About Slovakia

Country name: Slovak Republic (Slovenská republika, SR)
Climate: continental climate; average temperature between 0 °C in January and 21 °C in July and August.
Geographical location: Central Europe, common borders with Czech Republic and Poland, (North), Ukraine (East), Hungary (South) and Austria (West).
Area: 49,030 square kilometres
Population: 5,435,273 million inhabitants (Values: September 2010)
Capital: Bratislava, with 431,061 inhabitants (Values: 2009)
Official language: Slovak


The Slovak culture has been shaped through centuries by the contact between the Slovak, German, Austrian and Hungarian cultures. Various traces that prove it are to be found in architecture, traditions and everyday language.

Also, some historically relevant sites have been added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, e.g. the Spiš Castle, the mining town Banská Štiavnica, the farming village Vlkolínec or the wooden churches of the Carpathian Arc. Slovak specialties, as for example the cake Trdelník or the bryndza cheese, have received the protected geographical designations from the EU.

L´udovít Štúr and Pavol O. Hviezdoslav are the most famous representatives of poetry, which significantly contributed to the development of an international identity. In popular folklore festivals, for example in Detva or Východna, folk songs revive every year.

Slovakia is particularly well-known for being the home country of outstanding opera singers, among others, Miroslav Dvorský, Dalibor Jenis or Edita Gruberová. Among the contemporary writers of Slovakia, we can highlight Michal Hvorecký, born in 1976, whose books are also translated into German.

Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Slovakia. The Ice Hockey World Championships, held in May 2011 in Bratislava and Košice, attracted the public’s attention in spite of the early defeat of the Slovak team. Furthermore, football also plays an important role, enhanced by the successful participation of Slovakia in the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

Nine recognised minorities live in Slovakia, including Hungarians (around 8.5 percent), Roma (around 7 percent), Carpathian Germans and Rusyns. German is by far the most studied language in the Slovak schools, along with English.

The cultural exchange between Germany and Slovakia is based on the bilateral agreement on cultural cooperation from the 1st of May 1997 (which came into force on the 28th of May 1998). The focus is on the promotion of the German language, but also in the academic and school exchange programmes, as well as cultural events. The Goethe-Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Central Office for Schools Abroad (ZfA), and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation are engaged in these fields.

Another link between both countries is the Carpathian German minority in Slovakia. Approx. 5,000 Slovaks declare to belong to this minority, which is supported by the German Federal Republic in terms of cultural, educational, and social development activities.

The important bridge function of the German minority was expressly acknowledged by the former president Christian Wulff, when he visited Slovakia in the end of September 2011.


The Ministry for education, science, research and sport is responsible for general school education, vocational education, higher education and professional development. However, local government and education authorities are responsible for school management to a great extent.

One year before the start of compulsory school, children can go for free to a preschool. The general compulsory school begins at the age of six and lasts for ten years. All children go to a general elementary school for the first four years. After that, they have the possibility to attend either a secondary grammar school or a technical secondary school -or to stay in the same school and attend these schools later on, after completing Year 10.

It is necessary to pass an admission test to attend a grammar secondary school. The latter is completed with an Abitur. Also in the technical and vocational schools it is possible to obtain the Abitur partially.

The Abitur is a requirement to take an admission test for any university or higher education school. The latter are private higher education schools which are specialised in certain areas (Law, Economy, Technology). The Slovak Abitur is also recognised in Germany.

German as a foreign language is an important principle for the relations between both countries.  The international German-Slovak School, founded in 2005 in Bratislava, is still developing. The first Abitur will be offered in the year 2016. In the bilingual department of the grammar secondary school in Poprad, between 50 and 60 students receive the German Abitur every year. In addition to this, pupils can take the Deutsche Sprachdiplom (DSD) II awarded by the Conference of Education Ministers of Germany in 25 selected grammar schools. With it, they do not need to take any other German exams to start a degree in German universities or higher education colleges. Moreover, since 2012 it is possible to take the DSD level I in these schools. In 2012 there were more than 700 participants in the examinations for DSD-I and DSD-II. Medium-term, until 2014, 1000 students are expected to take the examinations in both levels.


The media coverage in Slovakia is diverse and comparable to that of other European press landscapes, in spite of the relatively small market. Popular daily newspapers are “SME” and “Pravda”, the economic newspaper “Hospodárske Noviny” and the tabloids “Nový Čas” and “Plus jeden deň”. Also German media are represented by the monthly magazines “Das Karpatenblatt” and the “Pressburger Zeitung”. German politics are a regular topic covered by the Slovak press.

At the beginning of 2011, the public broadcasting services for television and radio (Slovenska Televizia – STV, Slovensky Rozhlas – SRo) merged into the public broadcasting company “Slovak Radio and Television” (Rozhlas a Televizia Slovenska – RTS). The public broadcasting channels of Slovakia are under great pressure from the commercial private channels, which often have higher viewer numbers. They are also substantially bigger, particularly when taken into account together. Many German channels are received through cable network.

Nowadays, communication and information gathering on social networks are increasingly gaining importance, particularly among the present generation of pupils and students. Facebook is in the leading position.