Slovakia is an ancient country but with much to offer today’s visitor. As well as ancient castles, picturesque villages and impressive mountains and national parks, it’s got vibrant cities and a welcoming population. It is also a true walker’s paradise where you can see something new and unique every day. So pull on your boots and get out there. Nazdravie!
The Slovak Republic is situated in central Europe and shares borders with the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Hungary and the Ukraine. Roughly two thirds of the size of England, Slovakia is a totally landlocked country and has no ports or direct sea access.
It has an interesting and comparatively new history. The Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic joined together in 1918 to form Czechoslovakia. After World War II Czechoslovakia became a communist nation within the Soviet ruled Eastern Europe and almost vanished from view of the Western World. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Czechoslovakia became free again and the Slovaks and Czechs peacefully agreed to separate. On 1 January 1993 the Slovak Republic was born.
Slovakia is a melting pot of nationalities and ethnic groups: although Slovaks make up the majority of the population (86%), there are also many Hungarians (10%), Czechs Rusyns/Ruthenians (related to Ukrainians but a bit different), Romany (Gypsies), Polish, Gorals (from the Tatra Mountain region near the Polish border), Ukrainian, with heavy influence from Germans and Austrians. Because of this Slovakia is very welcoming and tolerant of visitors. Overseas students won’t feel out of place here.
The Slovak economy is growing and its focus on education and jobs is helping Slovakia to ‘buck the trend’ in the worldwide recession.
The Slovak Republic is a parliamentary democracy and the Government is led by the Prime Minister.
Bratislava is the capital city – smaller than Prague or Budapest. Its riverfront cafes are well worth a visit. It’s also worth venturing further afield into the countryside to see beautiful and surprisingly well-preserved medieval towns. Slovakia is home to 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – both natural sites (caves) and cultural sites (castles, old towns and villages).
The food is pretty interesting too and surprisingly tasty. The cuisine is based around meat, potatoes and soups. Why not try some bryndzove halusky (sheep’s cheese dumplings) with a glass of the local brew – silvovica.
At a glance facts
- Languages: Slovak
- Population: 5,449,816 (2018)
- International Dialling Code: 421
- Time – GMT + 1