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
capital city of Budapest, situated on one of the most
beautiful areas of the Danube, is made up of two
- 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
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.