Whether you’re just curious about the country or planning a trip there, check these interesting facts about Hungary for a bit of background information.
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77 interesting facts about Hungary
1. Hungary is among the oldest states in Europe. It was founded before England, France and Germany.
2. Hungary spends up to 5 % of its GDP to facilitate education. This has led to the literacy rate in the country to reach 99%. The state has more than 77 higher education institutions that include ten universities and nine technical institutions.
3. Hungary’s flag had three colors and was officially adopted on 12th October, 1957 after the abortive revolution of 1956. The colors resemble those found in Hungary’s coat of arms. The white symbolizes Hungary’s rivers, green the mountains and red resembles the bloodshed during the many battles in Hungary.
4. Hungary is a landlocked country located in Central Europe and is bordered to the north by Slovakia, south by Serbia, northeast by Ukraine, southeast by Croatia, and to the west by Slovenia.
5. Earlier, the country was part of the Roman Empire. After its fall, the inhabitants of that country, the Huns, named it Hungary.
6. Hungarians pride themselves to have won gold medals every time they have participated in the Olympic Games. Considering the population size, they are ranked second just behind Finland in the number of gold medals won.
7. Hungary’s oldest university is the University of Pecs and was founded in 1367.
8. Hungary’s Budapest parliament building is ranked the third world’s largest parliament building and it is also the tallest building in the city.
9. Budapest administrative building is one of the oldest legislative structures in Europe.
10. You can only name your child in Hungary after there is an approval from the government. You can pick a name from the extensive list provided. However, if your favorite name is not in the list, you need to fill in an approval form with the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
11. The Hungarian capital, Budapest, has the most significant number of thermal springs in the world. On a daily basis, 70 million liters of water come up there to the surface of the earth.
12. August 20 is HUngary’s national holiday.
13. After the Second World War, the communist rule became dominant in Hungary. In the late 1980s, the cumulative debt owed by Hungary was $18 billion and was the highest debt owed per capita across Europe
14. Did you know that about 500 million native Hungarian people (roughly a third) do not live in Hungary? Most of them live in Romania and other countries bordering Hungary.
15. The Hungarian Grand Prix of 1986 was the first formula one race to happen behind the iron curtain.
16. Most people in Hungary use their last name when they are writing or when introducing themselves to the public.
17. Hungary has the highest world denomination to date. It produces banknotes with a face value of one quintillion pengo (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).
18. Hungarians pay taxes at the average rate of 38.3 % of their total annual earnings.
19. 13 Hungarians had won Nobel Prizes by 2007, which is quite a lot.
20. There has been an extensive production of wine in Hungary since the 5th century A.D. King Karoly made the Tokaj wine region to be a national wine area, making it the first world’s official wine region. France’s Bordeaux region followed suit after nearly 120 years.
21. The wheeled multi-passenger vehicle was invented in Hungary in 1500 and the word ‘coach’ was derived from the Hungarian town Kocs names.
22. Hungary remains the only country that held a referendum to determine whether to join NATO or not. It joined in 1999.
23. At a point during the 20th century, the level of tuberculosis was so high in the whole world and the disease was referred to as Morbus Hungaricus in the world as a whole. According to available figures, the virus killed between forty and fifty thousand people in Hungary.
24. Hungarians don’t clink the glasses or bottles of beer. A legend says that when 13 generals from Hungary were killed during the 1848 revolution, Austrians clinked their glasses of beer after each killing. Therefore, in memory of the generals who were executed, Hungarians never clink their glasses.
25. There are over 40 different types of red peppers in Hungary and Hungarians consumes over 1.10 lbs. of paprika every year.
26. Soccer remains the most popular game in Hungary, and Hungarians still remember the 1953 match of the century where Hungary won over England at Wembley Stadium, England.
27. Hungary is the second largest producer of foie gras (goose liver) after France.
28. Apart from using the word espresso to mean coffee drink, Hungarians use espresso to refer to coffeehouse selling alcohol and snacks
29. Coffee was introduced in Hungary in the 16th century by the Turks and was nicknamed ‘Fekete leaves’ or black soup.
30. The national dish for Hungary is gulyas (goulash). It is a potato, beef, paprika, pork and beef made stew and is believed that the dish existed from the Magyar tribes who devised it as a necessity during their raids and plunders.
31. McDonald’s was the first foreign restaurant offering fast food services in Hungary.
32. George Soros, the financier, was born in Hungary and is ranked in the philanthropist’s list.
33. Hungary enjoys the tradition of classical music with famous musicians such as Bela Bartok, Frank Liszt and Zoltan Kodaly.
34. Almost 2/3 of Hungarians are Catholics and a quarter is Calvinist. The remaining percentage either belongs to the Jewish, Greek Orthodox or Lutheran church.
35. The Hungary kingdom was among the largest countries in Europe and was more extensive than France around 1000 CE. It later became among the two “eagle heads” of Austro-Hungarian Empire.
36. It takes eight years for a person to complete basic education in Hungary, which is divided into two four years stages.
37. Hungary is a reputable host for cultural events such as the Sziget Festival or Budapest Spring Festival. Sziget Festival is a yearly Hungarian festival for ‘island’ that happens in August and is among the largest cultural and musical festival in Europe. Budapest Festival is among Hungary’s oldest festivals and happens in March every year attracting artists all over the world.
38. f you didn’t know, there are cowboys in Hungary and there is a ranch where cowboys (csikos) showcase their abilities on horseback.
39. Lake Balaton which is famously known is located in Hungary and is the largest lake in the whole of Central Europe.
40. Hungary’s Budapest Metro remains the oldest underground electrified railway system in Europe and the third oldest underground railway globally.
41. There are over 1500 spas in Hungary that have Greek, Roman and Turkish architecture.
42. Hungary has 22 recognizable wine regions and eight varieties of grape, for this reason, it is referred to as a wine country.
43. In October 1989, Hungary became a democratic republic.
44. The primary programming language, the telephone exchange, and the electric motor were invented in Hungary.
45. Germany is the largest export partner of Hungary.
46. Harry Houdini, the famous worlds’ escape artist, was born in Budapest in Hungary.
47. A Hungarian invented the Rubik’s cube.
48. The person who discovered Vitamin C, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, was born In Hungary.
49. Hungary’s pianist Franz Liszt was an all-time most celebrated pianist. He was a famous and impactful composer, a piano tutor and conductor.
50. A Hungarian invented the ballpoint pen.
51. Hungarians prides themselves for being the only people who can enter through a revolving door after you but emerge ahead of you.
52. Hungary is a home to prominent mathematicians such as Paul Erdős, George Pólya and John von Neumann who has significantly contributed to improved mathematics.
53. László Cseh, a prominent Hungarian swimmer, was among the three swimmers awarded most medals in a one swimming Olympics race. The two other swimmers were Michael Phelps from the USA and South Africa’s Chad le Clos.
54. The famous Johnny Weissmuller, who is popular for playing the 1930s and 1940s Tarzan in the films, was also born in Hungary.
55.Hungarians consider Pálinka to be a cure for many ailments Hungarian grandmas or as locally called nagymamák also swears by the power of Pálinka. They believe it is the remedy for headaches, nervousness and menstrual pains.
56. Judit Polgar, a Hungarian, is the world’s best female chess champion. She is recorded to have won the title of grandmaster at the age of 15 years.
57. The number 96 is important to the Hungarian people. Arpad crowned the frisking of the Hungarian people in 896 marking the start of the Hungarian state. The Budapest metro was also built in 1896 during the anniversary of the country’s millennial. And it is also illegal in Budapest for buildings to exceed 96 feet. Lastly, the national anthem should not exceed 96 seconds if sung at the required temple.
58. Hungary’s capital, Budapest, hosts the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. Dohany Street Synagogue has a seating capacity of 3,000 people.
59. Prominent Hungarians have played a big role in shaping Hollywood. Adolf Zukor, the founder of Paramount Pictures, Vilmos Fried, commonly known as William Fox and Michael Curtiz, formerly known Mano Kaminer all hailed from Hungary.
60. The Hungarian language is very tricky and is believed to be part of the Finno-Ugrian language which is thought to be the hardest language to learn in the world.
61. There is a statue in the Budapest’s park and the Hungarians believe that touching the pen of the figure will make one become a great writer.
62. Money issued in Hungary is based on the decimal systems. The currency is called forint, whereas notes come in denominations of F. 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000.
63. At the time of writing, the employment rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is lowest in Hungary with 55.4 % of people actively employed.
64. Often you will hear Hungarians referring to themselves as Magyars after their ancestors who settled in the area 12 centuries ago after migrating from Central Asia.
65. Aladár Gerevich, the Hungarian fencer, is known as the greatest swordsman that ever lived. He won six consecutive gold medals from 1932-1960.
66. St. Stephen’s Crown which is Hungary’s national symbol was taken away from the country in 1944 to hide it from the communist parties. It stayed in Knox, Kentucky for 30 years. It was returned to Hungary in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.
67. King Stephen (Istvan) is likely to be the most referenced Hungarian. He welded Magyars to a state and later introduced Christianity.
68. There are two words for red in Hungary- vörös, and piros.
69. Hungary is the home to the most extensive geothermal cave system in the world which is located underneath Budapest.
70. Ferenc Puskás, a Hungarian soccer star, still holds the world record on goals scored in a world cup final. He has scored more than Brazil’s legendary Pelé.
71. The Mangalica (also known as Mangalitsa) is a unique Hungarian pig breed that resembles a sheep. It was brought about after crossbreeding between Hungarian breeds from Szalonta and Bakony wild bear from Europe and Serbian Šumadija breed.
72. The Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi is famous for playing the first Dracula.
73. Most Hungarians use Csiga in their recipes, the oversized egg noodles that resemble snails in shape, and that date back to the 9th century.
74. George Soros, a Hungarian-American investor, is likely among the wealthiest Esperanto speakers in the world.
75. A Hungarian engineer, Béla Barényi, created the first Volkswagen Beetle in 1938.
76. Communist rule in Hungary ended in 1989 when the country became a parliamentary republic.
77. The largest underground lake in Europe lies under Budapest’s Gellért Hill.
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