Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Its capital city is Budapest. Hungary is slightly bigger than its western neighbor Austria and has about 10 million inhabitants. Other countries that border Hungary are Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. Hungary's official language is the Hungarian language. It has been a member of the European Union (EU) since 2004. In Hungarian the country is called "Magyarország" (Hungary) or "Magyar Köztársaság" (Hungarian Republic).
Medieval Hungary, 896-1526.
The Hungarians established Hungary in 896, after they had arrived there from their previous, Eastern European territories. Prince Árpád was their leader at the time; he also established the first royal house of the country, the Árpád-house. In 1000, after the first king, Saint Stephen had been crowned, the country became a Kingdom.
In 1241, the Tatars (Mongols) invaded the country, causing many deaths and damages. In 1301, the Árpád-house died out. Later on, kings from various houses were ruling over Hungary. The greatest of them is Matthias Corvinus, famous for protecting the country against the Ottoman aggression. However, some decades after he had died (1490), the Ottomans defeated the country in the Battle of Mohács (1526). The Kingdom was cut up to three parts: the western and northern areas remained Hungary, the southern region fell under Ottoman rule, and the eastern parts became semi-independent as the Principality of Transylvania.
Between 1526-1867.
The Kingdom of Hungary became a Habsburg dependency, because an agreement made in Vienna in 1515 said that the Habsburg family would take over the territory of the Jagellion family in Bohemia and Hungary if the line of kings should die out. In 1686, the Ottomans were forced to leave, and the country was reunified. There were many nationalities living in the country at this time; except Hungarians, there were also present the ancestors of modern Slovaks, Serbs, and Romanians.
In 1703, Francis II Rákóczi, a Hungarian nobleman organized a revolution against the Habsburgs, as Hungarians were not satisfied with them. However, his revolution failed in 1711, and he had to go to exile. The next most important event is the "Hungarian Revolution of 1848", when the inhabitants of the country mutinied again. The fights were finished in 1849, with Habsburg success. The leaders of the revolution were executed.
Austria-Hungary, 1867-1918.
The country tried to find the way towards consolidation: in 1867, the two most important Habsburg territory, Austria and Hungary signed a treaty, and they established the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The now situation was feasible for both sides: the agreement brought massive economic growth.
Between the World Wars, 1918-1946.
In 1918, the Kingdom was abolished, and a republic was established, as people felt enough of war. This republic was short-lived, and soon the Communists seized power (1919). Their rule was too irresponsible and many people, including the peasants and the intelligentsia, were tortured. The communist had to abandon the country as Romanian troops invaded it. In late 1919, the Hungarian forces, led by Admiral Miklós Horthy, finally occupied the capital, Budapest as well. In response to the communist deeds, they launched the "White Terror", in which they persecuted the communists and their supporters. The kingdom was re-eastablished. Horthy was elected as the regent of the country, as the assemly decided not to recall the Habsburgs.
Hungary lost the war. According to the Treaty of Trianon (1920), Hungary lost two thirds of its territory. On the majority of these territories, non-Hungarians were living; however, many Hungarians also found themselves outside their country, in the nation state of Romanians or Slovakians. Thus, the main political goal of the governments under Horthy was to revise this treaty, and at least, to regain the Hungarian-inhabited lands.
Communist Hungary, 1946-1989.
After the fall of Nazi Germany, Soviet troops occupied all of the country. So Hungary gradually became a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union. After 1948, Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi established Stalinist rule in the country. He forced collectivization and planned economy. This led to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Hungary withdrew from the Warsaw Pact. But the Soviets sended in over 150,000 troops and 2,500 tanks. Nearly a quarter of a million people left the country during the brief time that the borders were open in 1956. János Kádár became leader of the communist party. In 1991 Soviet military presence in Hungary ended and the transition to a market economy began.
Republic of Hungary, 1989 onwards.
Today, Hungary is a democratic republic. Elections are held in every fourth year.
The current president of the country is László Sólyom, and the prime Minister is Ferenc Gyurcsány.
Hungarians make up the largest part of the population but there are also several other ethnic communities. The largest of these are Romas and Germans. Hungarian is the most widely used language in Hungary but of course ethnic communities often use their own languages as well. The majority of Hungarians are not religious, Roman Catholic or Calvinist (in Hungarian 'református' - 'Reformed').
Hungary's highest point is "Kékestet'" (1,014 m; in the northeastern part of Hungary). The River Danube, one of Europe's largest rivers divides Hungary into a western and an eastern part. The region west of the Danube is called Transdanubia ("Dunántúl"). Transdanubia has a hilly landscape and many small villages and towns. The large flat area in the eastern part is the Great Plains ("Alföld"). Along the Slovakian border there are mountains.
Lake Balaton, Central Europe's largest lake can be found in Hungary. This small country has several thermal spas too. Lake Hévíz is one of the world's largest thermal lakes. Hungary, however is a landlocked country (it has no seacoast).
Its biggest cities are Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged, Pécs, Gy'r and Szolnok. Szolnok is found at the juncture of the Tisza River and the Zagyva River (stream).

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