The Slovak Republic is a landlocked nation in Central Europe as well as a member state of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations, OECD and the World Trade Organization. It has a population of a little over five million and an area of about 49,000 square kilometers or 19,000 square miles.
Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, the Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. The largest city is the capital, Bratislava, and the second largest is Košice. Communist rule ended in Czechoslovakia in 1989, during the peaceful Velvet Revolution and was followed by the country's dissolution into two successor states. In July 1992 Slovakia, led by Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, declared itself a sovereign state.
During the autumn of 1992, Mečiar and Czech Prime Minister Václav Klaus negotiated the details for officially disbanding the federation and in November the federal parliament voted to dissolve the country officially on the 31st of December 1992. The Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic went their own separate ways on January 1st 1993 - an occasion often called the Velvet Divorce.
Slovakia has remained a close partner with the Czech Republic with both countries cooperating with Hungary and Poland in the Visegrád Group. Slovakia became a member of NATO on the 29th of March 2004 and of the European Union on the 1st of May 2004. On January 1st 2009, Slovakia adopted the Euro as its national currency.
The Slovak topography is noted primarily for its mountainous nature, with the Carpathian Mountains running across most of the northern half of the country. Among these northern mountain ranges are the snow-clad peaks of the Tatra Mountains. To the north near the Polish border are the Tatra Mountains which are a popular skiing destination and home to numerous beautiful lakes and valleys.
This is where the highest point in Slovakia, the Gerlachovský štít at 2,655 metres or 8,711 feet, and the highly symbolic mountain Kriváň are located. The main Slovak rivers are the Danube River, the Váh River and the Hron River. The M.R. Štefánik Airport is the main international airport in Slovakia and is situated in Bratislava. It is located 9 kilometers or 51/2 miles north east of the city center.
It serves civil and governmental, scheduled and unscheduled domestic and international flights. The airport has enjoyed rapidly growing passenger traffic in recent years with service of 279,028 passengers in 2000, 1,937,642 in 2006 and 2,024,142 in 2007. There are also smaller airports served by passenger airlines including those in Košice and Poprad. The Port of Bratislava is one of the two international river ports in Slovakia. The port connects Bratislava to international ocean traffic, especially the interconnection from the North Sea to the Black Sea via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.
In addition, there are tourist lines that operate from the Bratislava passenger port, including routes to Devín, Vienna and elsewhere in Europe. For visiting tourists Slovakia offers natural landscapes, pristine mountains, caves, medieval castles and villages, folk architecture, health spas and ski resorts...