General information about Slovakia

Official name: Slovak Republic

Area: 49,035 sq. km (18,933 sq. miles)
Capital city: Bratislava (population: 452,288)
Population: 5,397,036 (2011 census)
Population density: 109.9 inhabitants per sq. km
Official language: Slovak

Slovak (86%), Hungarian (10%), Roma, Czech, Ruthenian, German, Polish, Ukrainian

Roman Catholic (60%), Greek Catholic, Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Calvinist, Jewish

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The Slovak Republic lies in Central Europe. The country’s geography is characterized by major differences in altitude. Central and northern Slovakia are mountainous regions covered by the Carpathian Mountains. Southern and eastern Slovakia are lowland regions, and important agricultural areas of the country. The Danube River connects Slovakia with Vienna and Budapest, the Rhine-Main channel, and Black Sea ports.

Hungary (679 km), Poland (597.5 km), Czech Republic (265 km), Austria (127.2 km), Ukraine (98 km)

The Slovak Republic enjoys a mild continental climate, with distinctive rotation of seasons. The average daily temperature is -2°C in winter and 21°C in summer. The coldest month is January; the warmest months are July and August. On average, snow cover remains in the highest locations for 130 days a year.

Time Zone: 1 hour ahead of GMT; summer time, which lasts from March to October, is 2 hours ahead of GMT, as in most European countries.

Currency: Euro

Foreign currency (including travellers cheques) can be exchanged at bureaux de change, large hotels, all banks, and at major travel agencies.

Direct international telephone calls can be made to most countries in the world. IDD is available. Country code: 421. Outgoing international code: 00 + the code of the appropriate state + area code + telephone/fax number

Telephone calls to emergency numbers (see below) are free of charge. Emergency centres offer permanent service including aid in the event of car accidents and repair of all vehicle types.

Important telephone numbers:
General emergency number:………………………………. 112
Police:……………………………………………………………… 158
Medical emergency:………………………………………….. 155
Fire emergency:……………………………………………….. 150
International telephone information service:……… 1181
Road emergency:(ASA Slovakia)……………………..  18124

These numbers operate throughout Slovakia.

National and public holidays:
January, 1st       – New Year’s Day, Establishment of the Slovak Republic
January, 6th       – Three Magi, Orthodox Christmas
March, April       – Good Friday and Easter Monday
May, 1st               – May Day
May,8th               – Victory Day – The End of the Second World War
July, 5th               – The Holiday of Ss. Cyril and Method
August, 29th       – Anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising
September, 1st    – Constitution Day
September, 15th  – Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows
November,1st      – All Saints’ Day
November, 17th   – Day of the Fight for Freedom and Democracy
December, 24th   – Christmas Eve
December, 25th-26th – Christmas Holidays

Most shops and all public institutions are closed on national holidays.

Credit cards:
Major credit cards (American Express, Diners Club, VISA and Eurocard/Mastercard) and debit cards (Maestro and Visa Electron) may be used to withdraw cash from the ATMs of major banks (VUB, Tatra Banka, Slovenska Sporitelna) and for paying in hotels, restaurants, shops and petrol stations. Credit cards can also be used to obtain cash. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other available services.

Travellers cheques:
Thomas Cook, American Express and Visa travellers cheques are accepted in most major banks (VUB, Tatra Banka, Slovenska Sporitelna) and at exchange offices. Bank commissions are at least 1% of the nominal cheque value. To avoid additional charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US dollars, pounds sterling or euros.

Eurocheque: These must be used with a cheque guarantee card and may be cashed up to a maximum of 215 EUR per cheque. Up to 10 cheques may be presented at once.

Currency restrictions: The import and export of local and foreign currency is permitted up to the equivalent of  5,000 EUR. All currency must be declared.

Passports and visas:

VISAs: Slovakia is part of the Schengen area, and allows visa-free entry to all EU citizens. For more information about visas, please consult the Slovak Foreign Ministry’s website.

PLEASE NOTE: It is not possible to obtain an entry visa upon an arrival at Bratislava Airport or any other port of entry to Slovakia. Please contact the nearest Slovak Embassy for visa information.

Important customs rules:
The following duty-free items can be imported to Slovakia:

Tobacco products: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco or a combination of these amounts
Alcoholic beverages: 1l of spirits, 2l of wine
Petrol: maximum reserve of 10l
Perfumes: 50g
Eau-de-toilette: 250ml
Drugs: according to personal need
Gifts and other items up to a value of 175 EUR
Pets can be transported only with the necessary veterinary permission
Weapons: only if accompanied by a covering letter

On leaving the country approximately the same rules apply. Objects of art and historical value need a licence and customs duty must be paid.

There are more than 1,000 hotels in Slovakia and the number of private lodging facilities is increasing. Hotels are classified in accordance with international standards from one-star to five-stars, according to their facilities and the services offered. Tourists may also stay in private lodgings, guesthouses and camps. There are many small villages in around the mountains with well-equipped family houses that partly serve as lodging for tourists. In holiday resorts, visitors can select lodging from many individual cottages.

Bratislava conference facilities are considered to be the best ones in Slovakia.

Shopping – opening hours:
Most shops are open Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Smaller shops have lunch breaks. Big stores and shopping centres are typically open until 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. Tesco hypermarkets (found in Banska Bystrica, Bratislava, Kosice, Nitra and Trnava) are open 24 hours. Basic food can be bought in smaller shops (vecierka), which are open seven days a week and also at night.

Slovak local cuisine reflects the influence of contact with neighbouring countries. European meals, domestic specialities and foreign meals are available. In Bratislava there is an unlimited range of choice, including kosher food, French meals, as well as “smorgasbord”-style buffets. Motorests and original “tchardas” present all kinds of regional specialities – from Slovak cooking in the north of the country to Hungarian and fish meals in the Danubian region in the southern part of the country.

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