The Report introduces the reader to a people and a country that until recently were hidden as a rare gem in the heart of Europe. For over a thousand years, this "terra incognita" has been bonded with the Slovak people that, despite a harsh thousand-year oppression and unpropitious fate, has lived to see a time when it can mould its fate and decide on the country's future. Present-day Slovakia and its people do not conceal bold ambitions to prove their vitality to the world that is, above all, rooted in the people´s hard-work and perseverance. These features have been moulded over time under complex circumstances which have made man the greatest asset of this country. The authors of the Slovak Human Development Report have attempted to draw a picture of Slovakia in the process of transformation whose objective is to provide the citizens with a new quality of life by means of a social marketoriented economy integrated into political, security, and economic structures of Western Europe. Beyond doubt, the objective of human development in Slovakia is the expansion of knowledge and choice opportunities of man. The basis of this development is the development of democracy and the establishment of the state of law. In a concentrated form, presented Report elucidates the human development status leaning on demographic, health, and social statistical data of the past five years. It, too, provides a characteristics of the current development of the intellectual potential in Slovakia and trends of the Slovak society development. Also, the Report deliberates on environmental issues as it is the environment significantly impacting the quality of life and further prospects of human development. In conjunction with the upcoming HABITAT II conference, the Report devotes special attention to human settlement and housing issues. Deeply convinced that the presented Report will contribute to a better understanding of the Slovak Republic, one of the youngest members of the U.N. family of countries, our particular thanks are due to a team of associates that have participated in the Report preparation and, above all, the UNDP, for having initiated the Report idea and funding that has made its materialization possible.