Czechoslovakia Table of Contents
Slovakia's landforms do not make it as distinctive a geographic unit as Bohemia. Its mountain ranges generally run east-west and tend to segregate groups of people; population clusters are most dense in river valleys. The highest elevations are rugged, have the most severe weather, and are the most sparsely settled. Some of the flatlands in southwestern Slovakia are poorly drained and support only a few people. The main mountain ranges are the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatras) and the Slovenske Rudohorie (Slovak Ore Mountains), both of which are part of the Carpathians. The Vysoke Tatry extend in a narrow ridge along the Polish border and are attractive as both a summer and a winter resort area. The highest peak in the country, Gerlachovsky Stit (also known as Gerlachovka), with an elevation of about 2,655 meters, is in this ridge. Snow persists at the higher elevations well into the summer months and all year long in some sheltered pockets. The tree line is at about 1,500 meters. An ice cap extended into this area during glacial times, leaving pockets that became mountain lakes.
The Slovak lowlands in the south and southeast, bordering on Hungary, are part of the greater Danube Basin. From a point slightly south of the Slovak capital of Bratislava, the main channel of the Danube River demarcates the border between Czechoslovakia and Hungary for about 175 kilometers. As it leaves Bratislava, the Danube divides into two channels: the main channel is the Danube proper, and the northern channel is the Little Danube (Maly Dunaj). The Little Danube flows eastward into the Vah River, which converges with the main Danube at Komarno. The land between the Little Danube and the Danube is known as the Vel'ky Zitny Ostrov (Great Rye Island), a marshland maintained for centuries as a hunting preserve for the nobility. Dikes and artificial drainage have made it possible to cultivate the land for grain production, but it is still sparsely settled.
Data as of August 1987