Top 10 facts about Slovakia
1. Geography and population of Slovakia
2. The official language of Slovakia
3. Currency in Slovakia
4. Internet in Slovakia
5. Economic development in Slovakia
6. Job in Slovakia
7. Working days and holidays in Slovakia
8. The mentality of the residents of Slovakia
9. Advertising in Slovakia
10. Cryptocurrency in Slovakia
1. Geography and population of Slovakia
Slovakia is a small landlocked state in Central Europe. The official name is the Slovak Republic. Slovakia is bordered by Austria to the west, the Czech Republic to the northwest, Hungary to the south, Poland to the north and Ukraine to the east. It is a parliamentary republic and a state with a dynamically developing economy.
Wildlife in Slovakia is quite extensive and varied. Forests cover 40% of the country's territory. The largest forests are located in mountainous areas. In the south, these are mainly deciduous forests (oak and beech) or mixed, in the north and northern slopes, coniferous forests (spruce and fir) grow. Higher in the mountains, forests are replaced by alpine meadows. The forests of Slovakia are inhabited by: deer, lynxes, wolves, bears, foxes, hares, squirrels.
General information about Slovakia:
Area: 49,000 km2
Calling code: +421
Internet top level domain: .sk
The Slovak Republic has one time zone, so all cities in the country have the same time.
Population of Slovakia:
- In January 2021, the population of Slovakia was 5.46 million.
- In the period from January 2020 to January 2021, the population of Slovakia increased by 1,857 people (+ 0.03%).
- 51.3% of the population of Slovakia are women and 48.7% of the population are men.
- 53.8% of the population of Slovakia lives in urban centers and 46.2% in rural areas.
2. The official language of Slovakia
More than 80% of the population consider the Slovak language as their native language. It is very similar to Czech and Ukrainian, so Russian speakers understand it well. Half a million people (about a tenth of the population) are Hungarians who prefer the Hungarian language. By law, in those places where the Hungarian population is more than 20%, their native language is used along with Slovak and is considered the official language.
If you are interested what language is spoken in Slovakia besides Slovak, Czech and Hungarian, it should be noted that the Gypsy dialect and the Ruthenian language are also used between people from Transcarpathia communicate.
The processes of globalization and rapprochement with the EU contribute to the fact that a lot of borrowings from German, Hungarian, Italian and even Russian vocabulary have appeared in the Slovak language. And yet, despite all its tolerance towards representatives of other nationalities living in the country, the official and state language of Slovakia is Slovak.
Different languages prevail in certain regions of the country:
- Northeast - the area of residence of Ukrainian-Russian. The center of their culture is the city of Pryashev, as well as small villages: Bardeyov, Svidnik, Staraya Lyubovna. There are national schools, museums, clubs;
- Compact settlements of Hungarians are located in the southern part of the country - this is the region of Komarno and Dunajska Streda. Although most of the locals are bilingual, newspapers and television broadcasts are published in these regions in Hungarian.
What language is spoken in Bratislava is often asked by those who are going to move to this country to live and work. Answering this question, it should be noted that almost all residents of the capital speak Slovak. English and German, recognized as the languages of international communication, most of the population does not know it well.
3. Currency in Slovakia
On January 1, 2009, the national currency of Slovakia - the Slovak koruna - ceased to exist as legal tender, as Slavic state finally became part of the eurozone and switched to the euro.
€1 = $1,16
*1 EUR - Euro (at the exchange rate for October 2021)
4. Internet in Slovakia
Internet users in Slovakia:
• In January 2021, there were 4.64 million Internet users in Slovakia.
• Between 2020 and 2021, the number of Internet users in Slovakia increased by 111,000 (+ 2.4%).
• The Internet users rate in Slovakia in January 2021 was 85.0%.
The telecommunications market is well developed in Slovakia. The internet users rate of cellular communications in the country is over 118%, with a population of 5.4 million people. Despite the low rate ($0.02 per minute of conversation), there is an opportunity to make money on GSM termination. To do this, you need to choose a profitable tariff plan and connect to high-speed Internet.
Slovakia has some of the highest internet penetration rates in Central and Eastern Europe. The number of users of the World Wide Web is about 4.47 million people, as of 2016 (82.5%). There are many Internet providers in the country that provide broadband services.
5. Economic development in Slovakia
Slovakia is a country with a small population of 5 million. It is characterized by an average standard of living. The country is famous for its mountains, plains and resorts. Obtaining a visa to visit this state is not difficult if you comply with some of the requirements provided by the government.
The economy is developing rapidly in the country. The average is 2% higher than in many EU countries. The economy is growing at the expense of the service sector and the automotive industry.
The unemployment rate remains high when compared with European countries. There are more and more people who want to move to live in Slovakia every year.
Forecast for the development of the Slovak economy for 2021
According to the main analysts of the five largest banks operating in Slovakia, the economy will return to growth, but the number of unemployed will increase. Good "pre-crown times" will return no earlier than the middle of the coming year. According to the results of 2021, the economy should grow by 4%, according to forecasts, the recovery will begin in the spring. Growth must be supported by government economic support measures aimed primarily at medium and large enterprises.
According to forecasts by the Institute for Financial Policy, the second wave of coronavirus will bring smaller losses, exports will remain stable, as well as the labor market, which should create new jobs in the second half of the year.
After the pandemic goes down, the Slovak economy will grow by 6.3% in 2022, including through funds from the recovery plan. In 2023, the economy will also receive support from EU funds, according to the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic.
Reducing economic uncertainty in 2022 will lead to an increase in private investment. It will be added public investment worth more than 1 billion euros. With a total amount of 6.1 billion euros, the latter will serve to support the country's economy until 2026.
6. Job in Slovakia
Among the highest paid positions are mainly representatives of IT professions. Thus, the highest salary - an average of 3024 euros before taxes - was offered to IT architects. The top five best-paid positions last year also included an iOS programmer, attorney, tax consultant, and information security specialist. All of these workers earned more than 2,200 euros per month in gross terms last year.
Highest salaries by profession in Slovakia:
- IT architect - €3000
- IOS programmer - €2500
- Lawyer - €2300
- Tax consultant - €2200
- IT security specialist - €2200
Salaries in Slovakia can differ by almost two times, depending on the region. The highest level of wages is in the western part of the country, the lowest is in the eastern part.
The average salary in Bratislava is about twice as high as in Snina in the Presov region, the city with the lowest wages. In the capital, the average salary is 1,499 euros before taxes, while in Snina it is 789 euros. This is the largest difference in salaries in Slovakia.
Average salary by regions in Slovakia:
- Bratislava - €1500
- Malacky - €1300
- Trnava - €1100
- Senec - €1100
- Hlohovec - €1100
The average salary in the country is about €1000 per month. In Bratislava is higher - about €1500.
7. Working days and holidays in Slovakia
Holidays in Slovakia
January, 1st - Foundation Day of the Republic
January, 6 - Three Kings (Epiphany)
April, 10 - Good Friday
April, 13 - The second day of Easter
May, 1st - Labor Day
May, 8 - Day of Liberation from Fascism
July, 5 - Day of Saints Cyril and Methodius
August, 29 - Day of the Slovak National Uprising
September, 1st - Constitution Day
September, 15 - Day of the Seven-colored Virgin Mary
November, 1st - All Saints Day
November, 17 - Day of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy
December, 24 - Christmas Eve
December, 25-26 - The first and second days of Christmas
Official organizations work from 9.00 to 18.00 on weekdays. In private enterprises, the working day can begin at 6-7 a.m. and end accordingly in 7-8 hours (compliance with European labor legislation is strictly monitored, there is an opportunity to work overtime in production, but with a higher hourly rate, so this is a privilege, which is not accessible to every employee, but there are many who wish, since salaries in the country are low against the background of Western Europe).
Banks - every day, except Sundays, from 9.00 to 11.00 and from 14.00 to 16.00. Saturday - until 12.00. Exchange offices on weekdays usually from 7.00-8.00 to 17.00-19.00, some - around the clock. On weekends - most often from 8.00 to 12.00-15.00.
Supermarkets in residential areas of large cities are open 24/7. Exception - Tesco on Stone Square in the center of Bratislava - until 22.00. There are Vecierka nightlife stores with somewhat overpriced. At the main railway station in Bratislava, there are several kiosks where you can buy cigarettes and some food for a light snack, open around the clock. Probably, there are such in other large cities.
8. The mentality of the inhabitants of Slovakia
The standard of living in Slovakia is lower than in other European countries. The habits of the indigenous people of the state differ significantly from the habits and traditions of other European states. The peculiarities of character and local mentality include:
• Slowness - Slovaks are in no hurry, queues and long waiting times are inherent in many segments of the economy and the service sector.
• Savings - literally save on everything. Starting from water, pumping personal care products;
• Lack of hard work - the local population prefers not to overwork. Instead of higher wages for processing, Slovaks will better save on water;
• The main goal of life is to create a family, have children. If a person is focused on a career or his own business, he seems bad, he devotes little time to his family. For this reason, few of their indigenous population have ambitions and reach real career heights in life.
• Paying bills in cafes and restaurants separately - until people get married everyone pays for themselves.
• Punctuality. The schedule is respected in all areas of life. If the working day starts at 7 in the morning (and this is exactly what happens, including classes in schools), then at 6.50 in the morning you need to be there. If a lecture at a university starts at 8 a.m., then latecomers will not be allowed in, the doors to the lecture hall will be closed. Public transport runs strictly on schedule, non-compliance with the schedule is unacceptable.
• Slovaks are not stay-at-home - they are constantly walking, visiting parks, museums and exhibitions, playing sports. They love to travel, but within the limits of their state.
9. Advertising in Slovakia
Trends and Developments
Advertising rules and practices in Slovakia are developing slowly, inconspicuously but constantly. In many cases, the new rules emerge as a result of EU legislation. In other cases, the new rules reflect a different perception of a particular topic in society. Typically, the new trends are tackled first by creative advertisers and advertising agencies, then infiltrate case law (mostly at the self-regulation level) and finally they are incorporated into legally binding regulations.
2021 has been no exception to this ongoing process. We have seen changes to valid laws, work on completely new laws and the transposition of EU legislation, as well as the interesting case law of the courts and self-regulatory bodies. We have also witnessed the emergence of new advertising topics as well as the strengthening of some advertising forms at the expense of other forms of advertising. Some of the most important or particularly interesting changes and trends are discussed below.
Green Marketing or Greenwashing?
One of the recent trends in the Slovak advertising industry is a significant rise of green marketing.
More and more businesses associate their brand with the concept of sustainability and present their products as eco-friendly, green or sustainable. While it is certainly positive that companies are aware of their responsibility in relation to environmental issues, there is also a growing risk that if the "green" label is used disproportionately, it will become profaned and eventually unattractive to consumers. This is especially the case if this label is used by dishonest businesses that exaggerate in promoting their environmental commitments and actual measures taken to protect the environment. In this case, it is no longer about green marketing. Here we are talking about greenwashing.
As an example, in 2021 the Arbitration Committee of the Slovak Advertising Standards Council (SASC) dealt with an interesting energy-related green-marketing case. The largest energy supplier in Slovakia used a marketing strategy claiming that for a small extra charge, the consumer's household can have energy from purely renewable sources. The SASC Arbitration Committee assessed a complaint from a consumer who claimed that the supply of energy from purely renewable sources in Slovakia is not technically possible, and therefore the ad should be considered deceptive. After examining the evidence, the SASC Arbitration Committee ruled that the advertisement was indeed misleading and decided that the advertisement must be modified or withdrawn from the market.
The SASC Arbitration Committee has therefore taken quite a strict stance on the subject of green marketing, considering that there have been similar cases in Europe, in which the regulatory body ruled in favour of the advertiser, declaring such claim as apparent exaggeration, which is generally accepted in advertising.
In recent years there has also been a notable boom in influencer marketing. More and more advertisers prefer targeting their advertising campaigns to specific audiences rather than disseminating the advertising to the general public. Advertisers have understood that influencers are a perfect tool for ad targeting.
However, the expansion of influencer marketing is increasingly associated with illegal advertising practices. Influencers often fail to transparently label their collaboration with a brand, and so consumers (often teenagers) confuse the advertising with the true preferences of the person influencing their commercial decisions. More importantly, however, influencers often arbitrarily attribute to products health effects that they do not actually have. This is especially the case when an influencer, who is aware of their marketing potential, is introducing and marketing their own brand in order to promote its sale among their followers.
These negative side-effects are caused by:
• a lack of general awareness of advertising rules among influencers;
• a shifting of responsibility for creating content from marketers to influencers;
• an absence of comprehensive and targeted regulation of this area.
Due to the boom of influencer marketing and the need to address the issues described above, there are already discussions among professionals that might soon result in the adoption of a set of rules for influencer marketing, at least on a self-regulatory level.
Advertising of Cannabidiol (CBD) Products
Slovakia was one of the last EU countries in which the sale and advertising of CBD products were prohibited (as CBD had been classified as a narcotic substance for a long time). With effectiveness from 1 May 2021, the Slovak Act on Narcotic drugs has been amended and CBD deleted from the list of prohibited substances. Online shops and all forms of online media platforms were almost immediately flooded with offers of various CBD products.
From the perspective of advertising regulators, it will be important to keep this market within the limits of existing advertising rules and, where appropriate, to create specific ones. Most importantly, it will be crucial to prevent the spread of false health claims as well as the spread of ads that would sound like advertising cannabis rather than advertising a CBD product. Reminders are necessary that cannabis remains a banned narcotic substance, the sale of which is very severely sanctioned in Slovakia.
Preparing for a Post-cookie Digital World
The Slovak digital marketing industry, just as with the digital marketing industry anywhere in the world, currently faces one extraordinary challenge: a need to adapt to a digital environment without third-party cookies. Due to the official announcement of Google about its plan to phase out support for third-party cookies from Chrome in late 2023 (following similar decisions by Safari and Firefox), digital marketing will change dramatically. The aim of this change is to create a more private, transparent and trustworthy internet.
The end of the “cookies era” will certainly trigger a higher interest from advertisers and publishers in targeting alternatives. Apart from the focus on the first-party data-driven audience and solutions that are expected to be born in Google's Privacy Sandbox, one of the alternatives for ad targeting based on third-party cookies might be the “good old” contextual targeting. However, contextual advertising will certainly be a bit different from its historical form. Never-slowing IT developments, including evolving artificial intelligence, may, and most likely will, cause contextual advertising to be not just about page content and keywords, but about the use of more sophisticated, machine-learning technologies that provide a much better understanding of the content and allow brands to reach audiences in a more meaningful way to create more relevant consumer experiences without intruding consumers' privacy.
Implementation of New EU Legislation
As mentioned before, Slovak legislation is often substantially influenced by EU laws, meaning that, in addition to adopting new legislation based on current needs of local significance, there is constant progress on the legislation regulating issues common to all EU member states (including consumer protection, privacy and the protection of intellectual property rights). Currently, there is work in progress on the transposition of recently adopted EU laws such as:
• Directive (EU) 2018/1808 amending the Audiovisual Media Services Directive;
• Directive (EU) 2019/790 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (the "DSM Directive");
• Directive (EU) 2019/789 laying down rules on the exercise of copyright and related rights applicable to certain online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions of television and radio programmes; and
• Regulation (EU) 2019/6 on veterinary medical products.
In the future, Slovak advertising legislation – in particular, the legislation regarding digital advertising – will be further shaped by upcoming EU legislation such as the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, and the Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications (the "e-Privacy Regulation").
New Act on Media Services and the Introduction of Co-regulation
One of the most anticipated events in the Slovak advertising industry in connection with the transposition of EU laws is the transposition of Directive (EU) 2018/1808 amending the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. In this regard, the adoption of a new Act on Media Services is expected. The Act on Media Services is supposed to replace the current Act on Broadcasting and Retransmission and the current Act on Digital Broadcasting, and unify the rules for audio-visual service providers.
Slovakia is experiencing a delay with the transposition of the Directive but interested parties from the advertising and media industry have decided to embrace the transposition for a comprehensive recodification of the rules for audio-visual service providers.
Among many other changes, the new legislation is also expected to bring significant changes to the advertising industry. At the time of writing, the wording of the new legislation is not known, but the topics that will be addressed can be guessed.
One of the most important changes under the Directive is certainly an extension of the regulation of audio-visual media services to video-sharing platforms and social media platforms, provided that the provision of programmes and user-generated videos constitutes an essential functionality of that service. These platforms compete for the same audiences and revenues as traditional audio-visual media services and thus there is no reason why they should be excluded from the scope of the regulation. In consequence, rules and restrictions regarding commercial communications contained in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive will also be applicable to these platforms and their operators.
Another important change to be introduced as a result of the transposition is the substantial strengthening of the protection of the privacy of minors in the online space in connection with targeted advertising. The Directive explicitly states that the personal data of minors collected or otherwise generated by media service providers shall not be processed for commercial purposes, such as direct marketing, profiling and behaviourally targeted advertising. This restriction should be applicable to video-sharing platforms and even to social media platforms. The parent and the child should therefore be sure that if they transfer personal data – for instance, for verification of the child's age – the data will not be further evaluated by advertisers for the purposes of targeted advertising.
Last but not least, the Directive encourages member states to use co-regulation and self-regulation to regulate and enforce the regulation regarding audio-visual media services. This is perhaps the most challenging point for the transposition of the Directive in Slovakia. Slovakia already has a strong and well-respected self-regulation system of advertising thanks to rules set out by SASC that bring together organisations actively involved in the marketing communication process and is a member of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA). However, despite its good reputation and well-functioning enforcement system, the self-regulation remains enforceable basically only vis-à-vis the members of the association. The new Act on Media Services could finally introduce a co-regulation system, in which the self-regulation would be supported by state regulation. For example, self-regulation could offer the first instance of enforcement (relying on extensive know-how and more flexibility) and state authorities could serve as a watchdog and intervene in cases where the self-regulation proves to be insufficient.
Advertising versus Sponsoring – "Evergreen" in Slovak Case Law
If there is evergreen in advertising-related case law in Slovakia, it is certainly the question about the difference between advertising and sponsoring. The reason why there is so much attention to this topic is very simple. According to the Slovak tax laws, the provision of advertising services can be subject to VAT deduction, while sponsoring, in general, cannot be subject to VAT deduction (although there are several exceptions; for instance, the logo of the company that is publicly known and ubiquitous may serve as a relevant basis for advertisement).
The courts have again assessed numerous cases relating to this matter. The essence of the court proceedings was mostly the question of whether the plaintiff’s communication was an advertisement or a sponsoring, and, consequently, whether the plaintiff was entitled to a VAT deduction.
In this regard, it must be noted that there is an older opinion of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic, according to which: “In advertising, it is possible to use subjective evaluation comments, highlighting the properties of the product, or by various other means promoting the advertised product. On the contrary, in a sponsorship link, such means of expression cannot be used and in general, the sponsorship link cannot contain typical advertising elements.” It seems that despite this straightforward rule of interpretation, there is still room for the substantiation of advertising elements in sponsorship relationships.
10. Cryptocurrency in Slovakia
Slovakia Cryptocurrency Laws
Regulation of Digital Currencies: Cryptocurrency, Bitcoins, Blockchain Technology
On March 23, 2018, the Ministry of Finance published guidance explaining that revenues stemming from cryptocurrencies must be taxed and that any type of exchange, such as an exchange of a virtual currency for an asset or a service rendered or for another virtual currency, must be considered to be a taxable transfer.
The guidance says that virtual currencies must be treated as “short-term financial assets other than money” and priced at market value at the time of transaction and that cryptocurrencies directly obtain from mining shall be kept off-balance sheet until they are sold or traded.
Earlier the Finance Minister had noted that trade in cryptocurrencies, which is unregulated and anonymous, involves risks of terrorism and organized crime.
“We perceive virtual currencies as having two roles now: one as a means of exchange and the other, as an investment asset,” says Slovakia's Finance Minister Kažimír “We are really interested in solving the issues related to taxation of the income stemming from its exchange for goods, as well as of the income stemming from trading such a cryptocurrency.” Slovakia evidently is tackling the issue of crypto taxation, if not at least with a directive issued in March, clarifying a number of questions concerning the topic.
Cryptocurrency taxes for individuals in Slovakia
For private individuals profits made from cryptocurrencies are taxable. Thus, income from the sale of cryptocurrencies is listed under "other income" in personal income tax return. The taxable amount can be lowered by corresponding costs, yet it has to be noted, that this only is possible to the level of the income obtained. As for other income, the tax rates applying are either 19% or 25%. Whereas the first applies for a total income lower than 35.022,31€, the latter if the total income is above this.
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