Flora and fauna of Slovakia
High variation in altitude in a small area of Slovakia is conducive to the richness of nature. Slovakia is located in the zone of mixed forests, which occupy almost 40% country area -35% of the forest area are beeches, 25% spruces and 11% oaks.
There is a multi-storey arrangement of vegetation across the country. Lowest, around rivers in the lowlands of southern Slovakia, there are riparian forests, in which poplars grow, willow trees, alders and sometimes oaks. Water birds live in them: czaple, cranes, cormorant. A dying bustard species lives near the Danube riparian forests – the largest birds of Europe.
The lowlands and lower foothills are occupied by oak trees (do 550 m n.p.m.), although most of the oak forests were cut down for farmland in the old days. There are, among others,. deer and hares and a lot of birds: quails, pheasants, hazel grouses and hawks.
Zone from 550 do 1100 m n.p.m. are beech forests with the addition of fir and sycamore, which cover most of Slovakia's mountains. In Velka Fatra, the largest yew forest in Europe grows in the beech floor. In some regions ancient primeval forests with trees reaching to 130 m in height (m.in. Stużica in Połoniny and Dobroćsky prales near Cierny Balog). Deciduous forests are inhabited by numerous species of animals, m.in. lis, rusty bat, peeker, wild cat, wild boar and roe deer.
Above the beech forests there are spruce forests that are more resistant to cold and a short growing season, reaching the Carpathian forest border at the height of. 1600 m. It is worth mentioning, that in Slovakia lives more than 850 brown bears (of which approx. 70 individuals).
Over spruce forests, to the height 1800 m n.p.m. there is a mountain pine floor, forming vast fields in the Tatras, Low Tatras and in the highest parts of Mala and Velka Fatra. In the High and Low Tatras, above 1800 m n.p.m. there is a layer of alpine meadows with edelweiss and primula. The highest parts of the Tatras take turns – rocks overgrown with mosses and algae, covered with snow for most of the year.
The most beautiful, at the same time, the wildest mountains in Slovakia are under protection in seven national parks: Tatrzański (STOP, created in 1949 r.; 800 km2 i 600 km of hiking trails; Tatra landscapes, waterfalls, mountain lakes), Pieniński (PIENAP, 1967 r.; 21 km2; Dunajec gorge, rafting), Low Tatras (NAPANT, 1978 r.; 81 km2; 1000 km of hiking trails, wide panoramas, cavernous forests, karst phenomena), Little Fatra (1988 r., 22 km2; picturesque limestone formations, stroma hale, beautiful valleys), Slovak Paradise (1988 r., 200 km2; 320 km of hiking trails; karst land 60 caves, deep canyons, waterfalls, the gorge of the Hornád), Murańska Planina (the youngest and the smallest, 1997 r.; 20 km2, 130 caves, numerous karst phenomena), Połonin (1997 r., 30 km2; southern slopes of the Bieszczady Mountains, forests, meadows).
Slovakia is inhabited by approx. 5,3 million people with an average age of only 33,5 years. Slovaks pose 85,7% residents, Hungarians, living mainly along the southern border – 10,8%, Roma -1,4%, Lemkos and Ukrainians after 0,3%, Czechs – 1%, and the rest of the minorities (including Poles) – together 0,5%. Almost 70% citizens are considered believers. Among them, Catholics constitute 60,3%, Evangelicals 6,2%, a grekokatolicy 3,4%. The rest are Calvinists and Orthodox.