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In 1941, the Hungarian army took part in the invasion of Yugoslavia, regaining some of uta territories. On 22 June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Hungary joined the German effort and declared war on the Soviet Union, thus formally entered World War II.

There were some early successes for Hungary, but in 1943, after its Second Army experienced some horrific losses, the government sought to negotiate a surrender with the Allies. Hitler would have none of it, and German troops soon occupied Hungary.

The war left much of Europe devastated. In Hungary, the economy was all but destroyed, and because Germany was defeated by the allies the Soviet Red Army made a push into Hungary and bad conditions quickly became much worse. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians were executed, or deported for slave labor.

On January 20, 1945, a provisional government agreed to an armistice with the Soviet Union and established the Allied Control Commission, under which Soviet, American, and British representatives held complete sovereignty over the country.

That provisional government was replaced in 1945 and the new Hungarian government instituted radical policies by nationalizing mines, electric plants, heavy industries, and some large banks.

In 1949, the communists held an election, adopted a Soviet-style constitution and reorganized the economy. All private industrial firms with more than 10 employees were nationalized, freedom of the press, religion, and assembly were strictly curtailed.

In 1956, a massive popular uprising began. Fighting did not abate until the Communist government was forced to name Hungarian Imre Nagy as Prime Minister. He eliminated the state security police, abolished the one-party system, promised free elections, and negotiated with the U.S.S.R. to withdraw its troops.

The Soviet Union did not like his approach, and launched a massive military attack. Some 200,000 Hungarians fled to the West. and Nagy and his government colleagues took refuge in the Yugoslav Embassy.

In November of 1956 a new government was formed, and reprisals were carried out. Many thousands of people were executed or imprisoned. And in June of 1958, Imre Nagy (the former Prime Minister) after a very brief trial, was executed by the Communist government.

In 1966, the government approved a new economic movement which was designed to increase productivity, make Hungary more competitive in world markets, and create prosperity to ensure political stability.

Twenty years later (finally) there was some measure of success as economic and political reforms had taken hold, and increased trade with the West was now happening, albeit slowly.

And by now the desire for freedom and a democracy was a hot button issue across Hungary, and by 1987, activists within the Communist Party and others were increasingly pressing for change, and citizen activism rose to a level not seen since the 1956 Revolution.

In 1989 the Soviet Union reduced its involvement in Hungary by signing an agreement to withdraw its military forces by June 1991, and in June of the year, the country officially reburied Imre Nagy, and then symbolically, all other victims of the 1956 revolution; national pride and united was now restored.

Over the next decade, or so, new political parties and short-term governments came and went, mainly because of the disenchantment with Socialist leaders that had promised growth and lower taxes, that in the end, never happened.

In 2008, the worldwide economic slowdown was felt across the entire country of Hungary, and the Prime Minister resigned. This laid the ground work for many positive changes, including a new constitution and voting rights for ethnic Hungarians living beyond the country's borders.

As for travelers, the country's crown jewel is the dazzling capital city of Budapest, known for its architectural style, amazingly diverse restaurants, Gypsy music and friendly people.

And if you do venture in, be sure to journey outside of the capital, as you will find dozens of enchanted castles and villages from days gone by in one of the most charming and interesting countries in all of Europe.

Hungary's Information

Flag of Hungary
Land Area 89,608 km2
Water Area 3,420 km2
Total Area 93,028km2 (#108)
Population 9,874,784 (#90)
Population Density 110.20/km2
Government Type Parliamentary Republic
GDP (PPP) $268.00 Billion
GDP Per Capita $27,200
Currency Forint (HUF)
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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.