Slovakia: country overview16 July 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 30 January 2017
Slovakia joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004 and the euro zone on 1 January 2009. The most important sectors of Slovakia’s economy in 2015 were industry (25.2 %), wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (22.0 %) and public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (13.6 %). Slovakia's main export partners are Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland, while its main import partners are Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.
Geographical size: 49 035 km2
Population: 5 421 349 (2015)
Population as % of total EU: 1.1 % (2015)
Gross domestic product (GDP): € 78.071 billion (2015)
Official EU language(s): Slovak
Political system: parliamentary republic
EU member country since: 1 May 2004
Seats in the European Parliament: 13
Currency: Euro. Member of the eurozone since 1 January 2009
Schengen area member? Yes, Schengen Area member since 21 December 2007.
Presidency of the Council: Slovakia has held the revolving presidency of the Council of the EU for the first time in the second half of 2016.
Slovakia became an independent state in January 1993 after Czechoslovakia split into its two constituent parts.
The country is in the heart of central Europe, linked to its neighbours by the River Danube. The Carpathian Mountains extend across the northern half of the country and include the High Tatras – a popular skiing destination and home to the country's highest peak – the 2 655 m Gerlachovsky. The lowlands of the Danube plain provide a fertile farming region producing wheat, barley, potatoes, sugar beet, fruit, tobacco and grapes.
The President, elected by direct popular vote for a five-year term, has limited powers. The country has a single-chamber parliament whose 150 members are elected for four-year terms.
Ethnically, the population is 86% Slovak; Hungarians are the largest minority.
Perched on many hilltops are fortifications that bear witness to Slovakia's long history of invasions. Bratislava, the coronation place for the kings of Hungary in the past, has a rich heritage of medieval and baroque architecture.
Traditional meals include potato dumplings with sheep's cheese and cabbage soup with sausages.
Among the best-known Slovaks are Štefan Banic who invented the parachute in 1913, and Andy Warhol, the American-born pop artist, whose parents were from Slovakia.
Slovakia has made significant economic reforms since its separation from the Czech Republic in 1993. With a population of 5.4 million, the Slovak Republic has a small, open economy, with exports, at about 93% of GDP, serving as the main driver of GDP growth. Slovakia joined the EU in 2004 and the euro zone in 2009. The country's banking sector is sound.
Slovakia has led the region garnering FDI, because of its relatively low-cost, highly-skilled labor force, reasonable tax rates, and favorable geographic location in the heart of Central Europe. However, recent increases in corporate taxes, as well as changes to the Labor Code, slow dispute resolution, and ongoing corruption potentially threaten the attractiveness of the Slovak market. Moreover, the energy sector is characterized by high costs, unpredictable regulatory oversight, and growing government interference.
Source: Europa, CIA World Factbook