|Form of government||republic|
|Time zone||UTC + 1 CETUTC + 2 CEST (March – October)|
|Telephone area code||00421 (Source: ALLCITYCODES)|
The Slovak Republic is located in eastern Central Europe and, with an area of 49.036 km², is slightly larger than Switzerland. The country borders Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to the south-west and the Czech Republic to the north-west.
The landscape of the Slovak Republic is characterized by the mountains of the Western Carpathians, the western part of the Carpathian Arch. The western Carpathians are divided into numerous mountain ranges by numerous basins and valleys. The Carpathian Arch begins in the west of Slovakia with the Little Carpathians, which reach heights of up to 750 m. The White Carpathians, the Javornik Mountains, the High Tatras and the Lower Beskids Mountains follow in the north towards the north. In the High Tatras is the highest point in the Slovak Republic, the Gerlsdorfer Spitze at 2,655 m. The Inner Carpathian Arch includes the Small and Large Tatras, the Low Tatras (up to approx. 2,000 m) and the Slovak Ore Mountains, which reach heights up to around 1,470 m.
Extensive plains can only be found in the south-west and east of the country, where Slovakia has a share in the Little Hungarian Lowlands (Kisalföld) and in Alföld, the Great Hungarian Lowlands. A large part of the rivers that originate in the Western Carpathians drain towards the south to the Danube, which partially marks the course of the border with neighboring Hungary. The longest river in Slovakia is the Waag (V¨¢h), which originates in the Low Tatras and flows into the Danube after a length of around 390 km.
The capital Bratislava (Bratislava) is located in the southwest of the country on the banks of the Danube.
The Slovak Republic has a subcontinental climate with warm summers and cold winters. In the capital, Pressburg, the average January values are around freezing, in July an average of 20 °C is measured. The amount of precipitation varies greatly from region to region: while in the higher altitudes the mountains fall up to 2,000 mm annually, the annual rainfall in the capital Bratislava is around 600 mm. The driest areas are in the lowlands on the east side of the mountains (up to 500 mm).
Flora and fauna
Around 40% of the country’s territory is covered by forests. From the original deciduous forests with oaks and hornbeams, which grew up to a height of approx. 500 m, only remnants are left, since the lower regions of the country are densely populated and intensively managed. Today, coniferous forests predominate, which grow to a height of about 1,500 m. Above the tree line there are isolated mountain pines and stone pine, then alpine mats. Large parts of the forest stand are threatened by forest extinction.
Wolves, brown bears, lynxes and wild cats still live in the sparsely populated regions in the mountains. Chamois, mouflon, marmots, golden eagles and capercaillie and black grouse can be found in the Alpine regions. Wild boars, deer, foxes and rabbits are typical residents of the lower regions. White storks, herons, cormorants and ospreys live along the rivers.
Around a fifth of the country’s area is declared a protected area. There are five national parks, including the Pieniny National Park north of the High Tatras in the Slovak-Polish border area and the Vysok¨¦ Tatry National Park.
Around 5.43 million people live in the Slovak Republic, almost 60% of them in cities. The largest city is Bratislava with around 600,000 residents in the metropolitan area, other cities include Koşice with 242,000 residents and Preşov with around 95,000. The most densely populated are the plains in the south-west and east of the country and the river valleys within the mountains. Large parts of the mountains are not populated at all.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 85% of the population are Slovaks who belong to the West Slav peoples. The largest minority with just under 10% are Hungarians, who mainly live in the southwest of the country. The second largest ethnic minority are the Sinti and Roma. Smaller groups of Czechs, Ukrainians, Poles and Germans also live in the country. Slovak, which is closely related to Czech, is the official language of Slovakia. The ethnic minorities also use their own languages; Hungarian has been the second official language in the south since 1999. Almost 70% of the population are followers of the Roman Catholic Church, approx. 10% are Protestants, 4% are Orthodox Christians. There are a total of 15 recognized religious communities.
Population growth is only 0.15% annually, which is due to the low birth rate. The average life expectancy is 79 for women and 71 for men. Children from the age of six are required to attend school for 10 years, so that practically all Slovaks over the age of 15 can read and write.
According to the 1993 constitution, Slovakia is a parliamentary republic with a multi-party system. The head of state is the President (Ivan Gasparovic since June 2004), who is directly elected by the people for a term of five years. He appoints the Prime Minister to head the government (Robert Fico since April 2012), usually the representative of the strongest party in parliament.
The legislature lies with the parliament, which consists of one chamber (National Council, Narodna Rada Slovenskej Republiky). The 150 MPs are elected by the people through a proportional system for a four-year term. The main parties are the Social Democratic Party (SMER-SD), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and the Ordinary People and Independent People (OL’aNO).
The Slovak Republic is divided into eight regions (Kraje).
Contrary to unfavorable forecasts, the economy of the Slovak Republic has experienced a significant upswing since independence in 1993. Although the official negotiations for accession to the European Union only started in 2000, they were able to be completed on time so that the country could become a member of the EU on May 1, 2004. Slovakia introduced the euro on January 1, 2009. The only problem remains high unemployment (13.5%). Economic growth in 2012 was 2.5%.
Agriculture in Slovakia is traditionally poorly educated and contributes just under 4% of gross domestic product (GDP), but also employs only 3% of the workforce. Around a third of the country is used as agricultural land. Among other things, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, vine crops, tobacco and hops are grown. Cattle and pig breeding are important in livestock farming.
The various areas of heavy industry in particular have been intensively expanded since the 1950s. After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc markets, these energy and raw material-intensive areas of Slovak industry almost came to a standstill: The share of industrial production in GDP fell from over 60% in 1991 to 24% in 2000. Many of the companies are now considered outdated and no longer competitive. Today, mechanical and vehicle engineering, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry and metal production are of particular importance. In 2011 the share was again at 35%. The country has resources of brown coal, copper and iron ores, lead, zinc, magnesium and mercury. The energy supply is secured by coal, hydro and nuclear power plants.
The service sector was able to increase its share of GDP to around 61% in parallel with the decline in industry.
Machines, vehicles, industrial primary products and raw materials are mainly imported. The most important trading partners for imports and exports (machines and means of transport, industrial intermediate products, finished goods) are the other EU countries (especially Germany), the Czech Republic and Russia.
The road network covers a total of around 25,600 kilometers. Around 3,600 km are available on rails. There are five international airports, the largest of which is located in the capital, Bratislava. The most important waterway in the country is the Danube, through which Slovakia is connected to several countries.
The currency is the euro.