Slovak is a Western Slavonic language spoken by about 5.6 million people in Slovakia and also in Canada, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and the USA. Czechoslovakia became a democratic country 1993, but split up into two independent countries (Slovakia and Czech Republic). The Slovak and Czech languages have started to drift away from each other, though they are still very alike.
Slovak is closely related to Czech, Polish, and Sorbian. Documents in Slovak started to appear in the 15th century, however a widely accepted literary standard for Slovak did not emerge until the 19th century. Slovak literature flourished between 1918 and 1938 when the Slovak-speaking area became part of Czechoslovakia, though the Czech majority did not all recognise the separate status of the Slovak language.
Since the demise of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Slovakia has been an independent country and the Slovak and Czech languages have started to drift away from each other, though they are still more or less mutually intellegible.
Slovak is the official language of Slovakia and Slovak should not be confused with Slovene, or Slovenian (slovenski jezik or slovenščina), the main language of Slovenia.
Its capital city is Bratislava, the only capital of the world that borders with other two countries. Other main cities are Košice, Banská Bystrica, Žilina, Trenčín, Nitra, Prešov, Bardejov and Trnava. Slovakia is a member of the European Union since 2004 and its official currency is the Euro.
The Celts started to settle since 450 BC. The coins named Biatec represent the first use of writing in Slovakia. At the turn of millenniums, many different Germanic tribes like Quadi and Marcomanni started to overtake the area. The Roman Empire established many outposts along the Danube river. They even fought Germanic tribes, with the most northern presence being in Trenčín (Laugaritio), during the Marcomannic Wars.
The Great Moravia was at first in constant quarrels with the Eastern Francia, and at the beginning of the 10th century, with the Magyars who arrived from Asia. The Magyars beat the Great Moravia in 906, overtook the area and established the Hungarian Principality, resulting later in the creation of the Kingdom of Hungary in year 1000. Slovak settlements continued to be in the north, while those of the Hungarians were in the south.
A huge population loss resulted from the Mongol invasions in 1241. The Hungarian kings started to invite other settlers, for example Germans in the 13th century, and many others started to arrive in the kingdom, Vlachs from Romania in the 14th century and Jews.
The expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century from the south, who occupied the two most important towns in the kingdom, Buda (capital) and Székesfehérvár (coronation capital) and southern regions, the center shifted to Slovakia and the capitals moved to Bratislava (Pressburg, Pozsony at that time). The fights against the Ottomans and an uprising against the Habsburgs caused a lot of destruction. After the Ottomans started to retreat back from Hungary Bratislava continued to be capital until 1848, when it was moved back to Budapest.
The creation of a dual monarchy, Austria-Hungary, enabled the Hungarian government to initiate a policy of suppressing the teaching of languages other than the Hungarian language in state schools. The official use of other languages than Hungarian was also discouraged. During this time, a nationalist movement arose among Slovakians. A part of this movement joined forces with a part of the Czech nationalist movement. During World War I, this movement convinced the future victorious powers to recognise a new state of Czechoslovakia after the war.
The territory of today's Slovakia was a part of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1938 and again from 1945 until 1989. Czechoslovakia was one of the states which came into existence after the breakup of Austria-Hungary at end of World War I in 1918. Czechoslovakia split up in 1939, when Slovakia, under Hitler's influence and pressure, declared independence and became an independent state. The state existed during World War II. It was a one-party totalitarian state which was a puppet ally of Nazi Germany. Under the regime, the state fought in the war on the side of Nazi Germany and deported about 70,000 of its Jewish citizens to Nazi extermination camps as part of the Holocaust.
The territory of Czechoslovakia was liberated by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II in 1945. After the liberation, Czechoslovakia was reunified and briefly existed as a democratic country. The Communist Party successfully performed a state coup in 1948 and ruled Czechoslovakia as a totalitarian one-party state which was a satellite of the Soviet Union. In 1989, the one-party rule of the Communist Party was overthrown during the Velvet Revolution, which was a series of large and peaceful demonstrations by the citizens in the streets.
Czechoslovakia again became a democratic country. However, it split up into two independent countries (Slovakia and Czech Republic) on January 1, 1993 in what became known as the Velvet Divorce.
Slovakia has been a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004.
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