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History of Budapest

Hungary has been the address of hunters, Neolithic farmers and Scythians up until the Late Stone Age – the Istalok cave on way to Budapest is proof of it. In the 3rd century B.C. the Celts decided to reside here. They built a fort on Gellert Hill and called it Ak-Ink (which meant "Abundant Waters") after the hot water springs present even today in the Budapest area. The Romans took over from the Celts and managed the country up until end of the 3rd century A.D. For the next seven hundred years, Hungary was a melee of barbarian cultures.

Hungary converted to a Christian state in 1000AD when King Stephen (later canonized as St. Stephen), was crowned on Christmas Day in 1000 A.D. The country achieved nationhood for the first time. With the blessings of the Pope, he ascended the throne. This meant Hungary’s inclusion in the civilized western world.

In 1456, under the rule of Janos Hunyadi, Hungary began to prosper and achieved its stature as a centre of the Renaissance. Hunyadi’s death threw the country into a political chaos. In 1514, a national peasant rebellion stripped the country of its civil rights which took centuries to restore. No proper army, much less vision or leadership Hungary became vulnerable and in 1526, the Hapsburg Austrians colonized it. A national uprising in 1703 was followed by another unsuccessful attempt in 1848. Finally in 1867, Austria agreed under pressure to give Hungary and Austria the same status. The two countries now had one ruler but separate governance. Foreign and military affairs were shared.

Other ethnic groups within Hungary constituted 50% of the population and were denied the right to self-governance. The ensuing friction cascaded into events that caused World War I. It destroyed the Austro-Hungarian partnership and Hungary was now on its own and reduced in size. Between the wars, political instability was predominant. Hungary entered World War II as a German ally. It rang the death knell for half a million Hungarian Jews and forced many thousands more to flee. In 1949, the country adopted communism hoping it would improve things.

Within the decade (1956 to be precise) there was a revolt against this type of governance and Imre Nagy installed a neutral government. The country adopted its national flag of red, white and green horizontal stripes in 1957. Soviet Russia, the bastion of communism rolled up its sleeves and rolled in its tanks. János Kádár applied "goulash communism" – a variety of market socialism – to run the country. In 1989, the Hungarians peacefully broke away from the Soviet Republic. An election helped instate the Hungarian Democratic Forum in 1990. In 1994, the mandate was in favor of the Socialists. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZF) governs the country now.

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