HUNGARY

Hungary is a country in Central Europe spanning 93,030 square kilometres (35,920 miles) in the Carpathian Basin. It borders Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the east and southeast, Serbia to the south, Croatia and Slovenia to the southwest, and Austria to the west. With about 10 million inhabitants, Hungary is a medium-sized member state of the European Union. The official language is Hungarian, which is the most widely spoken Uralic language in the world, and among the few non-Indo-European languages to be widely spoken in Europe.

Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe, founded in A.D. 897, before France, Germany or England. It was formerly a part of the Roman Empire, after the fall of which, 'the Huns' - people of the country at that time - gave the country their name - Hungary. Budapest, the capital, consists of the districts of Buda and Pest, separated by the River Danube. Nine bridges connect the two halves of the city. Hungary is slightly smaller than the state of Indiana, USA.

Hungary is a land-locked country without an ocean, but it is home to a large section of the Danube River, and it has over 1000 lakes. It is home to the largest lake in Central Europe, Lake Balaton. Lake Balaton is located approximately 50 miles southwest of Budapest. It has an area of 231 miles, it is nine miles wide at its widest point, and continues for 48 miles through the Bakony Mountains. Hungary has one of the most important thermal spring cultures in Europe, with approximately 1,500 spas, typically featuring Roman, Greek, and Turkish architecture. The subterranean labyrinth beneath the thermal springs is the world's largest thermal cave system.

After many years of communist rule, Hungary became a democratic republic in October 1989. It joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004. In 1957, Elvis Presley paid tribute to Hungary's anti-Soviet uprising with a music performance of Peace in the Valley. Posthumous citizenship was awarded to Elvis and a landmark, Elvis Presley Boulevard, is dedicated to him.

As of 2007, 13 Hungarian or Hungarian-born scientists have received a Nobel Prize. That is more than Finland, Japan, China, India, Australia, Spain, and Canada. All 13 emigrated from Hungary, due to persecution during the communist regime.

The Pulitzer Prize is named after Joseph Pulitzer. Joseph Pulitzer was a Hungarian-American publisher who left money in his will to launch a journalism school at Columbia University in New York City and create the prestigious prize. The Pulitzer Prize is synonymous with excellence in the fields of journalism, literature, and musical composition.

The unique Hungarian language is said to be the hardest language to learn. It is not an Indo-European language, and it has only two related languages in Europe (Finnish and Estonian). The 26 letters of the English alphabet is small compared to Hungary's 44 letters. Some Hungarian letters are letter-combinations. Literacy in Hungary is 99 percent.

In City Park in Budapest, there is a statue of a hooded figure known as Anonymous. It represents an anonymous writer who wrote a history of the early Magyars, sits across from Vajdahunyad Castle, holding a pen in his hand. Legend claims, if you touch your pen to the statue, you will be blessed with inspiration and great writing abilities.

Hungary is host to the largest cultural and musical festival in Europe - the Sziget Festival. The Budapest Spring Festival is another popular festival, attracting musicians and artists from all over the world. Hungary's Franz Liszt was considered to be the greatest pianist of all time.

Hungary is home to the world's first officially documented wine region. King Karoly made the Tokaj wine region a national wine area. Wine production there dates to the 5th century. France's Bordeaux region followed after nearly 120 years. French King Louis XIV once declared a Tokaji tipple to be the wine of kings, the king of wines. There are 22 distinct wine regions and eight grape varieties in Hungary, which is why it is called a wine country.

Hungarians love paprika, and it is their national spice. There are eight grades of Hungarian paprika, ranging from mild to sweet to spicy hot. Hungary has two museums dedicated to paprika. Coffee is the national drink. It is usually made in espresso machines. The national dish is gulyas (goulash). Made of peppers, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, diced beef, and paprika. Traditional goulash is a thick soup or stew. It dates to the 9th century when it was eaten by Magyar shepherds and other tribes-people. Dobos torte or Dobosh is a popular Hungarian sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream, nuts on the sides, and topped with caramel.

Hungary has one of the oldest underground electrified railway systems in Europe, dating back to 1896. It is the second oldest electrically operated underground railway in the world, predated only by the London Underground.

Hungary has won the eighth most Olympic medals of all participating countries. It has won the second most gold medals in the Olympic summer games of all countries. Hungary has won gold medals in every Olympics they have competed in. Their water polo team is the best in the history of the sport with 15 Olympic medals (nine gold), and ten World Championship medals (three gold). Johnny Weissmuller, better known as Tarzan in 12 films spanning from 1932 to 1948, was a Hungarian. In the 1920's, he won five Olympic gold medals as a freestyle swimmer.

Hungarian swimmer László Cseh was one of the three swimmers who were awarded the most medals in a single Olympics swimming race. The other two swimmers were Michael Phelps (USA) and Chad le Clos (South Africa). All three swimmers took 51.14 seconds to swim the Men's 100 m butterfly, at the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 12, 2016. This was the first ever three-way tie in an Olympic swimming event.

Aladár Gerevich, the Hungarian fencer, is known as the greatest swordsman who ever lived. He won six consecutive gold medals from 1932-1960. 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. The Hungarian football team holds three Olympic titles in 1952, 1964, 1968, made two World Cup finals in 1938 and 1954, and took third in the 1964 Euro's. Hungarian Ferenc Puskás was widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. He became an Olympic champion in 1952 and led his nation to the final of the 1954 World Cup where he was named the tournament's best player. He won three European Cups (1959, 1960, 1966), ten national championships (five Hungarian and five Spanish Primera Divisiƻn) and eight top individual scoring honors. In 1995, he was recognized as the top scorer of the 20th century by the IFFHS.

Judit Polgar, a Hungarian, is the world's best female chess champion. In 1991, at the age of 15, she became the youngest International Chess Grandmaster.

Erich Weisz, better known as the world-famous escape artist, illusionist, and stunt performer, Harry Houdini, was born in Budapest in 1874. Paramount Pictures founder Adolf Zukor, Vilmos Fried (William Fox), and Casablanca director Michael Curtiz (Mano Kaminer) heralded from Hungary. Béla Lugosi, the original Dracula in 1931, was a Hungarian.

Hungary has an impressive history of important inventions and innovations. Von Neumann was the originator of the "von Neumann architecture," the basic principle of computer design. The von Neumann computers are considered the ancestors of modern desktop and laptop computers.

The Rubik's cube, ballpoint pen, holography, thermographic camera, the telephone exchange, the BMW electronically controlled diesel engine, noiseless match, krypton electric bulb, and the first functional helicopter are all Hungarian inventions. Hungarian Albert Szent-Györgyi discovered Vitamin C. A Hungarian engineer, Béla Barényi designed the legendary Volkswagen Beetle in 1938.

Hungarian Ignaz Semmelweis made the connection between dirty hands and "morbid poison" - what we now call Group A hemolytic streptococcus bacteria. His research is why surgeons and physicians thoroughly and vigorously wash their hands, and why we all know that it is important to wash our hands.

There is much more about Hungary. Please research further on your own, if you wish to learn more.