countryaah, Slovakia has an open economy that is largely driven by
the export of cars and electronic equipment.
Slovakia as part of Czechoslovakia
Until 1948, much of the Slovakian part of Czechoslovakia
was characterized by agriculture, although there were also a
number of small and medium-sized industrial enterprises in
the cities. In the following decades, the communist regime
carried out a large-scale industrialization of the country.
Some unilateral commodity production was placed in the
Slovakian part, while the Czech territories retained most of
the processing of finished products. This lack of
equilibrium between the two state republics was one of the
main contributing causes of Czechoslovakia being split into
two independent countries in 1993.
Slovakia as an independent state
As a new independent state, Slovakia had a difficult
starting point. During the periods under Prime Minister
Vladimír Mečiar (1993-1994 and 1994-1998), the country did
achieve considerable economic growth, but the Mečiar
government's transition to a market economy was half-hearted
and little future- oriented. Companies were often privatized
by ignorant and corrupt buyers who either failed to manage
them or who resold them cheaply, often to foreign owners. At
the same time, serious foreign companies were hesitant to
invest in Slovakia, since the political situation in the
country was considered unstable.
The right-wing government of Mikuláš Dzurinda, who came
to power in 1998, initiated reforms towards a more liberal
market economy. Conditions became more transparent, which
made the country more attractive to foreign investors.
Former state-owned companies, particularly banks and
companies in the energy sector, also came into foreign hands
quite quickly. This led to the country experiencing more
dynamic economic growth, but at the same time increased the
gap between poor and rich, and the social situation
deteriorated for relatively large sections of the
population. The unemployment rate rose to 19.79 per cent in
January 2001. Since 2013, unemployment has been steadily
declining; from just over 14 percent to 5.7 percent in 2018.
Already in 2000, foreign investment in Slovak business
was greater than in the previous seven years combined. Gross
domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.2 per cent annually in
the period 1990–2003. In 2003, the increase was 4.5 per
cent. Together with nine other countries, Slovakia joined
the EU on 1 May 2004. Since then and until 2018, the
country's overall economic growth has been about 60 per
cent. GDP per capita is about 80 per cent of the average in
EU countries (2018).
Collectivized agriculture was one of the few business
areas that worked reasonably well under the Communist regime
in Slovakia. Therefore, first there was no great enthusiasm
for the privatization policy that started in 1990 and was
implemented in a short time.
The agricultural area covers 49.7 percent of Slovakia.
Agriculture and forestry's contribution to GDP is 3.8 per
cent and 3.9 per cent of the working population is employed
in these primary industries (2017). According to Eurostat
statistics, there were 24,460 farms in 2010. The average
size of farms was 77.5 hectares in 2010 compared to 50.2
hectares in 2000.
In the fertile plains of the southwest and southeast,
wheat and other cereals, maize, sunflower and tobacco are
grown. On hills over most of southern Slovakia there are
vineyards. Potatoes, oats and flax are mainly grown in the
fields in the mountainous areas. Fruits and vegetables are
grown largely throughout the country.
Cattle and pigs are the most important of livestock. In
the mountains of central and northern Slovakia, there are
long traditions of sheep farming that not only provide wool
and meat, but also milk for the production of some special
Slovak sheep cheeses. Poultry farming is also important.
There is also hunting, especially on small game and bird.
40.2 per cent of the country's area is covered by forest.
The state owns 41 percent of the forests. In 2017, 8,995,000
cubic meters of timber were produced, which was mainly used
for industrial purposes. The paper industry is relatively
large compared to several other countries in Central Europe.
About a million tonnes of paper is produced annually, most
of which is exported.
Catching fish in rivers and canals, as well as in natural
and artificial lakes has long traditions in Slovakia. In the
communist era, however, many rivers were heavily polluted,
leading to a reduction in fish stocks. After the upheaval in
1989, the situation has gradually improved. In several
lakes, fish farming is mainly driven by trout and carp.
Production amounts to well over 1000 tonnes per year. The
fishing industry's overall contribution to the country's GDP
is negligible (0.002 per cent).
Slovakia's lignite and lignite mines are mainly
concentrated around Prievidza in the central part of the
country and in Vel'ký Krtíš. In the mountains further east,
metal ore is extracted, especially iron, zinc, copper, lead,
magnesite, uranium and mercury. At Gbely in the west, there
are deposits of crude oil and natural gas, which, however,
cover only a modest part of the country's overall needs. The
construction industry has important resources in the
domestic extraction of, among other things, limestone,
gravel and brick clay.
In 2016, 57.6 percent of the country's power generation
came from the four nuclear plants in Bohunice and Mochovce.
Hydroelectric and coal power plants accounted for 16.2 and
11.8 per cent respectively. When it comes to raw materials
for energy production, Slovakia is heavily dependent on
foreign countries. This is particularly true of imports of
crude oil and gas from Russia.
The industry, including the construction industry, the
energy sector and mining, contributed 35 per cent of GDP in
2017, as industrial production increased by 2.2 per cent
compared to 2016. In 2017, 22.7 per cent of the working
population was employed in the industry. Following
Slovakia's accession to the EU in 2004, the country's
industrial sector has grown strongly. Measured according to
the total income of the individual industrial sectors, the
five most important sectors are as follows: engineering 28
per cent, power industry 18 per cent, chemical industry 13
per cent, mining industry 9 per cent and the food industry 9
Slovakia is Europe's seventh largest manufacturer of
motor vehicles and the world's largest manufacturer of motor
vehicles, calculated by number of inhabitants. In 2017, a
total of 1,040,000 cars were produced. About 200,000 people
are employed directly or indirectly in car production, which
accounts for 43 per cent of the country's total industrial
production. Below is an overview of the car percentages
established in Slovakia, where they have production and when
- Volkswagen, Bratislava, 1991
- PSA Peugeot Citroën, Trnava, 2003
- KIA Motors, Zilina, 2004
- Jaguar Land Rover, Nitra, 2018
The Slovnaft oil refinery in Bratislava refines between
5.5 and 6 million tonnes of crude oil annually. The US Steel
iron plant in Košice is the largest integrated steel
producer in Central Europe. In Žiar nad Hronom is the large
aluminum plant Slovalco (formerly ZNSP), where Hydro holds
55.3 percent of the share capital.
Slovakia also produces train carriages, ships,
refrigerators and freezers and radios. The timber, paper and
textile industries are important, and the chemical industry
produces rubber, plastics, fertilizers, building materials,
cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The clothing and footwear
industry also has long traditions. The food industry
includes, among other things, sugar refineries, which
process the country's own sugar beet. Slovakia also has
mills, dairies, as well as the production of mineral water,
spirits, wine and beer. Several Slovak beers have also made
their mark internationally.
There are significant opportunities for both summer and
winter tourism in Slovakia. The Slovak mountains, not least
the Tatra and Fatra mountains, have excellent skiing
terrain. Summer tourists find many marked trails of varying
nature. Slovak rivers, lakes and some artificial ponds are
used for swimming and other water sports. Bratislava, Košice
and a number of other cities offer valuable historical
architecture, museums and other cultural attractions. The
country has many castles and castles from the Middle Ages
and from later periods. Slovakia also has several attractive
spas with natural thermal water used by patients and other
bathers. The main spas are Piešt'any, Trenčian Teplice,
Sliač, Bojnice and Bardejov.
Especially after the country was independently invested
by the authorities in the tourism industry, but initially
there were problems with poorly developed service sector and
poor marketing. The influx of foreign tourists has increased
since the latter part of the 1990s. This trend has continued
following the country's membership in the EU in 2004. The
number of tourists increased from 3.5 million in 2006 to 5.5
million in 2018. Direct and indirect employment of this
industry in 2016 was about 150,000 people. This number is
expected to increase to around 160,000 by 2027.
Since Slovakia joined the EU and part of the EEA in 2004,
the country's economy has become very open and foreign trade
increasingly important for economic growth.
In 2017, total exports totaled US $ 80.8 billion, while
imports totaled US $ 80.7 billion. With that, Slovakia had a
trade balance surplus of US $ 100 million. The three main
export products are motor vehicles, electrical machinery/
equipment and electronic equipment, including computers. The
three main import products are motor vehicle parts, crude
oil and gas.
In 2017, Slovakia's five main export markets were as
follows: Germany 20.9 percent, Czech Republic 11.6 percent,
Poland 7.7 percent, France 6.13 percent and Italy 6.1
percent. The five most important markets for Slovak imports
were: Germany 19.1 per cent, Czech Republic 16.3 per cent,
Austria 10.3 per cent, Poland 6.5 per cent and Hungary 6.4
Transport and Communications
Slovakia's railway network is 3626 kilometers. The total
road network is 56 926 kilometers, of which 464 kilometers
are highways. The country has 35 airports, two of which are
larger international airports (Bratislava and Kočice) and
six are smaller international airports (Piešťany, Sliač,
Žilina, Poprad-Tatry, Prievidza, Nitra and Janíkovce). The
Danube and some channels are used for both passenger and
cargo traffic, primarily for international connections. The
length of navigable waterways in Slovakia is 172 kilometers,
of which 38 kilometers canals. Given the country's central
location on the European continent, Slovakia is an important