|Country name:||Slovak Republic (Slovenská republika, SR)|
|Climate:||continental climate; average temperature between 32 °F in January and 70 °F in July and August.|
|Geographical location:||Central Europe, common borders with Czech Republic and Poland, (North), Ukraine (East), Hungary (South) and Austria (West).|
|Area:||18,930 square miles|
|Population:||5,435,273 million inhabitants (Values: September 2010)|
|Capital:||Bratislava, with 431,061 inhabitants (Values: 2009)|
The culture in Slovakia has been shaped through centuries by the contact between the Slovak, German, Austrian and Hungarian cultures. Various traces that can still be found in the 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.
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, soccer also plays an important role, enhanced by the successful participation of Slovakia in the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
The Ministry for education, science, research and sport is responsible for the 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 to a preschool for free. 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.