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
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
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
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,
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic
Pollutants, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Climate Change-Kyoto
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
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
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
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
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
GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT
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
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