Basic Information about Hungary
The Republic of Hungary
Hungary's Flag: The current flag of Hungary was adopted in 1957 and the overall design is modeled after the French Tricolore. Red supposedly symbolizes strength and people, green for hope and fertility, and white for faithfulness.
The national and public holidays in Hungary :
1st January: New Year
Easter Monday, Whitsun
15th March: the beginning of the Hungarian War of Independence in 1848-1849, the birth of the modern parliamentary Hungary.
1st May: Labour day
20th August: national celebration on the day of St. Stephen, the founder of the nation (national holiday).
23rd October: the beginning of the 1956 Hungarian War of Independence, the day of the declaration of the Hungarian Republic in 1989.
1st November: All Saints' Day
25-26th December: Christmas
For more info and pics about the holidays, see the "Customs in Hungary" section.
Location : Hungary is located in the Danube River Basin in Central Europe. Its surrounded by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the east, Croatia and Serbia & Montenegro to the south and Slovenia and Austria to the west. Most of the country is flat except for a few low mountain ranges, which are mostly located in the north central and northeastern sections of the country.
Time Zone : GMT+1 in winter, GMT+2 in summer (same as all West Europe).
International country phone code : 36
Climate : Hungary has a continental climate with wide variations between summer and winter conditions, and rapid changes from one season to the other. Average annual temperatures range from -4 to 1 degrees C.(25 to 34 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 16 to 28 degrees Celsius (61 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit) in July, although it can be much colder or hotter in some years.
The People : Ethnically, the majority are the Magyars or Hungarians who make up 97% of the population. The rest are ethnic minorities of Germans, Slovaks, Romanian Gypsies, and Jews.
Religions : Mostly Christians with about about 64% of the population Roman Catholic and 23% Protestant or other.
Languages : The official language is Hungarian (Magyar) which is a strange language that is unrelated to any other in the world except its very distant cousin, Finnish (the world's hardest language!) English and German are taught in schools as secondary languages. Many people still speak basic Russian, a holdover from Hungary's years as part of the Soviet Union.
For more info about Magyar, see "The Hungarian Language Section."
Currency : The official currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). It's value fluctuates very much but is between 200-300 per US Dollar range. Hungary is now part of the European Union and sometime before 2010 will adopt the Euro as its currency.
Architecture : Hungary is full of ancient buildings, including many castles and old manor houses throughout the country. The cities still have many of the very old narrow streets with the old buildings, mixed in with the modern areas.
(City streets in the older section of a town)
(Scene along the Danube, two castles, and the Franz Liszt Academy)
Main Products : Bauxite and coal, cereal grains, fruits and vegetables, grapes and wines, livestock, oil and natural gas, potatoes.
Magyar szürke marha
Magyar "racka" sheep
Hungary produces powerful fruit brandies (pálinka): barack from apricots, cseresznye from cherries, körte from pears, alma from apples and szilva from plums.And there is Unicum, a bitter panacea made from a secret herbal recipe (the traditional bottle of Unicum is round shape) which is very similar to the German Jägermeister.
Main Exports : chemicals, clothing, consumer goods, food products, iron and steel, machinery, and motor vehicles.
Some interesting facts :
*The first subway system built in continental Europe was built in Budapest and it looks just like the New York subway!
*The word "coach" comes from the small Hungarian village called Kocs (pronounced like the English word coach) and its where they invented and made the first steel-springed shock absorbed vehicle back in the 15th century.
*Hungary's population has actually been declining for some years.
*Life expectancy in Hungary is 7-8 years less than in many western countries, mostly to do with the unhealthy traditional diet (too much bread and fat), high rates of alcoholism, and large number of smokers.
*Goulash (the soup) in Hungarian is called gulyásleves (gulyás soup), which was actually taken from the word for the type of Hungarian cowboy called gulyás, who often ate this kind of food.( In Magyar it's pronounced something like goo-yash)
*Hungary has the second-largest reserve of surface thermal water in the world! (Romania being first) There are many spas, some that are many hundreds of years old!
*Hungary was part of the Roman province known as "Pannonia" and you still often see the words "Pannon" or "Pannonia" often used in the names of products and companies in Hungary.
*The city of Budapest is actually the combined old cities of Buda and Pest, separated by the River Danube and bridged in 9 places.
*The Romans founded a town in what is now the Buda side of Budapest, and it was called Aquincum. The ruins of this town can still be seen today along Szentendrei út, near the station of the suburban express railway which starts at Bathyány tér! (there are remnants of Roman structures all over Hungary, even in Józsi's hometown.