Slovakia

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Slovakia is a young country — with a long history. A national consciousness began to emerge in the 18th century, however, and Slavic peoples have inhabited the region for millennia, but Slovakia has only been an independent nation since 1993 — and in many ways is still forging its identity.

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Since its break from the former Czechoslovakia, in a peaceful process known as the Velvet Revolution — or Divorce, the economy of Slovakia has steadily improved. With a very high quality of life today, this Central European country has a cost of living akin to that of Western Europe — though salaries, especially outside of the capital of Bratislava, are more in line with those of Eastern Europe, which causes economic tension for many. Having been part of the former Austro-Hungarian empire, Slovaks are socioculturally aligned with Hungarians, less so with Czechs and Austrians.

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Religious freedom is constitutionally guaranteed in Slovakia, though a majority of the populace (62%) identifies as Roman Catholic. Common values include family and other relationships / personal connections, success / status, flexibility, politeness / indirectness, and mutual aid. The country ranks highly for human rights, though the significant Romany population is a focus for discrimination.

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As with much of Europe, Slovakia experienced a 20th century filled with turmoil. Having been a fascist state of Nazi Germany 1939-1945, Czechoslovakia, as the region was then known, was a totalitarian state 1948-1993, when it was dissolved into the two separate nations of Slovakia and Czech Republic (now Czechia). The legacy of this totalitarian era has not yet been fully overcome, and Slovakia still struggles with corruption, intimidation, murder, and graft; the country is still working to develop liberal democracy, market economy, rule of law, and civil society.

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There is a pronounced generational gap in the country. Older Slovaks can be heard fondly reminiscing about their totalitarian past, in terms of stability and safety, high employment and low cost of living, and gender equality. Young Slovaks report a strong European identity, while also seeing the EU as a threat to national sovereignty; they also express a distrust in government and frustration with high unemployment — and, a willingness to trade a measure of democracy for increased economic stability.

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Gender equality in Slovakia is remarkably low, for a post-Communist country: 36.5/100, the second-lowest ranking in all of Europe. Worst areas: time / responsibility balance, a limit of available areas of study in tertiary education, low salary and pension with high poverty rates, and low government representation  with just 20% of parliament seats held by women. (The country does currently have its first female president, though the prime minister is head-of-state.) Other areas of concern: 52.8% labour market (EU target: 75%) , with discrimination in economic opportunities (score: 26); violence against women; distinct social roles. Improvement has been seen in projects for female entrepreneurship, IT/RD fields, men’s involvement in childcare, decrease in pay gap, and a decrease in gender-based violence.

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According to Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions model, the country scores 100% for both power distance (hierarchical nature) and masculinity (competitive / achievement-oriented, assertive, status-conscious), with a long-term focus and moderate risk aversion; the society rates near-equally between individualism and collectivism, and low for indulgence. Slovakia is a young nation in terms of independence, with great potential; its rich history and living traditions, as well as a strong family structure based on an earlier kinship system, provide a solid foundation.

~EWP