The present-day environment Slovakia has been inhabited since the early Paleolithic period. The Celts and Romans were the most significant civilizations prior to the inward migration of Slavs and Huns. Artifacts and proof of the existence of these civilizations may still be discovered today.
The Slavic tribes who entered the region in the 5th century established a series of powerful kingdoms. During this period, which lasted until the disintegration of the Great Moravian Empire in the 10th century, Slavs embraced Christianity and numerous medieval fort castles were constructed, the remains of which may still be seen today.
Slovakia became a part of the Kingdom of Hungary in the 10th century, which, in 1867, merged with the Austrian Empire to create the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This union, which lasted until 1918, had a significant impact on the development of the whole area. It was a multicultural state with various civilizations coexisting, and it represents a common cultural heritage shared by many Central European countries.
Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918 when the Slovaks joined the closely related Czechs. Interbellum Czechoslovakia was also a varied state with significant ethnic minorities such as Hungarians, Jews, and German-speakers. In this nation, there were more native German speakers than ethnic Slovaks. During WWII, Czechoslovakia temporarily divided, with the Nazis occupying the Czech areas and Slovakia becoming a puppet state that cooperated with the Nazis under Father Jozef Tiso’s leadership. Following the devastation of World War II, Czechoslovakia was transformed into a communist state inside the Soviet-ruled Eastern Bloc. The Soviet Union withdrew its control in 1989, and Czechoslovakia regained its independence.
After being dominated by their northwestern Czech neighbors for many years, Czech and Slovak political leaders chose to break out on their own. On January 1, 1993, the Slovaks and Czechs agreed to a peaceful separation, and Slovakia became a nation in its own right. This is referred to as the Velvet Divorce. Both nations have strong cultural ties and have a high degree of political and economic cooperation.
Because of historical, political, and geographic reasons, Slovakia had a more difficult time establishing a modern market economy than some of its Central European neighbors, but it currently has one of Europe’s fastest growing economies and has been a member of the European Union and NATO since 2004. Slovakia has joined the Schengen accord and accepted the Euro on January 1, 2009.