During much of the country's older history,
Slovakia was ruled by Hungarian rulers. Since the
collapse of the Habsburg Empire in 1918, Slovaks and
Czechs formed a common state: Czechoslovakia, which
became a leading industry. After Nazi Germany annexed
the Czech Republic in 1939, Slovakia formally became an
independent state that was fought on the Germans' side
in World War II. After the war, Czechoslovakia
Slavic groups migrated into the area that today
constitutes Slovakia during the 500 or 600 century AD. A
few centuries later, they became part of the
Stormähriska empire, one of the earliest Slavic
state formations, with the center around Nitra.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Slovakia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
When the Hungarians in 907 defeated the Grand Moors,
the Slovaks came under Hungarian supremacy. This would
be in various forms until 1918. In connection with the
conquest of large parts of southeastern Europe by the
Ottomans (Turks), the Hungarian Empire was divided in
the 1520s. The northern and western parts of Hungary, to
which Slovakia belonged, fell under the aegis of the
Since the Ottomans had taken Budapest in 1529, the
Hungarian part of the Habsburg Empire came to have its
center in Slovak territories. From 1526 to 1786,
Bratislava served as Hungarian capital under the names
Pozsony or Pressburg.
The Slovakian cities were dominated by German or
Hungarian-speaking bourgeoisie, while the Slovak culture
lived in the countryside.
A national Slovak movement first emerged during the
19th century. As a Slovak written language developed,
the Slovaks began to demand political influence.
When the double-monarchy of Austria-Hungary
was established in 1867, Hungary gained control
of the Slovak territories. The Hungarian rulers ran a
campaign to make Slovakia more Hungarian. Schools with
teaching in Slovak were closed and Slovak politicians
were persecuted. Many intellectual Slovaks emigrated.
During the First World War, many Slovaks joined the
Czechs' struggle for an independent state. After the
collapse of the Habsburg Empire, Czechoslovakia
was formed in October 1918. Slovakia formally joined and
in 1919, Carpathian-Rutiania (today
located in western Ukraine) was also incorporated. Czech
Tomáš Masaryk was named the country's first president.
During the interwar period Czechoslovakia became one
of Europe's leading industrial nations, but the social
divisions within the country were large. Slovakia's
income per inhabitant was less than half that of the
Czechs. The Czechs dominated industry and management.
Over time, the Slovaks became radicalized. The
Slovak National People's Party, which demanded
autonomy, became the leading Slovak party with a program
that can almost be described as a mixture of
nationalism, Catholicism and fascism.
In 1938, the German leader Adolf Hitler demanded that
certain areas in western Czechoslovakia where many
ethnic Germans lived should be incorporated with
Germany. Under strong pressure from Germany, France and
the United Kingdom signed in September 1938 under the
so-called Munich Agreement, in which they agreed that
Czechoslovakia was cut up and forced to relinquish areas
along the border. In March 1939 Hitler also occupied
Bohemia and the Moravia, that is most of today's Czech
Republic. Hungary and Poland soon annexed parts of
Slovakia. The Slovak National People's Party leader,
Catholic priest Jozef Tiso, then began negotiations with
Germany. Hitler agreed that a separate Slovak state
should be founded, led by Tiso. Slovakia became thus for
the first time formally independent in 1939, but in
practice the country was a fascist sound state to
Slovakia entered World War II on Germany's side. Tens
of thousands of Slovak Jews and Roma were deported to
German concentration camps. Gradually, however,
resistance to Tiso's regime grew. In August 1944, an
uprising broke out after two months of German troops. In
October 1944, Soviet troops invaded Slovakia and
expelled the Germans.
After the end of the war, Czechoslovakia was restored
and the country regained the territories occupied by
Hungary. Czechoslovakia, on the other hand, was forced
to relinquish Carpathian Route to the Soviet Union.