Official name: Slovak Republic
Area: 48,845 square kilometers (18,859 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Gerlachovsky Peak (2,655 meters/8,711 feet)
Lowest point on land: Bodrok River (94 meters/308 feet)
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 1 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: Not available
Land boundaries: 1,355 kilometers (842 miles) total boundary length; Austria 91 kilometers (57 miles); Czech Republic 215 kilometers (134 miles); Hungary 515 kilometers (320 miles); Poland 444 kilometers (276 miles); Ukraine 90 kilometers (56 miles)
Territorial sea limits: None
Slovakia (or Slovak Republic) occupies an area of Central Europe that constituted the eastern part of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1993. With an area of 48,845 square kilometers (18,859 square miles), it is about two times as large as the state of New Hampshire.
Slovakia has no territories or dependencies.
Slovakia has a continental climate with sharp seasonal contrasts. Mean temperatures are -1°C (30°F) in January and 21°C (70°F) in July. Weather can vary considerably with elevation, however. The January average can be as low as -5°C (23°F) in the mountains, where temperatures are colder than in the lowlands.
Rainfall also varies with elevation. The annual average precipitation in the lowlands is about 64 centimeters (25 inches); in the High Tatras, however, it can be more than twice as high.
The western Carpathian Mountains, which extend over Slovakia's northern and central regions, dominate the landscape. To the south are subsidiary mountain ranges, with distinct lowland areas in the southwest and east. The capital city of Bratislava is located on the Danube River, which flows through the country for a short distance in the west and along part of its southern border.
Slovakia is landlocked.
Clear lakes dot the mountains of Slovakia. Many of them, such as Lake Orava and Lake Popradské, are associated with rivers of the same names. In addition to the natural lakes, there are several artificial ones. Slovakia is known for its thermal springs and mineral waters; its spas are a major attraction for visitors.
Most of Slovakia's rivers flow south into the Danube, which, together with the Morava, forms the country's southwestern border. From a point a few kilometers south of the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, the main channel of the Danube River demarcates the border between Slovakia and Hungary for about 175 kilometers (108 miles). As it leaves Bratislava, the Danube divides into two channels. The main channel, the Danube proper, continues southward along the border with Hungary. The smaller channel, called the Little Danube, branches eastward and then southeast to meet the Váh River. The Váh continues south and converges with the Nitra and with the main branch of the Danube at Komárno. The Hron and Ipel' Rivers also flow south and enter the Danube before the latter turns south into Hungary. Slovakia's eastern rivers also tend to flow to the south, eventually entering the Danube. Among them are the Hornád and the Ondava. The Poprad, also in the east, is the only sizable river that flows northward, into Poland.
There are no deserts in Slovakia.
The corner of southeastern Slovakia between the Little Danube and the Danube, known as the Great Rye Island (Velky Litny Ostrov), is a marshland that supports some agriculture. The lowlands in southwestern Slovakia belong to the Danube Basin, while the lowlands in the east are part of the Carpathian Depression. The mountains of central Slovakia give way to hills in the south-central part of the country.
The portion of the Carpathian mountain system within Slovakia consists of a number of different ranges separated by valleys and river basins. The highest range is the High Tatras (or Vysoké Tatry); these mountains extend in a narrow ridge along the border with Poland and have traditionally been a popular summer resort area. They include Slovakia's highest peak, Gerlachovsky (2,655 meters/8,711 feet). Snow persists at the higher elevations well into the summer months and all year long in some sheltered pockets. To the south, across the Váh River, the Low Tatras (Nízke Tatry) rise to elevations of 1,981 meters (6,500 feet). Still farther south, across the Hron River, are the Slovak Ore (Slovenské Rudohrie) Mountains. In addition to the three major ranges in the center of the country, there are several smaller ones. In the west, the Little Carpathian (Małe Karpaty) range rises near Bratislava. Several ranges, including the Bíelé Karpaty, Javorníky, and Beskid Mountains, extend into the western part of the Czech Republic and southern Poland.
There are a dozen caves open to the public in Slovakia. The Belian Cave in Tatra National Park is 5,778 feet (1,752 meters) long.
Slovakia's southwestern lowland includes some original steppe grassland.
The Belian Cave in Tatra National Park is home to a natural auditorium where musical performances are staged; the cave also provides a habitat for eight distinct bat species.
Dikes and artificial drainage have made it possible to cultivate grain in the former marshlands of the Great Rye Island (Velky Litny Ostrov) in the southeast. Slovakia's largest artificial lake is the Orava Reservoir. Others include the Zemplínska, Velká Domaša, and Liptovská Reservoirs. The country's largest hydroelectric plant is located on the Danube River at Gabcikovo.
Brewer, Ted. The Czech and Slovak Republics Guide . New York: Open Road Publishing, 1997.
Humphreys, Rob, and Tim Nollen. Czech and
Slovak Republics: The Rough Guide . New York: Penguin, 1998.
Husovská, 'Ludmilá. Slovakia: Walking Through Centuries of Cities and Towns . Bratislava, Slovakia: Priroda, 1997.