First settled by Celts around 450 B.C., the area became part of the Roman Empire. Slavic people settled in the territory between the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. and have over the years been part of King Samo’s realm (7th century), Moravia, the Magyar kingdom of Hungary, the Habsburg monarchy, Austria-Hungary and Czechoslovakia, which was created in 1918. The leader of the Slovakian government, Jozef Tiso, collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, but there was a resistance movement and Tiso was executed in 1947 for treason and Nazi collaboration.

Czechoslovakia was an Iron Curtain country until 1989; Slovakia became an independent nation in 1993 upon the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in what is known as “the Velvet Divorce.” Slovakia is a mountainous country, with the Carpathians stretching across much of the northern frontier. The official state language is Slovak, but many residents speak Hungarian as well. Slovakia is a parliamentary democratic republic, with both a president and a prime minister, and is an EU member, which is aiding its economic recovery. Slovakia boasts beautiful natural landscapes, mountains and deep caves, medieval castles and towns, spas and ski resorts in its mountain regions.