Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine, and Romania to the east, Serbia, and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The country’s capital, and largest city, is Budapest. Hungary is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the Visegrad Group, and the Schengen Agreement. The official language is Hungarian, also known as Magyar, which is part of the Finno-Ugric group and is the most widely spoken non-Indo-European language in Europe.
On 23 October 1989, Hungary became a democratic parliamentary republic, and it is considered a developed country. Hungary is a popular tourist destination attracting 10.2 million tourists a year. The country is home to the largest thermal water cave system and the second largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hevíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest natural grasslands in Europe (Hortobagy).
Hungary has 10 national parks, 145 minor nature reserves and 35 landscape protection areas. This list includes national parks only.
The Aggtelek and Hortobagy National Parks are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Hungary has a continental climate, with hot summers with low overall humidity levels but frequent rainshowers and mildly cold snowy winters. A small, southern region of the country near Pecs enjoys a reputation for a Mediterranean climate, but in reality it is only slightly warmer than the rest of the country and still receives snow during the winter.
Slightly more than one half of Hungary’s landscape consists of flat to rolling plains of the Pannonian Basin: the most important plain regions include the Little Hungarian Plain in the west, and the Great Hungarian Plain in the southeast. The highest elevation above sea level on the latter is only 183 metres.
Hungary has seen transformation from a centrally planned economy to a social economy. Due to its open policy toward foreign investment and central geographical location, the country has been a preferred location for foreign direct investment, with cumulative foreign direct investment worth more than $70 billion in the past 23 years. The private sector accounts for over 80% of GDP.Hungary gets nearly one third of all foreign direct investment flowing into Central Europe, with cumulative foreign direct investment totaling more than US$185 billion since 1989. It enjoys strong trade, fiscal, monetary, investment, business, and labor freedoms. The top income tax rate is fairly high, but corporate taxes are low. Inflation is low: it was on the rise in the past few years, but it is now starting to abate. Investment in Hungary is reported to be easy, although it is subject to government licensing in security-sensitive areas. Foreign capital enjoys virtually the same protections and privileges as domestic capital.
In foreign investments, Hungary has seen a shift from lower-value textile and food industry to investment in luxury vehicle production, renewable energy systems, high-end tourism, information technology.
Doubtless, one of Hungary’s most important natural resources is arable land. It covers about 49.58% of the country, which is outstanding in the world. The mass majority of the fertile soil has a good quality.
The most important agricultural zones are the Little Hungarian Plain (it has the highest quality fertile soil in average), Transdanubia, and the Great Hungarian Plain. The last covers more than half of the country (52,000 km2), whereas soil quality varies extremely; the territory even contains a small, grassy semi-desert, the so-called puszta (steppe in English). Puszta is exploited by sheep and cattle raising.
The most important Hungarian agricultural products include corn, wheat, barley, oat, sunflower, poppy, potato, millet, sugar-beet, flax, and many other plants. There are also some newly naturalized plants too, for example amaranth. Poppy seed is part of the traditional Hungarian cuisine.
The country is well known for producing high quality peppers, which are often made into paprika. There are numerous fruits reared, including many subspecies of apple, pear, peach, grape, apricot, water melon, cantaloupe, etc.
Education in Hungary is compulsory from 5 to 18 (16 for the students in grade 10 and below). At the age of six, pupils enters in primary schools: the curriculum is divided in two phase of 4 years each. Afterward, they can choose between three different kind of secondary education school: Grammar school (leading to academic higher education), secondary vocational school (leading to vocational higher education) and vocational school(leading to the world of work). The system is partly flexible and bridges exist (graduates from a vocational school can achieve a two years program to have access to vocational higher education for instance).
The Hungarian higher education is a dual system, divided into colleges(that usually provide bachelor’s degree) and universities (that usually provide master’s degree). Hungary’s higher education and training has been ranked 44 out of 148 countries in the Global competitiveness Report 2013/2014.
- Budapest University of Technology and Economics
- Semmelweis University
- Corvinus University of Budapest
- University of Physical Education
- Eötvös Lóránd University
- University of Debrecen
- University of Szeged
- University of Pécs
- Szent István University
Hungary has a highly developed road, railway, air and water transport system. Budapest, the capital, serves as an important hub for the Hungarian railway system (MÁV). The capital is served by three large train stations called Keleti (Eastern), Nyugati (Western), and Déli (Southern) pályaudvars. Szolnok is the most important railway hub outside Budapest, while Tiszai Railway Station in Miskolc and the main stations of Pécs, Győr, Szeged, and Székesfehérvár are also key to the network.
Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc, and Szeged have tram networks. The Budapest Metro is the second-oldest underground metro system in the world; its Line 1 dates from 1896 and is a World Heritage Site. The system consists of four lines. A commuter rail system, HÉV, operates in the Budapest metropolitan area.
Hungary has a total length of approximately 1,314 km (816.48 mi) motorways (Hungarian: autópálya). Motorway sections are being added to the existing network, which already connects many major economically important cities to the capital.
The most important port is Budapest. Other important ones include Dunaújváros and Baja.
There are five international airports in Hungary: Budapest Liszt Ferenc, Debrecen, Sármellék (also called Hévíz-Balaton Airport), Győr-Pér, and Pécs-Pogány.
The national carrier, MALÉV, operated flights to over 60, mostly European cities, but ceased operations in 2012. Low-budget airline WizzAir is based in Hungary, at Ferihegy.
Hungary is a land of thermal water. A passion for spa culture and Hungarian history have been connected from the very beginning. Hungarian spas feature Roman, Greek, Turkish, and northern country architectural elements. Because of an advantageous geographical location, thermal water can be found with good quality and in great quantities on over 80% of Hungary’s territory. Approximately 1,500 thermal springs can be found in Hungary. There are approximately 450 public baths in Hungary.
If you are looking for a rich cultural experience with medical, health or wellness treatments, then Hungary is the place that suits you best.The waters that are beneficial for the body come under three categories: the mineral waters from groundwater layers, thermal water at temperature of 30°C and above and medicinal water with scientifically proven medicinal effects. Thermal water or medicinal water can be found in 80% of the country. More than 1000 springs provide medicinal and thermal water to natural and medical spas. Lake Hévíz is a real natural phenomenon with its 25°C yearly average water temperature. This is the largest biologically active thermal lake in Europe.
The medical effects of Hungarian thermal waters are unique in the world.
Relaxing in the hot water relieves stress and anxiety, thus accelerating the body’s own healing mechanism. Due to their chemical and biological components, medicinal waters are proven to remedy locomotor disorders and gynecological diseases, infertility, chronic skin problems, certain cases of vasoconstriction, and are beneficial in the rehabilitation process of sporting injuries.
All family members can find the best programs for their needs under one roof.
All the major spas and baths in the country offer thermal pools, leisure pools and some kind of family fun areas (kids’ pools or slides of all lengths and curves). The biggest indoor water theme park in Central Europe is located in the outskirts of Budapest, while the largest spa complex is located in Hajduszoboszlo. Hungarian spa hotels also offer cosmetic and beauty treatments of the highest quality, combining the beneficial effects of healing thermal water, professional know-how and the latest treatment trends. There are successful Hungarian beauty products and treatments, which are based on natural active ingredients (mineral-rich thermal waters and mud).
Only seven countries (US, USSR, UK, France, China, Italy, and Germany) have won more Summer Olympic gold medals than Hungary. At the all time total medal count for Olympic Games, Hungary reaches the 8th ranking out of 211 participating nations, with a total of 476 medals. One of the reasons of this achievement is the Hungarians success in water sports: in water polo the Hungarian team is the leading medal winner by a significant margin and in swimming the men are fourth most successful overall while the women are eighth most successful overall. There has also been success in canoeing.