The Slovak Republic, more commonly known as Slovakia, is a landlocked republic in Central Europe, bounded on the northwest by the Czech Republic, on the north by Poland, on the east by Ukraine, on the south by Hungary, and on the southwest by Austria.
|National motto: None|
|Prime minister||Mikulas Dzurinda[?]|
- % water
|Ranked 126th |
- Total (2000)
|Division of Czechoslovakia
January 1, 1993
|Time zone||UTC +1|
|National anthem||Nad Tatrou sa blýska|
Slovakia became a part of the Kingdom of Hungary in the Middle Ages and as such was later part of Austria-Hungary prior to 1918. In that year Slovakia joined with the regions of Bohemia and neighbouring Moravia to form Czechoslovakia. Following the break-up of that country after the Munich Agreement of 1938, Slovakia became a separate republic that would be a puppet state for Nazi Germany.
Post World War II Czechoslovakia was reinstated and came under the influence of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact from 1945 onward. The end of communist Czechoslovakia in 1989 during the peaceful Velvet Revolution also meant the end for Czechoslovakia as a whole; Slovakia and the Czech Republic went their separate ways after January 1, 1993. Slovakia is expected to become a member of the European Union in May 2004.
(see also: Bratislava - History)
The Slovak head of state is the president, elected by direct popular vote for a five-tear term. Most executive power lies with the head of government, the prime minister, who is usually the leader of the major party or a majority coalition in parliament and appointed by the president. The remainder of the cabinet is appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister.
Slovakia's highest legislative body is the 150-seat unicameral National Council of the Slovak Republic (Národná Rada Slovenskej Republiky). Delegates are elected for 4-year terms on the basis of proportional representation. Slovakia highest judicial body is the Constitutional Court (Ústavný súd), which rules on constitutional issues. The 13 members of this court are appointed by the president from a slate of candidates nominated by parliament.
Slovakia is subdivided into 8 regions (kraje, singular - kraj), each named after their principal city;
Geography Main article: Geography of Slovakia
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 them are the high peaks of the Tatra mountains, which are a popular skiing destination and home to many scenic lakes and valleys as well as the highest point in Slovakia, the Gerlachovský[?] at 2,655 m. In the southwestern part are found the only lowlands, along Slovakia's major river, the Danube.
Slovakia has mastered much of the difficult transition from a centrally planned economy to a modern market economy. The Dzurinda government made excellent progress in 2001 in macroeconomic stabilisation and structural reform. Major privatisations are nearly complete, the banking sector is almost completely in foreign hands, and foreign investment has picked up. Slovakia's economy exceeded expectations in 2001, despite recession in key export markets.
Revival of domestic demand, partly due to a rise in real wages, offset slowing export growth to help drive the economy to its strongest expansion since 1998. Solid domestic demand is expected to boost economic growth to 3.4% in 2002, and about 4% in 2003. Unemployment, rising to 19.8% at the end of 2001, remained the economy's Achilles' heel. Slovakia is seeking to become a member of the European Union in May 2004.
The majority of the inhabitants of the Slovak Republic are ethnically Slovak (86%). Hungarians are the largest ethnic minority (10%) and are concentrated in the southern and eastern regions of Slovakia. Other ethnic groups include Roma, Czechs, Ruthenians, Ukrainians, Germans, and Poles.
The Slovak constitution guarantees freedom of religion. The majority of Slovak citizens (69%) practice Roman Catholicism; the second-largest group are Protestants (9%). About 2,300 Jews remain of the estimated pre-WWII population of 120,000. The official state language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic languages, but Hungarian is also widely spoken in the south and enjoys a co-official status in some regions.