Country in a Box


The Slovak Republic
Slovenská Republika

Wojsyl, 2005

Slovakia’s Oravsky Castle

A Teacher’s Guide
Compiled by the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University


Slovak Republic in a Box: Table of Contents
Facts at a Glance


History of Slovakia


Slovak Culture


Timeline of Major Events in Modern Slovak History
Folklore: Old Bodrík and the Wolf - Traditional Slovak Tale
Additional Resources


Slovenská Bryndza (Sheep Milk Cheese)


Slovakia: Facts at a Glance
Text taken directly from Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Slovak Republic.
Available at:
Country Name: The Slovak Republic
Capital: Bratislava
Background: Slovakia's roots can be
traced to the 9th century state of Great
Moravia. Subsequently, the Slovaks
became part of the Hungarian
Kingdom, where they remained for the
next 1,000 years. Following the
formation of the dual AustroHungarian monarchy in 1867, language
and education policies favoring the use
of Hungarian (Magyarization) resulted
in a strengthening of Slovak
nationalism and a cultivation of cultural ties with the closely related Czechs, who were
themselves ruled by the Austrians. After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the
close of World War I, the Slovaks joined the Czechs to form Czechoslovakia. Following the
chaos of World War II, Czechoslovakia became a Communist nation within Soviet-dominated
Eastern Europe. Soviet influence collapsed in 1989 and Czechoslovakia once more became free.
The Slovaks and the Czechs agreed to separate peacefully on 1 January 1993. Slovakia joined
both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004 and the euro area on 1 January 2009.
Location: Central Europe, south of Poland
Area: Total: 49,035 sq km
Country comparison to the world: 131
Land: 48,105 sq km
Water: 930 sq km
Area - Comparative: About twice the size of New Hampshire
Terrain: Rugged mountains in the central and northern part and lowlands in the south
Elevation extremes: Lowest point: Bodrok River 94 m
Highest point: Gerlachovsky Stit 2,655 m
Natural Resources: Brown coal and lignite; small amounts of iron ore, copper and manganese
ore; salt; arable land
Environment - Current Issues: Air pollution from metallurgical plants presents human health
risks; acid rain damaging forests
Population: 5,443,583 (July 2014 est.) - Country comparison to the world: 117
Urbanization: Urban population: 54.7% of total population (2011)
Life Expectancy at Birth: Total population: 76.69 years
Country comparison to the world: 75
Male: 73.09 years
Female: 80.52 years (2014 est.)
Ethnic Groups: Slovak 80.7%, Hungarian 8.5%, Roma 2%, other and unspecified 8.8% (2011

Religions: Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 8.2%, Greek Catholic 3.8%, other or unspecified
12.5%, none 13.4% (2011 est.)
Education Expenditures: 4.2% of GDP (2010) - Country
comparison to the world: 103
Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy
Independence: 1 January 1993 (Czechoslovakia split into
the Czech Republic and Slovakia)
Legal System: Civil law system based on AustroHungarian codes; note - legal code modified to comply
with the obligations of Organization on Security and
Cooperation in Europe and to expunge Marxist-Leninist
The first Slovak flag was white-red bi-color
legal system.
and was waved on 23rd April 1848 in
Executive Branch: Chief of state: President Andrej
Brezová during a theatre performance. Three
KISKA (since 15 June 2014)
equal horizontal bands of white (top), were
Head of government: Prime Minister Robert FICO (since 4
established after 1868. The blue, and red
April 2012); Deputy Prime Ministers Robert KALINAK,
derive from the Pan-Slav colors; the
Slovakian coat of arms (consisting of a red
Peter KAZIMIR, Miroslav LAJCAK (since 4 April 2012),
shield bordered in white and bearing a white
Lubomir VAZNY (since 26 November 2012)
Cross of Lorraine surmounting three blue
Legislative Branch: Unicameral National Council of the
hills) is centered over the bands but offset
Slovak Republic or Narodna Rada Slovenskej Republiky
slightly to the hoist side. note: the Pan-Slav
(150 seats; members elected on the basis of proportional
colors were inspired by the 19th-century flag
of Russia.
representation to serve four-year terms)
Judicial Branch: Supreme Court (judges are elected by
the National Council); Constitutional Court (judges
appointed by president from group of nominees approved by the National Council); Special
Court (judges elected by a council of judges and appointed by president)
Political Parties and Leaders: Parties in the Parliament: Christian Democratic Movement or
KDH [Jan FIGEL]; Direction-Social Democracy or Smer-SD [Robert FICO]; Freedom and
Solidarity or SaS [Richard SULIK]; Most-Hid or Bridge [Bela BUGAR]; Ordinary People and
Independent Personalities or OLaNO [Igor MATOVIC]; Slovak Democratic and Christian
Union-Democratic Party or SDKU-DS [Pavol FRESO]
National Anthem: Name: "Nad Tatrou sa blyska" (Storm Over the Tatras); Lyrics/music: Janko
MATUSKA/traditional; Note: adopted 1993, in use since 1844; the anthem's music is based on
the Slovak folk song "Kopala studienku"
Economy - Overview: Slovakia has made significant economic reforms since its separation from
the Czech Republic in 1993. After a period of relative stagnation in the early and mid 1990s,
reforms to the taxation, healthcare, pension, and social welfare systems helped Slovakia
consolidate its budget, get on track to join the EU in 2004, and adopt the euro in January 2009.
Major privatizations are nearly complete, the banking sector is almost entirely in foreign hands,
and the government has facilitated a foreign investment boom with business friendly policies.
Foreign direct investment (FDI), especially in the automotive and electronic sectors, fueled much
of the growth until 2008. Cheap, skilled labor, low taxes, no dividend taxes, a relatively liberal
labor code, and a favorable geographical location are Slovakia's main advantages to foreign
investors. Growth returned, following a contraction in 2009, but has remained sluggish in large
part due to continued weakness in external demand. In 2012 the government of Prime Minister

Robert FICO rolled back some of Slovakia's pro-growth reforms to help shore up public
finances. Corruption and slow dispute
resolution remain key factors constraining
economic growth.
GDP (Purchasing Power Parity): $133.4
billion (2013 est.) - Country comparison to the
world: 66
GDP - Real Growth Rate: 0.8% (2013 est.) Country comparison to the world: 180
GDP - Per Capita (PPP): $24,700 (2013 est.)
- Country comparison to the world: 61
GDP - Composition by Sector:
agriculture: 3.1%, industry: 30.8%,
services: 47% (2013 est.)
Labor Force: 2.727 million (2013 est.) Country comparison to the world: 108
Main motifs on the front side of the banknotes represent
Agriculture - Products: Grains, potatoes,
important personalities living in the territory of the present
sugar beets, hops, fruit; pigs, cattle, poultry
Slovakia in various historical eras. On the back side of the
Industries: Metal and metal products; food
banknotes these motifs are completed by depicting places
and beverages; electricity, gas, coke, oil,
where these personalities lived and were active. The author
of artistic design of all Slovak banknotes is Jozef Bubák.
nuclear fuel; chemicals and manmade fibers;
Taken from the National Bank of Slovakia:
machinery; paper and printing; earthenware ceramics; transport vehicles; textiles;
electrical and optical apparatus; rubber
Current Account Balance: $3.315 billion (2013 est.) - Country comparison to the world: 33
Exports - Commodities: Machinery and electrical equipment 35.9%, vehicles 21%, base metals
11.3%, chemicals and minerals 8.1%, plastics 4.9% (2009 est.)
Exports - Partners: Germany 19.5%, Czech Republic 13.4%, France 7.6%, Hungary 7.2%,
Poland 7.1%, Austria 6%, Italy 6%, UK 4.5% (2009)
Imports - Partners: Germany 22.3%, Czech Republic 14.9%, Poland 8.8%, Hungary 7.8%,
Austria 7%, France 5.6%, Italy 4.9%, UK 4.1% (2012)
Debt - External: $68.44 billion (31 December 2012 est.) – Country comparison to the world:
Exchange Rates: Slovak Koruny (SKK) per US dollar - 0.7634 (2013 est.)
Military Service Age and Obligation: 18-30 years of age for voluntary military service;
conscription in peacetime suspended in 2006; women are eligible to serve (2012)
Military expenditures: 1.12% of GDP (2012) - Country comparison to the world: 91


Slovakian History
(Text excerpted and summarized from

Cyril and Method (picture from:
17648/9/) were two Greek
missionary brothers, who arrived in
Great Moravia on the request of
prince Rastislav, in 863. Cyril,
known also under the name of
Konstantin, invented a Slav writing
'hlaholica' and translated evangelic
readings and other books of worship
for the people. Method was a great
painter, and a lot of his paintings
were with biblical motives.
Both of the brothers were teachers of
the gospel, spreading God's word all
around the country. In 869 both of
the brothers were appointed bishops
by the Pope Hadrian II. Shortly after
being made bishop, Cyril died.
Method was appointed archbishop
and returned to Great Moravia,
where he became the head of Slovak
Christianity, until he died in 885.
Text taken from:

Origins and Early History: Slovakia was inhabited in the first
centuries CE by Illyrian, Celtic, and then Germanic tribes. The
Slovaks probably arrived from Silesia in the 6th or 7th century. For
a time they were subject to the Avars, but in the 9th century the
area between the Morava River and the central highlands formed
part of Great Moravia, when the Slovak population accepted
Christianity from Cyril and Methodius. The Moravian state was
destroyed in the first decade of the 10th century, and, after a period
of disorder in the 11th century, Slovakia fell under the rule of
the Hungarian crown. When the Turks moved into Budapest in the
early 16th century, Hungarian monarchs took up residence
in Bratislava (known then as Pressburg in German, and Pozsony in
Hungarian). Slovakia remained under Austro-Hungarian rule until
1918, when it became part of the independent state of

The Establishment of the Republic: World War I deepened the
antagonism between the Germans and the Czechs within the Czech
Lands and led Czechoslovak leaders, including Tomáš Masaryk,
Edvard Beneš and Milan Štefánik to push for the establishment of
a Czechoslovak state. France, followed by the other Allied states,
recognized the Czechoslovak National Council as the supreme
body controlling Czechoslovak national interests and agreed to
support Czechoslovak interests in the postwar peace conference.
Despite efforts by Charles I to avert the collapse of the Hapsburg
Empire, he had no choice but to accept the terms of the peace
The new country of Czechoslovakia was proclaimed on Oct. 28,
1918 and Tomáš Masaryk was chosen as president on November
14. The state soon set about establishing its borders at the Paris
Peace Conference, where the historical frontiers separating
Bohemia and Moravia from Germany and Austria were approved,
with minor rectifications, in favour of the new republic. Several
disputes soon surfaced, as there was no recognized linguistic
frontier between the Hungarian and Slovak populations in the
south, and the new frontier had to be redrawn by the force of arms. With Allied help, the Czech
military asserted itself in Slovakia as well as in the new province of Subcarpathian Ruthenia.
The Breakup of the Republic: As part of efforts to “appease” Hitler and avoid the outbreak of
war, Prague was forced by Paris and London to accept the British plan of ceding the frontier
regions that had a German-speaking majority—the Sudetenland—to Hitler. The Prague
government was forced to relinquish to Germany all frontier districts with populations that were

50 percent or more German by October 10. Beneš resigned the presidency on October 5 and
went into his second political exile.
The annexation of the Sudetenland was not Czechoslovakia’s only territorial loss. Shortly
after the Munich verdict, Poland sent troops to annex the Teschen region. By the Vienna
Award (Nov. 2, 1938), Hungary was granted one-quarter of Slovak and Ruthenian territories. As
the country lost its German, Polish, and Hungarian minorities, the Czechs reluctantly agreed to
change the centralistic constitution into a federalist one.
The Slovak Populists, headed by Jozef Tiso, proclaimed full autonomy in Zilina on
October 6, 1938. After confidential negotiations between Hitler and Tiso in Vienna, Bohemia
and Moravia were occupied and proclaimed a protectorate of the German Third Reich, while
Slovakia became a nominally independent state under Tiso as president. Although under German
control and forced to participate in the German attack on the Soviet Union with a token military
force, Slovakia was able to retain a certain degree of independence in internal matters. This fact,
however, did not stop the authorities from sending Slovakia’s Jewish citizens to Nazi
extermination camps; between 1942 and 1944, approximately 70,000 of Slovakia’s roughly
87,000 Jews were deported.
In July 1940 the British government under Winston Churchill granted Beneš’
Czechoslovak National Committee the status of a provisional government in exile. In July 1941
the Soviet Union and Britain jointly granted the Beneš government in exile full recognition; U.S.
recognition arrived only in October 1942. In December 1943 Beneš visited Moscow and signed a
20-year treaty of alliance, in which the Soviets recognized Czechoslovakia’s pre-Munich
agreement borders. This treaty, as well as agreements made with Czechoslovak communists
exiled in Moscow, determined Beneš’s policies toward the Czech protectorate and Slovakia.
In Slovakia in August 1944 a popular uprising, planned by officers of the Slovak army,
broke out following clashes between German troops and Slovak partisans under Soviet
commanders. The Nazis crushed the uprising at the end of October, before Soviet troops were
able to cross the Carpathians. Nevertheless, the advance of the Red Army through Slovakia—
several months before the Western Allies were able to advance closer to the Czech border—
became of decisive importance. In March 1945 Beneš and his government in exile journeyed
from London to Moscow to make a final accord with Soviet premier Joseph Stalin and Klement
Gottwald, the leader of the Czechoslovak communists exiled in Moscow. A program of postwar
reconstruction was worked out under decisive communist influence and a new provisional
government was set up at Košice in Slovakia on April 3. The new Košice government exercised
jurisdiction in the eastern portion of Czechoslovakia while fighting continued in Moravia and
Bohemia until early May 1945. On May 5 an uprising against the German troops concentrated in
central Bohemia started in Prague. Finally, on May 9, Soviet troops under Marshal Ivan
Konev entered the Czech capital, liberating it from German occupation.
The Provisional Regime: It was thus with Soviet assistance that President Beneš and his
government returned to Prague on May 16, 1945, after nearly seven years of exile. On May 26,
1946, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won a great victory in the general election,
polling 2,695,293 votes—38.7 percent of the total. Although the political parties formed a
coalition called the National Front, collaboration between the communists and noncommunists
was difficult from the beginning. The tension between the two factions developed into a crisis
over the question of who was to control the police. In protest, most of the noncommunist
ministers resigned on Feb. 20, 1948; they hoped the government paralysis would force Gottwald

and the communist ministers to resign as well. Instead, the communists seized the ministries held
by the resigning ministers as well as the headquarters of the parties now in opposition.
On February 25, President Beneš yielded to pressure and allowed the formation of a new
government, in which the communists and left-wing Social Democrats held the key posts. Most
of the noncommunist political leaders fled the country; they were joined by many ordinary
people who headed to the West to avoid living under communism. As a sign of their triumphant
strength, the communists retained Masaryk as foreign minister, but on March 10 his body was
found beneath a window of the foreign ministry. Overnight the Communist Party had become the
only organized body left to run the country.
Stalinism in Czechoslovakia: After February 1948 Czechoslovakia belonged to the Communist
Party apparatus. The economy was subject to further nationalization, and all agricultural land
became state or collective farms. When a new constitution declaring the country to be a
“people’s republic” (i.e., a communist state) was promulgated on May 9, Beneš finally displayed
signs of resistance; he refused to undersign the constitution and resigned as president. Under a
new electoral law and with a single list of candidates, a general election was held on May 30, and
the new National Assembly elected Gottwald president. Antonín Zápotocký succeeded him as
premier. With the communists firmly in power, the will of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin was
soon imposed on Czechoslovakia. The communists began purging the armed forces of officers
suspected of being pro-Western and targeted religious leaders as well as noncommunist
politicians for imprisonment and execution.
In March 1953, a few days after Stalin’s funeral, Gottwald unexpectedly died.
Zápotocký was elected president, while Viliám Široký, a Slovak, became premier; the powerful
post of the party’s first secretary went to Antonín Novotný, who had played a very active role in
conducting the purges. That May a monetary reform, which effectively deprived the farmers and
better-paid workers of all their savings, led to sporadic riots against the communist authorities.
The riots gave Novotný, backed by Moscow, an excuse to check any attempt by Zápotocký and
Široký to ease government repression. In 1957, when Zápotocký died, Novotný combined the
party secretaryship with the presidency. His faction—mostly mediocre apparatchiks—became
supreme and remained so until 1968. Novotný kept Stalinism alive. Show trials continued until
1955, after which administrative sanctions began to be employed.
By the early 1960s Novotný faced acute economic problems. In September 1964 the
government was forced to accept a new set of economic principles put forward by a group of
reformers who had advanced through the party ranks. Pressure from Slovak leadership as well as
unrest in the public and cultural spheres, particularly among students and writers, undermined
Novotny and ultimately led to his downfall. In January 1968 Novotný himself recommended as
his successor his Slovak opponent Alexander Dubček, who was elected unanimously after the
Central Committee failed to agree on the other candidates.
The Prague Spring of 1968: As the new first secretary of the Communist Party of
Czechoslovakia, Dubček was propelled into the role of chief reformer. The crown achievement
of the new reformist government was the Action Program, adopted by the party’s Central
Committee in April 1968. Among its most important points were the promotion of Slovakia to
full parity within a new Czechoslovak federation, long overdue industrial and agricultural
reforms, a revised constitution that would guarantee civil rights and liberties, and complete
rehabilitation of all citizens whose rights had been infringed in the past.


The effect of the liberalization movement—which became known as the Prague Spring—
on the Czechoslovak public was unprecedented and quite unexpected. On the evening of Aug.
20, 1968, Soviet-led armed forces invaded the country. The Soviet authorities seized several
leaders and secretly took them to Moscow. Meanwhile, the
population spontaneously reacted against the invasion through
acts of passive resistance and improvisation. But by August 27
the Czechoslovaks had been compelled to yield to the Soviets’
demands in an agreement known as the Moscow Protocol.
Soviet troops were going to stay in Czechoslovakia for the time
being, and the leaders had agreed to tighter controls over
political and cultural activities.
The continued presence of Soviet troops helped the
communist hard-liners, who were joined by Slovak Communist
Gustav Husák, to defeat Dubček and the reformers.
Czechoslovakia was proclaimed a federal republic, with two
Alexander Dubcek was born in
autonomous units: the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak
Uhrovec, Western Slovakia. Dubcek
first came to the attention of people in
Socialist Republic, each with national parliaments and
the West when he created his own
governments. On April 17, 1969, Husák replaced Dubček as
brand of a limited democracy, called
first secretary. The victorious Husák declared the Dubček
'Socialism with a human face', when
experiment to be finished and promptly initiated a process of
leader of Communist Czechoslovakia
in 1968. Moscow’s reaction was one
of force, sending in tanks from the
“Normalization” and Political Dissidence: As first
Soviet Union, as well as from
secretary, Husák tried to persuade Soviet leaders that
Hungary, to restore 'order' back to the
Czechoslovakia was a loyal member of the Warsaw Pact. He
hard-line communists.
had the constitution amended to embody the newly proclaimed
Following the Prague Spring, Dubcek
Brezhnev Doctrine, which asserted the right of the Soviet Union
was ousted and was sent into internal
exile, as a forestry commissioner.
to intervene militarily if it perceived socialism anywhere to be
However, almost 20 years later, after
under threat. Having purged the reformists during 1969–71,
the Velvet Revolution, in 1989, he
Husák concentrated almost exclusively on the economy.
returned once more into the public
However, he blocked the industrial and agricultural reforms
eye, becoming the Chairman of the
from the Action Program and so failed to cure the country’s
Federal Assembly. Tragically, Dubcek
died in a car crash in 1992, aged 70.
long-term economic problems. By the early 1980s
(Text taken from:
Czechoslovakia was experiencing a serious economic downturn,
caused by a decline in markets for its products, burdensome
terms of trade with several of its supplier countries, and a
surplus of outdated machinery and technology.
Although Husák had avoided the bloodletting of his predecessors, his party purges had
damaged Czechoslovak cultural and scientific life, since positions in these two areas depended
on membership in the party. Though these trials could not be compared to the Stalinist show
trials, they kept discontent among the intellectuals simmering, even if the mass of the population
was indifferent. Intellectual discontent gathered strength in January 1977, when a group of
intellectuals signed a petition, known as Charter 77, in which they urged the government to
observe human rights as outlined in the Helsinki Accords of 1975. Many intellectuals and
activists who signed the petition subsequently were arrested and detained, but their efforts
continued throughout the following decade.


Velvet Revolution and Velvet Divorce: In 1989 a wave of protests against communist rule
erupted in eastern Europe. On November 16, students in Bratislava gathered for a peaceful
demonstration; the next day a student march, approved by the authorities, took place in Prague.
When the students began criticizing the regime, the police reacted with brutality. This incident
set off a nationwide protest movement—dubbed the Velvet Revolution—that gained particular
strength in the country’s industrial centres. Daily mass gatherings culminated in a general strike
on November 27, during which the people demanded free elections and an end to one-party rule.
The communist authorities were forced to negotiate with the opposition, and, as a result, a
transition government incorporating members of the Civic Forum and Public Against Violence
was formed. Husák resigned in December 1989, and Vaclav Havel was chosen to succeed him as
Czechoslovakia’s first noncommunist president in more than 40 years. The former party
leader Alexander Dubček returned to political life as the new speaker of the Federal Assembly.
The last Soviet troops were withdrawn from Czechoslovakia in June 1991, and the
Warsaw Pact was disbanded the following month, thus completing Czechoslovakia’s separation
from the Soviet bloc. However, the drafting of a new constitution was hindered by differences
between political parties, Czech-Slovak tensions, and power struggles.
The Czechoslovak federation began to appear increasingly fragile in 1991–92, and
separatism became a momentous issue. After Havel’s resignation on July 20, 1992, no suitable
candidate for the federal presidency emerged; Czechoslovakia now lacked a symbol of unity as
well as a convincing advocate. The assumption was made in political circles that the
Czechoslovak state would have to be divided, despite little evidence of public enthusiasm for the
split. The two republics proceeded with separation negotiations in an atmosphere of peace and
cooperation. By late November, members of the National Assembly had voted Czechoslovakia
out of existence. Both republics promulgated new constitutions, and at midnight on Dec. 31,
1992, after 74 years of joint existence disrupted only by World War II, Czechoslovakia was
formally dissolved.
The Slovak Republic came into being on January 1, 1993, with the completion of the socalled Velvet Divorce. Although a renewed sense of national pride welled up in Slovakia, so,
too, did a feeling of apprehension about the republic’s future. Slovakia generally had been
perceived as the junior partner in the federation, but that arrangement also had provided the
republic with a degree of political security and economic stability that became less certain with
independence. Long-standing political differences and tensions with neighbouring countries that
had been suppressed during the period of Soviet hegemony reemerged; notable among these
were Hungary’s concerns about the future of the large Hungarian minority in southern Slovakia.
In addition, economic forecasts for Slovakia generally were less optimistic than those for
the Czech Republic. Slovakia inherited an economy dependent on large-scale but obsolete heavy
industry, and the country faced rising unemployment and poor prospects for foreign investment.
Furthermore, since Czechs had long dominated the federal leadership of Czechoslovakia, the
Slovak regional leaders lacked experience at the national level.
In June 1997 a European Union–Slovakia parliamentary committee made it clear that, in
order for Slovakia to qualify for EU membership, the government would have to make
adjustments in its policy toward the opposition and its treatment of minorities. President Michal
Kováč and Prime Minister Vladimir Mečiar agreed to the stipulations in October. Slovakia
eventually joined the EU in 2004, the same year it joined NATO. In 2009, Slovakia became the
second former communist bloc country (after Slovenia) to adopt the euro. A significant issue
leading up to the June 2010 parliamentary elections was the question of Slovakia’s role in the

bailout of debt-laden euro zone countries. The four-party centre-right coalition government that
emerged from those elections was headed by Iveta Radičová of the Slovak Democratic and
Christian Union (SDKU), who became the first woman to serve as Slovakia’s prime minister. In
August 2010 the Slovak parliament refused to pay the €816 million ($1.1 billion) that constituted
the country’s share of the bailout fund for Greece organized by the EU and the International
Monetary Fund. Slovak politicians argued that their country was one of the poorest in the euro
zone and should not be expected to finance the mismanagement of its richer neighbours. This
sentiment came to the fore in October 2011, when a no-confidence vote over the expansion of
the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the euro zone’s primary bailout mechanism,
toppled the Radičová government. After the government’s collapse, Radičová opened talks with
Smer, and Fico pledged his support for the EFSF in exchange for early elections.
When Slovaks headed to the polls in March 2012, they resoundingly rejected the
Radičová coalition. Smer, with Fico at its head, collected 83 of 150 seats, becoming the first
single party to win a clear majority in the Slovak parliament since the fall of communism.
Allegations of corruption against centre-right politicians, as well as frustration with austerity
measures, soured voters on the SDKU, and the party barely obtained the number of votes
necessary for representation in the parliament. Fico pledged that his government would adhere to
the deficit-control regulations of the EU’s new fiscal compact by raising the tax rates of wealthy
individuals and corporations. Although Fico was forced to shelve a plan that would have
nationalized two private insurance companies to create a single government-run health care
provider, he remained a broadly popular if polarizing figure. Political and economic stability
buoyed Fico’s approval ratings, but voters resoundingly rejected his bid to become president in
March 2014. A win would have given Smer control of parliament, the judiciary, and the
presidency; instead, voters chose entrepreneur and first-time politician Andrej Kiska to fill the
largely ceremonial role.


Slovak Culture
Text and Pictures Taken Directly from:
Slovak Cuisine
Slovak cuisine was greatly influenced by the food of two neighboring countries Hungary and Austria and to add to the spice of life, the dishes vary from one region to the next.
The Slovak dishes use items such as pork, poultry, cabbage, wheat and potato flour,
cheese from cows and sheep, potatoes, onions and garlic. Although rice does not grow in
Slovakia, it is widely-used and incorporated in Slovakian homes and restaurants. Beans, corn on
the cob, lentils, parsley, carrots and other vegetables are often used to create soup dishes and
other dishes in all Slovakia. Fruit like apples, plums, apricots, peaches, plums and cherries are
offered as a side dish alongside the main meal in Slovakia.
Pork, beef and chicken are the three most popular meats used in Slovakian food. Meat
from wild animals such as rabbit and venison are widely used in Slovak restaurants and also
appear now and again in private Slovakian households. Lamb, duck or goose are not quite so
popular in Slovaka cuisine but Goose Feasts (husacie hody) are held in some restaurants in
Slovakia. Slovensky Grob is one the most famous restaurants offering Goose Feasts. Bread is
well-known in Slovakia. Black bread (rye bread) is a direct influence from Austria and many
Slovaks eat bread for breakfast or for lunch with soup and very frequently for their evening meal.
Traditional Slovakian Food:
◦Bryndzove Halushky - potato dumplings with sheep cheese
(bryndza) and roasted bacon
◦Zemiakové Placky - potato pancakes fried in oil with garlic and
◦Ryzovy Nákyp - sweet baked rise cake
◦Zemlovka - white bread baked with fruit and eggs
◦Parene Buchty - steamed dumplings filled with jam with sweet
◦Sisky - fried dumplings
Bryndzove Halushky

Slovakian soup dishes:
◦Kapustnica - soup made of sour cabbage and smoked pork
sausage, variations can be by adding mushrooms or plums
◦Bean soup - beans and various root vegetables such as carrots and
◦Garlic soup - usually cooked in chicken broth
◦Goulash soup - using beef, paprika, marjoram and potatoes

Gulash Soup


Slovak Arts
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
colorful 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


The Fujara is a sheperd’s
fipple flute which
originated in the Detva
region. (Photo:

Cepovy: This is a folk dance full of energy and quite typical for
the Low Orava Region. The dance represents the old traditional way of
threshing cereals with flails.
The Saris: The Saris is an energetic dance performed by a couple,
which is typical for the Saris region, in Eastern Slovakia. The routines includes the following
dance elements: the Karicka, Bottle Dance, and Sarispolka.

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


Timeline of Major Events in Modern Slovak History
Text taken directly from BBC News. Timeline: Slovakia. Available at:

1993 January - Independence after Czechoslovakia splits. Parliament elects Michal Kovac of
the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (MDS) president. Vladimir Meciar, also of the MDS,
is prime minister in coalition government.
1995 March - Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with Hungary signed, guaranteeing the
existing border and ethnic minority rights.
1995 November - New law restricting official use of any language other than Slovak gives rise
to international condemnation.
1998 March - Constitutional stalemate as President Kovac ends term and parliament fails to
agree on a successor.
1999 January - Parliament ends nearly a year of constitutional crisis by passing a new law
allowing for president to be directly elected by the people.
1999 May - Pro-Western candidate Rudolf Schuster wins country's first direct presidential
2002 December - EU summit in Copenhagen formally invites Slovakia to join in 2004.
2003 May - Slovaks vote in referendum in favor of EU membership. Turnout is just over the
required 50 per cent.
2004 March - Slovakia admitted to Nato.
2004 May - Slovakia is one of 10 new states to join the EU.
2005 May - Parliament ratifies EU constitution.
2006 October - Robert Fico announces withdrawal of troops in Iraq by the end of 2007.
2008 July - EU gives formal approval for Slovakia to adopt the euro in January 2009.
2009 January - Slovakia adopts the euro.
2011 October - Ruling coalition collapses when one of the four governing parties refuses to
back Slovak ratification of an expanded eurozone bailout fund. Two days later, parliament
ratifies the eurozone bailout plan after the government agrees to hold an early general election in
March 2012.
2014 October - Slovakia reports reduced Russian gas deliveries amid Russia/EU tensions over
Ukraine. PM Robert Fico says the move is part of a political fight.


Folklore: Old Bodrík and the Wolf - A Traditional Slovak Tale
Text taken directly from:

A shepherd (bača) had a white dog called Bodrík that had been guarding the shepherd's sheep
for many years, both day and night, so that no wolf could approach the sheepfold. But what was
to be done when old Bodrik's leg became lame and the dog had no
teeth? "An old dog is good only for the rubbish heap!" said the bača.
"Why keep an old dog if it is good for nothing?"
So a new young dog was brought and fed, and put outside in the
sheepfold. Old Bodrík was lying at the rubbish heap, hungry and sad
about what had happened to him. Darkness fell on the country. The
young dog crawled into its doghouse and stretched out on his bed.
Old Bodrík had always slept vigilantly, and did so now. He sensed a
wolf. Bodrík wanted to jump over the fence, but his legs could not
move because he was very hungry. He lay down sadly again and
thought to himself, "While I have nothing to eat, a wolf can have
something for its teeth!" And he did not even bark.
In the morning, the bača went to milk the sheep and he noticed that a sheep was missing. At the
very moment, an idea arose in his head, "Oh, if old Bodrík had guarded the flock, the wolf would
not have taken the sheep away!"
The bača called old Bodrík back and fed him well. Old Bodrík clung to the bača's legs and
sprang for joy. In the evening, Bodrík did not lie at the rubbish heap anymore. He circled around
the sheepfold because he knew that where the wolf had once found a delicacy for his teeth, there
he would return. The wolf returned, as if everything had been prepared for him.
Bodrík stood up against the wolf and said, "What do you want here?" "What do I want? I want a
sheep!" the wolf answered. "Go away, you, scoundrel! I won't let you steal any sheep!" Bodrík
snarled at the wolf. "Just give me a sheep. We will share it. Your farmer has not fed you well."
"Making a deal with a wolf - sheep and bulls will be taken away!" answered old Bodrík. "I
wasn't fed by my bača yesterday and I was hungry and weak. It was easy for you to steal a sheep,
but today, I was fed well. I am strong again and I won't let you steal a sheep." "If you won't let
me steal a sheep, prepare for a fight." the wolf said angrily. "Oh, if you want, prepare for a fight!
After I finish my guard around the sheepfold, I will come in the morning and fight with you in
the forest. Do you understand me?"
Hearing that, the wolf snarled and ran to the forest to find some help. He really wanted to vent
his wrath on old Bodrík. He asked a bear and a fox to help him.
The dog knew the wolf's habits very well and he did not go to the forest alone. He invited a
pregnant sow and an old tomcat to accompany him. Bodrík limped on one leg. His companions

were not young, however, they were faithful and experienced friends. When the bear and the fox
saw the approaching trio, they became very frightened. "Look, brethren," the bear exclaimed,
"look at the first one. He is stooping all the time. He may be collecting stones to kill us!"
Bodrík limped, and the bear thought that when he stooped, he was also collecting stones. "Look
at the second one," screamed the fox, "he is brandishing a sword around his hips!" Since the
tomcat moved with his tail up, indeed, the fox thought that he was brandishing a sword! And
when they heard the sow grumble, they recognized by her voice that it was a pregnant pig. They
knew very well that such a swine knew no jokes. That is why they took her threat very seriously
and did not want to joke either. The bear climbed up a tree, and the fox jumped into some
When our friends came to the forest, the tomcat snarled joyfully, "Vrni-vrni-vrni"(buzz-buzzbuzz)." The fox understood, "V trni, v trni, v trni" (in the thornbush). The fox thought that the
tomcat wanted to attack so he did not wait, jumped out of the thornbush, and ran away!
The swine began to grumble under the tree where the bear was hiding. "Hr-hr-hr." The bear
understood, "Hor-hor" (up-up). The bear thought that the swine knew that he was up in the tree
and that she wanted to uproot the tree where he was hiding. And the swine dug with her snout.
The bear did not wait, jumped down, and ran away - beyond the mountains and valleys. The wolf
stood alone, but was glad, at last, to be able to escape without being hurt.
Old Bodrík barked so strongly that it echoed throughout the whole forest. He was glad that his
friends had helped him and that they had driven those wild beasts away. After that, Old Bodrík
lived well in the sheepfold for the rest of his life.


Select Bibliography of Sources on Slovakia
Csergo, Zsuzsa. Talk of the Nation : Language and Conflict in Romania and Slovakia. Ithaca :
Cornell University Press, 2007
Cravens, Craig Stephen. Culture and Customs of the Czech Republic and Slovakia Westport,
Conn., Greenwood Press, 2006
Dobsinsky, Pavol and David Cooper. Traditional Slovak Folktales M.E. Sharpe Inc., 2001
Drobna, Olga; Eduard Drobny and Magdalena Gocnikova. Slovakia: The Heart of Europe.
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 1996 (for young adults)
Teich; Mikuláš, Dušan Kováč, and Martin D. Brown (editors). Slovakia in History Cambridge
University Press, 2011
Henderson, Karen. Slovakia : The Escape from Invisibility London ; New York : Routledge,
Hacker, Paul. Slovakia on the Road to Independence : an American Diplomat's Eyewitness
Account University Park, Pa. : Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010
Judge, Sean M. Slovakia 1944: The Forgotten Uprising Air University Press, 2008
Kirschbaum, Stanislav. A History of Slovakia : The Struggle for Survival New York, N.Y.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
Maxwell, Alexander. Slavic Hungary, the Czechoslovak language and accidental nationalism /
Alexander Maxwell London : Tauris Academic Studies, 2009
Mikuš, Joseph A. Slovakia and the Slovaks Washington : Three Continents Press, 1977
Toma, Peter A. Slovakia : From Samo to Dzurinda Stanford, CA : Hoover Institution Press, 2001


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