Slovakia or Slovak Republic
(Slovak: Slovensko or Slovenská republika, both names are officially recognized), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is surrounded by Austria to the west, Czech Republic to the northwest, Hungary to the south, Poland to the north and Ukraine to the east. Slovakia is a modern democratic country and is a member of the European Union.
The main reasons to visit Slovakia are its natural beauty, vivid history and great opportunities for relaxation (and due to the small size of the country, it is quite easy to combine all three). Slovakia has nine national parks, which cover a relatively big portion of the country and feature the tallest part of the Carpathian Mountain Range, the High Tatras, which offer great opportunities for mountain and winter sports as well as great vistas. Geologically, a sizable part of Slovakia is made out of limestone, which in combination with many springs and rivers has resulted in formation of numerous caves (12 open to the public, several of which are UNESCO listed) and the beautiful rocky formations, canyons and waterfalls of the Slovak Paradise and Slovak Karst. Even outside these areas, there are some beautiful landscapes, and all of Slovakia is covered by thousands of well-marked hiking trails.For history lovers, Slovakia has the highest number of castles and chateaux per capita in the world, ranging from simple ruins to well-preserved habitable castles with furnishings, so if you are a fan of medieval history, look no further. There are also numerous gothic and baroque cities and towns across Slovakia, including the capital. There are also well-preserved examples of wooden folk architecture, including churches made entirely out of wood and the tallest wooden altar in the world.
There are numerous mineral and thermal springs in Slovakia, and around some of these world-famous spas have been built that offer great curative therapies or just simple relaxation. You can also chill out, swim and sunbathe at the shores of several local lakes and pools or try AquaCity waterpark if you are feeling more adventurous. In particular, Bratislava boasts a lively nightlife as well and is a popular partying destination.
The area that is present-day Slovakia has been settled since early Paleolithic era. Before the inward migration of Slavs and Huns, the most important cultures were the Celts and Romans, with Slovakia forming the northermost point of the Roman Empire. To this day, artefacts and evidence of the presence of these cultures can be found.
Slovakia has a temperate climate with sunny hot summers and cold, cloudy, humid and snowy winters. The climate is continental, with four seasons, and while the overall climate is mild, there is a considerable temperature difference between summer and winter months.
Slovakia is a predominantly Catholic Country, so major Christian holidays are observed, as well as some other holidays. Unless indicated otherwise, these days are public holidays and banks and most amenities and shops will be closed:
• Slovak Republic Day – 1st January – Conveniently, Czechoslovakia split into two on the 1st of January, so New Year’s Day is a national holiday. It is traditionally celebrated by sleeping until midday.
• Ephiphany – 6th of January – Celebrates the arrival of the Three Magi into Betlehem. Shops and banks are closed.
• Mardi Gras period (‘Fasiangy’) – this is not a national holiday, but rather a festival season. Some villages will hold a traditional market with food and drinks offered, and there might be a march through the city in masks, and numerous balls, dances and carnivals are held. 6th January till Ash Wednesday (February or March).
• Easter – March/April, dates depend on the lunar calendar. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays. There is a number of different traditions relating to Easter. The traditional food served includes eggs and special Easter Ham, with bread and horseradish.