Hungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, Slovenia to the west, Austria to the northwest, and Ukraine to the northeast. The country’s capital and largest city is Budapest. Hungary is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the Visegrád Group, and the Schengen Area. The official language is Hungarian, which is the most widely spoken non-Indo-European language in Europe.
The Roman Empire conquered the territory west of the Danube between 35 and 9 BC. From 9 BC to the end of the 4th century, Pannonia was part of the Roman Empire, located within part of later Hungary’s territory. Here, a 600 strong Roman legion created the settlementAquincum in 41–54 CE. A civil city grew gradually in the neighborhood of the military settlement and in 106 CE Aquincum became the focal point of the commercial life of this area and the capital city of the Pannonian Inferior region. This area now corresponds to theÓbuda district of Budapest, with the Roman ruins now forming part of the modern Aquincum museum. Later came the Huns, who built a powerful empire. After Hunnish rule, the Germanic Ostrogoths, Lombards, and Gepids, and the polyethnic Avars, had a presence in the Carpathian Basin.
Hungary’s geography has traditionally been defined by its two main waterways, the Danube and Tisza rivers. The common tripartite division of the country into three sections—Dunántúl (“beyond the Danube”, Transdanubia), Tiszántúl (“beyond the Tisza”), and Duna-Tisza köze (“between the Danube and Tisza”)—is a reflection of this. The Danube flows north-south right through the center of contemporary Hungary, and the entire country lies within its drainage basin.
Transdanubia, which stretches westward from the center of the country toward Austria, is a primarily hilly region with a terrain varied by low mountains. These include the very eastern stretch of the Alps, Alpokalja, in the west of the country, the Transdanubian Mountains in the central region of Transdanubia, and the Mecsek Mountains and Villány Mountains in the south. The highest point of the area is the Írott-kő in the Alps, at 882 metres (2,894 ft). The Little Hungarian Plain (Kisalföld) is found in northern Transdanubia.Lake Balaton and Lake Hévíz, the largest lake in Central Europe and the largest thermal lake in the world, respectively, are in Transdanubia as well.
The Duna-Tisza köze and Tiszántúl are characterized mainly by the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld), which stretches across most of the eastern and southeastern areas of the country. To the north of the Plain are the foothills of the Carpathians in a wide band near the Slovakian border. The Kékes at 1,014 m or 3,327 ft is the tallest mountain in Hungary and is found here.
Phytogeographically, Hungary belongs to the Central European province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Hungary belongs to the ecoregion of Pannonian mixed forests. Hungary has 10 national parks, 145 minor nature reserves, and 35 landscape protection areas.
Hungary has a continental climate, with hot summers with low overall humidity levels but frequent rainshowers and mildly cold snowy winters. Average annual temperature is 9.7 °C (49.5 °F). Temperature extremes are about 41.9 °C (107.4 °F) on 20 July 2007 at Kiskunhalas in the summer and −35 °C (−31.0 °F) on 16 February 1940 Miskolc-Görömbölytapolca in the winter. Average high temperature in the summer is 23 to 28 °C (73 to 82 °F) and average low temperature in the winter is −3 to −7 °C (27 to 19 °F). The average yearly rainfall is approximately 600 mm (23.6 in). A small, southern region of the country near Pécs enjoys a reputation for a Mediterranean climate, but in reality it is only slightly warmer than the rest of the country and still receives snow during the winter.
Hungary is a fairly homogenous country geographically and their wildlife reflects this. Hungary is home to deer and boars, plus smaller mammals, such as rabbits and small rodents, but few other mammals. There is perhaps better diversity in the landlocked country’s sea life as the rivers and lakes are home to various freshwater fish, including pike and perch.
There are few birds in Hungary other than those that quickly pass through on their migration routes. Partridges and pheasants are perhaps the most common.