Slovenia, officially the Republic of Slovenia, is a nation state, situated in Central Europe, at the crossroad of main European cultural and trade routes.

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Slovenia (i/sloʊˈviːniə/ sloh-VEE-nee-ə; Slovene: Slovenija: [sloˈveːnija]), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Republika Slovenija, [reˈpublika sloˈveːnija]), is a nation state,[13] situated in Central Europe,[13][Note 2] at the crossroad of main European cultural and trade routes.[18][19] It borders Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Croatia to the south and southeast and Hungary to the northeast.[20] It covers 20,273 square kilometres (7,827 sq mi) and has a population of 2.05 million.[21] It is a parliamentary republic[22] and a member of the European Union and NATO.[23] Relative to its geography, history, economy, culture, and language, it is a very diverse country distinguished by a transitional character.[24] It is characterised by a high economic and social level.[25] Its capital and largest city is Ljubljana.[26]

Four major European geographic units meet on the territory of Slovenia: the Alps, the Dinaric Alps, the Mediterranean, with a small portion of coastline along the Adriatic Sea, and the Pannonian Plain.[27][28] The territory has a mosaic structure and an exceptionally high landscape[28] and biological[29][30] diversity, which are a result of natural attributes and the long-term presence of humans.[31] Although the climate in the mainly hilly[27] territory is influenced by the continental climate, the Slovene Littoral enjoys the sub-Mediterranean climate, while the Alpine climate is found in the north-western part of the country.[32] The country is one of the water-richest in Europe,[33] with a dense river network, a rich aquifer system, and significant karstic underground watercourses.[34] Over half of the territory is covered by forest.[35]

The settlement of Slovenia is dispersed and uneven.[36] The Slavic, Germanic, Romance and Finno-Ugric linguistic and cultural groups meet here.[37][38][39] The dominant population is Slovene, although it has almost never been homogenous.[40] Slovene is the only official language throughout the country, whereas Italian and Hungarian are regional minority languages. Slovenia is a largely secularised country,[41] but its culture and identity have been significantly influenced by Roman Catholicism as well as Lutheranism.[42] The economy of Slovenia is small, open, export-oriented[43] and subsequently, heavily influenced by international circumstances.[44] It has been severely hurt by the European economic crisis, started in late 2000s.[45] The main economic field is services, followed by industry and construction.[46] Many Slovenians reach top sport successes, particularly in winter sports, water sports, mountaineering, and endurance sports.[47]

Historically, the current territory of Slovenia was part of many different state formations, including the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, followed by the Austria-Hungary. In 1918, the Slovenes exercised self-determination for the first time by co-founding the internationally unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, which merged into Yugoslavia. During World War II, Slovenia was occupied and annexed by Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Croatia,[48] only to emerge afterwards as a founding member of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In June 1991, after the introduction of multi-party representative democracy, Slovenia became an independent country.[7] In 2004, it entered NATO and the European Union, in 2007 became the first former Communist country to join the Eurozone,[49] and in 2010 joined the OECD, a global association of high-income developed countries.[50]


Prehistory to Slavic settlement

Remains of a Stone Age human residence were found in Potok Cave (center-left) on Mount Olševa in the 1920s and the 1930s. This marks the beginning of Paleolithic research in Slovenia.[51]

Slovene territory was inhabited in prehistoric times and there is evidence of human habitation around 250,000 years ago. A pierced cave bear bone, probably the oldest known musical instrument in the world, has been discovered in Divje Babe cave near Cerkno, dating from the Würm glacial age when the area was inhabited by Neanderthals,[52] and the oldest needle, pierced bones, bone points and other artifacts in Potok Cave, a high-elevation Aurignacian (36,000 – 25,000 BP BP) site on Mount Olševa,[53] belonging to the Cro-Magnon.[51] In the Ljubljana Marshes, the remains of pile dwellings, which existed in the region for over 4,500 years, from 5000 to 500 BC, now protected as UNESCO World Heritage Site, have been discovered,[54] as well as the oldest wooden wheel in the world, dated to between 5,100 and 5,350 years ago.[55] In the transition period between the Bronze age to the Iron age, the Urnfield culture flourished. Archeological remains dating from the Hallstatt period have been found particularly in southeastern Slovenia, among them a number of situlas in Novo Mesto, the "Town of Situlas".[56]

In the Iron Age, present-day Slovenia was inhabited by Illyrian and Celtic tribes until the 1st century BC, when the Romans conquered the region establishing the provinces of Pannonia and Noricum. What is now western Slovenia was included directly under Roman Italia as part of the X region Venetia et Histria. The Romans established posts at Emona (Ljubljana), Poetovio (Ptuj) and Celeia (Celje) and constructed trade and military roads that ran across Slovene territory from Italy to Pannonia. In the 5th and 6th centuries, the area was exposed to invasions by the Huns and Germanic tribes during their incursions into Italy. After the departure of the last Germanic tribe – the Lombards – to Italy in 568, the Slavs from the East began to dominate the area with aid from Avars. After the successful resistance against the nomadic Asian Avar rule (from 623 to 626), the Slavic people united with King Samo’s tribal confederation. The confederation fell apart in 658 and the Slavic people, located in present-day Carinthia, formed the independent duchy of Carantania.[57] Other parts of Slovenia were again ruled by Avars before Charlemagne's victory over them in 803.

The Middle Ages to Early Modern Period

A depiction of an ancient democratic ritual of Slovene speaking tribes which took place on the Prince's Stone in Slovene language until 1414.

In the mid-8th century, Carantania became a vassal duchy under the rule of the Bavarians, who began spreading Christianity. Three decades later, the Carantanians were incorporated, together with the Bavarians, into the Carolingian Empire. During the same period Carniola, too, came under the Franks, and was Christianized from Aquileia. Following the anti-Frankish rebellion of Ljudevit Posavski at the beginning of the 9th century, the Franks removed the Carantanian princes, replacing them with their own border dukes. Consequently, the Frankish feudal system reached the Slovene territory.

The Magyar invasion of the Pannonian Plain in the late 9th century effectively isolated the Slovene-inhabited territory from western Slavs. Thus, the Slavs of Carantania and of Carniola began developing into an independent Slovene ethnic group. After the victory of Emperor Otto I over the Magyars in 955, Slovene territory was divided into a number of border regions of the Holy Roman Empire. Carantania, being the most important, was elevated into the Duchy of Carinthia in 976. In the late Middle Ages the historic provinces of Carniola, Styria, Carinthia, Gorizia, Trieste and Istria developed from the border regions and incorporated into the medieval German state. The consolidation and formation of these historical lands took place in a long period between the 11th and 14th century being led by a number of important feudal families such as the Dukes of Spannheim, the Counts of Gorizia, the Counts of Celje and finally the House of Habsburg. In a parallel process, an intensive German colonization significantly diminished the extent of Slovene-speaking areas; by the 15th century, the Slovene ethnic territory was reduced to its present size.[58]

In the 14th century, most of the territory of Slovenia was taken over by the Habsburgs. The counts of Celje, a feudal family from this area who in 1436 acquired the title of state princes, were their powerful competitors for some time. This large dynasty, important at a European political level, had its seat in Slovene territory but died out in 1456. Its numerous large estates subsequently became the property of the Habsburgs, who retained control of the area right up until the beginning of the 20th century.

At the end of the Middle Ages, the Slovene Lands suffered a serious economic and demographic setback because of the Turkish raids. In 1515, a peasant revolt spread across nearly the whole Slovene territory and in 1572-3 the Croatian-Slovenian peasant revolt wrought havoc throughout the wider region. Uprisings, which often met with bloody defeats, continued throughout the 17th century.[58]

Between the 18th century and the end of World War I

The Slovene Lands were part of the Illyrian provinces, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary (in Cisleithania). They encompassed Carniola, southern part of Carinthia, southern part of Styria, Istria, Gorizia and Gradisca, Trieste, and Prekmurje.[59] Together with industrialization begun construction of railroads, but the urbanization has been very limited and between 1880 and 1910 around 300,000 Slovenes (i.e. one in six) emigrated to other countries,[60] mostly to the United States, but also to South America, Germany, Egypt, and to larger cities in the Austria-Hungary, especially Zagreb and Vienna. Despite this, the Slovene population increased significantly[60] and became as socially differentiated as in other European nations.[citation needed] Literacy was exceptionally high, at 80 to 90 percent.[60]

World War I

World War I resulted in heavy casualties for Slovenes, particularly on the twelve Battles of the Isonzo, which took place in what is nowadays Slovenia's western border area. Hundreds of thousands of Slovene conscripts were drafted in the Austro-Hungarian Army, and over 30,000 of them lost their lives. Hundreds of thousands of Slovenes from Gorizia and Gradisca were resettled in refugee camps in Italy and Austria. While the refugees in Austria received a decent treatment, the Slovene refugees in Italian camps were treated as state enemies, and several thousands died of malnutrition and diseases between 1915 and 1918.[61] Entire areas of the Slovenian Littoral were destroyed.

In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia

The proclamation of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs at Congress Square in Ljubljana on 20 October 1918

The Slovene People's Party launched a movement for self-determination, demanding the creation of a semi-independent South Slavic state under Habsburg rule. The proposal was picked up by most Slovene parties, and a mass mobilization of Slovene civil society, known as the Declaration Movement, followed.[62] This proposal was rejected by the Austrian political elites, but following the dissolution of Austro-Hungarian Empire in the aftermath of the First World War, a National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs took power in Zagreb on 6 October 1918. On 29 October independence was declared by a national gathering in Ljubljana, and by the Croatian parliament, declaring the establishment of the new State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs.

On 1 December 1918 the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs merged with Serbia, becoming part of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, itself being renamed in 1929 to Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The main territory of Slovenia, being the most industrialized and westernized among other less developed parts of Yugoslavia became the main center of industrial production: in comparison to Serbia, for example, in Slovenia the industrial production was four times greater and even twenty-two times greater than in Yugoslav Macedonia. The interwar period brought a further industrialization in Slovenia, with a rapid economic growth in the 1920s followed by a relatively successful economic adjustment to the 1929 economic crisis.

Following a plebiscite in October 1920, Slovene-speaking southern Carinthia was ceded to Austria. With the Treaty of Trianon, on the other hand, Kingdom of Yugoslavia was awarded the Slovene-inhabited Prekmurje region, formerly part of Austro-Hungary, as well.

Slovenes whose territory fell under the rule of neighboring states Italy, Austria and Hungary, were subjected to policies of forced assimilation, and in case of Fascist Italy, violent Fascist Italianization.

Fascist Italianization of Littoral Slovenes and resistance (1920-1943)

The Narodni dom, the Community Hall of ethnic Slovenes in Trieste, burned down by the Fascist squads in June 1920, became the symbol of Fascist Italianization.

The Slovenes living under territories annexed to Italy in 1920 (Slovenian Littoral) lacked any minority protection under international or domestic law.[63] Clashes between the Italian authorities and Fascist squads on one side, and the local Slovene population on the other started already in 1920, culminating with the burning of the Narodni dom, the Slovenian National Hall of Trieste. After the Fascist takeover in 1922, a policy of violent Fascist Italianization followed, seeking to eradicate the Slovene middle class and the intelligentsia. Education in Slovene was abolished in 1923, Slovene surnames and personal names were Italianized between 1926 and 1932. By 1927, all Slovene associations were banned and all public use of Slovene was prohibited. Police violence was carried out against opponents of the Fascist regime. By the mid 1930s, around 70.000 Slovenes had fled the region, mostly to Yugoslavia and South America.

After the complete destruction of all Slovene minority organizations in Italy, the militant anti-fascist organizations TIGR was formed in 1927 in order to fight Fascist violence. Acts of anti-Fascist guerrilla continued throughout the late 1920s and 1930s.

Slovenia during and after World War II

Yugoslavia was invaded by Axis Powers on 6 April 1941 after a coup d'état in the Yugoslav government ended Yugoslavia's participation in the Tripartite Pact and enraged Adolf Hitler. Territory in Yugoslavia was quickly divided between German, Italian, and Hungarian control, and the Nazis soon annexed Lower Styria as Untersteiermark to the "Greater Reich". About 46,000 Slovenes in the Rann (Brežice) Triangle region were forcibly deported to eastern Germany for potential Germanization or forced labor beginning in November 1941.

On 27 April 1941 in the Province of Ljubljana the National Liberation Front was organized with aim of liberation struggle, forming Slovene partisan army, and structures of future state in liberated areas. More than 30.000 partisans died fighting Axis forces and their collaborators, during the WWII approximately 8 percent of Slovenes perished[citation needed].

Some Slovenes also collaborated with the occupying powers, with the German-sponsored Slovene Home Guard having 21000 members at the peak of its power.

The deported Slovenes were taken to several camps in Saxony, where they were forced to work on German farms or in factories run by German industries from 1941–1945. The forced labourers were not always kept in formal concentration camps, but often just vacant buildings where they slept until the next day's labour took them outside these quarters. Toward the end of the war, these camps were liberated by American and Soviet Army troops, and later repatriated refugees returned to Yugoslavia to find their homes in shambles.

In 1945, Yugoslavia liberated itself and shortly thereafter became a nominally federal Communist state. Slovenia joined the federation as a socialist republic; its own Communist Party having been formed in 1937.

The socialist period

Following the re-establishment of Yugoslavia during World War II, Slovenia became part of Federal Yugoslavia. A socialist state was established, but because of the Tito-Stalin split in 1948, economic and personal freedoms were broader than in the Eastern Bloc. In 1947, Italy ceded most of the Julian March to Yugoslavia, and Slovenia thus regained the Slovenian Littoral. From the 1950s, Slovenia enjoyed a relatively wide autonomy.

Between 1945 and 1948, a wave of political repressions took place in Slovenia and in Yugoslavia. By 1947, all private property had been nationalised. Between 1949 and 1953, a forced collectivisation was attempted. After its failure, a policy of gradual liberalisation followed. A new economic policy, known as workers self-management started to be implemented under the advice and supervision of the main theorist of the Yugoslav Communist Party, the Slovene Edvard Kardelj. In 1956, Josip Broz Tito, together with other leaders, founded the Non-Aligned Movement.

Slovenia's economy developed rapidly, particularly in the 1950s when the country was strongly industrialised. Despite restrictive economic and social legislation within Yugoslavia, Slovenia managed to preserve a high level of economic development with a skilled workforce, working discipline and organisation.[citation needed] After the economic reform and further economic decentralisation of Yugoslavia in 1965 and 1966 Slovenia was approaching a market economy. Its domestic product was 2.5 times the average, which strengthened national confidence among the Slovenes. After the death of Tito in 1980, the economic and political situation in Yugoslavia became very strained.[58] Political disputes around economic measures were echoed in the public sentiment, as many Slovenians felt they were being economically exploited, having to sustain an expensive and inefficient federal administration.[citation needed]

Slovenian Spring, democracy and independence

The first clear demand for Slovene independence was made in 1987 by a group of intellectuals in the 57th edition of the magazine Nova revija. Demands for democratisation and increase of Slovenian independence were sparked off. A mass democratic movement, coordinated by the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, pushed the Communists in the direction of democratic reforms.

In September 1989, numerous constitutional amendments were passed, which introduced parliamentary democracy to Slovenia.[64][65] The same year Action North united both the opposition and democratized communist establishment in Slovenia as the first defense action against Milošević's supporters attacks, leading to Slovenian independence.[66][67][need quotation to verify] On 7 March 1990, the Slovenian Assembly changed the official name of the state to the Republic of Slovenia.[68][69] In April 1990, the first democratic election in Slovenia took place and the united opposition movement DEMOS led by Jože Pučnik emerged victorious.

These revolutionary events in Slovenia pre-dated by almost one year the Revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe, but went largely unnoticed by international observers. On 23 December 1990, more than 88% of the electorate voted for a sovereign and independent Slovenia.[70][71] On 25 June, Slovenia became independent[7] through the passage of appropriate legal documents.[72] On 27 June in the early morning, the Yugoslav People's Army dispatched its forces to prevent further measures for the establishment of a new country, which led to the Ten-Day War.[73][74] On 7 July, the Brijuni Agreement was signed, implementing a truce and a three-month halt of the enforcement of Slovenia's independence.[75] In the end of month, the last soldiers of the Yugoslav Army left Slovenia. In December 1991, a new constitution was adopted,[72] followed in 1992 by the laws on denationalisation and privatization.[76] The members of the European Union recognised Slovenia as an independent state on 15 January 1992, and the United Nations accepted it as a member on 22 May 1992.[77]

Slovenia joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. Slovenia has one Commissioner in the European Commission, and seven Slovene parliamentarians were elected to the European Parliament at elections on 13 June 2004. In 2004 Slovenia also joined NATO. Slovenia subsequently succeeded in meeting the Maastricht criteria and joined the Eurozone (the first transition country to do so) on 1 January 2007. It was the first post-Communist country to hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, for the first six months of 2008. On 21 July 2010, it became member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.


Danilo Türk, the President of Slovenia since 2007, speaking at a ceremony on the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II and the liberation of Ljubljana from Nazi German occupation, in May 2010

The Government and Presidential Palace in Ljubljana

Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy republic with a multi-party system. The head of state is the president, who is elected by popular vote and thus has an important integrative role.[78] He is elected for five years and at maximum for two consecutive terms. He has mainly a representative role and is the commander-in-chief of the Slovenian military forces.[79] The executive and administrative authority in Slovenia is held by the Government of Slovenia (Vlada Republike Slovenije),[77] headed by the Prime Minister and the council of ministers or cabinet, who are elected by the National Assembly (Državni zbor Republike Slovenije). The legislative authority is held by the bicameral Parliament of Slovenia, characterised by an asymmetric duality.[80] The bulk of power is concentrated in the National Assembly, which consists of ninety members. Of those, 88 are elected by all the citizens in a system of proportional representation, whereas two are elected by the registered members of the autochthonous Hungarian and Italian minorities. Election takes place every four years. The National Council (Državni svet Republike Slovenije), consisting of forty members, appointed to represent social, economic, professional and local interest groups, has a limited advisory and control power.[80]

The 1992-2004 period was marked by the rule of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia, which was responsible for gradual transition from Titoistic economy to the capitalist market economy, and later attracted much criticism by neo-liberal economists who demanded less gradual approach. The party's president Janez Drnovšek, who served as Prime Minister between 1992 and 2002, was one of the most influential Slovenian politicians of the 1990s.[81] alongside the Slovenian President Milan Kučan (served between 1990 and 2002),[82][83]

The 2005-2008 period was characterized by over-enthusiasm after joining EU and during the first term of Janez Janša's government for the first time after independence the Slovenian banks have seen loan-deposit ratio veering out of control, over-borrowing from foreign banks and then over-creding customers, including local tycoons.

After the onset of financial crisis of 2007-2010 and European sovereign-debt crisis, the left-wing coalition that replaced Janša's government in 2008 elections, had to face the consequences of the 2005-2008 over-borrowing, however all the attempts to implement reforms that would help towards economic recovery were met by student protesters, led by a student who later became a member of Janez Janša's SDS, and by the trade unions. The proposed reforms were postponed on a referendum. The left-wing government was ousted with a vote of no confidence and Janez Janša falsely attributed the boom of spending and overborrowing to the period left-wing government and proposed harsh austerity reforms he previously helped postpone.


Judicial powers in Slovenia are executed by judges, who are elected by the National Assembly. Judicial power in Slovenia is implemented by courts with general responsibilities and specialised courts that deal with matters relating to specific legal areas. The State Prosecutor is an independent state authority responsible for prosecuting cases brought against those suspected of committing criminal offences. The Constitutional Court, composed of nine judges elected for nine-year terms, decides on the conformity of laws with the Constitution; all laws and regulations must conform with the general principles of international law and with ratified international agreements.[58]


The Slovenian Armed Forces provide military defence independently or within an alliance, in accordance with international agreements. Since conscription was abolished in 2003, it is organized as a fully professional standing army.[84] The Commander-in-Chief is the President of the Republic of Slovenia, while operational command is in the domain of the Chief of the General Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces. In 2008, military spending was an estimated 1.5% of the country's GDP.[85] Since joining NATO, the Slovenian Armed Forces have taken an even more active part in supporting international peace. Their activities comprise the participation of Slovenian Armed Forces members in peace support operations and humanitarian activities. Among others, Slovenian soldiers are a part of international forces serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.[86]

According to the 2012 Global Peace Index, Slovenia is one of the world's most peaceful countries.[87]

Administrative divisions

Officially, Slovenia is subdivided into 211 municipalities (eleven of which have the status of urban municipalities). The municipalities are the only body of local autonomy in Slovenia. Besides, there also exist 62 administrative districts, officially called "Administrative Units" (upravne enote), which are not a body of local self-government, but territorial sub-units of government administration. The Administrative Units are named after their capital, and are headed by a Head of the Unit (načelnik upravne enote), appointed by the Minister of Public Administration. Each municipality is headed by a Mayor (župan), elected every 4 years by popular vote, and a Municipal Council (občinski svet). In the majority of the municipalities, the municipal council is elected through the system of proportional representation; only few smaller municipalities use the plurality voting system. In the urban municipalities, the municipal councils are called Town (or City) Councils.[88] Every municipality also has a Head of the Municipal Administration (načelnik občinske uprave), appointed by the Mayor, who is responsible for the functioning of the local administration.[88]

Despite the lack of any intermediate unit between the municipalities and the State, regional identity is strong in Slovenia. The traditional regions of Slovenia, based on the former four Habsburg crown lands (Carniola, Carinthia, Styria, and the Littoral), are the following:

Traditional regions

English name Native name Largest town
Slovenian Littoral Primorska Koper/Capodistria
Upper Carniola Gorenjska Kranj
Inner Carniola Notranjska Postojna
Lower Carniola Dolenjska Novo Mesto
Carinthia Koroška Ravne na Koroškem
Styria Štajerska Maribor
Prekmurje Prekmurje Murska Sobota

Statistical regions

Ljubljana was historically the administrative center of Carniola. However, from the mid-19th century onward, it has not been considered part of any of the three subdivisions of Carniola (Upper, Lower and Inner Carniola).[citation needed] Nowadays, it is not considered part of any of the traditional historical regions of Slovenia.[citation needed]

For statistical reasons, Slovenia is also subdivided into 12 statistical regions, which have no administrative function. These are further subdivided into two macroregions for the purpose of the Regional policy of the European Union.[89] These two macroregions are:

  • East Slovenia (Vzhodna Slovenija – SI01), which groups the regions of Pomurska, Podravska, Koroška, Savinjska, Zasavska, Spodnjeposavska, Jugovzhodna Slovenija and Notranjsko-kraška.
  • West Slovenia (Zahodna Slovenija – SI02), which groups the regions of Osrednjeslovenska, Gorenjska, Goriška and Obalno-kraška.


Topographic map of Slovenia

Slovenia is situated in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. It lies between latitudes 45° and 47° N, and longitudes 13° and 17° E. The 15th meridian east almost corresponds to the middle line of the country in the direction west-east.[90] The Geometrical Centre of the Republic of Slovenia is located at coordinates 46°07'11.8" N and 14°48'55.2" E.[91] It lies in Slivna in the Municipality of Litija.[92] Slovenia's highest peak is Triglav (2,864 m/9,396 ft); the country's average height above sea level is 557 m (1,827 ft).

Four major European geographic regions meet in Slovenia: the Alps, the Dinarides, the Pannonian Plain, and the Mediterranean. Although on the shore of the Adriatic Sea, near the Mediterranean, most of Slovenia is in the Black Sea drainage basin. The Alps—including the Julian Alps, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Karavanke chain, as well as the Pohorje massif—dominate Northern Slovenia along its long border with Austria. Slovenia's Adriatic coastline stretches approximately 47 km (29 mi)[93] from Italy to Croatia. The term "Karst topography" refers to that of southwestern Slovenia's Kras Plateau, a limestone region of underground rivers, gorges, and caves, between Ljubljana and the Mediterranean. On the Pannonian plain to the East and Northeast, toward the Croatian and Hungarian borders, the landscape is essentially flat. However, the majority of Slovenian terrain is hilly or mountainous, with around 90% of the surface 200 m (656 ft) or more above sea level.

Over half of the country (10,124 km2/3,909 sq mi) is covered by forests. This makes Slovenia the third most forested country in Europe, after Finland and Sweden. The areas are covered mostly by beech, fir-beech and beech-oak forests and have a relatively high production capacity.[94] Remnants of primeval forests are still to be found, the largest in the Kočevje area. Grassland covers 5,593 km2 (2,159 sq mi) and fields and gardens (954 km2/368 sq mi). There are 363 km2 (140 sq mi) of orchards and 216 km2 (83 sq mi) of vineyards.


Slovenia is in a rather active seismic zone because of its position to the south of the Eurasian Plate.[95] Thus the country is at the junction of three important tectonic zones: the Alps to the north, the Dinaric Alps to the south and the Pannonian Basin to the east.[95] Scientists have been able to identify 60 destructive earthquakes in the past. Additionally, a network of seismic stations is active throughout the country.[95] Many parts of Slovenia have a carbonate ground, and an extensive subterranean system has developed.

Natural regions

The first regionalisations of Slovenia were made by geographers Anton Melik (1935–1936) and Svetozar Ilešič (1968). The newer regionalisation by Ivan Gams divides Slovenia in the following macroregions:

  • the Alps (visokogorske Alpe)
  • the Prealpine Hills (predalpsko hribovje)
  • the Ljubljana Basin (Ljubljanska kotlina)
  • Submediterranean (Littoral) Slovenia (submediteranska – primorska Slovenija)
  • the Dinaric Karst of inner Slovenia (dinarski kras notranje Slovenije)
  • Subpannonian Slovenia (subpanonska Slovenija)

According to a newer natural geographic regionalisation, the country consists of four macroregions. These are the Alpine, the Mediterranean, the Dinaric, and the Pannonian landscapes. Macroregions are defined according to major relief units (the Alps, the Pannonian plain, the Dinaric mountains) and climate types (submediterranean, temperate continental, mountain climate).[96] These are often quite interwoven.

Protected areas of Slovenia include national parks, regional parks, and nature parks, the largest of which is Triglav National Park. There are 286 Natura 2000 designated protected areas, which comprise 36% of the country's land area, the largest percentage among European Union states.[97] Additionally, according to Yale University's Environmental Performance Index, Slovenia is considered a "strong performer" in environmental protection efforts.[98]


Different types of clouds in the Julian Alps (northwestern Slovenia), as seen from the top of Mangart in September 2007

Slovenia is located in temperate latitudes. The climate is also influenced by the variety of relief, and the influence of the Alps and the Adriatic Sea. In the Northeast, the continental climate type with greatest difference between winter and summer temperatures prevails. In the coastal region, there is sub-Mediterranean climate. The effect of the sea on the temperature rates is visible also up the Soča valley, while a severe Alpine climate is present in the high mountain regions. There is a strong interaction between these three climatic systems across most of the country.[99][100]

Precipitation varies across the country as well, with over 3500 mm in some Western regions and dropping down to 800 mm in Prekmurje. Snow is quite frequent in winter and the record snow cover in Ljubljana was recorded in 1952 at 146 cm.

Compared to Western Europe, Slovenia is not very windy, because it lies in the slipstream of the Alps. The average wind speeds are lower than in the plains of the nearby countries. Due to the rugged terrain, local vertical winds with daily periods are present. Besides these, there are three winds of particular regional importance: the bora, the jugo, and the foehn. The jugo and the bora are characteristic of the Littoral. Whereas jugo is humid and warm, bora is usually cold and gusty. The foehn is typical of the Alpine regions in the north of Slovenia. Generally present in Slovenia are the northeast wind, the southeast wind and the north wind.[101]


The territory of Slovenia mainly (16,423 square kilometres or 6,341 square miles, i.e. 81%) belongs to the Black Sea basin, and a smaller part (16,423 square kilometres or 6,341 square miles, i.e. 19%) belongs to the Adriatic Sea basin. These two parts are divided into smaller units in regard to their central rivers, the Mura River basin, the Drava River basin, the Sava River basin with Kolpa River basin, and the basin of the Adriatic rivers.[102]


Olm can be found in Postojna cave and other caves in the country.

Slovenia is distinguished by an exceptionally wide variety of habitats,[30] due to the contact of geological units and biogeographical regions, but also due to human influences. The country contains 24,000 animal species, accounting for 1% of the world's organisms despite its small size (0.004% of the Earth's surface area).[103] Around 12.5% of the territory is protected with different protection categories, and 35.5% within the Natura 2000 ecological network.[104] Despite this, because of pollution and environmental degradation, diversity has been in decline.

Slovenia is the third most forested country in Europe, with 58.5% of the territory covered by forests.[105] The forests are an important natural resource, but logging is kept to a minimum, as Slovenians also value their forests for the preservation of natural diversity, for enriching the soil and cleansing the water and air, for the social and economic benefits of recreation and tourism, and for the natural beauty they give to the Slovenian landscape. In the interior of the country are typical Central European forests, predominantly oak and beech. In the mountains, spruce, fir, and pine are more common. Pine trees also grow on the Kras plateau, although only one third of the region is now covered by pine forest. The lime/linden tree, also common in Slovenian forests, is a national symbol.The tree line is at 1,700 to 1,800 metres (or 5,575 to 5,900 ft).[106] The fauna includes marmots, Alpine ibex, and chamois. There are numerous deer, roe deer, boar, and hares.[107] The edible dormouse is often found in the Slovenian beech forests. Trapping these animals is a long tradition and is a part of the Slovenian national identity.[108] Some important carnivores include the Eurasian lynx (reintroduced to the Kočevje area in 1973), European wild cats, foxes (especially the red fox), and European jackal.[109] There are also hedgehogs, martens, and snakes such as vipers and grass snakes. According to recent estimates, Slovenia also has up to 50 wolves and about 450 brown bears.[110][111]

Carniolan honey bee is native to Slovenia and is a subspecies of the Western honey bee.

In the Alps, flowers such as Daphne blagayana, various gentians (Gentiana clusii, Gentiana froelichi), Primula auricula, edelweiss (the symbol of Slovene mountaineering), Cypripedium calceolus, Fritillaria meleagris (snake's head fritillary), and Pulsatilla grandis are found.[citation needed]

Slovenia harbours many plants of ethnobotanically useful groups. Of 59 known species of ethnobotanical importance, some species such as Aconitum napellus, Cannabis sativa and Taxus baccata are not allowed to collect and use as per the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia.[112]

Slovenia is home to an exceptionally diverse number of cave species, with a few tens of endemic species.[30] Among the cave vertebrates, the only known is the olm, living in Karst and White Carniola.[citation needed]

A modern Lipizzan

The only regular species of cetaceans found in the northern Adriatic sea is the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).[113]

There is a wide variety of birds, such as the Tawny Owl, the Long-eared Owl, the Eagle Owl, hawks, and Short-toed Eagles. Various other birds of prey have been recorded, as well as a growing number of ravens, crows and magpies migrating into Ljubljana and Maribor where they thrive.[114] Other birds include (both Black and Green) Woodpeckers and the White Stork, which nests mainly in Prekmurje.[citation needed]

There are thirteen domestic animals native to Slovenia,[115] of eight species (hen, pig, dog, horse, sheep, goat, honey bee, and cattle).[116] Among these are the Karst Shepherd,[117] the Carniolan honeybee, and the Lipizzan horse.[116] They have been preserved ex situ and in situ.[118] The marble trout or marmorata (Salmo marmoratus) is an indigenous Slovenian fish.[119] Extensive breeding programmes have been introduced to repopulate the marble trout into lakes and streams invaded by non-indigenous species of trout. Slovenia is also home to the wels catfish.


Since 2007 Slovenia has been part of the Eurozone (dark blue).

Slovenia has a developed economy and is per capita the richest of Slavic states. The country was in the beginning of 2007 the first new member to introduce the euro as its currency, replacing the tolar. Since 2010, it has been member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.[45][120]

Growth and financial debt

Loan-deposit ratio in Slovenia by years - including the 2005-2008 Boom Period.[121]

In 2004-2006, the economy grew on average by nearly 5% a year in Slovenia; in 2007, it expanded by almost 7%. The growth surge was fuelled by debt, particularly among firms, and especially in construction. After the financial crisis of 2007-2010 and European sovereign-debt crisis, the price for a boom that veered out of control is now being paid.[122] The construction industry was severely hit in 2010 and 2011.[123] Already in 2009 the Slovenian GDP per capita shrunk by 7.9%, which was the biggest fall in the European Union after the Baltic countries and Finland.[citation needed] In August 2012 the year-on-year contraction is still 0.8%, however, growth by 0.2% was recorded in the first quarter (in relation to the quarter before, after data was adjusted according to season and working days).[124] Year-on-year contraction has been attributed to the fall in domestic consumption, and the slowdown in export growth. The decrease in domestic consumption has been attributed to the fiscal austerity, to the freeze on budget expenditure in the final months of last year,[125] to the failure of the efforts to implement economic reforms, to inappropriate financing, and to the decrease in exports.[126]

Slovenia's total national debt at the end of September 2011 amounted to 15,884 million euros or 44.4% of GDP.[127] In August 2012, the three main ratings agencies have all downgraded Slovenian sovereign debt as investors voice concerns that Slovenia will require a bailout; it would be the sixth Eurozone country—and the first former communist country—to require a bailout.[122]

Services and industry

Graphical depiction of Slovenia's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.

Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Ljubljana.

Almost two-thirds of people are employed in services, and over one-third in industry and construction.[128] Slovenia benefits from a well-educated workforce, well-developed infrastructure, and its location at the crossroads of major trade routes.[45] The level of foreign direct investment (FDI) per capita in Slovenia is one of the lowest in the EU,[45] and the labour productivity and the competitiveness of the Slovenian economy is still significantly below the EU average.[129][130] Taxes are relatively high, the labor market is seen by business interests as being inflexible, and industries are losing sales to China, India, and elsewhere.[131]

High level of openness makes Slovenia extremely sensitive to economic conditions in its main trading partners and changes in its international price competitiveness.[132] The main industries are motor vehicles, electric and electronic equipment, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and fuels.[45][45] An increasing burden for the Slovenian economy has been its rapidly ageing population.[133]

There is a big difference in prosperity between the regions. The economically most prosperous statistical regions are the Central Slovenia and the Slovenian Littoral, while the poorest are the Mura, the Central Sava and the Carinthia.[134]


In 2011 electricity production was 14.144 GWh, electricity consumption was 12.602 GWh. Electricity production by source: hydro 3.361 GWh, thermal 4.883 GWh, nuclear 5.899 GWh.

Current investments: new 600 MW block of Šoštanj thermal power plant is in construction and will be finished by 2014. New 39.5 MW HE Krško hydro power plant will be finished this year. By 2018, 41.5 MW HE Brežice and 30.5 MW HE Mokrice hydro power plants will be built on Sava river. Construction of ten hydropower plants on the Sava river with a cumulative capacity of 338 MW is planned to be finished by 2030. Big pumped storage hydro power plant Kozjak on Drava river is in planning stage.

Renewable energy in Slovenia: at the end of 2011 at least 87 MWp of photovoltaic modules were installed and 22 MW of biogas powerplants. There is a plan and obligation that at least 500 MW of wind power will be installed by 2020. Solar hot water heating is gaining popularity in Slovenia.


Source: Slovenian Tourism in Numbers[135]

Piran, a port town in southwestern Slovenia on the Gulf of Piran.

Lake Bled, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Slovenia.

Slovenia offers tourists a wide variety of natural and cultural amenities. Different forms of tourism have developed. The tourist gravitational area is considerably large, however the tourist market is small. There has been no large-scale tourism and no acute environmental pressures.[136]

Postojna Cave.

The nation's capital, Ljubljana, has many important Baroque and Vienna Secession buildings, with several important works of the native born architect Jože Plečnik.[137]

At the northwestern corner of the country lie the Julian Alps with the picturesque Lake Bled and the Soča Valley, as well as the nation's highest peak, Mount Triglav in the middle of Triglav National Park. Other mountain ranges include Kamnik–Savinja Alps, Karavanke and Pohorje, popular with skiers and hikers.[138]

The Karst Plateau in the Slovenian Littoral gave its name to karst, a landscape shaped by water dissolving the carbonate bedrock, forming caves. The best-known caves are Postojna Cave, with more than 28 million visitors, and the UNESCO-listed Škocjan Caves. The region of Slovenian Istria meets the Adriatic Sea, where the most important historical monument is the Venetian Gothic Mediterranean town of Piran while the settlement of Portorož attracts crowds in summer.[139]

The hills around Slovenia's second-largest town, Maribor, are renowned for their wine-making. The northeastern part of the country is rich with spas,[140] with Rogaška Slatina, Radenci, Čatež ob Savi, Dobrna, and Moravske Toplice growing in importance in the last two decades.[141]

Other popular tourist destinations include the historic cities of Ptuj and Škofja Loka, and several castles, such as the Predjama Castle.[142][143]

Important parts of tourism in Slovenia include congress and gambling tourism. Slovenia is the country with the highest percentage of casinos per 1,000 inhabitants in the European Union.[144] Perla in Nova Gorica is the largest casino in the region.[145]

Most of foreign tourists to Slovenia come from the key European markets: Italy, Austria, Germany, Croatia, Benelux, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine, followed by UK and Ireland.[146] European tourists create more than 90% of Slovenia's tourist income.


The Port of Koper

The location at the junction of major geographic units and the area being traversed by major rivers have been the reasons for the intersection of the main transport routes in Slovenia. Their course was established already in the Antiquity. A particular geographic advantage in recent times has been the location of the intersection of the Pan-European transport corridors V (the fastest link between the North Adriatic, and Central and Eastern Europe) and X (linking with the Balkans) in the country. This gives it a special position in the European social, economic and cultural integration and restructuring.[147]

With the share of over 80%, the road freight and passenger transport constitutes the largest part of transport in Slovenia.[148] Personal cars are much more popular than public road passenger transport, which has significantly declined.[148][149] Slovenia has a very high highway and motorway density compared to the European Union average.[150] The highway system, the construction of which was speeded up after 1994,[151] has slowly but steadily transformed Slovenia into a large conurbation.[152] Other state roads have been rapidly deteriorating due to neglection and the overall increase in traffic.[150]

The existing Slovenian rails, which were mostly built in the 19th century, are out-of-date and can't compete with the motorway network.[153] The maintenance and modernisation of the Slovenian railway network has been neglected due to the lack of financial assets.[154] Due to the out-of-date infrastructure, the share of the railway freight transport has been in decline in Slovenia.[155] The railway passenger transport has been recovering after a large drop in the 1990s.[156] The Pan-European railway corridors V and X, and several other major European rail lines intersect in Slovenia.[154] All international transit trains in Slovenia drive through the Ljubljana Railway Hub.[157]

The major Slovenian port is the Port of Koper. It is the largest Northern Adriatic port in terms of container transport,[158] with almost 590,000 TEUs annually[159] and lines to all major world ports.[160][161] It is much closer to destinations east of the Suez than the ports of Northern Europe.[160] In addition, the maritime passenger traffic mostly takes place in Koper.[162] Two smaller ports used for the international passenger transport as well as cargo transport are located in Izola and Piran. Passenger transport mainly takes place with Italy and Croatia.[163] Splošna plovba,[164] the only Slovenian shipping company, transports freight and is active only in foreign ports.[162]

The air transport in Slovenia is quite low,[155] but has significantly grown since 1991.[165] Of the three international airports in Slovenia, Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport in central Slovenia is the busiest,[165] with connections to many major European destinations.[166] The Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport is located in the eastern part of the country and the Portorož Airport in the western part.[165] The state-owned Adria Airways is the largest Slovenian airline.[165] Since 2003, several new carriers have entered the market, mainly low-cost airlines.[150] The only Slovenian military airport is the Cerklje ob Krki Air Base in the southwestern part of the country.[167] There are also 12 public airports in Slovenia.[165]


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1921 1,054,919
1931 1,144,298 +8.5%
1948 1,391,873 +21.6%
1953 1,466,425 +5.4%
1961 1,591,523 +8.5%
1971 1,727,137 +8.5%
1981 1,891,864 +9.5%
1991 1,913,355 +1.1%
2002 1,964,036 +2.6%
2011 2,050,189 +4.4%
Ethnic composition of Slovenia
(according to the 2002 census)[6]
Slovene 83.06%
Serb 1.98%
Croat 1.81%
Bosniak 1.10%
other minorities 4.85%
undeclared or unknown 8.9%

With 101 inhabitants per square kilometre (262/sq mi), Slovenia ranks low among the European countries in population density (compared to 402/km² (1042/sq mi) for the Netherlands or 195/km² (505/sq mi) for Italy). The Notranjska-Kras statistical region has the lowest population density while the Central Slovenian statistical region has the highest.[168]

According to the 2002 census, Slovenia's main ethnic group are the Slovenes (83%). At least 13% of the population were immigrants from other parts of Former Yugoslavia and their descendants.[169] They have settled mainly in cities and suburbanised areas.[170] Relatively small but protected by the Constitution of Slovenia are the Hungarian and the Italian ethnic minority.[171][172][173] A special position is held by the autochthonous and geographically dispersed Roma ethnic community.[174][175]

Slovenia is among the European countries with the most pronounced ageing of population, ascribable to a low birth rate and increasing life expectancy.[176] Almost all Slovenian inhabitants older than 64 are retired, with no significant difference between the genders.[177] The working-age group is diminishing in spite of immigration.[178] The proposal to raise the retirement age from the current 57 for women and 58 for men was rejected in a referendum in 2011.[133] In addition, the difference among the genders regarding life expectancy is still significant.[177] In 2007, it was 74.6 years for men and 81.8 years for women.[179]

In 2009, the suicide rate in Slovenia was 22 per 100,000 persons per year, which places Slovenia among the highest ranked European countries in this regard.[180] Nonetheless, from 2000 until 2010, the rate has decreased by about 30%. The differences between regions and the genders are pronounced.[181]


Depending on definition, between 65% and 79% of people live in urban areas.[182] The only large town is the capital, Ljubljana. Other, medium-sized towns include Maribor, Celje, and Kranj.[183][184] Overall, there are eleven urban municipalities in Slovenia.


Map of groups of Slovene dialects

The official language in Slovenia is Slovene, which is a member of the South Slavic language group. In 2002, Slovene was the native language of around 88% of Slovenia's population according to the census, with more than 92% of the Slovenian population speaking it in their home environment.[185][186] This places Slovenia among the most homogeneous countries in the EU in terms of the share of speakers of predominant mother tongue.[187] Slovene is sometimes characterized as the most diverse Slavic language in terms of dialects,[188] with different degrees of mutual intelligibility.[citation needed] Accounts of the number of dialects range from as few as seven[189][190][191] dialects, often considered dialect groups or dialect bases that are further subdivided into as many as 50 dialects.[192] Other sources characterize the number of dialects as nine[193] or eight.[194]

Regarding the knowledge of foreign languages, Slovenia is ranked among the top European countries. The most often taught foreign languages are English, German, Italian, French and Spanish. As of 2007[update], 92% of the population between the age of 25 and 64 spoke at least one foreign language and around 71.8% of them spoke at least two foreign languages, which was the highest percentage in the European Union.[195] According to the Eurobarometer survey, as of 2005[update] the majority of Slovenes could speak Serbo-Croatian (61%) and English (56%).[196] A reported 45% of Slovenes could speak German, which was one of the highest percentages outside German-speaking countries.[196] Italian is widely spoken on the Slovenian Coast and in some other areas of the Slovenian Littoral. Around 15% of Slovenians can speak Italian, which is (according to the Eurobarometer pool) the third highest percentage in the European Union, after Italy and Malta.[197]

Languages of the minorities and ex-Yugoslav languages

Bilingual Slovene-Italian edition of the Slovenian passport

Hungarian and Italian, spoken by the respective minorities, enjoy the status of official languages in the ethnically mixed regions along the Hungarian and Italian borders, to the extent that even passports in the areas are bilingual. In 2002, around 0.2% of the Slovenian population spoke Italian and around 0.4% spoke Hungarian as their native language. Romani,[198] spoken in 2002 as the native language by 0.2% of people, is a legally protected language in Slovenia. These people mainly belong to the geographically dispersed and marginalized Roma community.[199] German, which used to be the largest minority language in Slovenia prior to World War II (around 4% of the population in 1921), is now the native language of only around 0.08% of the population, the majority of whom are more than 60 years old.[186] Gottscheerish or Granish, the traditional German dialect of Gottschee County, is now facing extinction.[200]

A significant number of Slovenian population speak a variant of Serbo-Croatian (Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian or Montenegrin) as their native language. These are mostly immigrants who moved to Slovenia from other former Yugoslav republics from the 1960s to the late 1980s, and their descendants. 0,4% of the Slovenian population declared themselves as native speakers of Albanian and 0,2% as native speakers of Macedonian in 2002.[186] Czech, which used to be the fourth largest minority language in Slovenia prior to World War II (after German, Hungarian and Serbo-Croatian), is now the native language of a few hundred Slovenian residents.[186]


The Basilica of the Virgin Mary in Brezje, also known as the Slovenian National Shrine, is the most visited Roman Catholic pilgrimage church in Slovenia.

Before World War II, 97% of the population declared itself Roman Catholic, around 2.5% as Lutheran, and around 0.5% of residents identified themselves as members of other denominations.[186] Catholicism was an important feature of both social and political life in pre-Communist Slovenia. After 1945, the country underwent a process of gradual but steady secularization. After a decade of severe persecution of religions, the Communist regime adopted a policy of relative tolerance towards the churches, but limited their social functioning. After 1990, the Roman Catholic Church regained some of its former influence, but Slovenia remains a largely secularized society. According to the 2002 census, 57.8% of the population is Roman Catholic. As elsewhere in Europe, affiliation with Roman Catholicism is dropping: in 1991, 71.6% were self-declared Catholics, which means a drop of more than 1% annually.[201] The vast majority of Slovenian Catholics belong to the Latin Rite. A small number of Greek Catholics live in the White Carniola region.[202]

Lutheran church in Bodonci in the Prekmurje region

Despite a relatively small number of Protestants (less than 1% in 2002), the Protestant legacy is important because of its historical significance, given that the Slovene standard language and Slovene literature were established by the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Nowadays, a significant Lutheran minority lives in the easternmost region of Prekmurje, where they represent around a fifth of the population and are headed by a bishop with the seat in Murska Sobota.[203]

Serbian Orthodox Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Ljubljana

Besides these two Christian denominations, a small Jewish community has also been historically present. Despite the losses suffered during the Holocaust, Judaism still numbers a few hundred adherents, mostly living in Ljubljana, site of the sole remaining active synagogue in the country.[204]

According to the 2002 census, Islam is the second largest religious denomination with around 2.4% of the population. Most Slovenian Muslims came from Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia.[205] The third largest denomination, with around 2.2% of the population, is Orthodox Christianity, with most adherents belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church while a minority belongs to the Macedonian and other Orthodox churches.

In the 2002, around 10% of Slovenes declared themselves as atheists, another 10% professed no specific denomination, and around 16% decided not answer the question about their religious affiliation. According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2005,[206] 37% of Slovenian citizens responded that "they believe there is a god", whereas 46% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 16% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".


Around 12% of the inhabitants of Slovenia were born abroad.[207] According to data from 2008, there were around 100,000 non-EU citizens living in Slovenia, or around 5% of the overall population of the country.[208] The highest number came from Bosnia-Herzegovina, followed by immigrants from Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia and Kosovo. The number of people migrating to Slovenia has been steadily rising from 1995;[209] and has been increasing rapidly in recent years. Since Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, the yearly inflow of immigrants has doubled by 2006 and tripled by 2009.[210] In 2007, Slovenia was one of the countries with the fastest growth of net migration rate in the European Union.[209]


Universities in Ljubljana and Maribor

Responsibility for educational oversight at primary and secondary level in Slovenia lies with the Ministry of Education and Sports. After non-compulsory pre-school education, children enter the nine-year primary school at the age of six.[211] Primary school is divided into three periods, each of three years. In the academic year 2006–2007 there were 166,000 pupils enrolled in elementary education and more than 13,225 teachers, giving a ratio of one teacher per 12 pupils and 20 pupils per class.[212]

After completing elementary school, nearly all children (more than 98 per cent) go on to secondary education, either vocational, technical or general secondary programmes (gimnazija). The latter concludes with matura, the final exam that allows the graduates to enter a university. 84 per cent of secondary school graduates go on to tertiary education.[212] Currently there are three public universities in Slovenia, in Ljubljana,[213] Maribor[214] and in Primorska (Littoral) region.[215] In addition, there is a private University of Nova Gorica[216] and an international EMUNI University.[217] According to the ARWU rating, the University of Ljubljana ranks among 500 best universities in the world.[218]

The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Slovenia's education as the 12th best in the world and 4th best in the European Union, being significantly higher than the OECD average.[219] According to the 1991 census there is 99.6 per cent literacy in Slovenia. Among people aged 25 to 64, 12 per cent have attended higher education, whilst on average Slovenes have 9.6 years of formal education. Lifelong learning is also increasing.[212] According to an OECD report, 83% of adults ages 25–64 have earned the equivalent of a high school degree, well above the OECD average of 74%; among 25-34 year-olds, the rate is 93%.[220]


The Sower (1907), produced by the impressionist painter and musician Ivan Grohar, became a metaphor for the Slovenes[221][222] and was a reflection of the transition from a rural to an urban culture.[223]

Slovene literature

Literature written in Slovene language, founded in the 16th century by Primož Trubar and other Protestant Reformers, achieved its highest level with the Romantic poet France Prešeren (1800–1849). In the 20th century, it went through several periods. The beginning of the century was marked by the authors of the Slovene Modernism, with the most influential Slovene writer and playwright, Ivan Cankar. It was then followed by expressionism (Srečko Kosovel), avantgardism (Anton Podbevšek, Ferdo Delak) and social realism (Ciril Kosmač, Prežihov Voranc) before World War II, the poetry of resistance and revolution (Karel Destovnik Kajuh, Matej Bor) during the war, and intimism (Poems of the Four, 1953), post-war modernism (Edvard Kocbek), and existentialism (Dane Zajc) after the war.

Children's literature

Visual arts

Slovenia's visual arts are shaped by a number of Slovenian painters, sculptors, architects, photographers, graphics artists, comics, illustration, and conceptual artists. The most prestigious institutions exhibiting works of Slovene visual artists are the National Gallery of Slovenia and the Museum of Modern Art.


Historically, painting and sculpture in Slovenia was in the late 18th and the 19th century marked by Neoclassicism (Matevž Langus), Biedermeier (Giuseppe Tominz) and Romanticism (Mihael Stroj). The first art exhibition in Slovenia was organised in the late 19th century by Ivana Kobilica, a woman-painter who worked in realistic tradition. Impressionist artists include Matej Sternen, Matija Jama, Rihard Jakopič, Ivan Grohar whose The Sower (Slovene: Sejalec) was depicted on the €0.05 Slovenian euro coins, and Franc Berneker, who introduced the impressionism to Slovenia. Espressionist painters include Veno Pilon and Tone Kralj whose picture book, reprinted thirteen times, is now the most recognisable image of the folk hero Martin Krpan.[224].


Vodnik Monument in Ljubljana, created in 1889 by Alojz Gangl in commemoration of the poet Valentin Vodnik (1758-1819), was the first Slovene national monument.

The renewal of Slovene sculpture begun with Alojz Gangl (1859–1935) who created the public monuments of the Carniolan polymath Johann Weikhard von Valvasor and Valentin Vodnik, the first Slovene poet and journalist, as well as The Genius of the Theatre and other statues for the Slovenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre building[225] .


Modern architecture in Slovenia was introduced by Max Fabiani, and in the mid-war period, Jože Plečnik and Ivan Vurnik.[226] In the second half of the 20th century, the national and universal style were merged by the architects Edvard Ravnikar and Marko Mušič.


In 1841, the photographs made on glass were invented by Janez Puhar (1814–1864) and recognized on 17 June 1852 in Paris by the Académie Nationale Agricole, Manufacturière et Commerciale.[227] Gojmir Anton Kos was a notable realist painter and photographer between First World War and WW II.

The first photographer from Slovenia whose work was published by National Geographic magazine is Arne Hodalič[228]


During World War II, numerous graphics were created by Božidar Jakac, who helped establish the post-war Academy of Visual Arts in Ljubljana.

Comics and animation

Milko Bambič is known for the first Slovene comic strip Little Negro Bu-ci-bu,[229] an allegory of Mussolini's career,[229] and as the creator of the Three Hearts (Tri srca) brand, still used today by Radenska. After the WW II, both the comics and animated advertisements drawn by Miki Muster gained popularity in Slovenia.


The first Slovenian animated feature film was made by Zvonko Čoh and Milan Erič, fifty thousand frames were hand drawn during ten years of making the 1998 Socialization of a Bull. Dušan Kastelic is the author of a couple of Slovene first entirely computer made animations (i.e. the 2003 Perkmandeljc, and the 2008 Čikorja an' kafe).


In 1917 Hinko Smrekar illustrated the notable Fran Levstik's Martin Krpan book about the Slovene folk hero. The children's books illustrators include a number of women illustrators, such as Marlenka Stupica, Marija Lucija Stupica, Ančka Gošnik Godec, Marjanca Jemec Božič, and Jelka Reichman.

Many generations of children have been educated by the technical and science illustrations created by Božo Kos and published in Slovenian children's magazines, such as Ciciban.

Recently, Lila Prap's illustrations gained popularity in Japan where children's' cartoons based on her illustrations have been televised.


Conceptual art

A number of conceptual visual art groups formed, including OHO, Group 69, and IRWIN. Nowadays, the Slovene visual arts are diverse, based on tradition, reflect the influence of neighbouring nations and are intertwinned with modern European movements.[230]



Pino Mlakar and Pia Mlakar were the most notable ballet dancers and members of the Ljubljana Opera and Ballet Company from 1946-1960. Pino Mlakar was also a full professor at the Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) of the University of Ljubljana.

Modern dance

In 1930s in Ljubljana was founded a Mary Wigman dance school by her student Meta Vidmar.

Folk dance


Classical music, opera, and film music

The Slovenian Philharmonics, established in 1701 as part of Academia operosorum Labacensis, is among the oldest such institutions in Europe. Music of Slovenia historically includes numerous musicians and composers, such as the Renaissance composer Jacobus Gallus (1550–1591), who greatly influenced Central European classical music, the Baroque composer Janez Krstnik Dolar (ca. 1620–1673), and the violin virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini.

During the medieval era, secular music was as popular as church music, including wandering minnesingers. By the time of Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, music was used to proselytize. The first Slovenian hymnal, Eni Psalmi, was published in 1567. This period saw the rise of musicians like Jacobus Gallus and Jurij Slatkonja.[231]

In 1701, Johann Berthold von Höffer (1667–1718), a nobleman and amateur composer from Ljubljana, founded the Academia Philharmonicorum Labacensis, as one of the oldest such institutions in Europe, based on Italian models.[232]

Composers of Slovenian Lieder and art songs include Emil Adamič (1877–1936), Fran Gerbič (1840–1917), Alojz Geržinič (1915–2008), Benjamin Ipavec (1829–1908), Davorin Jenko (1835–1914), Anton Lajovic (1878–1960), Kamilo Mašek (1831–1859), Josip Pavčič (1870–1949), Zorko Prelovec (1887–1939), and Lucijan Marija Škerjanc (1900–1973).

In the early 20th century, impressionism was spreading across Slovenia, which soon produced composers Marij Kogoj and Slavko Osterc. Avant-garde classical music arose in Slovenia in the 1960s, largely due to the work of Uroš Krek, Dane Škerl, Primož Ramovš and Ivo Petrić, who also conducted the Slavko Osterc Ensemble. Jakob Jež, Darijan Božič, Lojze Lebič and Vinko Globokar have since composed enduring works, especially Globokar's L'Armonia, an opera.

Modern composers include Uroš Rojko, Tomaž Svete, Brina Jež-Brezavšček, Božidar Kantušer and Aldo Kumar. Kumar's Sonata z igro 12 (A sonata with a play 12), a set of variations on a rising chromatic scale, is particularly notable.

The Slovene National Opera and Ballet Theatre serves as the national opera and ballet house.

The composer of film scores for 170 films was Bojan Adamič (1912 – 1995).[233]

Folk music

Traditional folk music

Harmony singing is a deep rooted tradition in Slovenia, and is at least three-part singing (four voices), while in some regions even up to eight-part singing (nine voices). Slovenian folk songs, thus, usually resounds soft and harmonious, and are very seldom in minor. Traditional Slovenian folk music is performed on Styrian harmonica (the oldest type of accordion), fiddle, clarinet, zithers, flute, and by brass bands of alpine type. In eastern Slovenia, fiddle and cimbalon bands are called velike goslarije.

Modern folk (Slovenian country) music

Folk musician Lojze Slak

From 1952 on, the Slavko Avsenik's band began to appear in broadcasts, movies, and concerts all over the West Germany, inventing the original "Oberkrainer" country sound that has became the primary vehicle of ethnic musical expression not only in Slovenia, but also in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and in the Benelux, spawning hundreds of Alpine orchestras in the process. The band produced nearly 1000 original compositions, an integral part of the Slovenian-style polka legacy. Avsenik's most popular instrumental composition is the polka that is titled "Na Golici" (in Slovene), or "Trompetenecho" (in German), and "Trumpet Echoes" (in English). Oberkrainer music, which the Avsenik Ensemble popularized, is always a strong candidate for country (folk) music awards in Slovenia and Austria.

Many musucians followed Avsenik's steps, one of the most famous being Lojze Slak.

Slovenska popevka

A similarly high standing in Slovene culture, like the Sanremo Music Festival has had in Italian culture, was attributed to the Slovenska popevka, a specific genre of popular Slovene music.[234]

Popular music

Among pop, rock, industrial, and indie musicians the most popular in Slovenia include Laibach, an early 1980s industrial music group, and most recently the Slovenian pop a cappella band Perpetuum Jazzile.

Pop, rock, metal, and indie music

Other popular bands, most largely unknown outside the country, include Negligence (thrash metal), Elvis Jackson (ska punk), Lačni Franz, Bohem, Puppetz (Indie), Tabu, Društvo Mrtvih Pesnikov (pop-rock), Naio Ssaion (Gothic metal), Terrafolk, Leaf Fat (screamo), Avven, Perpetuum Jazzile, Carpe Diem, Šank Rock, Big Foot Mama, Yogurt, Adam, Levitan, Dan D, Time to time, Flirrt, Zablujena generacija, Slon in Sadež, Katalena, Rock Partyzani, Shyam, Eroika, Hic et Nunc, Devil Doll (experimental rock), Chateau, Posodi mi jürja, Rok'n'band, Čuki, Juliette Justine, Zaklonišče Prepeva, Psycho-Path, Dekadent (black metal) and Buldožer (progressive rock), and most recently Perpetuum Jazzile with more than 12 million views combined for the two a capella "Africa" performance videos since their publishing on YouTube in May 2009 until September 2011,[235][236] earning them kudos from the song's co-writer, David Paich.[237]


Slovenian chansonniers include Adi Smolar, Iztok Mlakar, Eva Sršen, Vlado Kreslin, Neca Falk, Zoran Predin, Peter Lovšin, and Magnifico.

World music

The 1970s Bratko Bibič's band Begnagrad is considered one of the direct influences on modern world music. Bibič's unique accordion style, often solo, with no accompaniment, has also made him a solo star.

Punk rock

Slovenia was the center for punk rock in the Titoist Yugoslavia. The most famous representatives of this genre were Pankrti, Niet, Lublanski Psi, Čao Pičke, Via Ofenziva, Tožibabe, and Otroci Socializma.

Techno and tech-house

Slovenia has also produced two renowned DJs: DJ Umek and Valentino Kanzyani. Specialising in a frantic brand of party techno and tech-house, the pair co-founded the label Recycled Loops as well as having many popular[citation needed] releases on labels such as Novamute, Primate, Intec and Bassethound Records.


Film actors

Slovene film actors and actresses historically include Ida Kravanja, who played her roles as Ita Rina in the early European films, and Metka Bučar.[238] After the WW II, one of the most notable film actors was Polde Bibič, who played a number of roles in many films that were well received in Slovenia, including Don't Cry, Peter (1964), On Wings of Paper (1968), Kekec's Tricks (1968), Flowers in Autumn (1973), The Widowhood of Karolina Žašler (1976), Heritage (1986), Primož Trubar (1985), and My Dad, The Socialist Kulak (1987). Many of these were directed by Matjaž Klopčič. He also performed in television and radio drama.[239] Altogether, Bibič played over 150 theatre and over 30 film roles.[239]

Film directors

Film in Slovenia historically includes Karol Grossmann, František Čap, France Štiglic, Igor Pretnar, Jože Pogačnik, Peter Zobec, Matjaž Klopčič, Boštjan Hladnik, Dušan Jovanović, Vitan Mal, Franci Slak, and Karpo Godina as its most established filmmakers. Contemporary film directors Filip Robar - Dorin, Jan Cvitkovič, Damjan Kozole, Janez Lapajne, Marko Okorn, and Marko Naberšnik are among the representatives of the so-called "Renaissance of Slovenian cinema". Slovene screenwriters, who are not film directors, include Saša Vuga and Miha Mazzini. Women film directors include Polona Sepe, Hanna A. W. Slak, and Maja Weiss.[240]

Slovene film critics include Silvan Furlan, the founder of the Slovenian Cinematheque,[241] Zdenko Vrdlovec, Marcel Štefančič Jr., and Simon Popek.

Festivals and events

In Titoist Yugoslavia, Jazz festival Ljubljana right after the World War II begun the long tradition of Jazz festivals in Slovenia.[242] Historically, among the most popular music festivals was the Slovenska popevka festival. Between 1981 and 2000 the Novi Rock festival was notable for bringing rock music across Iron curtain from the West to the Slovenian and then Yugoslav audience.

A number of music, theater, film, festivals takes place in Slovenia each year, including Ljubljana Summer Festival, Lent Festival.

In 2012, Maribor was the European Capital of Culture.


Prekmurska gibanica is a typical pastry of the Prekmurje region.

Slovenian cuisine is a mixture of three great regional cuisines, Central European cuisine (especially Austrian and Hungarian), Mediterranean cuisine and Balkan cuisine. Historically, Slovenian cuisine was divided into town, farmhouse, cottage, castle, parsonage and monastic cuisine. Due to the variety of Slovenian cultural and natural landscapes, there are more than 40 distinct regional cuisines.

Slovenian national dishes include bujta repa, ričet, prekmurska gibanica, nut roll (potica), žganci, Istrian stew (jota), minestrone (mineštra), prosciutto (pršut). There is a variety of sausages in Slovenian cuisine, the best known of which is Kranjska klobasa.

Soups are a relatively recent invention in Slovenian cuisine, but there are over 100.[citation needed] Earlier there were various kinds of porridge, stew and one-pot meals. The most common meat soups are beef and chicken soup. Meat-based soups were served only on Sundays and feast days; more frequently in more prosperous country or town households.[citation needed]


Petra Majdič, cross-country skiing bronze winner in the 2010 Olympics, as well as Terry Fox Award winner for personal achievements

Slovenia is a natural sports venue, with many Slovenians actively practicing sport.[243] A variety of sports are played in Slovenia on a professional level,[47] with top international successes in handball, basketball, volleyball, association football, ice hockey, rowing, Swimming, tennis, boxing and athletics. Prior to World War II, gymnastics and fencing used to be the most popular sports in Slovenia, with champions like Leon Štukelj and Miroslav Cerar gaining Olympic medals for Slovenia. Association football gained popularity in the interwar period. After 1945, basketball, handball and volleyball have become popular among Slovenians, and from the mid 1970s onward, winter sports. Since 1992, Slovenian sportspeople have won 22 Olympic medals, including three gold medals, and 19 Paralympic medals, also three of them gold.

Individual sports are also very popular in Slovenia, including tennis and mountaineering, which are two of the most widespread sporting activities in Slovenia. Several Slovenian extreme and endurance sportsmen have gained an international reputation, including the mountaineer Tomaž Humar, the mountain skier Davo Karničar, the ultramaraton swimmer Martin Strel and the ultracyclist Jure Robič. Past and current winter sports Slovenian champions include Alpine skiers, such as Mateja Svet, Bojan Križaj, and Tina Maze, the cross-country skier Petra Majdič, and ski jumpers, such as Primož Peterka. Boxing has gained popularity since Dejan Zavec won the IBF Welterweight World Champion title in 2009.

Since the major international success of the national football team, qualifying for two FIFA World Cups and one UEFA European Football Championship, football has become increasingly popular, as well. Slovenian past and current football stars include Branko Oblak and Zlatko Zahovič. The national basketball team has qualified for eight Eurobaskets, including a 4th place finish in 2009, and two FIBA World Championship appearances. Notable Slovenian basketball players include Jure Zdovc, Peter Vilfan, and Ivo Daneu. Slovenia will be the host of European basketball championship in 2013, having previously hosted the final round of 1970 FIBA World Championship. The national ice hockey team has qualified for six Ice Hockey World Championships.

Further reading

  • Stanić, Stane, Slovenia (London, Flint River Press, 1994).
  • Oto Luthar (ed), The Land Between: A history of Slovenia. With contributions by Oto Luthar, Igor Grdina, Marjeta Šašel Kos, Petra Svoljšak, Peter Kos, Dušan Kos, Peter Štih, Alja Brglez and Martin Pogačar (Frankfurt am Main etc., Peter Lang, 2008).

More information

Airports16 (2012)
Borders WithAustria
Borders WithCroatia
Borders WithHungary
Borders WithItaly
Coastline46.6 km
Coordinates46 07 N, 14 49 E
Ethnic GroupSlovene 83.1%
Ethnic GroupSerb 2%
Ethnic GroupCroat 1.8%
Ethnic GroupBosniak 1.1%
Ethnic Groupother or unspecified 12% (2002 census)
Female Life Expectancy81.36 years (2012 est.)
Female Median Age44.5 years (2012 est.)
Fertility Rate1.31 children born/woman (2012 est.)
GDP$58.3 billion (2011 est.)
GDP$57.95 billion (2010 est.)
GDP$57.24 billion (2009 est.)
GDP Growth0.6% (2011 est.)
GDP Growth1.2% (2010 est.)
GDP Growth-7.8% (2009 est.)
Government typeparliamentary republic
Highest PointTriglav 2,864 m
Land Area20,151 sq km
Land boundary1,086 km
LanguageHungarian (official, only in municipalities where Hungarian national communities reside) (2002 census)
LanguageItalian (official, only in municipalities where Italian national communities reside)
LanguageSerbo-Croatian 4.5%
LanguageSlovenian (official) 91.1%
Languageother or unspecified 4.4%
Locationsouth Central Europe, Julian Alps between Austria and Croatia
Lowest PointAdriatic Sea 0 m
Male Life Expectancy73.83 years
Male Median Age41.1 years
Population Growth-0.185% (2012 est.)
Railways1,228 km
Roadways38,925 km
Terraina short coastal strip on the Adriatic, an alpine mountain region adjacent to Italy and Austria, mixed mountains and valleys with numerous rivers to the east
Total Area20,273 sq km
Total Life Expectancy77.48 years
Total Median Age42.8 years
Water Area122 sq km
Waterways(there is some transport on the Drava River) (2012)


  1. Melody by Stanko Premrl.[1][2][3][4] The question whether the entire Zdravljica or only its seventh stanza constitutes the Slovenian national anthem, remains unresolved. Whereas the Constitution of Slovenia determines the title of the poem, the act about the anthem specifically determines its seventh stanza. It has been argued that the act contradicts the constitution and that the question should be resolved by the Slovenian Constitutional Court.[5]
  2. Slovenia's placement within the regional classification schemes for Europe is controversial.[13] It is most often placed in Central Europe but sometimes in Southeastern Europe or elsewhere.[13] Examples include the United Nations Statistics Division (Southern Europe),[14] The World Factbook (Central Europe),[15] Encarta ("south central Europe")[16] and Peter J. Katzenstein ("no way to decide")[17]


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