2009 SCO & BRIC Summits > Backgrounder

Backgrounder: Slovakia

Updated: 2009-06-15 10:36

BRUSSELS - Slovakia is due to join the euro zone on Jan. 1, becoming the 16th country to use the euro. The following is a brief description of Slovakia.

Located in the heart of central Europe, Slovakia is a landlocked country bounded by Poland to the north, Hungary to the south, Ukraine to the east and Czech and Austria to the west.

Slovakia has an area of 49,035 square kilometers. The mid and the north of the country is mountainous, and the south and east are typical lowlands, providing a fertile farming region producing wheat, barley, potatoes, sugar beet, fruit, tobacco and grapes.

The most important Slovak river - the Danube - connects the capital Bratislava with the capital cities of two neighbor countries - Vienna and Budapest.

Slovakia has a population of more than five million. Ethnically, the population is 86 percent Slovak, while Hungarians are the largest minority.

It became an independent state in January 1993 after Czechoslovakia split into its two constituent parts. Slovakia was then established as a parliamentary democratic republic with a multi-party system.

The Slovak head of state is the president, elected by direct popular vote for a five-year term but having limited powers. The country has a single-chamber parliament whose 150 members are elected for four-year terms. Most executive power lies with the head of government, the prime minister, who is usually the leader of the winning party in the parliament.

Thanks to the past decade of reforms, Slovakia is characterized by sustained high economic growth. In 2007, Slovakia reached the highest growth of gross domestic product (GDP), which was 10.4 percent, among OECD members.

According to Eurostat, the European Union (EU)'s statistics office, the country's GDP was 54.9 billion euros ($77.4 billion) at market prices in 2007, with an estimated growth rate of 7.0 percent in 2008.

Slovakia's currency is called the Slovak koruna and its official language is Slovak.

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