TheFA.com gives you the lowdown on one of Europe's youngest countries - Slovakia
TheFA.com gives you the lowdown on one of Europe's youngest countries - Slovakia...
Slovakia - The Stat Pack
Full country name: Slovak Republic
Full local name: Slovenska Republika
Area: 48,800 sq km
Land Boundaries: 1,524 km
Border countries: Austria 91 km, Czech Republic 215 km, Hungary 677 km, Poland 444 km, Ukraine 97 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Population: 5,422,366 (July 2002 est.)
People: Slovak 85.7%, Hungarian 10.6%, Roma 1.6% (the 1992 census figures underreport the Gypsy/Romany community, which is about 500,000), Czech, Moravian, Silesian 1.1%, Ruthenian and Ukrainian 0.6%, German 0.1%, Polish 0.1%, other 0.2% (1996 figures)
Languages: Slovak (official), Hungarian
Religion: Roman Catholic 60.3%, atheist 9.7%, Protestant 8.4%, Orthodox 4.1%, other 17.5%
President: Rudolf Schuster
Prime Minister: Mikulas Dzurinda
GDP: $66 billion
GDP per head: $12,200
Annual growth: 4%
Major industries: metal and metal products; food and beverages; electricity, gas, coke, oil, nuclear fuel; chemicals and manmade fibers; machinery; paper and printing; earthenware and ceramics; transport vehicles; textiles; electrical and optical apparatus; rubber products
Major trading partners: EU 59.9% (Germany 27.0%, Italy 8.8%, Austria 8.1%), Czech Republic 16.6% (2001 figures)
After the splitting of the old Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia at the beginning of 1993, the Slovaks started their own League Championship later that year and played their first international against Slovenia in November 1993 (won 2-0).
The Slovaks have always had a very proud sense of national identity. It meant a great deal to their people to see a Slovak team take the field for an international in Bratislava some 50 years after the city had last witnessed such an event.
Slovakia failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup Finals in the Far East, finishing third in Qualifying Group 4 behind Sweden and Turkey, but they had managed to hold eventual semi-finalists Turkey to a 1-1 draw in Istanbul.
England and Slovakia have only met once before in a full international, England winning 2-1 in Bratislava last October. Szilard Nemeth, who plays in the Premiership with Middlesbrough, put the Slovaks ahead before David Beckham and Michael Owen scored to secure three points for England.
Despite the best efforts of those who run it, Slovak league football continues to be a rather run-down, poverty-stricken affair. The reduction of the Premier Division from 16 teams to 10 in 2000 was expected to improve the standard of play and bring the crowds flocking back to the grounds. But average crowds actually fell below the 3,000 mark, perhaps unsurprising with the clubs having had to sell their best players.
Seventeen of the squad of twenty players chosen by coach Ladislav Jurkemik for Wednesday's match against England are based outside Slovakia.
by David Barber and James Wright