The Slavs arrived in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 5th and 6th centuries during the migration period. In the course of history, various parts of today's Slovakia belonged to Samo's Empire (the first known political unit of Slavs), Principality of Nitra (as independent polity, as part of Great Moravia and as part of Hungarian Kingdom), Great Moravia, Kingdom of Hungary, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Habsburg Empire, and Czechoslovakia. A separate Slovak state briefly existed during World War II, during which Slovakia was a dependency of Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1944. From 1945 Slovakia once again became a part of Czechoslovakia. The present-day Slovakia became an independent state on 1 January 1993 after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
Radiocarbon dating puts the oldest surviving archaeological artifacts from Slovakia – found near Nové Mesto nad Váhom – at 270,000 BC, in the Early Paleolithic era. These ancient tools, made by the Clactonian technique, bear witness to the ancient habitation of Slovakia.
Other stone tools from the Middle Paleolithic era (200,000 – 80,000 BC) come from the Prévôt (Prepoštská) cave near Bojnice and from other nearby sites.The most important discovery from that era is a Neanderthal cranium (c. 200,000 BC), discovered near Gánovce, a village in northern Slovakia.
The Slovak landscape is noted primarily for its mountainous nature, with the Carpathian Mountains extending across most of the northern half of the country. Amongst these mountain ranges are the high peaks of the Fatra-Tatra Area (including Tatra mountains, Greater Fatra and Lesser Fatra), Slovak Ore Mountains, Slovak Central Mountains or Beskids. The largest lowland is the fertile Danubian Lowland in the southwest, followed by the Eastern Slovak Lowland in the southeast.
The Slovak economy is considered an advanced economy, with the country dubbed the "Tatra Tiger". Slovakia transformed from a centrally planned economy to a market-driven economy. Major privatizations are nearly complete, the banking sector is almost completely in private hands, and foreign investment has risen.
The Slovak constitution guarantees freedom of religion. In 2011, 62.0% of Slovaks identified themselves as Roman Catholics, 5.9% as Protestants, 3.8% as Greek Catholics, 0.9% as Orthodox, 13.4% identified themselves as atheists and 10.6% did not answer the question about their belief. In 2004, about one third of the then church members regularly attended church services. The pre–World War II population of the country included an estimated 90,000 Jews (1.6% of the population). After the genocidal policies of the Nazi era, only about 2,300 Jews remain today (0.04% of the population).
St. Apostle Altar in Church of St. Jacob
Janko Kráľ Orchard
Ochtinská Aragonite Cave