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Slovak Republic Information - Page 2
Before the arrival of the Slavs in the fifth and sixth centuries, Slovakia was populated by Celts and Germanic tribes.

In the ninth century the Slavic tribes of Moravia, Bohemia and Slovakia (and parts of Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary) formed the Great Moravian Empire. During this time Christianity spread throughout the Empire and Slav culture flourished. However, at the beginning of the tenth century the Empire was destroyed by Magyars from Hungary.

In the eleventh century Slovakia became part of Hungary, a union that lasted for over nine hundred years. In 1867 Hungary joined Austria in the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Austrian-Hungarian Empire was dissolved after the First World War and Czechoslovakia was formed from Slovakia and Czech lands.

Czechoslovakia prospered until the eve of the Second World War (1939-1945) when the Munich Agreement between Britain, France, Italy and Germany forced Czechoslovakia to surrender the Sudetenland to Adolf Hitler and Germany. Within six months of the Agreement Hitler occupied all of Czechoslovakia.

During the Second World War Slovakia was controlled by Germany. In 1944 there was a National Slovak Uprising against Nazi Germany.

Following the Second World War Czechoslovakia became a communist state, part of Eastern Europe under the influence of the USSR. In 1968 Alexander Dubcek's government tried to introduce a more liberal form of communism, known as the Prague Spring; the USSR occupied Czechoslovakia and removed Dubcek and government leaders from office.

The communist system of government collapsed in 1989 (the Velvet Revolution) and Czechoslovakia became independent. Vaclav Havel became Czechoslovakia's President.

In 1993 the Czechs and Slovaks decided to separate (the Velvet Divorce) forming the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. Michael Kovac became the first President of the Slovak Republic.

In December 2002 the Slovak Republic took part in EU accession negotiations with nine other countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovenia). The Accession Treaty was signed on 16 April 2003 with 1 May 2004 the formal entry date. EU enlargement meant the unification of twenty-five countries after over half a century of political division and the "Cold War" which followed World War II.

Soon after the collapse of communism in 1989, Czechoslovakia began privatizing businesses owned by the State. In 1993 Czechoslovakia divided into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. Economically Slovakia was at a disadvantage as it had been involved in heavy industry dependent on the Eastern Block. Thus transition to a market economy was more difficult for Slovakia.

The agricultural sector provides a relatively small percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agricultural products include grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruit and hops. Poultry, pigs and cattle are reared. There is also a tradition of horse breeding.

Industry and construction account for the employment of a significant percentage of the workforce. Industries are electricity, gas, coke, oil, nuclear fuel, metal and metal products, transport vehicles, machinery, electrical and optical apparatus, chemicals and manmade fibres, rubber products, paper and printing, earthenware, ceramics, textiles, food and wine.

The services sector is the largest contributor to the GDP and the largest employer. Tourism is a growth area with potential for expansion.

The first person to standardise the literary Slovak language was Anton Bernolak (1762-1813), a Slovak priest and linguist. Jozef Ignac Bajza (1755-1836) wrote the first Slovakian novel "The Adventures and Experiences of the Young Man Rene, 1783-5". Jan Holly (1785-1849) is known as the father of Slovakian poetry and Pavol Orszagh-Hviezdoslav (1849-1921) is considered Slovakia's greatest poet.

The Slovak National Theatre was built in Bratislavia in 1920. The first Slovak actors joined the Theatre in 1921. Opera and ballet are performed at the SNT.

Despite the modern style of life Slovakia's folklore traditions have been preserved. Thanks to the creativity of numerous devotees of Slovakia's colourful and dynamic folklore, traditions and heritage are kept alive. Every year, especially during the summer months, dozens of folk festivals take place in open-air theatres. There the performing folk ensembles present the songs, dances and customs as well as musical instruments, and folk costumes typical for individual regions of Slovakia.

Football is a popular team game in the Slovak Republic. Ice hockey is also a favourite sport and a number of Slovak players are members of US teams.

Other sports played in Slovakia are basketball, gymnastics and winter sports such as skiing.

1 January - New Year's Day and the Establishment of the Slovak Republic, 6 January - Epiphany (Three Magi, Orthodox Christmas), Good Friday, Easter Monday, 1 May - May Day, 8 May - Victory Day (the end of the Second World War), 5 July - The Holiday of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, 29 August - The anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising, 1 September - The Day of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic, 15 September - Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, 1 November - All Saints' Day, 24 December - Christmas Eve, 25 December - Christmas Day, 26 December - Boxing Day.

News from the Slovak Republic is available in Newslink.

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