The Slovak Republic, or Slovakia in short, came into existence on 1st January, 1993 by splitting the Czechoslovak Federative Republic into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. It is located in the centre of Europe and its neighbours are the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine and Poland.
With its territory of 49,034 sq. kilometres and 5,367,000 inhabitants, Slovakia is a small country. The climate is mild, with typical seasonal changes and very variable weather in the course of the year. The lowest temperatures reach about -20 °C and the highest about +25 °C. The lowest point on the southeast border is 94 meters and the highest point (Gerlach Peak in the High Tatras Mountains) is 2655 meters above sea level. Generally, Slovakia is a hilly country with 53 geologically different mountains and two significant lowlands, in the south and southeast. The biggest river is the Danube which also forms part of the south border. The longest river is the Váh running from the Tatra Mountains in the north through the country to the Danube in the south. The Slovak capital is Bratislava, with 452 000 inhabitants. Othe big cities are Košice, Banská Bystrica and Žilina. Slovakia is a modern democratic parliamentary country.
There are numerous natural and cultural sights in Slovakia. You can find flood forests in the lowlands and Alpine grounds in the mountains; the central part of the country is rich in cave areas and many mineral and thermal springs (well-known Piešťany spa). Many parts of Slovakia are protected as national parks and natural reserves. The country is also rich in many historical monuments such as Middle Age castles and monasteries. Some city centres are protected as city reserves, some of them also as a part of the world heritage (Banská Bystrica, Levoča).
Slovakia was settled in the prehistoric ages. The first pre-state formation on this territory, Nitra principality, later annexed by the Great Moravian Empire, was established at the beginning of the 9th century. At the beginning of the 10th century, after the Great Moravian Empire fell, old Hungarian tribes annexed the majority of today's Slovak territory and subjected the population to their rule. Slovakia became a northern part of Hungary until this century. It was split into many small dominions, which are now recalled by many Middle Age castles and monasteries. Unfavourable consequences of this condition were most obvious in the 13th century after repeated Tartar raids which devastated the country and depopulated it. After this period, the territory of central Slovakia was settled by Germans. Fast economic development afterwards also supported the establishment of new cities.
At the beginning of the 14th century, the absolute ruler became Matúš Čák of Trenčín. The Hussite movement in the 15th century mobilized all poor Slovaks to revolt against the feudal regime. The end of this century was characterized by development of mining and trading cities.
From 1526 Slovakia was in the Habsburg's bondage. Under their reign the situation of Slovakian serfs was worsened and resulted in several anti-feudal uprisings in the 17th century. In the second half of the 17th century the Turks occupied a major part of the Great Danube Lowland and Slovakia became a part of Hungary, with Bratislava serving as the Hungarian coronation town. This resulted in continuing oppression of Slovakian serfs that were escaping to the mountains in the beginning of the 18th century.
The beginning of the 19th century brought a period of national consciousness and a revival movement with the object of an independent Slovakia. The result of the revolutionary years 1848-1849 was that serfdom was abolished.
In 1918, after the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy at the end of World War I, an independent state of Czechs and Slovaks was established, the Czechoslovak Republic. At the beginning of World War II, this state was split again into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which was supported by Germany. The fascist tendencies of this state were at variance with the opinion of most of the population which was up in arms against its own government.
After World War II, Slovakia again became a part of Czechoslovakia. In February, 1948 the political power in the country was taken over by communists who, with the massive support of the Soviet communists, held rule over the country until 1989.