Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia

Hungary

Hungary
Hungary

The “H” in the name of Hungary is most likely due to early founded historical associations with the Huns, who had settled Hungary.

Barbarians Rising: Attila, King of the Huns | History
Note: There is some mild violence in this video.

Hungary’s geography has traditionally been defined by its two main waterways, the Danube and Tisza rivers.  The Danube flows north-south right through the center of contemporary Hungary, and the entire country lies within its drainage basin.

The Danube and Tisza rivers flow through Hungary.
The Danube and Tisza rivers flow through Hungary.

Much of Hungary is covered in plains and rolling hills with low mountains, including the very eastern stretch of the Alps in the west.

The landscape of Hungary in the Transdanubia region
The landscape of Hungary in the Transdanubia region

Hungary has a temperate seasonal climate with generally warm summers with low overall humidity levels but frequent rain showers and cold snowy winters.

Winter in Hungary
Winter in Hungary

Hungary is a land of thermal water. A passion for spa culture and Hungarian history have been connected from the very beginning. Hungarian spas feature Roman, Greek, Turkish, and northern country architectural elements. Approximately 1,500 thermal springs can be found in Hungary and there are about 450 public baths. Lake Hévíz is the largest thermal lake in the world.

Lake Hévíz in Hungary
Lake Hévíz in Hungary

Hungarians, are also known as Magyars. Hungarian is the official and predominant spoken language in Hungary.  Hungarian (Magyar) is a member of the Uralic language family, unrelated to any neighboring language and distantly related to Finnish and Estonian.

Present-day regions in Europe where Hungarian is the majority language
Present-day regions in Europe where Hungarian is the majority language

Hungary is currently experiencing sub-replacement fertility; its estimated total fertility rate of 1.43 children per woman. As a result, its population is gradually declining and rapidly aging. The government of Hungary is (at the time of this writing) trying to boost the birthrate with all sorts of benefits for families. A program in Hungary is offering cash to couples for having kids, but the reasoning for it echoes some of Europe’s darkest chapters. Jon Wertheim reports (via 60 minutes) on the anti-immigrant motivation to “keep Hungary Hungarian.”
Note: This video may not be available to all viewers. If it’s not available for you, you may want to do a search for it.

Hungary is the largest electronics producer in Central and Eastern Europe. Electronics manufacturing and research are among the main drivers of innovation and economic growth in the country.

Budapest’s reputation as a city of great elegance has helped it become one of the major tourist attractions in Eastern Europe.

Optional video: Budapest: The Best of Hungary
Note: This video is 25 min. long.

Traditional dishes such as the world-famous Goulash feature prominently in Hungarian cuisine. Dishes are often flavored with paprika (ground red peppers), a Hungarian innovation. The paprika powder, obtained from a special type of pepper, is one of the most common spices used in typical Hungarian cuisine.

Goulash is a stew with paprika.
Goulash is a stew with paprika.
gyümölcsleves
Gyümölcsleves is a chilled, sweet soup made from redcurrants, blackberries, sour cherries or other seasonal fruit.
Dobos cake is a sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. The sides are coated with ground nuts.
Dobos cake is a sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. The sides are coated with ground nuts.
Chicken paprikash
Chicken paprikash is traditionally served with “dumpling-like boiled egg noodles” (nokedli), a broad noodle similar to the German spätzle.

The Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic (Slovakia)

Czech Republic map
Czech Republic map

Historically, the region occupied by the modern Czech Republic was known as Bohemia and Moravia. The Czech Republic and Slovakia were, until recently, part of the same country: Czechoslovakia, which was created in 1918 from part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War II ended. On January 1, 1993, they became two new independent nations. Slovakia is known officially as the Slovak Republic.

Slovakia map
Slovakia map – Notice how the Danube River flows along the southwest border.
Mr. History: A Super Quick History of the Czech Republic

Czechs and Slovaks alike descended from Slavic peoples. The national language of the Czech Republic is Czech, while the official language of Slovakia is Slovakian. Both languages are in the Slavic linguistic family. The Czechs have one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, and the Czech Republic has one of the least religious populations in the world, while 62% of Slovakians claim to be Roman Catholics.

Interesting population fact: Vietnamese immigrants were invited as guest workers and settled in the Czech Republic during the Communist period. In 2009, there were about 70,000 Vietnamese living permanently in the country.

Under Communist rule, the standard of living was very high in Czechoslovakia. When market reforms began in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the standard of living declined to some extent. In general, the Czech Republic has more rapidly and effectively transferred state control of industry to private ownership than has Slovakia. Also, Slovakia was hit harder by the move away from defense industries, which had employed many people during the Communist period. Unemployment has consistently been higher in Slovakia. Slovakia is not as industrialized as the Czech Republic but has made strides since independence to provide economic opportunities for its people. Both countries expanded their economic opportunities when they were admitted into the EU in 2004.

The Czech landscape is exceedingly varied.  Water from the Czech Republic flows to three different seas: the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and the Black Sea. The Czech Republic also leases the Moldauhafen, a 30,000-square-meter (7.4-acre) lot in the middle of the Hamburg Docks, which was awarded to Czechoslovakia by Article 363 of the Treaty of Versailles, to allow the landlocked country a place where goods transported down river could be transferred to seagoing ships. The territory reverts to Germany in 2028.

The Czech countryside has rolling hills and low mountains in the north:

The Czech countryside has rolling hills and low mountains in the north.

The east features the Moravian–Silesian Beskids mountains and one of the rainiest places in the Czech Republic with around 59 inches of rain on Lysá hora mountain.

Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic and has over a million people living in it. It’s also a main tourist destination.

Prague
Prague
Prague Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

Slovakia features the Tatra Mountains, the highest mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains. Slovakia also has hundreds of caves and caverns under its mountains.

Tatra Mountains
Tatra Mountains – a popular destination for hiking and skiing
Strbske Pleso - Lake and Tatra Mountains
Strbske Pleso – Lake and Tatra Mountains

44% of Slovakia is covered by forests. The Tatra chamois is one of the animals that lives in the mountains.

Tatra chamois

Folk tradition has rooted strongly in Slovakia and is reflected in literature, music, dance and architecture.

Slovaks wearing folk costumes from Eastern Slovakia
Slovaks wearing folk costumes from Eastern Slovakia

Traditional Slovak and Czech cuisine strongly based on meat dishes – mainly on pork, poultry (chicken is the most widely-eaten, followed by duck, goose, and turkey), flour, potatoes, cabbage, and milk products.

Halušky (thick soft dumplings) with bryndza cheese, kapustnica soup and Zlatý Bažant dark beer—examples of Slovak cuisine
Halušky (thick soft dumplings) with bryndza cheese, kapustnica soup and Zlatý Bažant dark beer—examples of Slovak cuisine
Traditional Czech dish
Traditional Czech dish “svičková na smetaně”, (venison) sirloin with sauce made of cream and root vegetables. Meat is served with Czech dumplings, whipped cream and cranberry sauce.
Hike the World: Slovakia – TOP 12 places you MUST SEE | CINEMATIC video

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Next: Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic Republics, Belarus, and Moldova

Additional information and image credits:

Hungary map
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14677019 – Edited by Guest Hollow
Hungary info
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungary
Hungary landscape
By Original uploader was VargaA at hu.wikipedia – Originally from hu.wikipedia; description page is/was here., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2796241
Winter village
By Domokdr – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5622285
Hungarian language map
By Mutichou – Dist of hu lang europe.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3828874
Goulash
By Ralf Roletschek – Own work, de:User:Ralf Roletschek Fahrradmonteur.de, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7811828
Dobos cake
By Savannah Grandfather – https://www.flickr.com/photos/savannahgrandfather/364949591/sizes/o/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6141167
Fruit soup
By Christo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50395218
Chicken paprikash
By Kobako – photo taken by Kobako, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=777368
Chicken paprikash info
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_paprikash
Hungarian cusine info
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_cuisine
Lake Heviz
By HTME – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19317796
Hungarians
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarians
Czech Republic map
By OCHA, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32235523
Slovakia map
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=329109
Kralicky mountain
By Marek Stránský – my own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4588914
Smrk mountain landscape
By David Paloch (Caroig) – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1513488
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moravian-Silesian_Beskids (Czech mountain info)
Prague
By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) – Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54173840
Topographic map of Slovakia
By Captain Blood – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=479253
Tarta mountain map
By Tatry mapa 2.png: ToSter 2 September 2008Poland location map white.svg:Poland location map.svg: NordNordWestderivative work: Mareklug – Tatry mapa 2.pngPoland location map white.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5915549
Lake and mountains Strbske Pleso
By Ingo Mehling – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81069705
Tatra chamois
By Michal Klajban – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25164579
Traditional Slovakian dress
By Silar – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11243107
Slovakia info
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovakia
Slovak cuisine
By Stefan Krasowski – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rapidtravelchai/14096700589/in/photolist-4xUix1-7XBcVr-7XBcQT-7B6BXa-aarrYj-FGLZt-ntFgXT-7BaqBj-7BarES-d4uYvw, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36115760
Czech dish
By Matyáš Havel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24560219

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