[132]


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 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.[133] It had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 2.25/10, ranking it 156th globally out of 172 countries.[134]

Hungary has 10 national parks, 145 minor nature reserves, and 35 landscape protection areas.

Hungary is a landlocked country.


Hungary has a temperate seasonal climate,[135][136] with generally warm summers with low overall humidity levels but frequent rainshowers and cold snowy winters. Average annual temperature is 9.7 °C (49.5 °F). Temperature extremes are 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-Gőrőmbőlytapolca 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).

Hungary is ranked sixth in an environmental protection index by GW/CAN.[137]

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%.

Hungarian Parliament Building on the bank of the Danube in Budapest

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).[138] 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.[139] The government achieved a budget deficit 1.9% of the GDP in 2015.[140] 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 at pair with Romania and behind Bulgaria.[141]

Following a decade of Fidesz-KDNP rule lead 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... [it] 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.[142]

Political parties

Current Structure of the National Assembly of Hungary
Current Structure of the National Assembly of Hungary
Political groups
Government (133)

Supported by (1)

Opposition (65)

Since the fall of communism, Hungary has a multi-party system. The last Hungarian parliamentary election took place on 8 April 2018.[143] This parliamentary election was the 7th since the 1990 first multi-party election. The result was a victory for FideszKDNP alliance, preserving its two-thirds majority with Viktor Orbán remaining Prime Minister.[144] It was the second election according to the new Constitution of Hungary which went into force on 1 January 2012. The new electoral law also entered into force that day. The voters elected 199 MPs instead of previous 386 lawmakers.[145][146] The current political landscape in Hungary is dominated by the conservative Fidesz, who have a near supermajority, and two medium-sized parties, the left-wing Democratic Coalition (DK) and liberal Momentum.

The democratic character of the Hungarian parliament was reestablished with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist dictatorship in 1989. Today's parliament is still called Országgyűlés just like in royal times, but in order to differentiate between the historical royal diet is referred to as the "National Assembly" now. The Diet of Hungary was a legislative institution in the medieval kingdom of Hungary from the 1290s,[147][148] and in its successor states, Royal Hungary and the Habsburg kingdom of Hungary throughout the Early Modern period. The articles of the 1790 diet set out that the diet should meet at least once every 3 years, but, since the diet was called by the Habsburg monarchy, this promise was not kept on several occasions thereafter. As a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, it was reconstituted in 1867. The Latin term Natio Hungarica ("Hungarian nation") was used to designate the political elite which had participation in the diet, consisting of the nobility, the Catholic clergy, and a few enfranchised burghers,[149][150] regardless of language or ethnicity.[151]

Law and judicial system

The original and the future seat of The Curia, the highest court in Hungary

The judicial system of Hungary is a civil law system divided between courts with regular civil and criminal jurisdiction and administrative courts with jurisdiction over litigation between individuals and the public administration. Hungarian law is codified and based on German law and in a wider sense, civil law or Roman law. The court system for civil and criminal jurisdiction consists of local courts (járásbíróság), regional appellate courts (ítélőtábla), and the supreme court (Kúria). Hungary's highest courts are located in Budapest.[152]

Law enforcement in Hungary is split among the police and the National Tax and Customs Administration. The Hungarian Police is the main and largest state law enforcement agency in Hungary. It carries nearly all general police duties such as criminal investigation, patrol activity, traffic policing, border control. It is led by the National Police Commissioner under the control of the Minister of the Interior. The body is divided into county police departments which are also divided into regional and town police departments. The National Police also have subordinate agencies with nationwide jurisdiction, such as the "Nemzeti Nyomozó Iroda" (National Bureau of Investigation), a civilian police force specialised in investigating serious crimes, and the gendarmerie-like, militarised "Készenléti Rendőrség" (Stand-by Police) mainly dealing with riots and often reinforcing local police forces. Due to Hungary's accession to the Schengen Treaty, the Police and Border Guards were merged into a single national corps, with the Border Guards becoming Police Officers. This merger took place in January 2008. The Customs and Excise Authority remained subject to the Ministry of Finance under the National Tax and Customs Administration.[153]

Administrative divisions

Hungary is a unitary state nation divided into 19 counties (megye). In addition, the capital (főváros), Budapest, is an independent entity. The counties and the capital are the 20 NUTS third-level units of Hungary. The states are further subdivided into 174 districts (járás) as of 1 January 2013.[154] The districts are further divided into towns and villages, of which 23 are designated towns with county rights (megyei jogú város), sometimes known as "urban counties" in English. The local authorities of these towns have extended powers, but these towns belong to the territory of the respective district instead of being independent territorial units. County and district councils and municipalities have different roles and separate responsibilities relating to local government. The role of the counties are basically administrative and focus on strategic development, while preschools, public water utilities, garbage disposal, elderly care, and rescue services are administered by the municipalities.

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

Counties of Hungary 2020.png
Population Region
Bacs-kiskun-megye.svg Bács-Kiskun Kecskemét 524,841 Southern Great Plain
HUN Baranya megye COA.png Baranya Pécs 391,455 Southern Transdanubia
Békés departemento blazono.svg Békés Békéscsaba 361,802 Southern Great Plain
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén departemento blazono.svg Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén Miskolc 684,793 Northern Hungary
Coa Hungary Town Budapest big.svg Capital City of Budapest Budapest 1,744,665 Central Hungary
HU Csongrád megye COA.svg Csongrád-Csanád Szeged 421,827 Southern Great Plain
HUN Fejér megye COA.png Fejér Székesfehérvár 426,120 Central Transdanubia
HUN Győr-Moson-Sopron megye COA.png Győr-Moson-Sopron Győr 449,967 Western Transdanubia
HUN Hajdú-Bihar COA.svg Hajdú-Bihar Debrecen 565,674 Northern Great Plain
Coa Hungary County Heves.svg Heves Eger 307,985 Northern Hungary
HUN Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok megye COA.png Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok Szolnok 386,752 Northern Great Plain
HUN Komárom-Esztergom megye COA.png Komárom-Esztergom Tatabánya 311,411 Central Transdanubia
Coa Hungary County Nógrád.svg Nógrád Salgótarján 201,919 Northern Hungary
HUN Pest megye COA.png Pest Budapest 1,237,561 Central Hungary
HUN Somogy megye COA.svg Somogy Kaposvár 317,947 Southern Transdanubia
HUN Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg megye COA.svg Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg Nyíregyháza 552,000 Northern Great Plain
HUN Tolna megye COA.png Tolna Szekszárd 231,183 Southern Transdanubia
HUN Vas megye COA.png Vas Szombathely 257,688 Western Transdanubia
Coa Hungary County Veszprém.svg Veszprém Veszprém 353,068 Central Transdanubia
Coa Hungary County Zala (2010-).svg Zala Zalaegerszeg 287,043 Western Transdanubia

Foreign relations

Meeting of Visegrád Group leaders, plus Germany and France in 2013
United Nations conference in the assembly hall of House of Magnates in the Hungarian Parliament

The foreign policy of Hungary is based on four basic commitments: to Atlantic co-operation, to European integration, to international development and to international law.[citation needed] The Hungarian economy is fairly open[clarification needed] and relies strongly on international trade.[citation needed]

Hungary has been a member of the United Nations since December 1955 and a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the Visegrád Group, the WTO, the World Bank, the AIIB and the IMF. Hungary took on the presidency of the Council of the European Union for half a year in 2011 and the next will be in 2024. In 2015, Hungary was the fifth largest OECD Non-DAC donor of development aid in the world, which represents 0.13% of its Gross National Income.

Hungary's capital city, Budapest, is home to more than 100 embassies and representative bodies as an international political actor.[155] Hungary hosts the main and regional headquarters of many international organisations as well, including European Institute of Innovation and Technology, European Police College, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, International Centre for Democratic Transition, Institute of International Education, International Labour Organization, International Organization for Migration, International Red Cross, Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Danube Commission and others.[156]

Since 1989, Hungary's top foreign policy goal has been achieving integration into Western economic and security organisations. Hungary joined the Partnership for Peace programme in 1994 and has actively supported the IFOR and SFOR missions in Bosnia. Hungary since 1989 has also improved its often frosty neighbourly 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 cause bilateral tensions to flare up. Since 2017, the relations with Ukraine rapidly deteriorated over the issue of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.[157] Since 1989, Hungary has signed all of the OSCE documents, and served as the OSCE's Chairman-in-Office in 1997. Historically, Hungary has had particularly friendly relations with Poland; this special relationship was recognized by the parliaments of both countries in 2007 with the joint declaration of March 23 as "The Day of Polish-Hungarian Friendship".[158]


The President holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces. The Ministry of Defence jointly with Chief of staff administers the armed forces, including the Hungarian Ground Force and the Hungarian Air Force. Since 2007, the Hungarian Armed Forces has been under a unified command structure. The Ministry of Defence maintains political and civil control over the army. A subordinate Joint Forces Command coordinates and commands the HDF. In 2016, the armed forces had 31,080 personnel on active duty, the operative reserve brought the total number of troops to fifty thousand. In 2016, it was planned that military spending the following year would be $1.21 billion, about 0.94% of the country's GDP, well below the NATO target of 2%. In 2012, the government adopted a resolution in which it pledged to increase defence spending to 1.4% of GDP by 2022.[159]

Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime. In a significant move for modernisation, Hungary decided in 2001 to buy 14 JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft for about 800 million EUR. Hungarian National Cyber Security Center was re-organised in 2016 in order to become more efficient through cyber security.[160]

In 2016, the Hungarian military had about 700 troops stationed in foreign countries as part of international peacekeeping forces, including 100 HDF troops in the NATO-led ISAF force in Afghanistan, 210 Hungarian soldiers in Kosovo under command of KFOR, and 160 troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 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.[citation needed]


Hungary is part of the European Union's internal market with 508 million consumers and part of Schengen Area
A proportional representation of Hungary exports, 2019

Hungary is an OECD high-income mixed economy with very high human development index and skilled labour force with the 16th lowest income inequality in the world.[161] Furthermore, it is the 9th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index.[162] The Hungarian is the 57th-largest economy in the world (out of 188 countries measured by IMF) with $265.037 billion output,[163] 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 high, $9.003 billion trade surplus, of which 79% went to the EU and 21% was extra-EU trade.[164] 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 percent of its total use, followed by gross fixed capital formation with 22 percent and government expenditure with 20 percent.[165] 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.[166] As of 2015, the key trading partners of Hungary were Germany, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, France, Italy, Poland and Czech Republic.[167] 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).[168] 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.[169] The employment rate in the economy was 68.3% in 2017,[170] the employment structure shows the characteristics of post-industrial economies, 63.2% of employed workforce work in service sector, the industry contributed by 29.7%, while agriculture with 7.1%. Unemployment rate was 4.1% in 2017 September,[171] 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.[172] Besides this Hungary has a large portion of specialised small and medium enterprise, for example a significant number of automotive suppliers and technology start ups among others.[173]

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.[174][175] 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 more than $100 billion in 2015, making it one of the largest regional economies in the European Union.[176][177] 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.[178][179] Furthermore, Hungary's corporate tax rate is only 9%, which is relatively low for EU states.[180]

Hungary maintains its own currency, the Hungarian forint (HUF), although the economy fulfills the Maastricht criteria with the exception of public debt, but 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 Austro-Hungarian Empire—is currently focusing on price stability with an inflation target of 3%.[181]

Science and technology

Albert Szent-Györgyi a Nobel Laureate in Medicine for discovery of Vitamin C. Nobel Prize has been awarded to 13 Hungarian laureates.
The Budapest University of Technology and Economics is the oldest operational Institute of technology in the world, founded in 1782

Hungary's achievements in science and technology have been significant, and research and development efforts form an integral part of the country's economy. Hungary spent 1.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on civil research and development in 2015, which is the 25th highest ratio in the world.[182] Hungary ranks 32nd among the most innovative countries in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, standing before Hong Kong, Iceland or Malta.[183] Hungary was ranked 35th in the Global Innovation Index in 2020, down from 33rd in 2019.[184][185][186][187][188] In 2014, Hungary counted 2,651 full-time equivalent researchers per million inhabitants, steadily increasing from 2,131 in 2010 and compares with 3,984 in the US or 4,380 in Germany.[189] Hungary's high technology industry has benefited from both the country's skilled workforce and the strong presence of foreign high-tech firms and research centres. Hungary also has one of the highest rates of filed patents, the sixth highest ratio of high-tech and medium high-tech output in the total industrial output, the 12th highest research FDI inflow, placed 14th in research talent in business enterprise and has the 17th best overall innovation efficiency ratio in the world.[190]

The key actor of research and development in Hungary is the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NRDI Office), which is a national strategic and funding agency for scientific research, development and innovation, the primary source of advice on RDI policy for the Hungarian Government, and the primary RDI funding agency. Its role is to develop RDI policy and ensure that Hungary adequately invest in RDI by funding excellent research and supporting innovation to increase competitiveness and to prepare the RDI strategy of the Hungarian Government, to handle the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund, and represents the Hungarian Government and a Hungarian RDI community in international organisations.[191]

Scientific research in the country is supported partly by industry and partly by the state, through the network of Hungarian universities and by scientific state-institutions such as Hungarian Academy of Sciences.[192][193] Hungary has been the home of some of the most prominent researchers in various scientific disciplines, notably physics, mathematics, chemistry and engineering. As of 2018, twelve Hungarian scientists have been recipients of a Nobel Prize.[194] 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. 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, 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. Notable Hungarian inventions include the lead dioxide match (János Irinyi), a type of carburetor (Donát Bánki, János Csonka), the electric (AC) train engine and generator (Kálmán Kandó), holography (Dennis Gabor), the Kalman filter (Rudolf E. Kálmán), and Rubik's Cube (Ernő Rubik).


Hungary has a highly developed road, railway, air, and water transport system. Budapest, the capital, serves as an important hub for the Hungarian railway system (MÁV). The capital is served by three large train stations called Keleti (Eastern), Nyugati (Western), and Déli (Southern) pályaudvars (terminuses). Szolnok is the most important railway hub outside Budapest, while Tiszai Railway Station in Miskolc and the main stations of Szombathely, 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. 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 (informally called "Ferihegy"), Debrecen, Hévíz–Balaton (also called Sármellék Airport), Győr-Pér, and Pécs-Pogány, but only two of these (Budapest and Debrecen) receive scheduled flights. 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.


Population density in Hungary by district.

Hungary's population was 9,937,628 according to the 2011 census, making it the fifth most populous country in Central and Eastern Europe and medium-sized member state of the European Union. 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.[195]

Like most other European countries, Hungary is experiencing sub-replacement fertility; its estimated total fertility rate of 1.43 children per woman is well below the replacement rate of 2.1,[196] albeit higher than its nadir of 1.28 in 1999,[197] and remains considerably below the high of 5.59 children born per woman in 1884.[198] As a result, its population has been gradually declining and rapidly ageing. In 2011, the conservative government began a programme to increase the birth rate with a focus on ethnic Magyars by reinstating 3 year maternity leave as well as boosting part-time jobs. The fertility rate has gradually increased from 1.27 children born/woman in 2011.[199] The natural decrease in the first 10 months of 2016 was only 25,828 which was 8,162 less than the corresponding period in 2015.[200] In 2015, 47.9% of births were to unmarried women.[201] Hungary has one of the oldest populations in the world, with the average age of 42.7 years.[202] Life expectancy was 71.96 years for men and 79.62 years for women in 2015,[203] growing continuously since the fall of Communism.[204]

Hungary recognises two sizeable minority groups, designated as "national minorities" because their ancestors have lived in their respective regions for centuries in Hungary: a German community of about 130,000 that lives throughout the country, and a Romani minority numerous around 300,000 that mainly resides in the northern part of the country. Some studies indicate a considerably larger number of Romani in Hungary (876,000 people – c. 9% of the population.).[205][206] According to the 2011 census, there were 8,314,029 (83.7%) ethnic 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. Thus, Hungarians made up more than 90% of people who declared their ethnicity.[4] In Hungary, people can declare more than one ethnicity, so the sum of ethnicities is higher than the total population.[207]

Today, approximately 5 million Hungarians live outside Hungary.


Largest cities or towns in Hungary
Hungarian Central Statistical Office
Rank Name County Pop. Rank Name County Pop.
1 Budapest Budapest 1,752,286 11 Szolnok Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok 71,285 Szeged
2 Debrecen Hajdú-Bihar 201,432 12 Érd Pest 68,211
3 Szeged Csongrád-Csanád 160,766 13 Tatabánya Komárom-Esztergom 65,845
4 Miskolc Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén 154,521 14 Sopron Győr-Moson-Sopron 62,671
5 Pécs Baranya 142,873 15 Kaposvár Somogy 61,441
6 Győr Győr-Moson-Sopron 132,038 16 Veszprém Veszprém 59,738
7 Nyíregyháza Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg 116,799 17 Békéscsaba Békés 58,996
8 Kecskemét Bács-Kiskun 110,687 18 Zalaegerszeg Zala 57,403
9 Székesfehérvár Fejér 96,940 19 Eger Heves 52,898
10 Szombathely Vas 78,407 20 Nagykanizsa Zala 46,649
Towns and villages in Hungary

Hungary has 3,152 localities as of 15 July 2013. 346 towns (Hungarian term: város, plural: városok; the terminology doesn't distinguish between cities and towns – the term town is used in official translations) and 2,806 villages (Hungarian: község, plural: községek). The number of towns can change, since villages can be elevated to town status by act of the President. The capital Budapest has a special status and is not included in any county while 23 of the towns are so-called urban counties (megyei jogú város – town with county rights). All county seats except Budapest are urban counties.

Four of the cities (Budapest, Miskolc, Győr, and Pécs) have agglomerations, and the Hungarian Statistical Office distinguishes seventeen other areas in earlier stages of agglomeration development.[208]

The largest city is the capital, Budapest, the smallest town is Pálháza with 1038 inhabitants (2010). The largest village is Solymár (population: 10,123 as of 2010) There are more than 100 villages with fewer than 100 inhabitants while the smallest villages have fewer than 20 inhabitants.


Present-day regions in Europe where Hungarian is the majority language

Hungarian is the official and predominant spoken language in Hungary. Hungarian is the 13th most widely spoken first language in Europe with around 13 million native speakers and it is one of 24 official and working languages of the European Union.[209] Outside Hungary it is also spoken by communities of Hungarian people in neighbouring countries and by Hungarian diaspora communities worldwide. According to the 2011 census, 9,896,333 people (99.6%) speak Hungarian in Hungary, 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.[4] 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 recognised minority languages in Hungary (Armenian, Bulgarian, Croatian, German, Greek, Romanian, Romani, Rusyn, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Ukrainian).[195]

Hungarian (Magyar) is a member of the Uralic language family, unrelated to any neighbouring language and distantly related to Finnish and Estonian. It is the largest of the Uralic languages in terms of the number of speakers and the only one spoken in Central Europe. There are sizeable populations of Hungarian speakers in Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the former Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Israel, and the U.S. Smaller groups of Hungarian speakers live in Canada, Slovenia, and Austria, but also in Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, and Chile. Standard Hungarian is based on the variety spoken in the capital of Budapest, although the use of the standard dialect is enforced, Hungarian has a number of urban and rural dialects.


Hungary is a historically Christian country. Hungarian historiography identifies the foundation of the Hungarian state with Stephen I's baptism and coronation with the Holy Crown in A.D. 1000. Stephen promulgated Catholicism as the state religion, and his successors were traditionally known as the Apostolic Kings. The Catholic Church in Hungary remained strong through the centuries, and the Archbishop of Esztergom was granted extraordinary temporal privileges as prince-primate (hercegprímás) of Hungary.

King Saint Stephen offering the Hungarian crown to Virgin Mary - painting by Gyula Benczúr, in the St. Stephen's Basilica

Although contemporary Hungary has no official religion and recognises freedom of religion as a fundamental right, the Hungarian constitution "recognizes Christianity's nation-building role" in its preamble[210] and in Article VII affirms that "the state may cooperate with the churches for community goals."[211]

The 2011 census showed that the majority of Hungarians were Christians (54.2%), with Roman Catholics (Római Katolikusok) (37.1%) and Hungarian Reformed Calvinists (Reformátusok) (11.1%) making up the bulk of these alongside Lutherans (Evangélikusok) (2.2%), Greek Catholics (1.8%), and other Christians (1.3%). Jewish (0.1%), Buddhist (0.1%) and Muslim (0.06%) communities are in the minority. 27.2% of the population did not declare a religious affiliation while 16.7% declared themselves explicitly irreligious, another 1.5% atheist.[4]

During the initial stages of the Protestant Reformation, most Hungarians adopted first Lutheranism and then Calvinism in the form of the Hungarian Reformed Church. In the second half of the 16th century, the Jesuits led a Counterreformation campaign and the population once again became predominantly Catholic. This campaign was only partially successful, however, and the (mainly Reformed) Hungarian nobility were able to secure freedom of worship for Protestants. In practice, this meant cuius regio, eius religio; thus, most individual localities in Hungary are still identifiable as historically Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed. The country's eastern regions, especially around Debrecen (the "Calvinist Rome"), remain almost completely Reformed,[212] a trait they share with historically contiguous ethnically Hungarian regions across the Romanian border.

Orthodox Christianity in Hungary is associated with the country's ethnic minorities: Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Romanians, Rusyns, Ukrainians, and Serbs.

Historically, Hungary was home to a significant Jewish community with a pre-World War II population of more than 800,000, but it is estimated that just over 564,000 Hungarian Jews were killed between 1941 and 1945 during the Holocaust in Hungary.[213] Between 15 May and 9 July 1944 alone, over 434,000 Jews were deported on 147 trains,[214] most of them to Auschwitz, where about 80 percent were gassed on arrival. Some Jews were able to escape, but most were either deported to concentration camps, where they were killed or murdered in Hungary by Arrow Cross members. From over 800,000 Jews living within Hungary's borders in 1941–1944, about 255,500 are thought to have survived. There are about 120,000 Jews in Hungary today.[215][216]


Education in Hungary is predominantly public, run by the Ministry of Education. Preschool-kindergarten education is compulsory and provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is also compulsory until the age of sixteen.[28] Primary education usually lasts for eight years. Secondary education includes three traditional types of schools focused on different academic levels: the Gymnasium enrolls the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies; the secondary vocational schools for intermediate students lasts four years and the technical school prepares pupils for vocational education and the world of work. The system is partly flexible and bridges exist, graduates from a vocational school can achieve a two years programme to have access to vocational higher education for instance.[217] The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) rated 13–14-year-old pupils in Hungary among the bests in the world for maths and science.

Rector's Council Hall of Budapest Business School, the first public business school in the world, founded in 1857

Most of the Hungarian universities are public institutions, and students traditionally study without fee payment. The general requirement for university is the Matura. The Hungarian public higher education system includes universities and other higher education institutes, that provide both education curricula and related degrees up to doctoral degree and also contribute to research activities. Health insurance for students is free until the end of their studies. English and German language are important in Hungarian higher education, there are a number of degree programmes that are taught in these languages, which attracts thousands of exchange students every year. Hungary's higher education and training has been ranked 44 out of 148 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report 2014.[218]

Hungary has a long tradition of higher education reflecting the existence of established knowledge economy. The established universities in Hungary include some of the oldest in the world, the first was the University of Pécs founded in 1367 which is still functioning, although, in the year 1276, the university of Veszprém was destroyed by the troops of Peter Csák, but it was never rebuilt. Sigismund established Óbuda University in 1395. Another, Universitas Istropolitana, was established 1465 in Pozsony 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, the Kingdom of Hungary in 1735, its legal successor is the University of Miskolc. The Budapest University of Technology and Economics 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.

Hungary ranks fourth (above neighbour Romania, and after China, the United States and Russia) in the all-time medal count at the International Mathematical Olympiad with 336 total medals, dating back to 1959.


Szent István Kórház (Saint Stephen Hospital) at Üllői Avenue, Budapest. With Szent László Kórház (Saint Ladislaus Hospital) making the largest hospital complex in Hungary, built at the turn of the 19th and 20th century.

Hungary maintains a universal health care system largely financed by government national health insurance. According to the OECD, 100% of the population is covered by universal health insurance,[27] which is absolutely free for children, students, pensioners, people with low income, handicapped people, and church employees.[219][220] Hungary spends 7.2% of GDP on healthcare, spending $2,045 per capita, of which $1,365 is provided by the government.[221]

Hungary is one of the main destinations of medical tourism in Europe, particularly in dental tourism,[222][223] in which its share is 42% in Europe and 21% worldwide.[223][224] Plastic surgery is also a key sector, with 30% of the clients coming from abroad. Hungary is well known for its spa culture and is home to numerous medicinal spas,[225] which attract "spa tourism".[226]

In common with developed countries, cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality, accounting for 49.4% (62,979) of all deaths in 2013.[227] However, this number peaked in 1985 with 79,355 deaths, and has been declining continuously since the fall of Communism.[227] The second leading cause of death is cancer with 33,274 (26.2%), which has been stagnant since the 1990s.[227] Deaths from accidents dropped from 8,760 in 1990 to 3,654 in 2013; the number of suicides has declined precipitously from 4,911 in 1983 to 2,093 in 2013 (21.1 per 100,000 people), the lowest since 1956.[227] There are considerable health disparities between the western and eastern parts of Hungary; heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and suicide is prevalent in the mostly agricultural and low-income Great Plain region in the east, but infrequent in the high-income, middle class areas of Western Transdanubia and Central Hungary.[228]

Smoking is a leading cause of death in the country, although it is in steep decline: The proportion of adult smokers declined to 19% in 2013 from 28% in 2012, owing to strict regulations such as a nationwide smoking ban in every indoor public place and the limiting of tobacco sales to state-controlled "National Tobacco Shops".[229]

Hungary ranks as the 17th safest country in the world, with a homicide rate of 1.3 per 100,000 people.[230]



Eszterháza Palace, the "Hungarian Versailles" in Fertőd, Győr-Moson-Sopron County

Hungary is home to the largest synagogue in Europe (Great Synagogue), built in 1859 in Moorish Revival style with a capacity of 3,000 people, the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Széchenyi Medicinal Bath), completed in 1913 in Modern Renaissance Style and located in the Budapest city park, the biggest building in Hungary with its 268 metres (879 feet) 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).

Romanesque Ják Abbey, Vas County, built between 1220 and 1256.

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 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.

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 lives in old and architecturally valuable buildings. In the Budapest downtown area almost all the buildings are about one hundred years old, with thick walls, high ceilings, and motifs on the front wall.[50][231]


Hungarian State Opera House on Andrássy út (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Hungarian music consists mainly of traditional Hungarian folk music and music by prominent composers such as Liszt and Bartók, considered to be among the greatest Hungarian composers. Other renowned composers 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 has 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 neighbouring folk music traditions he studied, which he synthesised with influences from his contemporaries into his own distinctive style.[232]

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 neighbouring countries such as Romania, Slovakia, Poland and especially in southern Slovakia and 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, an influential composer 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 Poland".[233] 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.[234]

Hungarian classical music has long been an "experiment, made from Hungarian antecedents and on Hungarian soil, to create a conscious musical culture [using the] musical world of the folk song".[235] 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.[236] For example, Bartók collected folk songs from across Central and Eastern Europe, including Romania and Slovakia, while 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 modernised 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.


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 remaining 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 remaining 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.

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 medieval 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 Bible translations into Hungarian for more details.)

Sándor Petőfi, a Hungarian poet and revolutionary.
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, Miklós Radnóti and János Pilinszky. Other well-known Hungarian authors are Mór Jókai. Frigyes Karinthy, László Krasznahorkai, Ferenc Móra, Géza Gárdonyi, Zsigmond Móricz, Ephraim Kishon, Géza Gárdonyi, Arthur Koestler, Ferenc Molnár, Elie Wiesel, Kálmán Mikszáth, Gyula Illyés, Miklós Szentkuthy, Magda Szabó and Stephen Vizinczey.


Traditional dishes such as the world-famous Goulash (gulyás stew or gulyás soup) feature prominently in Hungarian cuisine. Dishes are often flavoured with paprika (ground red peppers), a Hungarian innovation.[237] The paprika powder, obtained from a special type of pepper, is one of the most common spices used in typical Hungarian cuisine. 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.[238]

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.[239]

The csárda is the most distinctive type of Hungarian inn, an old-style tavern offering traditional cuisine and beverages. Borozó usually denotes a cosy 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 café.

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

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 goes well with many traditional Hungarian dishes. The five main Hungarian beer brands are: Borsodi, Soproni, Arany Ászok, Kõbányai, and Dreher.[240] In Hungary, people traditionally do not clink their glasses or mugs when drinking beer. There is an urban legend in Hungarian culture that Austrian generals clinked their beer glasses to celebrate the execution of the 13 Martyrs of Arad in 1849. Many people still follow the tradition, although younger people often disavow it, citing that the vow was only meant to last 150 years.[241]

Wine: As Hugh Johnson says in The History of Wine, the territory of Hungary is ideal for wine-making and the country can be divided to six wine regions: North-Transdanubia, Lake Balaton, South-Pannónia, Duna-region or Alföld, Upper-Hungary and Tokaj-Hegyalja.[242] The Romans brought vines to Pannonia, and by the 5th century AD, there are records of extensive vineyards in what is now Hungary. The Hungarians brought their wine-making knowledge from the East. According to Ibn Rustah, the Hungarian tribes were familiar with wine-making long time before the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin.[243]

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.[244][245] 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 favourite wine was a Tokaji.[246] Louis XV and Frederick the Great tried to outdo one another when they entertained guests with Tokaji. Napoleon III, the last Emperor of France, ordered 30–40 barrels of Tokaji at the French Royal Court every year. Gustav III, King of Sweden, loved Tokaji.[246] In Russia, customers included Peter the Great and Empress Elizabeth, while Catherine the Great actually established a Russian garrison in the town of Tokaj with the aim of assuring regular wine deliveries to St. Petersburg.[246]

For over 150 years, a blend of forty 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.[247]


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.[248]

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.[249]

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 and it was the first thermal bath built in the Pest side of Budapest.[250] 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.[251]

Folk art

Hungarians dancing csárdás in traditional garments / folk costumes

Ugrós (Jumping dances) are 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 is a circle dance performed by women only accompanied by the singing of folk songs.

Csárdás are new style dances developed in the 18–19th centuries. Csárdás is the Hungarian name for the national dances, with Hungarian embroidered costumes and energetic music. From the men's intricate boot slapping dances to the ancient women's circle dances, Csárdás demonstrates the infectious exuberance of the Hungarian folk dancing still celebrated in the villages.

Verbunkos is 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 generally performed freestyle by one dancer at a time in front of a band. Women participate in the dance by standing in lines to the side and singing or shouting verses while the men dance. Each man performs a number of points (dance phrases), typically four to eight without repetition. Each point consists of four parts, each lasting four 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 centrepiece 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 colour – red, blue, or black. Soft in line, the embroideries are applied on altar cloths, pillowcases, 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.


Founded in 1826, Herend Porcelain is one of the world's largest ceramic factories, specialising 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.[252]

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.


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

Hungarian athletes have been successful contenders in the Olympic Games, only ten countries have won more Olympic medals than Hungary, with a total of 498 medals ranking eighth in an all-time Olympic Games medal count. Hungary has the third-highest number of Olympic medals per capita and second-highest number of gold medals per capita in the world.[253] 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 canoeing and kayaking they are the third most successful overall.[citation needed]

Hungary won its first gold medal in Winter Olympics in 2018 in mens short track speed skating with a team of four: Csaba Burján, Sándor Liu, Shaoang Liu, Viktor Knoch.[254]

In 2015, the Assembly of the Hungarian Olympic Committee and the Assembly of Budapest decided to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics but eventually awarded to Paris. Budapest has also lost several bids to host the games, in 1916, 1920, 1936, 1944, and 1960 to Berlin, Antwerp, London, and Rome, respectively.[255][256]

Hungary hosted many global sport event in the past, among others the 1997 World Amateur Boxing Championships, 2000 World Fencing Championships, 2001 World Allround Speed Skating Championships, 2008 World Interuniversity Games, 2008 World Modern Pentathlon Championships, 2010 ITU World Championship Series, 2011 IIHF World Championship, 2013 World Fencing Championships, 2013 World Wrestling Championships, 2014 World Masters Athletics Championships, 2017 World Aquatics Championships and 2017 World Judo Championships, only in the last two decade. Besides these, Hungary was the home of many European-level tournaments, like 2006 European Aquatics Championships, 2010 European Aquatics Championships, 2013 European Judo Championships, 2013 European Karate Championships, 2017 European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship and will be the host of 4 matches in the UEFA Euro 2020, which will be held in the 67,889-seat new multi-purpose Puskás Ferenc Stadium.

The Hungarian Grand Prix in Formula One has been held at the Hungaroring just outside Budapest, which circuit has FIA Grade 1 license.[257] Since 1986, the race has been a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. At the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix, it was confirmed that Hungary will continue to host a Formula 1 race until 2021.[258] The track was completely resurfaced for the first time in early 2016, and it was announced the Grand Prix's deal was extended for a further five years, until 2026.[259]

Chess is also a popular and successful sport in Hungary, the Hungarian players are the 10th most powerful overall on the ranking of World Chess Federation.[260] There are about 54 Grandmasters and 118 International Masters in Hungary, which is more than in France or United Kingdom. World top junior player is the Hungarian Richárd Rapport currently on the FIDE World Rankings, while Judit Polgár generally considered the strongest female chess player of all time. Some of the world's best sabre athletes have historically also hailed from Hungary,[261][262] and in 2009, the Hungary men's national ice hockey team qualified for their first IIHF World Championship, in 2015, they qualified for their second World Championship in the top division.


Ferenc Puskás, the best goalscorer of the 20th century, FIFA Puskás Award named after him

Hungary has won three Olympic football titles, finished runners-up in the 1938 and 1954 FIFA World Cups, and third in Euro 1964. Hungary revolutionised the sport in the 1950s, laying the tactical fundamentals of total football and dominating international football with the Aranycsapat ("Golden Team"), which included Ferenc Puskás, top goalscorer of the 20th century,[263][264][265] to whom FIFA dedicated[266] 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 more than four years.[267]

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[268] and 2006 FIFA World Cup winner Italy 3–1.[269] During UEFA Euro 2016 Hungary won Group F and were eventually defeated in the round of 16.

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  1. ^ In Hungary people can declare multiple ethnic identities, hence the sum exceeds 100%.


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Further reading

  • Kontler, László: Millennium in Central Europe: A History of Hungary, Atlantisz Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1999 (East-European Non-Fiction), ISBN 9789639165373

External links

General information

Media related to Hungary at Wikimedia Commons