Slovakia //

The Velvet Divorce

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The complexities of central European politics can be baffling to outsiders. In fact, even those who knew their Slovaks from their Slovenes (George W Bush famously mixed up the two) were surprised when, on New Year’s Day 1993, after seventy years of (sometimes turbulent) cohabitation, the Czechs and Slovaks went their separate ways and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. To the outsider, at least, it had looked like a match made in heaven. Yet just three years after the Velvet Revolution – when true to their pacifist past, the Czechs and Slovaks had shrugged off forty-one years of Communist rule without so much as a shot being fired – came the Velvet Divorce. In the following decade, the two republics continued to grow apart, economically and politically, only to find themselves reunited within the European Union, when they both joined in 2004. For the tourist at least one key difference is the use of the euro in Slovakia whilst the Czech’s persist with the koruna or Czech crown.

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