Geography of Hungary

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Image:Hungary geo divided.jpg
Satellite image showing the 7 main geographical regions of Hungary (in parenthesis: mayor region):
1., Great Alföld (Great Alföld)
2., Northern Medium Mountains (Northern Hills)
3., Transdanubian Medium Mountains (Transdanubia)
4., Transdanubian Hills (Transdanubia)
5., Mecsek Mountains (Transdanubia)
6., Little Alföld (Transdanubia)
7., Alpokalja (Transdanubia)

With a land area of 93,030 square kilometers, Hungary is a country in Central Europe. It measures about 250 kilometers from north to south and 524 kilometers from east to west. It has some 2,258 kilometers of boundaries, shared with Austria to the west, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to the south and southwest, Romania to the southeast, the Ukraine to the northeast, and Slovakia to the north.

Hungary's modern borders were first established after World War I when, by the terms of the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, it lost more than 71% of what had formerly been the Kingdom of Hungary, 58.5% of its population, and 32% of the Hungarians. With the aid of Nazi Germany, the country secured some boundary revisions at the expense of parts of Slovakia in 1938, Carpatho-Ukraine in 1939, Romania in 1940 and Yugoslavia in 1941. However, Hungary lost these territories again with its defeat in World War II. After World War II, the Trianon boundaries were restored with a small revision that benefited Czechoslovakia.


[edit] Topography: overview

Image:Hungary topographic map.jpg
Topographic map of Hungary

Most of the country has an elevation of fewer than 200 meters. Although Hungary has several moderately high ranges of mountains, those reaching heights of 300 meters or more cover less than 2 % of the country. The highest point in the country is Mount Kékes (1,014 meters) in the Mátra Mountains northeast of Budapest. The lowest spot is 77.6 meters above sea level, located in the south of Hungary, near Szeged.

The major rivers in the country are the Danube and Tisza. The Danube also flows through parts of Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Serbia, and Romania. It is navigable within Hungary for 418 kilometers. The Tisza River is navigable for 444 kilometers in the country. Less important rivers include the Drava along the Croatian border, the Rába, the Szamos, the Sió, and the Ipoly along the Slovakian border. Hungary has three major lakes. Lake Balaton, the largest, is 78 kilometers long and from 3 to 14 kilometers wide, with an area of 592 square kilometers. Hungarians often refer to it as the Hungarian Sea. It is Central Europe's largest freshwater lake and an important recreation area. Its shallow waters offer good summer swimming, and in winter its frozen surface provides excellent opportunities for winter sports. Smaller bodies of water are Lake Velence (26 square kilometers) in Fejér County and Lake Fertő (Neusiedler See--about 82 square kilometers within Hungary).

Hungary has three major geographic regions (which are subdivided to seven smaller ones): the Great Alföld, lying east of the Danube River; the Transdanubia, a hilly region lying west of the Danube and extending to the Austrian foothills of the Alps; and the Northern Hills, which is a mountainous and hilly country beyond the northern boundary of the Great Hungarian Plain.

The country's best natural resource is fertile land, although soil quality varies greatly. About 70 % of the country's total territory is suitable for agriculture; of this portion, 72 % is arable land. Hungary lacks extensive domestic sources of the energy and raw materials needed for industrial development.

[edit] Rivers and lakes


The springs of the mayor Hungarian rivers are outside the country. The two most important rivers, the Danube and the Tisza are navigable on their whole Hungarian length. They have several tributaries.

The county is rich in brooks and hot springs.

Name Length in Hungary
Danube 417 km
Tisza 596 km
Rába 211 km
Zala 139 km
Ipoly 143 km
Zagyva 160 km
Sajó 125 km
Hernád 118 km
Bodrog 118 km
Maros 48 km

Hungary has several bodies of water, including the greatest lake of Central Europe, Lake Balaton, which is a famous tourist destination. Lake Hévíz, the largest thermal lake in the world (47,500 square metres in area) is located in Hungary as well. The Lake Cave (Hungarian: Barlangtó) of Tapolca is also notable as being a sub-surface lake. Major lakes include:

Name Surface in Hungary
Balaton 596 km²
Tisza (artificial) 127 km²
Fertő 75 km²
Velence 26 km²

[edit] Plains and hills

Main articles: Little Hungarian Plain, Transdanubia, Great Alföld.

The Little Alföld or Little Hungarian Plain is a plain (tectonic basin) of approximately 8,000 km² in northwestern Hungary, southwestern Slovakia and eastern Austria, along the lower course of the Rába River, with high quality fertile soils.

The Transdanubia region lies in the western part of the country, bounded by the Danube River, the Drava River, and the remainder of the country's border with Slovenia and Croatia. It lies south and west of the course of the Danube. It contains Lake Fertő and Lake Balaton. The region consists mostly of rolling hills. Transdanubia is primarily an agricultural area, with flourishing crops, livestock, and viticulture. Mineral deposits and oil are found in Zala county close to the border of Croatia.

The Great Alföld contains the basin of the Tisza River and its branches. It encompasses more than half of the country's territory. Bordered by mountains on all sides, it has a variety of terrains, including regions of fertile soil, sandy areas, wastelands, and swampy areas. Hungarians have inhabited the Great Plain for at least a millennium. Here is found the puszta, a long, and uncultivated expanse (the most famous such area still in existence is the Hortobágy), with which much Hungarian folklore is associated. In earlier centuries, the Great Plain was unsuitable for farming because of frequent flooding. Instead, it was the home of massive herds of cattle and horses. In the last half of the nineteenth century, the government sponsored programs to control the riverways and expedite inland drainage in the Great Plain. With the danger of recurrent flooding largely eliminated, much of the land was placed under cultivation, and herding ceased to be a major contributor to the area's economy.

[edit] Mountains

Main articles: Alpokalja, Transdanubian Medium Mountains, Mecsek, Northern Medium Mountains.

Although the majority of the country has an elevation lesser then 300 metres, Hungary has several moderately high ranges of mountains. They can be classified to four geographic regions, from west to east: Alpokalja, Transdanubian Medium Mountains, Mecsek and Northern Medium Mountains. Alpokalja (literally the foothills of the Alps) is located along the Austrian border; it's highest point is Írott-kő with an elevation of 882 metres. The Transdanubian Medium Mountains stretch from the west part of Lake Balaton to the Danube Bend near Budapest, where it meets the Northern Medium Mountains (or Northern Hills). Its tallest peak is the 757 m high Pilis. Mecsek is the southernmost Hungarian mountain range, located north from Pécs - Its highest point is the Zengő with 682 metres.

The Northern Medium Mountains lie north of Budapest and run in a northeasterly direction south of the border with Slovakia. The higher ridges, which are mostly forested, have rich coal and iron deposits. Minerals are a major resource of the area and have long been the basis of the industrial economies of cities in the region. Viticulture is also important, producing the famous Tokaji wine. The highest peak of it is the Kékes, located in the Mátra mountain range.

[edit] Highest peaks

# Name Height Mountain range Geographic region
1., Kékes 1014 m Mátra Northern Medium Mountains
2., Galyatető 964 m Mátra Northern Medium Mountains
3., Istállós-kő 959 m Bükk Northern Medium mountains
4., Bálvány 956 m Bükk Northern Medium mountains
5., Tar-kő 950 m Bükk Northern Medium mountains
6., Csóványos 938 m Börzsöny Northern Medium mountains
7., Nagy-Milic 894 m Zemplén Northern Medium mountains
8., Írott-kő 882 m Alps Alpokalja
9., Nagyhideghegy 864 m Börzsöny Northern Medium Mountains
10., Tót-hegyes 814 m Mátra Northern Medium Mountains

[edit] Climate

Temperatures in Hungary vary from -28° C to an average of 22° C. Average yearly rainfall is about sixty-four centimeters. Distribution and frequency of rainfall are unpredictable. The western part of the country usually receives more rain than the eastern part, where severe droughts may occur in summertime. Weather conditions in the Great Plain can be especially harsh, with hot summers, cold winters, and scant rainfall.

By the 1980s, the countryside was beginning to show the effects of pollution, both from herbicides used in agriculture and from industrial pollutants. Most noticeable was the gradual contamination of the country's bodies of water, endangering fish and wildlife. Although concern was mounting over these disturbing threats to the environment, no major steps had yet been taken to arrest them.

[edit] Extreme points

Hungary's westernmost settlement is Felsőszölnök in Vas county, the easternmost is Garbolc in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, the northernmost is Hollóháza in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county and the southernmost is Kásád in Baranya county.

The country's highest point is Mount Kékes (1014 m) while the lowest is River Tisza near Szeged (78 m).

[edit] Agriculture

Image:Corn, Hungary.jpg
Wheat field, Hungary

Hungary, with its plains and hilly regions, is mighty suitable for agriculture.

[edit] Arable land

Doubtless, one of Hungary's most important natural resources is arable land. It covers about 49.58% of the country, which is outstanding in the world (see the related map). The mass majority of the fertile soil has a good quality.

The most important agricultural zones are the Little Hungarian Plain (it has the highest quality fertile soil in average), Transdanubia, and the Great Hungarian Plain. The last covers more than half of the county (52,000 km² in number), whereas soil quality varies extremely; the territory even contains a small, grassy semi-desert, the so-called puszta (steppe in English). Puszta is exploited by sheep and cattle raising.

The most important Hungarian agricultural products include maize (kukorica or tengeri in Hungarian), wheat (búza), barley (árpa), oat (zab), sunflower (napraforgó), poppy (mák), potato (burgonya), millet (köles), sugar-beet (cukorrépa), flax (len), and numerous other plants. There are also some newly naturalized plants, too, for example, amaranth (amaránt). Poppy consumption is part of the traditional Hungarian cuisine.

A greengrocer's in Hungary
The country is well-known for producing high quality green pepper (paprika). The are numerous fruits reared, including many subspecies of apple (alma), pear (körte), peach (őszibarack), apricot (kajszibarack), water melon (görögdinnye), cantaloup (sárgadinnye), and so on.

Hungary opposed to enable the production of any GMO product (though nor farmers want to produce it), and these products, mainly imported from the United States, cannot be distributed without a mark on the wrapping.

[edit] Viticulture

Wine production has long roots in Hungary. There are two languages in Europe which word for "wine" does not derive from Latin: Greek – and Hungarian. The word is bor.

In the 5th century AD, contemporary travellers, records, and entries in Byzantine encyclopedias mention the vineyards maintained by Hungarians, and that wine was one of their important drinks. Hungarians settled the area of present-day Hungary in 896, where, some 100 years later, the country was formed. Wine-making was also recorded in the Middle Ages and in later times.

Today, there are numerous wine regions in Hungary, producing quality and inexpensive wines as well, comparable to Western European ones. The majority of the country's wine regions are located in the mountains or in the hills, such as Transdanubian Medium Mountains, Northern Medium Mountains, Villány Mountains, and so on. Important ones include the regions of Eger, Hajós, Somló, Sopron, Villány, Szekszárd, and Tokaj-Hegyalja.

[edit] Forestry

19% of the country is covered by forests. These are mainly mountainous areas, such as the Northern and the Transdanubian Medium Mountains, and the Alpokalja. The composition of forests is various, with trees like fir, beech, oak, willow, acacia, plane, etc.

[edit] Statistics and notes

Geography of Hungary
Geographic coordinates:47°00′N 20°00′E
Map references:Europe
  total:93,030 km²
  land:92,340 km²
  water:690 km²
Land boundaries, total: 2,009 km
border countries:Austria (366 km), Croatia (329 km), Romania (443 km), Serbia (151 km), Slovakia (515 km), Slovenia (102 km), Ukraine (103 km)
Coastline:0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:none (landlocked)
Climate:temperate; cold, cloudy, humid winters; warm summers
Terrain:mostly flat to rolling plains; hills and low mountains on the Slovakian border
Elevation extremes: 
  lowest point: Tisza River 78 m
  highest point: Kékes 1,014 m
Natural resources:bauxite, coal, natural gas, fertile soils, arable land
Land use: 
  arable land:51%
  permanent crops:3.6%
  permanent pastures:12.4%
  forests and woodland:19%
  other:14% (1999)
Irrigated land:2,060 km² (1993 est.)
Environment - current issues:the approximation of Hungary's standards in waste management, energy efficiency, and air, soil, and water pollution with environmental requirements for EU accession will require large investments
Environment - international agreements: 
  party to:Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
  signed, but not ratified:Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol
Geography - note:landlocked; strategic location astride main land routes between Western Europe and Balkan Peninsula as well as between Ukraine and Mediterranean basin

[edit] Pictures

[edit] See also

[edit] References