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Country Information Hungary


at a glance

destination Hungary

civilization and culture





93 030 square kilometres


9,91 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Budapest (1.7 million inhabitants 2008)

Official language


Gross national product per capita

US$ 19 800 (2008) (PPP)

Population growth

-0.26% (2009)

Life expectancy

73,4 years (men: 69,3 years, women: 77,9 years) (2009)

Infant mortality

7,9 per 1000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy

1 % (2007)




Tourism is an important source of income in particular in the Budapest area, on the puszta plain and around Lake Balaton. According to UNWTO in the year 2005 approximately 10 million guests came into the country and paid 3,4 billion Euro.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

Hungary is primarily a transit country for children and women from Russia, Romania, the Ukraine, Bulgaria and the Balkans. Criminal gangs take them on to Austria, Germany, and even as far as America for purposes of sexual exploitation. Official agencies reckon that 150 000 people are trafficked though Hungary every year. 

Hungary is not of primary importance as a source country, or as a destination for tourists with paedo-sexual intentions.

Statistics show that 22% of the prostitutes in Hungary are younger than 18 years old. As many 60% of prostitutes belong to the Roma minority. The commercial sexual exploitation of even younger children is widespread in the country and the European Union has called on Hungary to address this problem urgently.


Legal situation

The sexual abuse of children in Hungary can be penalised with prison sentences of up to fifteen years. The production and sale of child pornography is also subject  to prison sentences of up to eight years. Numerous arrests of foreigners show that the Hungarians are enforcing this legislation to the full.



According to estimates from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, at the end of 2007 approximately 3.300 people in Hungary were infected with HIV, including 1.000 women. How many children were infected could not be estimated. In the same year less than 500 Hungarians died following infection with HIV.


Local Contacts


South East European Child Rights Action Network


Metelkova 6,

1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Phone: +386 1 438 5250

Fax: +386 1 432 3383




ESZTER Foundation and Center

1525. Budapest Pf.: 41, HUNGARY

Phone: +36 1 466-9872

Fax: +36 1 466-9872








The nomadic Magyars occupied the middle Danube area in the late 9th century.  Stephen I Christianised the country a century later and it enjoyed independence until it was overrun by the Mongols in 1241, and by the Ottoman Turks a century later. By 1568 the area of current-day Hungary was divided in three, the west going to the Habsburgs, with Transylvania autonomous, and the central part under Turkish control until the Habsburgs drove them out at the end of the 17th century and unified the area under the Austrian crown. The Hungarians were dissatisfied with the hard rule of the Habsburgs and organised numerous uprisings, until in 1848 the revolution was declared in Pest. This was eventually suppressed with Russian support. As a concession, the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary was declared in 1867.

Hungary became a separate state only in 1918 after the First World War, though consisting only of the Magyar areas. It sided with Germany in the Second World War, which ended for Hungary with the invasion of the Red Army in April 1945. Opposition to the rule of the Hungarian People's Republic which was formed in 1949 led to an uprising in 1956 which was suppressed by Soviet tanks; the ties to the Soviet Union were finally cemented. 

In 1989, the Hungarians opened their borders to Austria, which accelerated the flight to the west of political refugees from East Germany, and soon after declared its independence.


State and society

The revised constitution of 1989 establishes Hungary as a parliamentary democracy with a National Assembly. This elects the President, who has a largely representative function.

The prime minister and the government are responsible to the National Assembly. After the national election of 2002, the government was formed by a coalition of Socialists and Liberals, with a narrow majority. Prime minister is the independent Peter Medgyessy. In 2001, the parliament elected the independent Professor Ferenc Mádl as President.


Ethnic Hungarians account for 90% of the populations. Ethnic minorities include Roma (Gypsy - 4%) and Germans (2.5%). Most Hungarians are Roman Catholic (52%), followed by Calvinists (16%). 14% are without religious affiliation.


Hungarians are proud of their long history and their cultural heritage, and in particular of their language, which is Finno-Ugric group, which is related in Europe only to Finnish and Estonian. Importance is attached to values such as independence family, education, security, property, and travel.

The government is taking steps to improve the situation regarding gender equality. Wages are lower on average for women, and they face problems obtaining promotion. The attitudes towards homosexuals are becoming more tolerant.



After overcoming problems in the transition from a communist economy to a market economy, the Ukraine can now present positive performance statistics. Economic growth in 2004 was above 8%, although the inflation rate of  6% is also relatively high. Nevertheless, the increase in wages (2003 by 13%) have led to a noticeable improvement in living conditions for those in work.


As the former grain basket of the Soviet Union, the economy is still reliant to a considerable extent on the agricultural industry. However, the radioactive contamination of the north and the loss of soil fertility in some areas are leading to problems. Further important sectors of the economy are mining, mechanical engineering, and shipbuilding, as well as the manufacture of domestic electrical appliances.