Official name: Republic of Hungary
Area: 93,030 square kilometers (35,919 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Mount Kékes (1,014 meters/3,327 feet)
Lowest point on land: Tisza River (78 meters/256 feet)
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 2 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 528 kilometers (328 miles) from east to west; 268 kilometers (167 miles) from north to south
Land boundaries: 2,009 kilometers (1,248 miles) total boundary length; Austria 366 kilometers (227 miles); Croatia 329 kilometers (204 miles); Romania 443 kilometers (275 miles); Serbia and Montenegro 151 kilometers (94 miles); Slovakia 515 kilometers (320 miles); Slovenia 102 kilometers (63 miles); Ukraine 103 kilometers (64 miles)
Territorial sea limits: None
Located in the Carpathian Basin, in the heart of Central Europe, Hungary occupies one-third of the territory of the pre–World War I Austro-Hungarian Empire. Hungary is a landlocked, predominantly flat country, with more than four-fifths of its terrain at elevations below 656 feet (200 meters). It covers an area of 93,030 square kilometers (35,919 square miles), or slightly less than the state of Indiana.
Hungary has no territories or dependencies.
Hungary has a continental climate, with Atlantic and Mediterranean influences. It has cold winters, warm summers, and abrupt seasonal transitions. The mean temperature ranges from -4°C to 0°C (25°F to 32°F) in January, and 18°C to 23°C (64°F to 73°F) in July. Temperatures as high as 43°C (109°F) have been recorded, however, while the record low is -34°C (-29°F). Rainfall decreases from west to east; the plains around the Tisza River depend on irrigation to prevent crop failure from summer drought. Average annual rainfall ranges from around 51 centimeters (20 inches) in the east to approximately 76 centimeters (30 inches) in the west.
Hungary can be divided into four major regions. To the north, a long system of low mountains and hills stretches across the country for 400 kilometers (250 miles) from southwest to northeast. East of the Danube River and south of this mountain system is the Great Alföld, Hungary's largest region and its agricultural heartland. The northern mountains divide the land west of the Danube into two regions. In the northeast corner of the country is the Little Alföld. To the south is the hilly region known as Transdanubia, between the mountains and the Danube.
Hungary is a landlocked country.
Lake Balaton, 120 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Budapest, is Hungary's largest lake; it is also the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe. About 72 kilometers (45 miles) long, its width varies, never exceeding 13 kilometers (8 miles). It averages a little more than 10 feet in depth. There are few other lakes in Hungary. Lake Fertõ (also known as Neusiedler See), on the northwestern border, is shared with Austria; Hungary's portion is only about one-fourth of the total. Lake Velence, between Lake Balaton and Budapest, is adjusted artificially to maintain water depths between 1 and 2 meters (3 and 6 feet). Hungary has many mineral springs, which are used for both health and recreational purposes.
Hungary's longest and most important river is the Danube (Duna), which enters the country in the northwest, where it forms the western portion of the border with Slovakia. It flows eastward until it bends north of Budapest and then flows south, roughly at the center of the country, until it crosses the border with Serbia and Montenegro. Altogether, about 386 kilometers (240 miles) of the Danube's total length of 2,776 kilometers (1,725 miles) border or flow through Hungary. The Rába River flows into the Danube on the Slovakian border, and the Drava joins it much farther south. The Tisza River, which drains much of eastern Hungary, is a tributary of the Danube. It rises in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine, enters Hungary in the northeast, and flows southward through the Great Plain, joining the Danube farther south in Serbia and Montenegro. Other notable rivers in Hungary include the Mura River, the Kapos River, the Sió River, and the Marcal River.
There are no desert regions in Hungary.
Hungary has two distinct plains regions. The larger and more important one is the Great Alföld, which spreads across central and eastern Hungary, occupying all of the land south of the northern mountain system. It is a fertile basin with average elevations of slightly more than 91 meters (300 feet). The Danube forms its western boundary, and it is traversed from north to south by the Tisza River.
In the northwest corner of the country is the Little Alföld, whose composition and elevation are similar to those of the larger plain to the south.
The hills of Hungary's northern uplands rise to elevations of 244 to 305 meters (800 to 1,000 feet). A few isolated parts of the Alpine foothills on the Austrian border rise to nearly 914 meters (3,000 feet). Farther south, the Transdanubia region is composed of rolling, hilly land that rises to elevations of 610 meters (2,000 feet).
Reaching elevations of 400 to 700 meters (1,300 to 2,300 feet), the Bakony Mountains constitute the major geographical feature west of the Danube River. Farther east, the Pilis Mountains rise between the Bakony range and the Danube. The hills and mountains east of the Danube account for 4,988 square kilometers (3,100 square miles) of the country's area. They are the only uplands in the country that are part of the Carpathian system. The individual ranges in the group extend northeastward from the gorge of the Danube River near Esztergom for about 225 kilometers (140 miles). Their highest point—and the highest point in Hungary—is Mount Kékes (1,014 meters/ 3,327 feet) in the Mátra range.
The caverns of Aggteleki Park are small but fascinating.
There are no significant plateaus or monoliths in Hungary.
An extensive series of levees have been built on Hungary's plains to prevent disastrous flooding of the Tisza and Danube Rivers. In the nineteenth century, floods around these rivers came close to destroying the two cities that currently combine to make up Budapest. The city is located on both banks of the Danube, and eight bridges across the river link its two sectors.
Geothermal aquifers underlie nearly all of Hungary, sending large volumes of water between 40°C (104°F) and 70°C (158°F) to the earth's surface. Much of this water is used to heat greenhouses.
Dent, Bob. Hungary . 2nd ed. Blue Guides. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998.
Ivory, Michael. Essential Hungary . Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1998.
Richardson, Dan, and Charles Hebbert. Hungary: The Rough Guide . 3rd ed. London: Rough Guides, 1995.