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Banskobystrický kraj - Characteristic of the region
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Banskobystrický kraj - Characteristic of the region

24.02.2023 |

Location, area, geographical conditions

Banskobystrický kraj is the largest region of the Slovak Republic with an area of 9 454 km2.  Its share of the total territory of Slovakia is 19.3%. It is located in the southern part of central Slovakia, bordering the Republic of Hungary in the south, Košický kraj in the east, Trenčiansky kraj and Žilinský kraj in the north and Nitriansky kraj in the west.

The territory of the region belongs to the basin of the rivers Hron, Ipeľ and Slaná. Banskobystrický kraj is characterized by a great geomorphologic diversity, from alpine locations in the north of the area, through rugged central part with mountains interrupted by valleys, to the slightly undulating lowlands of Juhoslovenská kotlina basin in the south of the area.

The highest point of Banskobystrický kraj is the hill Ďumbier (2 045 m above sea level) located in Nízke Tatry mountain in Brezno districts. The lowest point in the region is the outflow of Ipeľ river from the region in the cadastral area of the municipality Ipeľské Predmostie in Veľký Krtíš district (126 m above sea level).

The region has a long tradition in the field of mining. Deposits of gold, silver and copper had been used since the 13th century, especially in towns Kremnica, Banská Štiavnica and Banská Bystrica. At present, the local mining activities are in decline and the branch of mining is moving to areas with non-metallic minerals. Significant silicate deposits are located in the silicate zone near Lučenec with the occurrence of non-metallic ceramic, refractory and various additional raw materials for the production of ceramic materials and glass. Magnesite ore is mined and processed in the vicinity of Revúca. Building stone occurs mainly in the north, brick raw materials in Poltár district, gravel in the southern districts and quartzite in Žiar nad Hronom district.

There are 4 national parks – Národný park Nízke Tatry, Národný park Slovenský raj, Národný park Muránska planina, Národný park Veľká Fatra, 4 protected landscape areas - Poľana, Cerová vrchovina, Štiavnické vrchy and Ponitrie and 11 national natural monuments, 54 natural monuments, 22 national nature reserves, 110 nature reserves, 40 protected areas and 8 bird protection areas.

According to the territorial-administrative arrangement in compliance with the Act of the National Council of the Slovak Republic No 221/1996 Coll. the region is divided into 13 districts – Banská Bystrica, Banská Štiavnica, Brezno, Detva, Krupina, Lučenec, Poltár, Revúca, Rimavská Sobota, Veľký Krtíš, Zvolen, Žarnovica and Žiar nad Hronom. There are 516 municipalities, 24 of them are towns. The largest district is Rimavská Sobota district (it occupies 15.6% of the regional area), the smallest is okres Banská Štiavnica (it occupies only 3.1% of the regional area). Urban population represents 51.7% of total population. The towns with the highest population exceeding the number of 40 thous. inhabitants at the end of 2021 are Banská Bystrica and Zvolen. Almost 19% of the regional population lives in them.

Demographic background

With a population of 620 986 as at December 31, 2021, Banskobystrický kraj accounted for 11.4% of the Slovak population. The population density of the region – 66 inhabitants per km2 was the lowest of all regions. The highest population density had Banská Bystrica district, where 134 inhabitants live per 1 km2, the lowest Krupina district with 37 inhabitants per 1 km2.

There has been observed total decrease in the population for a long-time in the region caused by higher numbers of deaths than births and a negative migration balance. Also in year 2021, fewer children were live-born (5 849), more persons died (9 444) and the emigration exceeded by 1 020 persons immigration. Despite the fact that the pace of growth of the child component and senior component was balanced in 2021, the population of the region was aging. The share of children under the age of 14 in the population created 15% and was by 3.3 p.p. lower than the share of the population older than 64 years. The productive population made up 66.7%. The average age of the population reached 42 years.

During the year 2021, 2 861 engaged couples got married. Although the number of marriages increased by more than 15% year-on-year, it did not reach the values of the pre-pandemic years. In the region, 990 marriages were divorced. It was by 20 divorces more than in 2020, but in the long term, the divorce rate has been decreasing in the region.

Economic and social specifics

The economically active population made up 51% of the population, the employment rate (20-64) reached 71.3% and the unemployment rate 10.2%.The average nominal monthly earnings reached EUR 1 250 and was the second lowest in comparison with other regions. It lagged behind the national average by 11%.

From the view of business statistics as of December 31, 2021, there were 28.2 thousand legal persons, 80% of them were organizations focused on profit generation and 36.1 thous. natural persons, nearly 91% of them were self-employed persons. More than 18% of enterprises as well as of self-employed persons operated in the branch of wholesale, retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles. Enterprises further focused their business on the sector of professional, scientific and technical activities (15.3%) and industry (12.7%). The most of self-employed persons (more than one-fifth) operated in construction.

The gross domestic product of Banskobystrický kraj achieved of EUR 8 694 mill. at current prices and accounted for 8.8% of national GDP. Regional GDP recalculated per capita lagged behind the national average by 23% and reached EUR 13 949 at current prices.

 Industry accounted for more than one quarter on regional gross value added, public administration, defence, compulsory social security, health and social work for 18.1% and trade, transport, accommodation and food service activities 16.9%.

Medium-quality agricultural land makes up 43% of the regional territory. The southern part of the territory focuses mainly on agricultural production (growing cereals, maize and grapes). Meadows and pastures, located in the northern area, are used for breeding of cattle and sheep. Sheep numbers in this region have been the most numerous for a long time. The region is also characterized by the largest area covered by forests, which create almost half of the regional area. The logging (mainly in northern and north-eastern part of region) exceeds several times the values of other regions.

The industry is mainly oriented for the production of metals and metal products, the production of other non-metallic mineral products, the production of food and beverages and the production of machinery and equipment. Turnover reached EUR 5.7 billion in 2021, but in comparison with the other regions were the lowest. This sector provided working opportunities for 50.7 thous. persons, which is also the least within Slovakia.

The construction also lagged behind other regions. Construction production carried out by own employees reached EUR 495 million and contractually agreed construction production EUR 385.6 million. There were built 1 069 dwellings in the region, most of them in Banská Bystrica district (316) and Zvolen district (180).

The mountains and valleys in Banskobystrický kraj adversely affect the construction of the communications. Natural conditions do not allow significant development of individual modes of transport. The length of the road network in 2021 was 3 207 km, only 128 km of them were built as expressways. There were registered 373.6 thous. motor vehicles in the region. Passenger cars created 71% of them.

Education represents a wide network of school facilities. There were 381 kindergartens, 264 primary schools, 27 grammar schools and 58 secondary vocational schools in 2021. The Matej Bel University and the Academy of Arts have its seats in Banská Bystrica, the Ján Albrecht Music and Art Academy in Banská Štiavnica.

The care for health of the population provided 1 610 health facilities in 2021. There were included 21 hospitals, dominated by the F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital, 1 235 outpatient health care units and 5 institutes for treatment. Spas and spa care in towns and municipalities Sliač, Kováčová, Dudince, Brusno, Číž and Sklené Teplice have also significant role.

In the field of culture, Zvolen is an important center, with seat of drama scene of the Jozef Gregor Tajovský theatre. There is annually organized a festival of drama – Zvolenské zámocké hry. The Banská Bystrica is the seat of the opera scene and ballet scene of this theatre. There were together 16 permanent scenes and theatrical spaces in the territory of the region. Visitors also had at their disposal 4 galleries and 32 museums and readers could visit 242 libraries.

Banskobystrický kraj offers many cultural and natural monuments. The towns Banská Bystrica, Banská Štiavnica and Kremnica have been declared for urban monument reserves, while Banská Štiavnica has been inscribed on the World Heritage List. The municipalities Špania Dolina, Štiavnické Bane and Sebechleby – Stará Hora are monumental reservations of rural settlements. The natural beauties of the northern part of the region are widely used as centres of winter tourism. During the year 2021, 347.6 thous. visitors travelled to the region and they were accommodated in 681 accommodation facilities.

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