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Budapest

The capital city of Hungary and the country's principal industrial, commercial and transportation centre, Budapest contains more than 1.8 million inhabitants, down from a mid-1980s peak of 2.07m. It became a single city occupying both banks of the Danube river with the amalgamation in 1873 of right-bank Buda and Óbuda with Pest on the left (east) bank.


View of Pest with the parliament and the Danube

History

Budapest's recorded history begins with the Roman town of Aquincum[?], founded around 89 AD[?] on the site of an earlier Celtic settlement near what was to become Óbuda[?], and from 106 until the end of the 4th century the capital of the province of lower Pannonia. Today's Pest became the site of Contra Aquincum (or Trans Aquincum).

The area was occupied around the year 900 by the Magyars, the ancestors of today's ethnic Hungarians, who a century later founded the kingdom of Hungary. Already a place of some significance, Pest recovered rapidly from its destruction by Mongol invaders in 1241, but it was Buda, the seat of a royal castle since 1247, which in 1361 became the capital of Hungary.

The Ottoman Turks' conquest of most of Hungary in the 16th century interrupted the cities' growth: Pest fell to the invaders from the south in 1526 and Buda 15 years later. While Buda remained the seat of a Turkish governor, Pest was largely derelict by the time of their recapture in 1686 by Austria's Habsburg rulers, since 1526 kings of Hungary despite their loss of most of the country.

It was Pest, from 1723 the seat of the administrative apparatus for the kingdom, which enjoyed the fastest growth rate in the 18th and 19th century and contributed the overwhelming majority of the cities' combined growth in the 19th. By 1800 larger than Buda and Óbuda combined, Pest's population grew twentyfold in the following century to 600,000, while that of Buda and Óbuda quintupled.

The fusion of the three districts under a single administration, first enacted by the Hungarian revolutionary government in 1849 but revoked on the subsequent restoration of Habsburg authority, was finally effected by the autonomous Hungarian royal government established under the Austro-Hungarian "Compromise" of 1867 (see Austria-Hungary). The total population in the area of the unified capital grew nearly sevenfold in 1840-1900 to 730,000.

During the 20th century most population growth occurred in the suburbs, with Újpest[?] more than doubling in 1890-1910 and Kispest more than quintupling in 1900-1920, as much of the country's industry came to be concentrated in the city. The country's human losses during World War I and the subsequent loss of more than half of the former kingdom's territory (1920) dealt only a temporary blow, leaving Budapest as the capital of a smaller but now sovereign state. By 1930 the city proper contained a million inhabitants, with a further 400,000 in the suburbs.

Around a third of Budapest's 200,000 Jewish inhabitants died through Nazi genocide during the World War II German occupation in 1944. Damaged severely during the Soviet siege of the following winter, the city recovered in the 1950s and 1960s, becoming to some extent a showcase for the more pragmatic policies pursued by the country's communist government (1947-1989) from the 1960s. Since the 1980s the capital has shared with the country as a whole in increased emigration coupled with natural population decrease.


Districts of Budapest: Rákoskeresztúr - XVII. District



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