Hungary profile

A chronology of key events:

9th century - Magyars under Prince Arpad settle Danube plain

Bela Bartok

Statue of Bela Bartok

Bartok was a major classical composer and collector of folk music

1000 - Stephen I, a descendant of Arpad, recognized by Pope as first Christian king of Hungary, expands Hungarian control over Carpathian basin.

1241-1242 - Mongol invasion devastates large parts of Hungary.

1342-1382 - Reign of Louis the Great, who annexes Dalmatia and founds Hungary's first university at Pecs.

1456 - Forces led by Hungarian nobleman Janos Hunyadi defeat Ottoman army at Siege of Belgrade.

Ottoman invasion

1526 - Ottoman Turks defeat forces of Hungarian king at Battle of Mohacs, establishing control over most of the country.

1699 - Austrian Habsburgs under Leopold I expel Turks.

1848-49 - Uprising against Habsburg rule under Lajos Kossuth suppressed by military force.

Paprika market Hungarians trade paprika - a key ingredient of the local diet - in this picture taken in around 1915

1867 - Hungary becomes equal partner in Austro-Hungarian Empire

1918 - Austro-Hungarian Empire is broken up at the end of World War I. Hungarian republic is proclaimed following a revolution.

1919 - Communists take over power under Bela Kun. Kun wages war on Czechoslovakia and Romania. Romanian forces occupy Budapest and hand power to Admiral Miklos Horthy.

1920 - Under the Treaty of Trianon, the Entente powers award more than two-thirds of what had until then been Hungarian territory to Czechoslovakia, Romania, Russia and Yugoslavia. The re-defining of Hungary's borders leaves a third of native Hungarian speakers living outside the country.

The National Assembly re-establishes the Kingdom of Hungary, but as the Entente powers had refused to allow the return of a Habsburg king, Admiral Horthy is made regent.

1920s-1930s - Admiral Horthy's rule is characterised by bitter resentment at loss of Hungarian territories and deep suspicion of power of Soviet Union. The Hungarian regime becomes progressively more reactionary and the country gradually becomes more closely allied with Nazi Germany. By the late 1930s, Hungary is effectively a Nazi client state.

1938 - After Munich Agreement cedes part of Czechoslovakia to Germany, Hungary regains some of the territory it lost in 1920.

World War II

1939 - Hungary joins Anti-Comintern Pact of Germany, Japan and Italy and withdraws from League of Nations. At the outbreak of World War II Hungary remains neutral.

1940 - With the encouragement of Nazi Germany, Hungary regains northern Transylvania from Romania.

1941 - Germany invades the Soviet Union. Hungary allies itself with Germany, and loses a large part of its army on the Eastern Front.

1944 - Hungarian Nazis seize power after Horthy asks advancing Soviet troops for an armistice. Hungarian Jews and gypsies are deported to death camps.

1945 - Soviet forces drive the Germans out of Hungary by early April. New coalition government introduces land reform bill, redistributing land from large estate owners to peasants.

1947-48 - Communists consolidate power under Soviet occupation.

1949 - A new constitution makes Hungary a Communist state. Industry is nationalised, agriculture collectivised and a wave of terror launched.

1956 uprising
Stalin statue being toppled A statue of the Soviet leader Stalin is toppled during the 1956 national uprising

1956 - Uprising against Soviet domination suppressed by the Soviet Army. Janos Kadar becomes head of government.

1960s - Kadar gradually introduces limited liberalising reforms. Political prisoners and church leaders are freed, farmers and industrial workers given increased rights.

1968 - New Economic Mechanism brings elements of the market to Hungarian socialism.

Spearheading change

1988 - Kadar is replaced by Karoly Grosz. Opposition groups form the Hungarian Democratic Forum.

1989 - May - Border with Austria is opened, and thousands of East Germans escape to the West. Communist state in Hungary is dismantled and a transition to a multi-party democracy starts.

1990 - Stock exchange opens in Budapest. A centre-right coalition wins elections.

1990 June - Hungary withdraws from any participation in Warsaw Pact military exercises.

1991 - Soviet forces withdraw from Hungary. The Warsaw Pact is dissolved.

A new era

1994 - Former Communists and liberals form coalition following elections. Gyula Horn, the leader of the reform Communists, pledges to continue free-market policies.

1997 - Referendum endorses joining Nato. The European Union decides to open membership talks with Hungary, which begin in 1998.

1998 - Centre-right coalition under Fidesz leader Viktor Orban elected.

1999 - Hungary joins Nato.

2001 June - Parliament backs controversial Status Law entitling Hungarians living in Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to a special identity document allowing them to work, study and claim health care in Hungary temporarily.

2002 May - Peter Medgyessy forms new centre-left coalition government in which the Socialist Party partners the liberal Free Democrats.

2002 June-July - PM Medgyessy admits to having worked as a counterintelligence officer for the secret service in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, he denies ever having collaborated with the KGB and says he worked to steer Hungary toward IMF membership without Moscow's knowledge.

2002 December - EU summit in Copenhagen formally invites Hungary to join in 2004.

2003 April - Referendum overwhelmingly approves Hungary's membership of an enlarged EU. However, turnout is only 46%.

2003 June - Parliament amends controversial Status Law on work, health and travel benefits for ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries which criticised it as interfering with their sovereignty and discriminating against other ethnic groups.

Hungary in the EU

2004 May - Hungary is one of 10 new states to join the EU.

2004 September - Former sports minister Ferenc Gyurcsany becomes prime minister following resignation of Peter Medgyessy in row with coalition partner over reshuffle.

2004 December - Low turnout invalidates referendum on whether or not to offer citizenship to some five million ethnic Hungarians living outside Hungary.

2005 June - Parliament chooses opposition-backed Laszlo Solyom as president after Socialists' candidate is blocked by their Free Democrat coalition partners.

2006 April - General election returns Socialist-led coalition under Ferenc Gyurcsany to power.

2006 September-October - Violence erupts as thousands rally in Budapest demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Gyurcsany, after he admitted his government had lied during the election campaign.

2007 February - A commission of enquiry into the previous autumn's disturbances, in which 800 people were hurt, finds fault with the police, the government and the country's whole political elite.

Economic woes

2008 March - Government defeated in opposition-sponsored referendum calling for abolition of new fees for health care and higher education. The move is seen as a setback for government plans for economic reforms.

2008 April - Mr Gyurcsany reshuffles his cabinet after the Alliance of Free Democrats quits the two-party coalition.

2008 October - Hungary is badly hit by the global financial crisis and the value of the forint plummets.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the EU and the World Bank grant the country a rescue package worth 20bn euros (£17bn).

2009 March - Hungary and Russia sign deal to build part of the South Stream pipeline across Hungarian territory. Budapest also agrees to jointly build underground gas storage facility in Hungary, a move which will turn the country into a major hub for Russian gas supplies.

2009 April - Economy Minister Gordon Bajnai takes over as PM; he announces a programme of public spending cuts, tax rises and public wage freezes.

2009 June - Far-right Jobbik party wins three seats in European Parliament elections, gaining almost 15% of the vote.

Centre-right landslide

2010 April - Conservative opposition party Fidesz wins landslide victory in parliamentary election, gaining two-thirds majority. Jobbik enters Hungarian parliament for first time, winning 47 seats.

2010 May - Parliament passes law allowing ethnic Hungarians living abroad to apply for Hungarian citizenship. Slovakia protests at move, accusing Hungary of revisionism, and threatens to strip any Slovak who applies for dual nationality of their Slovak citizenship.

2010 July - International lenders suspend review of Hungary's 2008 funding arrangement, saying the Fidesz government has failed to spell out its plans for bringing down the budget deficit clearly enough.

2010 October - A state of emergency is declared after a torrent of toxic red sludge escapes from a reservoir of chemical waste, killing seven people and injuring 150. Rivers in western Hungary are left seriously polluted by what is thought to be the country's worst-ever chemical accident.

2011 February - Government agrees to amend media law. European Commission says that the changes meet its concerns over media freedom.

New constitution

2011 April - Parliament approves a new constitution that opponents say threatens democracy by removing checks and balances. The EU expresses concern over the law and asks for it to be withdrawn.

2011 December - Parliament approves controversial new election law that halves the number of MPs and redraws constituency boundaries. Critics object it tilts the system in favour of the governing Fidesz party.

Parliament passes controversial law on central bank reform that gives the government greater control over monetary policy. EU and IMF officials cut short aid talks. The European Central Bank also expresses concern that the new law creates the potential for political control of the Hungarian central bank.

2012 January - Top rate of VAT is increased from 25% to 27% - the highest rate in the EU - as part of a series of austerity measures aimed at curbing the budget deficit.

Tens of thousands of people take part in protests in Budapest as controversial new constitution comes into force.

Credit ratings agency Fitch downgrades Hungary's credit rating to junk status. Two other main ratings agencies already reduced Hungary's rating to junk levels within the previous six weeks.

2012 February - Hungarian state-owned airline Malev goes bankrupt.

EU aid suspended

2012 March - EU suspends aid payments to Hungary because of the country's budget deficit.

2012 April - Hungary makes small changes to the Central Bank law, and the European Commission agrees to resume talks with the IMF on a massive bailout.

2012 May - Veteran Fidesz politician Janos Ader elected president by parliament. His predecessor and fellow Fidesz supporter Pal Schmitt resigned in April after it was revealed that he had plagiarised the works of others in his doctoral thesis.

2012 June - A statue commemorating controversial wartime leader Admiral Horthy is unveiled in the village of Csokako. Critics see this as a sign that economic hardship in the country is fanning radical nationalism and that the far-right Jobbik party - whose members play a prominent part in the unveiling ceremony - is taking advantage of popular discontent.

Standoff with IMF

2012 September - Government rejects conditions attached by the IMF to a new 15bn-euro (£12bn) loan as unacceptable. PM Viktor Orban says the government will present an "alternative negotiation proposal".

2012 October - In a speech given on the anniversary of the failed 1956 revolution, Mr Orban attacks the EU for interfering in Hungary's domestic affairs.

Former PM Gordon Bajnai announces the formation of a new centrist alliance, Together 2014, designed to unseat Mr Orban at the next parliamentary elections.

2012 November - Parliament approves controversial amendment to electoral law that critics say further tilts electoral system in favour of ruling party Fidesz.

Jobbik MP Marton Gyongyosi sparks outrage by calling for a list of officials of Jewish origin to be compiled, saying that they could pose a "national security risk".

2013 January - Constitutional court strikes down electoral law amendment approved by parliament in November, saying it restricts voter rights.

2013 March - Parliament approves controversial fourth amendment to 2012 constitution. The amendment curbs the powers of the constitutional court, and critics say that it undermines democracy by removing a number of checks and balances.

Economic green shoots?

2013 May - Figures show that Hungary succeeded in bringing its budget deficit down to below the figure of 3% required by the EU as a condition of releasing a country from the excessive deficit procedure (EDP) mechanism.

2013 June - Government unveils draft of fifth amendment to constitution. The new provisions include a ban on political advertisements in the independent media and restrictive guidelines on the recognition of religious groups.

Figures show that Hungary emerged from recession in the first quarter of the year. The government maintains that recent positive economic indicators are a vindication of its unorthodox economic policies.

The EU releases Hungary from the EDP mechanism.

2013 July - The European Parliament calls on Hungary to reform its constitution to bring it into line with EU values.

2013 August - A Budapest court finds four far-right extremists guilty of the murder of six members of the Roma community in 2008-09. Three of those convicted in what is Hungary's first racially motivated serial murder case are given life sentences.

Government says that it has re-drafted the fifth amendment to the constitution in response to EU criticism that basic rights are being eroded. The latest draft amends the passages covering election campaigning and the status of religious groups. Critics say that despite these changes, the constitution as a whole still runs counter to EU values.

2013 September - Parliament approves the latest constitutional changes, despite a threat of legal action from the EU.

Statue controversies

2013 November - A statue of wartime leader Admiral Horthy is unveiled in the centre of Budapest. The event is organised by a prominent member of the far-right Jobbik party and prompts renewed charges that the government is making no effort to prevent the rehabilitation of Horthy and other twentieth century right-wing figures.

2013 December - Supreme Court blocks a government attempt to have loans denominated in foreign currencies declared unlawful. Many Hungarians who took out loans in foreign currencies - taking advantage of lower interest rates than for forint loans - during the pre-crisis boom have struggled to service their debts since the national currency tumbled in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

2014 January - The unveiling of plans for a memorial marking the seventieth anniversary of the German occupation in 1944 prompts criticism that the government is seeking to play down Hungary's wartime role as a Nazi ally. Following an international outcry, the plans are put on hold.

2014 February - The government approves a controversial 10bn euro (£8.3bn) deal with Russia over the financing of two new reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant.

2014 April - Fidesz wins a second sweeping victory in parliamentary elections. International election monitors say that restrictive campaign rules and biased media coverage gave the governing party an unfair advantage.

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