The government tries to establish and maintain fair and friendly relations with the governments of neighboring countries.
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There are frequent complaints, however, that the Hungarian minorities' ethnic and cultural maintenance is made difficult by the host countries. Hungary continues to strive for friendly relations with the surrounding countries. Ethnic and national minorities are encouraged to set up their own self-governing councils, and their cultural and educational institutions receive state support. Among the minorities, the Roma are in an extremely difficult situation. Their high birth rate, disadvantageous economic position and social status, and the subjection to prejudice have worsened their economic circumstances and social integration.
Until the middle of the nineteenth century, Hungary was a primarily rural agrarian society. Often Hungarian villages had large populations. The church was always in the center of the village.
Many settlements were "two-church villages," indicating that two groups settled there at different periods. On the Great Hungarian Plain instead of villages, there was a loose network of huge agrotowns that were located far from one another, each with a population from 20, to , Until recently, most Hungarians engaged in agriculture. The large agrotowns were administered as villages, with most of their inhabitants living like peasants. In the early eighteenth century, individual, isolated homesteads sprang up.
Only seasonally occupied at first, they eventually became permanent residences of mostly extended families. However, even though about 50 percent of the people in the agrotowns lived and worked outside towns on these homesteads, they still considered themselves townspeople.
As a result of industrialization after the establishment of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in , a number of industrial-commercial-merchant cities sprang up. Between and the beginning of World War I, Budapest grew into a huge metropolis with a population of over a million. In the center of cities there are city halls and other public buildings as well as churches, shopping districts, and remnants of traditional marketplaces.
Some churchyards still have small cemeteries.
Until recently, it was customary to have a tiszta szoba clean room in peasant houses that was used mainly for special visits and particular rituals and occasions such as births, christenings, weddings, and funerals. There were also "sacred corners" that were decorated with pictures of various saints and pictures and statues brought back from Catholic pilgrimages.
In Protestant households, the walls of those rooms depicted religious reformers and the heroes of the revolution. Food in Daily Life. For the last one hundred fifty years, wheat has been one of the most important crops both for domestic use and exportation. Pig breeding became the most important type of animal breeding in the s, and since then the meat and byproducts of pigs have predominated in the national diet. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions.
According to the national self-image, Hungarians are wine drinkers, but beer drinking is more common. Since the early s there has been an attempt to familiarize the population with regional wines. Basic Economy.
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During the socialist regime, forced industrialization took place. However, more than half the population does some agricultural work for household use and supplemental income. Major Industries. Tourism continues to be a great Hungarian success. The production of barley, corn, potatoes, wheat, sugar beets, and sunflower seeds, along with grapes and wine making, is important. Mines are no longer subsidized by the government, and many mines have closed. Imports include metal ores and crude petroleum, while exports include agricultural products, consumer goods, leather shoes, machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, textiles, wines, iron, and steel.
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Between and , more than half of foreign trade was with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. Since the early s, foreign The towns of Buda and Pest shown in , on opposite sides of the Danube River, joined to become Budapest in Classes and Castes. Early in the socialist period, the nationalization of industries, commerce, and most services, along with the forced collectivization of agrarian landholding, brought about the end of private property. Communist Party leaders, secretaries, and members lived better and had access to more goods than did the rest of the population. Privatization of industry, commerce, and some services took place after as Western capital flowed into Hungary.
As a result of a complex and controversial system of property compensation, most arable land and real properties were reprivatized after more than four decades. The income gap then widened between the rich and the poor.
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It increased in as 38 percent of the population earned below the minimum annual wage. In contrast, the rich seem to have increased their wealth at a rapid rate. Upward social mobility still depends on the channeling of students into educational institutes.
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A disproportionate number of students in high schools, colleges, and universities come from intellectual, upper management, or otherwise "elite" families. Symbols of Social Stratification. Western-style clothes, especially American jeans, are worn by the bulk of the younger population in both urban and rural areas.
New clothes are very expensive and brand names such as Levi-Strauss can be bought only by a small segment of the population. Shiny polyester or nylon leisure suits worn with expensive, name-brand sports shoes are signs of new and successful entrepreneurs. Many of the new rich drive expensive foreign cars. The number of cell phones and their frequent and public uses are striking. There are numerous luxurious new or elaborately remodeled villas in Budapest that are owned by the new economic elite.
Foreign travel has become a flaunted symbol of wealth and status. All levels of government were under the control of the Communist Party between and The change of regime in brought in a multiparty government and a parliamentary democracy with elected representatives. At the end of the twentieth century, there were officially registered political parties.
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A woman paints a flower design which will be used to make a traditional Hungarian dress in Kalocsa, Hungary. Leadership and Political Officials. There is a president, who is the head of the state and may be elected for two five-year terms. The prime minister is the leader of the party with the most seats. The parliament is called the National Assembly, with deputies who are elected for four-year terms. The Constitutional Court was established in There is a Judicial Supreme Court that is essentially a final court of appeal.
Social Problems and Control. Alcoholism is a widespread and significant problem. In addition, drug abuse has increased since the end of the socialist regime. After the outbreak of the war in the former Yugoslavia in , Hungary became a favorite place for international organized crime organizations that engage in drug, weapons, and people smuggling; prostitution rings; and money laundering.
The crime rate is rapidly increasing. The population worries about the lack of public safety and generally blames crimes on the Roma as well as refugees and other foreigners. Psychological problems, particularly depression, increased significantly between and , and, although the number of suicides has been declining, Hungary continues to have the highest rate of suicide in the world. Military Activity. Modernization of the army began in the early transition period — and has continued since the country has become part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO.
There is an ongoing process of integrating the Hungarian armed forces with NATO organizations and the filling of alliance posts. The army is being converted to a mixed structure that is composed of volunteers and conscripts. All males between ages 18 and 55 are required to serve in the armed forces, but conscription is selective. For example, students in universities serve for a very short time or not at all and conscientious objectors are given civilian jobs. There are 80, people serving in the army, air force, border guards, and the small fleet guarding the Danube River.
Division of Labor by Gender. Men are expected to work, earn, and provide for their families, while women are expected to take care of the children and the domestic chores. These ideal roles are rarely achieved today.