The structure and content of the Hungarian education system was renewed through the Education Acts of 1993 and 2003. Educational institutions that were previously nationalized have been transformed into a more decentralized system that offers more autonomy for schools and more decision-making rights for parents. School attendance is compulsory from 6 to 18 years of age with free lessons (except at private and foundation schools). The first stage of the education system is the compulsory preschool year in kindergarten. After the four-year primary level (elementary school), the lower secondary level follows in the same institution (5th-8th grade). After that, pupils who do not switch to upper secondary level can also complete the 9th and 10th grades there (compulsory time). According to topschoolsintheusa, the upper secondary school area II (9th-12th school year) comprises the four-year middle school (grammar school), the four to five-year technical secondary school (both provide university entrance qualifications), a three-year vocational school (skilled worker training) and other two to three-year vocational schools. In 2005 a »two-stage Abitur« (two levels) was introduced. In the tertiary sector there are over 30 state universities and technical colleges as well as over 30 universities supported by churches and foundations. The oldest university in the country is the Loránd Eötvös University in Budapest (founded in 1635).
With the Media Act of 2010/11, which gave the newly created supervisory authority NMHH extensive powers, the taxation of advertising revenue (from 2015) and the favoring of selected companies, the government strengthened its influence on the media sector.
Press: Of the around 40 daily newspapers, the tabloid »Blikk« of Ringier AG and the free newspaper »Metropol« achieve the highest circulation. Other daily newspapers are »Népszabadság« (People’s Freedom; Ringier AG), »Magyar Nemzet« (Hungarian Nation), mouthpiece of the FIDESz government, »Népszava« (People’s Voice) and »Magyar Hírlap« (Hungarian Journal) in Budapest. The most important weekly papers are »Heti Válasz« (Weekly Answer), »Szabad Föld« (Free Land) and the business newspaper »Heti Világgazdaság« (HVG, World Economic Week).
News agencies: Magyar Távirati Iroda (MTI, state), Havaria Press (private).
Broadcasting: The public service “Magyar Rádió” (MR) broadcasts three nationwide radio programs (“Bartók Rádió”, “Kossuth Rádió” and “Petőfi Rádió”) as well as special interest and minority programs. »Klubrádió« is one of the few opposition news channels. “Magyar Televízió” (MTV) with two full programs (M1, M2) and an Internet program (M3) as well as the foreign channels “Duna Televízió” and “Duna World” represent public television. The largest among the numerous private TV channels are “RTL Klub” and “TV 2”; the government-affiliated »Hir TV« and »Echo TV« are news channels.
Hot springs in Hungary
Probably no other European country has as many mineral and thermal springs as Hungary. About 1,300 hot springs are known, around 350 of which are said to have healing properties. Due to the special geological nature of the Carpathian Basin, the stratified water, which usually circulates at greater depths and is enriched with minerals, lies relatively close below the surface of the earth.
The long tradition of spa and bathing goes back to Roman times. The name of the Roman legionary camp Aquincum, located in today’s Budapest district of Óbuda – Aquae is the Latin word for sources – suggests this. By the 3rd century AD, the base had developed into a town with around 50,000 residents, and archaeological finds attest to the existence of a large bath. The later rulers, Hungarian kings and Turkish pashas, appreciated the healing power of the springs and left their mark on the spa architecture, as did the bourgeoisie of the later Austro-Hungarian monarchy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Királybad, built as an oriental domed structure, dates back to the Ottoman period; Arslan Pasha had it built in the middle of the 16th century. As early as the 13th century there was a spa house at the foot of the Buda Gellertberg, and for centuries the thermal spring of Budapest’s most striking mountain was used for bathing. The famous Gellertbad shines today as a magnificent building of the late Art Nouveau.
Wonderful and traditional bathing resorts can be found in almost all regions of the country. The health resort of Hévíz west of Lake Balaton in Transdanubia is undoubtedly one of the best-known. It is located on the banks of the largest natural thermal lake in Europe, the bottom of which is covered by a meter-thick healing peat mud with mineral components. The temperature of the radon and sulfur-containing water is around 33 ° C in summer, and does not drop below 26 ° C in winter. In the Mediterranean microclimate of the lake, the Indian lotus blooms on the water until November. The bath in Miskolc-Tapolca in the eastern foothills of the Bükk Mountains is famous for its location in an extensive cave system. Southern Transdanubia is also rich in baths, such as the Baranya north of the Drava. The health resort of Harkány is known as the »Mecca for rheumatism sufferers«, The Magyarhertelend spa is located on the northern slopes of the Mecsek Mountains. The town of Sigetvár with its spa is surrounded by a lovely landscape in the southern Baranya, which is characterized by the Mediterranean climate and viticulture. There are also many places famous for their spas in the sunny Great Hungarian Plain, through which the Tisza flows.
In Hungary, spa and health tourism is becoming an important economic factor. Due to the increasing competition in this area within East-Central and Eastern Europe, its importance is to be strengthened by a state investment program. Since 2001, the Hungarian state has invested several hundred million euros in projects aimed at modernizing the spa and bathing facilities.