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Slovakia Overview: Land and People

Most of Slovakia is traversed by the Carpathian Mts., including the Tatra and the Beskids. Gerlachovka (8,737 ft/2,663 m) in the High Tatra, is the highest peak. S Slovakia is a part of the Little Alföld, a plain. Its fertile soil is drained by the Danube and its tributaries, notably the Váh. Several of its rivers have been dammed for hydroelectric power. Major cities include Bratislava and Komárno , which are the major Danubian ports; and Košice , Trnava , and Nitra .

Slovaks comprise more than 85% of the population; other groups include Hungarians (about 10%), Romani (Gypsies), and Czechs (who are ethnically and linguistically related to the Slovaks, but have a separate history and cultural traditions). A law passed in 1995, and strongly opposed by Hungarians and other minorities, made Slovak the sole official language; additional minority language restrictions in 2009 led to new tensions (as have laws in Hungary granting ethnic Hungarians special rights). Hungarian is widely spoken in S Slovakia. About 70% of the population profess Roman Catholicism, and there are significant Protestant (mainly Lutheran), Eastern Orthodox, and Uniate minorities.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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