|General background: Hungary was part of the polyglot
Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed during World
War I. The country fell under communist rule following
World War II. In 1956, a revolt and announced withdrawal
from the Warsaw Pact were met with a massive military
intervention by Moscow. In the more open GORBACHEV years,
Hungary led the movement to dissolve the Warsaw Pact and
steadily shifted toward multiparty democracy and a market-oriented
economy. Following the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Hungary
developed close political and economic ties to Western
Europe. It joined NATO in 1999 and is a frontrunner in
a future expansion of the EU.
Slightly smaller than Indiana.
Temperate; cold, cloudy, humid winters; warm summers.
Terrain: Mostly flat to rolling plains; hills
and low mountains on the Slovakian border.
Population: 10,075,034 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Hungarian 89.9%, Roma 4%, German
2.6%, Serb 2%, Slovak 0.8%, Romanian 0.7%
Religions: Roman Catholic 67.5%, Calvinist 20%,
Lutheran 5%, atheist and other 7.5%
Language: Hungarian 98.2%, other 1.8%
Government type: Parliamentary democracy
Legal system: Rule of law based on Western model
Economic overview: Hungary continues to demonstrate
strong economic growth and to work toward accession
to the European Union. The private sector accounts for
over 80% of GDP. Foreign ownership of and investment
in Hungarian firms is widespread, with cumulative foreign
direct investment totaling more than $23 billion since
1989. Hungarian sovereign debt was upgraded in 2000
to the second-highest rating among all the Central European
transition economies. Inflation and unemployment - both
priority concerns in 2001 - have declined substantially.
Economic reform measures such as health care reform,
tax reform, and local government financing have not
yet been addressed by the ORBAN government.
Communication/Telephone system: The telephone
system has been modernized and is capable of satisfying
all requests for telecommunication service.
Places of interest: The majority of travelers
arrive in picturesque Budapest, which has a lively arts,
café and music scene, and is host to a range
of cultural and sporting festivals. Hungary has some
of the best bird-watching areas in Europe.