Slovakia, a Central European country with 5.4 million inhabitants, joined the European Union in 2004 and became part of the Schengen border-free system in 2008. It also joined the Euro zone in January 2009.
Long-term economic growth in Slovakia has been mainly driven by exports from the dominant automotive sector and from light manufacturing industries, primarily electronics, as well as certain traditional industries such as steelmaking and engineering.
There are currently three established car manufacturers in Slovakia. Volkswagen Group operates in Slovakia through its subsidiary, Volkswagen Slovakia, which produces cars in its Bratislava plant (all Volkswagen vans, Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7 as well as most Porsche Cayenne, Touareg Hybrid, New Small Family - Volkswagen up!, Škoda Citigo and SEAT Mii). In 2011its revenues reached € 5.2 billion and the share on the export contributed 9.2%. It was the largest exporter in Slovakia. During its existence in the country, the company invested more than € 2.1 billion. It employs more than 9,900 people. Another company, PSA Peugeot Citroën Slovakia, manufactures the Peugeot 207 and the Citroën C3 Picasso models in its Trnava plant. Since 2004 Kia Motors Slovakia, based in Žilina, has been producing the Kia Cee'd and Kia Sportage models as well as the new Hyundai Tucson.
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, with approximately 450,000 inhabitants has great development potential and offers job opportunities for many Slovaks. The Bratislava metropolis spreads over both banks of the Danube River, the second longest river in Europe. It is a fast growing and dynamic city with an energetic atmosphere and rich history. It is Slovakia's center for business, employment, property development, tourism and education. It benefits from its proximity to Hungary in the south and Austria in the South-West. Bratislava is also close to other Central European economic centers such as Prague, Budapest and Vienna. Compared with other European capitals, Bratislava is still fairly underdeveloped. The developers’ focus has so far been mainly on projects in the office, retail and higher-end residential sectors. Significant unmet demand still exists in the middle class residential sector and in projects incorporating services and public amenities. The main criterion for any development is accessibility by car, which is the principal mode of transport, as Bratislava lacks a subway (metro) system and the bus/tram connections to new buildable areas are limited. However, the recently completed city expressway and tunnels speed up transportation within the city and a fast tram line connecting south and north parts of the city is planned in the near future.