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Slovak Republic

Slovak Republic

area:

49,035sq km (18,932sq mi)

population:

5,379,455

capital (population):

Bratislava (428,672)

government:

Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Slovak, Hungarian, with small groups of Czechs, Germans, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians

languages:

Slovak (official)

religions:

Christianity (Roman Catholic 60%, Protestant 6%, Orthodox 3%)

currency:

Slovak koruna = 100 haliers

Republic in central Europe. The Carpathian Mountains dominate the Slovak Republic (Slovakia) in central Europe. The Tatra range on the n border include the republic's highest peak, Gerlachovka, at 2655m (8711ft). To the s is a fertile lowland, drained by the River Danube, on whose banks stands the capital, Bratislava.

Climate

The Slovak Republic has a continental climate, with cold, dry winters and warm, wet summers. Bratislava has average temperatures ranging from −3°C (27°F) in January to 20°C (68°F) in July, and an average annual rainfall of 600mm (24in). The highlands are much colder and wetter.

Vegetation

Forests cover 41% of the Slovak Republic. Evergreen trees predominate in the mountains. Beech, birch, linden, and oak are more characteristic of lowland areas. Arable land accounts for a further 31% of land use.

History and Politics

Slavic peoples settled in the region in the 5th and 6th centuries ad. In the 9th century, the area formed part of the Empire of Moravia. Conquered by the Magyars in the 10th century, Hungary dominated the region for nearly 900 years. At the end of the 11th century, it became part of the Kingdom of Hungary. In the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire conquered much of Hungary, and the Turks and the Austrians divided up Slovakia between them. From 1541 to 1784, Bratislava served as the Habsburg capital. The joint rule of Maria Theresa and Joseph II pursued a policy of Magyarization, which increased nationalist sentiment. The Austro-Hungarian Empire emerged in 1867, and continued the suppression of native culture. Many Slovaks fled to the USA. During World War I, Slovak patriots fought on the side of the Allies. After the defeat of Austro-Hungary (1918), Slovakia incorporated into Czechoslovakia as an autonomous region (for 1918–93 history, see Czechoslovakia).

The Czechs dominated the union, and many Slovaks grew dissatisfied. Following the Munich Agreement (1938), part of Slovakia became an independent state, while much of s Slovakia (including Kosǐce) was ceded to Hungary. In March 1939, Slovakia gained nominal independence as a German Protectorate. In August 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, and Slovakia became a Nazi puppet state. In 1944, Soviet troops liberated Slovakia, and in 1945 it returned to Czechoslovakia. The Prague Spring (1968) saw the introduction of a federal structure, which survived the Soviet invasion that same year. The dramatic collapse of Czech communism in 1989, spurred calls for independence. The Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, led by Vladimir Mečiar, won elections in 1992. The federation dissolved on January 1, 1993, and the Slovak Republic became a sovereign state, Mečiar as prime minister. The Slovak Republic maintained close relations with the Czech Republic.

In 1996, the Slovak Republic and Hungary ratified a treaty enshrining their respective borders and stipulating basic rights for the 560,000 Hungarians in the Slovak Republic. In 1998, a coalition government was formed, led by Mikulas Dzurinda of the Slovak Democratic Coalition. In 1999 the first direct presidential elections were held, and Rudolf Schuster narrowly Mečiar. In 2001, the Slovak parliament voted in favour of joining NATO.

Economy

Before 1948 the economy was primarily agrarian. Communism developed industry. Post-independence governments attempted to diversify industrial ownership and production. The transition was painful: industrial output fell, unemployment and inflation rose (2000 GDP per capita, US$10,200). In 1995, the privatization programme was suspended. Manufacturing employs 33% of the workforce. Bratislava and Kosǐce are the chief industrial cities. Major products include ceramics, machinery, and steel. Farming employs 12% of the workforce. Crops include barley and grapes. Tourism is growing.

Political map

Physical map

Websites

http://www.government.gov.sk/english; http://www.slovakia.org

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