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This paper analyses first and foremost the micro-regional (NUTS-IV) level changes of the past 15 years in Hungary, adopting the method of multivariate factor and cluster analysis as its fundamental approach. Accepting the popular view that Hungary is a "highly rural" country, this study first provides an overview of academic and political debates over the definition of rurality, then it goes on to examine the principal geographic factors of rural areas, namely the natural environment, agriculture and other economic activities, accessibility, infrastructure, settlement networks as well as local society and culture, assessing these factors on a nation-wide scale. Secondly, this study examines the interaction between the above-mentioned quantifiable factors and the strength of these changes, with the help of a statistical (factor) analysis performed for various chronological times. Finally, for the purpose of a comprehensive and integrated rural development, we identify, using the method of cluster analysis, the individual settlement types with various characteristics and evaluate them as well as the typical spatial processes taking place in these settlements.


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