Slovakia

Driving Directions Slovakia

SLOVAKIA is a small, landlocked central European republic that came into being like a newly independent nation in January 1993, following the dissolution of the 74-year-old Federal Republic of Czechoslovakia. It shares its borders with the Czech Republic to the northwest, Austria to the west, Hungary to the south, Poland to the north, and Ukraine to the east.

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Slovakia is a mountainous country dominated by the Carpathian Mountains, which occupy most of the republic’s northern and central parts. There are several Carpathian ranges, the greatest of which are the High Tatry Mountains, in which Slovakia’s highest mountain, Gerlachovsky Stit (2,655 meters or 8,711 feet), is located. The Bohemian Forest stretches across the whole length of the southwestern border and is a region of mountains, hills, and extensive woodlands.

Flatter land is mainly confined to the Danubian lowland basin in the southwest and a strip along the southern border and the east between the mountains. Elsewhere, river valleys and the foothills of the mountains provide some lower-lying land suitable for farming.

The main river is the Danube (Dunaj), which flows eastwards into Slovakia from Vienna and, for a distance of about 120 kilometers or 75 miles, forms the border with Hungary. There are many other rivers and numerous freshwater lakes in the mountains. Over a third of Slovakia is forested with firs and coniferous species on the higher slopes and deciduous trees, such as the oak and birch, at lower levels.

Rare animals in the wilder mountain areas include bears and wolves, although neither commonly seen.

A continental type of climate prevails with cold, dry winters and hot, moist summers. Snow persists in the mountains for much of the year.

As a legacy of the inefficient industrialization of the old régime, Slovakia has many economic and environmental problems, particularly with atmospheric and water pollution. Nearly 60 percent of the people live in urban areas, particularly in and around the capital, Bratislava. In the early 1990s, unemployment increased, and inflation was high, resulting in a general lowering in people’s living standards.

Cultivatable land is located mainly in the Danubian lowlands, south and west, and the river valleys. Crops grown include cereals (wheat, corn, and barley), sugar beet, vegetables, potatoes, grapes for wine, and some tobacco. Pigs, cattle, sheep, and poultry are among the animals reared.

Slovakia is heavily dependent upon oil and gas imports to supply its energy needs and its petroleum industry. However, hydroelectric power schemes provide some of the country’s energy needs. Slovakia has reserves of iron ore, lead, copper, manganese, zinc, and lignite, all of which are exploited, although many mines have closed in recent years.

During the communist years, the country became a significant producer of heavy machinery and iron and steel, much of it for armaments. Military equipment and weapons still produced, although on a lesser scale. Other manufactured goods include processed foods, dairy products such as sheep’s cheese, textiles, ceramics, chemicals, petroleum products, and arts and crafts. There has been a slow change from state to private ownership of the old industries, many of which require substantial modernization. New, privately-owned service and technology companies have formed since the collapse of communism.

Tourism is a growing contributor to the economy. Visitors come to Slovakia for skiing and mountain pursuits and enjoy the historical and cultural attractions of the towns and cities.

Google maps™ Slovakia

The western Carpathian Mountains, which extend over Slovakia’s northern and central regions, dominate the landscape. To the south are subsidiary mountain ranges, with distinct lowland areas in the southwest and east. The capital city of Bratislava is located on the Danube River, which flows through the country for a short distance in the west and along part of its southern border. Slovakia is landlocked.

Did you know about Slovakia?

The Belian Cave in Tatra National Park is home to a natural auditorium where musical performances are staged; the cave also provides a habitat for eight distinct bat species.

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