|Slovak RepublicSlovenská republika|
| Location of Slovakia (dark green)|
(and largest city)
|Ethnic groups (2011)||80.7% Slovaks,8.5% Hungarians,|
|-||Prime Minister||Robert Fico|
|-||from Austria–Hungaryas Czechoslovakia||28 October 1918|
|-||from Czechoslovakia||1 January 19931|
|-||Total||49,035 km2 (129th)18,932 sq mi|
|-||2011 estimate||5,445,324 (111th)|
|-||Density||111/km2 (88th)287/sq mi|
|GDP (PPP)||2011 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2011 estimate|
|Gini (2005)||26 (low)|
|HDI (2011)||0.834 (very high) (35th)|
|Currency||Euro (€)2 (EUR2)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|-||Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||SK|
|1 Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia; see Velvet Divorce.2 Before 2009: Slovak Koruna
3 Also .eu, shared with other European Union member states. 4 Shared code 42 with Czech Republic until 1997.
The Slovak Republic (short form: Slovakia i// or //; Slovak:  Slovensko (help·info), long form  Slovenská republika (help·info)) is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi). Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. The largest city is the capital, Bratislava, and the second largest is Košice. Slovakia is a member state of the European Union, NATO, United Nations, OECD and WTO among others. The official language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic language family.
The Slavs arrived in the territory of present day Slovakia in the 5th and 6th centuries during the migration period. In the course of history, various parts of today's Slovakia belonged to Samo's Empire (the first known political unit of Slavs), Principality of Nitra (as independent polity, as part of Great Moravia and as part of Hungarian Kingdom), Great Moravia, Kingdom of Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Habsburg Empire, and Czechoslovakia. A separate Slovak state briefly existed during World War II, during which Slovakia was a dependency of Nazi Germany between 1939–1944. From 1945 Slovakia once again became a part of Czechoslovakia. The present-day Slovakia became an independent state on 1 January 1993 after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
Slovakia is a high-income advanced economy with one of the fastest growth rates in the European Union and the OECD. The country joined the European Union in 2004 and the Eurozone on 1 January 2009. Slovakia together with Slovenia and Estonia are the only former Communist nations to be part of the European Union, Eurozone, Schengen Area and NATO simultaneously.
Main article: History of Slovakia===Before the 5th century=== A Roman inscription at the castle hill of Trenčín (178–179 AD)Radiocarbon dating puts the oldest surviving archaeological artifacts from Slovakia – found near Nové Mesto nad Váhom – at 270,000 BC, in the Early Paleolithic era. These ancient tools, made by the Clactonian technique, bear witness to the ancient habitation of Slovakia.
Other stone tools from the Middle Paleolithic era (200,000 – 80,000 BC) come from the Prévôt (Prepoštská) cave near Bojnice and from other nearby sites. The most important discovery from that era is a Neanderthal cranium (c. 200,000 BC), discovered near Gánovce, a village in northern Slovakia.
Archaeologists have found prehistoric Homo sapiens skeletons in the region, as well as numerous objects and vestiges of the Gravettian culture, principally in the river valleys of Nitra, Hron, Ipeľ, Váh and as far as the city of Žilina, and near the foot of the Vihorlat, Inovec, and Tribeč mountains, as well as in the Myjava Mountains. The most well-known finds include the oldest female statue made of mammoth-bone (22 800 BC), the famous Venus of Moravany. The statue was found in the 1940s in Moravany nad Váhom near Piešťany. Numerous necklaces made of shells from Cypraca thermophile gastropods of the Tertiary period have come from the sites of Zákovská, Podkovice, Hubina, and Radošinare. These findings provide the most ancient evidence of commercial exchanges carried out between the Mediterranean and Central Europe. Left: celt coin Biatec Right: 5 slovak crowns with Biatec in front.The Bronze Age in Slovakia went through three stages of development, stretching from 2000 to 800 BC. Major cultural, economic, and political development can be attributed to the significant growth in production of copper, especially in central Slovakia (for example in Špania Dolina) and north-west Slovakia. Copper became a stable source of prosperity for the local population.
After the disappearance of the Čakany and Velatice cultures, the Lusatian people expanded building of strong and complex fortifications, with the large permanent buildings and administrative centers. Excavations of Lusatian hill-forts document the substantial development of trade and agriculture at that period. The richness and the diversity of tombs increased considerably. The inhabitants of the area manufactured arms, shields, jewelry, dishes, and statues.
The arrival of tribes from Thrace disrupted the people of the Calenderberg culture, who lived in the hamlets located on the plain (Sereď), and also in the hill forts located on the summits (Smolenice, Molpí). The local power of the "Princes" of the Hallstatt culture disappeared in Slovakia during the last period of the Iron Age after strife between the Scytho-Thracian people and the Celtic tribes, who advanced from the south towards the north, following the Slovak rivers.
From around 500 BC, the territory of modern-day Slovakia was settled by Celts, who built powerful oppida on the sites of modern-day Bratislava and Havránok. Biatecs, silver coins with the names of Celtic Kings, represent the first known use of writing in Slovakia. From 2 AD, the expanding Roman Empire established and maintained a series of outposts around and just north of the Danube, the largest of which were known as Carnuntum (whose remains are on the main road halfway between Vienna and Bratislava) and Brigetio (present-day Szöny at the Slovak-Hungarian border).
Near the northernmost line of the Roman hinterlands, the Limes Romanus, there existed the winter camp of Laugaricio (modern-day Trenčín) where the Auxiliary of Legion II fought and prevailed in a decisive battle over the Germanic Quadi tribe in 179 AD during the Marcomannic Wars. The Kingdom of Vannius, a kingdom founded by the Germanic Suebian tribes of Quadi and Marcomanni, as well as several small Germanic and Celtic tribes, including the Osi and Cotini, existed in Western and Central Slovakia from 8–6 BC to 179 AD.
The great invasions of the 4–7th centuries
In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD the Huns began to leave the Central Asian steppes. They crossed the Danube in 377 AD and occupied Pannonia, which they used for 75 years as their base for launching looting-raids into Western Europe. However, Attila's death in 453 brought about the disappearance of the Hun tribe. In 568 a Turko-Mongol tribal confederacy, the Avars, conducted their own invasion into the Middle Danube region. The Avars occupied the lowlands of the Pannonian Plain, established an empire dominating the Carpathian Basin. In 623, the Slavic population living in the western parts of Pannonia seceded from their empire after a revolution led by Samo, a Frankish merchant. After 626 the Avar power started to gradually decline but their reign lasted to 804.
The Slavic tribes settled in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 5th century. Western Slovakia was the centre of Samo's empire in the 7th century. A Slavic state known as the Principality of Nitra arose in the 8th century and its ruler Pribina had the first known Christian church of Slovakia consecrated by 828. Together with neighboring Moravia, the principality formed the core of the Great Moravian Empire from 833. The high point of this Slavonic empire came with the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius in 863, during the reign of Prince Rastislav, and the territorial expansion under King Svätopluk I.
The era of Great Moravia 830–896
Main article: Great MoraviaCentral Europe in the 9th century. Eastern Francia in blue, Bulgaria in orange, Great Moravia under Rastislav (870) in green. The green line marks the borders of Great Moravia under Svatopluk I (894). Please note that some of the borders of Great Moravia are under debateGreat Moravia arose around 830 when Moimír I unified the Slavic tribes settled north of the Danube and extended the Moravian supremacy over them. When Mojmír I endeavoured to secede from the supremacy of the king of East Francia in 846, King Louis the German deposed him and assisted Moimír's nephew, Rastislav (846–870) in acquiring the throne. The new monarch pursued an independent policy: after stopping a Frankish attack in 855, he also sought to weaken influence of Frankish priests preaching in his realm. Rastislav asked the Byzantine Emperor Michael III to send teachers who would interpret Christianity in the Slavic vernacular.
Upon Rastislav's request, two brothers, Byzantine officials and missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius came in 863. Cyril developed the first Slavic alphabet and translated the Gospel into the Old Church Slavonic language. Rastislav was also preoccupied with the security and administration of his state. Numerous fortified castles built throughout the country are dated to his reign and some of them (e.g., Dowina, sometimes identified with Devín Castle) are also mentioned in connection with Rastislav by Frankish chronicles.
During Rastislav's reign, the Principality of Nitra was given to his nephew Svatopluk as an appanage. The rebellious prince allied himself with the Franks and overthrew his uncle in 870. Similarly to his predecessor, Svatopluk I (871–894) assumed the title of the king (rex). During his reign, the Great Moravian Empire reached its greatest territorial extent, when not only present-day Moravia and Slovakia but also present-day northern and central Hungary, Lower Austria, Bohemia, Silesia, Lusatia, southern Poland and northern Serbia belonged to the empire, but the exact borders of his domains are still disputed by modern authors. Svatopluk also withstood attacks of the seminomad Magyar tribes and the Bulgarian Empire, although sometimes it was he who hired the Magyars when waging war against East Francia.
After the death of King Svatopluk in 894, his sons Mojmír II (894–906?) and Svatopluk II succeeded him as the King of Great Moravia and the Prince of Nitra respectively. However, they started to quarrel for domination of the whole empire. Weakened by an internal conflict as well as by constant warfare with Eastern Francia, Great Moravia lost most of its peripheral territories.
In the meantime, the seminomad Magyar tribes, possibly having suffered defeat from the similarly nomadic Pechenegs, left their territories east of the Carpathian Mountains, invaded the Carpathian Basin and started to occupy the territory gradually around 896. Their armies' advance may have been promoted by continuous wars among the countries of the region whose rulers still hired them occasionally to intervene in their struggles.
We do not know what happened with both Mojmír II and Svatopluk II because they are not mentioned in written sources after 906. In three battles (4–5 July and 9 August 907) near Bratislava, the Magyars routed Bavarian armies. Part of the historians put this year as the date of the breakup of the Great Moravian Empire, due to the Hungarian conquest other historians take the date a little bit earlier (to 902).
Great Moravia left behind a lasting legacy in Central and Eastern Europe. The Glagolitic script and its successor Cyrillic were disseminated to other Slavic countries, charting a new path in their cultural development. The administrative system of Great Moravia may have influenced the development of the administration of the Kingdom of Hungary.
Kingdom of Hungary 1000–1919
Main article: Kingdom of HungaryĽudovít ŠtúrFollowing the disintegration of the Great Moravian Empire at the turn of the 10th century, the Hungarians annexed the territory comprising modern Slovakia. From the 11th century, when the territory inhabited by the Slovak-speaking population of Danubian Basin was incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary, until 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed, the territory of modern Slovakia was an integral part of the Hungarian state. The ethnic composition became more diverse with the arrival of the Carpathian Germans in the 13th century, and the Jews in the 14th century.
A significant decline in the population resulted from the invasion of the Mongols in 1241 and the subsequent famine. However, in medieval times the area of the present-day Slovakia was characterized rather by burgeoning towns, construction of numerous stone castles, and the cultivation of the arts. In 1465, King Matthias Corvinus founded the Hungarian Kingdom's third university, in Pozsony (Bratislava), but it was closed in 1490 after his death.
Before the Ottoman Empire's expansion into Hungary and the occupation of Buda in 1541, the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary (under the name of Royal Hungary) moved to Pozsony (in Slovak: Prespork at that time, currently Bratislava). Pozsony became the capital city of the Royal Hungary in 1536. But the Ottoman wars and frequent insurrections against the Habsburg Monarchy also inflicted a great deal of devastation, especially in the rural areas. As the Turks withdrew from Hungary in the late 17th century, the importance of the territory comprising modern Slovakia decreased, although Pozsony retained its status as the capital of Hungary until 1848, when it was transferred to Buda. Royal Hungary, Principality of Upper Hungary, Principality of Transylvania and Ottoman eyalets around 1683.During the revolution of 1848–49 the Slovaks supported the Austrian Emperor, hoping for independence from the Hungarian part of the Dual Monarchy, but they failed to achieve their aim. Thereafter relations between the nationalities deteriorated (see Magyarization), culminating in the secession of Slovakia from Hungary after World War I.
Main article: CzechoslovakiaMilan Rastislav ŠtefánikIn 1918, Slovakia and the regions of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Carpathian Ruthenia formed a common state, Czechoslovakia, with the borders confirmed by the Treaty of Saint Germain and Treaty of Trianon. In 1919, during the chaos following the breakup of Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia was formed with numerous Germans and Hungarians within the newly set borders. A Slovak patriot Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1880–1919), who helped organize Czechoslovak regiments against Austria-Hungary during the First World War, died in a plane crash. In the peace following the World War, Czechoslovakia emerged as a sovereign European nation.
During the Interwar period, democratic Czechoslovakia was allied with France, and also with Romania and Yugoslavia (Little Entente); however, the Locarno Treaties of 1925 left East European security open. Both Czechs and Slovaks enjoyed a period of relative prosperity. Not only was there progress in the development of the country's economy, but in culture and in educational opportunities as well. The minority Germans came to accept their role in the new country and relations with Austria were good. Yet the Great Depression caused a sharp economic downturn, followed by political disruption and insecurity in Europe.
Thereafter Czechoslovakia came under continuous pressure from the revisionist governments of Germany and Hungary. Eventually this led to the Munich Agreement of September 1938, which allowed Nazi Germany to partially dismember the country by occupying what was called the Sudetenland, a region with a German-speaking majority and bordering Germany and Austria. The remainder of "rump" Czechoslovakia was renamed Czecho-Slovakia and included a greater degree of Slovak political autonomy. Southern and eastern Slovakia, however, was claimed back by Hungary at the First Vienna Award of November 1938.
World War II
Main article: Slovak Republic (1939–1945)After the Munich Agreement and its Vienna Award, Nazi Germany threatened to annex part of Slovakia and allow the remaining regions to be partitioned by Hungary or Poland unless independence was declared. Thus, Slovakia seceded from Czecho-Slovakia in March 1939 and allied itself, as demanded by Germany, with Hitler's coalition. The government of the First Slovak Republic, led by Jozef Tiso and Vojtech Tuka, was strongly influenced by Germany and gradually became a puppet regime in many respects.
Most Jews were deported from the country and taken to German labour camps. Thousands of Jews, however, remained to labor in Slovak work camps in Sered, Vyhne, and Nováky. Tiso, through the granting of presidential exceptions, has been credited with saving as many as 40,000 Jews during the war, although other estimates place the figure closer to 4,000 or even 1,000. Nevertheless, under Tiso's government, 83% of Slovakia's Jewish population, a total of 75,000 individuals, were murdered, though new estimates show increasing numbers of Jewish casualties, approximately 105,000 people. Tiso became the only European leader to actually pay Nazi authorities to deport his country's Jews.
After it became clear that the Soviet Red Army was going to push the Nazis out of eastern and central Europe, an anti-Nazi resistance movement launched a fierce armed insurrection, known as the Slovak National Uprising, near the end of summer 1944. A bloody German occupation and a guerilla war followed. The territory of Slovakia was liberated by Soviet and Romanian forces by the end of April 1945.
Rule of the Communist party
After World War II, Czechoslovakia was reconstituted and Jozef Tiso was hanged in 1947 for collaboration with the Nazis. More than 80,000 Hungarians and 32,000 Germans were forced to leave Slovakia, in a series of population transfers initiated by the Allies at the Potsdam Conference. This expulsion is still a source of tension between Slovakia and Hungary. Out of about 130,000 Carpathian Germans in Slovakia in 1938, by 1947 only some 20,000 remained.
Czechoslovakia came under the influence of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact after a coup in 1948. The country was occupied by the Warsaw Pact forces (with the exception of Romania) in 1968, ending a period of liberalization under the leadership of Alexander Dubček. In 1969, Czechoslovakia became a federation of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic. Slovakia became a member of the European Union in 2004 and signed the Lisbon Treaty in 2007.===Establishment of the Slovak Republic=== The end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989, during the peaceful Velvet Revolution, was followed once again by the country's dissolution, this time into two successor states. In July 1992 Slovakia, led by Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, declared itself a sovereign state, meaning that its laws took precedence over those of the federal government. Throughout the Autumn of 1992, Mečiar and Czech Prime Minister Václav Klaus negotiated the details for disbanding the federation. In November the federal parliament voted to dissolve the country officially on 31 December 1992.
The Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic went their separate ways after 1 January 1993, an event sometimes called the Velvet Divorce. Slovakia has remained a close partner with the Czech Republic. Both countries cooperate with Hungary and Poland in the Visegrád Group. Slovakia became a member of NATO on 29 March 2004 and of the European Union on 1 May 2004. On 1 January 2009, Slovakia adopted the Euro as its national currency.
A topographical map of SlovakiaMain article: Geography of SlovakiaSee also: Geomorphological division of SlovakiaSlovak Landscape, Greater FatraSlovakia lies between latitudes 47° and 50° N, and longitudes 16° and 23° E.
The Slovak landscape is noted primarily for its mountainous nature, with the Carpathian Mountains extending across most of the northern half of the country. Amongst these mountain ranges are the high peaks of the Tatra mountains. To the north, close to the Polish border, are the High Tatras which are a popular skiing destination and home to many scenic lakes and valleys as well as the highest point in Slovakia, the Gerlachovský štít at 2,655 metres (8,711 ft), and the country's highly symbolic mountain Kriváň.
The Slovak climate lies between the temperate and continental climate zones with relatively warm summers and cold, cloudy and humid winters. The area of Slovakia can be divided into three kinds of climatic zones and the first zone can be divided into two sub-zones.
Gerlachovský štít (2655 m), highest peak in SlovakiaThere are four somewhat different climates in Slovakia, owing partly to the mountain region. These areas include the cities of Bratislava, Kosice, Poprad and lastly, the mountain village of Spis:
The average annual temperature is about 9 to 10 °C (48 to 50 °F). The average temperature of the hottest month is about 20 °C (68 °F)and the average temperature of the coldest month is greater than −3 °C (27 °F). This kind of climate occurs at Záhorská nížina and Podunajská nížina. It is the typical climate of the capital city Bratislava.
The average annual temperature is about 8 to 9 °C (46 to 48 °F). The average temperature of the hottest month is about 19 °C (66 °F)and the average temperature of the coldest month is less than −3 °C (27 °F). This kind of climate can be found at Košická kotlina and Východoslovenská nížina. It is the typical climate of the city of Košice.
The average annual temperature is between 5 and 8.5 °C (41 and 47 °F). The average temperature of the hottest month is between 15 and 18.5 °C (59 and 65 °F) and the average temperature of the coldest month is between -6 to -3 °C (21 to 27 °F). This climate can be found in almost all basins in Slovakia. For example Podtatranská kotlina, Žilinská kotlina, Turčianska kotlina, Zvolenská kotlina. It is the typical climate for the towns of Poprad and Sliač.
The average annual temperature is less than 5 °C (41 °F). The average temperature of the hottest month is less than15 °C (59 °F) and the average temperature of the coldest month is less than −5 °C (23 °F). This kind of climate occurs in mountains and in some villages in the valleys of Orava and Spiš.
Slovakia's Presidential Palace in BratislavaMain article: Politics of SlovakiaSlovakia is a parliamentary democratic republic with a multi-party system. The last parliamentary elections were held on 12 June 2010 and two rounds of presidential elections took place on 21 March 2009 and 4 April 2009.
The Slovak head of state is the president (currently Ivan Gašparovič), elected by direct popular vote for a five-year term. Most executive power lies with the head of government, the prime minister (currently Iveta Radičová), who is usually the leader of the winning party, but he/she needs to form a majority coalition in the parliament. The prime minister is appointed by the president. The remainder of the cabinet is appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister.
Slovakia's highest legislative body is the 150-seat unicameral National Council of the Slovak Republic (Národná rada Slovenskej republiky). Delegates are elected for a four-year term on the basis of proportional representation. Slovakia's highest judicial body is the Constitutional Court of Slovakia (Ústavný súd), which rules on constitutional issues. The 13 members of this court are appointed by the president from a slate of candidates nominated by parliament.
Slovakia has been a member state of the European Union and NATO since 2004. As a member of the United Nations (since 1993), Slovakia was, on 10 October 2005, elected to a two-year term on the UN Security Council from 2006 to 2007. Slovakia is also a member of WTO, OECD, OSCE, and other international organizations.
The Constitution of the Slovak Republic was ratified 1 September 1992, and became effective 1 January 1993). It was amended in September 1998 to allow direct election of the president and again in February 2001 due to EU admission requirements. The civil law system is based on Austro-Hungarian codes. The legal code was modified to comply with the obligations of Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and to expunge the Marxist-Leninist legal theory. Slovakia accepts the compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction with reservations.
The president is the head of state and the formal head of the executive, though with very limited powers. The president is elected by direct, popular vote, under the two round system, for a five-year term.
Following National Council elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the president. Cabinet appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister has to receive the majority in the parliament. The government coalition as of July 2010 consists of SDKU-DS, Freedom and Solidarity, KDH and Most-Híd.
|President||Ivan Gašparovič||Movement for Democracy||15 June 2004|
|Prime Minister||Iveta Radičová||SDKU-DS||8 July 2010|
|Deputy prime ministers||Rudolf Chmel||Most–Híd||9 July 2010
9 July 2010 9 July 2010 9 July 2010
See also: List of rulers of Slovakia, List of Prime Ministers of Slovakia, and List of Presidents of Slovakia===Human rights=== Main article: Human rights in SlovakiaThe U.S. State Department in 2010 reported:
- "The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas. Notable human rights problems included some continuing reports of police mistreatment of Romani suspects and lengthy pretrial detention; restrictions on freedom of religion; concerns about the integrity of the judiciary, corruption in national government, local government, and government health services; violence against women and children; trafficking in women and children; and societal discrimination and violence against Roma and other minorities."
Human rights in Slovakia are guaranteed by the Constitution of Slovakia from the year 1992 and by multiple international laws signed in Slovakia between 1948 and 2006. Slovakia excludes multiple citizenships.
Main articles: Regions of Slovakia and Districts of SlovakiaAs for administrative division, Slovakia is subdivided into 8 krajov (singular – kraj, usually translated as "region"), each of which is named after its principal city. Regions have enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy since 2002. Their self-governing bodies are referred to as Self-governing (or autonomous) Regions (sg. samosprávny kraj, pl. samosprávne kraje) or Upper-Tier Territorial Units (sg. vyšší územný celok, pl. vyššie územné celky, abbr. VÚC). Slovak regions#Bratislava Region (Bratislavský kraj) (capital Bratislava)
- Trnava Region (Trnavský kraj) (capital Trnava)
- Trenčín Region (Trenčiansky kraj) (capital Trenčín)
- Nitra Region (Nitriansky kraj) (capital Nitra)
- Žilina Region (Žilinský kraj) (capital Žilina)
- Banská Bystrica Region (Banskobystrický kraj) (capital Banská Bystrica)
- Prešov Region (Prešovský kraj) (capital Prešov)
- Košice Region (Košický kraj) (capital Košice)
(the word kraj can be replaced by samosprávny kraj or by VÚC in each case)
The "kraje" are subdivided into many okresy (sg. okres, usually translated as districts). Slovakia currently has 79 districts.
In terms of economics and unemployment rate, the western regions are richer than eastern regions; however the relative difference is no bigger than in most EU countries having regional differences. See also: List of traditional regions of Slovakia and List of tourism regions of Slovakia==Economy== Main article: Economy of SlovakiaThe National Bank of Slovakia headquarters in BratislavaThe Slovak economy is considered an advanced economy, with the country dubbed the "Tatra Tiger". Slovakia transformed from a centrally planned economy to a market-driven economy. Major privatizations are nearly complete, the banking sector is almost completely in private hands, and foreign investment has risen.
Slovakia has recently been characterized by sustained high economic growth. In 2006, Slovakia achieved the highest growth of GDP (8.9%) among the members of the OECD. The annual GDP growth in 2007 is estimated at 10% with a record level of 14% reached in the fourth quarter. According to Eurostat data, Slovak PPS GDP per capita stood at 72 percent of the EU average in 2008. The financial districtUnemployment, peaking at 19.2% at the end of 1999, decreased to 7.51% in October 2008 according to the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic. In addition to economic growth, migration of workers to other EU countries also contributed to this reduction. According to Eurostat, which uses a calculation method different from that of the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic, the unemployment rate is still the second highest after Spain in the EU-15 group, at 9.9%.
Inflation dropped from an average annual rate of 12.0% in 2000 to just 3.3% in 2002, the election year, but it rose again in 2003–2004 because of rising labor costs and excess taxes. It reached 3.7% in 2005.
Slovakia adopted the Euro currency on 1 January 2009 as the 16th member of the Eurozone. The euro in Slovakia was approved by the European commission on 7 May 2008. The Slovak koruna was revalued on 28 May 2008 to 30.126 for 1 euro, which was also the exchange rate for the euro.
Slovakia is an attractive country for foreign investors mainly because of its low wages, low tax rates and well educated labour force. In recent years, Slovakia has been pursuing a policy of encouraging foreign investment. FDI inflow grew more than 600% from 2000 and cumulatively reached an all-time high of $17.3 billion USD in 2006, or around $22,000 per capita by the end of 2008. Slovakia joined the Eurozone in 2009Despite a sufficient number of researchers and a decent secondary educational system, Slovakia, along with other post-communist countries, still faces major challenges in the field of the knowledge economy. The business and public research and development expenditures are well below the EU average. The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Slovak secondary education the 30th in the world (placing it just below the United States and just above Spain).
Although Slovakia's GDP comes mainly from the tertiary (services) sector, the industrial sector also plays an important role within its economy. The main industry sectors are car manufacturing and electrical engineering. Since 2007, Slovakia has been the world's largest producer of cars per capita, with a total of 571,071 cars manufactured in the country in 2007 alone. There are currently three automobile assembly plants: Volkswagen's in Bratislava, PSA Peugeot Citroen's in Trnava and Kia Motors' Žilina Plant.
Bratislava's geographical position in Central Europe has long made Bratislava a crossroads for international trade traffic. Various ancient trade routes, such as the Amber Road and the Danube waterway, have crossed territory of present-day Bratislava. Today, Bratislava is the road, railway, waterway and airway hub.
Main article: Transport in SlovakiaBratislava's New BridgeRužomberok railway stationBratislava is a large international motorway junction: The D1 motorway connects Bratislava to Trnava, Nitra, Trenčín, Žilina and beyond, while the D2 motorway, going in the north-south direction, connects it to Prague, Brno and Budapest in the north-south direction. The D4 motorway (an outer bypass), which would ease the pressure on the city highway system, is mostly at the planning stage.
Currently, five bridges stand over the Danube (ordered by the flow of the river): Lafranconi Bridge, Nový Most (The New Bridge), Starý most (The Old Bridge), Most Apollo and Prístavný most (The Harbor Bridge).
The city's inner network of roadways is made on the radial-circular shape. Nowadays, Bratislava experiences a sharp increase in the road traffic, increasing pressure on the road network. There are about 200,000 registered cars in Bratislava, (approximately 2 inhabitants per car). Bratislava International AirportBratislava's M. R. Štefánik Airport is the main international airport in Slovakia. It is located 9 kilometres (5.59 mi) north-east of the city centre. It serves civil and governmental, scheduled and unscheduled domestic and international flights. The current runways support the landing of all common types of aircraft currently used. The airport has enjoyed rapidly growing passenger traffic in recent years; it served 279,028 passengers in 2000, 1,937,642 in 2006 and 2,024,142 in 2007. Smaller airports served by passenger airlines include those in Košice and Poprad.
The Port of Bratislava is one of the two international river ports in Slovakia. The port connects Bratislava to international boat traffic, especially the interconnection from the North Sea to the Black Sea via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal. Additionally, tourist lines operate from Bratislava's passenger port, including routes to Devín, Vienna and elsewhere.
Main article: Tourism in SlovakiaCableway Tatranská Lomnica – Lomnický štítSlovakia features natural landscapes, mountains, caves, medieval castles and towns, folk architecture, spas and ski resorts. More than 1.6 million people visited Slovakia in 2006, and the most attractive destinations are the capital of Bratislava and the High Tatras. Most visitors come from the Czech Republic (about 26%), Poland (15%) and Germany (11%).
Typical souvenirs from Slovakia are dolls dressed in folk costumes, ceramic objects, crystal glass, carved wooden figures, črpáks (wooden pitchers), fujaras (a folk instrument on the UNESCO list) and valaškas (a decorated folk hatchet) and above all products made from corn husks and wire, notably human figures.
Souvenirs can be bought in the shops run by the state organization ÚĽUV (Ústredie ľudovej umeleckej výroby – Center of Folk Art Production). Dielo shop chain sells works of Slovak artists and craftsmen. These shops are mostly found in towns and cities. Prices of imported products are generally the same as in the neighboring countries, whereas prices of local products and services, especially food, are usually lower.
Jozef MurgašSome Slovaks have made notable technical contributions. Jozef Murgaš contributed to development of wireless telegraphy; Ján Bahýľ constructed the first motor-driven helicopter (four years before Bréguet and Cornu).; Štefan Banič constructed the first actively used parachute; Aurel Stodola created a bionic arm in 1916 and pioneered steam and gas turbines. More recently, John Dopyera constructed a resonator guitar, an important contribution to the development of acoustic string instrument.
American astronaut Eugene Cernan (Čerňan), the last man to visit the Moon, has Slovak heritage. Ivan Bella was the first Slovak citizen in space, having participated in a 9-day joint Russian-French-Slovak mission on the space station Mir in 1999.
Main article: Demographics of SlovakiaHlavná ulica (Main street) in KošiceThe majority of the inhabitants of Slovakia are ethnically Slovak (85.8%). Hungarians are the largest ethnic minority (9.5%). Other ethnic groups, as of the 2001 census, include Roma with 1.7%, and others or unspecified, 2.4%. Unofficial estimates on the number of Roma population are much higher, around 9%. Before World War II, 135,000 Jews lived in Slovakia.
In 2007 Slovakia was estimated to have a total fertility rate of 1.33. (i.e., the average woman will have 1.33 children in her lifetime), which is significantly below the replacement level and is one of the lowest rates among EU countries.
The Slovaks endured the largest wave of emigration at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. In the US census of 1990, a total of 1.8 million people identified themselves as being of Slovak ancestry.
The official language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic language family. Hungarian is widely spoken in the southern regions and Rusyn is used in some parts of the Northeast. Minority languages hold co-official status in the municipalities in which the size of the minority population meets the legal threshold of 20%.
Main article: History of Christianity in SlovakiaSee also: Religion in SlovakiaThe Slovak constitution guarantees freedom of religion. 60.4% of Slovaks identify themselves as Roman Catholics, 9.6% as nonreligious or atheist, 6% as Protestant, 4.1% as Greek Catholic and 0.9% as Orthodox; 19% chose "other" to identify themselves. Generally about one third of church members regularly attend church services. The pre–World War II population of the country included an estimated 90,000 Jews (1.6% of the population). After the genocidal policies of the Nazi era, only about 2,300 Jews remain today (0.04% of the population).
Main article: Culture of Slovakia:See also List of Slovaks The national theatreThe art of Slovakia can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when some of the greatest masterpieces of the country's history were created. Significant figures from this period included the many Masters, among them the Master Paul of Levoča and Master MS. More contemporary art can be seen in the shadows of Koloman Sokol, Miloš Alexander Bazovský, Martin Benka, Mikuláš Galanda, Ľudovít Fulla, Július Koller, Mária Bartuszová and Stanislav Filko, in the 21st century Roman Ondák, Blažej Baláž. The most important Slovak composers have been Eugen Suchoň, Ján Cikker, and Alexander Moyzes, in the 21st century Vladimir Godar and Peter Machajdik.
Slovakia is also known for its polyhistors, of whom include Pavol Jozef Šafárik, Matej Bel, Ján Kollár, and its political revolutionaries and reformists, such Milan Rastislav Štefánik and Alexander Dubček. Some famous SlovaksThere were two leading persons who codified the Slovak language. The first was Anton Bernolák whose concept was based on the western Slovak dialect in 1787. It was the codification of the first ever literary language of Slovaks. The second was Ľudovít Štúr, whose formation of the Slovak language took principles from the central Slovak dialect in 1843.
In terms of sport, the Slovaks are probably best known (in North America) for their hockey stars, especially Stan Mikita, Peter Šťastný, Peter Bondra, Žigmund Pálffy and Marián Hossa. For a list see List of Slovaks. Jozef Miloslav HurbanFor a list of notable Slovak writers and poets, see List of Slovak authors.
Medieval literature, in the period from the 11th to the 15th centuries, was written in Latin, Czech and Slovakized Czech. Lyric (prayers, songs and formulas) was still controlled by the Church, while epic was concentrated on legends. Authors from this period include Johannes de Thurocz, author of the Chronica Hungarorum and Maurus, both of them Hungarians. The worldly literature also emerged and chronicles were written in this period.
Main article: Cuisine of SlovakiaBryndzové halušky, Slovak national dishPork, beef and poultry are the main meats consumed in Slovakia, with pork being substantially the most popular. Chicken is the most widely eaten poultry, followed by duck, goose, and turkey. A blood sausage called jaternice, made from any and all parts of a butchered pig, also has a following. Game, especially boar, rabbit, and venison, are generally available throughout the year. Lamb and goat are eaten but are not widely popular.
Wine is enjoyed throughout Slovakia. Slovak wine comes predominantly from the southern areas along the Danube and its tributaries; the northern half of the country is too cold and mountainous to grow grapevines. Traditionally, white wine was more popular than red or rosé (except in some regions), and sweet wine more popular than dry, but in recent years tastes seem to be changing. Beer (mainly of the pilsener style, though dark lagers are also consumed) is also popular throughout the country.
Main article: Music of SlovakiaJán Levoslav BellaPopular music began to replace folk music beginning in the 1950s, when Slovakia was still part of Czechoslovakia; American jazz, R&B, and rock and roll were popular, alongside waltzes, polkas, and czardas, among other folk forms. By the end of the 1950s, radios were common household items, though only state stations were legal. Slovak popular music began as a mix of bossa nova, cool jazz, and rock, with propagandistic lyrics. Dissenters listened to ORF (Austrian Radio), Radio Luxembourg, or Slobodná Európa (Radio Free Europe), which played more rock.
Due to Czechoslovak isolation, the domestic market was active and many original bands evolved. Slovakia had a very strong pop culture during 1970s and 1980s. This movement brought many original bands with their own unique interpretations of modern music. The quality of socialist music was very high. Stars such as Karel Gott, Olympic, Pražský výběr (from Czechia) or Elán, Modus, Tublatanka, Team (from Slovakia) and many others were highly acclaimed and many recorded their LP's in foreign languages.
After the Velvet Revolution and the declaration of the Slovak state, domestic music dramatically diversified as free enterprise encouraged the formation of new bands and the development of new genres of music. Soon, however, major labels brought pop music to Slovakia and drove many of the small companies out of business. The 1990s, American grunge and alternative rock, and Britpop have a wide following, as well as a new found enthusiasm for musicals.