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HUNGARY

Magyarország, officially Republic of Hungary, republic (1995 est. pop. 10,319,000), 35,919 sq mi (93,030 sq km), central Europe. Hungary borders on Slovakia in the north, on Ukraine in the northeast, on Romania in the east, on Slovenia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia in the south, and on Austria in the west. The Danube River forms the Slovak-Hungarian border from a point near Bratislava to another near Esztergom, then turns sharply south and bisects the country.  There are several ranges of hills, chiefly in the north and west.To the east of the Danube, the Great Hungarian Plain (Hung. Alföld) extends beyond the Hungarian boundaries to the Carpathians and the Transylvanian Alps. The Dráva and Tisza rivers are also important waterways. To the west of the Danube is the Little Alföld and the Transdanubian region, which are separated by the Bakony and Vértes mts. The Mátra Mts. in the north reach a height of 3,330 ft (1,015 m) at Kékes, the highest peak in Hungary. Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Hungary and in central Europe, is a leading resort area. Hungary has cold winters and hot summers; springs and autumns are short.

Hungary was part of the polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed during World War I. The country fell under communist rule following World War II. In 1956, a revolt and announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact were met with a massive military intervention by Moscow. In the more open GORBACHEV years, Hungary led the movement to dissolve the Warsaw Pact and steadily shifted toward multiparty democracy and a market-oriented economy. Following the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Hungary developed close political and economic ties to Western Europe. It joined NATO in 1999 and is a frontrunner in a future expansion of the EU.

Situated on a plain near the geographic center of Europe, Hungary has been the meeting place and battleground of many peoples, and its heterogeneous population was often the cause of social upheaval before 1919. However, as a result of the separation of non-Hungarian territories after World War I, the great slaughter of the Jews in World War II, and the exchange after the war of Slavic and Romanian minorities for their Magyar counterparts, Hungary is today essentially homogeneous. The Magyars constitute about 90% of the population. There are small minorities of Gypsies, Germans, Serbs, and other groups. Hungarian is the official language. About two thirds of the people are Roman Catholic, but there is a large Calvinist minority. Hungary still has the largest Jewish population in Central and Eastern Europe (100,000–120,000).

The capital city of Budapest, situated on one of the most beautiful areas of the Danube, is made up of two parts - Buda and Pest. The former is the older, more graceful part, with cobbled streets and medieval buildings; the latter is the commercial centre. The capital is a lively city that has long been a haven for writers, artists and musicians. The Historical Museum of Budapest contains archaeological remains of the old city, and furnishings, glass and ceramics from the 15th century. On the Pest side is the Parliament and the Hungarian National Museum, containing remarkable treasures including the oldest skull yet found in Europe. Budapest is the heart of Hungary, the largest city by far in Hungary. It is home to 20 percent of the nation's population. No other hungarian city approaches Budapest in terms of size, appearance, or importance.The pace of life is fast in Budapest. The streets are jammed with pedestrians and honking traffic. Many people wear fashionable and stylish clothes. Kids, like youngsters in most countries, are happy to wear jeans and sneakers. Budapest has a mixture of old a new buildings. Many of its historic structures - churches, museums, and the homes of the nobility - were built in the late 1800s, when Hungary was ruled by the Austrians. These ornate buildings often remind visitors of the Austrian capitol, Vienna. Newer buildings, constructed under the Communists, have a drab, uniform look.
These contracts between the old and the new can also be found in Hungary's other, smaller cities. Miskolc is an industrial city in the northeastern part of the country. Debrecen, in east Hungary is a university town. Pecs lies in south, in the coal-mining region

Lake Balaton
in the west is a popular holiday region, not least because of its sandy beaches and shallow waters. Local dishes include halászlé (fish soup) with pasta and goulash (gulyás) soup. Budapest has many nightclubs, bars and discos. During summer months the popular Lake Balaton resort has a lively nightlife.

 


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