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Slovakia joins the EU Go Back
A festive session of the Slovak Parliament in Bratislava Castle, Mass Te Deum in the Gothic St. Martin cathedral, an evening concert in the National Theater and a grand reception for Slovak and EU officials and diplomats - are all part of the official program for April 30th, a day before Slovakia joins the European Union.

But there will also be in Slovakia, a small central European post-communist country of 5.4 million inhabitants, a lot of various unofficial nice presentations, shows and concerts which are organized by local governments, town councils, churches and non profit associations. Most of them will be on historical squares in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Bratislava is a multi-cultural and multi-national town - a mixture of Slovak, Czech, Austrian, German and Hungarian traditions and impacts. Slovakia is very young independent country founded in 1993, and had formed a part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy till 1918 and then a part of Czechoslovakia between 1918-1939 and 1945-1992.

Austrian Airlines, based only 35 miles from Bratislava, starts to fly from Bratislava to Western Europe on May 2nd, bringing from every capital of EU countries a package of earth, which will be poured out on the newly renovated Coronation Hill on the strand of river Danube in Bratislava. The hill is a historical place, where ten Hungarian kings and nine queens were crowned between 1530 and 1830 years. Poszony the Hungarian name for Bratislava, or Pressburg in German, was at that time a provincial safe residence of Hungarian Kings, when the Turks army battled over Budapest. At Coronation Hill every summer the Monarchy is commemorated in a colorful medieval coronation march through Bratislava's old city center, an event that attracts a lot of tourists.

Some other shows will be on the places close to Bratislava. At the three countries border stone (Slovakia, Hungary and Austria) on the field behind Bratislava, there is to be a meeting of friendship for citizens of the three neighboring nations, and at the Dunube river side, under the ruin of old borderline and guard castle Devin, local voluntary firemen will plant a symbolical spring tree.

Common programs, concerts and sport matches are prepared on the Slovak-polish border in the high mountain region High Tatras. There will be a lot of fireworks close the borders to Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Austria at midnight and a symbolical erasing the border between these countries.

The celebrations follow in the next day too. In seven cross-border railway stations in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia there are to be exhibitions of paintings, under the title EU & YOU.

May 2nd is an important day for Slovak air traffic. Austrian Airlines and German airline Lufthansa will start scheduled flights from Bratislava to London, Paris, Brussels and Munich. In Bratislava based low fare airline SkyEurope Airlines will start new flights from its bases in Budapest and Warsaw.

More than 28 million foreign visitors come to Slovakia each year, but most are transit visitors or one-day visitors from neighbor countries Czech, Hungary, Poland, Austria, or the visitors of Slovak relations. But it is very cheep and ideal country for family soft summer or winter holiday. Slovak mountain ranges are dissected by over a thousand kilometers of tourist paths and tracks; long tracks for bicycling are along River Danube and under the mountains. There are opportunities for skiing, mountaineering, rafting, para gliding, yachting and golf in Slovakia; it is a country for gourmets and lovers of wine too.

There are nine national parks, under special rules preserved pearls of the virgin nature and nice small medieval settlements with unique architecture. Five localities are included in the UNESCO list of the world cultural and natural heritage. Slovak health spas, exploiting hot mineral waters, are popular for German, Israeli and also Kuwait guests.

Slovakia is generally little known in other European and overseas countries, because that country was behind communist iron curtain for more than 40 years. For that reason the Slovak government and official Slovak tourist board are preparing some new presentations abroad.

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