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Zvolenská Slatina
Wild pear picked as tree of the year

This 350-year-old wild pear tree is Slovakia's tree of the year.
photo: SITA

SLOVAKIA'S tree of the year is once again a wild pear tree.
The Ekopolis foundation announced that a wild pear tree growing in Zvolenská Slatina won the contest, held to draw attention to the importance of trees for the environment and raise interest in environmental protection.
The tree in Zvolenská Slatina received 2,191 votes. It is 302 centimetres in diameter and its fruit is popular with local wildlife.
The victory was a pleasant surprise to Marcela Boleková, who nominated the tree.
"This tree is about 350 years old and it is part of our family," she told the Banskobystrické Echo newspaper.
A 300-year-old wild pear tree in Bošáca (Nové Mesto nad Váhom District) won the contest last year.
This year's winning tree was one of 12 finalists chosen from 61 trees nominated for the competition. Finalists were chosen based on the value of the tree, the story around it and other factors. People voted by text messages sent with mobile phones, by mail, or on the website.
As a reward, the winning tree will receive a special treatment worth Sk50,000 (€1,500). Another Sk10,000 will be used for landscaping around it.
This year's runner-up was an oriental plane tree from a park close to the Kynek manor house near Nitra, with 987 votes. Third place went to a wych elm from Zákamenné in Orava region, with 932 votes. Each of those trees get Sk10,000.
Other trees that were nominated included lime trees, oaks, beeches, sycamores and willows, along with an exotic ginkgo biloba and a 700-year-old yew.
Ekopolis, together with the Slovak Association for the Protection of Nature and the Country's Bratislava city committee, announced the competition on September 17.

Bratislava goes to the cats

Many cat owners, including Czech Andrea Košnárová, painted their faces to look like their darling pets.
photo: ČTK

ABOUT 700 exhibitors from around the world arrived in Bratislava to show more than 1,000 cats at the World Cat Show. The event took place in the Incheba exhibition hall on October 27 and 28.
"Cats and tomcats competed in four categories," Soňa Ivanková, the president of the World Cat Show 2007, told the Nový Čas daily. "(Judges) looked at the cat's appearance, the quality of its fur, the shape of its head, the colour of its eyes and its body construction."

More Slovaks visiting Bratislava

MORE than 324,000 people visited Bratislava from January to June, up by about four percent compared to the first half of 2006.
The number of Slovak visitors increased the most, the SITA newswire wrote. During the first six months of 2007, more than 118,000 people from all corners of Slovakia visited Bratislava. That was an increase of 13 percent, the Bratislava city council wrote on its website.
On the other hand, the number of foreign visitors decreased. Almost 206,000 foreigners visited the Slovak capital during the first half of 2007 - a drop of almost three percent compared to the same period last year.
This was the first time the number of foreign tourists has decreased since 2004.
The number of people who spent the night in Bratislava dropped, too. In the case of Slovaks, it was down by 0.06 percent from 2006, and for foreigners, it was down by 4.1 percent.
However, the official statistics differ from the city's figures, based on the overnight stay tax. According to those numbers, the number of nights tourists spent in Bratislava increased by 13 percent from last year.
Visitors to Bratislava are mostly interested in sightseeing in the historical centre and other nearby destinations, such as Devín Castle or the Small Carpathian Wine Route.
The number of organised groups grew from last summer, while the number of individual tourists decreased moderately. On the other hand, the number of backpackers in Bratislava is on the rise.
More visitors came from Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Russia and the Scandinavian countries, among others. But the number of visitors from these countries did not compensate for the fall in the number of visitors from more important markets.
One factor that influences Bratislava's visit rate is how easy it is to reach with public transportation, particularly by air.

Slovaks arrested for selling 'radioactive material'

CZECH police arrested four Slovak citizens who claimed they were selling radioactive material, the SITA newswire reported.
They were arrested in Uherské Hradište on October 22 after a police officer posed as a potential buyer. The Slovak men offered the radioactive material for €200,000 (Sk6.7 million), but they only brought a sample of common mercury to the undercover officer.
If they are found guilty, the men could be imprisoned for up to 12 years.
No other details about the investigation are available, as the case is under an information blackout. The spokesperson of the Czech Police organised crime unit, Blanka Kosinová, confirmed that the case had happened.

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