Slovakia Geography, Politics and Culture
Slovakia is a landlocked country, however this is offset by the amount of mountains and forests that cover its territory. The relief is mountainous, dominated by the Carpathian chain. The mountainous areas are covered by forests that support an important timber industry. More than 40% of the country’s area is covered by them. The fertile plains of the Danube and Uh rivers concentrate agriculture (grasses, potatoes, sugar beets, horticultural products). The country has abundant resources of metals, copper, zinc, lead, and mercury. There are also oil fields, coal and natural gas.
According to Allcitycodes, the climate in Slovakia is temperate, with relatively warm summers and cold, cloudy, and wet winters.
Walking in the woods is a popular entertainment in Slovakia. There are thousands of miles marked (red, blue, yellow, and green markings are used on trees, rocks, or other appropriate places) and from time to time there are poles where arrows indicate the distance to the next point of interest. There are different routes that allow you to reach castle ruins or archaeological sites or simply places with beautiful views of nature.
The territory of Slovakia has an area of 49,035 km2 and borders with five countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Poland and Ukraine. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, it is located only 55 km from Vienna, 290 km from Prague and 160 km from Budapest.
Politic and government
- Official name: Slovenska Republika.
- Administrative division: 3 regions, divided into 38 municipalities, and the capital zone.
- Capital: Bratislava 460,000 inhab. (1999).
- Other cities: Kosice 244,400 inhab.; Presov 95,300; Zilina 87,600; Nitra 87,400; Banská Bystrica 84,400 (2000).
- Government: Parliamentary Republic. Ivan Gasparovic, president since 2004. The prime minister (Iveta Radičová, 2010 – 2014), who is usually the leader of the political party that wins the last elections and must form a coalition with a majority in parliament in order to govern. The prime minister is appointed by the president. The rest of the cabinet members are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister.
- Unicameral Legislative: National Council of the Slovak Republic, made up of 150 members, elected in proportional representation for four years.
The highest-ranking judicial body is the Constitutional Court, which deals with constitutional issues. The Court has 13 members who are appointed by the President from a list of candidates nominated by Parliament.
- National holiday: September 1, Constitution Day (1992).
- Armed forces: 20,000 (2003). Others: 3,950 (Border Guards, Internal Security Forces and Civil Defense Troops).
- Main political parties: Movement for Democracy-Popular Union; People’s Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia; Slovak Christian Democratic Union.
- Main social organizations: the Confederation of Trade Unions of the Slovak Republic (KOZ-SR), led by Lodges Englis. Slovak Union of Nature and Landscape Protectors (environmentalist).
The many fortifications perched on the hills bear witness to Slovakia’s long history of invasions. Bratislava was the coronation city of Hungarian kings for almost 300 years, it was the favorite city of Maria Theresa of Austria. The old part of the city is a pedestrian zone, full of palaces, fountains and statues, with cafes and terraces in its streets.
The life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven are linked to Slovakia, mainly the village of Dolná Krupa (60 km from Bratislava) and the Brunswick family. In this town Beethoven taught to play the piano, in several seasons, to the young people of the family, one of the most important of the Hungarian aristocracy.
Slovak celebrities include Štefan Banič, the inventor of the parachute in 1913, and Andy Warhol, an expatriate pop artist in the United States.
The national sport is ice hockey. A rare and interesting tourist curiosity in eastern Slovakia is the large number of churches in rural areas built of wood, which bear some similarities to the Stavkirke in Norway.
The most traditional dishes are the potato dumplings with pecorino cheese and the cabbage soup with sausage.
The music popular began to replace folk music from the 1950s, when Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia ; American jazz, R&B, and Rock and Roll were popular, in addition to waltzes, polkas, and czardas (csárdás), among other folk forms. In the late 1950s, radios were common household items, although only state stations were legal. Popular Slovak music is presented as a mix of bossa nova, cool jazz, and rock.
After the Velvet Revolution and the declaration of the Slovak state, to a large extent national music, diversified as the freedom of enterprise, allows a great expansion in the number of bands and genres represented in the Slovak market.
Saint Lucia, the day of the witches (Slovak tradition)
The day of Saint Lucia is held in Slovakia on December 13. Before the Gregorian calendar was established (in 1582) it was considered the shortest day of the year. For this reason people considered it the most dangerous day of the year, from the point of view of the evil forces and the most important day from the point of view of the witches.
Christmas in Slovakia
The traditional Christmas food is carp (Cyprinus carpio). This fish is sold in the squares, I live in swimming pools. It is taken out of the water with a net and weighed. It is then wrapped in paper and brought home. At home the bathtub is filled with water. The fish can be in the bathtub some days. Before bathing, people put the fish in a sink, bathe and then return it.
Christmas dinner is eaten in Slovakia at 6pm. At Christmas the father kills the fish and cuts it and then they fry it. The fish is eaten with a potato salad with mayonnaise. In some houses, different types of meat are also prepared (turkey breasts, fish fillets, etc.). Christmas night is known as the Night of Plenty.
At Christmas, a large number of cakes are prepared, in the same way many tropical fruits and dried fruits are eaten.