Hungarians - Orientation

Identification. Hungarians are the most populous group in the Finno-Ugric Subfamily of the Ural-Altaic people. They are considered to be the descendants of the Magyar tribes that migrated from the Ural mountain region and that settled in the Carpathian Basin during the ninth century. Hungary (Magyarország) was declared a republic (Magyar Köztár-saság) in October 1989.

Location. A landlocked country since 1920, Hungary is bounded on the north by the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, on the east by Ukraine and Romania, on the west by Austria, and on the south-southwest by Slovenia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia. The country occupies 93,030 square kilometers or 1 percent of the total land area of Europe. It is located between 45°48′ and 48°35′ N, and 16°05′ and 22°58′ E. To the east of the Danube River lies the Great Hungarian Plain (Alföld) with some of the finest agricultural land in the Country. To the west of the river is Transdanubia (Dunántúl). With the exception of low mountains in the north and rolling hills and low mountains in Transdanubia, most of Hungary is flat: 8 percent of its land area lies less than 200 meters above sea level. The country is located in a transitional zone Between maritime and continental climates. Most winters are cold, and the summers are hot. The average annual temperature is 8° C in the north and 12° C in the south.

Demography. In January of 1989 Hungary's population was estimated at 10,590,000 with an ethnic composition of 97.7 percent Magyar, 0.5 percent German, 0.3 percent Slovak, 0.8 percent Gypsy, 0.3 percent Croatian, and 0.4 percent other. The population density averages 114 persons per square kilometer. More than one-fourth of the population is over the age of retirement, which is 55 for women and 60 for men. With a very low birthrate, one of the highest mortality rates in Europe for mature and middle-aged men, and the highest suicide rate in the world, Hungary's population has been decreasing since 1981. Also, in part because of high outmigration from villages, the rural population has declined since World War II. Now 42 percent of the country's population is concentrated in rural settlements, but many Hungarians commute and work in cities. Urban dwellers make up about 58 percent of the population; 20 percent of the total population resides in Budapest, Hungary's capital city.

linguistic Affiliation. All the neighboring cultures belong to the Indo-European Family of languages, but Hungarian is a member of the eastern division, the Ugric Group of the Finno-Ugric Language Family. Hungarian is an agglutinative language, without prepositions and auxiliary words; it is characterized by an extensive use of suffixes. It is written in Latin script with additional letters and diacritical marks. This language is spoken by about 10 million people within Hungary and an additional 5 million distributed around the world. From the 5 million about 3.5 million live in the surrounding countries (Romania, the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, Yugoslavia, Austria, and Ukraine), while the remaining 1.5 million settled in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere. Hungarian is distantly related to Estonian and Finnish.

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