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At these upper elevations, particularly in the Tatras, the tree cover below the timberline consists largely of dwarf pine.

At about 7,500 feet (2,300 metres), alpine grasses and low-growing shrubs give way to lichens.

This was in the summer of 1968, when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia and crushed the Prague Spring, the period during which a series of reforms were implemented by Communist Party leader Alexander Dubček, arguably the best-known Slovak in the world.

Hunting is prohibited in the parks, and some animals, such as the chamois, are protected nationwide.The highest elevations support taiga and tundra vegetation.The timberline runs at about 5,000 feet (1,500 metres). It is roughly coextensive with the historic region of Slovakia, the easternmost of the two territories that from 1918 to 1992 constituted Czechoslovakia.The short history of independent Slovakia is one of a desire to move from mere autonomy within the Czechoslovak federation to sovereignty—a history of resistance to being called “the nation after the hyphen.” Although World War II thwarted the Slovaks’ first vote for independence in 1939, sovereignty was finally realized on January 1, 1993, slightly more than three years after the Velvet Revolution—the collapse of the communist regime that had controlled Czechoslovakia since 1948.

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