Hungary borders seven countries and links East and West Europe. The country is brimming with culture, intellectual history and natural beauty, all of which make it a great place to study and explore.
In the ninth century the great Magyar chief, Árpád settled in the Carpathian Basin. On Christmas Day, 1000, Árpád's great grandson, Stephen ascended to the throne with a crown sent from Rome by Pope Sylvester II; the kingdom and nation of Hungary was born. Hungary then flourished until it was decimated under the Ottomans during the 16th and l7th-century. However, the Habsburgs helped oust the Turkish, heralding a more stable time of reconstruction. As the Habsburg Empire floundered, a revolt in 1848 resulted in the dual monarchy of "Austria the empire, Hungary the kingdom." This "age of dualism" sparked an economic, cultural and intellectual rebirth in Hungary.
At the turn of the century, Budapest was considered as the birthplace of the modern world. World War I proved devastating, however, as the country was partitioned into almost one-third its original size. Suddenly, millions of ethnic Hungarians found themselves living outside the country. Russian intervention followed after World War II as Stalinism lowered its iron curtain across Central Eastern Europe. In 1989, Hungary broke away from communism and the country has flourished, even joining the European Union in 2004.
Hungarian higher education has a long history; the first university was founded in 1367. Additonally, Hungary has had more Nobel Prize winners relative to its population than any other nation. The most famous is probably Albert Szent-Györgyi de Nagyrápolt (1893-1986), a physiologist who discovered Vitamin C. Another famous Hungarian is Ignaz Semmelweis. Semmelweis was a physician who discovered that puerperal (childbed) fever could be drastically reduced if people, mainly doctors, washed their hands. Puerperal fever was common in hospitals throughout Europe at the time. Up to a third of children who contracted the disease died, and often their mothers did too. Despite repeatedly publishing details of his discovery that hand-washing reduced infant mortality, Semmelweis’s practice only earned widespread acceptance years after his death. Hungarian’s history as a country of scientific excellence continues today, making it a great country to study medicine, veterinary science, pharmacy and physiotherapy. Additionally, many universities in Hungary offer classes in English and German as well as Hungarian.
The idea of a free market economy in Hungary is a relatively new one, as for nearly 50 years Hungary’s economy was centrally planned by soviet bureaucrats. Nevertheless, Hungary’s well developed economy and economic indicators led it to be fast tracked into full membership of the EU in 2004. The transition to a market economy and the economic growth of Hungary provide an opportunity for students to encounter a fledgling market and become familiar with the tenets of the European Union due to Hungary’s new membership.