Slovakia is a landlocked republic in central Europe. It is bounded on the northwest by the Czech Republic, on the north by Poland, on the east by Ukraine, on the south by Hungary, and on the southwest by Austria. The capital, Bratislava, is the largest city in the country. The land area totals 49,035 sq km with more that five million population as of 1995 (Britannica Online, 2008). Moreover, eighty- five percent of the population are Slovaks while ten percent are Hungarians. The other nationals living in the country are Romany, Czech, Ruthenian, Ukrainan, German, and Polish among others.
In addition, the major religion being practiced in the country is Catholic while the minority religions are Protestant, Orthodox and Reformist. Furthermore, Slovakia is involved in various industries engaged in car manufacturing, engineering, chemicals, oil refining and plastics. Slovakia also has bountiful crops such as wheat, rye, corn, potatoes, and sugar beets. The country is also rich with antimony ore, mercury, iron ore, copper, lead, and zinc. Slovenska koruna or Slovak crown is the monetary unit being used in Slovakia (Britannica Online, 2008).
Slovakia maintains a parliamentary democracy form of government. It has a unicameral legislature composed of 150- seat national council, whose members are popularly elected by proportional representation for four- year terms (Infoplease, 2008). On the other hand, the president is elected by popular vote for a five- year term (Infoplease, 2008). Moreover, following the legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the majority coalition is usually appointed as prime minister by the president. The cabinet is appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister.
In addition, the country conforms with a multi-party system (Infoplease, 2008). The current president of Slovakia is Ivan Gasparovic who won the presidency on 2004 elections while Robert Fico is the current Prime Minister who was put into office in July 2006. In addition, Slovak Republic officially declared its independence on January 1, 1993. Moreover, long before the country was discovered by many invaders, the Slavic tribes settled near the Danube and were eventually orgnized into a kingdom by Samo, a Frankish merchant (MSN Encarta, 2008).
Back then, Chistianity was the religion practiced by the Slavic tribes. After the death of Samo, the Slavic chief, Mojmir I formed the Empire of Great Moravia, uniting the tribes of Slavc, Morava and Nitra. The following century, the Mangyars of Hungary successfully invaded the Slavic tribes. During those ages, the Slovaks submitted to the orders of the Mangyars. Many remained peasants in their own country while some turned into burghers (Infoplease, 2008). Many Slovaks were pressured to give up their languange and cultural identity and became Hungarians.
Slovaks were made landless and they had no chance of participating in the economic and politicals affairs of their country. The Hungarians basically took control over all the Slovaks (MSN Encarta, 2008). During the reign of the Hungarians, the Slovaks passed through their most horrific experience in history, the Mangyarization. Mangyarization was termed for the ethnic cleansing that the Mangyars made to the Slovaks (Slovak. Org, 2008). Historically, it is referred to as the Hungarian Ethnic Cleansing. The Slovak minorities were subjected to cultural genocide and forced assimilation.
In addition, the minorities were killed and were forced to move to other parts of the world such as the United States (Slovak. Org, 2008). For a long period, the Slovaks hid their culture and practices and even their language in favor of the Hungarians. After centuries, the Hungarian rule ended and the Slovaks were given autonomy. Moreover, right to religion and social reform were also restored. However, the Hungarians again rose to power when they were backed by foreign nations (Brittanica Online, 2008).
The crave for independence was only tasted during World War I when the Slovaks, Czechs and other national group of Austria- Hungary were joined by Czechs and Slovaks living abroad in their quest for an independent state. At the end of the war, Slovakia announced its independence and was incorporated to the new republic of Czechoslovakia. The Republic of Czechoslovakia also included the lands of Bohemia and Moravia and Slovakia and Prague became its capital (MSN Encarta, 2008). During those periods, the Slovaks were outnumbered by the Czecks.
Slovaks existed as a simple province and exercised its own language. In addition, the economy of the Slovaks was more of agrarian and less developed while land of Czechs were industrialized. Though the Slovaks were given freedon to religion, they were deprived of their right to participate in the economic and political affairs in the government (MSN Encarta, 2008). Moreover, the Slovaks were less educated unlike the Czechs who were given adequate education. Although the Slovaks were given independence, they were not free from the control of the Czech government (MSN Encarta, 2008).
In short, the independence the Slovaks experienced under the Czechs was not the kind of independence they had craved for. Through the initiative of Father Andrej Hlinka and further succeeded by Father Jozef Tiso, the call for equality between the Slovaks and Czechs and a greater autonomy for Slovakia from Germany were raised in the high government (Britannica Online, 2008). Nominally, and by the power of the Munich Pact, Slovakia was granted independence. However, the Slovaks existed under the control of Germany.
After practicing the culture of Hungarians, the Slovaks shifted to the culture of Germans (Brittanica Online, 2008). Though independent as a state, the political power was held by Germany thus, making the Slovaks act according to the rules and laws of the Germans. Basically, during that period, Slovakia never had a chance to rule itself and to exist according to its own policies. From the death of their first ruler up to the time when they claimed independence, Slovaks were not given full autonomy to live.
They barely enjoyed their freedom of religion, languange and practiced their culture despite the autonomy granted to them. They had been ruled by invaders and lived as peasants for a long period and their participation in the political, economic and social affair of the country they discovered was limited. Furthermore, Communism was implemented in Slovakia after World War II. The antagonism that had long been existed between the Slovaks and Czechoslovakia was revived.
Those who opposed Communism were killed and the whole of Slovak government was controlled by the communist party (MSN Encarta, 2008). In additiom, a new constitution was formed to curtail the autonomy of Slovakia. There was only one party system which was governed by the Communist party. The government was patterned into a communist form (MSN Encarta, 2008). Moreover, the right of the Slovaks to religion was restricted as the communist goverment limited and controlled the influences and power of the churches.
Centralized ownership of vast real property was also implemented and many factories and businesses were controlled by the centralized Communist government (MSN Encarta, 2008) All lands and equipments were jointly owned by the state and the forced farmers and even private properties were co- owned by the state (MSN Encarta, 2008) In other words, the Slovaks were again oppressed and were deprived of their rights as their properties were forcibly taken by the Communist government and their right to religion and right to freedom of the press were curtailed.
As a result, the Slovaks became slaves. Communism only ended on January 1969, when a new Socialist Federal Republic was established. Both the Czechs and the Slovaks were given autonomy over local affairs (Goldman, 1999, p. 94). In opposition to the Communist regime, the Slovaks practiced their religion publicly. Many Slovaks were inspired and joined numbers of mass pilgrimage to resist the rule of Communism. In addition, the Czechs also joined the Slovaks (Slovaks.
Org, 2008). The revolt against Communism moved over to Eastern Europe and in less than a month, the communist government ended (Slovak. Org, 2008). Through unity, the power of the Slovaks and Czech overthrew the communist regime, marking the dramatic end of the Communist rule. After some time, the Public Against Violence (PAV) movement was formed in the country. It initiated the transition of the country from Communism to open democracy.
The transition included privatization of large and small enterprises in industry, agriculture and services like banking, insurance and retail sales; ending state monopolies; terminating centralized control of both planning and pricing and allowing prices to be influenced by supply and demand; dismantling the bureaucratic planning apparatus, including removal of former Communist nomenclature (Goldman,1999,p. 94). Moreover, foreign investments were encouraged in the country.
However, the transition was not easily implemented in the country especially in Slovakia because it was industrialized during Communism and the transition into a market economy was quite difficult. The free market economy resulted in high unemployment and bankruptcies. The transition also created differing opinions between Czechs and Slovaks that led to Slovakia’s independence. Nevertheless, in January 1,1993, Slovakia celebrated its independence which it has long craved for.
Furthermore, the transition of Slovakia from various cultures to the Western cultures was considered a long process because the Slovaks had to go through numerous changes and difficulties in order to finally succeed and attain indepence. Basically, Communism was one of the greatest trial faced by Slovakia as for a long period of time, most Slovaks were uneducated and were terribly treated as peasants.
However, these factors did not affect the struggle of Slovakia into molding itself into an independent country. Slovakia may be considered as a rookie in independence but it cannot be understimated. Although fifteen years have passed since they were liberated, the Slovaks adaptation to the changes and the new world order took only a short period of time. Now, it has significant participation in the global sphere, both in political and economic affairs.
Moreover, at present, the country’s economy is booming despite the economical crisis that was caused by Communism. At present, Slovakia is an active member in the international orgnization in which its capabilities are tested. Through time, Slovakia will develop more and be given international recognition. It will be building more economic and political ties with other nations and will play a very important role in the International Community.