Official name: Hungary
Area: 93 030 km2
Population: 9 900 000
Neighbouring countries: Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia
Official language: Hungarian
State form: Parliamentary republic
Capital and largest city: Budapest (population: 1 700 000)
Largest cities: Debrecen, Miskolc, Szeged, Pécs, Győr
Currency: Forint (HUF)
Time zone: CET (GMT +1)
Major rivers: Danube (417 km), Tisza (597 km)
Largest lakes: Balaton, Lake Velence
Highest point above sea level: Kékes (1014 m) in the Mátra Hills
Hungary is a member of OECD, NATO, EU and a Schengen state.
Administratively, Hungary is divided into 19 counties. In addition, the capital city, Budapest, is independent of any county government.
Hungary is one of the 15 most popular tourist destinations in the world with a capital regarded as one of the most beautiful cities. Despite its relatively small size, the country is home to numerous World Heritage Sites, UNESCO Biosphere reserves, the second largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest natural grassland in Europe (Hortobágy).
Hungary is a landlocked country, situated in the Carpathian Basin. Its two longest rivers, the Danube and Tisza, divide Hungary into three parts: Transdanubia, the plain between the Duna and the Tisza, and the Trans-Tisza region. Hungary’s ‘mountains’ are actually hills that seldom exceed an elevation of 1000 metres. Two-thirds of Hungary's geographic area is less than 200 metres above sea level.
Lake Balaton, covering 598 sq. km, is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the country. The lake’s average depth is two to three metres, and the waters warm up quickly in summer.
There are five national parks in Hungary. Two of them, situated on the Great Plain – Hortobágy and Kiskunság – protect the wildlife and the fragile wetlands, marsh and saline grasslands of the open puszta. Two more are in the north: the almost completely wooded Bükk Hills and the Aggtelek region with its extensive system of karst caves. The smallest park is at Lake Fertő on the Austrian border.
Hungary is home to more than 2000 flowering plant species, many of which are not normally found at this latitude. There are a lot of common European animals here (deer, wild hare, boar, otter) as well as some rare species (wild cat, lake bat, Pannonian lizard), but three-quarters of the country’s 450 vertebrates are birds, especially waterfowl attracted by the rivers, lakes and wetlands.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Hungary is in the temperate zone, and has a relatively dry continental climate. There are big differences between the weather in the four seasons, summers are hot and winters are cold. Average temperatures range from -1 °C in January to 21 °C in July. Hungary is protected from extreme weather conditions by the surrounding mountain ranges, the Alps and the Carpathians.
The official language is Hungarian, which forms part of the Finno-Ugric language family. Hungarians call their language magyar. Although Hungary is located in Central Europe, Hungarian is not related to any of the languages that surround it.
Hungarian is spoken by 10 million people in Hungary. There are also sizable populations of Hungarian speakers in Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine, Israel, and the U.S. Smaller pockets of Hungarian speakers also live in Canada, Slovenia, and Austria.
Guide to Hungarian pronunciation
A - as in guard
Á - as in father
E - as in set
É - as in grey
I - as in machine
Í - as in deal
O - as in boy
Ó - as in blow
Ö - as in girl
Ő - as in learn (pronounced longer)
U - as in bull
Ú - as in cool
Ü - as in Cote d’Azur
Ű - same az above, but pronounced longer
C - as ts in tsar
Cs – as ch in cherry
Gy – as d in duty
J – as y in yes
Ly – as y in yes
Ny – as n in news
S – as s in sugar (sh)
Sz – as s in skip
Ty - as t in tube
Zs – as ge in beige
- 1 January: New Year’s Day
- 15 March: National Day in memory of the outbreak of the 1848 revolution and war of independence
- Easter Monday
- 1 May: Labour Day
- Pentecost Monday
- 20 August: Saint Stephen’s Day (founder of the Hungarian state)
- 23 October: National Day in memory of the 1956 revolution and the day in 1989 when the Republic of Hungary was proclaimed
- 1 November: All Saint’s Day
- 25-26 December: Christmas