Something about Slovakia
Capital and largest city: Bratislava
Official languages: Slovak
7.0% others / multiple / unspecified
Government: Parliamentary republic
President: Andrej Kiska
Prime Minister: Robert Fico
Legislature: National Council
(as part of Czechoslovakia)
28 October 1918
from Czechoslovakia 1 January 1993
Joined the European Union 1 May 2004
Total 49,035 km2 (129th)
2013 estimate 5,415,949 (116th)
2011 census 5,397,036
Density 111/km2 (88th)
Slovakia is a sovereign state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi). Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. The largest city is the capital,Bratislava, and the second largest is Košice. Slovakia is a member state of the European Union, Eurozone, Schengen Area, NATO, the United Nations, the OECD and the WTO, among others. The official language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic language family.
The Slavs—ancestors of the Slovaks—arrived in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 5th and 6th centuries during the migration period. In the 7th century, Slavs inhabiting this territory played a significant role in the creation of Samo’s Empire, historically the first Slavic state which had its center in Western Slovakia. During the 9th century, Slavic ancestors of the Slovaks established another political entity, the Principality of Nitra, which later together with the Principality of Moravia, formed Great Moravia. After the 10th century the territory of today’s Slovakia was gradually integrated into the Kingdom of Hungary, which itself became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Habsburg Empire. After WWI and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the nation of Slovaks and Czechs established their mutual state – Czechoslovakia. A separate Slovak state existed during World War II and was aclient state of Nazi Germany (from 1939 to 1944). In 1945 Czechoslovakia was reestablished. The present-day Slovakia became an independent state on 1 January 1993 after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
Slovakia is a high-income advanced economy with one of the fastest growth rates in the European Union and the OECD. The country joined the European Union in 2004 and the Eurozone on 1 January 2009.
The Slovak landscape is noted primarily for its mountainous nature, with the Carpathian Mountains extending across most of the northern half of the country. Amongst these mountain ranges are the high peaks of the Fatra-Tatra Area (including Tatra mountains, Greater Fatra and Lesser Fatra), Slovak Ore Mountains, Slovak Central Mountains or Beskids. The largest lowland is the fertile Danubian Lowland in the southwest, followed by the Eastern Slovak Lowland in the southeast.
Tatras, with 29 peaks higher than 2,500 metres (8,202 feet) AMSL, are the highest mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains. Tatras occupy an area of 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi), of which the greater part 600 square kilometres (232 sq mi) lies in Slovakia. They are divided into several parts.
To the north, close to the Polish border, are the High Tatras which are a popular hiking and skiing destination and home to many scenic lakes and valleys as well as the highest point in Slovakia, the Gerlachovský štít at 2,655 metres (8,711 ft) and the country’s highly symbolic mountain Kriváň. To the west are the Western Tatras with their highest peak of Rysy at 2,503 metres (8,212 ft) and to the east are the Belianske Tatras, smallest by area.
Separated from the Tatras proper by the valley of the Váh river are the Low Tatras, with their highest peak of Ďumbier at 2,043 metres (6,703 ft).
The Tatra mountain range is represented as one of the three hills on the coat of arms of Slovakia.
There are 9 national parks in Slovakia:
Tatra National Park
738 square kilometres (73,800 ha)
Low Tatras National Park
728 square kilometres (72,800 ha)
Veľká Fatra National Park
404 square kilometres (40,400 ha)
Slovak Karst National Park
346 square kilometres (34,600 ha)
Poloniny National Park
298 square kilometres (29,800 ha)
Malá Fatra National Park
226 square kilometres (22,600 ha)
Muránska planina National Park
203 square kilometres (20,300 ha)
Slovak Paradise National Park
197 square kilometres (19,700 ha)
Pieniny National Park
38 square kilometres (3,800 ha)
Most of the rivers stem in Slovak mountains. Some are only passing through and the others make a natural border with surrounding countries (more than 620 kilometres (385 mi)). For example Dunajec (17 kilometres (11 mi)) to the north, Danube (172 kilometres (107 mi)) to the south or Morava (119 kilometres (74 mi)) to the West. The total length of the rivers on Slovak territory is 49,774 kilometres (30,928 mi).
The longest river in Slovakia is Váh (403 kilometres (250 mi)), the shortest is Čierna voda. Other important and large rivers are Myjava, Nitra (197 kilometres (122 mi)), Orava, Hron (298 kilometres (185 mi)), Hornád (193 kilometres (120 mi)), Slaná (110 kilometres (68 mi)), Ipeľ (232 kilometres (144 mi), making the border with Hungary), Bodrog, Laborec, Latorica and Ondava.
The biggest volume of discharge in Slovak rivers is during spring, when the snow is melting from the mountains. The only exception is Danube, whose discharge is the biggest during summer when the snow is melting in the Alps. Danube is the largest river that flows through Slovakia.
Štrbské pleso natural lake is a popular tourist destination in the High Tatras
There are around 175 naturally formed tarns in High Tatras. With an area of 20 ha and its depth of 53 metres (174 ft), Veľké Hincovo pleso is the largest and the deepest tarn in Slovakia. Other tarns in the High Tatras include Štrbské pleso, Popradské pleso, Skalnaté pleso, Zbojnícke pleso, Velické pleso, Žabie pleso, Krivánske zelené pleso or Roháčske plesá. Other than in the High Tatras there are Vrbické pleso in Low Tatras, Morské oko and Vinné jazero in Vihorlat Mountains or Jezerské jazero in Spišská Magura.
The largest dams on the river Váh are Liptovská Mara and Sĺňava. Other well known dams are Oravská priehrada in the north, Zemplínska Šírava and Domaša in the east, Senecké jazerá, Zlaté piesky or Zelená voda in the west.
The Slovak climate lies between the temperate and continental climate zones with relatively warm summers and cold, cloudy and humid winters. Temperature extremes are in interval between −41 to 40.3 °C (−41.8 to 104.5 °F) although temperatures below −30 °C (−22 °F) are rare. The weather differs from the mountainous North to the plain South.
The warmest region is Bratislava and Southern Slovakia where the temperatures may rise up to 30 °C (86 °F) in summer, occasionally to 37 °C (99 °F). During night, the temperatures rise up to 20 °C (68 °F). The daily temperatures in winter average in the range of −5 °C (23 °F) up to 10 °C (50 °F). During night it may be freezing, but usually not below −10 °C (14 °F).
Summer in Northern Slovakia is usually mild with temperatures around 25 °C (77 °F) (less in the mountains). Winters are colder in the mountains, where the snow usually lasts until March and April and the night temperatures go down to −20 °C (−4 °F) and colder.
Slovak women in traditional dress, demonstrating a traditional method of grinding grain into flour.
This wooden church in Bodružal is an example of Slovak folk architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Folk tradition has rooted strongly in Slovakia and is reflected in literature, music, dance and architecture. The prime example is a Slovak national anthem, „Nad Tatrou sa blýska“, which is based on a melody from „Kopala studienku“ folk song.
Manifestation of Slovak folklore culture is the „Východná“ Folklore Festival. It is the oldest and largest nationwide festival with international participation, which takes place in Východná annually. Slovakia is usually represented by many groups but mainly by SĽUK (Slovenský ľudový umelecký kolektív – Slovak folk art collective). SĽUK is the largest Slovak folk art group, trying to preserve the folklore tradition.
An example of wooden folk architecture in Slovakia can be seen in the well preserved village of Vlkolínec which has been the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. Eastern part of Slovakia, particularly the region of Spiš, preserves the world’s most remarkable folk wooden churches. Most of them are protected by Slovak law as cultural heritage, but some of them are on the UNESCO list too, in Bodružal, Hervartov, Ladomirová and Ruská Bystrá.
The best known Slovak hero, found in many folk mythologies, is Juraj Jánošík (1688–1713) (the Slovak equivalent of Robin Hood). The legend says he was taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Jánošík’s life was depicted in a list of literature works and many movies throughout the 20th century. One of the most popular is a film Jánošík directed by Martin Frič in 1935.
Sport activities are practiced widely in Slovakia, many of them on a professional level. Among the most popular are ice hockey, football, tennis, handball, basketball, volleyball, whitewater slalom or athletics.
One of the most popular collective sports in Slovakia is ice hockey. Slovakia became the member of IIHF on 2 February 1993 and ever since has won 4 medals in Ice Hockey World Championships, consisting of 1 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medal. The most recent success is a silver medal from 2012 IIHF World Championship in Helsinki. Slovak national hockey team made five appearances in the Olympic games too, ended up 4th in the last 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The country has 8280 registered players and is ranked 8th in the IIHF World Ranking at present. Prior to 2012, Slovak team HC Slovan Bratislava joined the Continental Hockey League, considered the strongest hockey league in Europe, and the second-best in the world.
Slovakia organized the 2011 IIHF World Championship in ice hockey in which the team of Finland won the gold medal. The venue took place in Bratislava and Košice.
The most notable Slovak hockey players who played or are still playing in the National Hockey League are Stan Mikita, Peter Šťastný, Marian Šťastný, Anton Šťastný, Peter Bondra, Žigmund Pálffy, Marián Gáborík, Marián Hossa, Pavol Demitra, Zdeno Chára, Miroslav Šatan, Ľubomír Višňovský, Tomáš Kopecký, Andrej Sekera or Jaroslav Halák.
Whitewater slalom is the most successful Olympic sport in modern-day Slovakia. Apart from winning many World and European Championships, Slovak canoeists collected medals in each Summer Olympic Games since their first appearance in Atlanta 1996.