SLOVAKIA

Date of establishment: January 1, 1993

Brief history:

5th to 4th century BCE: The territory of present-day Slovakia was inhabited by Celts, specifically the Boii tribe, who established fortified settlements known as oppida.

1st to 4th century CE: The southern part of the territory became part of the Roman Empire, located in the province of Pannonia. However, the majority of present-day Slovakia was outside the Roman Empire’s direct control and was inhabited by various Germanic tribes.

5th to 9th century: Slovakia was settled by Slavic tribes. In the 9th century, it became part of Great Moravia, a significant Slavic state that played a crucial role in the Christianization of Central Europe.

10th to 11th century: After the decline of Great Moravia, the territory of present-day Slovakia was gradually incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary, where it remained for several centuries.

16th century: The Reformation spread to Slovakia, influencing religious and cultural situations. Lutheranism became particularly influential in the northern and eastern parts of Slovakia.

19th century: The Slovak national and cultural revival emerged, emphasizing the Slovak language and culture. Key figures in this movement included Ľudovít Štúr, who codified the modern Slovak language.

1918: After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire following World War I, Czechoslovakia was established, including the territories of Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia.

1939: Following the Munich Agreement and subsequent disintegration of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia became a nominally independent state under strong German influence, while parts of southern Slovakia were annexed by Hungary.

1945: After World War II, Czechoslovakia was re-established as a socialist state, and Slovakia became one of its constituent republics.

1969: Czechoslovakia became a federal republic consisting of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic, granting Slovakia greater autonomy.

1993: Following the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Slovak Republic emerged as an independent state on January 1, 1993.

2004: Slovakia joined the European Union and NATO, marking its integration into Western political and economic structures.

 

International abbreviation: SK

 

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Slovakia adopted the euro as its official currency on January 1, 2009. Prior to switching to the euro, the Slovak koruna (SKK) was the national currency.

 

Internet domain: .sk

 

Dialing code: +421

 

Time zone: +1 GMT

 

Geography:

Slovakia is located in Central Europe. It borders the Czech Republic to the northwest, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, and Austria to the southwest.

Slovakia is a predominantly mountainous country with numerous mountain ranges. The highest range is the High Tatras, situated in the north of the country, which includes the highest peak, Gerlachovský štít, at 2,655 meters (8,711 feet). Other significant mountain ranges include the Low Tatras, the Slovak Ore Mountains, and the Lesser Carpathians.

Significant rivers flowing through Slovakia include the Danube, which forms part of the southern border and is one of the most important waterways in Europe. Other major rivers include the Váh, which is the longest river entirely within Slovakia, the Hron, and the Hornád.

Slovakia has several natural and artificial lakes. The largest natural lake is Veľké Hincovo Pleso in the High Tatras range. The Tatra lakes are often of glacial origin. Additionally, there are significant artificial reservoirs like Orava, Liptovská Mara, and Zemplínska Šírava, which are important for flood control, irrigation, and recreation.

 

Highest peak: Gerlachovský štít at 2 654 meters (8 707 feet) above sea level

Gerlachovský štít is not only the highest peak in Slovakia but also in the entire High Tatras range and the highest point of the entire Carpathian arc.

 

Climate:

Winters in Slovakia can be cold, especially in the mountains, where heavy snowfall is common. In the High Tatras and other mountainous regions, average winter temperatures can range from -10°C to -5°C (14°F to 23°F). Lowlands and valleys experience milder winter conditions, with average temperatures ranging from -2°C to 3°C (28°F to 37°F).

Summers are warm, particularly in July and August. Average temperatures can reach 20-25°C (68-77°F), but can be higher, sometimes exceeding 30°C (86°F) during heatwaves.

Spring and autumn are generally pleasant, with mild temperatures. Spring temperatures average 10-15°C (50-59°F), while autumn temperatures range from 10-20°C (50-68°F). Autumn is often associated with beautiful colored leaves on the trees.

The western part of Slovakia tends to have more precipitation due to the influence of the Carpathian Mountains, while the eastern part can experience drier conditions. Annual precipitation varies, with the western regions receiving around 600-800 mm (24-31 inches) and the eastern regions receiving around 500-700 mm (20-28 inches).

 

Fauna and flora:

In the High Tatras, various mountain animals can be found, including chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), marmots, foxes, lynxes, and mountain hares. The Tatra chamois, an endemic subspecies, is particularly notable.

In certain parts of Slovakia, particularly forested areas, brown bears (Ursus arctos) can be encountered. They are mainly found in the Carpathian Mountains and other remote forested regions.

Due to the abundance of rivers and lakes, Slovakia hosts many species of water birds, such as herons, ducks, swans, and storks. The Danube River and its wetlands are particularly important habitats for these birds.

In remote areas of Slovakia, wolves (Canis lupus) can be encountered, although they are relatively rare and their populations are recovering. They are mainly found in the Carpathian Mountains and other remote forested areas.

Various species of fish inhabit Slovakia’s rivers and lakes, including trout (Salmo trutta), perch (Perca fluviatilis), pike (Esox lucius), and carp (Cyprinus carpio).

Slovakia is known for its wealth of medicinal herbs, traditionally used in folk medicine. These include chamomile, St. John’s wort, and yarrow, among others.

Different species of deciduous trees grow in Slovakia, including beech (Fagus sylvatica), oak (Quercus spp.), maple (Acer spp.), and lime (Tilia spp.).

Coniferous forests, especially in the mountains, are also widespread. These include pine (Pinus spp.), spruce (Picea abies), and fir (Abies spp.).

 

Agriculture:

The cultivation of cereals such as wheat, barley, rye, and oats is a traditional and important part of Slovak agriculture. These crops are primarily grown in the lowland areas, which are more suitable for large-scale farming.

Maize is another significant crop, mainly grown in the lowlands of southern and western Slovakia, where the climate is more favorable.

Fruits and vegetables are essential parts of the Slovak diet. Apples, pears, cherries, plums, apricots, and grapes are among the main fruits cultivated. The vineyards in the southern regions are particularly known for producing quality wines. Vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, and cabbages are also widely grown.

Livestock farming is crucial for meat and dairy production. Cattle, pigs, and poultry are the primary livestock raised on Slovak farms, providing a steady supply of meat, milk, and eggs for domestic consumption and export.

Sheep farming and goat breeding are also significant, especially in mountainous and hilly areas like the Carpathians. These animals are well-suited to the terrain and are important for producing sheep’s milk cheese (such as bryndza) and other dairy products.

Additionally, Slovakia cultivates oilseeds such as sunflower and rapeseed, which are used for producing cooking oil and other products.

Slovak agriculture also includes the cultivation of hops for beer production, particularly in the Žatec region, which is known for its high-quality hops.

 

Natural resource extraction:

Slovakia has limited reserves of bauxite, the raw material for aluminum production. However, bauxite mining is not a significant industry in the country.

Copper mining was historically important in Slovakia, particularly in the central region around Banská Bystrica. Although large-scale copper mining has significantly decreased, some small-scale operations and historical sites still exist.

Forests cover a substantial part of Slovakia’s territory, making timber production and forestry essential parts of the economy. The wood produced is utilized for various purposes, including construction, furniture manufacturing, and paper production.

Slovakia has considerable potential for hydroelectric power generation due to its mountainous terrain and numerous rivers. Hydropower plants are established throughout the country, with significant facilities on the Váh River and other major waterways. These plants contribute to Slovakia’s renewable energy production and help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Slovakia also has other mineral resources, including brown coal and lignite, which are mined and used primarily for energy production. Additionally, there are deposits of magnesite, a mineral used in the production of refractory materials and other industrial applications.

 

Industry:

The automotive industry is one of the most significant industrial sectors in Slovakia. The country hosts production plants for several leading car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Kia, PSA Peugeot Citroën, and Jaguar Land Rover. Slovakia is the world’s largest per capita car producer, highlighting the sector’s importance to the national economy.

Slovakia also has a strong electrical engineering industry, encompassing electronics, electrical components, power equipment, and other technologies. Companies in this sector produce a wide range of products, from consumer electronics to industrial machinery.

The chemicals industry is involved in the production of chemicals, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and other products. Notable companies like Slovnaft and Duslo are key players. Pharmaceutical companies, including Zentiva and Biotika, are significant contributors to the industry, producing a variety of medicines and healthcare products.

The engineering industry includes the production of machinery, equipment, and technological products for various sectors, including automotive, aerospace, and energy. This sector is crucial for supplying both domestic industries and export markets.

The food industry focuses on the production of food and beverages, including dairy products, meat products, baked goods, beverages, and more. Companies like Mondelēz, Nestlé, and Heineken have operations in Slovakia, contributing to both local consumption and exports.

The textiles and clothing industry in Slovakia has declined in importance compared to the past, but textile and clothing products are still manufactured. Companies in this sector produce a range of goods, from apparel to technical textiles.

In addition to these sectors, Slovakia’s industrial landscape includes metallurgy, with companies like U.S. Steel Košice playing a major role in steel production. The construction industry is also significant, driven by infrastructure development and real estate projects.

 

Services and other economic sectors: Services, banking, information technology, road, river and rail transport, tourism, and spas

 

Natural and historical attractions:

The High Tatras are a popular destination for mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts, featuring breathtaking peaks like Gerlachovský štít and Lomnický štít, crystal-clear glacial lakes, and extensive hiking trails.

Slovak Paradise National Park is known for its rock formations, deep gorges, and numerous waterfalls, offering adventurous hiking trails with ladders and chains.

Historic cities like Bratislava, Košice, Banská Štiavnica, and Levoča boast landmarks such as Bratislava Castle, St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral, and the Church of St. James. Banská Štiavnica and Levoča are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Slovakia’s thermal springs and spas, including Piešťany and Bardejov, are famous for relaxation and therapeutic treatments. The country also has various hiking and cycling paths, such as the Slovak National Uprising Trail.

Winter tourism is significant, with the High and Low Tatras offering excellent skiing and snowboarding. Jasná in the Low Tatras is Slovakia’s largest ski resort.

Slovakia also features cultural and historical sites like Spiš Castle and the wooden churches of the Slovak Carpathians, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

 

Form of government: Parliamentary republic

The president of the Slovak Republic is the head of state. Their powers are mainly representative and ceremonial, although they play a role in appointing the prime minister and in the process of forming the government. The president signs laws and represents Slovakia on the international stage.

The government is the executive branch of state power. Its members, including the prime minister, are responsible for managing government policies, state affairs, the economy, and other aspects. The government has the authority to submit proposed laws to parliament and exercise executive power.

The Slovak parliament is called the National Council of the Slovak Republic. It consists of a single chamber with legislative power. Parliament members are elected for four-year terms and are responsible for passing laws, approving the budget, and overseeing the government.

Judicial power in Slovakia is separate from the executive and legislative branches. The courts are independent and decide on matters related to law and justice. The Supreme Court serves as the highest appellate court, while the Constitutional Court oversees the constitutionality of laws and acts.

The constitution of the Slovak Republic is the fundamental legal document that establishes the basic principles, values, rights, and freedoms of citizens.

 

Capital city: Bratislava

Bratislava is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers, making it an important trading and transportation hub. This strategic location has contributed significantly to the city’s development and historical importance.

The city has a rich history dating back to the Celtic and Roman periods. Over time, it has been part of various kingdoms and empires, including the Kingdom of Hungary, the Habsburg Monarchy, and Czechoslovakia. Historic landmarks such as Bratislava Castle, Michael’s Gate, and the Old Town reflect this diverse history. Bratislava Castle, overlooking the Danube, has been a key fortification and royal residence, while Michael’s Gate is the last remaining medieval gate of the city’s fortifications.

Due to its proximity to Austria and Hungary, Bratislava serves as an important point of international connection. The city lies just 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Vienna, making it the closest capital to another capital city in Europe. Bratislava also has its own international airport, M. R. Štefánik Airport, facilitating global connectivity.

The city offers various cultural and artistic institutions, including the Slovak National Theatre, the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, galleries, and museums such as the Slovak National Museum and the Bratislava City Gallery. Numerous cultural festivals and events, such as the Bratislava Music Festival and the Bratislava Jazz Days, take place annually, enriching the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

The city has a population of about 475 000.

 

Area: 49 036 km2 (18 933 square miles)

 

Population: 5 640 000 (2022 estimate)

The largest ethnic group in Slovakia is the Slovaks, constituting the majority of the population. In addition to Slovaks, there are smaller ethnic groups present, including Hungarians, Roma, Czechs, Ukrainians, and others.

The official language is Slovak, which forms the basis of national identity. Hungarian is the second most spoken language, particularly in cities and regions with significant Hungarian communities.

Historically, Slovakia has been connected with Roman Catholicism, which still exerts a significant influence on culture and traditions.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 8

 

  1. Banská Štiavnica and the Technical Monuments in its Vicinity (1993) – The historic center of a mining town with Renaissance monuments and surrounding technical sites related to its mining history.
  2. Levoča, Spiš Castle, and the Associated Cultural Monuments (1993) – Spiš Castle is one of the largest castles in Central Europe. The site also includes the town of Levoča, Spišská Kapitula, Spišské Podhradie, and Spiš Museum.
  3. Vlkolínec (1993) – A well-preserved example of traditional Central European rural architecture in a remote village.
  4. The Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (1995) – An extensive karst system comprising 712 discovered caves, shared with Hungary.
  5. Bardejov Town Conservation Reserve (2000) – The town has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages. It was founded in the 13th century and gradually became an important trade and craft center.
  6. The Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (2007) – Preserved beech forests across various areas of Europe from the Pyrenees to the Black Sea, including Slovakia.
  7. The Wooden Churches of the Slovak part of the Carpathian Mountain Area (2008) – These wooden churches and chapels are examples of a unique fusion of religious architecture and traditional construction.
  8. The Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Danube Limes (2021) – Remains of border fortifications and other structures in Germany, Austria, and Slovakia.

 

National parks: 9

 

  1. Tatra National Park (TANAP)
  2. Pieniny National Park (PIENAP)
  3. Low Tatras National Park (NAPANT)
  4. Malá Fatra National Park
  5. Slovak Paradise National Park
  6. Muránska planina National Park
  7. Poloniny National Park
  8. Slovak Karst National Park
  9. Veľká Fatra National Park