The history of Slovakia has been affected by various struggles for gaining of control over the divine nature surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains and Danube lowlands. Therefore the history of Slovakia was often connected with history of bigger state formations for whole centuries.
Prehistory (before 6th century)
The land that is now Slovakia has been inhabited for 4,000 years – by Celts, Germanic tribes, Romans and Avars. According to archaeological findings, the first inhabitants were present in the territory of the present-day Slovak Republic in Early Paleolit. An imprint of a Neanderthal man’s skull was found in the village of Gánovce (in the north of Slovakia). Small female statue of Venus made of a mammoth bone was found in the village of Moravany nad Váhom.
In fact, Slovakia formed the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. In 179 A.D, the Roman legion inscribed the word “Laugaritio” on the rock of the Trenčín castle – the most northern point of their presence in Europe.
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Great Moravia (9th century)
Slavic people arrived in the 5th and 6th centuries. In the 7th century, the first political formation of Slavs was created – the Samo’s empire. The first real Slavic political entity here was the Great Moravian Empire, which also included parts of today’s Czech Republic. In the 9th century the Great Moravian Empire spread on the territory of the present-day Slovakia. Central Slovakia was very advanced, what is proved by gothic cathedrals and fortifications of rich towns, as well as by gold, silver and copper mining in Kremnica and other towns. Great Moravia flourished briefly in the 9th century.
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Medieval Hungary (10th – 15th century)
Invading Magyars (ancestors of the Hungarians) conquered the Slavs and for the next 1,100 years, until the 20th century, Slovakia was part of the multi-national Hungarian Kingdom.
In the 13th century the Tatars invaded, decimating the population in central Slovakia. Hungarian kings provided trading privileges and other incentives to settlers from Germany, attracted by the region’s rich mines of gold, silver and other metals. This explains the very Germanic appearance of many towns, such as Levoča, Kežmarok, Bardejov and others.
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Habsburg Monarchy (16th – 18th century)
The next wave of invaders came in the 16th century – the Ottoman Turks swept into Europe and occupied Buda. The Hungarians moved the seat of their government to Bratislava – known by different names throughout history – Pressburg, Pozsony and Posonium. These were Bratislava’s golden days, and you see the evidence in such buildings as the Primate’s and Palffy Palaces. Bratislava has entered the history in 1536 as the capital of Ugria, in which 19 kings and queens were coronated. In the 16th century Slovakia became a part of the Habsburgs Monarchy and until 1918 it belonged to the Ugrian Kingdom.
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National Revival and the Revolution (1787 – 1848 – 1861)
By the end of the 18th century even the central European region was affected by the ideas, which were more fully developed during the next century, equality of the citizens and national consciousness. In the public life and culture of Hungary Latin language had maintained a dominant position for a long time. But both of the Enlightenment rulers, Maria Theresa and Joseph II, tried to strengthen the monarchy by implementing the use of the German language. The Hungarian nobility, however, repudiated Joseph II policy and the use of German and tried to replace it with Hungarian.
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National Oppression (1866 – 1914)
Agreement between Austria nad Hungary in 1866, brought a strong Magyarization policy, which resulted in closing down three Slovak grammar schools in the years 1874 – 1875 by government and culminated on 6th of April in 1875, when the Slovak cultural institution was repealed. Emigration overseas (to U.S. and Canada) has become a mass phenomenon in the northern areas of Slovakia at the end of the century.
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World War I (1914 – 1918)
The Austro-Hungarian empire crumbled in World War I. At the end of the First World War Slovakia became a part of the Czechoslovak Republic.
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Era between the Great Wars – First Czechoslovakia (1918 – 1939)
In 1918, Czechoslovakia was created, with American President Woodrow Wilson as an important advocate of the new country.
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World War II (1939 – 1945)
The first Slovak Republic (1939-1945) was recognized by more than twenty-five states. But its independence was greatly limited by its strong, economic, military and political dependence on Germany. The political regime of the Slovak state was an authoritarian dictatorship with one party and ideology.
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Communism and Restored Czechoslovakia (1946 – 1989)
The leader of democratic, Western-style reforms, known as the Prague Spring of 1968, was 1st Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, Alexander Dubcek – a Slovak! The Soviets sent in tanks to quash the reform movement, and Czechoslovakia went back to Soviet-style government.
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Velvet Revolution (November 1989)
In 1989, the Soviet era ended with the Velvet Revolution, and Czechoslovakia became a democratic state.
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Democratic Slovakia (since 1st of January 1993)
The countries went their separate ways in 1993, in what is called the Velvet Divorce, and Slovakia was finally independent. In mid-2004, Slovakia became a member of both the European Union and NATO.
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