Once one of the largest medieval kingdoms in the continent, Hungary has emerged from communism to become a full-fledged democracy, a member of the European Union, and a thriving medical tourism center.Â Its expertise in science and technology has helped Hungary develop into a powerhouse in the dental and cosmetic tourism industries.Â
Early settlers came from the Ugrian branch of the Finno-Ugrian group of people, who were believed to have settled along the River Volga.Â In the first millennium, these people moved south where they exchanged their nomadic ways of life for herding.Â As time passed, these herdsmen were joined by other tribes, and before long, they took on the name of the strongest tribe among them â€“ the Megyars - as a collective name to identify themselves.Â This is the origin of the word â€śMagyarâ€ť that Hungarians currently use to identify their country.Â
In the medieval ages, Magyar had one of the largest populations in Europe, and was unified by the Magyar tribe leader Arpad, who forged these tribes into a single Hungarian nation.Â In 1000 AD Stephen I, a descendant of Arpad, established Hungary as a Christian kingdom and was crowned king.Â Under him, reforms were initiated to form Hungary into a feudal Christian state.Â The first great challenge this new Christian state faced was the Mongol invasion in 1241.Â When the Mongols retreated, large fortified castles were built as a protection against any further attacks.Â Through this period, descendants of Arpad continued to rule.Â
In 1526, at the Battle of Mohacs, the Ottoman Empire tasted their first victory over the Hungarians.Â After this battle, Hungary was divided into three partitions.Â The Hapsburg Emperors controlled the western partition, the Turks controlled Budapest, and the southern and eastern regions (modern-day Romania) remained the "citadel" of Hungarian culture.Â The Kingdom would not be fully reunited again until 1718. Â
By the eighteenth century, winds of revolution were sweeping across Europe, and the Hungarians were not left untouched.Â A national revival movement for reforms emerged (like making Hungarian the official language).Â The years following this were marked by turmoil as the various ethnic groups began to voice their demands. Â
In 1918, after the end of the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy collapsed, and thereafter followed more turmoil as the Transylvanians declared themselves to be part of Romania.Â In the midst of this chaos, the Communists came to power with the promise of restoring the glory of Hungary with help from the Soviet empire.Â Under this new regime, housing, transportation, and agricultural and commercial land were nationalized.Â Russian interference in Hungary sparked resentment.Â In 1956, the Hungarian revolution marked by a blood bath in Parliament Square, led to revolutionaries taking over the pro-Soviet Hungarian Workerâ€™s Party.Â The Party declared it would work towards a slow democratization of Hungary, and made many notable changes, including severing its participation in the Warsaw pact.Â Â
In May 1990, the first free elections in Hungary were held.Â It was a relatively smooth transition to democracy, when compared to other Eastern bloc nations.Â In 2004, Hungary was accepted as a member of the European Union.