The Slovak republic is one of the youngest European newcomers on the map. Although the first mention of the region of today’s Slovakia being populated was back in the late Palaeolithic age, i.e. about 250 000 B.C. and the first sign of Slovakia in today’s terms being particularly evidenced by going back to 1029 in the phrase ‘dux Sclavonie’, the road to the creation of the Slovak republic was incredibly long.
After the long-term inclusion of Slovak territories in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the subsequent co-existence between the Slovaks and Czechs in one federation, the independent Slovak Republic was born to the world on the 1st of January 1993 as the result of the peaceful split from the former federation. In 2004 the young country became a member of NATO and the European Union and since 2009 the official currency in Slovakia has been the Euro.
This small country, the capital city of which – Bratislava – lies on the Danube river, offers visitors a unique combination of cultural traditions and natural heritage. Among other caves and mountain passes, Slovak karst and the Dobšinská cave represent Slovakia on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Out of the nine national parks, the largest and oldest is the Tatra National Park. The Tatras, as the dominant Slovak mountain range, feature attractive places such as Štrbské Pleso, Chopok and Lomnický štít. The highest point in Slovakia is peak called Gerlachovský štít, 2655 meters above-sea-level. The Tatra peaks are home to an internationally unique and strictly protected species – “kamzík tatranský“ – the Tatra chamois.
In Slovakia – a country rich in cultural and historical fortifications and ceremonial quarters – it is possible to count more than 100 castles and forts and at least twice as many mansions built in variol historical periods. Spiš Castle and its surroundings, the towns of Banská Štiavnica and Vlkolínec, the historical Šariš town of Bardejov and the wooden churches in the Carpathian Mountain Area are all listed in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.
We should not forget the many spa centres with the beneficial medicinal effects of thermal and mineral waters such as Piešťany, Rajecké Teplice, Trenčianske Teplice and Spa Bardejov.
Its not only a long tradition of folk customs and rich culture of folklore that are characteristic of Slovakia. This young country is a dynamically developing modern society which a stable global place in the fields of science, culture and sports.
To emphasize the most popular achievements in sports: last year the Slovak national football team fought its way to the round sixteen of the World Cup in South Africa. Slovak ice hockey national team have reached even higher – the Slovaks won gold and the title of IIHF World Champion in Gothenburg in 2002. Until recently, Slovakia had the unflattering label of being the only IIHF World Champion country never to have hosted the Championship itself. The current IIHF World Championship has addressed the balance.