Slovakia - My homeland
SLOVAKIA – MY HOMELAND
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 split into two countries, Slovakia and Czech Republic, in 1993. Slovakia is a member of the European Union since 1st May 2004. About 5.5 milion people live in Slovakia.
The official language is Slovak. Most people speak Slovak, but in some regions people speak also Hungarian, Polish and Ukrainian. The majority of people living in Slovakia are ethnically Slovaks, 86 percent. Hungarians are the largest ethnic minority, 10 percent. Other ethnic groups are Romas, Czechs, Ukrainians and Germans. The majority of the population is Roman Catholic religion.
1. GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Slovakia is a landlocked republic in Central Europe, it doesn’t have any borders with sea. It borders with the Czech Republic and Austria in the west, Poland in the north, Ukraine in the east and Hungary in the south. Slovakia features interesting natural landscapes, mountains, deep caves, medieval castles and cities, folk architecture and ski resorts.
Slovakia has 3 important lowlands: the East-Slovak lowland, the Záhorská lowland, the Podunajská lowland.
The most famous mountains of Slovakia are these:
- High Tatras
- Low Tatras
- Malá Fatra
- Veľká Fatra
- the Dargovské mountains
The most important rivers of Slovakia are:
- the Danube
- the Váh
- the Hron
- the Nitra
- the Hornád
- the Orava and others
The country has also many thermal springs and spas, the most famous being those of:
- Štrbské Pleso
- Trenčianske Teplice
There are also several national parks and protected regions in Slovakia, for example:
- the High Tatras
- the Low Tatras
- the Little Fatra
- the Giant Fatra
- the Muráň
- the Slovenský raj
The climate is a mix of continental and ocean climates with four seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter. The coldest month is January, the warmest is July.
Slovakia is a small country, but it has a long history. In 833 The Great Moravian Empire was founded. In 863 Byzantine brothers Constantine and Methodius came to Great Moravia and brought the oldest Slavic alphabet. In 907 The Great Moravian Empire broke up and Slovakia became a part of the Hungarian state.
In 1843 Ľudovít Štúr codified the literary Slovak language. In 1918 the Czechoslovak Republic was founded. In 1944 The Slovak national uprising against the Nazi Germany started. In august 1968 was the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia. In November 1989 was the Velvet Revolution. In 1st of January 1993 the independence of the Slovak Republic was declared.
In my town – Trebišov – there was an uprising of farmers.
There are over 270 castles in Slovakia. The most famous are: Spišský, Oravský, Strečno and Bojnický. Slovakia has also many historical towns:
- Kremnica – the town of gold, the crowns are made there
- Banská Štiavnica
- Banská Bystrica
Many small towns and castles are in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, for example the Spišský castle, Spišské podhradie, Spišská Kapitula, Žehra, Vlkolínec, Banská Štiavnica.
Our capital city – BRATISLAVA – has favourable location on the Danube River and unique character and flair! It is also the country´s largest city, and it is the political, cultural and economic centre of the country, the seat of the Slovak presidency, parliament and government as well as home to several universities, museums, theatres, galleries and other cultural and educational institutions. Most of large national and multinational business and financial institutions have their headquarters here.
Beautifully reconstructed centre of the city is called Staré mesto or „Old Town“. Bratislava hosts many festivals and trade shows and is famous for its nightlife and leisure facilities.
But Slovakia has also other big and beautiful cities: Nitra, Banská Bystrica, Trenčín, Košice. Altough it is a small country, Slovakia is full of beautiful and interesting places!
4. TRADITIONS AND HABITS
On the 1st of January we celebrate the New Year Eve. The next custom is Fasiangy. People are dressed in various costumes, singing, dancing and they have a parties and balls all night long.
The next feast is Easter. In Slovakia there is an old custom of making easter eggs – eggs which are painted. Easter is also funny holiday. On easter Monday men and boys douse women and girls with water. The typical meal for Easter is for example smoked ham, sausage, cheese.
It is and old tradition to make a doll called Morena in spring and throw it to water, but it is usually only on small villages.
There are two important holidays in May: Labour Day on the 1st of May (in the past boys used to decorate a tree with coloured streamers to girls) and Day of victory over fascism on the 8th of May. Both these holidays are free days, people don´t go to work.
In autumn there are vintages and celebrations connected with them in villages. There are also a lot of festivals, folk art, performing national traditions. The 1st of November – All Saint´s day – people go to cemetary and light the candles.
Very nice and popular feast for children is Saint Nicolaus Day on 6th December. On this day children put their shoes on the window. They get sweets, fruits or small toys into their shoes. Adults dress a mask of St. Nicolaus, devil and angel.
On Christmas we send Christmas cards, we buy and decorate the Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve many people go to church. We open the gifts on Christmas Eve after the dinner! Cabbage soup and fried carp with potato salad are the traditional meals. There are also old traditions connected with Christmas – for example that the crown is given under the table to bring a lot of money the next year.