After Czechoslovakia fell, little by little, Slovakia came from plan economy to market-driven one. Reforms in taxation, healthcare, pension and social security systems that were made in early 2000s allowed the country to apply for the EU membership, which happened in 2004. In 2009, Slovakia became a part of Eurozone and almost all sectors of the economy have passed into private ownership. Active privatization became the reason why foreign companies control almost all banks in the country. The infusion of foreign investment into the country’s economy over the past few years mainly focused on the automotive industry and electronics.
The volume of nominal GDP for 2019 was about $112 billion, which is about $20,600 per capita.
The volume of nominal GDP for 2019 was about $ 112 billion, about $ 20,600 per capita.GDP purchasing power – $203 billion, about $37,268 per capita. For comparison, in Israel in 2019 GDP purchasing power was $42,828 and in Russia – $29,181
Up to the pandemic times, Slovak economy was showing stable growth: in 2018, the growth was 3.8%, but in 2Q of 2019, it slowed down to 1.9%.
Slovakia doesn’t have budget deficit which allows it to control the inflation – in 2019 it was only -0.5%.
Preliminary forecast for GDP growth in 2020 was -3.9% due to economy crisis cause by coronavirus pandemic however, over the summer months, the country managed to improve the actual figure to -3.7%.
There are about 5.5 million people living in Slovakia and there are slightly more women than men – the difference is just a few percent. In last few years, there are more births than deaths in the country – about 57 thousand newborns and about 53 thousand deaths annually.
Average life expectancy is 75.8 years. For men it’s 71.9 and for women it’s 79.9 years.
The total area of the country is 49 thousand km2. The density of population is 110 people per km2, however in Bratislava region it is over 200 people per km2.
Slovakia is a multicultural country: Slovaks is the major population of 85.8%, the biggest minority is Hungarians with 9.7%, also there live Czech, Rusyns, Gypsies and other nationalities.
Russian language is considered to be a language of a minority along with many other languages – there are about 1.1% of Russian native speakers living in Slovakia.
More than a half of Slovaks are Catholic – 68.9%, Lutherans are 6.9% and 13% are atheists. Yet, there live people of many different confessions, such as Greek Catholic, orthodox Christian, Yahudi and others.
Geography of the country:
Slovakia is located right in the center of Europe; total area of the country is 49,035 km2. In the north, it has a border with Poland, in the east –with Ukraine, in the south – with Hungary and in the west – with Austria and Czech Republic.
On the north and northeast of the country there stand beautiful chains of Carpathian Mountains. On the northeast where border with Poland is, an alpine plateau High Tatras is located. It is the highest part of the Carpathians – Gerlachovský štít is 2,655 meters tall and the highest among the peaks. There are also Kriváň, which considered being the most beautiful mountain of High Tatras, and Ďumbier Mountain, which is the highest point of Low Tatras; both those mountains are higher than 2000 m.
On the east of the country the Carpathian rivers are flowing. To the south from the mountains, numerous tributary streams that start high up in the mountains, flow into Danube, and three biggest tributaries are Váh, Nitra and Hron. Danube creates a natural border on the southwest of the country.
Most part of Slovakia’s territory averages 750 meters above sea level – about 80% of the country. The region of Bratislava and Komárno is located in the Pannonian Basin and is the breadbasket of the country.
Almost 40% of the territory in Slovakia is taken by forests of different sorts. Here you can find beeches and oaks, on the northern slopes there grow mostly coniferous forests of fir and silver-fir trees, if you go higher up to the mountains, you’ll find alpine meadows.
Many different kinds of wild animals inhabit mountain forests – reindeers, lynxes, wolves, bears, foxes, squirrels, various weasels and others.
In Slovakia nursery education, primary and middle schools are managed by the system of nursery education, they call it predškolské zariadenia; schools can be state, private or church-run.
High education institutes can be of three kinds: public (Verejné vysoké školy), state (Štátne vysoké školy) and private (Súkromné vysoké školy), or by three types: universities (univerzitné vysoké školy), non-university high schools (neuniverzitné vysoké školy) and professional high schools (odborné vysoké školy). There people can their first – bachelor’s –higher education degree.
The education in Slovakia is free if your studies are in Slovakian language. In private universities you can study in Slovakian (starting €500 per year), English, German and French (starting €3000 per year)
The best universities in the country are: Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava (STU), Slovak Medical University in Bratislava (SMU), Technical University of Košice, University of Economics in Bratislava, Matej Bel University (UMB), Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice.
In the higher educational institutions of the university type, professional universities and in Slovak Academy of Science people run their scientific researches and can apply for degrees of Master and higher.
Salaries in Slovakia are lower than in most developed EU countries, however, low prices for food, fuel, and essential goods largely equalize the purchasing power between residents of different EU countries.
Average salary before tax €1371 / $1520,65 a month (2019)
Average salary after tax €1024.05 / $1135,92 a month (2019)
From 1 January 2020 the minimum wage is €580 before tax and €476,74 after tax. It also affects the basic amount of social and other insurance payments.
Living and working in Slovakia has its pros and cons, as everywhere.
The main benefits of it are:
- Optimal level of life;
- Regular official income;
- Minimal tax for citizens and residents that are parents to three or more kids;
- No need to look for a job for a long time: Russians, Ukrainians and Israelis, if they have bachelor and higher degree and know languages, get a job usually after the first interview;
- There are vacancies for remote work.
The main disadvantages are:
- Paid social services: health and social insurance contributions are taken automatically from your salary and proportional to the amount you earn;
- To get a job in a big prestigious company it’s not enough to have a diploma, you would also need to show that you are an experienced worker.
The modern health care system of Slovakia is funded by the state and is being implemented through the compulsory health insurance for its citizens. The Ministry of healthcare of Slovakia and the Bureau of healthcare supervision controls medical services.
There are five insurance companies in Slovakia that provide the health insurances, and two of them – the largest ones – belong to the state. People can change their insurance company anytime, but there are virtually no competition among them.
If you have a job in Slovakia – you have to pay insurance contributions, this is obligatory for all. Although there are benefit-entitled citizens, for whom their contributions are paid by government:
- Unemployed and those who are in search;
- Disabled people;
- Temporarily disabled by health reasons;
- Military reserve;
- Pregnant women and those who are on leave for childcare
Kids before 18 that live on the territory of Slovakia, despite if they are citizens or not, have to have state medical insurance, it is free and guaranteed by the government.
Minimal contribution that can be taken for medical insurance is €91, though the maximum amount is limited as well and that makes the system loyal to people with high income.
Medical insurance covering most of the medical expenses like supervision by specialists, hospitalization and all types of operations, prenatal care, supervision of newborns, rehabilitation. Sometimes they might charge you extra for some prescription drugs, dental services and medical devices.
Unnecessary medical procedures such as cosmetic surgery, sterilization and medical treatment abroad are not covered by the insurance.
Calling an ambulance in Slovakia is always free even for those who do not have the medical insurance and people can get it at any hospital anytime they need it. Yet, ambulance will only come if you really have an emergency, if the operator considers that you are able to come to the emergency room yourself, no matter what time of the day it is, you’ll be offered exactly this option.
Slovaks have very peculiar mentality, as life is slow here and people are relaxed. We gathered a few interesting facts about them to understand who actually are those people around us.
- Slovaks and work are mutually exclusive concepts – they do not like to work. At all. They would never work overtime, in evenings or on the weekends even for good money. If you ask Slovaks to make a big amount of work that would take them, say, two hours instead of one (and ask a discount because you provide him that much work), obviously, they will ask higher fee per hour as they would work more. Also, they are never afraid to lose their jobs even if they live in areas with high unemployment level. In Bratislava they even have a monument for “typical Slovak” – “Man at work” which represents a plumber looks out of the hatch during the working day and just enjoys the moment
- Slovaks like to do everything slow – you can wait for your appointment with doctor for weeks or even months sometimes. It won’t matter who you will be waiting for – a plumber, an electrician or somebody else, you will wait long enough. For example, it is almost impossible to connect your apartment or office to the Internet in a week.
- Although people are quite slow, when it comes to emergencies when safety of somebody’s life and health is in danger, or in critical moments when law or money involved, they can act together quick and efficiently. For example, governmental services are usually very fast, understandable and clear. This applies to banks and many other facilities on which your comfort of life depends.
- Usually day in Slovakia starts at 6am and at 7am, most people are already at work. At 4pm working day ends, therefore the worst traffic jams happen between 16:00 and 17:00
- A person that wants to do business or works a lot is not going to be very popular among regular Slovaks, because in this country family goes first. It is much more important to spend most part of your time with family and not at work, and that is the reason why you may think people there are not ambitious at all.
An average Slovak prefers to live where his or her children are living or studying. Even if you would offer such person a job with a much higher salary but they would need to relocate for that – that’s not happening.
- Sport is very important for people in Slovakia. An average Slovak can spend hours on his bike, most likely conquered all Tatras peaks in childhood and dreams about jogging in winter and about skiing in summer.
- Here three-year-olds love bread with garlic or lard and feta cheese natierka (soft cheese spreads with different tastes). In general, people here adore their own cuisine and things like sushi or hummus are not very popular, because the tastiest things in the world for them are Bryndzové halušky (feta cheese dumplings) and Vyprážaný Rezeň (pork schnitzel) with chips. You may love Slovakian cuisine from the first try or you may hate it, and most likely, it won’t change through the time. By the way, the most common thing on the table when guests come – a big bowl of crisps, as there is going to be enough for everyone. Nevertheless, when it comes to celebrations, it is in tradition to have feasts. There are traditional recipes and certain order for dishes, and sometimes the feast can go on for the whole day.
- There is always a place for a beer in an average day of a typical Slovak. Cheap beer places, where you can get a pint for 1 euro are literally everywhere. It is not common to drink alone at home but go na pivko (for a beer) with your neighbours – easy.
Wine. Slovaks love their local products and, obviously, wine is among them, everyone would tell you that Slovakian wine is the best in the world. It may be too sour, too sweet or too harsh, but it is local and favourite just because of this fact. Sure, you can find good wines in Slovakia too but in lower price category, they are not as good as Italian or French ones (for the foreigners, of course).
- Slovaks are quite tolerant people, at least they do not show if they are not, and the level of aggression in the society is very low. They may not have high opinion about you, but would prefer not to show it – it is very important to have ‘good vibes’. The country has very low crime rate and high level of self-organization (like, it is unacceptable to be late for work etc.)
- Slovaks love vylety (short trips) for weekends, families are usually out if the weather’s good. In winter, people go to the mountains around the county; in summer – camping, go on holiday to lakes and what they call it ‘Slovak sea’ – to Croatia. Also, they like to go to Balaton lake or thermal springs in Hungary and just for fun to Czech. Very often people go shopping to Austria, but anything further than that for an average Slovak is going to be a real journey. Even if the ticket for tomorrow flight to Rome is 10 euros, the plane may not be full.