Hungary was a powerful Christian Kingdom for hundreds of years, serving as a defense against Ottoman expansion in Europe. The Kingdom was eventually occupied by the Ottoman Empire and then integrated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the 16th Century until its collapse during World War I. Hungary came out of the war as an independent kingdom, though the re-drawing of borders left about one third of ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries. After the Second World War, Hungary fell under Communist rule. In 1956, an uprising against Soviet domination received widespread international attention, and though crushed by the Red Army, Hungary did later become the first Eastern European country to gain some economic freedom. In 1989, Hungary played an important role in accelerating the collapse of communism when it opened its border with Austria, allowing thousands of East German refugees to escape to the West. Since its independence from communist Rule in 1989, Hungary has been a Parliamentary Democracy. Visit our links page for sites related to Hungarian current events.
The Hungarian language is one of the few within the European Union that are not of Indo-European origin. Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric language. Most Hungarians speak at least one, if not two, additional languages. Students are encouraged to study Hungarian during their time in Budapest.