Slovakia - education
Slovakia's education system is public and free, but suffers from
underfunding. A smaller but increasing number of private or ecclesiastical
educational institutions have emerged at all levels. There is a wide system of
nurseries and kindergartens. School starts in the nine-year compulsory primary
school is at the age of six. It can be followed by a four-year upper secondary
education or other, especially technical intermediate educations. Some colleges
enroll students already after fourth grade in elementary school.
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There are 18 public universities in Slovakia, including a Hungarian language,
three art academies and five private higher education institutions (2006).
OFFICIAL NAME: Slovak Republic
CAPITAL CITY: Bratislava
POPULATION: 5,400,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)
AREA: 49 km²
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): Slovak, Hungarian, Romani, Czech, other
RELIGION: Catholics 60%, Protestants 8%, Unified Christians 3%, Eastern Orthodox 1%,
others el. no 28%
COIN: euro (from 1.1.2009)
CURRENCY CODE: EUR
ENGLISH NAME: Slovakia
POPULATION COMPOSITION: Slovaks 85%, Hungarians 11%, Gypsies 2%, Czechs 1%, others 1%
GDP PER residents: 4761 $ (2007)
LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 70 years, women 78 years (2007)
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, HDI: 0.856
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, POSITION: 42
INTERNET DOMAIN NAME: .sk
Slovakia, (Slovak. Slovensko), mountainous republic formed 1.1.1993
in the wake of the system change in Eastern Europe. Until then, the country had
in two rounds, 1918-39 and 1945-93, formed the easternmost part of
Czechoslovakia. Slovakia has been a member of NATO and the EU since 2004. Its
most prominent ethnic minorities are Hungarians in the south-eastern border
Slovakia - Constitution
The Constitution of the Republic of Slovakia dates from 1992. Legislative
power lies with the National Council, which is a unicameral parliament. Its 150
members are directly elected for four years. The executive is shared by the
president and the government.
A 1998 constitutional amendment introduced direct election of the president,
who can be re-elected once. As Head of State, the President represents Slovakia
externally and internally, heads the armed forces and appoints the Prime
Minister and other ministers. However, Article 108 of the Constitution defines
the government as the highest body of executive power, and the primary political
functions of the president are representative.
Slovakia - political parties
Since the collapse of communism in 1989, there has been a lively party
formation in Slovakia, whose party system can not yet be said to be fully
Since independence in 1993, there have consistently been six or seven parties
or party coalitions in parliament, but frequent mergers, divisions, name changes
or new formations have resulted in a new party landscape after each election in
1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006.
A dominant player has been the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, LS-HZDS,
formed as HZDS in 1991 by the charismatic Vladimír Mečiar, when the 1989 Slovak
Democratic Movement, Publicity Against Violence, disbanded. HZDS ruled with
short interruptions until 1998 and was the largest party in Slovakia until the
The party pursued an increasingly authoritarian, populist and nationalist
policy, and it found firm support in the strongly nationalist Slovak National
Party (SNS), which returned to parliament in 2006 after a four-year hiatus.
The bourgeois parties have their main representatives in the
Catholic-conservative Christian Democratic Movement, which has been in
parliament since 1990, and the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union -
Democratic Party (SDKÚ-DS), a party united under Mikuláš Dzurinda's leadership.
a number of less liberal parties. The Hungarian Coalition Party, an umbrella
party for the Hungarian minority, has been a government partner with the
bourgeois parties since 1998.
The instability has been greatest on the left. The Slovak Communist Party
almost completely disappeared after 1989, but returned to parliament in
2002-06. Its successor after 1989, the Democratic Left Party (SDu), which
profiled itself as a Social Democrat, supported Dzurinda's major anti-Mečiar
coalition in 1998, but completely disbanded before the 2002 election.
The Social Democratic-oriented left is represented instead by the party Smer
(Slovak. 'Direction'). The party first entered parliament in 2002 and became the
largest party in the June 2006 elections.
Slovakia - social conditions
Slovakia's social security system is based on compulsory state social
security schemes for employees. Entitlement to a retirement pension presupposes
at least 25 years of employment; The retirement age depends on occupation and
varies between 55 and 60 years for men and between 53 and 57 years for women. It
consists of a modest basic pension, to which is added a supplementary pension,
the amount of which is in proportion to the number of years in the labor
market. In addition, any. widow's pension and invalidity pension. Unemployment
insurance is mandatory; support is provided for a maximum of one
year. Unemployment benefits during illness are also granted for a maximum of one
Great emphasis is placed on the family and family policy, and child
allowances, maternity benefits and extensive family counseling are provided
through state counseling offices.
Next to the public health service, there is a growing private health
sector. Care and home care for the elderly and disabled are primarily provided
by volunteers, unpaid staff under the guidance of state-employed nurses. Social
insurance is paid for by labor market contributions; employers pay 2/3,
the insured suffered from the 1/3, and the rest is paid
by the state.
Slovakia (Health conditions)
In 1996, the average life expectancy for men was 68.8 years and for women
76.7, which is approximately two years more than in 1980. In 1995, the mortality rate
in the first year of life was 11 per. 1000 live births against 15 in 1986. The
main cause of death for both sexes is cardiovascular disease with 580 deaths
per. 100,000 residents per This is more than twice as many as in Denmark, and
only a negligible decrease has been seen since 1986. Cancer is the second most
common cause of death with 223 deaths per year. 100,000; men have more than
twice as high a mortality rate as women.
In 1994, Slovakia spent 7% of GDP on health care, a significant increase
since the 1980's. The population is covered through a public insurance system. In
1995, there were 83 hospital beds, 71 nurses and 30 doctors per. 10,000
residents Of the doctors, approximately 12% in primary health care. The hospital
system was previously exclusively public, but in 1997 2% of hospital beds were
in private hospitals.
The armed forces have in recent years undergone a deep reduction and
adjustment following the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the division
of Czechoslovakia in 1993, as well as Slovakia's accession to NATO in 2004. The
forces are now (2006) at 20,195, of which six months of training. The army is at
12,860, the air force at 5160 and joint defense parts 2175. As Slovakia is a
landlocked state, it has no navy. The reserve is 20,000. The material is mainly
newer Soviet-made. The army now includes a rapid reaction battalion, a
mechanized infantry brigade and a light infantry brigade. The reserve includes
two "National Guard brigades". The Air Force has 71 fighter jets, 11 transport
aircraft, 19 Mil Mi-24combat helicopters and 20 transport helicopters.
Slovakia - mass media
The first Slovak newspaper was founded in Bratislava in 1783 under Hungarian
rule. In 2005, a dozen dailies were published. The largest is the tabloid
newspaper Nový čas ('New Time'), grdl. 1990, with a circulation of
approximately 185,000, followed by Pravda ('The Truth'), grdl. 1945, edition
approximately 76,000. Under communist rule, Pravda was the leading daily newspaper.
Other major dailies are SME ('We are'), grdl. in 1993. Since the turn of the
millennium, the number and circulation of dailies have fallen sharply. All major
dailies are privately owned. The state-owned news agency TASR, grdl. 1992, in
1997 was joined by the commercial SITA.
The state radio, Slovenský Rozhlas, has four channels, and the state
television, Slovenská televízia, has two. In addition, there are more than 20
local radio stations and over 70 local TV stations. The nationwide commercial
television station Markíza, which began broadcasting in 1996, is considered
among the most influential media in the country.
The media landscape is changing rapidly, and cable and satellite TV are
rapidly gaining ground. This is especially true of Czech and Hungarian channels,
but German commercial channels are also popular.
Slovakia - visual arts and architecture
The artistic and architectural currents in Slovakia are difficult to
distinguish as national, as the country until the 20th century has been part of
the cultural field of tension in Central Europe.
Romanesque art was influenced by Western European influences. From Gothic
times, there are many lavishly built churches, such as the cathedral
in Košice (1300's-1400's). Many of the castles of the period were later adapted to
the ideals of the Renaissance and then of the Baroque. Sculpture and mural were
the preferred artistic expressions; the sculpture came to unfold especially in
the high altars of the churches, of which it is unique in Levoča (1508-17).
In 1536 Bratislava became the capital and coronation city, and there was a
lively cultural exchange between the city and the other artistic centers in this
part of Europe: Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Munich and Venice.
Western Slovakia's wealth of Baroque churches and monasteries is due to the
power of the Catholic Church after the Counter - Reformation, where the
ecclesiastical center was located in Trnava, the political one in Bratislava.
In the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, a growing national
feeling was expressed in the romanticization and historicization of visual art
and architecture. The Danish architect Theophilus Hansen's Lutheran Church in
Kežmarok (1879-92) is characteristic of the eclectic direction in this period,
where the Art Nouveau style also emerged. Some artist groups manifested
themselves with a social and folkloristic starting point.
After 1918, when the country became part of Czechoslovakia, the avant-garde
in both art and architecture could cooperate across borders. It was inspired by
Bauhaus, surrealism and not least folklore, the root of the popular.
The restrictive art policy of the communist regime in the period 1948-89 put
a damper on artistic freedom, but after 1989, artists and architects have once
again been able to express themselves freely. Graphics and book illustration
have always been experimental and of very high quality in the country's
Slovakia - literature
The oldest literature in Slovak territory was religious texts in the first
Slavic written language, Old Church Slavonic, created by Cyril and Methodius,
who in the 860's were sent from the Byzantine Empire to missionize in the Great
After the end of this kingdom, Latin was for a long time the dominant written
language, but from the 1300's to the 1800's. was also Czech, often with a Slovak
touch, commonly used as a literary language. In the Middle Ages, the religious
literature, including saint legends and mystery games, was supplemented by an
oral tradition in Slovak, performed by wandering troubadours.
Among the many different genres of the Renaissance and Baroque literatures
are epic poetry with material from the struggle against the Ottomans, religious
poetry, love poems and lyrical and epic folk poetry in oral tradition.
The first actual Slovak written language, designed in 1787 by the Catholic
priest Anton Bernolák (1762-1813), was used by Ján Hollý (1785-1849) in his
epic poem about the Slovaks' past in the Great Moravian Empire.
The other great classicist poet, Jan Kollár, who in his works emphasized the
common values of the Slavic peoples, and other Protestant writers, however,
wrote in Czech, and only after Ludovít Štúr and others in 1843 had created a
written language based on Central Slovak dialects, it became commonly written in
The 1840's meant not only a culmination of the national revival, but also of
the Romanticism with a number of Slovak literature's greatest poets, Janko Král
'(1822-76), Andrej Sládkovič (1820-72), Samo Chalupka (1812-83), Ján Botto
(1829-81) and the prose writer Ján Kalinčiak (1822-71).
In the period 1867-1918, which was marked by the national oppression of the
Slovaks, realism was the most important literary direction with Pavol
Országh-Hviezdoslav (1849-1921) as perhaps the greatest Slovak poet ever and
Martin Kukučín (1860-1928) as the period's most important author of social
Several female writers, including Božena Slančíková-Timrava (1867-1951),
began to assert itself. Early 1900's. poetry with Ivan Krasko's (1876-1958)
symbolist poems began to develop in the direction of modernist poetry.
Against the background of the changed political framework of the interwar
period and the good opportunities for inspiration from international currents,
Slovak literature underwent a fruitful and versatile development.
These include Ján Smrek's (1898-1982) life-affirming poetry, Emil Boleslav
Lukáč's (1900-79) reflexive poetry, which based on symbolism expressed a
Christian humanism, and the development of a Slovak surrealism from the late
1930's with Rudolf Fabry (1915-82) as one of the most important names.
Social conditions engaged many writers, both from socialist and Christian or
generally humanist views, including Laco Novomeský (1904-76), who was a member
of the left-wing group of avant-garde writers around the magazine DAV, as well
as the innovative prose writers Milo Urban (1904-82), Josef Cíger Hronský
(1896-1960) and Margita Figuli (1909-95).
For a number of years after World War II, many writers dealt with the
conditions of the Slovak Republic 1939-45, including the partisan struggles and
the Slovak uprising at the end of the war, but otherwise the Communist regime's
assertion of socialist realism as a literary ideal from 1948 stagnated. for
literature, until the showdown with Stalinism conditioned a new boom in the
1960's. In addition to a renewal within Slovak surrealism, a literary experiment
took place, inspired by modern French literature.
After the invasion of the Warsaw Pact countries in 1968, the conditions of
literature tightened again, albeit more subdued than in the Czech part of
Czechoslovakia. In addition to authors such as Dominik Tatarka, who due to
their outspoken criticism of the regime could only publish unofficially or
abroad, a number of permitted authors also managed to preserve their artistic
The freedom that came after 1989 meant, on the one hand, that the banned
authors had to be republished, but on the other hand did not lead to any major
break with the trends of the 1980's among the younger writers.
Slovakia - dance
Slovakia has a living dance tradition that can be experienced at the
many festivals. The girls' chain and circle dances, chorovody and koleso,
often have a ritual character and thus belong at weddings and spring parties.
The male dance odzemok is considered one of the country's national
dances. It has roots in the Carpathian shepherd culture and is danced
individually with high jumps or in groups.
Sedliacke tance associated with Central and Eastern Europe are older
forms of rotational dance in which the couple spins around its own axis at a
In northern Slovakia, goralský is danced. approximately In 1830 csárdás with
melodies in a new style began to spread, and around 1900 the repertoire was
enriched with dances such as polka, waltz and mazurka.
Slovakia - music
As a neighbor of Vienna, Bratislava had lively cultural contact with Central
Europe. Church music had since the 600's. mostly been Roman Catholic, and with
the spread of Protestantism in the 1500's. came the reformed church song.
The Baroque was characterized by great vocal and instrumental works by
Italian and German masters, while the classical repertoire was influenced by
Vienna and Bohemia and was performed by noble residence orchestras. In the
1800's. developed a Slovak national music on the basis of folk music on the idea
of Ján Levoslav Bella (1843-1936).
The national direction continued in the 1900's. with Eugen Suchoň (1908-93),
Alexander Moyzes (1906-84) and Ján Cikker (1911-89). In the 1960's, the Slovak
avant-garde broke through with Ilja Zelenka (b. 1932), Miroslav Bázlik (b.
1931), Juraj Beneš (b. 1940) and Vladimír Godár (b. 1956).
Folk music rests partly on an old peasant culture with magical-ritual songs,
and partly on a Wallachian shepherd culture with songs in a sonic and mixolydic
key. Polyphony occurs in both older and newer harmonic form. In recent times,
the so-called neo-Hungarian songs are popular. A distinctive instrument is the
beautifully decorated shepherd's flute fujara. Dance is accompanied by
a bagpipe or by a string ensemble, possibly. with chopping board and clarinet.
Slovakia - film
Only in the 1950's did an actual Slovak film art emerge, and Slovak film
remained in the shadow of the Czech. The breakthrough work was Pavol Bieliks
(1910-83) Štyridsät'štyri (1957, De 44), which tells of an uprising
among Slovak soldiers during the First World War.
During the new wave of the 1960's, the main Slovak directors were Štefan Uher
(1930-93) with the symbolist Organ (1963, The Organ) and Juraj
Jakubisko (b. 1938) with the tragicomic Kristove roky (1967, The Christ
Years); since then can be mentioned Dušan Hanák (b. 1938) with Ružové sny (1976, Rose
Red Dreams) and the young Martin Šulík (b. 1962) with the
Oscar-nominated Všetko čo mám rád (1992, All I Like).