Country Profiles: Slovakia
Capital and largest cityBratislava
Area48, 800 sq km
Population5,447,502 (2007 est.)
CurrencyEuro (as of January 2009)
Slovak, the official language of Slovakia, is an Indo-European language which is very similar to Czech, and has also been influenced in its formation by other Slavic languages such as Polish and German. It is spoken by 5 million people in Slovakia, as well as in countries including the US, Czech Republic, Serbia, Ireland, Romania, Hungary, Poland and Canada. Slovak uses a variation of the Latin alphabet, which includes 4 added diacriticals (accents) placed above particular letters. Many dialects are intelligible to both Czech and standard Slovak, but Eastern Slovak dialects differ in structure and so are closer to the Rusyn language.
Slovakia has been referred to as a tiger economy - specifically as the Tatra Tiger - meaning it has gone through a period of sustained and very fast economic development which has then been accompanied by an increase in standard of living, and so has the fastest growth rate in the EU and OECD. Since independence it has moved from a centrally run economy to a thriving market economy, and now has a GDP of $109.6 billion (as of 2007.) Privatisation is almost uniform in the country, for example the banking sector which is almost entirely under private control. It is a member of organisations including the EU, NATO, UN, OECD, WTO and UNESCO.
The labour force is split between majorities in the industry and service sectors, and exports include vehicles, machinery equipment, base metals, chemicals and plastics. Car manufacture in particular is a key industry, with companies Volkswagon, Kia and Citroen all having bases in the country. Slovenia is popular with foreign investors because of its low tax rates and labour costs, and consequently in recent years it has developed a programme for encouraging foreign investment. At the end of 2008, Slovakia went from being an Aid Receiver from the World Bank to being an Aid Provider.
Science and Technology
A key research centre in Slovakia is the Slovak Academy of Sciences, which is currently specialising in research in nature, society and technology. It is affiliated with 41 scientific and ancillary institutes. Also important in Slovakian research is the Institute of Political Science, which is part of the SAS, and specialises in international relations as well as domestic politics. Slovak inventions include the wireless telegraph, the first parachute and the steam and gas turbine, as well as the creation of the first electric motor and generator. Slovak Ivan Bella went to space as part of the Russian-French-Slovak mission on the Mir space station in 1999.
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