"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Reader, 121 on the nation list

The High Tatra Mountains, northern Slovakia
I want to go there. So I thought when a reader from the 121st country to click on the blog arrived...Slovakia. Of course, when I grew up it was part of Czechoslovakia, carrying a long history of invasion and turmoil in central Europe. But not now.
Map from the CIA
After a "Velvet Divorce" as part of the "Velvet Revolution" in 1992, the former country became two. It had the highest economic growth rate for three years  in the late 2000s, before voting against the Greece bailout by the EU. But it is still flourishing, and made recent news for women business people emulating Steve Jobs. See the New York Times article.
Ancient castle overlooking Danube, in capital of Bratislava
originally build including stones from Roman ruins.
It's taken a long time to get there, since the Slavs began arriving in the area in the fifth and sixth centuries. It's been part of various empires and invasions, including the Moravian Empire, testified to by castles on many hills. any castles. Longest was the Kingdom of Hungary from 1,000 to 1919. Relatively peaceful after WWI when it became Czechoslovakia, the country was sold down the river by Britain in 1938 when Chamberlain gave in to Hitler at Munich. Slovakia caved to Hitler during WWII.
A communist coup in 1938 put the country under the control of the USSR until 1989-90 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the dissolution of the USSR.
Now the country has about 5.4 million people and is somewhere between the size of South Carolina and Mississippi. Slovakia has its own website or if you spell it in Slovak, Slovensko .  More about the country can be found on the European website.
There is one famous Slovakian you've heard of--Andy Warhol, whose parents were Slovakians. Another Slovak of note, to whom many aviators owe their lives, was  Štefan Banič--who invented the parachute in 1913.
The country's flag colors echo several Slavic countries, with white, blue and red. Except for the Slovak coat of arms, it would be identical to Russia. It's also very similar to Slovenia's flag, a country it is often confused with, even by world leaders. 
The Slovak name for the country, Slovensko, is identical to Slovenian word for the Slovenian language,That’s just one of the near-similarities between Slovenia and Slovakia that cause confusion for outsiders.  And the fact that they’re both in the EU, both in NATO, both formerly part of Austria-Hungary, and both border Austria.

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