Slovakia: Land of Castles on the Danube
With the blue Danube River flowing peacefully through its lands, Slovakia, a landlocked country in Central Europe, is blessed with beautiful scenery and a pleasant climate. The country also has one of the highest quantities of castles anywhere in the world, which range from ruins to wellpreserved structures.
Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic to the northwest, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south and Austria to the southwest. Most of the country's territory is situated in the western Carpathian Mountains and its southwest and southeast are covered by open plains. About one third of the country is forested. The main rivers in Slovakia are the Danube, Morava, Váh, Hron and Hornád, which are part of the Danube River basin. The total length of the country's dense river network is 367 km.
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and sits on the banks of the Danube at the foot of the Little Carpathians. It is the country's most important river port as well as its political, economic and cultural centre. The city is home to the Slovak Academy of Sciences, several universities and many cultural organisations. It includes both an old town and a modern area. The old town is filled with historic sites such as Bratislava Castle, which is the capital's most important landmark and originally the site of a Roman fort.
The High Tatras are a paradise for mountain climbers and hikers and are known as “Nature's Blessing in Slovakia.” Tatra National Park covers the area and is Slovakia's most famous national park. Slovakia also has the largest area of karst topography anywhere in Central Europe, making it a favourite spot for anyone who enjoys spelunking. The Ochtina Cave is one of only three aragonite caves in the world, and the Dobsinska Ice Cave was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List along with the Slovak Karst. Slovakia also features about 180 castles and other protected sites, as well as about 1,200 manor houses and tall buildings.
As a country with rich historical and cultural heritage, Slovakia brought wonderful performances featuring folk songs played on traditional, national instruments to this year's “Colourful World” event.
Dressed in black hat and coat with white wool trousers, a veteran performer began by playing the traditional Slovakian fujara. This long, bamboo-shaped instrument originated in Central Slovakia among sheepherders who would perform at traditional festivals, creating a uniquely melancholic sound. The fujara can be up to two metres long and was inscribed on the UNESCO list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.
Next came a traditional flute performance that accompanied a folk song about the Slovakian grasslands. As the third instrument that was involved was revealed, audience members were again drawn to its unusual shape. It looked like the handle of an umbrella at one end and a flute at the other with the two parts being connected by a sheepskin pouch. These were the Slovakian bagpipes. The audience was then presented with a folk song describing the life of a shepherd and extolling the virtues of physical labour.
China has established an opportunity to cooperate economically with Slovakia via the Belt and Road Initiative. Slovakian infrastructure projects can take advantage of the initiative and boost the country's transport in the north-south and east-west directions. In 2017, Slovakia passed a bill to develop economic relations between the two countries from 2017–2020. Future cooperation will mostly focus on investment, trade, transportation, tourism and scientific innovation.