Country Information Slovakia
at a glance
civilization and culture
AT A GLANCE
48 845 square kilometres
5.46 million (2009)
Bratislava (4256 927 inhabitants 2007)
Slovakian (other languages: Hungarian 10,7 %, Roma 1,8 % and Ukrainian 1 %)
Gross national product per capita
21 900 US$ (2008) (PPP)
75,4 years (men: 71,5 years, women: 79,5 years) (2009)
6,8 per 1000 live births (2009)
Rate of illiteracy
The main attraction for travellers to Slovakia is the alpine landscape of the Tatra Mountains with their well-equipped facilities for skiing and other winter sports. But the numerous national parks and nature conservation areas, mainly in the hilly regions, offer attractive holidays in the other seasons, too. In addition there is the cultural variety of the many castles and stately homes throughout the country. According to UNWTO in the year 2005 approximately 1,5 million guests came into the country and paid 972 million Euro.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism
Sexual exploitation of children by tourists represents a considerable problem in Slovakia. The victims are not only children from Slovakia, but also increasingly girls from Russia and the Ukraine.
Slovak children are smuggled by well-organised professional trafficking gangs to various western European countries, but also to the Czech Republic and even Japan, where they are sexually abused and exploited. Slovakia is also a stopping place where children from Soviet Union and the Balkan states are passed over to other gangs who organise their further transport.
In Slovakia the abuse of children - that is any form of sexual contact - is punished with prison sentences ranging from a minimum of six months up to five years.
In January 1993 the Slovakian government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
According to estimates from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, at the end of 2007 less than 500 people in Slovakia were infected with HIV. How many children and women were infected, could not be estimated. There is very few data.
Defence for Children International - Slovak Republic
(Children's Fund of the Slovak Republic - Detsky Fond Slovenskej Republiky)
82102- Bratislava, Slovakia
Phone: +421 2 43422634
Fax: +421 2 433634354
CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE
In the 6th century Slovakia was settled by Slovaks, who displaced Celtic and Germanic tribes. It became part of Great Moravia in the 9th century, but was conquered by the nomadic Magyars after only 100 years. Slovakia remained in the kingdom of Hungary until the end of the First World War when the Czechs and Slovaks joined to form Czechoslovakia. Nominally independent under German protection 1939 - 45, after the Second World War Slovakia again officially became part of Czechoslovakia, which from 1948 had a communist government and formed part of the Soviet bloc.
After the fall of the communist regime in 1989 there was a revival of interest in autonomy, and in 1993 Slovakia became an independent nation. In 2004 it joined NATO and the EU.
State and society
Slovakia is a republic with a single chamber parliament. The President is head of state, nominates the prime minister and confirms cabinet appointments. Ivan Gašparovič elected in April 2004, is the current president. Since 2002 there has been a conservative-liberal government with Mikulas Dzurinda as prime minister.
The Slovaks account for some 85% of the population, Hungarians 10%, and some 1% Rom (Gypsy) and Czechs.
Two-thirds of the population are Roman Catholic, 6% Slovak Evangelical, and 3% Greek Catholic.
The Slovakian population is still very rural, with only 57% living in towns.
Over many centuries the area of the current Slovakia has been the meeting point for German, Hungarian, and Slav cultures. In contrast to the neighbouring Czechs, who turned more to the west, both culturally and politically, the Slovakians were oriented more towards Hungary. Czechs and Slovaks are culturally very different, although this is not always apparent due to the language links.
Prior to obtaining EU membership, Slovakia made considerable improvements in gender equality, and implemented all necessary legislation. Women already account for some 48% of the labour force.
As a result of the programme of reforms, agriculture no longer plays the key role it once had. Industry and the services sector now make major contribution to the GNP. The most important sectors are chemical engineering, vehicle construction, and manufacturing. The situation in Slovakia has improved appreciably in the lead up to accession to the European Union, although there are still weak points such as inflation and the high level of unemployment (approx. 20%). On the positive side, the reforms have transformed the structures in Slovakia and in many respects they are regarded as examples – including for west European countries.