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Tips & trips

Travelling in Hungary with an English-talking guide

Hungary, a country in Central Europe, is sliced by the Danube. The country is bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. Hungary has about ten million inhabitants. The largest minority are the Roma gypsies. Their number is estimated at about half a million.

Hungary's climate is temperate. In the highest parts of the Transdanubian Medium Mountains and the northern highlands dominates a sub-alpine climate. The Great Plain has a continental climate. Hungary has quite a lot of sunshine, average 2000 hours per year. The annual average rainfall (500 mm) is relatively low due to the rain shadow of the Alps. In winter, sometimes the country is covered with a thick carpet of snow.Nature
Hungary has four different landscapes: the Great Hungarian Plain or Alföld, the mountains in the north (Felföld), the Transdanubian Medium Mountains and the Little Hungarian Plain. South of the Bakony is Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe (596 km ²)
Hungary has ten national parks, of which Hortobágy is the largest. South of the capital lies the National Park Kiskunság. Religion
The largest church is the Roman Catholic Church. The Hungarian Reformed Church is the largest of the Protestant churches. However, Church attendance is not frequent; not more than 10 % of the population goes to the church every week.

Hungary has one nuclear power plant on the Danube at Paks. Gas plants are the second pillar of power supply. Oil and coal play a limited role. A plan for a large hydro in the Danube was abandoned because of public protests against it in the late 1980's. There existed a fear for the impact on the landscape. Now geothermal energy is considered as an alternative.

Hungary is rich in fresh water. The water consumption is relatively high, but is now declining as a result of the higher rates. Almost all households are connected to the water supply, but in the Hungarian villages there are still many public taps. The quality of drinking water does not yet meets European standards because most of the water is extracted from groundwater and the contamination of the soil is a big problem.
A Waste water treatment system is still under development. Only half of the households is connected to the sewer (90 % in Budapest, in the villages no more than one third).

Monetary unit
The Forint is the national currency of Hungary, so called after the gold Florin in the medieval city of Florence The name was adopted by several neighbouring countries. Within a couple of years the Forint will be replaced by the euro, probably etween 2012 and 2014.
Major cities
The Hungarian capital Budapest has almost two million inhabitants ( 2.5 million in the metropolitan area ). The city was formed in 1873 by merging of Óbuda and Buda on the right bank of the Danube and Pest on the left bank. Before 1873 the city was called Buda - Pest. On the Castle Hill "Citadell" are the main monuments of Buda. In the 18th' century the Castle district within the city walls was well preserved but the southern part suffered heavy war damage. The bridges over the Danube are famous and called the "Pearls of the Danube". Other major cities are: ebrecen, Miskolc, Szeged, Pécs, Gyor.

World Heritage

  • - Danube
    - Castle District of Buda and the Andrassy Boulevard
    - The village and its surroundings Hollóko
    - Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst
    - Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma
    - Hortobágy - Puszta
    - Early Christian cemetery of Pécs ( Sopianae )
    - Cultural Landscape of Fertö/Lake Neusiedl
    - Historic cultural landscape of Tokaj

Hungary has a dense road network, which, however, does not cope with current traffic pressure. All highways meet in Budapest, but because the ring around Budapest (the M0) is not ready the capital is a barrier yet.

Hungarian cuisine
  • Dobos cake: sponge cake with chocolate, caramel and hazelnut and Somloi galuska
    Goulash: meat dishes and soups
    Kolbász: spicy pork salami
  • Krumpli: peppers, dish of potatoes, onion, paprika, garlic, cumin, and Kolbász.

Hungary is first mentioned in history at the beginning of the era when the Romans occupied that part west of the Danube. It was added to the province Pannonia. At that time the country was inhabited by the Illyrians and Celts. They quickly mixed with the Roman invaders. The empire was increasingly threatened by the 'barbarians' at the other side of the Danube. In the 5th century the Romans could not defend the border against the Huns anymore.
Hungary always was invaded by other nations with a Germanic , Iranian, Turkish or Slavic background. In 896 the Hungarians (or Magyars) conquered the country. During a whole century they had an history of extended raids of terror across Europe. In 1000 Stephen I was proclaimed king. He was the first Christian king.

The kingdom of Hungary
The early Hungarian kingdom was weakened by the continuing internal struggle for power between king and nobility. In 1301 the last king of the Hungarian Arpad dynasty died. After his death the crown was seized by the Austrian Habsburgs. But Hungary was now threatened by a new enemy: the Ottoman Empire. The Battle of Mohács (1526) ushered a period of 150 years of Turkish occupation. The land was broken into three pieces: a Turkish part, a middle part (including the capital Budapest ) and the kingdom under Habsburg administration. Transylvania became a vassal state of the Turks. 1

National awareness
After the siege of Vienna (1683) the Austrians drove the Turks a long way back and occupied Hungary.
In the 18th and 19th century the Hungarians became more and more aware of their nationality and revolted against the Austrians. All rebellions failed, but in 1867 there a compromise was made between Austria and Hungary: the 'Ausgleich'. The Kingdom of Hungary obtained more or less an equal status within the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. The Hungarians now governed not only themselves but also the many national minorities in their kingdom.

After World War I
After World War I the dual monarchy was thrown into pieces. An independent Hungary was established with two thirds of its territory and only three-quarters of its inhabitants. There were attempts to establish a democracy, but Hungary turned out to be more close to Nazi Germany. In 1944 Hungary was occupied by Nazi Germany.

After World War II
The liberating troops of the Soviet Union in 1945 turned out to be new occupiers. A second attempt to establish a democratic republic was doomed to fail, Hungary had to join the Soviet bloc. Stalin's death seemed to give room for more freedom, but the suppression of the Hungarian uprising of 1956 showed that freedom was very limited. Many Hungarians fled to the west. In 1980 the Communist Party formed an important group, that cried for more political freedom. The Soviet Union prevented this development. Kádár was discarded and the government began to eform itself.
By the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 Hungary joined the NATO (1999) and the European Union (2004).

This is a summary of an extensive article
Hungary on www.wikipedia.org

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