Area: 48, 845 sq. km. (about twice the size of
Land boundaries (total): 1,524 km. Austria 91
km.; Czech Republic 215 km.; Hungary 677 km.;
Poland 444 km.; Ukraine 97 km.
Terrain: Landlocked with high mountains in the
north, low mountains in the center, hills to the
west, Danube River basin in the south.
Climate: Temperate; average temperature in
January 26.5°F; in July 68°F. Annual
Elevation: Lowest point, Bodrok River 94 m.
Highest point, Gerlachovsky Stit 2,655 m.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Slovak(s).
Population (May 2001 census*): 5,379,455.
Bratislava (428,672), Kosice (236,093), Zilina
(156,361), Nitra (163,540), Presov (161,782),
Banska Bystrica (111,984).
Annual population growth rate (2001 est.):
Ethnic groups (2001): Slovaks 85.8%, Hungarians
9.7%, Roma 1.7%, Czechs 0.8%, Ruthenians 0.4%,
Ukranians 0.2%, other 1.4%. Unofficial estimates
place the Roma population between 6%-10%.
Religions (2001): Roman Catholic 69%, Protestant
9%, Greek Catholic 4%, Orthodox 0.9%, other
0.6%, unknown 3.5%, 13% report no affiliation.
Languages: Slovak (official), Hungarian,
Ruthenian, Romany, and Ukrainian. Education:
Health: Life expectancy (2001)--78 yrs.
females; 70 yrs. males.
Work force (2.1 million in 2001): Industry,
construction, commerce--61%; financial,
commercial, health services--18%;
government and education--15%;
Type: Parliamentary republic.
Independence: The Slovak Republic was
established January 1, 1993 (former Czechoslovak
Republic established 1918).
Constitution: Signed September 3, 1992.
Branches: Executive--president (head of
state), prime minister (head of government),
cabinet. Legislative--National Council of
the Slovak Republic (150 seats). Judicial--Supreme
Court, Constitutional Court.
Political parties: 150 parliamentary seats:
Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) 23
seats; Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) 20 seats;
Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH) 15 seats;
Alliance of New Citizens (ANO) 11 seats;
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) 23
seats; SMER (Direction) 27 seats; Communist
Party of Slovakia (KSS) 9 seats; independent
deputies 22 seats, of which 5 represent Freedom
Forum (SF) and 3 represent the People's Union
Suffrage: Universal at 18 years.
Administrative divisions: Eight administrative
regions, 79 districts.
GDP (2004): $41.1 billion.
GDP growth rate (2004): 5.5%, (Jan - Mar 2005):
Nominal GDP per capita (2004): $7,600.
Unemployment (Jun 2005): 11.09%.
Natural resources: Antimony, mercury, iron,
copper, lead, zinc, magnesite, limestone,
Agriculture: Products--milk, eggs,
poultry, cattle, hogs, potatoes, oils, grains,
Industry: Types--iron and steel,
chemicals, automobiles, light industry, food
processing, engineering, building materials.
Trade (2004): Exports--$27.8 billion:
vehicles, iron and steel, machinery and energy
equipment, plastics, fiber optics. Imports
(2004)--$29.2 billion: mineral fuels and oils,
machinery, audio/video equipment, vehicles.
Partners--Germany, Czech Republic, Austria,
Russia, Hungary, Italy, Poland.
Foreign investment (1989-2004.): Cumulative--$13.696
billion. Sources of direct foreign
investment--Netherlands 24.3%; Germany
19.4%, Austria 14.1%; Italy 7.5%, United States
(8th largest investor) 4.0%**. Sectors of
direct foreign investment (through end
2004)--industry 38.4%; banking and insurance
22.2%; wholesale and retail trade 13.1%;
production of electricity, gas and water 10.5%;
transportation and telecommunications 9.2%.
*Figures are based on immediate city's (not
region) Permanent Resident Population.
**Government of Slovakia official statistic. A
recent U.S. Embassy survey found that, taking
into account investments of U.S. subsidiaries in
Europe, U.S. investment is more than 15% of the
The majority of the 5.4 million inhabitants of
the Slovak Republic are Slovak (85.8%).
Hungarians are the largest ethnic minority
(9.7%) and are concentrated in the southern and
eastern regions of Slovakia. Other ethnic groups
include Roma, Czechs, Ruthenians, Ukrainians,
Germans, and Poles. The Slovak constitution
guarantees freedom of religion. The majority of
Slovak citizens (69%) practice Roman
Catholicism; the second-largest group is
Protestants (9%). About 2,300 Jews remain of the
estimated pre-WWII population of 120,000. The
official state language is Slovak, and Hungarian
is widely spoken in the southern region.
Despite its modern European economy and
society, Slovakia has a significant rural
element. About 45% of Slovaks live in villages
of less than 5,000 people, and 14% in villages
of less than 1,000.
Slovak history can find its roots in the Great
Moravian Empire, founded in the early ninth
century. The territory of Great Moravia included
all of present western and central Slovakia, the
Czech Republic, and parts of neighboring Poland,
Hungary, and Germany. Saint Cyril and Methodius,
known for the creation of a Cyrillic alphabet,
came to Great Moravia in the early tenth century
as missionaries to spread Christianity upon the
invitation of the king. The empire collapsed
after only eighty years as a result of the
political intrigues and external pressures from
invading forces. Slovaks then became part of the
Hungarian Kingdom, where they remained for the
next 1,000 years. Bratislava became the
Hungarian capital for nearly two and a half
centuries when the Turks overran Hungary in the
early 16th century.
Revolutions inspired by nationalism swept
through Central Europe in 1848, which led to the
codification of the Slovak language by Ludovit
Stur in 1846 and later the formation of the dual
Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1867. As language
and education policies favoring the use of
Hungarian, which came to be known as
Magyarization, grew stricter, Slovak nationalism
grew stronger. Slovak intellectuals cultivated
closer cultural ties with the Czechs, who were
themselves ruled by the Austrians. After the
dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian State after
WWI, the concept of a single Czecho-Slovakian
unified state came to fruition. Tomas Masaryk
signed the Pittsburgh Agreement, declaring the
intent of the Czech and Slovaks to found a new
state in May 1918, and a year later, he become
Czechoslovakia’s first president.
After the 1938 Munich agreement that forced
Czechoslovakia to cede territory to Germany,
Slovakia declared its autonomy. Slovakia became
a Nazi puppet state led by the Catholic priest
Jozef Tiso. During this period, thousands of
Slovak Jews and Roma were sent to concentration
camps to perish in the Holocaust. The Slovak
National Uprising, a resistance movement against
the fascist Slovak state, occurred in 1944 with
the participation of Slovaks, Russians, Jews,
and some allied forces but was put down by Nazi
At the conclusion of WWII, the reunified
Czechoslovakia was considered within the sphere
of influence of the Soviet Union. The communist
party, supported by the U.S.S.R., took over
political power in February 1948 and began to
centralize power. The next four decades were
characterized by strict communist rule,
interrupted only briefly during the Prague
Spring of 1968. The Slovak born Communist leader
Alexander Dubcek presided over a thawing of
communist power and proposed political, social,
and economic reforms in his effort to make
"socialism with a human face" a reality. Concern
among other Warsaw Pact governments that Dubcek
had gone to far prompted an invasion and
Dubcek’s removal from his position.
The 1970s were characterized by the
development of a dissident movement. On January
1, 1977 more than 250 human rights activists
signed a manifesto called Charter 77, which
criticized the government for failing to meet
its human rights obligations. On November 17th,
1989, a series of public protests, known as the
"Velvet Revolution," began and led to the
downfall of communist rule in Czechoslovakia.
Dissident groups, such as Charter 77 in the
Czech Republic and Public Against Violence in
Slovakia, united to form a transitional
government and assist with the first democratic
elections since 1948. Several new parties
emerged to fill the political spectrum.
After the 1992 elections, Vladimir Meciar's
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), based
on its appeal on fairness to Slovak demands for
autonomy, emerged as the leading party in
Slovakia. In June 1992, the Slovak parliament
voted to declare sovereignty and the federation
dissolved peacefully on January 1, 1993.
Meciar's party--the Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia (HZDS)--ruled Slovakia the first 5
years as an independent state. His authoritarian
style as Prime Minister created international
concerns about the democratic development of
Slovakia. In the 1998 elections, Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) received about 27% of
the vote, but went into the opposition, unable
to find coalition partners.
A reform-oriented coalition formed a
government led by Mikulas Dzurinda, the chairman
of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU).
The first Dzurinda government made political and
economic reforms that enabled Slovakia to enter
the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD), close virtually all chapters
in European Union (EU) negotiations, and make
the country a strong candidate for North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) accession.
However, the popularity of the governing parties
declined sharply, and several new parties gained
relatively high levels of support in public
In the September 2002 parliamentary election,
a last minute surge in support for the Slovak
Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) gave
Dzurinda a mandate for a second term. He formed
a government with three other center-right
parties: the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK),
Christian Democrats (KDH), and Alliance of New
Citizens (ANO). The main priorities of the
coalition are ensuring a strong Slovak
performance within NATO and the EU, fighting
corruption, attracting foreign investment, and
reforming social services, such as the health
care system. Following a summer 2003
parliamentary shake-up, the government lost its
narrow parliamentary majority and now controls
only 69 of the 150 seats; however, the coalition
is relatively stable because of the parties'
similar political philosophies and conflicts
between opposition parties.
Slovakia officially became a member of NATO
on March 29, 2004 and joined the EU on May 1,
2004. The government strongly supported
Slovakia's NATO and EU accession and will
continue the democratic and free market-oriented
reforms begun by the first Dzurinda government.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Slovakia's highest legislative body is the
150-seat unicameral National Council of the
Slovak Republic. Delegates are elected for
4-year terms on the basis of proportional
representation. The Slovak political scene
supports a wide spectrum of political parties,
including several social democratic parties and
the nationalistic Slovak National Party (SNS)
that is not represented in parliament, but the
influence of leftist and nationalist parties has
declined in the past several years.
In January 1999, Parliament passed a
constitutional amendment allowing for direct
election of the president. Kosice Mayor Rudolf
Schuster was elected president in a May 1999
run-off with former Prime Minister Meciar and
took office on June 15, 1999. On April 17, 2004,
Ivan Gasparovic, a former Meciar deputy, was
elected president; he was inaugurated on June
15, 2004. Virtually all executive powers of
government belong to the prime minister, but the
president does serve as commander-in-chief of
the armed forces, can grant pardons, and has the
right to return legislation to Parliament.
Parliament, however, can override this veto with
a simple majority of the 150 members of
The country's highest appellate forum is the
Supreme Court; below that are regional,
district, and military courts. In certain cases
the law provides for decisions of tribunals of
judges to be attended by lay judges from the
citizenry. Slovakia also has a special
Constitutional Court, which rules on
constitutional issues. The 13 members of this
court are appointed by the president from a
slate of candidates nominated by Parliament.
In 2002, Parliament passed legislation that
created a Judicial Council. This 18-member
council, composed of judges, law professors, and
other legal experts, is now responsible for the
nomination of judges. All judges, except those
of the Constitutional Court, are appointed by
the president from a list proposed by the
Judicial Council. The Council also is
responsible for appointing Disciplinary Senates
in cases of judicial misconduct.
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Mikulas Dzurinda
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Eduard Kukan
Ambassador to the United States--Rastislav Kacer
Ambassador to the United Nations--Peter Burian
Ambassador to NATO--Igor Slobodnik
Ambassador to the European Union--Maros Sefcovic
The Slovak Republic has an
embassy in the United States, located at
3523 International Court, NW, Washington, DC,
Slovakia maintains a permanent mission to the
United Nations in New York and 11 honorary
consulates in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit,
Denver, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Miami,
Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.
Slovakia opened consulates general in New York
in September 2003 and in Los Angeles in April
Since the establishment of the Slovak Republic
in January 1993, Slovakia has continued the
difficult transformation from a centrally
planned to a modern market-oriented economy.
This reform slowed in the 1994-98 period due to
the crony capitalism and irresponsible fiscal
policies of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's
government. While economic growth and other
fundamentals improved steadily during Meciar's
term, public and private debt and trade deficits
soared, and privatization, often tarnished by
corrupt insider deals, progressed only in fits
and starts. Real annual GDP growth peaked at
6.5% in 1995 but declined to 1.3% in 1999. Much
of the growth in the Meciar era, however, was
attributable to high government spending and
over-borrowing rather than productive economic
The economy grew 5.5% in 2004, the strongest
growth in Central Europe for the fourth
consecutive year, and is predicted to expand by
more than 5% annually in 2005-2007. Headline
consumer price inflation dropped from 26% in
1993 to an average rate of 7.5% in 2004, though
this was boosted by hikes in subsidized
utilities prices ahead of Slovakia’s accession
to the European Union. In July 2005, the
inflation rate dropped to 2.0% and is projected
at less than 3% in 2005 and 2.5% in 2006.
The current account deficit, a long-standing
problem, shrank to $1.4 billion, or 3.4 percent
of GDP in 2004, from its recent peak at $1.9
billion, or 8.8 percent of GDP in 2001. A drop
in the trade deficit accounted for most of the
improvement. In 2004, Slovakia's trade deficit
amounted to 3.4% of GDP, up from 1.9% of GDP in
2003, but much less than the gap of 10.3% in
2001. The foreign trade balance is now largely
influenced by strong growth in capital good
imports related to foreign investments in the
country. This trend will likely begin to reverse
in 2006 when those investments begin production
and selling abroad. Slovakia’s total foreign
debt was $23.7 billion at the end of 2004, up
$5.4 billion from the 2003. The increase in the
level of debt was caused largely by exchange
rate losses of the dollar.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Slovakia
has increased dramatically. Cheap and skilled
labor force, low taxes, a 19% flat tax for
corporations and individuals, no dividend taxes,
liberal labor code and a favorable geographical
location are Slovakia’s main advantages for
foreign investors. FDI has grown by 600% since
2000 to around $13.6 billion or $2,540 per
capita by the end of 2004.
Germany is Slovakia's largest trading
partner, purchasing 28.7% of Slovakia's exports
and supplying 23.8% of its imports in 2004.
Other major partners include the Czech Republic
(13.2% imports and 13.3% exports), Italy (5.6%
and 6.4%), Russia (9.4% and 1.2%), and Austria
(4.3% and 7.8%). Slovakia imports nearly all of
its oil and gas from Russia and its export
markets are primarily OECD and EU countries.
More than 75% of its trade is with EU members
(73% imports and 85% exports). Slovakia’s
exports to the United States made up 4.8% of its
overall exports in 2004, while imports from the
U.S. account for 1.6% of its total purchases
The armed forces of the Slovak Republic number
about 28,000 uniformed personnel and are made up
of Land Forces, Air and Air Defense Forces and a
joint Training and Support Forces Command. Land
forces consist of two mechanized infantry
brigades, one with two mech battalions (BMP-1)
and a tank company (T-72) and the other with two
mech battalions (BMP-2) and a mechanized
Immediate Reaction Battalion. Each maneuver
brigade is or is planned to be task organized
with combat support units, such as an artillery
battalion, an engineer battalion, a logistics
support battalion, and an air defense battery.
Other land forces include a separate NBC
battalion, engineer battalion, ISTAR company,
signal battalion and command support battalion.
Air and Air Defense Forces are comprised of a
fighter wing of MiG-29s, a wing of Mi-24 attack
and Mi-17 utility helicopters, and a SAM
brigade. Military police and a special
operations regiment are under the command of the
General Staff. The armed forces are among the
most respected national institutions according
to national opinion polls.
Slovakia's ambitious roadmap for defense
reform is the Force 2015 Long-Term Plan, which
strikes a well-reasoned balance between
requirements and resources and envisions a
professionalized, combat-capable force of 18,000
uniformed personnel. Slovakia has about 580
personnel deployed to coalition and NATO-led
operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo, as
well as UN-led peace support operations (PSOs)
worldwide. Defense spending was 1.87% of GDP in
2004 and is expected to rise slightly to about
1.9% over the next two years.
Slovakia officially became a member of the NATO
on March 29, 2004 and joined the EU in May 2004.
Slovakia has been an active participant in U.S.-
and NATO-led military actions and a stalwart
partner in the war on terrorism, with military
engineering brigades on the ground in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Slovakia participates in a joint
Czech-Slovak peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
Slovakia is a member of the United Nations
and participates in its specialized agencies. It
is a member of the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade
Organization (WTO), and the OECD. It also is
part of the Visegrad Four (Slovakia, Hungary,
Czech Republic, and Poland), a forum for
discussing areas of common concern. Upon the
division of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Slovakia and
the Czech Republic entered into a Customs Union,
which facilitates a relatively free flow of
goods and services. Slovakia maintains
diplomatic relations with 134 countries. There
are 35 embassies and 26 honorary consulates in
The fall of the communist regime in
Czechoslovakia in 1989 and the subsequent split
of the two republics on January 1, 1993, allowed
for renewed cooperation between the United
States and Slovakia. The election of a
pro-Western, reformist government in late 1998
further boosted close ties between the
countries. The United States delivered more than
$200 million after 1990 to support the
rebuilding of a healthy democracy and market
economy in Slovakia, primarily through programs
administered by the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID). Slovakia and
the United States retain strong diplomatic ties
and cooperate in the military and law
enforcement areas. The U.S. Department of
Defense programs have contributed significantly
to Slovak military reforms.
Millions of Americans have their roots in
Slovakia, and many retain strong cultural and
familial ties to the Slovak Republic. President
Woodrow Wilson and the United States played a
major role in the establishment of the original
Czechoslovak state on October 28, 1918, and
President Wilson's Fourteen Points were the
basis for the union of the Czechs and Slovaks.
Tomas Masaryk, the father of the Czechoslovak
state and its first president, visited the
United States during World War I and used the
U.S. Constitution as a model for the first
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
"Skip" M. Vallee
Deputy Chief of Mission--Larry Silverman
Political Officer--Debra Hevia
Economic Officer--William Laitinen
Commercial Officer--Sanford Owens
Management Officer--Robert Hurlbert
Public Affairs Officer--Barbara Zigli
General Services Officer--Samuel Dykema
Defense Attaché--Lt. Col. Jack Wallace
Office of Defense Cooperation--Major Brad
Embassy in Slovakia is located at
Hviezdoslavovo namestie 4, 811 02 Bratislava
(tel: 421-2-5443-0861 or 421-2-5443-3338; fax:
421-2-5443-0096). Duty hours are Monday through
Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The embassy is
closed on U.S. and Slovak holidays.