Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, the Slovak landscape is dominated by the Western Carpathians (see Carpathians). Several parallel chains with intermediate valleys and streams meet the northern and middle parts of the country.
At the far north are the mountains made up of flyschberg rocks as well as clay and sandstones from the Cretaceous period. Wrinkles and excesses here form a nice relief, which was sharpened by the inland ice during the Quaternary period with sharp ridges, niches and various moraine deposits as a result. Here is noticed, among other things. High Tatra with the top Gerlachovský Štít, 2,663 m above sea level. (see the Tatra Mountains) and the West Blacks with the top Babia whore, 1,725 m above sea level. (see the Messages). To the south lies Låga Tatra, 2,043 m above sea level, with a core of crystalline bedrock covered by Mesozoic sediments.
In the southern part of the mountainous area volcanic formations are spreading in the Slovak ore mountains. Along parts of the southern border, especially in the southwest, are lowlands connected with the Hungarian plain. Slovakia is dewatered to the south by tributaries to the Danube such as Váh, Nitra and Hron.
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Slovakia has a warm temperate humid climate with cold winters and hot summers, slightly more continental than in the western neighboring Czech Republic. The strong topography is the main cause of local variations in the weather, which can change quickly regardless of the season. The summers are moderately hot and rain showers are common. Hot days occur relatively rarely. Winters often offer longer periods of calm and cold weather, and extreme cold occurs in connection with eastern winds from the European inland.
The annual average temperature varies between 5 °C and 10 °C except in the mountainous regions where it is cooler (down to –5 °C) and the southwestern lowlands where it is milder (about 12 °C). The average temperature in January varies between 1 °C and −5 °C and in July between 16 °C and 20 °C. The highest measured temperature is 40.3 °C and the lowest –41.0 °C.
The rainfall is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, especially in the western lowlands, with the greatest amounts during the summer. The annual rainfall varies from about 500 mm in the lowlands to over 1,000 mm in the mountains.
Plant-and animal life
Slovakia is dominated by the Carpathian mountain range, with the highest mountains in the Tatra region on the border with Poland. Lowlands are found in the western and southwestern parts of the country in connection with the rivers Váh and Hron. At the far southeast of the border with Hungary and Ukraine there is also a smaller lowland area. Plant and animal life is characterized by fairly intense forestry and agriculture.
Of the country’s nine national parks, Tatra is most famous along the border with Poland. The highest point is the mountain Gerlachovský štit (2 655 m), while the mountain Kriváň (2 495 m) has become something of a national symbol. In the altitudes you will find alpine marmots, gems and alpine sparrows. The forested slopes of stone pine, fir, spruce, pine and larch home to brown bears, wolves, red deer and chamois with golden eagles, Ring Ouzel and black grouse. In the cliff you will find both wall crawlersand rock. Several unique plants can be found here, such as the scrub herb Cochlearia tatrea and mountain sip. The park also houses a hundred smaller lakes, which are the sources of the river Váh. Two valleys – Tichá and Kôprová – in the western part of the national park have become almost legendary; since cattle farming in the alpine parts ceased in the early 1980s and an intensive campaign in the early 2000s stopped the plans for forestry, a truly wilderness-rich plant has emerged with a trunk of about 40 bears, wolf, lo, gems, red deer and tadpoles..
In the northeastern Slovakia is the Poloniny National Park. Together with the neighboring national parks Bieszczadzki in Poland and Uzhansky in Ukraine include Poloniny in the Eastern Carpathian biosphere reserve with a total area of over 200,000 ha. The Slovak side houses a number of valuable forest reserves with beech, silver spruce and spruce. Here live owl, white-backed woodpecker, wolf, lox, red deer and deer, and a small group of wise migrates between Slovakia and Poland. Unfortunately, due to weak legislation in Slovakia, the existing natural values have poor protection.
The southeast corner of the country is flat. When the snow melts in the nearby Carpathians, the floods create ideal conditions for many humid plants and animals attached to marshes, gallery forests along the waterways, swamp forests and meadows. Two areas, Senné and Medzibodrožie, have been set aside as a reserve for bird life in particular. Here is the only nesting site for spoon dryers in the country and other notable species are black-necked dopping, white-eyed duck, egret, night heron, purple heron and silk heron. During the autumn and spring, large amounts of cranes and red poppies accumulate.
In southern Slovakia, on the border with Hungary, lies the national park Slovenský Kras with central Europe’s largest karst area. The semi-open, pastoral landscape with meadows, forest groves and individual trees is characterized by an extensive pasture with cows, horses and sheep where shepherds still look after the animals. Here a world heritage site has been set aside, mainly for the protection of the landscape and more than a thousand caves. However, the National Park with its surroundings also houses a valuable bird life with nesting rocky hills, emperor eagles, tatar falcons, stone eaves, rock sparrows and collar flycatchers. The flora is of a steppe nature with a particularly rich spring and early summer bloom.
In the western foothills of the Carpathians, three national parks – Vel’ká, Malá and Nizky Tatry – are within a relatively small region. All are characterized by relatively high mountains, forests and more cultivated valleys. The fauna is characterized by predators such as wolf, brown bear, lion, wildcat and otters as well as birds such as king eagle, mountain owl, masonry creeper, gray woodpecker, alpine sparrow, ringtrust and stone trout. As with other national parks in Slovakia, protection is weak, hunting and forestry are allowed in large parts, and tourism activities are widespread.
In the border with the Czech Republic and Austria, the Morava River joins with Dyje and the Danube. As in the neighboring countries, valuable wetlands with gallery forests with poplar, oak, lime and elm, swamp forests with ales and ashes, moisture meadows, marshes and reeds with beavers and otters, nesting white stork and black stork, gray goose, roe deer, meadow falcon, meadow hawk, corncrakes.
Just to the east of it and not far from the capital Bratislava are the southwestern, wooded foothills of the Carpathians and Malé Karpaty landscape park with one of the most important occurrences of nesting emperor eagles and tatar falcons in Slovakia as well as black stork, snake eagle, pilgrim falcon and mountain goat.
In 2009, 36% of Slovakia’s area was protected by nature, mainly from so-called protected landscapes, national parks, nature reserves and Natura 2000 areas. Of the nine national parks, Tatransky (741 km2) and Nizke Tatry (728 km2) are the largest. Tatransky is also the first national park opened (1948). Some areas within the national parks are set aside as biosphere reserves within the framework of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere program.