Let's begin with some boring historical facts. Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe, settled in 896, before France and Germany became separate entities, and before the unification of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In the year 1000 Hungary was established as a Catholic Apostolic Kingdom under Saint Stephen I of Hungary.
Some essential vocabulary lesson: kingdom=királyság
Before the Hungarians migrated to the Carpathian Basin, the Huns lived here, who built up a powerful empire under Attila. But now it is believed that the origin of the name "Hungary" does not come from them, but rather originated from 7th century, when some of our tribes were part of a Bulgar alliance called On-Ogour, which in Bulgar Turkic meant "(the) Ten Arrows".
Medieval Hungary, the third largest of any country in Europe, controlled more territory than medieval France. After the First World War more than 70% of the country was gone (mostly to Slovakia and Romania) and there are quite many Hungarians who still want to get those back.
Our national holidays are connected to failed revolutions. We celebrate the 15th of March (revolution in 1848 that led to a war), 6th of October (when 13 generals of that war were killed) and 23rd of October (a revolution in 1956 that ended 12 days later with many revolutioners being executed).
Hungary was amongst the first communist-era countries that opposed the Soviet regime during the Cold War. In 1989, Hungary became the first communist-block country to open its borders with Western Europe.
Hungarians are quite proud of many inventions like the noiseless match, Rubik's cube, holography, ballpoint pen, transformer, the first electric motor, the first electrical generator, theory of the hydrogen bomb, BASIC programming language, the krypton electric bulb, the particle accelerator and others. Till 2009, 13 Hungarians had received a Nobel Prize.
Rubik’s Cube = Rubik kocka (the photo shows another one of Rubik's inventions)
Some famous Hungarians and Hungarian descendants where indicated) in Hollywood:
Alexander Korda (film director e.g. The Thief of Bagdad) Béla Lugosi (Dracula with a terrible accent) Peter Lorre (actor: Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around The World in Eighty Days, The Man Who Knew Too Much) George Cukor (son of Hungarian immigrants, director of My Fair Lady and - partly - Gone with the Wind) Michael Curtiz (director of Casablanca) Miklos Rozsa (score composer: Ben Hur, The Thief of Bagdad, Jungle Book, Double Idemnity, Quo Vadis etc.) Vilmos Zsigmond (Hungarian cinematographer of e.g. Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Maverick) Andrew Vajna (producer: Rambo II-III, Terminator III, Total Recall, Die Hard 3 etc.) Tony Curtis (son of Hungarian immigrants in New York) Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan's father was Hungarian) Adrien Brody (The Pianist - mother is Hungarian) Jerry Seinfeld (his father was Hungarian) Cicciolina (no comment) Gabor Zsa Zsa (no comment)
+1 Nimrod Antal: he will direct the Predators remake!
Hungary has won two Oscars (not counting the many Oscars Hungarians won working on Hollywood movies) : Mephisto (Best Foreign Language Movie 1982) dir. István Szabó and The Fly (Best Short Film, Animated, 1981) dir. Ferenc Rófusz
Hungary has one of the most important thermal spring cultures in the entire Europe. There are as many as 1,500 spas in the country, adorned with Roman, Greek and Turkish architecture. Hungary also boasts of 450 public baths. In Budapest you can find the largest medicinal bath in Europe (and that's where that chess photo was taken: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/395610).
I guess that might have helped Hungarians win so many medals in swimming and water polo competitions. Hungary has won the eighth highest number of Summer Olympic medals overall and the eighth highest number of Summer Olympic Gold medals. Hungary has the most Olympic gold medals per capita.
One of the most well known Hungarian in Europe is called Ferenc Puskás who was a great football player int he ’50s. Hungarian football has been very poor int he last two decades but football fans still start to have tears in their eyes when Puskás is mentioned.
Most Hungarians are quite pessimistic. We have one of the highest suicide rate in the EU. Even our national anthem sounds quite sad (I have found this translation on-line: )
O my God, the Magyar bless With Thy plenty and good cheer! With Thine aid his just cause press, Where his foes to fight appear. Fate, who for so long didst frown, Bring him happy times and ways; Atoning sorrow hath weighed down Sins of past and future days.
The Capital of Hungary is Budapest (sometimes confused with Bucharest which makes Hungarians very angry, although they couldn’t name the capitals of any USA states or countries in middle Africa). It consists of two parts (previously two cities) : Buda and Pest, separated by river Danube.
The House of Parliament was voted as one of the nicest ones of the world (it was considered kitschy when it was built in 1896). As the country is a lot smaller than it had been before, the building is quite impractically big now.
The city of Pécs (which was also the largest Early Christian Necropolis outside Italy) will be the European Capital of Culture in 2010; I’ve just had a rather popular geeklist about some public game boards there.