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1UpTravel - Geography Info and Facts of Countries : . - Slovakia

Slovakia Geography and Facts

Location: Central Europe, south of Poland

Geographic coordinates: 48 40 N, 19 30 E

Map references: Europe

total: 48,845 sq km
land: 48,800 sq km
water: 45 sq km

Area - comparative: about twice the size of New Hampshire

Land boundaries:
total: 1,355 km
border countries: Austria 91 km, Czech Republic 215 km, Hungary 515 km, Poland 444 km, Ukraine 90 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climate: temperate; cool summers; cold, cloudy, humid winters

Terrain: rugged mountains in the central and northern part and lowlands in the south

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Bodrok River 94 m
highest point: Gerlachovka 2,655 m

Natural resources: brown coal and lignite; small amounts of iron ore, copper and manganese ore; salt; arable land

Land use:
arable land: 31%
permanent crops: 3%
permanent pastures: 17%
forests and woodland: 41%
other: 8% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 800 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: NA

Environment - current issues: air pollution from metallurgical plants presents human health risks; acid rain damaging forests

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Geography - note: landlocked


The Slovak Republic is situated in Central Europe, sharing frontiers with the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Hungary and Ukraine. Mountains, lowlands, canyons, lakes, cave formations, forests and meadows provide many examples of Slovakia's year-round natural beauty.

The capital, Bratislava, is the political, economic and cultural center of the country. Slovakia's total area is 49,035 sq km. The country's maximum length from east to west is about 416 km. and its maximum width from north to south is about 208 km. The Danube River, located in the southwest, forms part of Slovakia's border with Hungary.

The country is divided informally into the three regions of Western Slovakia, Central Slovakia, and Eastern Slovakia, corresponding to administrative divisions


Slovakia has a continental climate, with four distinct seasons. Winters are typically cold and dry, while summers tend to be hot and humid.

The average daily temperature range in Bratislava is -3 to 2 C (27 to 36 F) in January and 16 to 26 C (61 to 79 F) in July; temperatures tend to be cooler in the mountains. Bratislava receives an average of about 650 mm (about 26 in) of precipitation annually. In areas of high altitude, snow is often present for as many as 130 days each year.


After centuries under foreign rule, mainly by Hungary, the Slovaks joined with their neighbors to form the new nation of Czechoslovakia in 1918.

Following the chaos of World War II, Czechoslovakia became a communist nation within Soviet-ruled Eastern Europe.

Soviet influence collapsed in 1989, and Czechoslovakia once more was an independent country turning toward the West.

The Slovaks and the Czechs agreed to separate peacefully on 1 January 1993. Slovakia has experienced more difficulty than the Czech Republic in developing a modern market economy.

Slovakia is a country in central Europe that became independent on Jan. 1, 1993. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, and Austria and the Czech Republic to the west.

From 1918 until Dec. 31, 1992, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were partners in the larger nation of Czechoslovakia. A Communist government took over and ruled Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989.




Size: Approximately 127,905 square kilometers.

Topography: Generally irregular terrain. Western area, including natural basin centered on Prague, part of north-central European uplands. Eastern region made up of northern reaches of Carpathian Mountains and Danube Basin lands.

Climate: Predominantly continental but varies from moderate temperatures of Western Europe to more severe weather systems affecting Eastern Europe and the western Soviet Union.


Population: Estimated at 15.6 million in July 1987. Population growth rate 0.3 percent in 1987.

Education and Literacy: Education free at all levels and compulsory from age six to sixteen. Vast majority of population literate. Highly developed system of apprenticeship training and vocational schools supplements general secondary schools and institutions of higher education.

Health: Free health care available to all citizens. National health planning emphasizes preventive medicine; factory and local health-care centers supplement hospitals and other inpatient institutions. Substantial improvement in rural health care in 1960s and 1970s.

Language: Czech and Slovak recognized as official languages; they are mutually intelligible.

Ethnic Groups: In 1987 Czechs represented roughly 63 percent of population and Slovaks 31 percent. Hungarians, Ukrainians, Poles, Germans, and Gypsies principal minority groups.

Religion: Religious freedom constitutionally guaranteed but limited in practice. Major religious organizations operate under government restrictions. Reliable information on religious affiliation during post-World War II era lacking, but principal denominations Roman Catholic Church, Czechoslovak National Church, Slovak Evangelical Church, Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, and Uniate Church.

Data as of August 1987



Topography and Drainage

The country's 127,905 square kilometers divide topographically as well as historically into three major areas: Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia, Bohemia consists of the five western political divisions, or kraje (sing., kraj): Zapadocesky (West Bohemia), Severocesky (North Bohenia), Jihocesky (South Bohenia), Vychodocesky (East Bohenia), and Stredocesky (Central Bohenia). Moravia consists of the two central political divisions: Severomoravsky (North Moravia) and Jihomoravsky (South Moravia). Slovakia consists of the three eastern political divisions: Zapadoslovensky (West Slovakia), Stredoslovensky (Central Slovakia), and Vychodoslovensky (East Slovakia). The three Slovak kraje constitute the Slovak Socialist Republic; the other seven kraje constitute the Czech Socialist Republic. Kraje are further subdivided into okresy (sing., okres), roughly equivalent to countries in the United States.

The areas of western Bohemia and eastern Slovakia belong to different mountain and drainage systems. All but a minute fraction of the Bohemian region drains into the North Sea by way of the Vltava (Moldau) and Labe (Elbe) rivers. The hills and low mountains that encircle this area are part of the north-central European uplands that extend from southern Belgium, through the central German lands, and into Moravia. These uplands, which are distinct from the Alps to the south and the Carpathian Mountains to the east, are known geologically as the Hercynian Massif. Most of Slovakia drains into the Danube (Dunaj) River, and its mountains are part of the Carpathians, which continue eastward and southward into Romania.

The uplands of Moravia are a transition between the Hercynian Massif and the Carpathians and are in contrast with them by having more nearly north-south ridge lines. Most of Moravia drains southward to the Danube, but the Odra (Oder) River rises in the northeast and drains a sizable portion of the northern region .

Data as of August 1987



Bohemia's topography has fostered local solidarity and a common set of economic interests. The area is ringed with low mountains or high hills that effectively serve as a watershed along most of its periphery (although they do not lie along the border to the south and southeast). Streams flow from all directions through the Bohemian Basin toward Prague (Praha).

In the northwest, the Krusne Hory (Ore Mountains) border on the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and are known to the Germans as the Erzgebirge; the Sudeten Mountains in the northeast border on Poland in an area that was part of Germany before World War II. The Cesky Les, bordering on the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), and the Sumava Mountains, bordering on West Germany and Austria, are mountain ranges that form the western and southwestern portions of the ring around the Bohemian Basin. Both are approximately as high as the Krusne Hory. Bohemia's mountainous areas differ greatly in population. The northern regions are densely populated, whereas the less hospitable Cesky Les and Sumava Mountains are among the most sparsely populated areas in the country.

The central lands of the Bohenian Basin are lower in elevation, but their features vary widely. There are small lakes in the central southern region and in the Vltava Basin north of Prague. Some of the western grain lands are gently rolling, while other places have deep gorges cut by streams (such as the Vltava River). A large area southwest of Prague has a broken relief pattern that is typical of several other areas.

Data as of August 1987



Moravia is a topographic borderland situated between Bohemia and Slovakia. Its southwest-to-northeast ridge lines and lower elevations made it useful as a route for communications and commerce from Vienna to the north and northeast during the period of Austrian domination of Central Europe.

The central and southern Moravian lowlands are part of the Danube Basin and are similar to the lowlands they adjoin in southern Slovakia. The upland areas are smaller and more broken than those of Bohemia and Slovakia. The northwest hills are soft sandstone and are cut by deep gorges. South of them, but north of Brno, is a karst limestone area with underground streams and caves. These and the other uplands west of the Morava River are associated with the Hercynian Massif. The land to the east of the Morava is called Carpathian Moravia.

Data as of August 1987



Slovakia's landforms do not make it as distinctive a geographic unit as Bohemia. Its mountain ranges generally run east-west and tend to segregate groups of people; population clusters are most dense in river valleys. The highest elevations are rugged, have the most severe weather, and are the most sparsely settled. Some of the flatlands in southwestern Slovakia are poorly drained and support only a few people. The main mountain ranges are the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatras) and the Slovenske Rudohorie (Slovak Ore Mountains), both of which are part of the Carpathians. The Vysoke Tatry extend in a narrow ridge along the Polish border and are attractive as both a summer and a winter resort area. The highest peak in the country, Gerlachovsky Stit (also known as Gerlachovka), with an elevation of about 2,655 meters, is in this ridge. Snow persists at the higher elevations well into the summer months and all year long in some sheltered pockets. The tree line is at about 1,500 meters. An ice cap extended into this area during glacial times, leaving pockets that became mountain lakes.

The Slovak lowlands in the south and southeast, bordering on Hungary, are part of the greater Danube Basin. From a point slightly south of the Slovak capital of Bratislava, the main channel of the Danube River demarcates the border between Czechoslovakia and Hungary for about 175 kilometers. As it leaves Bratislava, the Danube divides into two channels: the main channel is the Danube proper, and the northern channel is the Little Danube (Maly Dunaj). The Little Danube flows eastward into the Vah River, which converges with the main Danube at Komarno. The land between the Little Danube and the Danube is known as the Vel'ky Zitny Ostrov (Great Rye Island), a marshland maintained for centuries as a hunting preserve for the nobility. Dikes and artificial drainage have made it possible to cultivate the land for grain production, but it is still sparsely settled.

Data as of August 1987



Czechoslovakia's central European location influences its climate. Although the continental weather systems that dominate Eastern Europe prevail throughout the country, western regions are frequently influenced by the maritime weather prevalent in Western Europe. When the systems to the north are weak, Mediterranean weather may occasionally brush southern parts of the country.

Winters are fairly cold, cloudy, and humid, although high humidity and cloud cover tend to be more prevalent in valleys and lower areas. Light rain or snow is frequent. The mountains are covered with snow from early November through April, and accumulations are deep in some places. Lower elevations rarely have more than fifteen centimeters of snow cover at a time.

Summers are usually pleasant. There is heavy rainfall, but it comes in sporadic showers, making for many warm, dry days with scattered cumulus clouds. Prevailing winds are westerly; they are usually light in summer (except during thunderstorms) and somewhat stronger in winter.

Average temperatures in Prague, which is representative of lowland cities in Bohemia and Moravia, range between about 1°C in January and about 19°C in July. Winters are chilly; summers have warm afternoons and cool evenings. In the eastern parts of the country, the temperature extremes are greater. Higher elevations, especially those with western exposures, usually have a narrower temperature range but on the average are considerably cooler. December, January, and February are the coldest months; June, July, and August are the warmest. Spring tends to start late, and autumn may come abruptly in middle or late September. At lower elevations, frosts are rare between the end of April and the beginning of October.

Rainfall varies widely between the plains and the upland areas. Parts of western Bohemia receive only forty centimeters of rainfall per year; some areas in the Vysoke Tatry average two meters. The average rainfall in the vicinity of Prague is fortyeight centimeters. Precipitation varies more than in other areas of Europe, which are often dominated by maritime weather systems; consequently, droughts and floods sometimes occur.

Despite the greater frequency of precipitation during the winter, more than twice as much precipitation, or about 38 percent, falls in the summer. The spring and autumn figures are about equal.

Data as of August 1987

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