Oriental studies acquired institutional status in the Slovak Academy of Sciences on 1 March 1960, when the Department of Oriental Studies of the Slovak Academy of Sciences was established. Professor Ján Bakoš, an important Arabist, Hebraist and Semitologist, stood at its birth. The department was dissolved in 1982 as a result of a badly considered and inexpert intervention in the structure of the social science part of the academy. The department was restored only in 1990 after extensive social changes. Since 1 January 2005, it has existed under the name: Institute of Oriental Studies of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (IOS SAS).

The institute is responsible for comprehensive scientific research into various disciplines of Oriental studies in the fields of the history, ethnography, philology, philosophy and art of the nations and countries of Africa, Asia and Oceania with an emphasis on the Far East, Middle East, South-East Asia, North and Sub-Saharan Africa. This research covers all historical periods from the earliest Oriental civilizations to the present day.

The IOS SAS publishes two peer-reviewed scientific periodicals. The journal Asian and African Studies (AAS) has been published since 1965. It presents the results of scientific research by Slovak and foreign Orientalists. AAS is included in numerous international databases. Since 2010, the IOS SAS has published the series of scientific monographs: Studia Orientalia Monographica, which is oriented towards publishing scientific studies of greater length in book form. Both scientific periodicals have appeared in foreign languages from the beginning.

The work of the IOS SAS also includes educational activity in the fields of postgraduate study, lectures and teaching at Slovak universities. Members of the IOS SAS were involved in the establishment of new departments in the Slovak universities in Bratislava, Trnava, Banská Bystrica and Nitra. Postgraduate study at the institute included philological study programmes of Oriental languages and literatures at first and later a general study programme with an orientation to Oriental history. Holders of these postgraduate degrees find application as highly qualified experts in the scientific research of the SAS, at Slovak universities, in the state administration, Slovak diplomatic service and the private sector.

Not the least important activity of the IOS SAS is popularization of scientific information for the wider Slovak public. Researchers from the institute make the latest findings from scientific research and current events in Eastern countries accessible to the lay public through book and magazine publications, translations, interviews in the electronic and printed mass media, cooperation with publishers, lectures, exhibitions and so on.