The capital of Hungary is one of the largest cities in the European Union, with a population of around 1.75 million and some 3.3 million in the wider metropolitan area. Located on the banks of the River Danube, it has a prosperous history as the second city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, Budapest is growing rapidly and is predicted to show a 10% rise between 2005 and 2030. It has one of the highest population densities in Europe. In 2011, 4.4% of city residents were foreigners. Thanks to the capital’s thriving economy, its unemployment rate is far lower than in the rest of Hungary at only 2.7%. There is also a vast student population of some 400,000 attending the capital’s 18 universities and business schools.
The capital has made a successful transition from its manufacturing past in the communist era to become a financial hub of central Europe. It is a major centre of banking and finance, retailing, transportation, new and traditional media, culture and fashion, as well as many other service industries. It has many IT start-up companies and was chosen as the headquarters of the EU’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
Budapest is recognised as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and tourism is another major pillar of the capital’s economy. The city attracts some 4.3 million tourists a year. The area of the Danube embankments in Buda and Pest, along with the Buda Castle district and Heroes’ Square, are main features of an extensive UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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