(Slovenská Republika). Central European State (49,034 km²). Capital: Bratislava. Administrative division: regions (8). Population: 5,412,254 (2008 estimate). Language: Slovak (official), Hungarian and Czech minorities. Religion: Roman Catholics 68.9%, non-religious / atheists 13%, Protestants 9%, Greek Catholics 4.1%, Orthodox 0.9%, other religions 4.1%. Monetary unit: Slovak koruna (100 halierov). Human Development Index: 0.872 (41st place). Borders: Poland (N), Ukraine (E), Hungary (S), Austria and the Czech Republic (W). Member of: Council of Europe, EBRD, NATO, OECD, UN, OSCE, EU and WTO.
From an ethnic-cultural point of view, according to ethnicityology, the Slovak population has suffered from the consequences of its troubled history, during which foreign dominations as well as separations and reunions with the surrounding territories have followed one another. About 86% of the residents are Slovaks, a population of Slavic origin who, at the beginning of the century. X, was subject to the domination of the Hungarians from which it gained independence only in the nineteenth century. At the end of the First World War, which became part of the Czechoslovakian team, the Slovak population, which had long been dedicated to rural activity, had to confront the different socio-political identity of the Czech people, the origin of many tensions. Significant for the country were also the considerable emigration (in particular towards the United States) which took place in the nineteenth century following the poor economic development under Hungarian domination, and the drastic decrease of the German presence, a consequence of the events of the Second World War. According to a 2006 estimate, Slovakia has an average density of 110 residents per km² and an urbanization rate of 56% (2008). According to , the current population density is lower than the average values of Central and Eastern Europe and the population is concentrated mainly in the western regions. Of particular importance is the presence in the country of more than half a million Hungarians equivalent to about 10% of the total population and traces of the long history of Hungarian domination in these territories.
The transfer to Hungary of the entire Magyar minority settled in the Slovak territories was explicitly established in the peace accords of 1946, but only a small part of the Hungarian population adhered to this provision (100,000 people out of a total of 600,000); the rest, on the contrary, showed firm opposition. Relations between the majority of Slovaks and the Magyar minority are often tense following the latter’s demands for greater political representativeness and more incisive government action to defend their linguistic-cultural prerogatives. This critical situation worsened especially in November 1995, following the initiative of the Slovak National Party which imposed the approval of a law that promoted Slovak as the only state language, effectively abolishing bilingualism, up to that date admitted in the southern regions of the country, where, in some areas, the Magyars constitute the majority. There have been numerous criticisms against this law, expressed not only by the minority directly concerned, but also by the Council of Europe and Hungary itself which, in June of the same year, had ratified the good neighborly agreement stipulated with Slovakia in the previous March (the Slovak ratification, again due to the opposition of the nationalists, only intervened in March 1996). In addition to the Magyar component, mainly distributed in the southwestern regions, Slovakia also has a minority group of Roma, small communities of Czechs, Poles, Germans and Ukrainians, as well as Ruthenian- speaking minorities.and Russian, settled mainly on the eastern border and in the Beskids region. The most widespread religion is Christian, but the country also hosts minorities belonging to Protestantism, Orthodox churches and other religious minorities. Linked to a predominantly rural economic model, Slovakia lacks the development of the urban fabric. The only cities that exceed 100,000 residents are the capital Bratislava, where urban expansion was favored by the presence of chemical and petrochemical industries and Košice, located along the communication route between the Hungarian Tisza valley and the Russian-Polish plain.
ECONOMY: AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK AND FISHING
Since the early 1990s, the agricultural sector has undergone profound changes. If until 1990 cultivation was concentrated in cooperatives and state-owned companies, over the years the number of direct farmers has increased considerably (about 19,000 in 2002) who manage land from 1 to 700 hectares (arable land covers 29.5 % of the territory). The employment rate in the sector, however, continues to decrease (currently 6.1% of the active population is involved) and agriculture, practiced mainly in western Slovakia crossed by the Danube, is limited to about one third of the country’s territory, contributing for 3.4% (2007) to the formation of the GDP. Main products are wheat, barley, corn, potatoes and sugar beet. Breeding is also considerably developed, especially cattle, while freshwater fishing is widespread.
ECONOMY: MINERAL RESOURCES AND INDUSTRY
With the end of the communist era, many mining industries were considered unprofitable and above all inadequate to withstand the competition in a modern market economy. Despite the inevitable decline of the sector, the mining of copper, lead, zinc, manganese, iron and lignite it still constitutes a decent item in Slovakia’s economic balance sheet, especially in the Ore Mountains region. On the other hand, energy resources are scarce, most of which (especially oil and gas) are imported. The primary source of electricity is nuclear power: the large Jaslovské-Bohunice complex has been flanked by the Mochovce plant, which has been operational since 1998. Heavy industry is widespread in the country, although polluting and rather obsolete. Of particular importance is the mechanical industry, concentrated in the Váh valley, the Hron and the Danube plain, to which are added steel and metallurgical plants (in Podbrezová, Martín, Košice and Krompachy), chemical plants (Bratislava, Humenné, Sal’a) and textiles (Žilina, Ružomberok and Trenčín). Volkswagen. Also noteworthy is the presence of food, rubber and cement industries. In 2007 the industrial sector provided 36.8% of GDP, employing 34.4% of the workforce.
The presence of numerous mountain ranges has always represented an obstacle for communications and for the development of adequate transport infrastructures. The railway network extends for 3662 km, of which one third is electrified, while the road network covers 43,000 km (2004). The inland waterways (about 170 km) refer to the river ports of Bratislava and Komárno and essentially use the Danube route. Despite its rather marginal position, the Danube, which marks the southern border with Hungary for over 170 km, is an important internal trade route, favoring relations and exchanges with other Central European partners. The national airline is Slov-Air and the international airport is based in Bratislava. Of fundamental importance for the development of Slovak economy is foreign trade. In 2006, the total value of exports was US $ 41,580 million, compared to $ 45,78 million for imports. The main exports concern semi-finished, industrial and chemical products, in particular, as well as to the Czech Republic, to Russia, Germany, Poland, Hungary and Austria. Imports mainly concern oil, raw materials, equipment and means of transport. The Slovak National Bank, founded in 1993 with headquarters in Bratislava, is the central bank of issue and responsible for the country’s monetary policy. The current monetary unit is the Slovak koruna (koruna), heavily devalued following the autonomy from the Czech currency, but in clear recovery in recent years. The tourist offer, although not yet very developed, is mainly aimed at lovers of winter sports and climatic spas, welcomed by the facilities present in the High Tatra region, the main tourist attraction of Slovakia, together with the capital Bratislava, a city rich in history and with interesting Renaissance and Baroque architecture.