WHAT IS THE Tatra Tiger

Tatra Tiger is a colloquial term for the central European nation of Slovakia. Slovakia became known as the Tatra Tiger in the first decade of the 21st century when its economic growth rates were among the highest in Europe.

BREAKING DOWN Tatra Tiger

Tatra Tiger is a nickname for the country of Slovakia, which earned the name after a period of economic growth in the early years of the 21st century.

Following its separation from the Czech Republic in 1993, Slovakia embarked on significant economic reforms that spurred growth, and enabled it to join the European Union (EU) in 2004. The term "Tatra Tiger" is derived from the Tatra mountain range that straddles the border between Slovakia and Poland.

Reforms ushered in by the Slovakian political coalition that assumed power in 1998 included the introduction of a flat 19-percent corporate tax, and deregulation of the labor market. Slovakia possesses several attributes common to the other well-known economic forces, such as economic stability, low costs and a well-trained workforce. Additionally, the nation's geographic location serves as an entry point into Europe, enhancing the county's attraction for auto-manufacturing assembly lines. In fact, a number of global automobile manufacturers and ancillary suppliers set up factories in Slovakia.

Slovakia’s Continued Economic Growth

In 2004, Slovakia's state investment agency signed 47 deals worth $2.26 billion, an increase from 22 deals for $1.55 billion in 2003, according to the New York Times. Economic growth in 2004 rose by 5.3 percent and outpaced growth in Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. In 2005, the World Bank ranked Slovakia as one of the top 20 destinations for foreign direct investment.

Despite high economic growth rates, public polling shows the Slovakian people do not universally approve of the country's economic reforms. This is because such reforms are associated with a drastic loss of the previously prevalent government programs, such as state-run health care, and an overhaul of the pension system. Additionally, Slovakia replaced a progressive tax with a flat tax, in addition to other rapid changes in laws and regulations, which resulted in rising property taxes. Unemployment also increased immediately after the reforms began in 1998, although it decreased back to its 1998 levels in 2006 and even below in later years. Today, Slovakia’s gross domestic product (GDP) still grows faster than the European Union (EU) on average. From 2005 to 2011, Slovakia's GDP increased by about 38 percent, which was the highest growth of all the EU countries.