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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Population: demographic situation, languages and religions


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.3Population: demographic situation, languages and religions

Last update: 27 November 2023

Demographic Situation

Hungary’s territory is 93,030 square km.

In 2019, the population of the country was 9,772,756. The population of the country has been on decrease; however, the measure of reduction is getting moderate. The most intense decrease was seen during the 1980s. Natural decrease is a key factor of the population loss.  The volume of natural decrease is rising – between 3.4 and 4.1 in the last decade (2009-2019) – with a considerable decrease in the number of deaths and a less significant decrease in the number of births. The population density is 105 person/square km. A slowly increasing trend can be seen in the last decade as regards to life expectancy at birth, which was 70.40 years in the case of men, and 77.77 years in the case of women in 2017. In 2020 it increased to 72.21 years in case of men and to 78.74 years in case of women.

Population by age groups (%)







0-14 years







15-24 years







25-49 years







50-64 years







65-79 years







80+ years







 Source: Eurostat (2021.08.02)

Nearly 70% of the population (In 2019 70.5%, in 2020 70.1%) lives in towns and urban communities, while Budapest and its agglomeration has nearly 30% of the total population. The concentration of population in Central-Hungary and in the Western part of the country has further intensified in the past years: in 2020 67 person/square km lived in the Southern part of Alföld (Dél-Alföld) while 3333 person/square km in Budapest.

In 2015, 26.3% of the Hungarian population was at risk of poverty and social exclusion, however this rate shows a decreasing tendency, in 2017 the rate was at 19.6%, in 2018 at 18.9% and in 2019 at 17.7%.

Immigration, migration

The emigration augmented in the decade following the accession of the European Union. In the recent years the growth has stopped and then turned again. At the peak in 2015 32,852 Hungarian citizens left the country. The number of Hungarian citizens returning from abroad was 14,810 in 2015 and 23,104 in 2020. In 2015, emigration was 32,852, while in 2020 this number was only 19,322. In 2020 the number of citizens who left the country was less than those who returned. In 2021, there were 22,583 immigrants and 21,730 emigrants, so the 2020 trend prevailed in 2021 as well.

In 2019, the number of foreign nationals residing legally and permanently in Hungary was 180,773, in 2020 199,957 (In 2000 153,125; in 2005 142,153). 63.97% of the foreigners living in Hungary has come from Europe, mainly from the surrounding countries, such as Ukraine (14.07%), Romania (9.3%), Germany (8.99%) and Slovakia (7.54%). 28% is from Asia, 3.9% from Africa and 3.56% from the continent of America.

Immigration of foreign nationals and emigration of Hungarian citizens










25 787

23 803

36 453

49 312

33 284

31 685

22 583


10 373

10 464

12 872

24 370

21 900

19 322

21 730

In the sense of the General Education Act, the Minister responsible for education – with the approval of the Minister responsible for immigration policing and asylum – by issuing a provisional operating permit – may allow the operation of an educational institution for the children of those in the status of provisional protection staying in the territory of Hungary, as well as the children staying in the transit zone.

Pursuant to the law, non-Hungarian citizen underage children become entitled to pre-primary education, furthermore subjected to compulsory education in Hungary  according to the provisions of the Act on the Right of Asylum, the Act on the Travel and Residence of Persons Having the Right of Free Movement and Residence, or the Act on the Travel and Residence of Citizens from a Third Country. If the above criteria are met, the non-Hungarian citizens may use kindergarten education, school education, students’ hostel education, pedagogical assistance service with the same conditions as Hungarian citizens.

Official and Minority Languages

In the Republic of Hungary over 97% of the population is Hungarian (Magyar) and Hungarian is the official language, but the Fundamental Law of Hungary recognises the national and ethnic minorities as constituent communities of the state. It ensures rights to foster their cultures, education in their native languages, the use of their native languages, the use of names in their native languages and their collective participation in public affairs. Pursuant to Act CLXXIX of 2011 on the Rights of National Minorities, the Bulgarian, Greek, Croatian, Polish, German, Armenian, Romani, Romanian, Ruthenian, Serbian, Slovakian, Slovenian, and Ukrainian languages are considered as languages used by national minorities. In the sense of the above act, Hungary protects national minorities, allows them to foster their own culture, to use their mother tongues, to have access to the education in their mother tongues, their collective participation in public life, as well as promotes the implementation of their cultural autonomy, and guarantees their right to local governments.

The number of those considering themselves belonging to a national minority has considerably increased since 2001 in most Hungarian national minorities.  

The 2011 census showed that 555,507 people of the population considered themselves to belong to a national minority. In Hungary the Roma minority has the highest population (on 1 of October 2011 315 thousand people claimed to be Roma). The representation of the national minorities is provided by 1,827 local and 13 national minority self-governments. The data of the census show that the population of minorities with mother tongue continues to drop, with the exemption of those whose native language was claimed to be Romani or belong to some smaller ethnical minorities. Pursuant to Act CXI of 2011 on the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, the legal institution of the Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minority Rights ceased to exist and the related tasks were taken over by the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights from 1 January 2012.

Pursuant to the Act on the Rights of National Minorities, the state supports the application of languages used by national minorities in the minority general education, not depending on the maintainer of the general education institution. The additional costs of minority general education shall be borne by the state, as set forth by the law. The General Educational Act ensures the right to minority education, and the right to be educated in the mother tongue.

The National Core Curriculum (NCC) intends to play an important role in fostering the identity of national minorities, and strengthens the learners in their belonging to their national communities, as well as it puts an emphasis on how important it is to convey the language and culture of the minority.

According to the National Core Curriculum  information about national minorities in Hungary shall appear in all subject areas and all knowledge levels already from the first grade of primary school. Thus local pedagogical programmes may include – for example – the folk poetry of national minorities , and pupils will have more opportunities to broaden their knowledge about other cultures.

Minority theatres, museums and community centres are important cultural institutions of minorities. Pursuant to the Act on the Rights of National Minorities, the minority self-governments are entitled to establish and maintain minority cultural institutions, and take over the maintainer’s right and cultural tasks fulfilment of cultural institutions established by others. Minority self-governments are supported by the state to operate cultural institutions maintained by them in a manner and to an extent as set forth by the Act on the State Budget.


In terms of religion, Hungary is fairly homogenous. The 2011 census reflects that the number of those belonging to great historical churches decreased, the ratio of adherents of smaller churches, denominations increased, as well as the number of those not belonging to a church or denomination increased among the population questioned. More than 7 million of the population belongs to one of the Christian churches: Catholic (3,872,000), Calvinist (1,153,000), Lutheran (215,000). The overall ratio of those who claim themselves to belong to smaller or newer congregations or religions is only 1.1%.

Out of the registered 286 religions in Hungary, there are about 150 where the number of followers is below 100. The underlying reason is partly the increase in the range of religions available since 1990 and partly the greater number of foreign citizens living in Hungary, who brought their own religion with themselves. In general, the average age of those claiming to belong to a church or congregation is higher than the average age of the entire population. Catholics and Lutherans are more likely to live in rural areas.

The legislative basis for the relationship of the state and churches derives from the Fundamental Law, as well as Act CCVI of 2011 on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and the Status of Churches, Religious Denominations and Religious Communities.

From 1 September 2013, the new General Educational Act introduced a new compulsory class: education of ethical studies or religious and ethical studies. Students can freely choose among these two. The teaching of ethical studies is the task of the state, whereas religious and ethical studies are taught by the church.