Problems of environmental protection in Hungary have arisen out of economic development which accelerated after 1867. Regulation of the Tisza opened the way for the intensive cultivation of 3.4mln.ha of agricultural land, linked with the growth of the food-processing industry, which included distilleries as well as meat and sugar factories, especially in the Budapest area. There was also an expansion of mining and metallurgy, although most capacity was located in the outer regions of the Carpathian Basin which were lost after the end of the First World War. The inter-war years saw greater use of the coal resources within the limits of Trianon Hungary, following the southwest-northeast axis of the country, and the industrial centres based on coal-mining, energy production, aluminium and chemicals grew even more rapidly under communism: Miskolc, Ózd and Salgótarján in the north, along with Ajka, Almásfüzitõ, Balatonfüzfõ, Dorog, Pét, Szony and Tatabánya in Central Transdanubia. Since industry also expanded in the Budapest agglomeration and around Gyõr, the northern half of the country began to suffer from pollution (Figure 8.1).
However, only eight settlements were declared new towns between 1900 and 1945: Balassagyarmat, Békéscsaba, Csongrád, Kalocsa, Mohács, Mosonmagyaróvár, Salgótarján and Szekszárd. Altogether, Hungary had only fifty towns by the end of the Second World War, accommodating little more than one-third of the total population. As an agrarian-industrial country, with 51 per cent of the people working in agriculture, Hungary's urban-industrial growth was weaker than in Western Europe and pollution problems were not so serious. However, pollution increased under communism because of the emphasis on heavy industry. There was rapid growth in the 1950s and 1960s (though falling after the mid-1970s), with power-stations and basic industries reflecting the natural resources of central Transdanubia and the north, while development in the Budapest agglomeration was well above average in terms of processing industries. Heavy industry advanced from 50 per cent in 1950 to 70 per cent in 1990, while light industry and the food industry declined from 20 to 12 per cent and from 29 to 16 per cent respectively. At the same time the value of agricultural production doubled as large-scale and technologically advanced farming became dominant.