Budapest, strategically placed at the centre of the Carpathian Basin, lies on an ancient route linking the hills of Transdanubia with the Great Plain. By road it is 216 kilometers (134 mi) south-east of Vienna, 545 kilometers (339 mi) south of Warsaw, 1,565 kilometers (972 mi) south-west of Moscow, 1,122 kilometers (697 mi) north of Athens, 788 kilometers (490 mi) north-east of Milan, and 443 kilometers (275 mi) south-east of Prague.
The 525 square kilometers (203 sq mi) area of Budapest lies in Central Hungary, surrounded by settlements of the agglomeration in Pest county. The Danube enters the city from the north; later it encircles two islands, Óbuda Island and Margaret Island. The third island Csepel Island is the largest of the Budapest Danube islands, however only its northernmost tip is within city limits. The river that separates the two parts of the city is 230 m (755 ft) wide at its narrowest point in Budapest. Pest lies on the flat terrain of the Great Plain while Buda is rather hilly.
The wide Danube was always fordable at this point because of a small number of islands in the middle of the river. The city has marked topographical contrasts: Buda is built on the higher river terraces and hills of the western side, while the considerably larger Pest spreads out on a flat and featureless sand plain on the river’s opposite bank. Pest’s terrain rises with a slight eastward gradient, so the easternmost parts of the city lie at the same altitude as Buda’s smallest hills, notably Gellért Hill and Castle Hill.
The city’s importance in terms of traffic is very central, because all major European roads and European railway lines lead to Budapest.
The Danube was and is still an important water-way and this region in the centre of the Carpathian Basin lies at the cross-roads of trade routes.
Budapest is one of only two capital cities in the world which has thermal springs (the other being Reykjavík in Iceland). Some 125 springs produce 70 million litres (15,000,000 imperial gallons; 18,000,000 US gallons) of thermal water a day, with temperatures ranging up to 58 Celsius. Some of these waters have medicinal effects due to their medically valuable mineral contents.
Budapest is a significant economic hub, classified as an Beta+ world city in the study by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network and it is the second fastest-developing urban economy in Europe as GDP per capita in the city increased by 2.4 per cent and employment by 4.7 per cent compared to the previous year in 2014. On national level, Budapest is the primate city of Hungary regarding business and economy, accounting for 39% of the national income, the city has a gross metropolitan product more than $100 billion in 2015, making it one of the largest regional economy in the European Union.
According to the Eurostat GDP per capita in purchasing power parity is 147% of the EU average in Budapest, which means €37.632 ($42.770) per capita.
Budapest is also among the Top100 GDP performing cities in the world, measured by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The city was named as the 52nd most important business centre in the world in the Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index, ahead of Beijing, Sao Paulo or Shenzhen and ranking 3rd (out of 65 cities) on MasterCard Emerging Markets Index.