Slovakia - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Given the former communist emphasis on public goods, Slovakia inherited an extensive network of public transportation, in the form of bus and train routes, from Czechoslovakia. Even some of the most remote locations may be reached by bus. One of the most significant changes of the post-communist era has been an increase in independent auto ownership. There are 17,710 kilometers (11,005 miles) of highways, including 288 kilometers (179 miles) of expressway, with only 177 kilometers (110 miles) remaining unpaved. A large-scale improvement is planned for the highway system with a cross-country expressway slated for construction. Continued improvements are planned for the railway system in order to bring it more in line with EU standards. The country now has 3,660 kilometers (2,274 miles) of railways.

There are 18 airports in the country. The largest public airports are in Bratislava and in Košice, the second-largest city. Many visitors also enter Slovakia via the Vienna airport, which is only 25 miles away from Bratislava. The 172 kilometers (107 miles) of waterway are provided by the Danube River, which gives Slovakia access to the Black Sea via ports in Austria, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, and Romania. The 2 port cities are Bratislava and Komárno, both of which host shipping companies.

Electricity production stands at 20 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), and the country relies on a 220-volt power system. Most electricity is generated by nuclear power (56 percent), followed by imported fossil fuels (24 percent) and hydroelectric power (20 percent). One of the 2 nuclear plants was being upgraded as of 2000, and the construction of an additional hydroelectric power plant on the Danube has been delayed by a dispute with Hungary.

Slovakia's communications infrastructure is rapidly modernizing. In 2000, Slovak Telecom, the former state-owned communications monopoly , was largely privatized, and access to telephone service is easier. The increased entry of private telecommunications providers and the growing popularity of mobile telephones now provide more competition in this industry. There are 87 mobile phones per 1,000 people in the Slovak Republic, compared to 50 per 1,000 in neighboring Poland, and there are 2 providers of cellular phone service and 5 large Internet service providers. Internet cafes are readily available, which make up for the fact that relatively few Slovak households contain computers (65.1 per 1000 people in Slovakia, compared to 97.3 per 1,000 in the Czech Republic and 457 per 1,000 in the United States). Slovakia also lags behind the Czech Republic in the proportion of radios and televisions but is on a rough par with Poland in these categories.

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