The 93,000 square kilometer (35,907 square mile) territory of Hungary lies largely in the largest sea-bottom basin of Central Europe, the Middle Danube depression, also called the Hungarian Carpathian, or Pannonian, Basin. Hungary occupies a compact area, approximately 122 miles wide and 280 miles long. It falls between 45°48″ and 48°31″ north latitude and between 16°01″ and 22°58″ east longitude. Hungary has only two stretches of natural frontier, the Danube and Ipoly rivers along the western half of the northern border, and the Drava and Mura rivers in the southwest. The total length of the present boundaries is approximately 1,400 miles, of which 228 miles border on Austria in the west, 446 miles on Czechoslovakia in the north, 66 miles on the Soviet Union in the northeast, 268 miles on Romania in the east, and 397 miles on Yugoslavia in the south.
Prior to 1920, the Hungarian Kingdom was bounded by the main ranges of the Carpathian Mountains on the north and northeast and by the Transylvania Alps to the east and southeast. The mountain ranges turned west and reached the Danube line. On the west, the boundary extended to the foothills of the Austrian Alps. Within this area, the river system showed a hydrographical unity. The rivers coming from the mountainous area flowed into the two main rivers, the Danube and the Tisza. Thus, Hungary historically formed something of a geographical unit. However, the boundaries established by the Treaty of Trianon bear little relation to the geography of the area.
One of the decisive geographical facts that has affected the history and economy, as well as the general outlook of Hungary, is her landlocked, continental position. Only six other European countries are without direct outlet to the sea. Another geopolitical factor is the strategic location of the Hungarian Plain, through which the major roads lead east and south. Since prehistoric times, foreign conquerors coming from the east, south, or west have had to force their way through the Hungarian Basin, which has witnessed many decisive battles in the course of the past thousand years.