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Hungary -- Geography --

Official Nam: Republic of Hungary
Capital City: Budapest
Languages: Hungarian (official)
Religions: Catholic, Protestant, others
Population: 10,045,000
Land Area: 92,340 sq km
Landforms: A mostly flat country dominated by the Great Hungarian Plain east of the Danube, up to its border with Romania. The land rises into hills and some low mountains in the north along the Slovakian border. The Danube is the major river, along with two of it tributaries; the Drava and Tisza.
Land Divisions: 19 counties, 20 urban counties* and 1 capital city**, including: Bacs-Kiskun, Baranya, Bekes, Bekescsaba*, Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen, Budapest**, Csongrad, Debrecen*, Dunaujvaros*, Eger*, Fejer, Gyor*, Gyor-Moson-Sopron, Hajdu-Bihar, Heves, Hodmezovasarhely*, Jasz-Nagykun-Szolnok, Kaposvar*, Kecskemet*, Komarom-Esztergom, Miskolc*, Nagykanizsa*, Nograd, Nyiregyhaza*, Pecs*, Pest, Somogy, Sopron*, Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg, Szeged*, Szekesfehervar*, Szolnok*, Szombathely*, Tatabanya*, Tolna, Vas, Veszprem, Veszprem*, Zala, Zalaegerszeg*


Hungary -- History --

In the past Hungary is populated by Scythian, Illyrian and Celt tribes, conquered by Rome in the end of the I and the beginning of the II century. In V century it is conquered by Huns, Avars, and Goths. In VI century Slaves are settled. In the end of IX century in the territory of today Hungary the Ugrian- Finnish tribes Magyars arise, lead by Arpad (889 - 907). In the end of X century a Hungarian feudal country is formed, which disintegrates into independent feudal possessions in XIII century. After the battle of Mohach (1526) Hungary is separated: its west and north part is conquered by the Austrians, its south and middle part – by the Turks, and its east part differentiate as Transylvanian principality dependent on Ottoman empire. After the Austro- Turkish war (1683 - 99) the whole Hungary passes under Austrian power. Having crushed the national – liberating village anti feudal rebellion (1703 - 11) the country comes under the sway of the Habsburgs. The Hungarian bourgeois revolution (1848 - 49) is brought under control by Austria and Russia. According to the Austro-Hungarian agreement (1867) the empire reorganizes in dualistic Austro – Hungarian monarchy; under the power of the Hungarian landholders remain Slovakians, Croatians and other nationalities. In October-November 1918 in Hungary there is a Bourgeois- democratic revolution. On 21st March 1919 a Hungarian soviet republic is declared. After its overthrow a fascist regime of M. Horty is established. After the First World War, the tough Trianon peace treaty is imposed on Hungary (1920). In World War II Hungary takes the side of Hitler’s Germany. In March 1944 it is occupied by German armies. In December 1944 in Debrecen a temporary national government is formed, which declares war to Germany. In April 1945 Hungary is set at liberty. In the liberation battles, together with the Soviet army, the I Bulgarian army (on the strength of III Ukrainian front) participates. On 1st February 1946 the country is declared for republic. According to the constitution from 1949, Hungary becomes a national republic. It is a member of UNO (1955). After 1948 Communist leader Matyas Rakosi establisheń a Stalinist rule in the country, which was barely bearable for the war-torn country. This leads to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and an announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact which is met with a massive military intervention by the Soviet Union. From the 1960s on to the late 1980s Hungary enjoys a distinguished status of "the happiest barrack" within the Eastern bloc, under the rule of late controversial communist leader Janos Kadar, who exercises autocratic rule during this period. In the late 1980s, Hungary leads the movement to dissolve the Warsaw Pact and shifts toward multiparty democracy and a market-oriented economy. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Hungary developes closer ties with Western Europe, joins NATO in 1999 and the European Union on May 1, 2004.


Hungary -- Economy --

Hungary continues to demonstrate strong economic growth as one of the newest members of the European Union (since 2004). Together with Slovenia and the Czech Republic, Hungary provides one of the highest standard of living among Eastern European countries. The private sector accounts for over 80% of GDP. Hungary gets nearly one third of all foreign direct investment flowing in to Central Europe. Foreign ownership of and investment in Hungarian firms are widespread, with cumulative foreign direct investment totalling more than US$23 billion since 1989. Hungarian sovereign debt was upgraded in 2000 to the second-highest rating among all the Central European transition economies. Inflation and unemployment – both priority concerns in 2001 – have declined substantially. Economic reform measures such as health care reform, tax reform, and local government financing have not yet been addressed by the present government. The Hungarian government has expressed a desire to adopt the euro currency in 2010, but the introduction of the currency is currently only in the early planning stages.


Hungary -- Culture --

Hungarian culture is diverse and varied. Franz Liszt, prominent Hungarian composerThe music of Hungary consists mainly of traditional Hungarian folk music and music by prominent Romantic and Baroque composers such as Franz Liszt, Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly (although the latter mainly composed music with traditional elements). Hungarian traditional music tends to have a strong dactylic rhythm, just as the language is invariably stressed on the first syllable of each word. Hungarian cuisine is also a prominent feature of Hungarian culture, with traditional dishes such as goulash a main feature of the Hungarian diet. Dishes are often flavoured with paprika (also Hungarian for pepper). Stews are often to be found with typical elements such as pork or beef, as the stew porkolt shows. Hungary is famous for its mathematics institute which has trained many Nobel Prize winners. Famous Hungarian mathematicians include Paul Erdos who is famous for publishing in over forty languages and whose Erdos numbers are still tracked, John von Neumann one of the pioneers in digital computing, Eugene Wigner, and many others. Erdos, von Neumann, and Wigner, like other Hungarian Jewish scientists, fled rising anti-Semitism in Europe, and made their most famous contibutions in the United States. Hungarians are very proud of their inventions. These include the noiseless match, the Rubik's cube and Non-Euclidean geometry. A number of other important inventions, including holography, the ballpoint pen (invented by Biro, who gave his name to the invention), the theory of the hydrogen bomb, and the BASIC programming language, were invented by Hungarians who fled the country prior to World War II. The literature of Hungary is extremely varied, and deserves an outstanding rank among the world's various literatures; however, it has only recently gained some renown (mostly through translations into German, French and English); till very recently, the lack of competent translators was blatant. Janos Arany was a famous 19th Century Hungarian poet who wrote a very great and varied amount of poetry, and is much loved in Hungary, among several other "true classics"; his collection of Ballads is remarkable. Zsigmond Moricz, Dezso Kosztolanyi, Sandor Marai and Imre Kertesz have recently gained acclaim: the latter, a contemporary Jewish writer who survived the Holocaust, has won the Nobel Prize for literature. Hungarians are also known for their prowess at water sports, mainly swimming, water polo and canoeing; this can be said to be surprising at first, due to Hungary being landlocked. On the other hand, the presence of two major rivers (Duna/Tisza) and a major lake (Balaton) gives excellent opportunities to practice those sports.


Hungary -- Life style --

The Hungarian or Magyar cuisine is the cuisine characteristic to Hungary and the Magyars. Common misconception is that Hungarian cuisine received many influences from the nomadic ancestors of the Magyars. However, keep in mind that potatoes or paprika, which are very characteristic of Hungarian cuisine, are plants from the Americas and were not present in Europe before 1492. It indeed is influenced by the Transylvanian Romanians, and neighboring Slavic peoples however, as well as Austrian tastes. Like its music, Hungary has won much acclaim for its unique culinary culture. Hungarian food is often spicy, using paprika, black pepper, and onions. Some of the "hot" paprika or red peppers are only for the bravest. Main dishes often contain potatoes. However, Hungarians are passionate about their soups, desserts, stuffed pancakes and cakes, with fierce rivalries between regional variations of the same dish, e.g. the fish soups cooked differently on the banks of Hungary's two main rivers. Typical Hungarian dishes: Gulyas (goulash) and gulyasleves (goulash soup) Halaszle (Literally, "Fisherman's Broth"--Hungarian fish soup) Toltott kaposzta (stuffed cabbage) Husleves (meat soup) Dobos torta (sponge cake layered with chocolate paste and glazed with caramel and nuts) Palacsinta (stuffed pancake) Vanilias kifli(vanilla cookie) Ciganypecsenye (Gypsy Roast) Porkolt (meat stew) Turorudi (snack food resembling a stick of cheesecake covered whith dark chocolate. It is actually sweetened cottage cheese covered with chocolate. It may sound strange at first, but those who tried it recognize its great flavor.) Some of Hungary's finest cuisine can be enjoyed in famous Budapest restaurant Gundel (arguably the most expensive restaurant in Hungary).


Hungary -- Political system, law and government --

The President of the Republic, elected by the parliament every 5 years, has a largely ceremonial role, but powers also include appointing the prime minister and choosing the dates of the parlamentary elections. The prime minister selects cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them. Each cabinet nominee appears before one or more parliamentary committees in consultative open hearings and must be formally approved by the president. The unicameral, 386-member National Assembly (the Orszaggyules) is the highest organ of state authority and initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the prime minister. National parliamentary elections are held every 4 years (the next will be held on April 9th 2006). An 11-member Constitutional Court has power to challenge legislation on grounds of unconstitutionality.


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