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Slovakia is a country in the middle of Europe. Its capital city is Bratislava. Other main cities are Košice, Banská Bystrica, Žilina, Trenčín, Nitra, Prešov, and Trnava. The area was a part of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1992. Czechoslovakia became independent in 1918 from Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The first Czechoslovakian president was Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two countries ( Slovakia and Czech Republic ) in 1993. Slovakia has been a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004.About 5.5 million people live in Slovakia.

Most people speak Slovak, but in some regions of Slovakia people speak also Hungarian, Polish and Ukrainian. The money that they use there is called the Slovak koruna. FLAG(In Detail)SlovakiaSlovak Republic Official languageSlovakCapitalBratislavaPresidentIvan GašparovičPrime MinisterMikuláš DzurindaArea - Total - % waterRanked 128th49,036 km²NegligiblePopulation - Total (2004) - DensityRanked 103rd5,379,455109/km²HDI (2003)0.849 (42nd) – highCurrencySlovak crown (koruna)Time zone - in summerCET (UTC+1)CEST (UTC+2)National anthemNad Tatrou sa blýska Slovakia is a landlocked republic in Central Europe. It borders the Czech Republic and Austria in the west, Poland in the north, Ukraine in the east and Hungary in the south.NameThe long form of the name Slovakia is Slovak Republic ( in Slovak: Slovenská republika ). The relation between those two name forms is exactly the same as with Germany vs. Federal Republic of Germany, France vs. French Republic, Slovenia vs. Republic of Slovenia etc. The recent practice, often seen especially in economic texts, of using the name Slovak Republic instead of Slovakia, when the terms Hungary, Slovenia etc. are used in the same text, is therefore awkward, arising in analogy to the use of the term Czech Republic, but that is (partly) another problem.HistoryThe original Slavic population settled the general territory of Slovakia in the 5th century.

Slovakia was the centre of Samo's empire in the 7th century. A proto-Slovak state, known as the Principality of Nitra, arose in the 8th century and became part of the core of Great Moravian Empire (called (Great) Slovak Empire by a minority of Slovak authors) in 833. The high point of this (Proto-)Slovak empire came with the arrival of Cyril and Methodius and the expansion under King Svätopluk. After the disintegration of Great Moravian Empire in the early 10th century, around the time of the Battle of Bratislava in 907, Slovakia became a part of the Kingdom of Hungary in the 11th through 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 north-central and north-eastern Hungary (down to present-day Vác (in Slovak Vacov), Visegrád (Višegrad/Vyšehrad), Miskolc (Miškovec)). A major portion of the nobility in the kingdom was of Slovak origin. 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 eventually they failed to achieve this aim.During the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from 1867 to 1918, Slovaks experienced severe oppression in the form of Hungarisation (Magyarisation) promoted by the government.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 brief period. Czechoslovakia lasted until it was broken up by the Munich Agreement of 1938, when 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, an event sometimes called the Velvet Divorce. Slovakia became a member of the European Union in May 2004.PoliticsSlovakia joined NATO on March 29, 2004 and the EU on May 1, 2004.

There were Presidential elections in Slovakia on April 3, 2004 and April 17, 2004.The Slovak head of state is the president, elected by direct popular vote for a five-year term. Most executive power lies with the head of government, the prime minister, who is usually the leader of the major party or a majority coalition in parliament and 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 four-year terms on the basis of proportional representation. Slovakia highest judicial body is the Constitutional Court ( 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.As a member of the United Nations since 1993, Slovakia was, on October 10, 2005, for the first time elected to a two-year term on the UN Security Council for 2006-2007.Administrative divisions As for administrative division, Slovakia is subdivided into 8 regions, each of which is named after their principal city.

As for territorial division and the definition of self-governing entities, since 2002, Slovakia is divided into eight Upper-Tier Territorial Units called samosprávny kraj ( Self-governing (or: autonomous) Region):1.Bratislava Region (Bratislavský kraj) 2.Trnava Region (Trnavský kraj)3.Trenčín Region (Trenčiansky kraj)4.Nitra Region (Nitriansky kraj) 5.Žilina Region (Žilinský kraj) 6.Banská Bystrica Region (Banskobystrický kraj) 7.Prešov Region (Prešovský kraj) 8.Košice Region (Košický kraj)The regions are subdivided into many districts. Slovakia currently has 79 districts.GeographyThe 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 Gerlachovský štít 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 Váh and the Hron.The Slovak climate is temperate, with relatively cool summers and cold, cloudy and humid winters.

EconomySlovakia has mastered much of the difficult transition from a centrally planned economy to a modern market economy. The Slovak government made progress in 2001 in macroeconomic stabilisation and structural reform. Major privatisations are nearly complete, the banking sector is almost completely in foreign hands, and foreign investment has picked up. Slovakia's economy exceeded expectations in the early 2000s, despite recession in key export markets.Revival of domestic demand in 2002, partly due to a rise in real wages, offset slowing export growth to help drive the economy to its strongest expansion since 1998. Solid domestic demand boosted economic growth to 4.4 percent in 2002. Strong export growth, in turn, pushed economic growth to a still-strong 4.2 percent in 2003, despite a downturn in household consumption. Thе estimated GDP growth was around 5.7 percent in 2005 and it is expected to reach around 6 percent in 2006.Unemployment, rising from 14.9 percent at the end of 1998 to 19.2 percent at the end of 2001 (seasonally adjusted harmonised rate) during the radical reforms introduced by the Slovak government since 1999, decreased again to 12.7 percent (March 2005).Inflation dropped from an average annual rate of 12.0 percent in 2000 to just 3.3 percent in the election year 2002, but it rose again in 2003-2004 due to necessary increases in taxes and regulated prices.

Nonetheless, CPI fell below 3 percent in 2005.Slovakia plans to adopt the Euro currency on 1 January 2009 and has already entered the ERM for this purpose.In a survey of the German Chamber of Commerce held in March 2004, as much as 50 percent of German enterpreneurs chose Slovakia as the best place for investment.DemographicsThe 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. Several municipalities, Dunajská Streda, Komárno, Šahy, Želiezovce etc., have a Hungarian majority. Other ethnic groups include Roma, Czechs, Ruthenians, Ukrainians and Germans. 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 (68.9 percent) practice Roman Catholicism; the second-largest group are people without confession (12.96 percent). About 6.93 percent belong to Lutheranism and 4.1 percent are Greek Catholic, Calvinism has 2.0 percent, other and non-registered churches 1.1 percent 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.In 2004 Slovakia had a fertility rate of 1.25 (i.e., the average woman will have 1,25 children in her lifetime), which is one of the lowest numbers among EU countries. The fertility rate is currently increasing.ValaškaThe valaška is a long, thin and light axe used in the past centuries by Slovaks in the rural parts of the country as a weapon or a tool. It has symbolic historical and cultural conotations and is used as a prop in many traditional dances like the odzemok. The valaška was popularized by the Slovak historical legendary figure Juraj Jánošík.Valaškas are often decorative, some having a golden or silver head and many are considered a works of art.At present times valaškas are still made and sold as souvenirs or for decoration purposes, but occassionally they may be seen in the rural parts of the country where older men may still use it as a walking stick.Here are examples of Slovak crowns:
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