In the middle of Europe lies Slovakia surrounded
by the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine,
Hungary and Austria. Slovakia became independent when
Czechoslovakia was divided in 1993. Since then, the
economy has grown strongly, the country has become a
member of NATO and the EU and switched to the euro as a
Brief profiles of Slovakia, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Slovakia is a coastless country in Central
Europe with a border with the Czech Republic in the
northwest, Poland in the north, Ukraine in the east,
Hungary in the south and Austria in the southwest.
The landscape is dominated by the westernmost
foothills of the Carpathian mountain range. In the north
lies the High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry) and in the central
and eastern parts of the Low Tatras (Nízke Tatry).
Numerous rivers, including Váh, Nitra and Hron, flow
from the mountains down to the plains. Most lead to the
Danube River (Dunaj), which in the south partly forms a
border with Hungary.
In the southwest and southeast there are fertile
plains. Otherwise, Slovakia is largely covered by
Slovakia has an inland climate with cold, dry winters
and hot summers. In the mountainous parts of the country
it is considerably cooler and more rainy than in the
plains of the south, where the capital Bratislava is
located. Most precipitation falls during the summer
months, between June and August.
49,036 km2 (2018)
Adjacent country (s)
Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Austria
Capital with number of inhabitants
Bratislava 422 900 (Estimated 2016)
Other major cities
Košice 239 200, Prešov 90 000, Žilina 81 000, Nitra
82 800, Banská Bystrica 78 700 (estimated 2016)
Gerlachovský Stite (2,633 m asl)
Presidential veto against religious law
President Kiska vetoes the law on the registration of religious communities
adopted by Parliament in November. According to the president, the law is
discriminatory and violates the fundamental civil rights. However, Parliament is
expected to adopt the law again, thereby running over the president.
Sharpened barriers to Islam
Parliament, by a large majority, adopts a law that makes it more difficult to
register religious communities. A religious group must have at least 50,000
members in order to receive state grants and run their own schools, the new law
says. Previously, the requirement was 20,000 members. The bill had been tabled
by the smaller government party SNS, whose leader Andrej Danko says that
"Islamization starts with kebabs and it is already in progress in Bratislava,
just think about what we can see in five to ten years". There are between 2,000
and 5,000 Muslims in Slovakia.
Train patrols are stopped
Parliament, as expected, adopts a law banning right-wing patrols aboard the
trains (see September). The right-wing extremist L'SNS, who is
considered to use widespread EU skepticism for assault against the Roma
minority, says patrolling should continue but elsewhere. The party claims that
residents of eastern Slovakia are "terrorized by asocial parasites".
China threatens revenge
China will, in its own words, "provide an appropriate response" to President
Andrej Kiska's meeting with exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama. According to the
Chinese government, the meeting is a violation of the "a China" line recognized
by the Slovak government. Nothing is said about what kind of revenge is to be
Ex-President Kovač dead
Independent Slovak First President Michal Kováč dies at the age of 86. He was
president from 1993 to 1998 which was a stormy time for the then new state.
Kováč was often on a collision course with the controversial Prime Minister
Vladimir Mečiar, whose undemocratic way of ruling to some extent isolated
Slovakia from the international community.
Party fragmentation is jeopardizing the government
Five of the seven MPs from the small middle party The Network is applying to
join the Bro party. They retain their parliamentary seats, but
the power shift between the parties causes the Network to lose its only
ministerial post, which goes to Bro instead. Smer-SD, SNS and Bro conclude a new
agreement on government cooperation.
Fico wants to bring the EU closer to Russia
Prime Minister Fico said after a meeting in Moscow with President Putin that
the EU should abolish sanctions against Russia. He claims that the penalties
against Russia have not solved any problems. Slovakia is the Presidency of the
EU and will host a meeting with the Union's foreign ministers.
Right-extreme patrols are stopped
The government is proposing a law banning the citizens' guards formed by the
right-wing extremist party L'SNS to patrol the trains in search of the Roma.
New government takes office
The new four-party coalition will take place on March 23. The four parties
agree to lower the corporate tax rate and achieve a budget balance before the
end of the 2020 mandate.
Lighthouse Party coalition clear
Prime Minister Fico announces new government. Smer-SD forms a coalition with
the Slovak Nationalist Party (SNS) as well as with Bro and the Network. Only a
week earlier, they have refused to participate in the government but have now
changed. Smer-SD receives nine ministers, SNS three, Bro two
and the Network one minister. Together, the four parties have
81 of Parliament's 150 seats.
Lots of noble Fico
The parties Network and Bro announce that
they are not interested in a government cooperation with Smer-SD. Prime Minister
Fico will now have to form a new government by March 18, otherwise the
assignment will be transferred to another party leader.
Split Parliament after elections
Following an election movement that largely revolved around the resistance to
refugee reception, parliamentary elections will be held on March 5. Social
Democratic Smer-SD, led by Prime Minister Robert Fico, wins. However, the party
strongly backs from the 2012 election as it got enough votes to govern on its
own. In 2016, Smer-SD gets just under a third of Parliament's 150 seats and is
forced to find at least one other party to work with. Fico, who gets the
president's mission to try to form a new government, says the negotiations can
be tricky as the new parliament becomes politically divided with eight parties
represented, four of which are new in this context. Among the new ones are the
right-wing extremist Kotleba - the People's Party of our Slovakia (L'SNS), which
is supported by just over 8 percent of voters. Party leader Marian Kotleba is an
outspoken Nazi sympathizer and notorious for aggressive attacks on the country's
Roma minority. The rise of neo-Nazis and ultranationalists is considered to be
the result of leading politicians such as Fico, through their rhetoric, rendered
anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant attitudes room-clean. In addition to L'SNS, the
conservative and Euro-skeptical We Are a Family and the Middle-Right Party
Network made its debut in Parliament, while the Slovak Nationalist Party SNS,
also described as right-wing extremism, returns after four years outside the
People's Assembly. Two Christian Democratic parties are leaving Parliament.