Hungary

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HUNGARY is a landlocked country sharing borders with Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Ukraine. It is a region of plains ringed by the high mountain ranges of neighboring countries.

The main topographical feature is the Great Plain or Great Alföld, which is sit­uated east of the River Danube and extends southwards and eastwards across Hungary’s borders. North of the Great Plain, near the Hungarian border, there are several upland areas. A smaller Little Plain or Little Alföld occurs in the northwest and continues into southern Slovakia.

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The River Danube divides Hungary into two unequal halves. The Great Plain lies to the east, while in the western, smaller portion, called Transdubnia, there is a generally more varied landscape with several upland regions, including the Mecsek Hills in the south and the Bakony Mountains just to the north of Lake Balaton. This lake is the largest in central Europe.

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The Danube and its tributaries, being navigable, form an important part of the country’s transportation system and are the source of most of the country’s water for domestic and industrial needs. Paradoxically, flooding of the rivers is also a problem, and flood protection schemes are in place to try to limit the damage.

Hungary has a continental type climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters, with most rainfall in the late spring and early summer. Parts of Hungary, particularly in the east, are subject to drought and irrigation is needed to sustain agriculture.

Since the collapse of communism, and especially during the last decade, farms have gradually been returning to private ownership. The government has invested money in improving agriculture by mechanizing farms, using fertilizers, and bringing new land under cultivation. Yields of cereals for bread-making and rice have since soared, and large areas between the Danube and Tisza rivers now used to grow vegetables. However, the use of artificial fertilizers has caused water pollution.

About 18 percent of Hungary covered with forest, and trees include broad-leaved types such as oak, beech, birch and lime as well as some coniferous species. Woodlands declined in the postwar years because of I overexploitation but have recovered to a certain extent thanks to reforestation schemes and stricter controls on harvesting. Hungary’s rivers and lakes, particularly Lake Balaton, are a source of freshwater fish that are I harvested but stocks in some areas are affected by water pollution.

Pollution is a serious problem in Hungary, with both water and air being affected. The chemicals used in agriculture are the main culprits on the land with the run-off affecting the lakes and watercourses. Emissions of sulfur dioxide from industries and vehicles cause acid rain, which in turn affects vegetation, including the country’s forests and also causes serious health problems for people. Hungary is endeavoring to address the problems caused by pollution.

Hungary is relatively poor in mineral resources, but it does have substantial deposits of bauxite ore from which aluminum produced. Other minerals include fairly modest reserves of natural gas, petroleum, coal, and lignite, uranium, iron ore, and manganese. The country is heavily reliant upon imports of oil and coal to supply its energy needs, although over 40 percent of electricity now generated by nuclear power.

Hungary’s economy transformed from one based almost entirely on agriculture to one with a sizeable industrial base. During the postwar communist years, most industries were state-owned but, in the 1980s and more particularly in the 1990s, there has been a rapid move towards private enterprise.

Industry in Hungary has always been dependent upon high levels of imported raw materials. Industries and manufacturing include the production of aluminum, chemicals, fertilizers, steel, cement, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, textiles, leather goods, plastics, electronic equipment and computers, agricultural products, and foodstuffs. Tourism is a significant contributor to the economy, which has grown considerably since the demise of communism.

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