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Top 10 Amazing Facts About Hungary

We’re going to be talking about an entire nation of people who are starving! In fact, they named their whole country after their awful predicament! Hungry! What? Ohhh! That’s better! In this worldly installment, we’re hot-footing it to explore a beautiful central European land of history that dates back to the 9th century BC. So throw on “Himnusz” as we trek through Budapest, walk the edge of the Danube, explore the former Ottoman territory.

10. Famous Faces of Hungary
Hungary is the birthplace of many well-known beauties including models Barbara Palvin, Vanessa Axente, and Eniko Mihalik. Local sports stars include Olympic swimmer and two-time Hungarian sports personality of the year Katinka Hosszu and soccer star Adam Bogdan. And last – but certainly not least - who can forget everybody’s favorite, albeit tragic magician, Harry Houdini. Looking for awesome and talented YouTubers to follow? Try Matt Himer, better known as Hmate57, Videomania, and Inez Hilda Papp.

9. Cuisine of Hungary
If you’re heading to Hungary, we hope that you’re *ahem* hungry! Goulash is by far the most famous of the country’s cuisine exports. This meat and vegetable stew is flavored with Hungary’s favorite spice – paprika – and is a national dish despite its humble beginnings as a means to feed 9th-century shepherds. For dessert, the Dobos torte is a decedent five-layer sponge cake flavored with chocolate buttercream and caramel. And, in true Hungarian style, why not wash all that down with Pálinka, a potent brandy flavored with fruit. You can usually try it in apricot, cherry or plum.

8. Hungary and Sports
Hungary is a strong contender in the world of sports, and with 497 Olympic medals to its name, only seven other countries can boast more than the Hungarians. Popular sports include water polo, in which Hungary outperforms the rest of the world, and football. Motorsports are also big in Hungary as the Hungarian Grand Prix has been held just outside Budapest since 1986 and will continue to do so until at least 2021.

7. Land of Thermal Springs
Hungary is a hotspot for baths and there are more medicinal spas here than in any other European country. The tradition of using spas in Hungary originated under Roman rule. In fact, Rome first colonized Hungary, in part, to take advantage of the thermal water which can be accessed in 80% of its territory. Nowadays, modern Hungarians are proud of their spa culture and there are around 1,500 thermal springs across the country, with more than 100 in and around Budapest alone. If you’re planning a visit, why not treat yourself and head to Gellért spa, the most luxurious and famous baths in Budapest.

6. Hungary’s World Records
Hungarians really go the distance with their world records. Zoltán Mészáros ran the fastest mile in a bomb disposal suit in 2014, managing it in just 8 minutes and 29 seconds, and Bálint Huszár completed the furthest forward flip trampette slam dunk in 2016, bouncing just over 20 ft (6.18m). Speaking of sinking hoops, the Face Team Acrobatic Sports Theatre slammed their way into a world record in 2016 by slam dunking 39 basketballs in one minute, and in February of 2017, Kovacs Gyorgy took the title for most flips of a bottle on the back of the hand in one minute, achieving 146 flips.

5. Wildlife in Hungary
With a rich landscape, variable climate and ten stunning national parks, there’s plenty of wildlife to be marveled at. Being landlocked, it’s unsurprising that many of the creatures found in Hungary are mammals. There are 73 species to be exact, including some rare and endangered animals such as the Alpine Shrew and the Eurasian Otter. Brown bears, red foxes and roe deer are much more abundant and can be found throughout the country. Not all of Hungary’s wildlife is on dry land, though. Lake Balaton, which is Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake, plays hosts to over 40 species of fish including carp, pike and catfish.

4. The Origins of “Hungary”
Hungary’s name dates way back to the 9th and 10th centuries and originates from the Medieval Latin word Hungaria. The Latin word itself came from the Eastern European steppe people that conquered the area, who were known as the Hungarī , Ungrī, and Ugrī. Hungary is the English form of the word for Hungaria, and is how most of the world now knows this European land. Hungarians actually refer to themselves as Magyars, though, which is derived from Megyer, Hungary’s most prominent tribe from around the 9th century, and is therefore a more accurate demonym for Hungary’s native population.

3. Hungarian Names
While on the topic of names… a person’s name is an important part of Hungarian culture. Hungarian parents must select from a pre-approved list of names or apply for approval of a unique moniker. Rather than baby Daggers or Sadmans - yes, these are names that have been given to American children – Hungarian schools have a lot of Margits and Tamás’. Because all pre-approved names have religious or historical significance, Hungarians celebrate Namedays, with every first name having its own day in the calendar which corresponds to the origin of the name. To celebrate the day, Hungarians typically present their loved ones with wine or flowers.

2. Hungary’s Role in WWII
Hungary’s role in WWII is both significant and complex in equal measures. At the beginning of the war, Hungary was part of the Axis powers - alongside Nazi Germany and Italy. But, after betraying Hitler by engaging in armistice talks with the US and the UK, Hungary became a Nazi target. During this occupation, an armistice was signed between Hungary and the Soviet Union, but it was quickly retracted after the German kidnapping of Hungarian ruler Miklós Horthy’s son. Horthy was deposed and replaced by fascist leader Ferenc Szálasi, who established a new government with Germany. The Soviet Union invaded Hungary in 1945 and defeated Hungarian and German troops, but then occupied Hungary for many decades after the war.

1. Hungary’s Revolutions
Although Hungary was named as its own country during the 9th and 10th centuries, it hasn’t always been a free nation. Hungary became independent from the Austrian empire in 1918, but more recently Hungarians have battled to free themselves from a Soviet occupation that lasted almost 50 years. The famous Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began as a student demonstration and soon grew into a nationwide revolt against Soviet ruling. Thousands organized into militias, and although the government was temporarily overthrown, Soviet troops soon backtracked from negotiations and crushed the revolution. After a second revolution in 1989, Soviet soldiers finally began leaving, and the last troops were withdrawn on June 19th, 1991, rendering Hungary independent once again.

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