Hungary is located in Central Europe, in oval shape with a length from east to west of about 528 km and a maximum width from north to south of about 267 km.
The capital and largest city is Budapest. Hungary is predominantly flat. The River Danube divides it into two general regions. One of them is a low plain known as the Great Hungarian Plain (Great Alföld). Highlands along the northern border of the country extend eastward. Mount Kékes in the Mátra Mountains ( 1015), is the highest peak in Hungary. The area west of the Danube is known as Transdanubia, presents a variety of land forms. In the south rise the isolated Mecsek Mountains. In the north are the Bakony Mountains, which overlook Lake Balaton, the largest freshwater lake in central Europe. The north-western section of Hungary is another plainland the Little Alföld or Kisalföld.
Hungary has a moderately continental climate, with cold winters and warm summers. Average temperatures range from -1.1° C in January to 21.1° C in July. Rainfall is heaviest in early summer, and the average amount decreases from 787 mm along the western frontier to 508 mm in the east.
The main natural resource of Hungary is the black soil of its farmlands. The alluvial soils of the Great Hungarian Plain are highly fertile. Soils in the northern highland river basins are generally fertile, but in much of Hungary the soil is of a loose type, called loess. The main mineral resources are: bauxite, coal, oil, natural gas, manganese, uranium, lignite, and iron ore.
The official language is Hungarian which is part of the Finno-Ugrian language familiy and said to be one of the most difficult languages in the world. Although the vast majority of the population is Hungarian, numerous ethnic minorities - Gypsies, Croats, Slovacs, Germans - live throughout the country who spoke their native language and do a lot to preserve their traditions.
Hungary is one of the 15 most popular tourist destinations in the world, with a capital regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world. 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 (Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Balaton), and the largest natural grassland in Europe (Hortobágy). In terms of buildings, Hungary is home to the largest synagogue in Europe (Great Synagogue), the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Széchenyi), the third largest church in Europe (Esztergom Basilica), the second largest territorial abbey in the world (Pannonhalma Archabbey), the second largest Baroque castle in the world (GödöllĹ‘), and the largest Early Christian Necropolis outside Italy (Pécs).
Hungary is over 1000 years old. The first King of Hungary was Saint Stephen who lived from 975 to 1038. He continued the Christenization begun by his father, Duke Geza, fighting off the revolts led by pagan nobles until he united the country. He divided the country into counties governed by royal officials who kept an eye on the nobles. Through the centuries, the crown sent to him by Pope Sylvester II has remained the sacred symbol of Hungarian national existence. (From 1945 to 1978, the crown was held by the United States).
Hungary is much smaller now than it was when King Stephan I ruled. It was split up after WW I, leaving only the central part intact. Now, Hungary is almost the same size as the state of Indiana, just a little smaller. About 10 million people live in Hungary, and many Hungarians live throughout the world. The capital of Hungary is Budapest on the Danube river. Budapest was once two cities on two sides of the river, Buda and Pest, but then the people built a bridge, and the two cites became one city, Budapest.
Hungarians are a very special people. No one is quite sure where they came from, although they are clearly related to the ancient tribe known as Huns, probably came from Mongolia. The Hungarian language is unique, unrelated to any other language on earth, although it has some similarities with Scandanavian languages. I only know a few phrases, and they are fun to say, but hard to spell, since the Hungarian alaphabet is not the same as the English alphabet. For instance, in Hungarian, cs is pronounced the way we would pronounce ch, and there are a lot of accent marks and strange-looking letter combinations.
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