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Since the mid-1970s, few countries in the world have
experienced such rapid and extensive change as Hungary.
political system has moved from an authoritarian regime
by the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (HSWP) to a
republic. The HSWP itself split, in October 1989, and most
leaders organized a new party, the Hungarian Socialist
the late 1980s, relations with Western countries improved
dramatically, and the Hungarians also received significant
support for their reform efforts from the Soviet Union. By
contrast, until late 1989 tensions between Hungary and
were rising over the latter's treatment of its Hungarian
minority, but, after the December 1989 revolution in
chances for the resolution of that problem improved.
sporadic efforts had been undertaken since the late 1960s
introduce elements of a market economy into a socialist
economy, Hungarian leaders in 1989 declared their
create a full-fledged capitalist economy. The government
reduced the defense budget, and it has taken steps to make
police apparatus accountable to the people and to their
representatives. Yet, the discontent that emerged from
stemming from the economy's precipitous decline continued.
discontent, coupled with the regime's need to widen its
to sustain the transition from a state socialist to
economy, led the Hungarian regime to undertake political
These changes have necessitated a new edition of
A Country Study, which supersedes the edition
1973. Virtually everything discussed in the previous
been overtaken by events. Like the earlier edition, this
attempts to present the dominant historical, social,
political, and national security aspects of Hungary.
information included books and scholarly journals,
reports of governments and international organizations,
and domestic newspapers, and numerous periodicals. A brief
annotated bibliographic note on sources recommended for
reading appears at the end of each chapter, and more
chapter bibliographies appear at the end of the book.
Measurements are given in the metric system; a conversion
is provided to assist those readers who are unfamiliar
metric measurements (see
table 1, Appendix). A glossary is
The Hungarian people are descendants of the Magyars, an
Asiatic tribe whose origins lie in what is today central
The word Hungary appears to derive from a
of the Turkic words on ogur, meaning "ten arrows,"
may have referred to the number of Magyar tribes. Unlike
Europeans, Hungarians do not speak an Indo-European
Hungarian is a member of the Finno-Ugric language family,
also includes such languages as Estonian and Finnish.
The illustration on the cover and those that introduce
chapter merit a word of explanation. These drawings were
from Andre Kertesz's poignant photographs of his native
which were published in Hungarian Memories: Nineteen
Data as of September 1989