Slovakia is a parliamentary democracy with separation of legislative, judicial and executive powers. According to the 2008 Freedom House report, Slovakia is a free country (listed in the “free” category). The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Slovakia in 2008 as a flawed democracy. Transparency International has been critical of Slovakia in terms of insufficient government efforts to deal with corruption.
Since 1990, the formerly centrally planned economy has been transformed into a market economy. Economic performance in terms of GDP per capita (according to PPP) in 2008 has reached approximately 66% of the average performance of OECD countries (OECD, 2010). Three large automobile companies and their supplier network formed the basis of the economy. The dependence on the car industry and the lack of diversification turned out to be a burden for the economy when the global economic crisis led to a recession in 2008. The competitiveness of the economy is still, to a large extent, determined by low labour costs.
Slovakia is located in the heart of Europe, with an area of 49 035 km2. The territory of the Slovak Republic is administratively divided into eight self-governing regions and 79 districts. The population of Slovakia in 2008 was 5.4 million. The population pyramid of Slovakia is contracting, but to a lesser degree than the population pyramids of western and northern European countries.