Hungary is a country in Central and Eastern Europe with strong links to the West, through the European Union and NATO. Hungary started EU accession negotiations in 1998 and joined the Atlantic Alliance in 1999. On May 1st, 2004, it officially joined the European Union and then, on December 21st, 2007, the Schengen Area.
In addition, Hungary belongs to the Visegrad Group (together with Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), which aims to defend the interests of its members within the EU. It supports its extension to the Balkan countries, which further enhances its central importance due to its geographical positioning.
Concerning its cartography, Hungary is relatively flat since two thirds of the country is composed of plains and hilly regions. Situated in the centre of Europe in the Carpathian basin, Hungary is bordered to the north by Slovakia, to the west by Austria, to the south by Croatia and Slovenia and to the east by Ukraine and Romania. In addition, two main rivers run through it: the Danube and the Tisza. Hungary has also some 1,200 natural and artificial lakes, including Lake Balaton, which is the largest lake in Europe and is known as the “Hungarian Inland Sea” (595 km²). This country is also very rich in thermal waters and its temperate climate is located at the crossroads of three climatic zones: Mediterranean, continental and Atlantic.