Located in Central Europe's Carpathian Basin, Hungary has been a link in the chain connecting East and West for a thousand years.
 The ancestors of the Hungarians, or "Magyars", lived in the Ural Mountains. They had close linguistic ties with other Finno-Ugrian peoples and shared certain anthropological and cultural traits with the Turks. In the 2nd millennium BC they began a nomadic lifestyle based on cattle-breeding; this led to a period of westward migration which brought them into contact with several tribes, including the Alan, Turkish and Kazar ethnic groups.

The Conquest
After the Besenyõ attack in 895-896, the Magyar tribes occupied the Carpathian Basin and nationalised the Avar and Slavic populations living there. The conquest saved the Magyars from the destruction that often occurred during migration, but it required adaptation on the part of the seven Magyar tribes derived from the "Miraculous Deer". The pagan culture of these tribes was shamanism.
In the 10th century the Magyar people gave up their looting adventures. Settlement and the adoption of western feudalism started during the reign of Geza (972-997), who, as a descendent of the conquering Árpád, won a victory over the other tribal chieftains and adopted western Christianity. His son, István, was chosen as king with the blessing of the Pope in 1000. Because of his efforts to establish the Church and the Hungarian State, the Hungarian people still consider him to be the founder of the State, and he was shortly canonised. Before his death he dedicated his country to the Blessed Virgin. The monastic orders and the monasteries created the foundation of the culture in the Latin language. The role of the Abbeys in Pannonhalom and Tihany played a prominent role in this. Székesfehérvár was the place for crowning and burial, and Veszprém was the queen's residence.
The Árpád Age
Of the kings of the Árpád Age (1000-1301), Saint László I (1077-1095) and Könyves Kálmán (1095-1116) were most effective in strengthening the State; they succeeded in incorporating Croatia and Dalmatia into the Hungarian kingdom. In the 12th century Hungary was greatly influenced by the culture of Byzantium.

After the Tartar Conquest (1241-42) Béla IV, who reconstructed the country, was the last significant king in the Árpád Dynasty. The Church in Jak preserves the Romanesque style, and our earliest written records show the advanced culture of the church.

Angevine Age
The reign of the Angevine Dynasty (1308-1382) in the 14th century was the age of glory and chivalry. During this period economic development and the enlargement of the kingdom into mineral-rich lands led to significant production of precious metals; production levels in Hungary at this time reached those of the western states.

During the reigns of Róbert Károly and Lajos Nagy I, the Kingdom became an important state in the region. This was confirmed by the meeting of kings that occurred in Visegrád in 1335 and ended with the collaboration of the Polish, Czech and Hungarian Kings. Palaces in Gothic styles were built at this time in Visegrád, Buda and Diósgyõr.

Lajos Nagy's attempt in 1367 to establish a university was another manifestation of the lively intellectual and cultural life of the time. The new King Zsigmond of Luxemburg (1387-1437), as the Emperor of the German-Roman Empire, was a major player in European politics. In halting the schism affecting small churches through his negotiations at the Council of Konstanz, he aimed to strengthen the Christian Church so that it could force back the Osmanli conquest, which was becoming ever more threatening in the region.

The Turkish Occupation
It was János Hunyadi who stopped the Turkish army which had already occupied the Balkans. His victories drew the attention of all Europe, and the Pope ordered the midday toll in1456 to help the Hungarian army. At that time the numerically superior Turkish army attacked Nándorfehérvár, the gate of the country, but failed to capture it.
During the reign of János Hunyadi's son, King Matthias (1458-1490), the influence of the Renaissance increased. Only the contemporary library in the Vatican was bigger than King Matthias' s collection of codices, called the Corvinas. His reign was characterised by strong, centralised power and significant military successes (campaigns against the Turks and Czechs, occupying Vienna). After his sudden death, the aristocrats left the fate of the country to the Jagelló dynasty (1490-1526). The kingdom became weaker and weaker and failed to resist the Turkish attack, which culminated in the defeat at Mohács in 1526.
In the 16th century, the Reformation gained ground in Hungary. Writing in the mother tongue began. After the Turkish Occupation, the country broke up into three parts (1541): Transylvania, the western and northern counties dominated by the Habsburgs, and the central part of the country, which had been ruled by the Turks for 150 years.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Hungary became a bulwark of Christianity because, in the age of castle warfare, the Turkish campaigns were blocked regularly by the Hungarian resistance (e.g., Kõszeg in 1532, Eger in 1552, Szigetvár in 1566). As the Turkish yoke was finally falling from the long-suffering central part of the country, the principality in Transylvania was flourishing under the reign of Gábor Bethlen (1613-1629).

The Habsburg Era
The expulsion of the Turks - long urged by poet and general Miklós Zrinyi (1620-1664) - was finally accomplished at the end of the century. The Saint League, led by the Habsburgs, occupied Buda first (1686) and then the whole country and made it a part of the Habsburg Empire.

The resistance of the Hungarian aristocrats culminated in the fight for freedom led by Ferenc Rákóczi II from 1703 to 1711. The failed rebellion ended with the peace agreement in Szatmar and resulted in separation within the Empire.

The sovereigns in the 18th century, Maria Theresia (1740-1780) and Joseph II, governed the country in an absolutist way. During their rule the country recovered from the destruction of the Turkish Conquest, and agricultural development started again in the age of the Counter-Reformation and baroque. The movement to develop the Hungarian language began at this time. The absolutist governance without parliament stopped in 1825.
From this time on, the politicians endeavoured to change the still-feudal society into a bourgeois one. István Széchenyi in the 30s and Lajos Kossuth in the 40s led the aristocracy in opposition. New buildings (the Chain Bridge), river regulation (the Tisza) and the first railway line were fruits of their activity. In addition, culture and nationalism also flourished at this time. Changes in political life were embodied in the so-called April Laws, based on the Twelve Items of the March, 1848 Revolution.

The Habsburgs, after putting down the revolution in Austria and Italy, turned against the Hungarians. Here the rebellion turned into full-fledged revolution, with the Hungarians declaring their independence from Vienna. The Habsburgs managed to suppress the Hungarians with the help of Russia in the summer of 1849 ("Capitulation at Vilagos").

After the bloody revenge (the execution of Prime Minister Lajos Batthyány and the 13 Arad martyrs), the country rejected cooperation. In 1867 a compromise with the Habsburgs was arranged (with Ferenc Deak taking a leading role) and a dual government was established.

Economic life, especially the underdeveloped industrial and transportation sectors of the economy, started to develop quickly. In 1873 Pest and Buda were united and Budapest became a true metropolis. The Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy during the reign of Emperor and King Franz Joseph (1848-1916) was a heterogeneous empire with multiple nationalities; it was active politically, especially in the Balkans.
World War I
After the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo, the First World War (1914-1918) broke out and Austria-Hungary joined the side of Germany. In accordance with Wilson's "14 Points", defeat saw the Austro-Hungarian Empire divided into independent nation-states.

After the "Aster Revolution" led by Mihály Károlyi (1918) and the Hungarian Soviet Republic (1919), a right-wing consolidation took place under the leadership of Regent Miklós Horthy. In addition to the war indemnity, the Trianon Peace Agreement (1920) meant the loss of large areas of land: the historical, thousand-year-old state lost two-thirds of its territory, and 3.3 million Hungarians were left outside the borders of the new State in Transylvania, Felvidék, Burgenland, Bánság, Muraköz and Bácska.

The peace agreement, perceived as a national trauma, determined Hungarian foreign policy between the two World Wars. Stability in domestic politics and the economy were swept away by the Great Depression (1929-33). Hungarian politicians, hoping for a revision of the new borders, drifted into World War II (1939-1945) on the side of Germany and Italy, both of whom were likewise dissatisfied with the Versailles Treaty.
World War II
In return for territories re-annexed in the early stages of the war, Hungary supported the Germans, while being in contact with the Allies, as well. The German army occupied Hungary in March, 1944. Ghettos were established and 500,000 people were sent to concentration camps in a few months.

After Miklós Horthy's attempts for an armistice, the Germans forced his resignation and transferred power to the Hungarian Nazis. Meanwhile, the Soviet Army reached Hungary's borders. The country became a theatre of war between the German and Soviet armies. Budapest was destroyed and the country was sacked.

Behind the Iron Curtain
In 1945 free elections were held, but the results were irrelevant as the presence of the Soviet Army strengthened the communists and resulted in the elimination of the multi-party system by 1948. This was the period of deportations, fear and the terror of the communist secret police.

On 23 October 1956 a revolution aimed at restoring democracy broke out against the communist dictatorship of Mátyás Rákosi. After the Soviet Army had occupied Hungary a second time, the Communist Party executed, among others, Prime Minister Imre Nagy. A strong emigration to the West began.

The ensuing "soft" dictatorship of János Kádár made Hungary the "most cheerful barracks" in the Soviet block. But rising living standards resulted in a large national debt.

In the 80s, along with the economic crisis, political fermentation began. With the power of the Soviet Union impaired, the Hungarian Communist Party lost its military support and, facing ever more severe economic problems, agreed to hold free elections.
The Third Hungarian Republic
On 23 October 1989, in commemoration of the revolution against the communist dictatorship, the Third Hungarian Republic was declared. Hungary, as a result of the multi-party elections of the 90s, has been undergoing great economic and political development within the democratic, parliamentary system.

Hungary has become a member of NATO and the European Union.