Ten interesting facts

Ten interesting facts

Ten interesting facts about Hungary


1. Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe

Hungary was founded back in 895 and became a Christian kingdom in 1000 by the crowning of King St. Stephen I, which means it is among the oldest European states. It is older than countries like France, England and Germany.

2. The Hungarian language is truly unique

The Hungarian language is said to be among the hardest languages to learn in the world as there is no other language that is like it. It is a member of the Uralic language family and its alphabet has 44 letters. Hungarian has about 13 million native speakers, of whom more than 9.8 million live in Hungary. It is also spoken by Hungarian communities living in neighbouring countries, including Slovakia, western Ukraine, central and western Romania, northern Serbia, northern Croatia and north-eastern Slovenia; as well as by Hungarian diaspora communities worldwide, especially in North America (particularly the United States and Canada) and Israel.

3. Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe

At almost 600 square kilometres, Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe. It is often referred to as the Hungarian Sea and is surrounded by beautiful places to visit, including Tihany with the Benedictine Tihany Abbey, Keszthely with the Festetics Palace and Siofok with its popular summer festivals. In addition, the sulphuric waters of the nearby spa town, Heviz, are said to have medicinal qualities, and are believed to cure rheumatic ailments, aches and pains.

4. Budapest has the highest number of thermal springs in the world

Even though Hungary is landlocked, it offers infinite opportunities for year-round bathing in spas all over the country. Hungary has more than 1,300 spas in total, but the capital takes the prize when it comes to the number of thermal springs. Each day, 70 million litres of thermal water rise to the surface of Budapest. In addition, in Debrecen and the nearby spa town, Hajdúszoboszló, visitors can also enjoy the curative as well as luxuriously calming benefits of thermal water.

5. Home to the world’s first official wine region

France, Spain, and Italy might be more famous for their wines, but Tokaj, located in the north-eastern part of Hungary (only 67 km from Debrecen), has something special to offer. The Tokaj Wine Region Historic Cultural Landscape, declared a World Heritage Site in 2002, is among the first wine regions in the world since it dates back to 1737 when the decree of Emperor Charles VI (Charles III, King of Hungary) established the area as a closed wine region. King Louis XIV of France when gifted bottles of sweet wine from Tokaj, called it “Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum” (“Wine of Kings, King of Wines”).

6.Hungarian inventions are many

You have probably heard about the Rubik’s cube, but did you know that it was invented by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture, Ernő Rubik?

Hungarians invented many creations that have made a huge impact on how we live our life today. Some of these inventions include the ballpoint pen (also known as the biro) invented by Laszlo Biro, the safety match by Janos Irinyi, holography by Denes Gabor, digital computing by Janos von Neumann, as well as Vitamin C discovered by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi who won the 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine, in part, for this discovery.

7. And the Nobel Prize goes to… Hungary!

To date, Nobel Prizes have been won by 13 Hungarians in the fields of chemistry (5), medicine (3), physics (3), economics (1) and literature (1). This means that Hungary has at least one Nobel Prize winner in all categories except peace. With this number, Hungary ranks 16th among the countries with the highest number of Nobel Laureates. One Hungarian prize-winner, Richard Adolf Zsigmondy, even has a moon crater named in his honour.

8.  Hungary on the top of the podium at the Summer Olympics

Did you know that Hungary has won the second highest all time number of gold medals per capita of any nation behind only Finland? Hungarians won gold medals in every Olympics they competed in. In total Hungary has won 491 medals which ranks the country number eight in the world on the all-time Olympic Games medal tally. Fencing is the top medal-producing sport, followed by swimming, canoeing, wrestling and gymnastics.

9. It is considered rude to clink your beer glasses

According to the legend, when the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 against the Habsburgs was defeated, 13 Hungarian generals were executed, with the Austrians in Vienna toasting and clinking their beer glasses after each execution. Hungarians then vowed not to cheer with beer for 150 years. Although that time already passed, Hungarians have kept this custom. However, this custom does not apply to other alcoholic beverages, like palinka or wine; when cheering with these, make sure you make eye contact with the other person and say cheers (egészségedre)!

10. Hungarian names are regulated by law

In Hungary parents are subject to a naming law when it comes to choosing what to call their children. Given names can be selected from a pre-approved list of several thousand names (one list for each gender). Any deviations from the official list must be approved by application to the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Names are only approved when they meet various criteria, including they are not derogatory or overly diminutive, can be written and pronounced easily, and can be recognised as either male or female.