HistoryThe area around today's Žilina was inhabited in the late Stone Age (around 20 000 BC). In the 5th century Slavs started to move into the area. However, the first written reference to Žilina was in 1208 as terra de Selinan. The city started to develop around year 1300, and according to records in 1312 it was already a town. In 1321, King Charles I made Žilina a free royal town. On 7 May 1381 King Louis I issued Privilegium pro Slavis which made the Slovak inhabitants equal to the German colonists by allocating half of the seats at the city council to Slovaks. The town was burned in 1431 by the Hussites. During the 17th century Žilina gained position as a centre of manufacturing, trade and education and during the baroque age many monasteries and churches were built as well as the Budatín Castle. In the Revolutions of 1848, Slovak volunteers, part of the Imperial Army, won a battle near the city against Hungarian honveds and gardists. The city boomed in the second half of the 19th century as new railway tracks were built: the Košice-Bohumín Railway was finished in 1872 and the railway to Bratislava in 1883, and new factories started to spring up, for example the drape-producing factory Slovena (1891) and the Považie chemical works (1892). It was one of the first municipalities to sign the Martin Declaration (30 October 1918), and until March 1919 it was the seat of the Slovak government. On 6 October 1938, shortly after the Munich Agreement, autonomy of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia was declared in Žilina. After the Second World War, the city experienced a boom, with many new factories, schools, and housing estates being built. It was the seat of the Žilina Region from 1949-1960 and again since 1996. Today Žilina is the fourth largest city in Slovakia, the third most important industrial centre and the seat of a university, the Žilinská univerzita (founded in 1953). Since 1990 the historical centre of the city has been largely restored and the city has built trolleybus lines.
 GeographyŽilina lies at an altitude of 342 metres (1,122 ft) above sea level and covers an area of 80.03 square kilometres (30.9 sq mi). It is located in the Upper Váh region (Slovak: Horné Považie) at the confluence of three rivers: Váh, flowing from east into south-west, Kysuca, flowing from north and Rajčanka rivers from south, in the Žilina Basin. The city is surrounded by these mountain ranges: Malá Fatra, Súľovské vrchy, Javorníky and Kysucká vrchovina. Protected areas nearby include: Strážov Mountains Protected Landscape Area, Kysuce Protected Landscape Area and Malá Fatra National Park. There are two hydroelectric dams on the Váh river around Žilina: the Žilina dam in the East and the Hričov dam in the West.
 ClimateŽilina lies in the north temperate zone and has a continental climate with four distinct seasons. It is characterized by a significant variation between hot summers and cold, snowy winters. Average temperature in July is 18 °C (64 °F), in January −4 °C (24.8 °F). Average annual rainfall is 650 - 700 mm (25.5–27.5 in), most of the rainfall is in June and in the first half of July. Snow cover lasts from 60 to 80 days per year.