Hungary is situated in Central Europe. Its neighboring countries are Slovakia to the north, the Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to the south and southwest, and Austria to the west.
Hungary joined the European Union in 2004 and has been part of the Schengen Area since 2007. Hungary is a member of the United Nations, NATO, WTO, World Bank, the AIIB, the Council of Europe, the Visegrád Group and more.
Well known for its rich cultural history, Hungary has contributed significantly to arts, music, literature, sports and science and technology. Hungary is the 11th most popular country as a tourist destination in Europe, attracting 14.3 million international tourists in 2015.
It is home to the largest thermal water cave system and the second largest thermal lake in the world, the largest lake in Central Europe and the largest natural grasslands in Europe.
With a land area of 93,030 square km, Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It measures about 250 km from north to south and 524 km from east to west.
Most of the country has an elevation of less than 200 m. Although Hungary has several moderately high ranges of mountains, those reaching heights of 300 m or more cover less than 2% of the country. The highest point in the country is Kékes (1,014 m) in the Mátra Mountains northeast of Budapest. The lowest spot is 77.6 m above sea level, located in the south of Hungary, near Szeged.
The major rivers in the country are the Danube and Tisza. The Danube is navigable within Hungary for 418 kilometres. The Tisza River is navigable for 444 km in the country. Less important rivers include the Dravaalong the Croatian border, the Rába, the Szamos, the Sió, and the Ipoly along the Slovakian border.
Hungary has three major lakes. Lake Balaton, the largest, is 78 km long and from 3 to 14 km wide, with an area of 600 square km. Hungarians often refer to it as the Hungarian Sea. It is Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake and an important recreation area. Its shallow waters offer good summer swimming, and in winter its frozen surface provides excellent opportunities for winter sports.
Smaller bodies of water are Lake Velence (26 square km) in Fejér County and Lake Fertő (Neusiedler See—about 82 square km within Hungary), and the artificial Lake Tisza.
Hungary has three major geographic regions (which are subdivided to seven smaller ones): the Great Alföld, lying east of the Danube River; the Transdanubia, a hilly region lying west of the Danube and extending to the Austrian foothills of the Alps; and the North Hungarian Mountains, which is a mountainous and hilly country beyond the northern boundary of the Great Hungarian Plain.
The country’s best natural resource is fertile land, although soil quality varies greatly. About 70% of the country’s total territory is suitable for agriculture; of this portion, 72% is arable land.
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 kilometres (134 mi) south-east of Vienna, 545 kilometres (339 mi) south of Warsaw, 1,565 kilometres (972 mi) south-west of Moscow, 1,122 kilometres (697 mi) north of Athens, 788 kilometres (490 mi) north-east of Milan, and 443 kilometres (275 mi) south-east of Prague.
The 525 square kilometres (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.
The Hungarian climate is characterised by its position. Hungary is in the eastern part of Central Europe, roughly equidistant from the Equator and the North Pole, more than 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) from either and about 1,000 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean. It is also at least 500 kilometres (300 mi) from any main branches of the Mediterranean Sea.
Hungary’s climate is the result of the interaction of two major climate systems – the continental climate and the Oceanic climate. The influence of both these systems are felt across the country at different times, which means, that the weather is very changeable.
Spring is characterized by abundant sunshine and scattered showers. The temperature starts to rise markedly in April, highs usually reach the 25°C mark at the end of the month, though short cold spells with lows in the 0–5°C zone and ground frost may strike even in Mid-May.
In the summer, prolonged heat waves with highs between 32–35°C interchange with short cooler and wet periods following cold fronts from the West with highs between 18–25°C. Humidity is usually low in the summer, but may rise during more unsettled weather. In the residential suburbs, humidity is generally lower, leading to lower night time temperatures. In the asphalt jungle of Pest, however, temperatures above 25°C at midnight are not uncommon. Thunderstorms, some of them violent with strong wind gusts and torrential rainfall, are not rare. The highest temperature ever recorded was 40.7°C on July 20, 2007.
Highs can stay above 20°C until the end of October. Nights get colder and the first frost arrives usually in the second week of October. Short cool spells vary with the Indian Summer that can last for several weeks. November brings abundant rain, sometimes snow and a drastic fall in temperature (a 10°C fall throughout the month).
Winters are variable and unpredictable. Westerly winds bring mild oceanic air with highs between 5–10°C, almost no frost and scattered rain or snow showers. Depressions moving in from the Mediterranean Sea can bring snowstorms with 20–40 cm falling in a single day, followed by cold air from Russia. Atlantic depressions and south wind can bring unusually warm weather with highs reaching 15°C even in January. The Siberian high brings most years a sunny but very cold period lasting for a week or two with lows in the −15–20°C range. Anticyclones with centres above Western Europe produce cold inversion fog with no change in day and night time temperatures, they stay around or a bit under 0°C. The fog can last for weeks. Mediterranean depressions moving above the inversion fog layer can bring a day or two of freezing rain.
Hungarian (Magyar) is a member of the Uralic language family. It is the largest of the Uralic languages in terms of the number of speakers and the only one spoken in Central Europe. Its closest relatives are Khanty and Mansi, minority languages of Russia, spoken 2,000 miles away, east of the Ural mountains in north western Siberia. It is estimated that Hungarian has been separated from Khanty and Mansi for about 2,500-3,000 years.
Linguists believe that the ancestors of modern Hungarians first migrated westward from the eastern slopes of the Ural mountains into the steppes of southern Russia in the 4th-6th centuries, and eventually moved further westward into the Danube basin west of the Carpathian Mountains in the 9th century. Over the centuries, the Hungarians have become assimilated into the surrounding European cultures. Only their language testifies to their origin in Asia.
Hungarian is spoken by 9,840,000 people in Hungary. It is the country’s official language used in education and government administration. It is one of the official languages of the European Union. There are sizable populations of Hungarian speakers in Romania, the Czech and Slovak Republics, the former Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Israel, and the U.S. Smaller pockets of Hungarian speakers live in Canada, Slovenia, and Austria. The total number of speakers of Hungarian worldwide is 12,605,590 (Ethnologue).
The dialects of Hungarian identified by Ethnologue are: Alföld, West Danube, Danube-Tisza, King’s Pass Hungarian, Northeast Hungarian, Northwest Hungarian, Székely and West Hungarian. These dialects are, for the most part, mutually intelligible. The Hungarian Csángó dialect, which is mentioned but not listed separately by Ethnologue, is spoken primarily in Bacău County in eastern Romania. The Csángó Hungarian group has been largely isolated from other Hungarian people, and they therefore preserved features that closely resemble earlier forms of Hungarian.
Hungarian uses vowel harmony to attach suffixes to words. That means that most suffixes have two or three different forms, and the choice between them depends on the vowels of the head word. There are some minor and unpredictable exceptions to the rule.
Hungary is an OECD high-income mixed economy with a very high human development index and a skilled labour force, with the 13th lowest income inequality in the world; furthermore it is the 14th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index.
The Hungarian economy is the 57th-largest economy in the world (out of 188 countries measured by IMF) with $265.037 billion annual output, and ranks 49th in the world in terms of GDP per capita measured by purchasing power parity.
Hungary is an export-oriented market economy with a heavy emphasis on foreign trade; thus the country is the 35th largest export economy in the world. The country had more than $100 billion of exports in 2015, with a high trade surplus of $9.003 billion, of which 79% went to the EU and 21% was extra-EU trade.
Hungary’s productive capacity is more than 80% privately owned, with 39.1% overall taxation, which funds the country’s welfare economy. On the expenditure side, household consumption is the main component of GDP and accounts for 50% of its total, followed by gross fixed capital formation with 22% and government expenditure with 20%.
Hungary continues to be one of the leading nations in Central and Eastern Europe for attracting foreign direct investment. As of 2015, the key trading partners of Hungary were Germany, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, France, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Major industries include food processing, pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, information technology, chemicals, metallurgy, machinery, electrical goods, and tourism (in 2014 Hungary welcomed 12.1 million international tourists).
Hungary is the largest electronics producer in Central and Eastern Europe. Electronics manufacturing and research are among the main drivers of innovation and economic growth in the country. In the past 20 years Hungary has also grown into a major center for mobile technology, information security, and related hardware research.
The employment rate in the economy was 68.7% in January 2017, the employment structure shows the characteristics of post-industrial economies, 63.2% of the employed workforce work in the service sector, industry contributed by 29.7%, while agriculture employed 7.1%. The unemployment rate was 3.8% in September–November 2017, down from 11% during the financial crisis of 2007–08. Hungary is part of the European single market which represents more than 508 million consumers.