: Slovensko [ˈslɔʋɛnskɔ] (listen)
), officially the Slovak Republic
(Slovak: Slovenská republika
is a landlocked country
in Central Europe
. It is bordered by Poland
to the north, Ukraine
to the east, Hungary
to the south, Austria
to the west, and the Czech Republic
to the northwest. Slovakia's mostly mountainous territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi), with a population of over 5.4 million. The capital and largest city is Bratislava
, and the second-largest city is Košice
arrived in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 5th and 6th centuries. In the 7th century, they played a significant role in the creation of Samo's Empire
. In the 9th century, they established the Principality of Nitra
, which was later conquered by the Principality of Moravia
to establish Great Moravia
. In the 10th century, after the dissolution of Great Moravia, the territory was integrated into the Principality of Hungary
, which would then become the Kingdom of Hungary
In 1241 and 1242, after the Mongol invasion of Europe
, much of the territory was destroyed. The area was recovered largely thanks to Béla IV of Hungary
, who also settled Germans
, leading them to become an important ethnic group in the area, especially in what are today parts of central
Slovakia is a developed country
, with an advanced high-income economy
, ranking very high in the Human Development Index
. It also performs favourably in measurements of civil liberties
, press freedom
, internet freedom
, democratic governance
. The country maintains a combination of a market economy
with a comprehensive social security
system, providing citizens with a universal health care
, free education
, and one of the longest paid parental leaves
in the OECD
Slovakia is a member of the European Union
and the Eurozone
, as well as a member of the Schengen Area
, the United Nations
, the OECD, the WTO
, the OSCE
, the Council of Europe
, and the Visegrád Group
. It is the world's largest per-capita car producer, with a total of 1.1 million cars manufactured in 2019,
which represents 43% of its total industrial output.
Slovakia's name in theory means the „Land of the Slavs“ (Slovensko
in Slovak language, stemming from the older form Sloven/Slovienin
). As such, it is a cognate of the words Slovenia
. In medieval Latin, German sources and even some Slavic sources, the same name has often been used for Slovaks, Slovenes, Slavonians and Slavs
According to one of the theories, between 13th and 14th century a new form of national name formed for the ancestors of the Slovaks, possibly due to foreign influence – the Czech
(in medieval sources from 1291 onward
). This form slowly replaced the name for the male members of the community, but the female name (Slovenka
), reference to the lands inhabited (Slovensko
) and the name of the language (slovenčina
) all remained the same, with their base in the older form (compare to Slovenian counterparts). Most foreign translations tends to stem from this newer form (Slovakia
in English, Slowakei
in German, Slovaquie
in French, etc.).
In medieval Latin sources, terms Slavus, Slavonia or Slavorum (and more variants, from as early as 1029
) has been used for them.
In German sources, names for the Slovak lands were Windenland or Windishen landen (early 15th century
), later also the form „Slovakia, Schlowakei“ starts to appear (from 16th century
). The present Slovak form „Slovensko
“ is first attested in the year 1675.
Archaeologists have found prehistoric human skeletons in the region, as well as numerous objects and vestiges of the Gravettian
culture, principally in the river valleys of Nitra
and as far as the city of Žilina
, and near the foot of the Vihorlat
, Inovec, and Tribeč
mountains, as well as in the Myjava
Mountains. The most well-known finds include the oldest female statue made of mammoth
bone (22,800 BCE), the famous Venus of Moravany
. The statue was found in the 1940s in Moravany nad Váhom
. Numerous necklaces made of shells from Cypraca thermophile gastropods
of the Tertiary
period have come from the sites of Zákovská, Podkovice, Hubina, and Radošina. These findings provide the most ancient evidence of commercial exchanges carried out between the Mediterranean
and Central Europe
During the Bronze Age
, the geographical territory of modern-day Slovakia went through three stages of development, stretching from 2000 to 800 BCE. Major cultural, economic, and political development can be attributed to the significant growth in production of copper, especially in central Slovakia (for example in Špania Dolina
) and northwest Slovakia. Copper became a stable source of prosperity for the local population.
After the disappearance of the Čakany and Velatice
cultures, the Lusatian
people expanded building of strong and complex fortifications, with the large permanent buildings and administrative centres. Excavations of Lusatian hill forts
document the substantial development of trade and agriculture at that period. The richness and diversity of tombs increased considerably. The inhabitants of the area manufactured arms, shields, jewellery, dishes, and statues.
The arrival of tribes from Thrace
disrupted the people of the Kalenderberg culture
, who lived in the hamlets located on the plain (Sereď
) and in the hill forts like Molpír, near Smolenice
, in the Little Carpathians
. During Hallstatt times, monumental burial mounds were erected in western Slovakia, with princely equipment consisting of richly decorated vessels, ornaments and decorations. The burial rites consisted entirely of cremation. Common people were buried in flat urnfield cemeteries.
A special role was given to weaving and the production of textiles. The local power of the "Princes" of the Hallstatt period
disappeared in Slovakia during the century before the middle of first millennium BC, after strife between the Scytho
-Thracian people and locals, resulting in abandonment of the old hill-forts. Relatively depopulated areas soon caught the interest of emerging Celtic
tribes, who advanced from the south towards the north, following the Slovak rivers, peacefully integrating into the remnants of the local population.
From around 500 BCE, the territory of modern-day Slovakia was settled by Celts
, who built powerful oppida
on the sites of modern-day Bratislava
, silver coins
with inscriptions in the Latin alphabet, represent the first known use of writing in Slovakia. At the northern regions, remnants of the local population of Lusatian origin, together with Celtic and later Dacian influence, gave rise to the unique Púchov culture
, with advanced crafts and iron-working, many hill-forts and fortified settlements of central type with the coinage of the "Velkobysterecky" type (no inscriptions, with a horse on one side and ahead on the other). This culture is often connected with the Celtic tribe mentioned in Roman sources as Cotini
A Roman inscription at the castle hill of Trenčín
From 2 AD
, the expanding Roman Empire
established and maintained a series of outposts around and just south of the Danube
, the largest of which were known as Carnuntum
(whose remains are on the main road halfway between Vienna and Bratislava) and Brigetio
at the Slovak-Hungarian border). Such Roman border settlements were built on the present area of Rusovce
, currently a suburb of Bratislava
. The military fort was surrounded by a civilian vicus
and several farms of the villa rustica
type. The name of this settlement was Gerulata
. The military fort had an auxiliary cavalry unit, approximately 300 horses strong, modelled after the Cananefates
. The remains of Roman buildings have also survived in Devín Castle
(present-day downtown Bratislava), the suburbs of Dúbravka and Stupava, and Bratislava Castle Hill.
Great invasions from the 4th to 7th centuries
In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, the Huns
began to leave the Central Asian steppes. They crossed the Danube in 377 AD and occupied Pannonia
, which they used for 75 years as their base for launching looting-raids into Western Europe. However, Attila's death in 453 brought about the disappearance of the Hun tribe. In 568, a Turko-Mongol tribal confederacy, the Avars
, conducted its invasion into the Middle Danube region. The Avars occupied the lowlands of the Pannonian Plain
and established an empire dominating the Carpathian Basin
In 623, the Slavic population living in the western parts of Pannonia seceded from their empire after a revolution led by Samo
, a Frankish merchant.
After 626, the Avar power started a gradual decline
but its reign lasted to 804.
tribes settled in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 5th century. Western Slovakia was the centre of Samo
's empire in the 7th century. A Slavic state known as the Principality of Nitra
arose in the 8th century and its ruler Pribina
had the first known Christian church of the territory of present-day Slovakia consecrated by 828. Together with neighbouring Moravia
, the principality formed the core of the Great Moravian
Empire from 833. The high point of this Slavonic empire came with the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius
in 863, during the reign of Duke Rastislav
, and the territorial expansion under King Svätopluk I
Great Moravia (830–before 907)
Great Moravia arose around 830 when Mojmír I
unified the Slavic
tribes settled north of the Danube
and extended the Moravian supremacy over them.
When Mojmír I endeavoured to secede from the supremacy of the king of East Francia
in 846, King Louis the German
deposed him and assisted Mojmír's nephew Rastislav
(846–870) in acquiring the throne.
The new monarch pursued an independent policy: after stopping a Frankish attack in 855, he also sought to weaken the influence of Frankish priests preaching in his realm. Duke Rastislav asked the Byzantine Emperor Michael III
to send teachers who would interpret Christianity in the Slavic vernacular.
Upon Rastislav's request, two brothers, Byzantine officials and missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius
came in 863. Cyril developed the first Slavic alphabet
and translated the Gospel into the Old Church Slavonic
language. Rastislav was also preoccupied with the security and administration of his state. Numerous fortified castles built throughout the country are dated to his reign and some of them (e.g., Dowina
, sometimes identified with Devín Castle
are also mentioned in connection with Rastislav by Frankish chronicles.
During Rastislav's reign, the Principality of Nitra
was given to his nephew Svätopluk
as an appanage
The rebellious prince allied himself with the Franks and overthrew his uncle in 870. Similarly to his predecessor, Svätopluk I (871–894) assumed the title of the king (rex
). During his reign, the Great Moravian Empire reached its greatest territorial extent, when not only present-day Moravia
and Slovakia but also present-day northern and central Hungary
, Lower Austria
, southern Poland and northern Serbia
belonged to the empire, but the exact borders of his domains are still disputed by modern authors.
Svatopluk also withstood attacks of the Magyar
tribes and the Bulgarian Empire
, although sometimes it was he who hired the Magyars when waging war against East Francia.
Certain and disputed borders of Great Moravia under Svatopluk I
(according to modern historians)
After the death of Prince Svatopluk in 894, his sons Mojmír II
(894–906?) and Svatopluk II
succeeded him as the Prince of Great Moravia and the Prince of Nitra respectively.
However, they started to quarrel for domination of the whole empire. Weakened by an internal conflict as well as by constant warfare with Eastern Francia
, Great Moravia lost most of its peripheral territories.
In the meantime, the semi-nomadic Magyar tribes, possibly having suffered defeat from the similarly nomadic Pechenegs
, left their territories east of the Carpathian Mountains
invaded the Carpathian Basin
and started to occupy the territory gradually around 896.
Their armies' advance may have been promoted by continuous wars among the countries of the region whose rulers still hired them occasionally to intervene in their struggles.
It is not known what happened with both Mojmír II and Svatopluk II because they are not mentioned in written sources after 906. In three battles
(4–5 July and 9 August 907) near Bratislava
, the Magyars routed Bavarian
armies. Some historians put this year as the date of the break-up of the Great Moravian Empire, due to the Hungarian conquest; other historians take the date a little bit earlier (to 902).
Kingdom of Hungary (1000–1918)
Following the disintegration of the Great Moravian Empire
at the turn of the 10th century, the Hungarians
annexed the territory comprising modern Slovakia. After their defeat on the Lech River
they abandoned their nomadic ways; they settled in the centre of the Carpathian valley, adopted Christianity and began to build a new state—the Hungarian kingdom.
From the 11th century, when the territory inhabited by the Slavic-speaking population of Danubian Basin was incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary, until 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian empire
collapsed, the territory of modern Slovakia was an integral part of the Hungarian state.
The ethnic composition became more diverse with the arrival of the Carpathian Germans
in the 13th century, and the Jews
in the 14th century.
A significant decline in the population resulted from the invasion of the Mongols
in 1241 and the subsequent famine. However, in medieval times the area of the present-day Slovakia was characterised by German and Jewish
immigration, burgeoning towns, construction of numerous stone castles, and the cultivation of the arts.
In 1465, King Matthias Corvinus
founded the Hungarian Kingdom's third university, in Pressburg (Bratislava, Pozsony), but it was closed in 1490 after his death. Hussites
also settled in the region after the Hussite Wars
Owing to the Ottoman Empire
's expansion into Hungarian territory, Bratislava
was designated the new capital of Hungary in 1536, ahead of the old Hungarian capital of Buda
falling in 1541. It became part of the Austrian Habsburg monarchy, marking the beginning of a new era. The territory comprising modern Slovakia, then known as Upper Hungary
, became the place of settlement for nearly two-thirds of the Magyar
nobility fleeing the Turks and far more linguistically and culturally Hungarian than it was before.
Partly thanks to old Hussite
families, and Slovaks studying under Martin Luther
, the region then experienced a growth in Protestantism
For a short period in the 17th century, most Slovaks were Lutherans
They defied the Catholic Habsburgs and sought protection from neighbouring Transylvania
, a rival continuation of the Magyar
state that practised religious tolerance and normally had Ottoman backing. Upper Hungary, modern Slovakia, became the site of frequent wars between Catholics in the west territory and Protestants in the east, also against Turks, the frontier was on a constant state of military alert and heavily fortified by castles and citadels often manned by Catholic German and Slovak troops on the Habsburg side. By 1648, Slovakia was not spared the Counter-Reformation
, which brought the majority of its population from Lutheranism back to Roman Catholicism
. In 1655, the printing press at the Trnava
university produced the Jesuit Benedikt Szöllősi's Cantus Catholici, a Catholic hymnal in the Slovak language that reaffirmed links to the earlier works of Cyril and Methodius.
During the revolution of 1848–49
, the Slovaks supported the Austrian Emperor
, hoping for independence from the Hungarian part of the Dual Monarchy
, but they failed to achieve their aim. Thereafter relations between the nationalities deteriorated (see Magyarization
), culminating in the secession of Slovakia from Hungary after World War I.
On 18 October 1918, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
, Milan Rastislav Štefánik
and Edvard Beneš
declared in Washington, D.C.
for the territories of Bohemia
, Upper Hungary
and Carpathian Ruthenia
from the Austro-Hungarian Empire
and proclaimed a common state, Czechoslovakia
. In 1919, during the chaos following the break-up of Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia was formed with numerous Germans
and Ruthenians within the newly set borders. The borders were set by the Treaty of Saint Germain
and Treaty of Trianon
. In the peace following the World War, Czechoslovakia emerged as a sovereign European state. It provided what were at the time rather extensive rights to its minorities, at least on paper.
During the Interwar period
, democratic Czechoslovakia was allied with France, and also with Romania
); however, the Locarno Treaties
of 1925 left East European security open. Both Czechs and Slovaks enjoyed a period of relative prosperity. There was progress in not only the development of the country's economy but also culture and educational opportunities. Yet the Great Depression
caused a sharp economic downturn, followed by political disruption and insecurity in Europe.
In the 1930s Czechoslovakia came under continuous pressure from the revisionist
governments of Germany, Hungary and Poland who used the aggrieved minorities in the country as a useful vehicle. Revision of the borders was called for, as Czechs constituted only 43% of the population. Eventually, this pressure led to the Munich Agreement
of September 1938, which allowed the majority ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland
, borderlands of Czechoslovakia, to join with Germany. The remaining minorities stepped up their pressures for autonomy and the State became federalised, with Diets in Slovakia and Ruthenia. The remainder of Czechoslovakia was renamed Czecho-Slovakia and promised a greater degree of Slovak political autonomy. This, however, failed to materialize.
Parts of southern and eastern Slovakia were also reclaimed by Hungary at the First Vienna Award
of November 1938.
Meanwhile, the Czechoslovak government-in-exile
sought to reverse the Munich Agreement
and the subsequent German occupation of Czechoslovakia and to return the Republic to its 1937 boundaries. The government operated from London
and it was ultimately considered, by those countries that recognised it, the legitimate government for Czechoslovakia throughout the Second World War.
As part of the Holocaust in Slovakia
, 75,000 Jews out of 80,000 who remained on Slovak territory after Hungary had seized southern regions were deported and taken to German death camps
Thousands of Jews, Gypsies and other politically undesirable people remained in Slovak forced labor camps in Sereď
, Vyhne, and Nováky.
Tiso, through the granting of presidential exceptions, allowed between 1,000 and 4,000 people crucial to the war economy to avoid deportations.
Under Tiso's government and Hungarian occupation, the vast majority of Slovakia's pre-war Jewish population (between 75,000 and 105,000 individuals including those who perished from the occupied territory) were murdered.
The Slovak state paid Germany 500 RM
per every deported Jew for "retraining and accommodation" (a similar but smaller payment of 30 RM was paid by Croatia
After it became clear that the Soviet Red Army
was going to push the Nazis out of eastern and central Europe, an anti-Nazi resistance movement
launched a fierce armed insurrection, known as the Slovak National Uprising
, near the end of summer 1944. A bloody German occupation and a guerilla war followed. Germans and their local collaborators
completely destroyed 93 villages and massacred thousands of civilians, often hundreds at a time.
The territory of Slovakia was liberated by Soviet and Romanian forces by the end of April 1945.
Soviet influence and Communist party rule (1948–1989)
As a result of the Yalta Conference
, Czechoslovakia came under the influence and later under direct occupation of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact
, after a coup in 1948
. Eight thousand two hundred and forty people went to forced labour camps in 1948–1953.
Borders with the West were protected by the Iron Curtain
. About 600 people, men, women, and children, were killed on the Czechoslovak border with Austria
and West Germany
between 1948 and 1989.
Slovak Republic (1993–present)
Slovakia became a member of the European Union in 2004 and signed the Lisbon Treaty
The end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989, during the peaceful Velvet Revolution
, was followed once again by the country's dissolution, this time into two successor states
. The word "socialist" was dropped in the names of the two republics, with the Slovak Socialist Republic renamed as Slovak Republic. On 17 July 1992, Slovakia, led by Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar
, declared itself a sovereign state, meaning that its laws took precedence over those of the federal government. Throughout the autumn of 1992, Mečiar and Czech Prime Minister Václav Klaus
negotiated the details for disbanding the federation. In November, the federal parliament voted to dissolve the country officially on 31 December 1992.
The Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic
went their separate ways after 1 January 1993, an event sometimes called the Velvet Divorce
Slovakia has, nevertheless, remained a close partner with the Czech Republic. Both countries co-operate with Hungary and Poland in the Visegrád Group
. Slovakia became a member of NATO on 29 March 2004 and of the European Union on 1 May 2004. On 1 January 2009, Slovakia adopted the Euro
as its national currency.
In 2019, Zuzana Čaputová
became Slovakia's first female president.
The Tatra Mountains, with 29 peaks higher than 2,500 metres (8,202 feet) AMSL
, are the highest mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains. The 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
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 Bystrá
at 2,248 metres (7,375 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).
There are 9 national parks in Slovakia, covering 6.5% of the Slovak land surface.
Most of the rivers arise in the Slovak mountains. Some only pass through Slovakia, while others make a natural border with surrounding countries (more than 620 kilometres [390 mi]). For example, the Dunajec
(17 kilometres [11 mi]) to the north, the Danube
(172 kilometres [107 mi]) to the south or the 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 the Váh
(403 kilometres [250 mi]), the shortest is the Čierna voda. Other important and large rivers are the Myjava
, the Nitra
(197 kilometres [122 mi]), the Orava
, the Hron
(298 kilometres [185 mi]), the Hornád
(193 kilometres [120 mi]), the Slaná
(110 kilometres [68 mi]), the Ipeľ
(232 kilometres [144 mi], forming the border with Hungary), the Bodrog
, the Laborec
, the Latorica
and the Ondava
The biggest volume of discharge in Slovak rivers is during spring
, when the snow melts from the mountains. The only exception is the Danube, whose discharge is the greatest during summer when the snow melts in the Alps
. The Danube is the largest river that flows through Slovakia.
The Slovak climate lies between the temperate and continental climate
zones with relatively warm summers
and cold, cloudy and humid winters
. Temperature extremes are 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 plains in the south.
The warmest region is Bratislava
and Southern Slovakia where the temperatures may reach 30 °C (86 °F) in summer, occasionally to 39 °C (102 °F) in Hurbanovo
. During night, the temperatures drop to 20 °C (68 °F). The daily temperatures in winter average in the range of −5 °C (23 °F) to 10 °C (50 °F). During night it may be freezing, but usually not below −10 °C (14 °F).
In Slovakia, there are four seasons
, each season (spring
, summer, autumn
) lasts three months. The dry continental air brings in the summer heat and winter frosts. In contrast, oceanic air brings rainfalls and reduces summer temperatures. In the lowlands and valleys, there is often fog, especially in winter.
Hardiness zones of Slovakia
Spring starts with 21 March and is characterised by colder weather with an average daily temperature of 9 °C (48 °F) in the first weeks and about 14 °C (57 °F) in May and 17 °C (63 °F) in June. In Slovakia, the weather and climate in the spring are very unstable.
Summer starts on 22 June and is usually characterised by hot weather with daily temperatures exceeding 30 °C (86 °F). July is the warmest month with temperatures up to about 37 to 40 °C (99 to 104 °F), especially in regions of southern Slovakia—in the urban area of Komárno, Hurbanovo or Štúrovo. Showers or thunderstorms may occur because of the summer monsoon called Medardova kvapka (Medard drop—40 days of rain). Summer in Northern Slovakia is usually mild with temperatures around 25 °C (77 °F) (less in the mountains).
Autumn in Slovakia starts on 23 September and is mostly characterised by wet weather and wind, although the first weeks can be very warm and sunny. The average temperature in September is around 14 °C (57 °F), in November to 3 °C (37 °F). Late September and early October is a dry and sunny time of year (so-called Indian summer
Winter starts on 21 December with temperatures around −5 to −10 °C (23 to 14 °F). In December and January, it is usually snowing, these are the coldest months of the year. At lower altitudes, snow does not stay the whole winter, it changes into the thaw and frost. Winters are colder in the mountains, where the snow usually lasts until March or April and the night temperatures fall to −20 °C (−4 °F) and colder.
The biodiversity of Slovakia comprises animals
(such as annelids, arthropods, molluscs, nematodes and vertebrates), fungi
), micro-organisms (including Mycetozoa
), and plants
. The geographical position of Slovakia determines the richness of the diversity of fauna and flora. More than 11,000 plant species have been described throughout its territory, nearly 29,000 animal species and over 1,000 species of protozoa. Endemic
biodiversity is also common.
Over 4,000 species of fungi have been recorded from Slovakia.
Of these, nearly 1,500 are lichen
Some of these fungi are undoubtedly endemic, but not enough is known to say how many. Of the lichen-forming species, about 40% have been classified as threatened in some way. About 7% are apparently extinct, 9% endangered, 17% vulnerable, and 7% rare. The conservation status of non-lichen-forming fungi in Slovakia is not well documented, but there is a red list for its larger fungi.
Government and politics
The Slovak head of state
and the formal head of the executive is the president (currently Zuzana Čaputová
, the first female president), though with very limited powers. The president is elected by direct, popular vote under the two-round system
for a five-year term. Most executive
power lies with the head of government
, the prime minister (currently Eduard Heger
who is usually the leader of the winning party and who needs to form a majority coalition in the parliament. The prime minister is appointed by the president. The remainder of the cabinet is appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister.
Slovakia's highest judicial body
is the Constitutional Court of Slovakia
), which rules on constitutional issues. The 13 members of this court are appointed by the president from a slate of candidates nominated by parliament.
Main office holders
Slovakia is a member of the United Nations
(since 1993) and participates in its specialized agencies. The country was, on 10 October 2005, elected to a two-year term on the UN Security Council
from 2006 to 2007. It is also a member of the Schengen Area
, the Council of Europe
(CoE), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE), the World Trade Organization
(WTO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD), the European Organization for Nuclear Research
(CERN) and part of the Visegrád Four
(V4: Slovakia, Hungary
, the Czech Republic
, and Poland
In 2020, Slovak citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 181 countries and territories, ranking the Slovak passport 11th in the world.
Slovakia maintains diplomatic relations
with 134 countries, primarily through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs
. As of December 2013, Slovakia maintained 90 missions abroad, including 64 embassies, seven missions to multilateral organisations, nine consulates-general, one consular office, one Slovak Economic and Cultural Office and eight Slovak Institutes.
There are 44 embassies and 35 honorary consulates in Bratislava
Slovakia and the United States retain strong diplomatic ties
and cooperate in the military
and law enforcement
areas. The U.S. Department of Defense programs has contributed significantly to Slovak military reforms. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have their roots in Slovakia, and many retain strong cultural and familial ties to the Slovak Republic. President Woodrow Wilson
and the United States played a major role in the establishment of the original Czechoslovak state on 28 October 1918.
Slovak 5th Special Forces Regiment operating in eastern Afghanistan
The Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic number 14,000 uniformed personnel.
Slovakia joined NATO
in March 2004.
The country has been an active participant in US- and NATO-led military actions. There is a joint Czech-Slovak peacekeeping force in Kosovo. From 2006 the army transformed into a fully professional organisation and compulsory military service was abolished.
The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas. The most significant human rights issues included incidents of interference with privacy; corruption; widespread discrimination against Roma minority; and security force violence against ethnic and racial minorities government actions and rhetoric did little to discourage. The government investigated reports of abuses by members of the security forces and other government institutions, although some observers questioned the thoroughness of these investigations. Some officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Two former ministers were convicted of corruption during the year.
Human rights in Slovakia are guaranteed by the Constitution of Slovakia
from the year 1992 and by multiple international laws signed in Slovakia between 1948 and 2006.
According to the European Roma Rights Centre
(ERRC), Romani people in Slovakia
"endure racism in the job market, housing and education fields and are often subjected to forced evictions, vigilante intimidation, disproportionate levels of police brutality and more subtle forms of discrimination."
Slovakia is divided into 8 kraje
, usually translated as "region"), each of which is named after its principal city. Regions have enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy since 2002. Their self-governing
bodies are referred to as Self-governing (or autonomous) Regions (sg. samosprávny kraj
, pl. samosprávne kraje
) or Upper-Tier Territorial Units (sg. vyšší územný celok
, pl. vyššie územné celky
, abbr. VÚC).
are subdivided into many okresy
, usually translated as districts). Slovakia currently has 79 districts.
are further divided into obce
, usually translated as "municipality"). There are currently 2,890 municipalities.
In terms of economics and unemployment
rate, the western regions are richer than eastern regions. Bratislava is the third-richest region of the European Union
by GDP (PPP) per capita (after Hamburg
and Luxembourg City
); GDP at purchasing power parity is about three times higher than in other Slovak regions.
The Slovak economy is a developed, high-income
economy, with the GDP per capita equalling 78% of the average of the European Union in 2018.
The country has difficulties addressing regional imbalances in wealth and employment.
GDP per capita ranges from 188% of EU average in Bratislava to 54% in Eastern Slovakia.
Although regional income inequality is high, 90% of citizens own their homes
in 2017 reported:
The Slovak Republic continues exhibiting robust economic performance, with strong growth backed by a sound financial sector, low public debt and high international competitiveness drawing on large inward investment.
The Slovak economy is one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe and 3rd-fastest
(2017). In 2007, 2008 and 2010 (with GDP
growth of 10.5%, 6% and 4%, retrospectively). In 2016, more than 86% of Slovak exports went to European Union
, and more than 50% of Slovak imports came from other European Union member states.
The ratio of government debt to GDP in Slovakia reached 49.4% by the end of 2018, far below the OECD average.
Unemployment, peaking at 19% at the end of 1999, decreased to 4.9% in 2019, lowest recorded rate in Slovak history.
Slovakia adopted the Euro currency on 1 January 2009 as the 16th member of the Eurozone. The euro in Slovakia was approved by the European commission
on 7 May 2008. The Slovak koruna
was revalued on 28 May 2008 to 30.126 for 1 euro,
which was also the exchange rate for the euro.
High-rise buildings in Bratislava's business districts
The Slovak government encourages foreign investment since it is one of the driving forces of the economy. Slovakia is an attractive country for foreign investors
mainly because of its low wages, low tax rates, well educated labour force
, favourable geographic location in the heart of Central Europe, strong political stability and good international relations reinforced by the country's accession to the European Union. Some regions, mostly at the east of Slovakia have failed to attract major investment, which has aggravated regional disparities in many economic and social areas. Foreign direct investment
inflow grew more than 600% from 2000 and cumulatively reached an all-time high of $17.3 billion in 2006, or around $22,000 per capita by the end of 2008.
headquarters in Bratislava
Although Slovakia's GDP comes mainly from the tertiary (services) sector, the industrial sector also plays an important role within its economy. The main industry sectors are car manufacturing
and electrical engineering
. Since 2007, Slovakia has been the world's largest producer of cars per capita,
with a total of 1,090,000 cars manufactured in the country in 2018 alone.
275,000 people are employed directly and indirectly by the automotive industry.
There are currently four automobile assembly plants: Volkswagen
's in Bratislava
(models: Volkswagen Up
, Volkswagen Touareg
, Audi Q7
, Audi Q8
, Porsche Cayenne
, Lamborghini Urus
), PSA Peugeot Citroën
's in Trnava
(models: Peugeot 208
, Citroën C3 Picasso
), Kia Motors
' Žilina Plant
(models: Kia Cee'd
, Kia Sportage
, Kia Venga
) and Jaguar Land Rover
's in Nitra
(model: Land Rover Discovery
). Hyundai Mobis
is the largest suppliers for the automotive industry in Slovakia.
From electrical engineering companies, Foxconn
has a factory at Nitra
for LCD TV
for computer monitors
and television sets manufacturing. Slovnaft
based in Bratislava with 4,000 employees, is an oil refinery with a processing capacity of 5.5 - 6 million tonnes of crude oil, annually. Steel producer U. S. Steel
is the largest employer in the east of Slovakia with 12,000 employees.
A graphical depiction of Slovakia's product exports in 21 colour-coded categories
is an IT security company from Bratislava with more than 1,000
employees worldwide at present. Their branch offices are in the United States, Ireland
, United Kingdom, Argentina
, the Czech Republic
In recent years, service
-oriented businesses have prospered in Bratislava. Many global companies, including IBM
, and Accenture
, have built outsourcing
and service centres here.
Reasons for the influx of multi-national corporations
include proximity to Western Europe, skilled labour force and the high density of universities and research facilities.
Other large companies and employers with headquarters in Bratislava include Amazon
, Slovak Telekom
, Orange Slovensko
, Slovenská sporiteľňa
, Tatra banka
Slovensko, Slovenský plynárenský priemysel
Slovakia, Mondelez Slovakia
, Whirlpool Slovakia
and Zurich Insurance Group
Bratislava's geographical position in Central Europe has long made Bratislava a crossroads for international trade
Various ancient trade routes
, such as the Amber Road
and the Danube
waterway, have crossed territory of present-day Bratislava. Today, Bratislava is the road, railway, waterway and airway hub.
Slovakia electricity production by source
In 2012, Slovakia produced a total of 28,393 GWh
while at the same time consumed 28 786 GWh. The slightly higher level of consumption than the capacity of production (- 393 GWh) meant the country was not self-sufficient in energy sourcing. Slovakia imported electricity mainly from the Czech Republic
(9,961 GWh—73.6% of total import) and exported mainly to Hungary
(10,231 GWh—78.2% of total export).
The two nuclear power-plants in Slovakia are in Jaslovské Bohunice
, each of them containing two operating reactors. Before the accession of Slovakia to the EU in 2004, the government agreed to turn-off the V1 block of Jaslovské Bohunice power-plant
, built-in 1978. After deactivating the last of the two reactors of the V1 block in 2008, Slovakia stopped being self-dependent in energy production.
Currently there is another block (V2) with two active reactors in Jaslovské Bohunice
. It is scheduled for decommissioning in 2025. Two new reactors are under construction in Mochovce plant. The nuclear power production in Slovakia occasionally draws the attention of Austrian
green-energy activists who organise protests and block the borders between the two countries.
There are four main highways D1 to D4 and eight expressways R1 to R8. Many of them are still under construction.
Slovakia has four international airports. Bratislava's M. R. Štefánik Airport
is the main and largest international airport
. It is located 9 kilometres (5.6 miles
) northeast of the city centre. It serves civil and governmental, scheduled and unscheduled domestic and international flights. The current runways support the landing of all common types of aircraft currently used. The airport has enjoyed rapidly growing passenger traffic in recent years; it served 279,028 passengers in 2000 and 2,292,712 in 2018. Košice International Airport
is an airport serving Košice
. It is the second-largest international airport
in Slovakia. The Poprad–Tatry Airport
is the third busiest airport, the airport is located 5 km west-northwest of ski resort town Poprad
. It is an airport with one of the highest elevations in Central Europe, at 718 m, which is 150 m higher than Innsbruck Airport
. The Sliač Airport
is the smallest international airport and currently operates only summer charter flights to popular sea resort destinations.
The Port of Bratislava
is one of the two international river ports
in Slovakia. The port connects Bratislava to international boat traffic, especially the interconnection from the North Sea
to the Black Sea
via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal
. Additionally, tourist boats operate from Bratislava's passenger port, including routes to Devín
and elsewhere. The Port of Komárno
is the second largest port in Slovakia with an area of over 20 hectares and is located approximately 100 km east of Bratislava. It lies at the confluence of two rivers - the Danube
Slovakia features natural landscapes, mountains, caves
, medieval castles
and towns, folk architecture, spas and ski resorts
. More than 5,4 million tourists visited Slovakia in 2017, and the most attractive destinations are the capital of Bratislava
and the High Tatras
Most visitors come from the Czech Republic
(about 26%), Poland (15%) and Germany (11%).
Cable cars at Jasná
in the Tatra Mountains.
Very precious structures are the complete wooden churches of northern and northern-eastern Slovakia. Most were built from the 15th century onwards by Catholics
and members of eastern-rite
Tourism in Slovak Republic
is one of the main sectors of the economy, but not using its whole capacity. It is based on internal tourism, where Slovaks spend holidays within the country. Major areas are: Bratislava
and Vysoké Tatry
. To other regions belong: Pieniny
National Park, Malá Fatra NP, and Nízke Tatry
Castles and châteaux
There are many castles located throughout the country. To the biggest and the most beautiful ones belong: Spiš castle
, Stará Ľubovňa castle, Kežmarok
castle, Orava castle, Trenčín
castle, Bratislava castle
, and Devín castle. To the castle ruins belong Šariš castle, Gýmeš castle, Považský hrad (castle), and Strečno castle
, where they filmed Braveheart movie.
Caves opened for public are mainly located in Northern Slovakia. In the south-west of the country only Jaskyňa Driny is opened to the public. The most popular ones are: Dobšinsá Ice Cave
, Demänovská ľadová cave, Demänovská jaskyňa slobody, Belianska cave, and Domica cave. To the other caves which are opened belong Ochtinská aragonitová cave, Gombasecká cave, and Jasovská cave.
There are many spas throughout the whole country. The biggest and the most favorite center is Piešťany spa
, where a big portion of visitors come from The Gulf countries
, i.e. United Arab Emirates
, Kuwait, and Bahrain
. To the other famous spas belong: Bardejovské kúpele, Trenčianske Teplice spa, Turčianske Teplice spa, and Spa Rajecké Teplice. There are many smaller ones: Kúpele Štós, Kúpele Číž, Kúpele Dudince, Kováčová, Kúpele Nimnica, Kúpele Smrdáky, Kúpele Lúčky, and Kúpele Vyšné Ružbachy with treatments against schizophrenia.
Typical souvenirs from Slovakia are dolls dressed in folk costumes, ceramic objects, crystal glass, carved wooden figures, črpáks
(wooden pitchers), fujaras
(a folk instrument
on the UNESCO list) and valaškas
(a decorated folk hatchet) and above all products made from corn husks
and wire, notably human figures. Souvenirs can be bought in the shops run by the state organisation ÚĽUV (Ústredie ľudovej umeleckej výroby
—Centre of Folk Art
shop chain sells works of Slovak artists and craftsmen. These shops are mostly found in towns and cities.
Prices of imported products are generally the same as in the neighbouring countries, whereas prices of local products and services, especially food, are usually lower.
The Slovak Academy of Sciences
has been the most important scientific and research institution in the country since 1953. Slovaks have made notable scientific and technical contributions during history. Slovakia is currently in the negotiation process of becoming a member of the European Space Agency
. Observer status was granted in 2010, when Slovakia signed the General Agreement on Cooperation
in which information about ongoing education programmes was shared and Slovakia was invited to various negotiations of the ESA. In 2015, Slovakia signed the European Cooperating State Agreement based on which Slovakia committed to the finance entrance programme named PECS (Plan for the European Cooperating States) which serves as preparation for full membership. Slovak research and development organizations can apply for funding of projects regarding space technologies advancement. Full membership of Slovakia in the ESA is expected in 2020 after signing the ESA Convention. Slovakia will be obliged to set state budget inclusive ESA funding.
Population density in Slovakia. The two biggest cities are clearly visible, Bratislava in the far west and Košice in the east.
The largest waves of Slovak emigration occurred in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1990 US census, 1.8 million people self-identified as having Slovak ancestry.
Slovakia is ranked among the top EU countries regarding the knowledge of foreign languages. In 2007, 68% of the population aged from 25 to 64 years claimed to speak two or more foreign languages, finishing 2nd highest in the European Union. The best known foreign language in Slovakia is Czech
report also shows that 98.3% of Slovak students in the upper secondary education take on two foreign languages, ranking highly over the average 60.1% in the European Union.
According to a Eurobarometer
survey from 2012, 26% of the population have knowledge of English
at a conversational level, followed by German
(22%) and Russian
Basilica of St. James in Levoča
The Slovak constitution
guarantees freedom of religion
. In 2011, 62.0% of Slovaks identified themselves as Roman Catholics
, 5.9% as Lutherans
, 1,8% as Calvinists
, 3.8% as Greek Catholics
, 0.9% as Orthodox
, 13.4% identified themselves as atheists
or non-religious, and 10.6% did not answer the question about their belief.
In 2004, about one third of the church members regularly attended church services.
The Slovak Greek Catholic Church
is an Eastern rite sui iuris
Catholic Church. Before World War II, an estimated 90,000 Jews lived in Slovakia (1.6% of the population), but most were murdered during the Holocaust
. After further reductions due to postwar emigration
and assimilation, only about 2,300 Jews remain today (0.04% of the population).
There are 18 state-registered religions in Slovakia, of which 16 are Christian, one is Jewish, and one is the Baháʼí Faith
In 2016, a two-thirds majority of the Slovak parliament passed a new bill that will obstruct Islam
and other religious organisations from becoming state-recognised religions by doubling the minimum followers threshold from 25,000 to 50,000; however, Slovak president Andrej Kiska
vetoed the bill.
In 2010, there were an estimated 5,000 Muslims
in Slovakia representing less than 0.1% of the country's population.
Slovakia is the only member state of the European Union without a mosque.
The Programme for International Student Assessment
, coordinated by the OECD
, currently ranks Slovak secondary education
the 30th in the world (placing it just below the United States and just above Spain).
Education in Slovakia is compulsory from age 6 to 16. The education system consists of elementary school which is divided into two parts, the first grade (age 6–10) and the second grade (age 10–15) which is finished by taking nationwide testing called Monitor, from Slovak language and math. Parents may apply for social assistance for a child that is studying on an elementary school or a high-school. If approved, the state provides basic study necessities for the child. Schools provide books to all their students with usual exceptions of books for studying a foreign language and books which require taking notes in them, which are mostly present in the first grade of elementary school.
After finishing elementary school, students are obliged to take one year in high school.
After finishing high school, students can go to university and are highly encouraged to do so. Slovakia has a wide range of universities. The biggest university is Comenius University
, established in 1919. Although it's not the first university ever established on Slovak territory, it's the oldest university that is still running. Most universities in Slovakia are public funded, where anyone can apply. Every citizen has a right to free education in public schools.
Slovakia has several privately funded universities, however public universities consistently score better in the ranking than their private counterparts. Universities have different criteria for accepting students. Anyone can apply to any number of universities.
The 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
The Prešov Region
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 literary works and many movies throughout the 20th century. One of the most popular is a film Jánošík
directed by Martin Frič
Main altar in the Basilica of St. James, crafted by Master Paul of Levoča
, 1517. It is the tallest wooden altar in the world.
, in the period from the 11th to the 15th centuries, was written in Latin
, Czech and Slovakised Czech. Lyric (prayers, songs and formulas) was still controlled by the Church, while epic was concentrated on legends. Authors from this period include Johannes de Thurocz
, author of the Chronica Hungarorum
and Maurus, both of them Hungarians.
The worldly literature also emerged and chronicles were written in this period.
Two leading persons codified the Slovak language. The first was Anton Bernolák
whose concept was based on the western Slovak dialect
in 1787. It was the codification of the first-ever literary language of Slovaks. The second was Ľudovít Štúr
, whose formation of the Slovak language took principles from the central Slovak dialect in 1843.
Traditional Slovak cuisine is based mainly on pork
is the most widely eaten, followed by duck
, and turkey
, and milk products
. It is relatively closely related to Hungarian
and Austrian cuisine
. On the east it is also influenced by Ukrainian
, including Lemko
. In comparison with other European countries, "game meat"
is more accessible in Slovakia due to vast resources of forest and because hunting is relatively popular. Boar
, and venison
are generally available throughout the year. Lamb
are eaten but are not widely popular.
The traditional Slovak meals are bryndzové halušky
, bryndzové pirohy and other meals with potato dough and bryndza
. Bryndza is a salty cheese made of sheep milk, characterised by a strong taste and aroma. Bryndzové halušky especially is considered a national dish, and is very commonly found on the menu of traditional Slovak restaurants.
A typical soup is a sauerkraut
soup ("kapustnica"). A blood sausage
called "krvavnica", made from any parts of a butchered pig is also a specific Slovak meal.
Wine is enjoyed throughout Slovakia. Slovak wine
comes predominantly from the southern areas along the Danube and its tributaries; the northern half of the country is too cold and mountainous to grow grapevines. Traditionally, white wine was more popular than red or rosé (except in some regions), and sweet wine
more popular than dry, but in recent years tastes seem to be changing.
Beer (mainly of the pilsener
style, though dark lagers
are also consumed) is also popular.
Football stadium Tehelné pole
in Bratislava. Football is the most popular sport in Slovakia.
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