Slovakia Unitary state

History and trends

Slovakia is a parliamentary Republic. Its Constitution was adopted on 1 September 1992 and amended in March 1999.

Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Slovaks opted to enter into union with the Czechs (1918). This decision gave birth to the First Czechoslovak Republic, although the state was beset by tensions between different nationalities. The Slovak national movement became increasingly radical and sided with the Nazis in 1938-1939, at which point the Slovak Republic became a dictatorship under Jozef Tito, with close ties to Hitler’s Germany.

Following the reinstatement of the Czechoslovak Republic, Slovakia – which was less developed than its Czech neighbour – underwent rapid, centralised, state-led industrialisation. When the two states decided to go their separate ways following the Velvet Revolution of 1989-1990, Slovakia was in desperate need of restructuring. Slovakia’s smooth path to independence (1993) paved the way for economic reforms and, later, membership of the EU alongside the Czech Republic in 2004.

Before 1949, the territory was divided into counties – an arrangement that dated back to the state of Great Moravia in the 9th century. On 1 January 1949, a small number of regions were created. The western part of Czechoslovakia comprised the regions of Bratislava, Banská Bystrica, Košice, Nitra, Prešov and Žilina.

A new system of divisions came into force on 30 June 1960. Under this arrangement, there were just four large regions, which corresponded to the statistical division mentioned above. The previous arrangement was briefly restored between July 1969 and December 1970, but the four-region model remained in force until 24 July 1996, when the current system was introduced.

The districts are divided into 140 villages, each headed by a primator, and 2,751 municipalities led by a starosta.

Slovakia’s smallest administrative unit is the cadastral area, which in most cases corresponds to a village or city district.

In 2008, 56% of the population lived in towns and cities. The country’s biggest city and capital, Bratislava, has a population of more than 425,000, making it the 66th largest city in Europe. The wider urban area, with a population in excess of 600,000, is the 110th biggest conurbation in Europe (Eurostat figures).

These local governments are grouped together under four large administrative regions or “oblast” (NUTS level 2) and 79 administrative districts or “okresy” (LAU level 1).

The Eurostat Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics is used to describe Slovakia’s divisions, but there is no level 1 division (it applies to the country as a whole).