The Republic of Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. It is known locally as the Land of the Magyars or Magyarország. Together with Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic it forms the Visegrád group of nations.
|National motto: None|
|Prime minister||Péter Medgyessy[?]|
- % water
|Ranked 108th |
- Total (2000)
|Independence||October 31, 1918|
|Time zone||UTC +1|
|National anthem||Isten áldd meg a magyart|
Tradition holds that Hungary was founded by Árpád[?], who led the Magyars into the Pannonian plains in the 9th century. The kingdom of Hungary was established in 1000 by Saint-King Stephen the Great, whose independence ended when it came under Austrian and Ottoman control in the 16th century, with Austria conquering all of Hungary by the end of the 17th century.
Under the Austrian Habsburg dynasty Hungary would eventually, in 1867, become an autonomous part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its collapse following World War I. Hungary declared its full independence on October 31, 1918, though it lost most of its former territory and population to neighbouring nations. Internal and external conflicts ended with the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, after which Hungary became a kingdom without a king under the fascist regency of Miklós Horthy, leading to Hungary's alliance with Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
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 military intervention by the Soviet Union and the deposition and execution of prime minister Imre Nagy. In the late 1980s, Hungary led the movement to dissolve the Warsaw Pact and shifted toward multiparty democracy and a market-oriented economy. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Hungary developed closer ties with Western Europe, joined NATO in 1999 and will join the European Union on May 1, 2004.
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. 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 Országgyülés) is the highest organ of state authority and initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the prime minister. A party must win at least 5% of the national vote to form a parliamentary faction. National parliamentary elections are held every 4 years (the last was in April 2002). A 15-member Constitutional Court has power to challenge legislation on grounds of unconstitutionality.
Hungary is subdivided administratively into 40 regions. Of these, 19 are counties (megyék, singular - megye) and 20 are so-called urban counties (singular - megyei város), in addition to which there is one capital city (föváros): Budapest. The other 39 are:
Hungary's landscape consist mostly of the flat to rolling plains of the Carpathian Basin[?], with hills and lower mountains to the north along the Slovakian border (highest point: the Kékes[?] at 1,014 m). Hungary is divided in two by its main waterway, the Danube (Duna), other large rivers include the Theiss (Tisza) and Dráva[?], while the western half contains Lake Balaton, a major waterbody.
The local climate is temperate, with cold, cloudy, humid winters and warm summers, and the relative isolation of the Carpathian Basin makes it susceptible to droughts. Average annual temperature is 9.7° C.
Hungary continues to demonstrate strong economic growth and to work toward accession to the European Union. The private sector accounts for over 80% of GDP. Foreign ownership of and investment in Hungarian firms is widespread, with cumulative foreign direct investment totaling more than $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.
Some 98% of the population speaks Hungarian, a Finno Ugric language unrelated to any neighbouring language. Several ethnic minorities exist, such as those of the Roma (4%), Germans (2.6%), Serbs (2%), Slovaks (0.8%) and Romanians (0.7%), though most speak Hungarian. Several large Hungarian minorities exist across the border in neighbouring countries, notably in Slovakia, Romania (in Transylvania) and Serbia (in Vojvodina).
The largest religion in Hungary is Roman Catholicism (67.5%), with a sizable Calvinist minority (20%). Other smaller denominations include Lutherans (5%) and Jews (0.2%). The remainder adheres to very small religions or is unaffiliated.