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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(self-designation, Magyars), a nation (natsiia, nation in the historical sense) constituting 98.2 percent of the population of the Hungarian People’s Republic. Population, more than 9.78 million (according to the 1960 census). Hungarians also live in Rumania (more than 1.6 million, including an isolated ethnic group of Szeklers, or Szekels, numbering approximately 600,000), Czechoslovakia (more than 400,000), Yugoslavia (more than 500,000), the USSR (approximately 200,000 in Transcarpathian [Zakarpatskaia] Oblast, Ukrainian SSR), the USA (approximately 200,000), Canada (approximately 100,000), South America (mainly in Argentina), West Germany, and Austria. They speak Hungarian. The religion of most Hungarians is Catholicism.

In the first few centuries A. D. the territory of Hungary was inhabited by Celtic tribes; later by Goths, Huns, and Avars; and beginning in the sixth century, by Slavic tribes as well. In the late ninth century the regions making up present-day Hungary were overrun by the Ugric tribes of the Magyars, or Hungarians—nomadic cattle breeders who had originally lived along the middle and lower course of the Kama River and then migrated to the Black Sea steppes, from which they were forced out by the Pechenegs. The formation of the Hungarian nationality, based primarily on the Magyars who had merged with the Slavs and the remnants of other tribes living on the Danube, occurred during the Middle Ages within the framework of the early Hungarian feudal state established in the tenth century. Various linguistic and ethnic elements (Polovtsi-Cumans, Germans, and gypsies) continued to be absorbed by the Hungarians even as late as the 14th to 19th centuries. During the first half of the 16th century most of Hungary was conquered by the Turks, and some regions of the country came under the rule of the Austrian Hapsburgs. This marked the beginning of a long period of struggle by the Hungarian people for their national independence from the Turks and the Austrian empire of the Hapsburgs. The struggle for economic and social change in the first half of the 19th century and the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-49 contributed to the growth of national self-awareness and the unity of the Hungarian people. After World War I, Hungary became an independent state (1918). The establishment of the people’s democratic system in 1945 created all of the conditions for the comprehensive socialist development of the Hungarian nation. A considerable number of Hungarians are industrial workers; the remainder of the population is employed mainly in agriculture (farming and viticulture) and the traditional Hungarian occupation, livestock raising. The Hungarians have preserved their own distinctive dwellings, clothing, and cuisine.


Narody zarubezhnoi Evropy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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