Slovakia is a small mountainous and landlocked country in central Europe. Slovakia has had a long and turbulent history with its neighboring countries, and empires that controlled the region. The country is known as a country that has been seeking its own identity for more than a century. The main languages spoken are Slovak and Hungaria. The country of Slovakia joined the EU in 2004, and its currency is the Euro. It has a population of 5,382,000 people, ninety-nine percent of Slovaks can read, and the average life span is 74 years. Most Slovaks are either Roman Catholic, Atheist, and Protestant. The capital, Bratislava is a city of around 425,000 people and is known for its rich and diverse history from ancient times through the centuries. Slovakia is most famous for its castles, and reputation for art and culture.
1. Slovakia is one of the newest countries in the world.
Slovakia was established as an independent nation on January 1, 1993 when Czechoslovakia split into the two nations, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. After a peaceable separation with the Austrian Hungarian empire, Slovakia and Czech Republic were known as Czechoslovakia. The beginning of World War II ruined a planned vote for independence in 1939.
2. There are more castles per capita than any other country
An interesting fact about Slovakia is that there are enough castles to split up the population into 180 small kingdoms each with their own castle and population of 30,000 people. The reason Slovakia has so many castles is due to the Hungarians who ruled over Slovakia from the middle ages to the 1800’s. The Hungarians thought the Slovakian terrain was better positioned to defend its royalty and aristocracy. Since Slovakia is so mountainous, and rocky, the castles could be built with rock from the mountains and would be easier to spot an encroaching enemy from its higher location. The castles each have their own legends and lore, passed down through the generations. These tales are the inspiration for some of Slovakia’s greatest literary works and fairytales.
3. There are more than 4000 caves and caverns
Underneath its rocky and mountainous terrain is an extensive system of caves and caverns. Some of the caves are so unique, and contain so many unusual rock formations, they have been protected as UNESCO world heritage sites.
4. Mining was a huge industry in the Bronze Age
Slovakian territory was rich with copper ore, which was mined and in turn used for weapons, implements, jewelry, and other metallurgical items. Trade with copper and items made of copper were prevalent even into the iron age, a fun Slovakia fact.
5. Slovakia was under communist rule
After World War II, the Soviet Union took control over Slovakia, which was still a part of Czechoslovakia and placed it under a communist regime from 1948 – 1990. The area of Slovakia was an industrial center for the Soviet Union, and the beginnings of the regime are remembered as a very dark and painful time for its people. Slovakians have a rich history of art and culture, which was squashed under the soviet regime. If a citizen was suspected of partaking in any of the cultural traditions, they were searched, and placed under surveillance, and then possibly imprisoned if determined guilty.
6. It is known as a place of art and culture
For several hundred centuries to the present, Slovakia has been known for their producers of wood carvings, ceramics, and crystal, not to mention unique embroidery techniques. The parents of Andy Warhol, one of the most iconic artists of the twentieth century, were Slovakian. Slovakia has the largest collection of Warhol’s art in the Warhol Family Museum of Modern Art, besides his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the USA.
7. The national hero is the Slovak Robin Hood
Because the Slovakian people had been living under and influenced by Hungarian, and Austrian dynasties, many Slovaks began to look back to the 9th century Slavic Kingdom of Great Moravia for their own heritage and dynasty. The Slovakian people also adopted an unusual national hero. They chose an 18th century outlaw called Juraj Jánosík, who is likened to a Slovakian version of Robin Hood. Jánosík was known for robbing the rich to give to the poor through folk tales handed down over generations, a fun Slovakia fact. His image is also representative of resistance to oppression by Slovakian people.
8. Slovakia often gets confused with Slovenia
People confuse Slovakia and Slovenia so much, that embassy representatives from each country get together once a month to exchange mail that was meant for the other country. Slovenia gets mail meant for Slovakia and Slovakia gets mail meant for Slovenia. The two countries find it humorous and don’t take it as an insult.
9. This country has been mainly Christian since the 9th century
Christianity came to Slovakia in the 9th century brought by the Byzantine monks, saints Cyril and Methodius, who received the title, Apostles of the Slavs. Before Christianity came, Slovaks had a religion based on supernatural beings. This is often cited as a reason why it had been so ingrained in the culture and the people to believe in or fear ghosts, and witches throughout the centuries and even today. Today, there is a growing movement of modern paganism called Rodnovery
10. The evidence of ancient Slovakia is based on archaeological finds
Slovakia has no written history of its earliest civilizations but is pieced together through archaeological and anthropological evidence. The earliest time period discovered through these methods are stone age artifacts. Some of the caves in Slovakia have drawings and etchings inside that date back to the Neolithic period, a fun Slovakia fact.
Slovakia is a small but beautiful country that has waited patiently over the centuries to be its own autonomous country. That being said, there is no lack of Slovakian culture. That is apparent from their rich heritage dating back hundreds, even thousands of years, not to mention their political, religious, and historical past. The Slovaks have always held on to their own unique culture despite their challenges and lack of independence. This is evident today in the pride Slovakians take in their country, and their traditions and culture.
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