Slovakia

Kategorie: Geografia (celkem: 1046 referátů a seminárek)

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  • Přidal/a: anonymous
  • Datum přidání: 01. července 2007
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Slovakia

I. Geography

Slovakia sits in the heart of Europe, straddling the north-western end of the Carpathian Mountains and forming a clear physical barrier between the plains of Poland to the north and Hungary to the south. St. John's Church in the Kremnické Vrchy mountains is considered the geographical centre point of the old continent. The spectacular High Tatra alpine range runs along Slovakia's north-eastern border, shared with Poland. Gerlachovský (2655m/8708ft) is the highest of the mighty Tatra peaks. The Danube River forms the border with Hungary. Slovakia also shares borders with the Czech Republic in the north-west, Austria in the south-west and Ukraine in the east.

About one-third of the territory is covered with lowlands and the rest is occupied by the Kartpaty Mountains ranges an basins.

Slovakia lies in the temperate climate zone at the border between the Atlantic an the continental part of Europe. The climatic conditions of the lowlands differ from those prevailing in the mountainous areas. The lowland are dry and warm, with a more settled character to the weather, while the mountain zones are colder and damper with rather changeable weather patterns.

With its total area of 49,035 square km Slovakia is a middle-sized European country (rank within Europe: 27). The population of the Slovak Republic is 5,379,445 people (26th May, 2001) which ranks it as the 22nd largest in Europe. The population density is 109 people pre square km.

The majority of the population is represented by the Slovak nationality (4,615,000 people - 85,8 %). The largest minority is the Hungarians (520,000 - 9,7 %) living mostly in the southern districts from Bratislava to Trebišov. Slovakia has undergone several emigration waves in the past. During the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century particularly, economics prevailed as the reason to emigrate. Today, about 2,7 million Slovaks have left their homeland.

At present, the economy of the Slovak Republic has been undergoing a tough process of transformation, aiming toward the attainment of membership in the European Union. The most prosperous industries are those producing construction materials, glass, shoes, electrical engineering item and the wood-processing and pulp and paper industries. Another potential source of the Slovak economy is tourism, with agrotourism holding great promise.

Agriculture in Slovakia has been adversely influenced by globalisation-related problems, competition from the countries with better climatic conditions, and the unfortunate heritage left by the recent past.


II. History

About 100 000 B.C. Neanderthal man lived near the hot springs of the Spiš region. A cast of the cerebral cavity of a Neanderthal woman was found in a travertine heap near Gánovce. About 5000 B.C. The first peasants stepped into the territory of Slovakia and built their settlements there. Roman legions crossed the Danube to first enter the territory of today's Slovakia in the 6th century. Slavic tribes occupied what is now Slovakia in the 5th century A.D. Samo, Frankish monger took over the leadership of the Slavic tribe union from 623 to 658 A.D. He established and headed what came to be called "Samo´s Empire", the first state formation of the westerns Slavs.

In 833, the prince of Moravia captured Nitra and formed the Great Moravian Empire, which included all of present Central and West Slovakia, the Czech Republic and parts of neighbouring Poland, Hungary and Germany. The empire
converted to Christianity with the arrival of the Thessaloniki brothers and missionaries, Cyril and Methodius, in 863.

In 907, the Great Moravian Empire collapsed as a result of the political intrigues of its rulers and invasion by Hungary. By 1018 the whole of Slovakia was annexed by Hungary and remained so for the next 900 years, although the Spis region of East Slovakia belonged to Poland from 1412 to 1772. After a Tatar invasion in the 13th century, the Hungarian king invited Saxon Germans to settle the depopulated north-eastern borderlands. When the Turks overran Hungary in the early 16th century, the Hungarian capital moved from Buda to Bratislava. Only in 1686 was the Ottoman presence finally driven south of the Danube.

The formation of the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1867 gave Hungary autonomy in domestic matters and a policy of enforced Magyarisation ('Hungarianisation') was instituted in Slovakia between 1868 and 1918. In 1907 Hungarian became the sole language of elementary education. As a reaction to this, Slovak intellectuals cultivated closer cultural ties with the Czechs, who were themselves dominated by the Austrians. The concept of a single Czecho-Slovakian unit was born for political purposes and, after the Austro-Hungarian defeat in W.W.I., Slovakia, Ruthenia, Bohemia and Moravia united as Czechoslovakia. The centralising tendencies of the sophisticated Czechs alienated many Slovaks and, after the 1938 Munich agreement that forced Czechoslovakia to cede territory to Germany, Slovakia declared its autonomy within a federal state.

The day before Hitler's troops invaded Czech lands in March 1939, a clero-fascist puppet state headed by Monsignor Jozef Tiso (executed in 1947 as a war criminal) was set up, and Slovakia became a German ally.

In August 1944, Slovak partisans commenced the Slovak National Uprising which took the Germans several months to crush. In the wake of Soviet advances in early 1945, a Czechoslovak government was established at Kosice two months before the liberation of Prague. The second Czechoslovakia established after the war was to have been a federal state, but after the communist take-over in February 1948 the administration once again became centralised in Prague. Many of those who resisted the new communist dictatorship were ruthlessly eliminated by execution, torture
and starvation in labour camps. Although the 1960 constitution granted Czechs and Slovaks equal rights, only the 1968 'Prague Spring' reforms introduced by Alexander Dubcek (a rehabilitated Slovak communist) implemented this concept. In August 1968, Soviet troops quashed democratic reform, and although the Czech and Slovak republics theoretically became equal partners, the real power remained in Prague.

The fall of communism in Czechoslovakia during 1989 led to a resurgence of Slovak nationalism and agitation for Slovak autonomy. After the left-leaning nationalist Vladimir Meciar was elected in June 1992, the Slovak parliament voted to declare sovereignty and the federation dissolved peacefully on 1 January 1993. Meciar lost the prime ministership in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in March 1994 because of a failing economy and his increasingly authoritarian rule, but after general elections a few months later, he was able to form a new coalition government.

Immediately after the elections, Meciar cancelled the sale of state-owned enterprises, halted Slovakia's privatisation scheme and threatened independent radio stations and newspapers with legal action if they dared criticise the government. Not surprisingly, many Slovaks started to lose patience with Meciar's heavy-handed rule. The passing of anti-democratic laws brought criticism from various human rights organisations, European leaders and USA.

The elections of 1998 saw Meciar ousted by the reform-minded Mikuláš Dzurinda, leader of the right-leaning Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK). He has had a rough time as prime minister, dogged by poor economic performance, high unemployment and ethnic tensions with the country's Hungarian and Roma minorities, while trying to hold together his fragile coalition.

Nevertheless, Dzurinda has managed to put Slovakia back on track to join the rest of Europe, having opened negotiations with the EU in February 2000.

Opinion polls at the time showed that 70% of Slovaks supported their country's bid to join the EU, and for the first time there was also a majority - albeit a slender one - in favour of joining NATO.


III. Political System

Slovakia is a democratic republic with a parliamentary system. The head of the republic is the President, who is elected for a five-year period. He shares power over the state with the Parliament, or Slovak National Council. This supreme law-making body of the Slovak Republic is single-chambered and has 150 members. Deputies, or Members of Parliament, are elected for four-year terms.

The supreme legislative deed is the Constitution of the Slovak Republic from 1992. The government of Slovakia led by its Chairman, the Prime Minister, holds executive power in the country. The President, the Parliament and the Government reside in the capital of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava.

State symbols of the Slovak Republic are: national emblem, flag, seal and anthem. Since 1996, the Slovak Republic has been divided into eight counties, or regions, and 79 districts. IV. The Most Interesting Things in Slovakia

Laugaritio - The Roman Trenčín: A rare epigraphic relic from the Roman era is associated with Trenčín. A Roman inscription which was carved in 197 A.D., has been preserved on the castle cliff. It documents the northernmost penetration of the Roman legions of Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the central-European area. The inscription says that it was Marcus Valerius Maximilianus, a legate of the 2nd auxiliary legion, who had it inscribed to the memory of their victory over the Quades. The inscription mentions the name of Laugaritio camp, where the triumphant legionaries encamped. Later on, the town of Trenčín sprouted in this place.

Ruins of the Čachtice Castle - the Bloody Lady: The Countess of the Čachtice, Elisabeth Báthory, was the widow of Francis Nádasdy, a notable fighter in the war against the Turks. She was called Bloody Lady because of her sadistic inclinations. The number of victims of her unnatural behaviour is estimated to be anywhere from 20 to 2,000, and ranks her among the worst mass murderers in history. In December 1610, she was accused of having had young virgin girls from the nearby villages killed, and then bathing in their blood in an attempt to remain young and beautiful forever. However, the capital sentence was rendered against her sanguinary servant Ján Ujvári nicknamed Ficko, and other accomplices. The Bloody Lady herself, as a member of high nobility, was imprisoned in her castle, where she died on 21st August 1614.

Pinewoods: The lowlands of Záhorie differ from the other Slovak plains due to the presence of pinewoods. The continuous woods, extending from Lozorno to Senica, cover an area of over 600 square km and were planted at the request of the enlightened Emperor Maria Theresa in the 18th century. The vast pinewood is not here only to decorate the country or to be enjoyed by mushroom pickers. The forest grows upon sand dunes, brought to this location by icy winds blowing from the Moravian planes during the glacial age. The most important role played by this green "carpet" is to prevent the giant mass of sand from shifting and damaging villages and roads.

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