The Blue Church (of St Elisabeth), Bratislava, Slovakia

Slovakia, The Heart of Europe - in A Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 6th July 2019

A (Very Brief) History of Slovakia

  • The Slavic tribes settled in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the fifth century.
  •  Following the disintegration of the Great Moravian Empire at the turn of the tenth century, the Hungarians annexed the territory comprising modern Slovakia.
  • In 1918, Slovakia and the regions of Bohemia, Moravia, Czech Silesia and Carpathian Ruthenia formed a common state, Czechoslovakia.
  • German intervention in Sudetenland led to  the dissolution of the country, and a separate Slovakian state, a German puppet regime.
  • After World War Two Czechoslovakia re-emerged as a communist state.
  • The end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia, in 1989, during the peaceful Velvet Revolution, was followed once again by the country’s dissolution, this time, eventually, into two successor states, Czechia and Slovakia (the Velvet Divorce).

Is Slovakia in the EU?

Slovakia has been a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004. It's part of the Eurozone (the currency is the Euro) and the Schengen Visa region. It also belongs to NATO.

Is Slovakia a Rich Country?

Slovakia is ranked as a high-income advanced economy. It has a low poverty rate in comparison to other countries, though the poor are disproportionately found in minority groups.

Is Slovakia a Safe Country to Visit?

Slovakia is said to be a safe country to visit. Violent crime is almost non-existent and crime rates are low, even by European standards. As in many cities pickpockets are definitely a problem, though again, much less so than in other European countries.

Facts and Factoids

  • The official language is Slovakian.
  • In Slovakia you get a birthday and a name day. Every day of the year is assigned one or two names to celebrate.
  • Slovakia has a lot of rivers - that means a lot of bridges. More than 10,000.
  • Slovakia has the world’s highest number of castles and chateaux per capita: 180 castles and 425 chateaux, in a country with the entire population far smaller than the city of New York.
  • Slovakia calls itself the Heart of Europe - though there's furious debate about that claim.

What to See and Do In Slovakia?

  • The terrain is primarily mountainous, with the Carpathian Mountains occupying much of the central and northern parts of the country. (skiing and hiking) and there are national parks, like the High and Low Tatras. Over half the country is covered with forest. More than six thousand caves have been discovered in Slovakia so far and there are over 1300 mineral springs.
  • The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, lies on the borders with Austria and Hungary. That makes the city the only capital in the world that borders two other independent countries.
  • Bratislava is an ideal place for a weekend break, easily combined with Austria/Vienna. I stayed in Bratislava and travelled to Vienna, for the day, on a Danube ferry. You could easily do it the other way round.
  • It was a relaxing and enjoyable break, apart from dealing with Ryanair’s rules and regulations and delayed plane. It’s the only airline that serves Bratislava from the UK - unless you count WizzAir.

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