A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUNGARY

Hungarians are deeply attached to their national, cultural and linguistic heritage. Migration rates, within Hungary as well as overseas, are low.

Longer Historical Perspective

The ancestors of ethnic Hungarians were the Magyar tribes, who moved into the Carpathian Basin in 896, conquering the people already in the region.  Hungary became a Christian Kingdom under St Stephen in the year 1000. Much of Hungary fell under Turkish domination from the early 16th until the late 17th century. Thereafter, the country came under Habsburg rule. This lasted until 1918 - although from the establishment of the dual Austrian-Hungarian monarchy in 1867 onwards, Hungary enjoyed broad autonomy and a golden period.

Recent History 

     

Hungary was on the losing side of both World Wars.  At the end of the first, Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory under the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, leaving large numbers of ethnic Hungarians in Romania (c. 1.5 million), Slovakia (c. 550,000), Serbia and Montenegro (c. 350,000) and the Ukraine (c. 150,000).  After the Second World War, the Communists gained complete control by 1948, despite the low level of support for Communism in Hungary.  Stalin's death and Khrushchev's denunciation of him brought about a crisis in Hungary and led to the 1956 Uprising, which was suppressed by Soviet troops.  After an initial period of oppression, from 1961 the new Communist leader, Kadar, instituted a platform of national reconciliation and then in 1968 introduced new radical economic reforms unparalleled in any other communist country.  These led to a gradual improvement in living standards, a relaxation of the domestic atmosphere and improved relations with the West.  But there was no parallel relaxation of the Communist grip on political life.

Post-1989

Hungary played a key role in the fall of Communism in 1989 by opening its borders allowing East Germans to enter Austria.  Since then its transition to parliamentary democracy has run smoothly.  The first democratic elections after the collapse of communism were held in March/April 1990. Subsequent elections were held in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. (Information courtesy of the Diplomatic and Consular Yearbook)