Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A central European republic, formerly part of Czechoslovakia.


Slovakia is surrounded by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, and Austria and the Czech Republic to the west. The Carpathian mountains dominate the country. Some steppe grasslands are to be found in the south-eastern lowlands; one third of the country is cultivated and two-fifths is covered in forest. The Danube briefly forms the border between Slovakia and Hungary flowing towards Bratislava and finally on to the Black Sea.


Industry is hampered by the need to import energy, as hydroelectric power has not yet been exploited. Motor vehicles, glass, armaments, footwear, and textiles are the main exports. IMF resources have been made available to stabilize the transition to a market economy. Slovakia's mineral resources include iron ore, copper, magnesite, lead, zinc, and lignite.


A land belonging to the Hungarian crown since medieval times, Slovakia experienced an upsurge in nationalism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A final break with Hungary was made with the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War I; Slovakia entered into union with the Czech lands. However, resentment at centralized control from Prague led to a declaration of autonomy within a federal Czecho-Slovak state on the eve of the Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1938; this was followed by nominal independence under German protection. With the end, in 1990, of the communist regime that had controlled Czechoslovakia since 1948, Slovak demands for independence grew and the Slovak Republic (with its capital at Bratislava) came into being on 1 January 1993 without conflict. Michal Kováč was elected President and the nationalist leader Vladimir Meciar became Prime Minister. He was, however, defeated in the 1998 elections, when a coalition was formed under Mikulas Dzarinda. Meciar was also defeated in the 1999 presidential election, when Rudolf Schuster was elected, and again in 2004, by Ivan Gašparovič. Problems have been experienced in restructuring the Slovak economy, which was geared to labour-intensive heavy industry under the influence of Stalinism in the 1950s. Tensions remain between the Slovak majority and the ethnic Hungarian minority population. In 2004 Slovakia joined NATO and the European Union.

Source: MAPS IN MINUTES™ © RH Publications (1997)




49,035 sq km (18,928 sq miles)


5,384,000 (2005)


1 koruna = 100 halérů


Roman Catholic 63.8%; non-religious 26.7%; Protestant 7.9%; Orthodox 0.6%; other 0.6%

Ethnic Groups:

Slovak 86.6%; Hungarian 10.9%; Czech 1.2%; other 1.3%


Slovak (official); Czech; Hungarian; Romany; other minority languages

International Organizations:

UN; OSCE; Council of Europe; EU; NATO; OECD; WTO

Subjects: History.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.