Magyars are the majority inhabitants of Hungary, while other groups of inhabitants lived or still live in Hungary as well. In English they are usually called Hungarians, except in some historical texts. Since 1918-1920, Magyars have become minority inhabitants of Romania (2 million), Czechoslovakia (600.000) now the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Yugoslavia (400.000) now Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Ukraine (170.000).

The Magyar leader Árpád is considered to have lead the Hungarians into the Carpathian Basin in 896, Hungarian settlement in the area became blessed by the Pope by the crowning of Stephen I the Saint (Szent István) in 1001 when the leaders accepted Christianity. The centuries between the Magyars had arrived from the eastern European plains and the consolidation of the Hungarian Kingdom in 1001 were dominated by pillaging campaigns across Europe, from Dania (Denmark) to the Hispanic peninsula (Spain).

Origin of the word "Hungary"

One opinion is that Hungary (similar words are used in most western European languages) received its name from the similar semi-nomadic tribe: the Huns, who lived centuries earlier in the same territory, but had similarities in they way of life and warfare. In ancient times and middle ages such false identifications often occurred in history and literature.

Others believe that the name derives from the Bulgarian: Ungur, Onogur (Slavic: Vengry; German: Ungarn), meaning "ten tribes".

Calling today's inhabitants Magyars or Hungarians is considered equally correct. In Hungarian, Hungarians call themselves only "Magyar", never "Hun" or "Hungarian".

Still, Hun names like Attila, Ildiko are popular among Hungarians, and forms derived from Hungaria are used like in the racetrack Hungaroring (mostly due to the strong English language pressure in tourism and international matters).

An equivalent use in English would be using Britannia, Hibernia and Erin are used besides the Anglosaxon words.

Origin of Magyar people

As mentioned above ancient sources have believed that Hungarians were the descendants of Huns, but probably the Huns were in fact defeated by Magyar tribes whose origins are still debated.

The language spoken by the Magyars is a Finno-Ugric language, a branch of the Uralic language family. It is related to Finnish, Estonian, and a number of languages in the former USSR.

copyright © 2004