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Slovakia Geography and Population

Slovakia (Geography)

Slovakia is surrounded by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, and the Czech Republic and Austria to the west.

Slovakia Geography

Nature

Slovakia is mountainous and includes large parts of the Western Carpathians. Along the border with the Czech Republic are the White Carpathians (Biele Karpaty), which to the north merge into the Western Beskids (Západné Beskydy) and the Tatra Mountains towards neighboring Poland. The central parts are characterized by the mountain ranges Lave Tatra (Nízke Tatry) and south of this by the Slovak Ore Mountains (Slovenské Rudohorie) as well as Vel'ka and Malá Fatra. As the highest point, the mountain Gerlachovský Štít in the High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry) reaches 2663 m. Only approximately 25 percent of the area is lower than 200 m; the largest plains are found around the Danube southeast of Bratislavaas well as in the southeastern corner of the country towards Hungary and Ukraine. It is also in the latter region near the town of Streda nad Bodrogom that one finds the lowest point of Slovakia (94 m).

Originating in the northern mountain ranges, the rivers Váh, Hron, Ipel ', Hornád, Nitra and Bodrog head south, where they connect via the Danube, 172 km in Slovak territory, to the Black Sea. Poprad, which originates in the High Tatras, flows like the Polish river Wisła north to the Baltic Sea.

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Slovakia has seven national parks (Nízke Tatry, Vysoké Tatry, Polana, Malá Fatra, Pieniny, Slovenský raj and Muránska planina) and 15 specially protected landscapes, which together make up 17% of the country's land area. In the south-eastern part is Central Europe's largest karst area, Slovenský kras (36,165 ha), with a multitude of stalactite caves. The 21 km long cave Jaskyňa Dominica has an underground river and stretches into Hungary. Four areas, the Tatra, Polana, Slovenský kras and the Eastern Carpathians, are included in the UNESCO nature conservation program due to their special flora and fauna.

Slovakia has a temperate mainland climate with hot summers and cold winters. Climatically, there are fluctuations between the mountainous north and the low-lying areas around Bratislava. The average rainfall is 500-600 mm per year with the exception of the Orava region northeast of Bratislava, which receives approximately twice as much.

Population

85 percent of Slovakia's 5.4 million residents state to be of Slovak nationality. The largest minority is Hungarian (11 percent), followed by Roma by 2 percent and Czechs by 1 percent. Other minorities include Ukrainians, Russians, Germans and Poles. For fear of discrimination, many Roma choose to give up the nationality of the local majority; the real number of Roma in Slovakia is estimated to be at least 250,000-300,000.

Slovakia Population

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Industries

The industry employs approximately 1/4 of the workforce, and most companies located around the capital Bratislava and in the Váh valley, which stretches from Bratislava northwards towards the Polish border. This area was also highly industrialized during the communist period. Machinery accounts for the majority of total exports, followed by semi-finished products. In addition, chemical products are exported. Several new foreign companies have established themselves around the towns of Trnava (Sony and Danone) and Martin (VW factories and Ecco), but 2/3 of the foreign investments are located around the capital. In Eastern Slovakia, industry is mainly concentrated around Košice, where the largest company is the steelworks VSZ.

Agriculture employs 9 percent of the population. Since 1989, a gradual privatization has taken place in the agricultural sector. The main crops are wheat, barley, corn, potatoes and sugar beets. The country is almost self-sufficient in agricultural products. 1.3 million ha is forestry, of which the state owns approximately 2/3. Wine districts are found around the town of Nitra as well as on the southern slopes of the Malé Karpaty mountain range. Hops are also grown in the area around Trenčín.

Infrastructure

The country has a well-developed infrastructure, but efficient transport is hampered by the predominantly east-west-going mountains and by river valleys with a north-south-going course. For example, the main railway line runs between Ukraine and Ostrava in the Czech Republic in the northern part of the country, bypassing Bratislava. In 1997, Slovakia had only 219 km of motorway. To remedy the transport problems, large-scale construction work began in the late 1990's with the aim of making Váh navigable for commercial shipping and connecting the river to the Oder in Poland via a canal. When the canal is completed, it will be possible to sail from Váh via the Oder to the Baltic Sea and via the Danube (Komárno and Bratislava) and the Europa Channel to the North Sea along the Main and Rhine.

Airports with international connections are located in Bratislava, Poprad and Košice, while Banská Bystrica, Svidník, Lučenec and Žilina operate domestic services.

Energy

Despite attempts to achieve a higher degree of self-sufficiency in the field of energy, using the Gabčíkovo hydroelectric power plant on the Danube 50 km southeast of Bratislava and the Jaslovské Bohunice nuclear power plants in western Slovakia and Mochovce in central Slovakia, the country has to import oil and gas from Russia. Nuclear power accounts for about 20 percent of the country's energy consumption.

Slovakia - language

The official language of Slovakia is Slovak, spoken by 85 percent. The largest minority language is Hungarian. In addition, there are Romani, spoken by Roma, who in some eastern areas make up up to 10 percent of the population. Smaller groups speak Russian, Ukrainian and Russian. To the west, on the border with the Czech Republic also spoken Czech.

Slovakia (Religion)

Catholicism is the dominant faith in Slovakia (69% of the population stated in 2001 to be Catholic), but a Protestant, predominantly Lutheran, minority (about 9%) has historically played a significant role. In eastern Slovakia in particular, there is a significant Greek Catholic minority (4.1%). 40 years of communist rule with urbanization and industrialization of the country has led to a clear secularization that did not disappear with the fall of communism. In a 2001 census, 13% indicated being non-denominational. Although visible and important in society, the Catholic Church therefore has far from the same influence as in Poland.

Slovakia - economy

As part of Czechoslovakia, from the late 1940's to 1989 Slovakia was a socialist planned economy. Rapid industrialization after World War II took place primarily through the construction of large business complexes in heavy industry, as well as significant arms production was located in the Slovak part of the country, which partially offset the economic differences between the Czech and Slovak parts. The export was mainly intended for markets within the COMECON area.

After the system change in 1989, Czechoslovakia underwent a rapid transition to a market economy, which resulted in an association agreement with the EU in 1991. However, the Slovak part of the country quickly experienced major economic problems; the former export markets disappeared with the dissolution of COMECON, just as a political decision to shut down heavy arms production hit Slovakia hard. Unemployment rose rapidly to over 10%, while in the Czech territories it remained very low.

Following the partition of Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia continued economic cooperation in a common monetary and customs union, but the monetary union quickly collapsed. The new Slovak currency, the koruna, had to be devalued against the Czech.

The reform process had not given rise to hyperinflation as in many other Eastern European countries, and the Slovak National Bank, in shaping its monetary policy, placed great emphasis on ensuring low and stable inflation. A fixed exchange rate was considered an essential part of this policy, and the koruna was linked to a basket of currencies, first consisting of five currencies, later only of the D-mark and the dollar.

However, the government slowed down the reform process. The privatization of large companies, in the financial sector, almost stalled, and domestic investors were favored at the expense of foreign. Fiscal policy was relatively lenient and major public investment in infrastructure development was launched.

This was a major reason why Slovakia entered a marked economic recovery with high growth rates and a gradual reduction in unemployment, which, however, also meant rising deficits in public budgets.

The high growth in combination with a large import need to rebuild the economy and a weak competitiveness resulted in large deficits on the trade and balance of payments, which were sought to be addressed through special import duties.

However, a devaluation of the Czech koruna in 1997 put further pressure on Slovak competitiveness, and although interest rates rose sharply, the fixed exchange rate policy had to be abandoned in the autumn of 1998; the koruna was re-devalued and has since flowed freely. In 2000, the banking sector was privatized.

Since 2001, the economy has been growing significantly, stimulated by foreign investment, in the automotive industry. However, unemployment has long been high, at another 12% in 2005, and market-oriented reforms have particularly affected the unemployed and pensioners.

Slovakia worked until EU membership in 2004 to achieve closer regional trade relations with the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovenia through participation in CEFTA, the Central European Free Trade Area. The euro was introduced on 1 January 2009.

Slovakia's main trading partners are Germany and the Czech Republic, which in 2005 together accounted for around 43% of the country's foreign trade.

Denmark's exports to Slovakia in 2005 amounted to DKK 820 million. DKK, while imports from there amounted to 1192 mill. kr.

 
 
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