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Prešovský kraj - Characteristic of the region
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Prešovský kraj - Characteristic of the region

12.01.2022 |

Location, area, geographical conditions

Prešovský kraj is located in the northeast of the Slovak Republic. With its area of 8 972.8 km2, it occupies 18.3% of the country. It is the second largest region within Slovakia. The long northern border is also the state border with the Republic of Poland. It borders Ukraine in the east, Košický kraj in the south, Banskobystrický kraj in the southwest and Žilinský kraj in the west.

The northernmost point of the region is located in the cadastral area of Becherov, the southernmost in Sečovská Polianka, the westernmost in Vysoké Tatry and the easternmost point, which is also the easternmost point of Slovakia, is located in Nová Sedlica. Gerlachovský štít peak (2 655 m above sea level) is the highest point of the region as well as Slovakia. The lowest point is the outflow of Topľa river from the region in the cadastral area of Sečovská Polianka (104 m above sea level). The relative altitude difference is 2 551 m. Due to the different altitude of highlands and lowlands, the region is divided into three climatic areas – cold, moderately warm and warm.

The relief of the region is significantly rugged. The largest areas of the region are occupied by the mountains Spišská Magura, Podtatranská brázda, Spišsko-šarišské medzihorie, Levočské vrchy, Bachureň, Šarišská vrchovina, Pieniny, Ľubovnianska vrchovina, Čergov, Busov, Ondavská a Laborecká vrchovina, Beskydské predhorie and Bukovské vrchy. These mountains create Vonkajšie Západné Karpaty sub-province. The territory of Prešovský kraj also include mountains Vysoké Tatry, Podtatranská kotlina, Kozie chrbty, Nízke Tatry, Hornádska kotlina and Branisko (mountains of Fatransko-tatranská oblast area) and also the mountains Slovenský raj and Čierna hora, which are included in mountain range Slovenské rudohorie. Košická kotlina basin, Slánske vrchy hills and Vihorlatské vrchy hills still extend by their northern parts to Prešovský kraj.

The upper sections of the main rivers Hornád, Torysa, Topľa, Ondava, Laborec and Poprad are located on the territory of Prešovský kraj. The rivers Poprad and Dunajec form a part of the border with Poland. The basin of the Poprad river includes a very important territory of Vysoké Tatry mountains. Eleven watercourses from this area provide drinking water supply. The reservoirs Starina and especially Veľká Domaša hydrologically and qualitatively affect the streams on which they lie.

The region has rich reserves of minerals. The most important of them are reserves of rock salt, limestone, building stone, brick raw materials, zeolite and manganese ore.

There are 5 national parks - Tatranský národný park, Pieninský národný park, Národný park Nízke Tatry, Národný park Slovenský raj a Národný park Poloniny, 2 protected landscape areas – Vihorlatský prales, Východné Karpaty, 51 national nature reserves, 80 nature reserves, 5 national natural monuments, 33 natural monuments, 7 protected areas and 10 bird protection areas.

Administratively, the region is divided in accordance with the Act of the National Council of the Slovak Republic No 221/1996 Coll. to 13 districts: Bardejov, Humenné, Kežmarok, Levoča, Medzilaborce, Poprad, Prešov, Sabinov, Snina, Stará Ľubovňa, Stropkov, Svidník and Vranov nad Topľou. The largest district is Poprad district (1 104.7 km2) and the smallest Stropkov district (388.9 km2). There are 665 municipalities in the region, 23 of them have the status of a town. Prešovský kraj has the lowest proportion of urban population within the regions (46.1 %). The most populated is Prešov (87,9 thous. inhabitants) – the centre of the region. It is also the third largest town in Slovakia. Population higher than 50 thousand also has Poprad. Almost 17% of the regional population lives in these two cities.

Demographic background

With a population of 827 028 as at December 31, 2020, Prešovský kraj is the most populated within Slovakia. Its share was 15.1% on the Slovak population. Population density was equal to 92 inhabitants per km2 and reached the second lowest value after Banskobystrický kraj. The highest density of population was in Prešov district (189 inhabitants per km2), the lowest in Medzilaborce district (28 inhabitants per km2).

In 2020, 9 997 children were born and 7 975 people died. For a long period, the region has had the highest number of births and the highest natural increase, but due to the high migration decrease the total increase per 1,000 inhabitants reached only 0.95 in 2020. Since 2015, the share of post-productive population has been growing by 0.5 % per year but the proportion of the pre-productive has stagnated. Despite the stagnation, the share of the children (0 –14 years of age) was the highest (18%) in comparison with other Slovak regions. Population of Prešovský kraj was the youngest within Slovakia despite mild growth of the mean age (39.1 years in 2020).

In 2020, 3 916 marriages were concluded and 996 marriages were divorced. Number of marriages declined slightly in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, the number of marriages was up to 21% lower than a year ago. The number of divorces has stagnated over the last five years. Its year-on-year decline in 2020 was 9% and compared to other regions the least significant.

Economic and social specifics

Due to the lack of job opportunities, the inhabitants of Prešovský kraj often went to work in other regions or abroad. In 2020, the economically active population accounted for 48.3 % and the economic activity rate reached 58.9 %. The employment rate in age 20 – 64 years has been rising slightly till 2019. In 2020 it declined by 1.9 p. p. in comparison with previous year and reached the level 67.7 %. Up to 2019 the unemployment rate has been sharply declining, but in 2020 it rose by 2 p. p. at level 12.1 %. It was the highest within the regional comparison and almost doubled the national average. The average monthly earnings reached EUR 1 091 and was the lowest within Slovakia.

The business activities of the population were influenced by the conditions and opportunities in the given region. At the end of 2020, there were 28.8 thous. legal persons operating in the region, 23.8 thous. of them were profit-oriented enterprises. Almost a third of enterprises did business in industry, 14.8 % in construction and 11.3 % in professional, scientific and technical activities. In Prešovský kraj, 53.9 thous. self-employed natural persons operated, 93.7% of them run business on the base of the tradesmen act. More than a third of self-employed persons focused their activities on construction, almost 19 % on industry and 14 % on trade.

Prešovský kraj is one of the less efficient regions of Slovakia in the evaluation of its economic position. The regional gross domestic product amounted to EUR 8 569 mill. at current prices in 2019. The volume of GDP generated in the region represents on Slovak GDP the share of 9.3 %. Regional GDP recalculated per capita reached EUR 10 604 at current prices. This represents 61.6 % of national GDP per capita.

In 2019, the sector of industry accounted for the largest share, almost 22 %, of regional gross value added. Public administration, compulsory social security, health and social activities accounted for 17.9% and wholesale and retail trade, transportation, accommodation and food service activities for 17.7 %.

Agricultural land occupies 41.5 % of the total area. Almost two-fifths of it is arable land, on which mainly cereals, fodder, oilseeds and potatoes are grown. The region is known for the largest production of potatoes. Cattle breeding predominates in animal production. The region manages the largest areas of forest land together with Žilinský kraj and Banskobystrický kraj.

The industry in the region is diverse without a significant focus on some manufacturing sectors. The manufacture of metals, wood, food, electrical and machinery equipment, chemicals, textile and clothes are importantly presented. Industry is concentrated mainly in district towns. The most important enterprises of the region include: Tatravagónka in Poprad, Lear Corporation Seating Slovakia in Prešov, Pivovary TOPVAR, a.s., MECOM GROUP in Humenné, MILK-AGRO in Prešov, Nexis Fibers in Humenné, Bukóza Export-Import in Vranov nad Topľou, Chemosvit Folie in Svit, Bukocel in Hencovce and others. Turnover of industrial enterprises seating in Prešovský kraj reached EUR 5.0 bill. in 2020. There were employed 52.6 thous. persons in the industrial sector.

In 2020 regional construction organizations carried out construction production by own employees for value EUR 584.9 mill., contractually agreed construction production achieved EUR 579.2 mill. There were 2 099 new flats built, 37,4 % of them in Prešov district and 16.1 % in Poprad district.

The Prešovský kraj has an important position on the north – south but also east – west lines of international transport. The important main Slovak northern road corridor connecting towns Bratislava – Žilina – Poprad – Prešov – Košice passes through it, in the direction north – south the eastern international corridor Poland – Stará Ľubovňa – Prešov and Poland – Svidník – Prešov, which continues along a common route to Košice and Hungary. International railway lines, resp. railway lines of national importance pass through town Žilina – Košice – Medzilaborce and Plaveč – Prešov – Košice. There is an international airport in Poprad. The airport serves mainly for area of Vysoké Tatry, other parts of the region have air connections from the international airport in Košice. Public bus transport is provided by widely branched lines. For individual motorists, there is a dense network of roads of various categories with a length of 3 182 km equipped by services and petrol stations. More than a fifth of Slovak motorways are located in Prešovský kraj. In 2020, there were registered 397 523 motor vehicles in the region, 73.4% of them were passenger cars.

Education is represented by a wide network of school facilities. There were 538 kindergartens, 393 primary schools, 38 grammar schools and 67 secondary vocational schools in 2020. The University in Prešov and College of International Business ISM Slovakia have the seat in the centre of the region.

In 2020, health care was provided in 1 955 health care facilities, which also included 17 hospitals, 1 531 out-patient care units and 7 institutes for treatment. The network of health care facilities is complemented by natural curative spas for treatment of respiratory diseases in Vysoké Tatry, for treatment of the digestive system in Bardejov, for treatment of circulatory systems in Vyšné Ružbachy and for treatment of skin diseases in Červený Kláštor. In addition to the sources of medicinal mineral waters used in spas, the territory of Prešovský kraj is also rich in natural sources of mineral table waters Ľubovnianka, Sulínka, Salvator, Baldovská, Cigeľka and others.

There were available 7 scenes in permanent operations, 5 galleries, including branches and 32 museums for cultural events visitors in 2020. Readers had at their disposal 231 libraries.

The region is proud of many cultural and historical monuments, where the towns of Levoča, Prešov, Bardejov, Poprad and Kežmarok deserve special attention. The administrative, economic, cultural and social centre of the region is Prešov, where are also the seats of important ecclesiastical institutions of the Greek Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical Church.

The natural beauty of the region and convenient climatic conditions have created favourable conditions for the development of tourism. There were located 824 accommodation facilities. Services of these facilities were used by approximately 654.6 thous. visitors in 2020. The Vysoké Tatry mountains and the districts Bardejov, Kežmarok, Prešov and Stará Ľubovňa are the most visited within the region.

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