Description of the Micro-Region

In today’s Hungary there are various administrative levels of regional development: national, regional, county and micro-regional. The micro-regional level is typified by its area of authority being defined by the Hungarian Central Office for Statistics. The local councils of the micro-regions have established bodies to ensure concerted cooperation on regional development projects. Within its own sphere of authority and that of the Micro-Region Development Council, the “Halas Multi-Target Micro-Region Association” operates in the micro-region of Kiskunhalas.

Situation of the Micro-Region

The statistical area of the micro-region of Kiskunhalas is formed by 9 towns or villages: Kiskunhalas, Tompa, Kelebia, Kisszállás, Kunfehértó, Balotaszállás, Pirtó, Harkakötöny and Zsana. To the south it borders the Republic of Serbia. The micro-region can be approached from Kecskemét on main road 54, joining main road 53 at Soltvadkert; from Szeged it is approachable on road 5408 and from Baja on main road 55. It can be reached on the Budapest to Kelebia railway line within 2½ hours.

 

Natural Characteristics

The Kiskunhalas micro-region is situated in the southern part of the sandy Kiskunság area; to the west it is delineated by the Bácskai ridge of sandy loess soil. The appearance of the region is determined by three types of landscape: a partially hard country of sand dunes, a sandy plain with chernozem, and inter-dune basins of moorland and meadows with alkaline soil. The highest point is 132 m; this landscape of sand hills is dotted with farmsteads and is a natural peculiarity of the Kiskunhalas area. From the once extensive waters of the region, now only the lakes of Fehértó, to the south, and Sóstó, to the north, are left.

 

Basic Statistics of the Micro-Region

Area km2

826

Population (01.01.2006)

47,840

Regional developmental beneficiary region? (Govt. statute no. 64/2004)

no

Number of settlements

towns

2

parishes

7

Number of regional developmental beneficiary communities

5

 

 

 

Area, Population, Population Density (1st January 2006)

 

Typical of the region of the Hungarian Plain, because of the large distances, inhabitants are forced to use private cars in fulfilling their administrative, financial, educational and cultural needs.

 

Demographics, Migration

8.7% of the total population of the county lives in this (according to the number and proportion of its inhabitants) medium-sized micro-region. People are migrating in ever-increasing numbers from the smaller villages. The majority of these migrants probably move to Kiskunhalas, while residents of the micro-region’s ‘capital’ move away to other towns – this is the reason for the stagnation of its balance of population. These migratory trends tend to increase the mean age of the population.

 

Infrastructure and Transportation

The public supply of mains drinking water is chiefly enjoyed by the residents of the towns of Kiskunhalas and Tompa.

The quality of the drinking water, with its high arsenic content, is substandard in many places. To solve this problem a drinking water improvement programme has been initiated involving the cooperation of 70 communities, through the offices of the Southern-Alföld Regional Development Council and supported by EU sources.

With the exception of Kiskunhalas there is no system of public sewers in the region; accordingly a sewerage treatment plant has not been built. Each community has a mains gas network. Apart from the farmsteads, the supply of electricity is constant and 100% complete.

 

Kiskunhalas, in the southern third of the Homokhátság (“Sand Hills”) region, is an important traffic junction. The main road is number 53, from which Transdanubia (via road 52), the county town of Kecskemét (via road 54) and Baja and Szeged (via road 55) are all reachable. The north-south direction is also dominant concerning rail traffic due to the international main line between Budapest-Kelebia-Belgrade. Links between east and west are maintained by the Kiskunfélegyháza to Baja railway branch line (for example this is the only way to travel by rail between the cities of Szeged and Pécs). The border crossing stations of Tompa (by road) and Kelebia (by rail) also have outstanding significance within the micro-region.

 

Employment, Unemployment

Source: Halas Micro-Region Human Services Institution, 2007.

 

61.8% of those employed in the Kiskunhalas micro-region are employed in the service sector. The importance of industry and the construction industry is less here than the national norm. On the other hand, agriculture plays a far greater part here than on average nationally. Unemployment in the Kiskunhalas micro-region – in common with nationwide tendencies – is continuously rising. The proportion of unemployed who have not completed 8 years of school remains unchanged, but that of those having completed vocational training and those who have graduated from either technical school or grammar school has increased. Finding a solution to the problem of unemployment is further complicated by one of the individual characteristics of the region (particularly in the case of Kiskunhalas) – the large population of Roma.

 

Unemployment in the region fluctuates according to the season and the availability of seasonal agricultural work. A significant proportion of the unemployed are of Roma ethnic origin. The migration of the workforce is not characteristic of Kiskunhalas. Those who cannot find suitable employment in their particular specialized fields look for opportunities in the service sphere.

 

Based on data from the Hungarian Central Office for Statistics, March 2007:

%

Rate of unemployment in Bács-Kiskun county

9,5

Rate of employment in Bács-Kiskun county

48,2

National rate of unemployment

7,5

National rate of employment

51,2

 

Number and proportion of registered jobseekers in the micro-region

(as of 20.02.2007, data of County Labour Office)

Town or village

Registered

Total economically active

Relative index*

Balotaszállás

46

1074

4.28

Harkakötöny

40

633

6.32

Kelebia

126

1844

6.83

Kiskunhalas

1386

20161

6.87

Kisszállás

127

1808

7.02

Kunfehértó

91

1527

5.96

Pirtó

47

714

6.58

Tompa

195

3178

6.14

Zsana

21

547

3.84

TOTAL

2079

31486

6.60

*Relative index – percentage of registered jobseekers out of the economically active population

 

 

Economic Activities, Services

In the sphere of the economy, three characteristic fields can be delineated in the Kiskunhalas area: wide-ranging agricultural activities; various processing industries (chiefly located in Kiskunhalas); and transportation, due to the presence of the international border.

 

Foodprocessing industries are important in the region and real estate and financial services also both provide significant employment, as does transportation, due to the transit traffic and the proximity of the international border. Numerous businesses are involved in industrial activities, and tourism also offers employment opportunities. In alignment with the area’s natural endowments the food industry has great significance, for example the production of wine, seeds and hybrid maize and of pharmaceutical and nutrition merchandize. In addition, local poultry products are even exported. 10 thousand people are employed in the micro-region. The largest employers work in the fields of trade, services, and food and drink production. In accordance with local industrial traditions, the machine industry and light industries are still present today. From the production of clothing, work clothes and denim clothes are the most noteworthy; Halas Lace continues to be sewn and several small workshops undertake lease work. Car electrics, compressors and inductors are all made in the micro-region. There are concerns dealing in plastics-processing, container production, wood industry goods and paper packaging materials, too. There are both larger and smaller enterprises concerned with construction design, structural architecture, civil engineering and the manufacture of construction industry materials.

 

 

The Kiskunhalas Industrial Park can be found on the town’s eastern industrial estate. The railway station is 200 m away from the park and railway lines pass directly alongside it, where there is an industrial platform and loading bay. There are still free plots available on the Industrial Park.

 

Agriculture

Agriculture is an important livelihood for many local inhabitants. With the exception of Tompa, the entire micro-region is qualified as an Environmentally Sensitive Area; Kiskunhalas and Tompa are both counted as nitrate-sensitive. Due to the poor quality of production sites, the majority of the productive area is composed of forest and grassland. Settlements of farmsteads are typical, as is an aging population. Approximately 1,440 people are legally employed in agriculture, although estimates suggest that the total number of workers on the land is between seven and nine thousand. The aforementioned typically cultivate between one and five hectares, use no machinery, and take advantage of services, essentially operating as partial subsistence farmers. The lack of independence of the small-scale farmers is exacerbated by the absence of integrational organizations. Because of the lack of storage capacity and capital, farmers are frequently forced by these circumstances to sell their crops and produce below their true values.

 

Tourism

Local conditions: In comparison to the potential for tourism within the towns and villages of the micro-region, its importance is slight. Significant transit routes (numbers 53 and 55) cross the area and these serve as corridors for tourists. Although the micro-region has no spectacular natural sights, it still has special values for its inhabitants that visitors may also experience and enjoy. Amongst these tourist attractions, the most are to be found in Kiskunhalas: the world famous Halas Lace, the iodine-rich curative water, the well known riding stables and show jumping ground and the saline lake (also suitable for angling) Sóstó.

 

Source: Halas Micro-Region Human Services Institution, 2007.

 

 

The Harka-tó lake of Harkakötöny, with its special sand hills world of flora and fauna, the Fehértó lake of Kunfehértó, which is suitable for bathing, and the stocks of game and horses in the region are all worth attention as potential bases for tourist activity. For cultural features, sports events and other tourist attractions and programmes please find more details by clicking on Tourism or Calendar of Events.

 

Health and Social Services

According to the Hungarian Central Office for Statistics, 23 GPs practised in the area in 2003. The number of permanent residents per doctor exceeded 2000 both at micro-regional and at county level. This is higher than the national average by some 100 people.

The municipal council of Kiskunhalas attends to basic healthcare services – as a compulsory duty – in the form of an enterprise that organizes 11 districts for general practitioners and 6 for paediatricians. In the communities of the Kiskunhalas micro-region there are 10 GP services, 5 paediatric services, 6 dental services and 7 district nursing services within the framework of basic healthcare provision.

The central duty functions from Kiskunhalas. It provides for the 11 doctors’ districts of Kiskunhalas, plus, by special agreement, the villages of Balotaszállás, Harkakötöny, Kisszállás, Kunfehértó, Pirtó and Zsana. Tompa and Kelebia presently solve this task independently. The Semmelweishospital in Kiskunhalas plays a central role in public health.

 

Those in need of public assistance are supported by regular benefits from the municipal council’s budget. One-off financial support, dependent on means, is also available in the region. The councils of the micro-region also provide temporary relief and housing benefit in necessary cases.

Alongside the caretaking duties performed by parish management and farm supervision services, almost every community provides meals on wheels and home help services. Apart from in three villages (Harkakötöny, Kelebia and Pirtó) there is a family assistance service also.

Six parishes in the micro-region provide accommodation and day care for the elderly. In Kiskunhalas there is a centre for those with mild or moderate disabilities.

The Child Care Service is part of basic child care provision. Under its professional coordination both a foster parent network and an interim family hostel are in operation.

 

 

 Education, Training

Source: Halas Micro-Region Human Services Institution, 2007

 

Institutions providing the compulsory elementary education services of the local councils are independently maintained by each parish and town. However in two cases the boards are formed by association between the institution and the council. There are 19 kindergartens maintained by either the councils or by churches. Every town or village in the micro-region has an elementary school and in Kiskunhalas there is one church elementary school and four belonging to the state.

 

Kiskunhalas is the only place in the micro-region where secondary educational institutions can be found. There is one state and one church grammar school, a technical school specialised in agriculture, economics and information technology (maintained by the municipal council) and a vocational school (maintained by the county council). Within the micro-region, adult education is available in Kiskunhalas and in Tompa. There are no tertiary education institutions but the Rákóczi Technical School runs accredited courses in advanced finance and accounting and in engineering support.

 

 Culture, Sport, Community Life

 The micro-region has a rich and well-documented cultural heritage. Although the area is not overwhelmed by national monuments, each town and village strives to preserve and increase its surviving architectural values, and public statues and sculptures. The earlier artistic works of the micro-region are to be found as frescoes, tableaux, stained glass windows and statues in churches. Opportunities for religious worship (churches and houses of prayer) are available in every community. In both Kiskunhalas and Kunfehértó we can find statues, sculptures and other decorative elements in public spaces. The largest collection of the paintings of the artist János Thorma, including his famous monumental works Rise Up, Magyar! and Arad Blood Witnesses, is to be found in the museum of Kiskunhalas.

 

The number of folk artists and craftsmen and women living or working creatively in the micro-region and their works are especially noteworthy. In the towns and villages there are numerous choirs. In Kiskunhalas there is a music school and for several years there has also been an arts school, which accepts pupils from all over the region.

Each and every town and village has a community centre and a library. In Kiskunhalas there is also a cinema in which theatre performances are sometimes held. In addition to local newspapers, the micro-region has its own local television and radio stations. The “Sulinet” Internet system brings the larger world into the schools. Local community life and more important political events (e.g.: local council meetings) are broadcast over a 35 km radius by the region’s television station, ensuring access to political and cultural news for the majority of inhabitants.

 

Nowadays from among the agricultural and religious festivals and celebrations in connection with individual communities there are some outstanding occasions that have become living traditions. The “Town Day” of Kiskunhalas is celebrated on the anniversary of the granting of its inhabitants’ freedom from serfdom in 1745 – the so-called “Redemption”. The town’s Harvest Festival in September is preceded by the “Halas Weeks”. Harkakötöny offers the “Kötöny Days” and Kunfehértó organizes a series of events known as the “Fehértó Summer”, but every parish has its own special celebration. The “Carpathian Festival” of Kelebia has been organized for several years now. Apart from the cultural and sports events held during these special occasions, the communities of the micro-region also arrange fairs and exhibitions and host the representatives of twin towns. Naturally at such times local culinary specialities come to the fore.

 

The sports events organized in Kiskunhalas and its region are of the greatest significance (which can be seen by the international prestige of the show jumping competition and the students’ gymnastics tournament etc.). Despite the fact that public financial resources to support such events are ever-dwindling, there remains a great necessity for the creation and maintenance of opportunities to pursue mass sports. The local councils, schools, community organizations and sports clubs all try to contribute to this provision. In Zsana there is a sports club; in Kunfehértó there is a sports camp and a sports hall; Harkakötöny has got a sports association with a sports ground and sports hall. In Kiskunhalas there are 21 different clubs and 6 specialized sports associations. Student sport comes under the auspices of the Municipal Student Sport Committee. Every town and village in the micro-region organizes a range of family and community sports events: the so-called “Challenge Day”, and various championships, running races and triathlon competitions. Sports institutions are open to the general public and not only to the elite or professionals.

 

The role of smaller communities in the exchange and sharing of values between society and individuals is an essential element in the process of socialization. Positive and cooperative relationships with community organizations are of strategic importance regarding decision making, the enactment of public duties and the democratic rendering of power. The tendency for collaboration in the non-governmental sphere is ever stronger and councils are more and more apt to treat residents as partners rather than simply ‘clients’. A positive phenomenon is the emergence of private individuals and entrepreneurs who are willing to assist in the preservation and development of sporting and cultural values within their closer communities. Also growing is the number of young people who, with their studies and foreign language abilities, are able and feel prompted to accept and interpret European culture and promote international partner relationships.

 

Summary:

The micro-region is particularly urban-centred from the perspectives of both regional relations and historical formation, as well as from those of institutional structure and cultural orientation. The municipality of Kiskunhalas acknowledges its role in this network of relations that developed in the past and endeavours to develop it. Besides this, several parishes of the micro-region are now beginning to cultivate profiles of their own and desire to cooperate as equal partners.