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In conjunction with the Czechs, the Slovaks were part of the nation of Czechoslovakia from 1918 until 1993, when the two countries once more established their separate identities. Since then, major progress has been made in Slovakia's recovery from the decades spent as part of the Soviet bloc. Unemployment remains high at 15 percent but the entire population has access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation. Ranked 64th in world income, Slovakia has a per capita income of $15,700. In 2004, Slovakia joined the European Union (EU). The United Nations Development Programme Human Development Reports rank Slovakia 43rd on overall quality-of-life issues.

The landlocked country has a temperate climate with cool summers and cold, humid winters. The central and northern parts of Slovakia are ...

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