Landlocked in central Europe, Hungary was one of the twin centers of the once-great Habsburg Empire. It lost two-thirds of its historical territory for supporting Germany in World War I.
Geography: Landlocked. Fertile plains in east and north west; west and north are hilly. The Danube River cuts through the country and the capital.
Climate: Continental, with wet springs, late but very hot summers, and cold, cloudy winters. The transition between seasons tends to be sudden.
People and Society: Hungary’s population shrank in the 1990s. Mostly ethnic Hungarian (Magyar), there are small minorities of Germans, Jews, and neighboring peoples. Roma face particular discrimination. The government is greatly concerned about the fate of ethnic Hungarians in Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia. Hungary joined the EU in 2004. Working hours are longer than in western Europe.
The Economy: Strong industrial base. Hard-hit in 2007–2008 “global downturn.” Currency plummeted, $25 billion from IMF to avoid meltdown. Tough spending cuts needed to keep on path to join euro.
Insight: The Hungarian language is Asian in origin and is most closely related to Finnish
Official Name: Republic of Hungary
Date of Formation: 1918
Population: 9.99 million
Total Area: 35,919 sq. miles (93,030 sq. km)
Density: 280 people per sq. mile
Religions: Catholic 52%, Calvinist 16%, other 15%, nonreligious 14%, Lutheran 3%
Ethnic Mix: Magyar 94%, other 5%, Roma 1%
Government: Parliamentary system
Currency: Forint = 100 fillér