Usual foreign reaction to any question regarding Hungary
Hungary. Not a land with a hunger problem, it's known as Magyarország by those who are from there. Most important things are covered by The Other Wiki, so there is just some basic info here.
Hungarians arrived at the land which became Hungary at the end of the 9th century. They were like your typical nomad people, lots of horses and bowmanship etc.
About 1000, King St. Stephen (Szent István király) founded a proper kingdom, because he realised that nomadic warfare was quite ineffective against western styled knights. The Tatar (actually Mongol, but Hungarians called Mongols Tatars) attacks of 1241-1242 showed that he was not completely right, they wiped out about half of the country. This kingdom lasted mostly independently until the 16th century.
One of Hungary's national symbols is a crown with a wonky cross on top. This is St. Stephen's crown. How the cross got bent is a matter of heated academic debate and various folk tales (such as King Mathias hitting it with a showel when he was startled by the angels trying to crown him), but it is likely to have been during one of the period when it was hidden from one of Hungary's conquerors.
When the Turkish invasion tore Hungary into three parts, one controlled by the Ottoman Empire, one by Habsburg Austria, and Transylvania, a small country which was balancing between the other two, mainly to avoid destruction.
During the 17th century the Ottomans were defeated by the Habsburgs who reunited the three parts under their rule (To say that the relationship between them and the Austrians has had its ups and downs is one way of putting it).
Which led to two bigger revolutions, let's just say there was major cooperation errors between the Habsburgs and the Hungarian nobility (even though there were factions that sided with them). The later one in 1848-49 led to the export of some fine military leaders to Europe and America. (Ever wondered from where the fire lord Kossuth comes or what is the meaning of the K. in Jerome K. Jerome?)
After some intense peacemaking the Austro-Hungarian Empire was born. This was also thanks to the influence of Austrian Empress/Queen Consort of Hungary, Elisabeth of Wittelsbach aka Sisi, who adored Hungary so much that she spent more time in Hungarian lands than in Vienna itself. This lasted until the end of the First World War, when about three-quarters of the country was divided between the neighbouring countries, leaving large ethnic Hungarian minorities there. This is known as the Treaty of Trianon and is the source of intense Flamewars even in Hungary, not the mention some serious conflicts with the neighbours. Thing is, the Entente did the splitting intentionally, with two goals: making Hungary unable to effectively go to war ever again and creating a solution that didn't satisfy anyonein order to make them endlessly feud with each other instead of the West.
In that most people weren't too happy, which led to The Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Crushed by the Soviets.
After 1956, at least, Hungary went through some more low-key reforms, and Hungary became ironically known as "the happiest barracks in the camp", under "Goulash Communism". It was also during this time that they had a really, really good football team; they won three Olympic gold medals, but sadly never won a World Cup (losing the 1954 final to West Germany in a match known in Germany as "The Miracle in Bern").
After The Great Politics Mess-Up Hungary became a democracy and a member of NATO and EU; the current government is conservative center-right with an absolute majority who are rapidly starting to become very unpopular, with some members and supporters of said ruling party also having second thoughts on the Prime Minister. Many its policies have sparked debate and controversy both in and outside the country and it's best toleave it at that. The third most supported party is a far-right nationalist one, (which wasn't even on the map before 2008) by the latest polls is supported by about 15% percent of the voting population (though still below the double-term serving socialists 22-23%). The country is also still reeling from an economic crisis, but though it's not reached sort of severity seen in Greece or Spain, many seem to be concerned that they're heading there. Thus the upcoming talks of an IMF bailout, after a several-month long stalemate with parts of the EU, is giving a spot of good news.
Random notes on language and culture:
Hungarian language is a Finno-Ugric one, related only to the Finnish and Estonian ones in Europe, as well as several minority languages in the European part of Russia (in fact the two languages that are most closely related to Hungarian, Khanty and Mansi, are spoken in the Asian part of Russia). This makes it ideal for Fun with Foreign Languages or As Long as It Sounds Foreign. Check out the homepage in Hungarian. Or if you have Sine Mora, all spoken dialogue is in hungarian.
The word Hungarian has nothing to do with the huns. That's a rather wishful Retcon from the 13th century.
Actually it is a bastardisation of the external name, onogur (which in Turkish means ten tribes) and was never used by the Hungarians themselves - magyar being the local version. See German Ungarisch, French hongrois.
Family name first. Yes, there are massive inconsistencies with the translation of Japanese names.
And the transliteration of Japanese (and Chinese) names. Argh.
And that isn't even mentioning the romanization. There's seems to be a pretty strong dispute over this, as there are people who insist that all languages (hungarian includes) must follow the Hepburn romanization for the Japanese language and write all Japanese names in western order, despite the fact that written Hungarian uses it's own alphabet with many letters used to represent completely different sounds than in english (most common being 'c' instead of 'ts', 'dzs' instead of 'j', 's' instead of 'sh' and of course 'j' (and 'ly') instead of 'y' and 'sz' instead of 's', all of which are common in Japanese).
All pronouns are gender-netural but the language in general uses a metric fuckton of inflections.
The latter makes Hungarian an excellent language for cursing the hell out of someone when used by a verbally creative person. Kinda like French in this regard...
Alien Among Us: Hungarian scientists were jokingly referred as Martians during their stay in the States. Since there were a lot of Jews in Hungary, and Hungary was a Nazi puppet state during World War II, there were understandably quite a lot of Hungarian Jewish scientists (and frequently their Christian colleagues) heading to America. The most famous are the (highly eccentric) mathematicians John von Neumann and Paul Erdős (Neumann János and Erdős Pál in Hungarian) the (batshit insane) Edward Teller (Teller Ede).
GulaschSuppe: The single most famous Hungarian dish, mostly written exactly like that for foreigners. In Hungarian it is gulyásleves. In English it's called "goulash", though in North America the word refers to a totally different dish.
Puskás Öcsi: The single most famous Hungarian person ever. (Not counting Johnny von Neumann. And Bela Lugosi. And Edward Teller. And Franz Liszt)
Stephen Colbert: The person who almost had one of the main bridges named after him on the Danube. Hell, everyone in the country voted for him in the online poll. 1.7 times.
Hungarian Ambassador to the United States András Simonyi plays a mean guitar.
Pole and Hungarian are two brothers, they fight and drink together. ;) There's even a Day of Polish-Hungarian friendship in both countries.
To confused non-Magyars/non-Poles: "Poles and Hungarians are brothers, they fight and drink together", or something like it, is a short rhyme in both Polish and Hungarian, and a symbol of the traditional good relations between the two countries. Possibly originated in the middle ages when for a while the two countries were ruled by the same king.
Somewhat more unsettlingly, it was a Hungarian (the aforementioned batshit-crazy Edward Teller) and a Pole (Stanisław Ulam) living in America who came up with the first design for the hydrogen bomb. To be fair, the Russian Andrei Sakharov had the same idea independently almost immediately afterward (which is why the H-bomb is called the "Teller-Ulam Design" in the West but "Sakharov's Third Idea" in the former Soviet bloc). On the other hand, while Ulam and Sakharov later forswore nuclear research (and Sakharov became an anti-nuclear campaigner *
And then human-rights campaigner and democracy activist in the Soviet Union, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize and exile to Siberia)
, Teller started advocating ever more deadly weapons (he was the one who convinced the US Air Force to seriously pursue the H-bomb in the first place), including the notorious "Star Wars" anti-missile system in The Eighties. Like we said, batshit.
On the other hand, Hungarians and Romanians don't exactly get along that well. A centuries-long dispute over rightful ownership of Transylvania (with all the attendant Misplaced Nationalism and abusive historical Ret Cons), the fact that it was settled by the Trianon treaty at the small price of having Hungary lose 72% of its territory(but surprisingly only about a third of it's ethnically Hungarian population the majority of the population of Transylvania actually being ethnically Romanian according to all censuses of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) (something that Hungarians can be a bit bitter about) and a Curb Stomp War in 1919 with a side helping of Romanian occupation, plundering (in retaliation for the Central Powers doing the same thing during WW 1) and harsh armistice terms didn't help.
Important note: don't confuse Budapest (capital of Hungary) with Bucharest (capital of Romania) in earshot of the locals. They tend to get... twitchy.
Hungarian characters in foreign works rarely have authentic Hungarian names, the writers usually settle for Slavic or German cognates. The reason for this is partly that foreigners often find Hungarian writing/pronunciation very confusing, and partly that the writers don't do the research. The first one is kinda ironic if you consider that Hungarian writing is almost perfectly phonetic.
Hungarian cinema, though not so well-known as other countries', has produced its share of internationally acclaimed works. Notable directors include Miklos Jancso (The Red and the White), Istvan Szabo (Colonel Redl) and Bela Tarr (Satantango). Additionally, several giants of British (namely the Korda Brothers and Emeric Pressburger) and American cinema (directors George Cukor and Michael Curtiz, cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Ernest Laszlo, writer Joe Esterzhas and composer Miklos Rosza) were Hungarians, along with Bela Lugosi.