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Slovakia - Overview

Capital: Bratislava

Population: 5,431,363 (July 2005 est.)

Languages: Slovak (official) 83.9%, Hungarian 10.7%, Roma 1.8%, Ukrainian 1%, other or unspecified 2.6% (2001 census)

Religions: Roman Catholic 68.9%, Protestant 10.8%, Greek Catholic 4.1%, other or unspecified 3.2%, none 13% (2001 census)

Currency: Slovak koruna (SKK)

Timezone: GMT+1

Although not as popular with expatriates as the coastal areas of Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, Slovakia has experienced a significant increase in the number of foreigners relocating there over the last several years. This increase is largely due to the relatively low cost of real estate as compared to much of western Europe. The low cost of living combined with an exciting array of outdoor pursuits has attracted a sizeable expatriate community. In addition, the Slovak Republic's low rate of income tax (at a flat 19%) is a draw for those on a fixed income.

The Slovak Republic is situated at the geographic center of Europe, and its citizens commonly refer to their young nation as "the heart of Europe." Slovakia shares international borders with the Czech Republic in the northwest, with Austria in the southwest, with Hungary in the south, with Poland in the north, and with Ukraine in the east.

The Danube, the largest river in Slovakia, ultimately flows into the Black Sea, as do its three main tributaries, the Morava, Vah, and Hron rivers. The Vah River is the longest in the country, at almost 400 kilometers.

Slovakia is home to the oldest glacial cave in Europe, Demanovska jaskyna.

Slovakia's terrain is comprised of the High Tatra Mountains in the north, the lower Carpathian mountains in the middle, moderate foothills in the west, and the Danube River Basin in the south. Slovakia is largely mountainous, with about 80% of the country at 750 meters or more above sea level, and about 40% of that heavily forested. Gerlachovsk Peak is the tallest mountain, at 2,655 meters above sea level.

In June 1992, the Slovak parliament voted to declare independence from Czechoslovakia, and did so peacefully in 1993. Subsequently the newly sovereign nation joined both NATO and the EU in 2004.

A common misconception is that Slovakia was part of the former Yugoslavia, which is not the case. The similarly named Balkan nation of Slovenia is probably the cause of this misconception. Slovakia is not located in the Balkan Peninsula and was not involved in the conflict that took place there during the 1990's.

Read more about this country

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