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The ethnic German population of Slovakia (148,000) was about five percent according to the 1930 census statistics. Most of these Germans were descendants of people who came to Upper Hungary (Slovakia), as early as the 1100's. These ethnic Germans emigrated to Hungary and other lands east of the Elbe seeking fertile farmland on which to settle due to scarcity of land in their native areas. At first, the migrants were people from the Rhineland and Saxony. By the end of the Middle Ages, these ethnic Germans were a significant minority of most East European countries, the areas we now know today as Slovakia, Poland, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania.
During the early Middle Ages, the territory of Upper Hungary was relatively thinly settled by Slovak and Rusyn agriculturalists along with some Magyar landowners and margraves. Compared to the densely populated Rhineland and northern France, Upper Hungary (Slovakia) was a frontier region. The Germans, known for their skills in the crafts, farming and mining, were invited as settlers by a series of Hungarian rulers.