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Slovakia

SLOVAKIA

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SlovakiaSlovakia is a landlocked republic in Central Europe. It borders the Czech Republic in the northwest, Poland in the north, Ukraine in the east, Hungary in the south, and Austria in the southwest.
Slovakia deserves its own turn in the spotlight. When it split with the Czech Republic in 1993, Slovakia got the heavy industry and a less progressive government. The Czechs got the tourist sights, most of the economic opportunity and the "buzz" on the international scene. But with its flood of visitors, the Czech Republic also acquired some of the less appealing aspects of a tourist hot spot, including overbooked hotels and predatory pricing.
Slovakia, by contrast, is largely undeveloped, and its mountain villages maintain a traditional way of life. It still has much for travelers to discover. Although the country is not yet a full-fledged tourist destination, it has taken the first steps toward accommodating travelers: Return visitors will notice the difference. If nothing else, Slovakia's cheap price tag will convince many first-time visitors to give it a chance.
Capital and largest city - Bratislava.
Official languages - Slovenian, Italian, Hungarian.
In the residential municipalities of Italian or Hungarian national community.
Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia from 1945 until gaining independence in 1991. It became a member of the European Union on 1 May 2004. It is also a member of the Council of Europe, NATO, and has observer status in La Francophonie.

History

SlovakiaThe original Slavic population settled the general territory of Slovakia in the 5th century. Slovakia was part of the center of Samo's empire in the 7th century. The highest point of the 9th-century proto-Slovak state known as Great Moravia came with the arrival of Cyril and Methodius and the expansion under King Svatopluk.
Eventually, Slovakia became a part of the Kingdom of Hungary in the 11th-14th centuries. In the 10th century, the ethnic Slovak territory included the northern half of present-day Hungary, and in the 14th century it still extended to present-day northern central and northern eastern Hungary (down to present-day Vac (in Slovak Vacov), Visegrad (Visegrad/Vysehrad), Miskolc (Miskovec)). Slovak origin noblemen represented a major share of nobility in the kingdom.
After the Ottoman Empire started its expansion into present-day Hungary in the early 16th century, the center of the Kingdom of Hungary (renamed Royal Hungary now) shifted towards Slovakia, and Bratislava (known as Pressburg/Pressporek/Posonium/Posony at that time) became its capital in 1536. By the end of the 18th century Slovakia's influence decreased.
In the revolution of 1848-49 the Slovaks joined the Austrians to separate from the Kingdom of Hungary within the Austrian monarchy, but finally they did not achieve this aim. During the time of Austria-Hungary, i.e. 1867 - 1918, the Slovaks experienced one of the worst oppressions in their history in the form of Hungarisation (Magyarisation) promoted by the governement.
In 1918, Slovakia joined with the regions of Bohemia and neighbouring Moravia to form Czechoslovakia. During the chaos following the breakup of Austria-Hungary, a Slovak Soviet Republic was created for a very short time. Czechoslovakia lasted until it was broken up by the Munich Agreement of 1938. Slovakia became a separate republic that would be tightly controlled by Nazi Germany. After World War II, Czechoslovakia was reassembled and came under the influence of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact from 1945 onward.
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. Slovakia and the Czech Republic went their separate ways after January 1, 1993. (Velvet Divorce) Slovakia became a member of the European Union in May 2004.

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Geography

SlovakiaThe Slovak landscape is noted primarily for its mountainous nature, with the Carpathian Mountains extending across most of the northern half of the country. Amongst them are the high peaks of the Tatra mountains, which are a popular skiing destination and home to many scenic lakes and valleys as well as the highest point in Slovakia, the Gerlachovsky stit at 2,655 m. Lowlands are found in the southwestern (along the Danube) and southeastern parts of Slovakia. Major Slovak rivers, besides the Danube, are the Vah and the Hron.
The Slovak climate is temperate, with relatively cool summers and cold, cloudy and humid winters.

Demographics

The majority of the inhabitants of Slovakia are ethnically Slovak (86 percent). Hungarians are the largest ethnic minority (10 percent) and are concentrated in the southern and eastern regions of the country. Other ethnic groups include Roma, Czechs, Ruthenians, Ukrainians, Germans, and Poles. The percentage of Roma is 1.7% according to the last census (that is based on the own definition of the Roma), but around 5.6% based on interviews with municipality representatives and mayors (that is based on the definition of the remaining population). Note however that in the case of the 5.6%, the above percentages of Hungarians and Slovaks are lower by 4 percentage points in sum.
The Slovak constitution guarantees freedom of religion. The majority of Slovak citizens (60.3 percent) practice Roman Catholicism; the second-largest group consider themselves atheists (9.7 percent). About 8.4 percent are Protestants, and 4.1 percent are Greek Catholic, i.e., Eastern Catholic and some 0.9 percent are Eastern Orthodox. About 2,300 Jews remain of the estimated pre-WWII population of 120,000.

The official state language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic languages, but Hungarian is also widely spoken in the south and enjoys a co-official status in some regions.

Tourism

SlovakiaBratislava is the capital of Slovakia and the country's largest city with a population of about 430,000. Bratislava lies on the Danube river in close proximity to Austrian and Hungarian border. Bratislava is only 60 km (45-65 minutes by train) away from Vienna and about 65 km away from the border with the Czech Republic, which used to be part of the state territory of former Czechoslovakia until 1993. The city is the most densely populated in Central Europe. The Carpathian mountain range begins within the territory of the city with the Male Karpaty (or Little Carpathians) mountains (part of the Carpathians).
Bratislava is the seat of Slovak president, parliament and other government institutions. The city is home to several universities, a large number of museums, theatres and other cultural institutions (for example, the famous Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra).
Historically, the town has been influenced by several ethnic groups (among others, Austrians, Hungarians, Jews, Germans and Slovaks).

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