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Anton Bernolák, Ľudovít Štúr, Andrej Hlinka, Štefan Banič, Jozef Miloslav Hurban, Aurel Stodola, Adam František Kollár, Milan Hodža, Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav, Milan Rastislav Štefánik, Gustáv Husák, Alexander Dubček
Total population
c. 6 million
Regions with significant populations
Slovakia Slovakia 4,352,775[1]
 United States 810,000  [2]
 Czech Republic 200,000  [3]
 Canada 100,000  [2]
 United Kingdom 90,000  [4]
 Serbia 52,750  [5]
 Hungary 29,647  [6]
 Austria 28,612  [7]
 Germany 25,200  
 Argentina 22,500  
 Romania 17,226  [8]
 France 16,000  
 Italy 15,000  
 Australia 12,000  
 Ireland 10,801  [9]
 Ukraine 6,397  [2]
 Croatia 4,712  [2]
 Belgium 4,000  [2]
 Brazil 3,000  
 Chile 2,300  
 Poland 2,000  
 Netherlands 1,800  
 Spain 1,600  
 Israel 1,500  
 South Africa 800  
Other 120,000
[citation needed]
Roman Catholic 73%,
Protestant 10.8%,
other or unspecified 3.2%, (including 50,363 Orthodox Christians), theism, agnostic or non-religious 13% (2001 census within Slovakia, extrapolated to outside Slovaks)
Related ethnic groups
Other Slavs, especially other West Slavs
Czechs are the most related[10]

The Slovaks, Slovak people (Slovak Slováci, singular Slovák, feminine Slovenka, plural Slovenky) are a West Slavic people that primarily inhabit Slovakia and speak the Slovak language.

Most Slovaks today live within the borders of the independent Slovakia (circa 5,410,836). There are Slovak minorities in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Serbia and sizeable populations of immigrants and their descendants in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Genetically Slovaks share typical Y Haplogroups of other Slavic nations. R1a is the most frequent Haplogroup among Slovaks ranging from 40-45% of the population. The second most frequent Haplogroup in Slovakia is Haplogroup I2 at about 16% followed closely by R1b at about 14%. Autosomaly Slovaks show closest affinity to their Czech neighbors, followed by Polish, Hungarians, and then other eastern European nations. Slovaks also show close genetic affinities with Eastern Austrians.[11]


Main article: History of Slovakia

Slavs of the Pannonian Basin[edit]

The first known Slavic states on the territory of present-day Slovakia were the Empire of Samo and the Principality of Nitra, founded sometime in the 8th century.

Great Moravia[edit]

Pribina, ruler of Principality of Nitra,[12] established and ruled the Balaton Principality from 839/840 to 861.[13]

Great Moravia (833 - ?907) was a Slavic state in the 9th and early 10th centuries, whose creators were the ancestors of the Czechs and Slovaks.[14][15] Important developments took place at this time, including the mission of Greek monks Cyril and Methodius, the development of the Glagolitic alphabet (an early form of the Cyrillic script), and the use of Old Church Slavonic as the official and literary language. Its formation and rich cultural heritage have attracted somewhat more interest since the 19th century.

The original territory inhabited by the Slavic tribes included not only present-day Slovakia, but also parts of present-day Poland, southeastern Moravia and approximately the entire northern half of present-day Hungary.[16]

Kingdom of Hungary[edit]

Main article: History of Hungary

The territory of present day Slovakia became in two parts to part of the Kingdom of Hungary under Hungarian rule gradually from 907 to the early 14th century (major part by 1100) to Upper Hungary and Royal Hungary under the Habsburgs from 1527 - 1848 (see also Hungarian Revolution of 1848) (see also Royal Hungary, Upper Hungary or Kingdom of Hungary) until the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918.[17] However, according to other historians, from 895 to 902, the whole area of the present-day Slovakia became part of the rising Principality of Hungary, and became (without gradation) part of the Kingdom of Hungary a century later.[18][19][20] A separate entity called Nitra Frontier Duchy, existed at this time within the Kingdom of Hungary. This duchy was abolished in 1107. The territory inhabited by the Slovaks in present-day Hungary was gradually reduced.[21]

When most of Hungary was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1541 (see Ottoman Hungary), Upper Hungary (now the territory of present day Slovakia) became the new center of the "reduced" kingdom[22] that remained under Hungarian, and later Habsburg rule, officially called Royal Hungary.[22] Some Croats settled around and in present-day Bratislava for similar reasons. Also, many Germans settled in the Kingdom of Hungary,[22] especially in the towns, as work-seeking colonists and mining experts from the 13th to the 15th century. Jews and Gypsies also formed significant populations within the territory.[22]. During the period, most of present Slovakia was part of Habsburg rule, but Ottoman ruled southern and southeasternmos parts of it.

After the Ottoman Empire were forced to retreat from present-day Hungary around 1700, thousands of Slovaks were gradually settled in depopulated parts of the restored Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Croatia) under Maria Theresia, and that is how present-day Slovak enclaves (like Slovaks in Vojvodina, Slovaks in Hungary) in these countries arose.

After Transylvania, Upper Hungary (the territory of present day Slovakia), was the most advanced part of the Kingdom of Hungary for centuries (the most urbanized part, intense mining of gold and silver), but in the 19th century, when Buda/Pest became the new capital of the kingdom, the importance of the territory, as well as other parts within the Kingdom fell, and many Slovaks were impoverished. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Slovaks emigrated to North America, especially in the late 19th and early 20th century (between cca. 1880–1910), a total of at least 1.5 million emigrants.

Slovakia exhibits a very rich folk culture. A part of Slovak customs and social convention are common with those of other nations of the former Habsburg monarchy (the Kingdom of Hungary was in personal union with the Habsburg monarchy from 1867 to 1918).


People of Slovakia spent most part of the 20th century within the framework of Czechoslovakia, a new state formed after World War I. Significant reforms and post-World War II industrialization took place during this time. The Slovak language was strongly influenced by the Czech language during this period.[citation needed]

Contemporary Slovaks[edit]

The political transformations of 1989, 1993 restored numerous liberties, which have considerably improved the outlook and prospects of Slovaks.

Contemporary Slovak society organically combines elements of both folk traditions and weestern European lifestyles.

Name and ethnogenesis[edit]

Ján Hollý (portrait from 1885)

The origin of the Slovaks is disputed among scholars and it is very contentious. The term of "Slovak" is problematic in relation of the medieval period, because it is essentially the product of the modern nationalism as it emerged after the 18th century.[23] The national ideology that the Slovaks are descended from the Slavs who inhabited the territory of present-day Slovakia between the 5th-10th centuries has a long story and it is connected with the ambition of the Slovaks to reach self-determination or autonomy within Hungary (mostly under romantic nationalism of the 19th century and during the Slovak national revival). This continuity theory, supporting the supposed former common past of the Czech and Slovak nations, thus also legitimizating the creation of the united Czechoslovak nation,[24] gained political subvention during the formation of Czechoslovakia.[24] After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the formation of independent Slovakia motivated interest in a particularly Slovak national identity.[25] One reflection of this was the rejection of the common Czechoslovak national identity in favour of a pure Slovak one.[25] Although the definition and identification of the inhabitants of Great Moravia proved to be politically imperative and difficult,[26] additionally historical records are anything else but precise in this question,[26] the current consensus[citation needed] among most of the Slovak historians is that Slovaks exist as a people with consciousness of their national identity since the 9th or 10th century,[27] therefore we can identify the Slavic inhabitants living on the territory of this realm as Slovaks.[citation needed]

Svatopluk I
The statue of Svätopluk I

The theory of the "Great Moravian" and "Cyrillo-Methodian" heritage dates back to the 18th century. In his writing (Historia gentis Slavae. De regno regibusque Slavorum [History of the Slavic People: On the kingdom and kings of the Slavs]) Georgius Papanek (or Juraj Papánek) traces the roots of the Slovaks to Great Moravia. [28]

The modern Slovak nation is the result of radical processes of modernization within the Habsburg Empire which culminated in the middle of 19th century.[29] According to the philosopher Ernest Gellner this is contrary to the Slovak myth, which traces the beginnings of the Slovak nation back to the 9th century or even earlier.[29]

The term 'Slovak'[edit]

The Slovaks and Slovenes are the only current Slavic nations that have preserved the old name of the Slavs (singular: slověn) in their name - the adjective "Slovak" is still slovenský and the feminine noun "Slovak" is still Slovenka in the Slovak language; only the masculine noun "Slovak" changed to Slovenin, probably in the High Middle Ages, and finally (under Czech and Polish influence) to Slovák around 1400. For Slovenes, the adjective is still slovenski and the feminine noun "Slovene" is still Slovenka, but the masculine noun has since changed to Slovenec. The Slovak name for their language is slovenčina and the Slovene name for theirs is slovenščina. The Slovak term for the Slovene language is slovinčina; and the Slovenes call Slovak slovaščina. The name is derived from proto-Slavic form slovo "word, talk" (cf. Slovak sluch, which comes from the IE root *ḱlew-). Thus Slovaks as well as Slovenians would mean "people who speak (the same language)", i.e. people who understand each other.

In other languages[edit]

In Hungarian "Slovak" is Tót (pl: tótok), an exonym. It was originally used to refer to all Slavs including Slovenes and Croats, but eventually came to refer primarily to Slovaks. The term is considered offensive in a contemporary context but was used to refer to the Slovaks while modern Slovakia, then called Felvidék, was part of Hungary. Many place names in Hungary such as Tótszentgyörgy, Tótszentmárton, and Tótkomlós still bear the name. Tóth is a common Hungarian surname.

The Slovaks have also historically been variously referred to as Slovyenyn, Slowyenyny, Sclavus, Sclavi, Slavus, Slavi, Winde, Wende, or Wenden.


See also List of Slovaks

The art of Slovakia can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when some of the greatest masterpieces of the country's history were created. Significant figures from this period included the many Masters, among them the Master Paul of Levoča and Master MS. More contemporary art can be seen in the shadows of Koloman Sokol,[30] Albín Brunovský, Martin Benka,[31] Mikuláš Galanda,[30] Ľudovít Fulla.[30] Julius Koller and Stanislav Filko, in the 21st century Roman Ondak, Blazej Balaz. The most important Slovak composers have been Eugen Suchoň, Ján Cikker, and Alexander Moyzes, in the 21st century Vladimir Godar and Peter Machajdík.

The most famous Slovak names can indubitably be attributed to invention and technology. Such people include Jozef Murgaš, the inventor of wireless telegraphy; Ján Bahýľ, Štefan Banič, inventor of the modern parachute; Aurel Stodola, inventor of the bionic arm and pioneer in thermodynamics; and, more recently, John Dopyera, father of modern acoustic string instruments. Hungarian inventors Joseph Petzval and Stefan Jedlik were born of Slovak fathers.

Slovakia is also known for its polyhistors, of whom include Pavol Jozef Šafárik, Matej Bel, Ján Kollár, and its political revolutionaries, such Milan Rastislav Štefánik and Alexander Dubček.

There were two leading persons who codified the Slovak language. The first one was Anton Bernolák whose concept was based on the dialect of western Slovakia (1787). It was the enactment of the first national literary language of Slovaks ever. The second notable man was Ľudovít Štúr. His formation of the Slovak language had principles in the dialect of central Slovakia (1843).

The best known Slovak hero was Juraj Jánošík (the Slovak equivalent of Robin Hood). The prominent explorer and diplomat Móric Beňovský, Hungarian transcript Benyovszky was Slovak as well (he comes from Vrbové in present day Slovakia and is e.g. listed as "nobilis Slavicus - Slovak nobleman" in his secondary school registration).

In terms of sports, the Slovaks are probably best known (in North America) for their ice hockey personalities, especially Stan Mikita, Peter Šťastný, Peter Bondra, Žigmund Pálffy, Marián Hossa and Zdeno Chára. For a list see List of Slovaks. Zdeno Chára is only the second European captain in history of the NHL that led his team to win the Stanley Cup, winning it with Boston Bruins in season 2010–11.

For a list of the most notable Slovak writers and poets, see List of Slovak authors.


There are approximately 5.4 million autochthonous Slovaks in Slovakia. Further Slovaks live in the following countries (the list shows estimates of embassies etc. and of associations of Slovaks abroad in the first place, and official data of the countries as of 2000/2001 in the second place).

The list stems from Claude Baláž, a Canadian Slovak, the current plenipotentiary of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Slovaks abroad (see e.g.: 6):

  • USA (1,200,000 / 821,325*) [*(1)there were, however, 1,882,915 Slovaks in the US according to the 1990 census, (2) there are some 400,000 "Czechoslovaks" in the US, a large part of which are Slovaks] - 19th - 21st century emigrants; see also Census.gov
  • Czech Republic (350,000 / 183,749*) [*there were, however, 314 877 Slovaks in the Czech Republic according to the 1991 census] - due to the existence of former Czechoslovakia
  • Hungary (39,266 / 17,693)
  • Canada (100,000 / 50,860) - 19th - 21st century migrants
  • Serbia (60,000 / 59,021*) [especially in Vojvodina;*excl. the Rusins] - 18th & 19th century settlers
  • Poland (2002) (47,000 / 2,000*) [* The Central Census Commission has accepted the objection of the Association of Slovaks in Poland with respect to this number ]- ancient minority and due to border shifts during the 20th century
  • Romania (18,000 / 17,199) - ancient minority
  • Ukraine (17,000 / 6,397) [especially in Carpathian Ruthenia] - ancient minority and due to the existence of former Czechoslovakia
  • France (13,000/ n.a.)
  • Australia (12,000 / n.a.) - 20th - 21st century migrants
  • Austria (10,234 / 10,234) - 20th - 21st century migrants
  • United Kingdom (10,000 / n.a.)
  • Croatia (5,000 / 4,712) - 18th & 19th century settlers
  • other countries

The number of Slovaks living outside Slovakia in line with the above data was estimated at max. 2,016,000 in 2001 (2,660,000 in 1991), implying that, in sum, there were max. some 6 630 854 Slovaks in 2001 (7,180,000 in 1991) in the world. The estimate according to the right-hand site chart yields an approximate population of Slovaks living outside Slovakia of 1.5 million.

Other (much higher) estimates stemming from the Dom zahraničných Slovákov (House of Foreign Slovaks) can be found on SME.[32]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The Slovak Spectator: Census: Fewer Hungarians, Catholics – and Slovaks, 5 Mar 2012 [1]
  2. ^ a b c d e (2010 census)
  3. ^ "CIA.gov". Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Population by Country of Birth & Nationality, Apr 2009 to Mar 2010 (UK)". Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Hungarian census 2011
  7. ^ Statistik Austria. "STATISTIK AUSTRIA - Bevölkerung nach Staatsangehörigkeit und Geburtsland". Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Transindex.ro". Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "CSO Emigration". Census Office Ireland. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Ethnologue - Slavic languages". www.ethnologue.com. Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  11. ^ http://www.eupedia.com/europe/european_y-dna_haplogroups.shtml
  12. ^ Kirschbaum 1995, p. 25
  13. ^ Bagnell Bury, John (1923). The Cambridge Medieval History. Cambridge: Macmillan. p. 211. 
  14. ^ Ference Gregory Curtis. Chronology of 20th-century eastern European history. Gale Research, Inc., 1994. ISBN 978-0-8103-8879-6, p. 103
  15. ^ Věd), Archeologický Ústav (Československá Akademie (1964). "The Great Moravia Exhibition: 1100 years of tradition of state and cultural life". 
  16. ^ A history of Eastern Europe: crisis and change, Robert Bideleux, Ian Jeffries
  17. ^ Eberhardt 2003, p. 105
  18. ^ Kristó, Gyula (1996). Hungarian History in the Ninth Century. Szeged: Szegedi Középkorász Műhely. p. 229. ISBN 963-482-113-8
  19. ^ "Histria 2001/03. - GYRFFY GYRGY: Honfoglals a Krpt-medencben". Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Kristó, Gyula (1993). A Kárpát-medence és a magyarság régmúltja (1301-ig) (The ancient history of the Carpathian Basin and the Hungarians - till 1301)[3] Szeged: Szegedi Középkorász Műhely. p. 299. ISBN 963-04-2914-4.
  21. ^ Vauchez, André; Barrie Dobson, Richard; Lapidge, Michael (2000). Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages 1. Routledge. p. 1363. ISBN 9781579582821. 
  22. ^ a b c d Eberhardt 2003, p. 104
  23. ^ William Mahoney, The History of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, ABC-CLIO, 2011, p. 34
  24. ^ a b Marsina 1997, p. 17
  25. ^ a b W. Warhola, James (2005). "Changing Rule Between the Danube and the Tatras: A study of Political Culture in Independent Slovakia, 1993 - 2005". The University of Maine. Orono, Maine, United States.: Midwest Political Science Association 2005 Annual National Conference, April 9, 2005. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  26. ^ a b Kirschbaum 1995, p. 35
  27. ^ Kirschbaum 1995, p. 37
  28. ^ Kamusella 2009, p. 134
  29. ^ a b Stefan Auer, Liberal Nationalism in Central Europe, Routledge, 2004, p. 135
  30. ^ a b c Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2009). "Slovakia; Cultural expression". World and Its Peoples 7. Marshall Cavendish. p. 993. ISBN 9780761478836. 
  31. ^ Mikuš 1977, p. 108
  32. ^ (Slovak) SME.sk
  1. Slovaks in the US PDF
  2. Slovaks in Czech Republic
  3. Slovaks in Serbia
  4. Slovaks in Canada
  5. Slovaks in Hungary
  6. Baláž, Claude: Slovenská republika a zahraniční Slováci. 2004, Martin
  7. Baláž, Claude: (a series of articles in:) Dilemma. 01/1999 – 05/2003



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