Hungary is considered as one of the most beautiful countries of Eastern Europe. Water bodies have divided this nation into two halves, which possesses some natural as well as artificial lakes. World’s largest artificial lake, Lake Theisis and the biggest thermal lake, Lake Heviz is situated in Hungary. Budapest is the capital city of Hungary. Other important cities of this country are Debrecen, Gyor, Miskolc, Pecs, and Szeged.
Previously a member of Eastern Block, this nation has undergone many changes over the past centuries. After the fall of Soviet Union in 1989, Hungary embraced open market economy. At present it is showing a steady growth, which has enabled it to solve unemployment problem to a large extent.
Many medieval tribes, nations and civilizations ruled over this land, which was previously called Pannonia by the Romans. From the medieval times till World War I, Huns and after them Lombards and Gepids and Avars and Magyars ruled over present Hungary. Beside these rulers, in certain periods of history, parts of Hungary went under Austrian rule.
Today, Hungary is undergoing changes in climatic condition due to global warming. Summers are unusually hot and winters are milder.
Hungary is a land of varied contrasts. Most of this East European nation is a fertile, rolling plain.
If one travels through the Carpathian Basin for sometime, he will come across a few hills and small mountains near the Slovakian border. In this context, it is worthwhile to mention that Kekes is the highest point in Hungary measuring 1,014 m. Major rivers like Danube spelled Duna in Hungarian, Tisza and Drava divide Hungary into two separate halves. In the extreme northwest is the Little Hungarian Plain. A major water body Lake Balaton is located in the western half of this beautiful country.
Forests and woodlands are sprawled over nineteen percent of Hungary’s land area. Besides, the world’s biggest thermal lake, Lake Heviz and the second largest lake in Carpathian Basin Lake Theiss is situated in Hungary. The cave systems of this country are an object of curiosity worldwide. The Aggtelek Karst (Aggtelek National Park) of Hungary is on UNESCO's World Heritage List and the wetlands here are a popular resting-place for birds migrating to breeding grounds.
The Castle of Tata
Hungary enjoys a continental climate. Winters are chilly, overcast and humid, while summers are warm and hot. Standard yearly temperature is approximately 9.7 °C. Temperature varies from 38 °C in summer to −29 °C in winter. Normal temperature in summer is 27 to 32 °C, while in winter it is 0 to −15 °C. The standard yearly rainfall is approximately 600 mm. In the southern part of the country near Pecs, small region enjoys a Mediterranean climate.
The comparative remoteness of the Carpathian Basin makes it vulnerable to droughts. In fact, the special effects of global warming have already been observed in this region. According to accepted views droughts became common in recent times. Now, summers are blistering and winters are less chilly. All these have made snow fall, a rare occurrence these days. Local people say that the four-season system has become a two-season system nowadays. Spring and autumn are becoming short and shorter. In some years they don’t even show up.
Hungary is a great survivor of history where states and empires emerged, expanded or disintegrated and disappeared around it. In 14 B.C., the Romans ruled over parts of Hungary, that is the western side of Danube, and called it Pannonia. Various Germanic and Asiatic peoples occupied the eastern part. Then the Huns and later the Ostrogoths and the Avars settled here for brief periods. It is believed that Hungary got its name from the descendants of the Huns. In 896 the Magyars conquered nearly all of Hungary founded their first dynasty under the legendary leadership of Arpad.
Christianity was established in Hungary during the reign of St. Stephen from 977–1038. A devastating invasion by the Mongols killed half of Hungary's population in 1241. Then Hungary gradually rose from the ashes and reached its greatest territorial extension from Dalmatia to the Balkans and Poland under Louis the Great. The Ottoman Turks barged into the Hugarian territories in 1389, and for more than 100 years they continued to advance through the Balkans. The Hungarian army led by the famous ruler Matthias tried to resist but after his death was smashed in 1526. Eventually, the western and northern Hungary accepted Hapsburg rule and annexed to Austria to escape Turkish occupation. The independent state of Transylvania was established under Hungarian princes.
However, the Habsburgs brought along strong influences of foreigners, specifically Germans, and Hungary’s ethnicity came under threat. An armed revolt took place in 1848 and finally in 1867 the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary was set up. But the monarchy was dethroned during World War I. After a short-lived republic in 1918, the chaotic Communist rule of Hungary under Béla Kun ended with the Romanians occupying Budapest on Aug. 4, 1919. With the Treaty of Trianon of 1920, Hungary was reduced by about two thirds of its size and population and lost most of its natural-resource rich lands. In World War II, Hungary allied with Germany and recovered all of its lost territories. But when the Hungarian government tried to withdraw from the war and protect its Jewish population, German troops occupied the country. Finally, Soviet forces drove out the Germans in 1945.
Hungary came under USSR communist rule and had to give up all territory it had acquired since 1937 and paid $300 million in reparations to the USSR, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. In 1949 Hungary was proclaimed a People's Republic and one-party state. A nationwide revolt against the terror of Red Army surfaced in 1956 but faced a bloody suppression. Following this, under János Kádár the Communist Hungary maintained more liberal policies in the economic and cultural spheres. On October 23, 1989, on verge of breaking up of USSR, Hungary was renamed the Republic of Hungary and in 1990 free elections were held. The last Soviet troops left Hungary in June 1991 and the country opened its borders with Austria. It was followed by an introduction of extensive political and economic reforms by the Hungarian government. In April 1999, Hungary became part of NATO, and in May 2004, it joined the EU.
National Theatre, Budapest
The Hungarian economy has been mainly agriculture based but it shifted the emphasis on industrialisation after World War II. Through the 80s, the industry was largely nationally owned and produced goods chiefly for export to the USSR. But following its independence status in 1991, the country opted for free market economy and invited large scale privatisation. With membership of the European Union in May 2004 and substantial foreign investment, ungary’s economy prospered like never before.
The private sector now contributes 80% of the GDP and cumulative foreign direct investment totals more than US $23 billion of the Hungarian budget. Extensive economic reforms have been undertaken to bring down high unemployment and rising inflation. Hungary benefits from fertile soil and half of its land is arable. Agricultural products include wheat, maize, sunflower seeds, sugar beets, potatoes, other vegetables and dairy products. The main industries are mining, metallurgy, construction materials, vehicles, electronics, chemicals (including plastics and pharmaceuticals), textiles and food processing. The tourism industry in Hungary has also developed enormously since Hungary became a republic.
The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest
Hungary broke away from the long-standing, one-party Marxist political framework in 1989 and, emerged as a multiparty parliamentary democracy. in 1989. Today the Hungarian constitution of 1949, amended in 1972, 1989, and 1997, is considered the ultimate guideline to the authorities. According to this, the parliament is regarded as the authority to withhold the legislative powers and the judiciary remains an independent and isolated branch.
The Hungarian unicameral parliament or National Assembly, locally known as Orszaggyules, is the highest organ of state and constituted of 386 seats. Hungarian citizens above the age of 18 years participate in a nationwide voting in every four years and elect the members. This legislature reserves the right to approve or reject any move or petition for law proposed by the prime minister.
The prime minister of Hungary together with his cabinet members and the President of the country form the executive part. The prime minister is usually the leader of the majority party in National Assembly. He enjoys the right to select the cabinet members and proposes their name to President, who eventually appoints them. The prime minister possesses the right to dissolve the cabinet under certain circumstances.
The president is addressed as the chief of state and, along with the presidential council is elected every 5 years by the members of the national assembly. The election process follows a step-by-step method where the president must win two-thirds of legislative vote in the first two rounds or a simple majority in the third round. He plays a vital role in functioning of the Republic and formally appoints of prime minister and the members of his cabinet. But judging by real life implications, the president’s role is largely ceremonial and limited to predefined formalities.
The judiciary part of Hungarian system is immuned from any kind of external influence or intervention. It comprises of a 15-member Constitutional Court whose judges are elected by the national assembly for nine-year terms. It is only system in the country that reserves the authority to demand an explanation from the legislature on grounds of unconstitutionality.