Main article: History of Hungary
Tradition holds that Hungary was founded by Árpád, who led the Magyars into the Pannonian plains in the 9th century. The kingdom of Hungary was established in 1000 by Saint-King Stephen the Great. Initially the history of Hungary was made in the triangle with Poland and Bohemia, with the many liaisons with Popes and Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire.
Gradually Hungary turned into a big, independent kingdom, that formed a tolerant Central European culture, as a part of European civilisation. The Hungarian culture influenced others, i.e. Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The golden age ended with the Ottoman conquest at the beginning of the 16th century, when the rest of Hungary came under Austrian control in the 16th century, with Austria conquering all of Hungary by the end of the 17th century.
Under the Austrian Habsburg dynasty, Hungary would eventually, in 1867, become an autonomous part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until the Empire's collapse following World War I. Hungary separated from Austria on October 31, 1918.
In March 1919 the communists joined the government, and in April, Bela Kun proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic. A period of red terror began; the Romanian army invaded, the communist forces were defeated and the Soviet Republic toppled on August 6 1919. In January 1920, elections were held for a unicameral assembly. Admiral Miklós Horthy was elected Regent. In June, the Treaty of Trianon was signed, fixing Hungary's borders. Compared with the prewar Kingdom, the size and population of Hungary were reduced by about two-thirds.
Over a decade later, Horthy made a limited alliance with Nazi Germany in the 1930s, in the hope of revising the territorial losses that had followed World War I. Hungary was rewarded by Germany with territories belonging to Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania, and took an active part in World War II. However, in October 1944, Hitler had to replace Horthy with a Hungarian Nazi collaborator to avert Hungary's defection.
Following the fall of Hitler, Hungary once again was run by communists. In 1956, a revolt and announced withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact were met with a military intervention by the Soviet Union and led to the deposition and execution of prime minister Imre Nagy. In the late 1980s, Hungary led the movement to dissolve the Warsaw Pact and shifted toward multiparty democracy and a market-oriented economy. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Hungary developed closer ties with Western Europe, joined NATO in 1999 and joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.
Main article: Politics of Hungary
The President of the Republic, elected by the parliament every 4 years, has a largely ceremonial role, but powers also include appointing the prime minister. The prime minister selects cabinet ministers and has the exclusive right to dismiss them. Each cabinet nominee appears before one or more parliamentary committees in consultative open hearings and must be formally approved by the president.
The unicameral, 386-member National Assembly (the Országgyűlés) is the highest organ of state authority and initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the prime minister. A party must win at least 5% of the national vote to form a parliamentary faction. National parliamentary elections are held every 4 years (the last was in April 2002). A 15-member Constitutional Court has power to challenge legislation on grounds of unconstitutionality.
Main article: Counties of Hungary
Hungary is subdivided administratively into 40 regions. Of these, 19 are counties (megyék, singular - megye) and 20 are so-called urban counties (singular - megyei város), in addition to which there is one capital city (főváros): Budapest. The other 39 are: