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Uploaded on Mar 19, 2007
Budapest (also Buda-Pesth) is the capital city of Hungary and the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial and transportation centre. The official language spoken is Hungarian. Budapest has approximately 1.6 million inhabitants, down from a mid-1980s peak of 2.1 million. Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the amalgamation on 17 November 1873 of right-bank (west) Buda (Ofen in German) and Óbuda (Old Buda or Alt-Ofen) together with Pest on the left (east) bank. It is the ninth largest city in the European Union.
Budapest's recorded history begins with the Roman town of Aquincum, founded around AD 89 on the site of an earlier Celtic settlement near what was to become Óbuda, and from 106 until the end of the 4th century the capital of the province of lower Pannonia. Aquincum was the base camp of Legio II Adiutrix. The area of Campona (today's Nagytétény) belongs to Buda as well. Today's Pest became the site of Contra Aquincum (or Trans Aquincum), a smaller sentry point. The word Pest (or Peshta) is thought to originate from the Bolgar language, (thought to be a Turkic language, not related to modern Bulgarian, which is a Slavic language) because at the time of the reign of the Bulgarian Khan Krum (approximately 796-814), the town was under Bulgar dominion. The area then became a homeland for the Avars and some Slavic peoples.
The area was occupied around the year 900 by the Magyars of Central Asia, the cultural and linguistic ancestors of today's ethnic Hungarians, who a century later officially founded the Kingdom of Hungary. Already a place of some significance, Pest recovered rapidly from its destruction by Mongol invaders in 1241, but it was Buda, the seat of a royal castle since 1247, which in 1361 became the capital of Hungary.
The Ottoman Empire's conquest of most of Hungary in the 16th century interrupted the cities' growth: Buda and Pest fell to the invaders in 1541. While Buda remained the seat of a Turkish pasha, and administrative center of a whole vilayet, Pest was largely derelict by the time of their recapture in 1686 by Austria's Habsburg rulers, who since 1526 had been Kings of Hungary despite their loss of most of the country.
It was Pest, a bustling commercial town, which enjoyed the faster growth rate in the 18th and 19th century and contributed the overwhelming majority of the cities' combined growth in the 19th. By 1800 its population was larger than that of Buda and Óbuda combined. The population of Pest grew twenty-fold in the following century to 600,000, while that of Buda and Óbuda quintupled. The fusion of the three cities under a single administration, first enacted by the Hungarian revolutionary government in 1849 but revoked on the subsequent restoration of Habsburg authority, was finally effected by the autonomous Hungarian royal government established under the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich ("Compromise") of 1867; see Austria-Hungary. The total population of the unified capital grew nearly sevenfold in 1840--1900 to 730,000.
During the 20th century, most population growth occurred in the suburbs, with Újpest more than doubling between 1890--1910 and Kispest more than quintupling in 1900--1920, as much of the country's industry came to be concentrated in the city. The country's human losses during World War I and the subsequent loss of more than two thirds of the former kingdom's territory (1920) dealt only a temporary blow, leaving Budapest as the capital of a smaller but now sovereign state. By 1930 the city proper contained a million inhabitants, with a further 400,000 in the suburbs.
Towards the end of World War II in 1944 Budapest was partly destroyed by British and American air raids. The following siege lasted from December 24 1944 to February 13 1945, and major damage was caused by the attacking Soviet and defending German and Hungarian troops. All bridges were disrupted by the Germans. More than 38,000 civilians lost their lives during the fighting. Between 20% and 40% of Greater Budapest's 250,000 Jewish inhabitants died through Nazi and Arrow Cross genocide during 1944 and early 1945. ,  Despite this, Budapest today has the highest number of Jewish citizens per capita of any European city.
On January 1, 1950, the area of Budapest was significantly expanded: new districts were formed from the neighbouring cities and towns (see Greater Budapest). From the severe damage during the Soviet siege in 1944, the city recovered in the 1950s and 1960s, becoming to some extent a showcase for the more pragmatic policies pursued by the country's communist government (1947--1989) from the 1960s. Since the 1980s, the capital has shared with the country as a whole in increased emigration (mostly to the agglomeration) coupled with natural population decrease.
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