Hungary is a landlocked country in the centre of Europe, bordered by the Ukraine, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Romania. It is dominated by the Great Hungarian Plain, located to the east of the Danube. Its terrain includes flat and rolling plains. Hungary has hills and low mountains in the north, with the highest point being Mount Kekes. Hungary’s most famous river is the Danube, which almost divides it in half. This country has three major lakes, the largest being Lake Balaton.
Hungary’s climate is classified as European continental, with warm, dry summers and chilly winters. January is the coldest month, with daytime temperatures often dropping to 0ºC, but in chillier months, the thermometer can plummet to a few degrees below zero. The average temperature in summer hovers between 20ºC to 25ºC, though on the hottest days, it can soar to 30ºC or higher.
Hungary is famous for many things, including its hot springs (Budapest, the capital boasts 118 hot springs). Lake Balaton, meanwhile, is the largest lake in central Europe, and a popular holiday destination in the summer. Hungarians are known for their smarts; the country has one of the highest rankings for Nobel laureates. It is also known for its national dish: gulyás, a delicious soul-soothing soup. Its sweet wine, Tokaji, meanwhile, is universally hailed as one of the best in the world. Famous Hungarians include ErnÅ‘ Rubik (who invented the Rubik’s Cube), László Bíró (inventor of the ballpoint pen) and Liszt (musical composer).
Hungarians were nomads who are thought to have arrived from the Carpathian basin; in the late 9th century A.D., they took the land known as Hungary as their own, and in 1000 A.D., King Stephen founded the Catholic state of Hungary. In the mid-13th century, Mongol invasions devastated the country, with around one million people killed or sent away to be slaves. King Béla then began constructing sturdy castles to keep the Mongolians away. In 1526, the battle at Mohács saw the Turkish defeat the Hungarians and the country was divided into three kingdoms: the first was Hungarian, the second dominated by the Hapsburgs and the third was Turkish. In 1867, Hungary became part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, though after losing World War I, the empire was dismantled and Hungary was greatly reduced in size. During World War II, Hungary first fought alongside Germany then tried to switch sides to support the allies. The result was its conversion into a communist country under the rule of the Soviets. In 1990, Hungary had its first free election and in 2004, it officially joined the European Union.
Hungary has a highly diverse flora and fauna. Characteristic trees found in the lush Transdanubian Mountains include oaks, beeches, hornbeams, and maples. Brushwood and acacias can also be found. The animals of Hungary, meanwhile, include various birds (including storks), deer, squirrels, wild boars, lynxes, beavers and wolves. Lake Balaton is home to a wide variety of birds, and fish such as the perch, pike and carp swim in rivers and lakes.
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