The population has decreased slightly every year since 1981 as the death toll has come to exceed birth rates. At the same time, the proportion of older people in the population is increasing – almost 20 percent of the population was older than 65 in 2018 and by 2060 the proportion is expected to have risen to close to 30 percent. Seven out of ten residents live in urban areas, mainly in Budapest, where more than one in five Hungarians live.
The Hungarians (Magyars) are a Finno-Ugric people who settled on the Hungarian Plains landscape in the 8th century. During the Middle Ages, they expanded their territory and were one of Eastern European rulers until the Ottomans (Turks) took power in 1526 (see Ancient History). When, after World War I, Hungary was forced to resign two-thirds of its territory to Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, millions of Hungarians ended up in neighboring countries. A few years into the 2010s, it was estimated that around 2.4 million ethnic Hungarians lived primarily in Romania, but also in Slovakia, Serbia and Ukraine. There are also Hungarians in Austria, Croatia and Slovenia.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Hungary, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
The number of Jews in today’s Hungary is estimated at between 35,000 and 120,000. Many are believed to have chosen to “lie low” with their Jewish ancestry. Severe persecutions during the Second World War were followed by a communist regime that also posed difficulties for Jews, and later on concerns about the strong nationalist policies pursued by right-wing governments in the 2000s. During the 1930s and World War II, when Hungary was close to Nazi Germany, the Jewish minority was severely decimated. In 1944 alone, more than half of the country’s over 800,000 Jews were deported. Another 150,000 died from the hardships or were executed. Tens of thousands of Jews were rescued through foreign efforts, including the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. (Director Kjell Greed’s feature film “Good evening, Mr. Wallenberg” from 1990, which is based on real events.
After the war, most of the German minority was expelled. In a people exchange with Czechoslovakia, 65,000 Slovaks moved out of Hungary while an equal number of Hungarians moved in.
More than nine-tenths of the country’s citizens are estimated to be ethnic Hungarians. The largest minority group is the Roma (estimated at between 500,000 and 800,000). The country also houses Germans, Serbs, Slovaks, Romanians, Croats, Slovenes and Poles as well as smaller groups of Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians and Routines. The 13 officially recognized minorities have, among other things, a statutory right to use their mother tongue in contacts with the authorities and to set up their own elected bodies which can decide on cultural and educational issues, among other things. Despite legislation, the Roma are being discriminated against in Hungarian society and conditions seem to have deteriorated in recent years.
The Fidesz government under Viktor Orbán, with “carrots”, encouraged Hungarians to have more children. Family policy contains elements such as tax relief for large families and free test tube fertilization (see Calendar). At the same time, immigration and refugee reception have been countered, not least in the EU context.
Until 1844, Latin was the official language of Hungary. Today, the entire population speaks Hungarian, which belongs to the Finnish-Ugric language group and is written in Latin letters. Minorities also speak their own languages. Russian and German are the most common foreign languages. The German is traditionally strong, especially among older people and in western Hungary. It is becoming increasingly common for young people to understand and speak English, which has replaced Russian as the first foreign language in school. However, English is still less prevalent than in most other European countries.
Hungarian pronunciation guide
Hungarian is not one of the lighter European languages, and every nuance in the pronunciation has its exact spelling. Here is a little hum about how it should sound.
Generally speaking, vocals without accent over are “dark” and short, and those with accents become “lighter” and longer:
A / Á = speed / throat (Hungarian a sometimes also has a pull on yoke), E / É = male / hot, O / Ó = ball / mother, Ö / Ő = hearing / onion, U / Ú = cough / threat, Ü / Ű = blank / surface
Ly, Ny, Ty sounds almost like a soft Swedish j with a barely audible l, n or t before, Gy sounds almost like a soft dj
C = ts, G = always hard, like street, S = sch, Z = toning
Cs = tj, Sz = s, Zs = fading zj, like a French j
Székesfehérvár ≈ Seekkastfäheervaar
Debrecen ≈ Däbrätsän
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
Hungarians approx. 92%, Roma officially 2%, though disputed figure, believed to be at least 5%, others 3-6% (census 2001)
Number of residents
9 781 127 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
71.1 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
9.7 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
13.0 per 1000 residents (2016)
-0.3 percent (2017)
1.5 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
52.4 percent (2017)
76 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
79 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
72 years (2016)
Hungarian is the official language, Romani and several other minority languages are also spoken
Acute economic crisis
Hungary’s credit rating is lowered and the currency is depreciating, since the government’s promises of tax cuts and its other economic policies have lowered confidence in the market. It is feared that the budget deficit will grow in the long term, partly because of a deferred pension reform.
State media control
Shortly before Hungary is to take over as EU President at the New Year, Parliament decides on a constitutional change that allows the state to control the content of the media. Offensive or “politically unbalanced” publication should be fined. The law is heavily criticized by the media, opposition and the EU.
The Constitutional Court’s influence is limited
Parliament adopts a law that restricts the Constitutional Court’s right to comment on fiscal and budgetary issues;
Environmental disaster since dust erupted
The state of emergency is then issued hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic and corrosive sludge poured out of a broken pond in western Hungary and flooded several villages with at least ten casualties, about 150 injured and enormous destruction of nature as a result. Several streams are poisoned. The aluminum plant that was behind the environmental disaster is put under state control.
New tax for finance companies
In the wake of the financial crisis, the government faces a new tax for banks and other financial companies, which earned huge sums before the crisis.
Loan negotiations with the IMF are suspended
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) requests that the government clarify the plans for further budget cuts. Then the government decides to leave negotiations with the IMF for additional loans. After four years of austerity, the budget deficit has dropped from 9 percent to 3.8 percent of GDP. At the same time, unemployment has risen in three years from 7 percent to 12 percent, and the economy has almost no growth. The government’s decision to leave talks with the IMF causes the Hungarian currency forint to fall in value.
Pál Schmitt from Fidesz is elected President of Parliament. Schmitt wins with 263 votes against 59 for challenger András Balogh. Schmitt will take up the assignment in August.
Orbán back in power
New old government and prime minister will be Fidesz’s leader Viktor Orbán, who promises that the new government will cut taxes and create more jobs. But the main challenge is to keep the budget deficit down and to strengthen the economy.
Citizenship Law upsets Slovakia
Parliament votes for a law that gives ethnic Hungarians abroad the right to seek Hungarian citizenship; The decision provokes anger in Slovakia, where on the same day Parliament adopts a law that Slovaks applying for another citizenship should be deprived of their Slovak.
Big rolling victory for Fidesz
The Socialist Party loses the parliamentary elections, and the opposition right-wing party Fidesz wins a landslide victory by a two-thirds majority. The social government’s saving of the economy will be its political fall, since tax increases, reductions in wages and pensions with several budget cuts have created a widespread public dissatisfaction. Ironically, Hungary is on its way out of the economic crisis after a few years of tangible remediation of state finances. In both polls, Fidesz takes 52.7 percent of the vote and 262 of 386 seats. The Socialist Party is allowed to settle for 19.3 percent and 59 seats. In third place is the anti-Roman, anti-Semitic and Nazi-inspired right-wing party Jobbik with 16.7 percent. Jobbik thus takes a seat in the national parliament for the first time and receives 47 seats. The newly formed Green and Left Liberal PartyPolitics Can Be Different (LMP) also comes into Parliament with 7.5 percent of the vote and 16 seats.