Just in case Slovakia hasn’t caught your attention yet as a study abroad destination, here are some things you probably didnd’t know about this country in the heart of Europe.
Andy Warhol is celebrated here!
An obscure Slovakian town, Medzilaborce, houses the world’s second-largest collection of Andy Warhol paintings (after Pittsburg). Even though Warhol himself never visited Slovakia, his parents were from this town and he is celebrated here.
By the way, other famous people with Slovak heritage include Audrey Hepburn, Jon Bon Jovi and Angelina Jolie.
Slovakia is often confused with Slovenia!
If you’ve ever confused the two, don’t feel bad – you’re not alone. In fact, there’s a great story circulating on the internet that once a month the embassies of the two countries meet up to exchange mail. This doesn’t actually happen – but mail does sometimes end up in the wrong country.
These two Central European countries are only a couple of hundred kilometres apart, but they were actually formed by different processes: Slovenia used to be part of Yugoslavia, and broke away in 1990 to become independent after a 10-day war; Slovakia broke away from the Czech Republic peacefully in 1993.
Drinking is a national sport
Slovakians are in the world’s top 10 when it comes to drinking alcohol, with the average adult consuming the equivalent of 13 litres of pure alcohol each year (as opposed to the Canadian average of eight litres per person).
Highest number of castles per capita
Slovakia claims to have the highest number of castles per capita in the world. However, Germany also makes that claim, and Wales claims the #1 spot for the maximum number of castles per square mile. Who knows? However, for a small country, Slovakia does have a lot of beautiful castles, which attract thousands of visitors each year, so remember to visit a few when you study here. Notable castles include Bratislava castle, Orava castle, Bojnice castle and the medieval Spiš Castle.
The only capital in the world bordering two countries
Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital city, is right on the border of Austria and Hungary and is the only capital city in the world that borders two independent countries. Bratislava, once the capital of Hungary, is located on the banks of the Danube river, and just a 90 minute boat cruise to Vienna.
Remarkably diverse nature
Slovakia has more than 6000 caves – the most spectacular ones are in the national parks of Low Tatras, Slovak Paradise and Slovak Karst. Ochtinska Aragonite Cave is the only aragonite cave in Europe, and the huge 34m high column in Krasnohorska Cave is even listed in the Guiness Book of Records.
Slovakia also boasts more than 1300 mineral springs. Don’t miss the spa town of Piešťany, which is famous for the healing effects of the town’s thermal waters.
The country also boasts nine national parks and 14 protected landscape areas, ranging from the towering mountains of the high Tatras, with peaks over 2500 m and glacier lakes that have been formed thousands of years ago, to the lush alpine meadow and beautiful valleys of Little Fatra and Pieniny.
World Heritage Sites
For a small country of just over 5 million people, Slovakia punches above its weight in world heritage sites. The country’s seven heritage sites include ancient and primeval beech forests, the Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst caves, Vlkolínec (a typical rural European settlement in the mountains), Spiš Castle and the historic towns of Bardejov and Banská Štiavnica (a mining town).
Post-secondary education in Slovakia
Slovakia offers quality education at a reasonable price for foreign students – expect to pay between US$2000 – US$8000 per year at a university.