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Budapest is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union. It is the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre, sometimes described as the primate city of Hungary. According to the census, in 2011 Budapest had 1.74 million inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2.1 million due to suburbanisation. The Budapest Metropolitan Area is home to 3.3 million people. The city covers an area of 525 square kilometres (203 sq mi). Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank on 17 November 1873. The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Hungarians arrived in the territory in the 9th century. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241–42. The re-established town became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture by the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after its unification in 1873. It also became the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Republic of Councils in 1919, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Revolution of 1956. Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest’s extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second-oldest metro line in the world. It has around 80 geothermal springs, the world’s largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building. The city attracts about 4.4 million tourists a year, making it the 25th most popular city in the world, and the 6th in Europe, according to Euromonitor. Considered a financial hub in Central Europe, he city ranked third on Mastercard’s Emerging Markets Index, and ranked as the most liveable Central or Eastern European city on EIU’s quality of life index. It is also ranked as “the world’s second best city” by Condé Nast Traveler, and “Europe’s 7th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes. It is the highest ranked Central/Eastern European city on Innovation Cities’ Top 100 index. Budapest is home to the headquarters of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the European Police College (CEPOL) and the first foreign office of the China Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA). Eighteen universities are situated in Budapest, including the Central European University, Eötvös Loránd University and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.

Area: 525.2 km²

Population: About 1.774 million

Currency

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  • The Hungarian Forints is the currency of Hungary and Budapest.
 
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Economy

Budapest is a significant economic hub, classified as an Alpha- world city in the study by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network and it is the second fastest-developing urban economy in Europe as GDP per capital in the city increased by 2.4 per cent and employment by 4.7 per cent compared to the previous year in 2014. On national level, Budapest is the primate city of Hungary regarding business and economy, accounting for 39% of the national income, the city has a gross metropolitan product more than $100 billion in 2015, making it one of the largest regional economy in the European Union. According to the Eurostat GDP per capital in purchasing power parity is 147% of the EU average in Budapest, which means €37.632 ($52.770) per capital. Budapest is also among the Top100 GDP performing cities in the world, measured by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The city was named as the 52nd most important business centre in the world in the Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index, ahead of Beijing, Warsaw, Sao Paulo or Shenzhenand ranking 3rd (out of 65 cities) on MasterCard Emerging Markets Index. The city is 48th on the UBS The most expensive and richest cities in the world list, standing before cities such as Prague, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur or Buenos Aires. In a global city competitiveness ranking by EIU, Budapest is stands before Tel Aviv, Lisbon, Moscow and Johannesburg among others. The city is a major centre for banking and finance, real estate, retailing, trade, transportation, tourism, new media as well as traditional media, advertising, legal services, accountancy, insurance, fashion and the arts in Hungary and regionally. Budapest is home not only to almost all national institutions and government agencies, but also to many domestic and international companies, in 2014 there are 395.804 companies registered in the city. Most of these entities are headquartered in the Budapest’s Central Business District, in the District V and District XIII. The retail market of the city (and the country) is also concentrated in the downtown, among others through the two largest shopping centre in Central and Eastern Europe, the 186,000sqm WestEnd City Center and the 180,000sqm Arena Plaza. Budapest has notable innovation capabilities as a technology and start-up hub, many start-ups are headquartered and begin its business in the city, for instance deserve to mention the most well-known Prezi, LogMeIn or Nav N Go. Budapest is the highest ranked Central and Eastern European city on Innovation Cities’ Top 100 index. A good indicator of the city’s potential for innovation and research also, is that the European Institute of Innovation and Technology chose Budapest for its headquarters, along with the UN, which Regional Representation for Central Europe office is in the city, responsible for UN operations in seven countries. Moreover, the global aspect of the city’s research activity is shown through the establishment of the European Chinese Research Institute in the city. Other important sectors include also, as natural science research, information technology and medical research, non-profit institutions, and universities. The leading business schools and universities in Budapest, the Budapest Business School, the CEU Business School and Corvinus University of Budapest offers a whole range of courses in economics, finance and management in English, French, German and Hungarian. The unemployment rate is far the lowest in Budapest within Hungary, it was 2.7{e55f87a90952c69d89a962ef47a29c53316a679df5a8bd0421bdc8b742b3331a}, besides the many thousands of employed foreign citizens. Budapest is among the 25 most visited cities in the world, the city welcoming more than 4.4 million international visitors each year, therefore the traditional and the congress tourism industry also deserve a mention, it contributes greatly to the city’s economy. The capital being home to many convention centre and thousands of restaurants, bars, coffee houses and party places, besides the full assortment of hotels. In restaurant offerings can be found the highest quality Michelin-starred restaurants, like Onyx, Costes, Tanti or Borkonyha. The city ranked as the most liveable city in Central and Eastern Europe on EIU’s quality of life index in 2010.

Language

The official language is Hungarian.

Health and security

  • The number of hospital beds per ten thousand people is 124. The average length of stay in health care institutions is 9.4 days per year. The level of use of hospital beds is 88.6%. A family practitioner has an average of 1,323 patients.
  •  There are many petty crimes. Bag snatching and pick-pocketing are common, especially in Budapest. Be particularly careful on busy public transport, in train stations, at markets and at other places frequented by tourists. Theft of and from vehicles is common. Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Certain bars, clubs and restaurants in Budapest, particularly near the large hotels in the business district (V district) of central Pest, may charge exorbitant prices. Common scams include adding a 20,000 HUF (£60) surcharge per drink to the final bill or charging up to 100,000 HUF (£300) for a meal. Individuals who have been unable to settle their bills have frequently been accompanied by the establishment’s security guards to a cash machine and made to withdraw funds under threats of violence.

Transport

BKV Zrt. (Budapest Transport Plc. – the abbreviation BKV stands for its earlier name Budapesti Közlekedési Vállalat; Budapest Transport Company, occasionally used up to these days) was established in 1968 as the unified public transport company ofBudapest, with the merger of the companies responsible for the different means of public transport: tram and trolleybus operator FVV, bus operator FAÜ, suburban railway operator BHÉV and riverboat operator Hajózási Vállalat. The Metro was added in 1973.[1]The transport in Budapest underwent another reorganization in 2010 when BKK (Budapesti Közlekedési Központ, lit. Center for Transport in Budapest) was founded for the management of the city transport and infrastructure. Since then, BKV is the largest public transport contractor of the BKK, operating 4 metro, 5 HÉV, 33 tram, and 15 trolley bus lines, and most vehicles on the 231 local bus and 40 night bus lines.

Tourism

Budapest became one of Central Europe’s most popular tourist attractions in the 1990s. Attractions in the city include Buda Castle which houses several museums including the Hungarian National Gallery, the Matthias Church, the Parliament Building and the City Park. The city has many museums, three opera houses, and thermal baths. Buda Castle, the Danube River embankments and the whole of Andrássy Avenue have been recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hungary has an estimated 1,300 thermal springs, a third of which are used at spas across the country. Hungary’s thermal waters and spa culture are promoted to tourists. Only France, Japan, Bulgaria, Iceland, and Italy have similar thermal water capacity. Hungary’s thermal baths have been used for 2,000 years for cleansing, relaxation and easing aches and pains. The Romans were the first to use Hungary’s thermal waters in the first century, when they built baths on the banks of the Danube River. Budapest lies on a geological fault that separates the Buda hills from plains. More than 30,000 cubic metres of warm to scalding (21° to 76 °C) mineral water gushes from 118 thermal springs and supply the city’s thermal baths. Budapest has been a popular spa destination since Roman times. Some of the baths in the city date from Turkish times while others are modern. They have steam rooms that utilize the healing properties of the springs. Most of the baths offer medical treatments, massages, and pedicures. The most famous of Budapest’s spas were built at the turn of the 19th century.There are two hundred known caves under Budapest, some of which can be visited by tourists and are a popular tourist attraction. In the Buda hills there are caves that are unique for having been formed by thermal waters rising up from below, rather than by rainwater. The Pálvölgy Stalactite Cave is a large and spectacular labyrinth. Discovered in the 1900s, it is the largest of the cave systems in the Buda hills. The Szemlohegy Cave has no stalactites and has fewer convoluted and claustrophobic passages than the Pálvölgy Cave. The walls in this cave are encrusted with precipitates formed by warm water dissolving mineral salts. The air in the cave is very clean and its lowest level is used as a respiratory sanatorium. The Matyas Cave in the outskirts of the city has a crawling-room-only section called the “sandwich of death.

Weather

Budapest has an oceanic climate (Cfb) using the −3 °C (26.6 °F) isotherm of the original Köppen scheme, or a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), using the 0 °C (32 °F) isotherm preferred by some climatologists, with relatively cold winters and warm summers. Winter (November until early March) can be cold and the city receives little sunshine. Snowfall is fairly frequent in most years, and nighttime temperatures of −10 °C (14 °F) are not uncommon between mid-December and mid-February. The spring months (March and April) see variable conditions, with a rapid increase in the average temperature. The weather in late March and April is often very agreeable during the day and fresh at night. Budapest’s long summer – lasting from May until mid-September – is warm or very warm. Budapest has as much summer sunshine as many Mediterranean resorts. Sudden heavy showers also occur, particularly in May and June. The autumn in Budapest (mid-September until late October) is characterized by little rain and long sunny days with moderate temperatures. Temperatures often turn abruptly colder in late October.Mean annual precipitation in Budapest is around 23.5 inches (600 mm). On average, there are 78 days with precipitation and 1988 hours of sunshine (of a possible 4383) each year. The city lies on the boundary between Zone 6 and Zone 7 in terms of the hardiness zone.