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A-Z Around the World: Hungary


Welcome back to another installment of A-Z Around the World. Today we are covering Hungary! Enjoy!!!

Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Spanning 93,030 square kilometres (35,920 sq mi) in the Carpathian Basin, it borders Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Austria to the northwest, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, and Slovenia to the west. With about 10 million inhabitants, Hungary is a medium-sized member state of the European Union.The official language is Hungarian, which is the most widely spoken Uralic language in the world, and among the few non-Indo-European languages to be widely spoken in Europe. Hungary's capital and largest city is Budapest; other major urban areas include Debrecen, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs and Győr. The territory of modern Hungary was for centuries inhabited by a succession of 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 CE by the Hungarian grand prince Árpád following the conquest of the Carpathian Basin. His great-grandson Stephen I ascended the throne in 1000, converting his realm to a Christian kingdom. By the 12th century, Hungary became a regional power, reaching its cultural and political height in the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, Hungary was partially occupied by the Ottoman Empire (1541–1699). It came under Habsburg rule at the turn of the 18th century, and later joined Austria to form the Austro–Hungarian Empire, a major European power.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed after World War I, and the subsequent Treaty of Trianon established Hungary's current borders, resulting in the loss of 71% of its territory, 58% of its population, and 32% of ethnic Hungarians. Following the tumultuous interwar period, Hungary joined the Axis Powers in World War II, suffering significant damage and casualties. Hungary became a satellite state of the Soviet Union, which contributed to the establishment of a socialist republic spanning four decades (1949–1989). The country gained widespread international attention as a result of its 1956 revolution and the seminal opening of its previously-restricted border with Austria in 1989, which accelerated the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. On 23 October 1989, Hungary became a democratic parliamentary republic. Hungary is an OECD high-income economy and has the world's 58th largest economy by PPP. It ranks 45th on the Human Development Index, owing in large part to its social security system, universal health care, and tuition-free secondary education. Hungary's rich cultural history includes significant contributions to the arts, music, literature, sports, science and technology.It is the 13th most popular tourist destination in Europe, attracting 15.8 million international tourists in 2017, owing to attractions such as the largest thermal water cave system in the world, second largest thermal lake, the largest lake in Central Europe and the largest natural grasslands in Europe. Hungary's cultural, historical, and academic prominence classify it as a middle power in global affairs. Hungary joined the European Union in 2004 and has been part of the Schengen Area since 2007. It is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, WTO, World Bank, the AIIB, the Council of Europe, and the Visegrád Group.

History

Before 895 The Roman Empire conquered the territory west of the Danube between 35 and 9 BC. From 9 BC to the end of the 4th century, Pannonia was part of the Roman Empire, located within part of later Hungary's territory. Around AD 41–54, a 500-strong cavalry unit created the settlement of Aquincum and a Roman legion of 6,000 men was stationed here by AD 89. A civil city grew gradually in the neighbourhood of the military settlement and in AD 106 Aquincum became the focal point of the commercial life of this area and the capital city of the province of Pannonia Inferior. This area now corresponds to the Óbuda district of Budapest, with the Roman ruins now forming part of the modern Aquincum museum. Later came the Huns, a Central Asian tribe who built a powerful empire. After Hunnish rule, the Germanic Ostrogoths, Lombards, and Gepids, and the Avar Khaganate, had a presence in the Carpathian Basin. In the 9th century, East Francia, the First Bulgarian Empire and Great Moravia ruled the territory of the Carpathian Basin. The freshly unified Hungarians led by Árpád (by tradition a descendant of Attila), settled in the Carpathian Basin starting in 895. According to linguistic evidence, they originated from an ancient Uralic-speaking population that formerly inhabited the forested area between the Volga Riverand the Ural Mountains.

Medieval Hungary 895–1526 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) was a state consisting of a semi-nomadic people. It accomplished an enormous transformation into a Christian realm during the 10th century. 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. The Hungarians defeated no fewer than three major East Frankish Imperial Armies between 907 and 910. 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 The year 972 marked the date when the ruling prince Géza of the Árpád dynasty officially started to integrate Hungary into the Christian Western Europe. 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 recognized as a Catholic Apostolic Kingdom. 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. Ladislaus I extended Hungary's frontier in Transylvania and invaded Croatia in 1091. 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.

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. 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. 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.

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. King Béla IV let Cumans and Jassic people into the country, who were fleeing the Mongols. Over the centuries, they were fully assimilated into the Hungarian population. 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 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 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. 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. The serfs and common people considered him a just ruler because he protected them from excessive demands from and other abuses by the magnates. 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. Hungary's international role declined, its political stability shaken, and social progress was deadlocked. 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 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. Orthodox Southern Slavs were also acting as akinjis and other light troops intended for pillaging in the territory of present-day Hungary. 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. 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. 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.

From the 18th century to World War I

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.

During the Napoleonic Wars and afterwards, the Hungarian Diet had not convened for decades. 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, recognized the urgent need of modernization 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 leader of the lower gentry in the Parliament. A remarkable upswing started as the nation concentrated its forces on modernization 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. 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. In July 1849 the Hungarian Parliament proclaimed and enacted the first laws of ethnic and minority rights in the world. 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. Initially, the Hungarian forces 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", Czar 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 industrialized by the turn of the 20th century, although agriculture remained dominant until 1890. In 1873, the old capital Buda and Óbudawere officially united with Pest,[88] 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 Ferdinandin 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, both of which were repelled. In comparison, of the total army, Hungary's loss ratio was more than any other nations 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. The Eastern front of the Allied 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 organized 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. In October 1918, Hungary's union with Austria was dissolved.

Between the World Wars 1918–1941 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. Károlyi dissolved the union with Austria and disarmed the Hungarian Army, leaving the country without any national defense. 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, 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. 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 June 4 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. 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 occupied by 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 toward 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

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, 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. 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. After German occupation, Hungary participated in the Holocaust. 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. The Swedish Diplomat Raoul Wallenberg managed to save a considerable number of Hungarian Jews by giving them Swedish passports. 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. The Horthy government's complicity in the Holocaust remains a point of controversy and contention. 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, as many as 280,000 other Hungarians were raped, murdered and executed or deported for slave labor by Czechoslovaks, Soviet Red Army troops, and Yugoslavs. 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, 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, industrialization, 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. 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 labor camps, where at least 200,000 died.

After Stalin's death in 1953, the Soviet Union pursued a program 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. Nearly 20,000 Hungarians were killed resisting the intervention, while an additional 21,600 were imprisoned afterwards 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. Kádár era 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 good 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 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 capitawas fourth only to East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union itself. 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. 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 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 protests erupted after it leaked that socialist PM Ferenc Gyurcsány's had claimed in a private 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 Fideszwas 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. In September 2018, the European parliament voted to act against Hungary, under the terms of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. Proponents of the vote claimed that the Hungarian government posed a "systematic threat" to democracy and the rule of law. The vote was carried with the support of 448 MEPs, narrowly clearing the two-thirds majority required. The vote marked the first the European parliament had triggered an article 7 procedure against an EU member state. Péter Szijjártó, the Hungarian foreign minister, described the vote as "petty revenge" which had been provoked by Hungary's tough anti-migration policies. Szijjártó alleged that the vote was fraudulent because abstentions were not counted which made it easier to reach the two-thirds majority required to pass the vote. Geography

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 köze ("between the Danube and Tisza")—is a reflection of this. The Danube flows north-south right through the center of contemporary Hungary, and the entire country lies within its drainage basin.

Transdanubia, which stretches westward from the center of the country toward 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 (Kisalföld) 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 köze and Tiszántúl are characterized mainly by the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld), 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 or 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 ecoregion of Pannonian mixed forests. Hungary has 10 national parks, 145 minor nature reserves, and 35 landscape protection areas.

Climate

Hungary has a temperate seasonal climate, 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-Görömbölytapolca 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. Culture Architecture

Hungary is home to the largest synagogue in Europe (Great Synagogue), built in 1859 in Moorish Revival style with a capacity of 3000 people, the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Széchenyi Medicinal Bath), completed in 1913 in Modern Renaissance Style and located in the 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-style St. George's Abbey in Ják, Vas County 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 the 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 Lajtainitially adopted Lechner's style, subsequently drawing his inspiration from English and Finnish trends; after developing an interest in the Egyptianstyle, 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 live 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.

Cuisine

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. 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. 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.

The csárda is the most distinctive type of Hungarian inn, an old-style tavern offering traditional cuisine and beverages. Borozó usually denotes a cozy 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. 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: Beer goes well with many traditional Hungarian dishes. The five main Hungarian brands are: Borsodi, Soproni, Arany Ászok, Kõbányai, and Dreher. Wine: As Hugh Johnson says in The History of Wine, the territory of Hungary is ideal for wine-making. Since the fall of communism there has been a renaissance in Hungarian wine-making. The choice of quality wine is widening from year to year. The country can be divided to six wine regions: North-Transdanubia, Lake Balaton, South-Pannónia, Duna-region or Alföld, Upper-Hungary and Tokaj-Hegyalja.

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.[220][221] 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 favorite wine was a Tokaji. 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. 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. For over 150 years, a blend of 40 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. Recreation 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. 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.

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.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. Folk art Ugrós (Jumping dances): 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: a circle dance performed by women only accompanied by singing of folksongs. Csárdás: New style dances developed in the 18–19th centuries is the Hungarian name for the national dances, with Hungarian embroidered costumes and energetic music. From the men's intricate bootslapping dances to the ancient women's circle dances, Csárdás demonstrates the infectious exuberance of the Hungarian folk dancing still celebrated in the villages. Verbunkos: a solo man's dance evolved from the recruiting performances of the Austro-Hungarianarmy.

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 centerpiece 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 color – red, blue, or black. Soft in line, the embroideries are applied on altar cloths, pillow-cases 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.

Porcelain

Founded in 1826, Herend Porcelain is one of the world's largest ceramic factories, specializing in luxury hand painted and gilded porcelain. In the mid-19th century it was purveyor to the Habsburg Dynastyand 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. 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.

 

Travel to Hungary: Lonely Planet

Stunning architecture, vital folk art, thermal spas and Europe's most exciting capital after dark are Hungary's major drawing cards.

 

Hope you enjoyed today's post and were able to learn a little bit about Hungary.

See you next time :)

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