Fast Facts

Budapest; 1,708,000
93,030 square kilometers (35,919 square miles)
Roman Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran
Life Expectancy:
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $13,300
Literacy Percent:
Flag: Hungary
Map: Hungary

The Danube River flows north to south through the middle of Hungary, splitting this landlocked central European country almost in half. Hungarians (Magyars) migrated here from Asia more than a thousand years ago and are distinct from the Germanic and Slavic peoples that surround them. Hungary's support for Hungarian minorities in other countries is sometimes criticized as interference by neighboring governments.

Fertile plains lie east of the Danube, with hills to the west and north. Soviet tanks crushed an uprising for democracy in 1956, but Hungary rebounded to become Eastern Europe's first purveyor of "goulash communism," blending personal freedom, prosperity, and a pinch of free enterprise. While other countries in the region suffered shortages, boutiques displaying designer fashions and cafés selling caviar lined Budapest streets.

By the late 1980s reform-minded Hungary had lost faith in communism, shaken by sagging productivity and the highest per capita foreign debt in Eastern Europe. In 1989 the government abolished censorship, dismantled barriers along the Austrian border, and called for privatization of industry, religious freedom, and free elections.

Foreign investment and private companies are flourishing. The economy is strong, with low inflation and falling interest rates. European Union member countries account for more than 60 percent of Hungarian exports. Now a member of NATO, the dream of 1956 has become the reality. Hungary joined the European Union in 2004.


  • Industry: Mining, metallurgy, construction materials, processed foods, textiles, chemicals
  • Agriculture: Wheat, corn, sunflower seed, potatoes, sugar beets; pigs
  • Exports: Machinery and equipment, other manufactures, food products, raw materials

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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