Slovenia (i/sloʊˈviːniə, slə-, -njə/ sloh-VEE-nee-ə; Slovene: Slovenija [slɔˈʋéːnija]), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: Republika Slovenija (help·info), abbr.: RS), is a nation state in southern Central Europe, located at the crossroads of main European cultural and trade routes. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the south and southeast, and the Adriatic Sea to the southwest. It covers 20,273 square kilometers (7,827 sq mi) and has a population of 2.06 million. It is a parliamentary republic and a member of the United Nations, European Union, and NATO. The capital and largest city is Ljubljana.
The territory is mostly mountainous with a mainly continental climate, with the exception of the Slovene Littoral that has a sub-Mediterranean climate and the north-western area that has an Alpine climate. Additionally, the Dinaric Alps and the Pannonian Plain meet on the territory of Slovenia. The country, marked by a significant biological diversity, is one of the most water-rich in Europe, with a dense river network, a rich aquifer system, and significant karst underground watercourses. Over half of the territory is covered by forest. The human settlement of Slovenia is dispersed and uneven.
Slovenia has historically been the crossroads of South Slavic, Germanic, Romance, and Hungarian languages and culture. Although the population is not homogeneous, the majority is Slovene. South Slavic language Slovene is the official language throughout the country. Slovenia is a largely secularized country, but its culture and identity have been significantly influenced by Catholicism as well as Lutheranism. The economy of Slovenia is small, open, and export-oriented and has been strongly influenced by international conditions. It has been severely hurt by the Eurozone crisis, started in the late 2000s. The main economic field is services, followed by industry and construction.
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 Habsburg Monarchy. In October 1918, the Slovenes exercised self-determination for the first time by co-founding the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. In December 1918, they merged with the Kingdom of Serbia into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929). During World War II, Slovenia was occupied and annexed by Germany, Italy, and Hungary, with a tiny area transferred to the Independent State of Croatia, a Nazi puppet state. Afterward, it was a founding member of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, later renamed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a communist state which was the only country in the Eastern Bloc never a part of the Warsaw Pact. In June 1991, after the introduction of multi-party representative democracy, Slovenia split from Yugoslavia and became an independent country. In 2004, it entered NATO and the European Union; in 2007 became the first formerly communist country to join the Eurozone; and in 2010 joined the OECD, a global association of high-income developed countries.
Present-day Slovenia has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and there is evidence of human habitation from around 250,000 years ago. A pierced cave bear bone, dating from 43100 ± 700 BP, found in 1995 in Divje Babe cave near Cerkno, is possibly the oldest musical instrument discovered in the world. In the 1920s and 1930s, artifacts belonging to the Cro-Magnon such as pierced bones, bone points, and needle were found by archaeologist Srečko Brodar in Potok Cave.
In 2002, remains of pile dwellings over 4,500 years old were discovered in the Ljubljana Marshes, now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Ljubljana Marshes Wooden Wheel, the oldest wooden wheel in the world. It shows that wooden wheels appeared almost simultaneously in Mesopotamia and Europe. In the transition period between the Bronze age to the Iron age, the Urnfield culture flourished. Archaeological 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". In the Iron Age, present-day Slovenia was inhabited by Illyrian and Celtic tribes until the 1st century BC.
The area that is present-day Slovenia was in Roman times shared between Venetia et Histria (region X of Roman Italia in the classification of Augustus) and the provinces Pannonia and Noricum. 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 subject to invasions by the Huns and Germanic tribes during their incursions into Italy. A part of the inner state was protected with a defensive line of towers and walls called Claustra Alpium Iuliarum. A crucial battle between Theodosius I and Eugenius took place in the Vipava Valley in 394.
The Slavic tribes migrated to the Alpine area after the westward departure of the Lombards (the last Germanic tribe) in 568, and under pressure from Avars established a Slavic settlement in the Eastern Alps. From 623 to 624 or possibly 626 onwards, King Samo united the Alpine and Western Slavs against the Avars and Germanic peoples and established what is referred to as Samo's Kingdom. After its disintegration following Samo's death in 658 or 659, the ancestors of the Slovenes located in present-day Carinthia formed the independent duchy of Carantania. and Carniola, later duchy Carniola. Other parts of present-day Slovenia were again ruled by Avars before Charlemagne's victory over them in 803.
The Carantanians, one of the ancestral groups of the modern Slovenes, particularly the Carinthian Slovenes, were the first Slavic people to accept Christianity. They were mostly christianized by Irish missionaries, among them Modestus, known as the "Apostle of Carantanians". This process, together with Christianization of Bavarians, was later described in the memorandum known as the Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, which is thought to have over-emphasized the role of the Church of Salzburg in the Christianization process over similar efforts of the Patriarchate of Aquileia.
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 Christianised from Aquileia. Following the anti-Frankish rebellion of Liudewit 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.
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.
By the 11th century, the Germanization of what is now Lower Austria, effectively isolated the Slovene-inhabited territory from the other western Slavs, speeding up the development of the Slavs of Carantania and of Carniola into an independent Carantanian/Carniolans/Slovene ethnic group. By the late Middle Ages, the historic provinces of Carniola, Styria, Carinthia, Gorizia, Trieste, and Istria developed from the border regions and were 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 centuries, and were 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 colonisation significantly diminished the extent of Slovene-speaking areas. By the 15th century, the Slovene ethnic territory was reduced to its present size.
In the 14th century, most of the territory of present-day Slovenia was taken over by the Habsburgs, the Hungarian clan Záh administering the territories connecting Slovenia with Slovakia and Moravia was exterminated in 1330 and the Slovenes permanently lost the connection with their Slovak kinsmen. The counts of Celje, a feudal family from this area who in 1436 acquired the title of state princes, were Habsburgs' 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. Patria del Friuli ruled present western Slovenia until Venetian takeover in 1420.
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. In 1572 and 1573 the Croatian-Slovenian peasant revolt wrought havoc throughout the wider region. Such uprisings, which often met with bloody defeats, continued throughout the 17th century.
The Republic of Venice was dissolved by France and Venetian Slovenia was passed to the Austrian Empire in 1797. The Slovene Lands were part of the Illyrian provinces, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. Slovenes inhabited most of Carniola, the southern part of the duchies of Carinthia and Styria, the northern and eastern areas of the Austrian Littoral, as well as Prekmurje in the Kingdom of Hungary. Industrialization was accompanied by construction of railroads to link cities and markets, but the urbanization was limited.
Due to limited opportunities, between 1880–1910 there was extensive emigration, and around 300,000 Slovenes (i.e. 1 in 6) emigrated to other countries, mostly to the US, but also to South America (main part to Argentina), Germany, Egypt, and to larger cities in Austria-Hungary, especially Vienna and Graz. The area of the United States with the highest concentration of Slovenian immigrants is Cleveland, Ohio. The other locations in the United States where many Slovenians settled were areas with substantial industrial and mining activities: Pittsburgh, Chicago, Pueblo, Butte, and the Salt Lake Valley. The men were important as workers in the mining industry, because of some of the skills they brought from Slovenia. Despite this, the Slovene population increased significantly. Literacy was exceptionally high, at 80–90%.
The 19th century also saw a revival of culture in the Slovene language, accompanied by a Romantic nationalist quest for cultural and political autonomy. The idea of a United Slovenia, first advanced during the revolutions of 1848, became the common platform of most Slovenian parties and political movements in Austria-Hungary. During the same period, Yugoslavism, an ideology stressing the unity of all South Slavic peoples, spread as a reaction to Pan-German nationalism and Italian irredentism.
World War I brought heavy casualties for Slovenes, particularly the twelve Battles of the Isonzo, which took place in present-day Slovenia's western border area. Hundreds of thousands of Slovene conscripts were drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army, and over 30,000 of them died. Hundreds of thousands of Slovenes from Gorizia and Gradisca were resettled in refugee camps in Italy and Austria. While the refugees in Austria received decent treatment, the Slovene refugees in Italian camps were treated as state enemies, and several thousand died of malnutrition and diseases between 1915 and 1918. Entire areas of the Slovene Littoral were destroyed.
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. This demand was rejected by the Austrian political elites; but following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the aftermath of the First World War, the 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; in 1929 it was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The main territory of Slovenia, being the most industrialized and westernized compared to other less developed parts of Yugoslavia, became the main center of industrial production: Compared to Serbia, for example, Slovenian industrial production was four times greater; and it was 22 times greater than in Macedonia. The interwar period brought further industrialization in Slovenia, with rapid economic growth in the 1920s, followed by a relatively successful economic adjustment to the 1929 economic crisis and Great Depression.
Following a plebiscite in October 1920, the Slovene-speaking southern Carinthia was ceded to Austria. With the Treaty of Trianon, on the other hand, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was awarded the Slovene-inhabited Prekmurje region, formerly part of Austro-Hungary.
Slovenes living in territories that fell under the rule of the neighboring states—Italy, Austria, and Hungary—were subjected to assimilation.
The Treaty of Rapallo of 1920 left approximately 327,000 out of the total population of 1.3 million Slovenes in Italy. After the fascists took power in Italy, they were subjected to a policy of violent Fascist Italianization. This caused the mass emigration of Slovenes, especially the middle class, from the Slovenian Littoral and Trieste to Yugoslavia and South America. Those who remained organized several connected networks of both passive and armed resistance. The best known was the militant anti-fascist organization TIGR, formed in 1927 in order to fight Fascist oppression of the Slovene and Croat populations in the Julian March.
Slovenia was the only present-day European nation that was trisected and completely annexed into both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy during World War II. In addition, the Prekmurje region in the east was annexed to Hungary, and some villages in the Lower Sava Valley were incorporated in the newly created Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia.
Axis forces invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941 and defeated the country in a few weeks. The southern part, including Ljubljana, was annexed to Italy, while the Nazis took over the northern and eastern parts of the country. The Nazis had a plan of ethnic cleansing of these areas, and they resettled or expelled the local Slovene civilian population to the puppet states of Nedić's Serbia (7,500) and NDH (10,000). In addition, some 46,000 Slovenes were expelled to Germany, including children who were separated from their parents and allocated to German families. At the same time, the ethnic Germans in the Gottschee enclave in the Italian annexation zone were resettled to the Nazi-controlled areas cleansed of their Slovene population. Around 30,000 to 40,000 Slovene men were drafted to the German Army and sent to Eastern front. The Slovene language was banned from education, and its use in the public life was limited to the absolute minimum.
In south-central Slovenia, annexed by Fascist Italy and renamed to Province of Ljubljana, the Slovenian National Liberation Front was organized in April 1941. Led by the Communist Party, it formed the Slovene Partisan units as part of the Yugoslav Partisans led by the Communist leader Josip Broz Tito.
After the resistance started in summer 1941, Italian violence against the Slovene civilian population escalated, as well. The Italian authorities deported some 25,000 people to the concentration camps, which equaled 7.5% of the population of their occupation zone. The most infamous ones were Rab and Gonars. To counter the Communist-led insurgence, the Italians sponsored local anti-guerrilla units, formed mostly by the local conservative Catholic Slovene population that resented the revolutionary violence of the partisans. After the Italian armistice of September 1943, the Germans took over both the Province of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Littoral, incorporating them into what was known as the Operation Zone of Adriatic Coastal Region. They united the Slovene anti-Communist counter-insurgence into the Slovene Home Guard and appointed a puppet regime in the Province of Ljubljana. The anti-Nazi resistance however expanded, creating its own administrative structures as the basis for Slovene statehood within a new, federal and socialist Yugoslavia.
In 1945, Yugoslavia was liberated by the partisan resistance and soon became a socialist federation known as the People's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Slovenia joined the federation as a constituent republic, led by its own pro-Communist leadership.
Approximately 8% of the entire Slovene population died during World War II. The small Jewish community, mostly settled in the Prekmurje region, perished in 1944 in the holocaust of Hungarian Jews. The German speaking minority, amounting to 2.5% of the Slovenian population prior to WWII, was either expelled or killed in the aftermath of the war. Hundreds of Istrian Italians and Slovenes that opposed communism were killed in the foibe massacres, and more than 25,000 fled or were expelled from Slovenian Istria in the aftermath of the war.
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 rest of the Eastern Bloc. In 1947, the Slovene Littoral and the western half of Inner Carniola, which had been annexed by Italy after World War One, were annexed to Slovenia.
After the failure of forced collectivisation that was attempted from 1949–53, a policy of gradual economic liberalisation, known as workers self-management, was introduced under the advice and supervision of the Slovene Marxist theoretician and Communist leader Edvard Kardelj, the main ideologue of the Titoist path to socialism. Suspected opponents of this policy both from within and outside the Communist party were persecuted and thousands were sent to the Goli otok.
The late 1950s saw a policy of liberalisation in the cultural sphere, as well, and limited border crossing into neighboring Italy and Austria was allowed again. Until the 1980s, the Slovenia enjoyed relatively broad autonomy within the federation. In 1956, Josip Broz Tito, together with other leaders, founded the Non-Aligned Movement. Particularly in the 1950s, Slovenia's economy developed rapidly and was strongly industrialised. With further economic decentralisation of Yugoslavia in 1965–66, Slovenia's domestic product was 2.5 times the average of Yugoslav republics.
Opposition to the regime was mostly limited to intellectual and literary circles, and became especially vocal after Tito's death in 1980, when the economic and political situation in Yugoslavia became very strained. 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.
In 1987 a group of intellectuals demanded Slovene independence in the 57th edition of the magazine Nova revija. Demands for democratisation and more Slovenian independence were sparked off. A mass democratic movement, coordinated by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, pushed the Communists in the direction of democratic reforms.
In September 1989, numerous constitutional amendments were passed to introduce parliamentary democracy to Slovenia. The same year Action North united both the opposition and democratized communist establishment in Slovenia as the first defense action against attacks by Slobodan Milošević's supporters, leading to Slovenian independence. On 7 March 1990, the Slovenian Assembly changed the official name of the state to the "Republic of Slovenia". In April 1990, the first democratic election in Slovenia took place, and the united opposition movement DEMOS led by Jože Pučnik emerged victorious.
The initial revolutionary events in Slovenia pre-dated the Revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe by almost a year, but went largely unnoticed by international observers. On 23 December 1990, more than 88% of the electorate voted for a sovereign and independent Slovenia. On 25 June 1991, Slovenia became independent through the passage of appropriate legal documents. 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. On 7 July, the Brijuni Agreement was signed, implementing a truce and a three-month halt of the enforcement of Slovenia's independence. In the end of the month, the last soldiers of the Yugoslav Army left Slovenia.
In December 1991, a new constitution was adopted, followed in 1992 by the laws on denationalisation and privatization. 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.
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 a member of the OECD.
The disillusionment with domestic socio-economic elites at municipal and national levels was expressed at the 2012–2013 Slovenian protests on a wider scale than in the smaller 15 October 2011 protests. In relation to the leading politicians' response to allegations made by the official Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of the Republic of Slovenia, legal experts expressed the need for changes in the system that would limit political arbitrariness.
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. The Geometrical Center of the Republic of Slovenia is located at coordinates 46°07'11.8" N and 14°48'55.2" E. It lies in Slivna in the Municipality of Litija. Slovenia's highest peak is Triglav (2,864 m or 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 Sea, 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 kilometres (29 mi) from Italy to Croatia.
The term "Karst topography" refers to that of southwestern Slovenia's Karst 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 or 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. 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 or 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 on the small Adriatic Plate, which is squeezed between the Eurasian Plate to the north and the African Plate to the south and rotates counter-clockwise. Thus the country is at the junction of three important geotectonic units: the Alps to the north, the Dinaric Alps to the south and the Pannonian Basin to the east. Scientists have been able to identify 60 destructive earthquakes in the past. Additionally, a network of seismic stations is active throughout the country. Many parts of Slovenia have a carbonate ground, and an extensive subterranean system has developed.
The first regionalisations of Slovenia were made by geographers Anton Melik (1935–1936) and Svetozar Ilešič (1968). The newer regionalisation by Ivan Gams divided Slovenia in the following macroregions:
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). 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. Additionally, according to Yale University's Environmental Performance Index, Slovenia is considered a "strong performer" in environmental protection efforts.
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.
Precipitation, often coming from Bay of Genoa, varies across the country as well, with over 3,500 mm (138 in) in some western regions and dropping down to 800 mm (31 in) in Prekmurje. Snow is quite frequent in winter and the record snow cover in Ljubljana was recorded in 1952 at 146 cm (57 in).
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 the jugo is humid and warm, the 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.
The territory of Slovenia mainly (16,423 square kilometers or 6,341 square miles, i.e. 81%) belongs to the Black Sea basin, and a smaller part (3,850 square kilometers or 1,490 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. In comparison with developed countries, water quality in Slovenia is considered to be among the highest in Europe. One of the reasons is undoubtedly that most of the rivers rise on the mountainous territory of Slovenia. But this does not mean that Slovenia has no problems with surface water and groundwater quality, especially in areas with intensive farming.
Slovenia signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 13 June 1992 and became a party to the convention on 9 July 1996. It subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 30 May 2002.
Slovenia is distinguished by an exceptionally wide variety of habitats, due to the contact of geological units and biogeographical regions, and due to human influences. Around 12.5% of the territory is protected with 35.5% in the Natura 2000 ecological network. Despite this, because of pollution and environmental degradation, diversity has been in decline.
The biological diversity of the country is high, with 1% of the world's organisms on 0.004% of the Earth's surface area. There are 75 mammal species, among them marmots, Alpine ibex, and chamois. There are numerous deer, roe deer, boar, and hares. 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.
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. There are hedgehogs, martens, and snakes such as vipers and grass snakes. According to recent estimates, Slovenia has c. 40–60 wolves and about 450 brown bears.
There are a wide variety of birds, such as the tawny owl, the long-eared owl, the eagle owl, hawks, and short-toed eagles. 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. Other birds include black and green woodpeckers and the white stork, which nests mainly in Prekmurje.
There are 13 domestic animals native to Slovenia, of eight species (hen, pig, dog, horse, sheep, goat, honey bee, and cattle). Among these are the Karst Shepherd, the Carniolan honeybee, and the Lipizzan horse. They have been preserved ex situ and in situ. The marble trout or marmorata (Salmo marmoratus) is an indigenous Slovenian fish. 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.
More than 2,400 fungal species have been recorded from Slovenia and, since that figure does not include lichen-forming fungi, the total number of Slovenian fungi already known is undoubtedly much higher. Many more remain to be discovered.
Slovenia is the third most-forested country in Europe, with 58.5% of the territory covered by forests. The forests are an important natural resource, and logging is kept to a minimum — Slovenians 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 the 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 grow on the Karst Plateau, although only one-third of the region is covered by pine forest. The lime/linden tree, common in Slovenian forests, is a national symbol. The tree line is at 1,700 to 1,800 metres (5,600 to 5,900 feet).
In the Alps, flowers such as Daphne blagayana, 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.
Slovenia harbors 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 restricted for use as per the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia.
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 has an important integrative role. 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.
The executive and administrative authority in Slovenia is held by the Government of Slovenia (Vlada Republike Slovenije), 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. 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. The 1992–2004 period was marked by the rule of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia, which was responsible for gradual transition from the Titoistic economy to the capitalist market economy. It later attracted much criticism by neo-liberal economists, who demanded a 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, alongside President Milan Kučan (who served between 1990 and 2002).
The 2005–2008 period was characterized by over-enthusiasm after joining the EU. During the first term of Janez Janša's government, for the first time after independence, the Slovenian banks saw their loan-deposit ratios veering out of control. There was over-borrowing from foreign banks and then over-crediting of customers, including local tycoons.
After the onset of the financial crisis of 2007–2010 and European sovereign-debt crisis, the left-wing coalition that replaced Janša's government in the 2008 elections, had to face the consequences of the 2005–2008 over-borrowing. Attempts to implement reforms that would help 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 in a referendum. The left-wing government was ousted with a vote of no confidence. Janez Janša attributed the boom of spending and overborrowing to the period of left-wing government; he proposed harsh austerity reforms which he had previously helped postpone. Generally, some economists estimate that left and right parties attributed to over-loaning and managers' takovers; reason behind was that each block tried to establish economic elite which will support political forces.
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 also conform with the general principles of international law and with ratified international agreements.
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. 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 2016, military spending was an estimated 0.91% of the country's GDP. Since joining NATO, the Slovenian Armed Forces have taken a more active part in supporting international peace. They have participated 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.
According to the 2012 Global Peace Index, Slovenia is one of the world's most peaceful countries.
Officially, Slovenia is subdivided into 211 municipalities (eleven of which have the status of urban municipalities). The municipalities are the only bodies of local autonomy in Slovenia. Each municipality is headed by a mayor (župan), elected every four years by popular vote, and a municipal council (občinski svet). In the majority of municipalities, the municipal council is elected through the system of proportional representation; only a few smaller municipalities use the plurality voting system. In the urban municipalities, the municipal councils are called town (or city) councils. 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.
There is no official intermediate unit between the municipalities and the Republic of Slovenia. The 62 administrative districts, officially called "Administrative Units" (upravne enote), are only subdivisions of the national government administration and are named after their respective bases of government offices. They are headed by a Manager of the Unit (načelnik upravne enote), appointed by the Minister of Public Administration.
Traditional regions were based on the former Habsburg crown lands that included Carniola, Carinthia, Styria, and the Littoral. Stronger than with either the Carniola as a whole, or with Slovenia as the state, Slovenes historically tend to identify themselves with the traditional regions of Slovene Littoral, Prekmurje, and even traditional (sub)regions, such as Upper, Lower and, to a lesser extent, Inner Carniola.
The capital city Ljubljana was historically the administrative center of Carniola and belonged to Lower Carniola, except for the Šentvid district, which was in Upper Carniola where the border between the German occupation zone and Province of Ljubljana also was during WWII.
The 12 statistical regions have no administrative function and are subdivided into two macroregions for the purpose of the Regional policy of the European Union. These two macroregions are:
Slovenia has a developed economy and is per capita the richest of the Slavic countries by nominal GDP, and the second richest by GDP (PPP) behind the Czech Republic. Slovenia 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. There is a big difference in prosperity between the various regions. The economically most prosperous regions are the Central Slovenia region which includes the capital Ljubljana and the western Slovenian regions, as Goriška and Coastal–Karst. The poorest regions are the Mura, the Central Sava and the Littoral–Inner Carniola.
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. The construction industry was severely hit in 2010 and 2011. In 2009, Slovenian GDP per capita shrank by 8%, the biggest decline in the European Union after the Baltic countries and Finland. An increasing burden for the Slovenian economy has been its rapidly ageing population.
In August 2012, the year-on-year contraction was 0.8%, however, 0.2% growth was recorded in the first quarter (in relation to the quarter before, after data was adjusted according to season and working days). 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, to the failure of the efforts to implement economic reforms, to inappropriate financing, and to the decrease in exports.
Slovenia's total national debt at the end of September 2011 amounted to 15,884 million euros or 44.4% of GDP. In August 2012, the three main ratings agencies have all downgraded Slovenian sovereign debt. An increase in 2013 estimates about Slovenia allegedly being in need of a bailout was attributed by Finland’s Europe Minister Alexander Stubb to "financial sharks" who would like to capitalize on it by creating self-fulfilling prophecies and Die Welt ranked Slovenia among the three least vulnerable European countries topped only by Germany and Estonia.
Almost two-thirds of people are employed in services, and over one-third in industry and construction. Slovenia benefits from a well-educated workforce, well-developed infrastructure, and its location at the crossroads of major trade routes.
The level of foreign direct investment (FDI) per capita in Slovenia is one of the lowest in the EU, and the labor productivity and the competitiveness of the Slovenian economy is still significantly below the EU average. 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.
High level of openness makes Slovenia extremely sensitive to economic conditions in its main trading partners and changes in its international price competitiveness. The main industries are motor vehicles, electric and electronic equipment, machinery, pharmaceuticals, and fuels. Examples of major Slovenian companies operating in Slovenia include the home appliance manufacturer Gorenje, the pharmaceutical company Krka, the oil distributing company Petrol Group and Revoz a manufacturing subsidiary of Renault.
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 was finished in 2013. By 2018, 41.5 MW HE Brežice and 30.5 MW HE Mokrice hydro power plants will be built on the 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. A large pumped-storage hydro power plant Kozjak on the Drava River is in the 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.
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.
The nation's capital, Ljubljana, has many important Baroque and Vienna Secession buildings, with several important works of the native born architect Jože Plečnik and also his pupil, architect Edo Ravnikar.
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.
The Karst Plateau in the Slovene Littoral gave its name to karst, a landscape shaped by water dissolving the carbonate bedrock, forming caves. The best-known caves are Postojna Cave 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.
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, with Rogaška Slatina, Radenci, Čatež ob Savi, Dobrna, and Moravske Toplice growing in importance in the last two decades.
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. Perla in Nova Gorica is the largest casino in the region.
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. European tourists create more than 90% of Slovenia's tourist income. In 2016, Slovenia was declared the world's first green country by the Netherlands-based organization Green Destinations. On being declared the most sustainable country in 2016, Slovenia had a big part to play at the ITB Berlin to promote sustainable tourism.
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 Central Europe with the Balkans) in the country. This gives it a special position in the European social, economic and cultural integration and restructuring.
The road freight and passenger transport constitutes the largest part of transport in Slovenia at 80%. Personal cars are much more popular than public road passenger transport, which has significantly declined. Slovenia has a very high highway and motorway density compared to the European Union average. The highway system, the construction of which was speeded up after 1994, has slowly but steadily transformed Slovenia into a large conurbation. Other state roads have been rapidly deteriorating due to neglect and the overall increase in traffic.
The existing Slovenian railways are out-of-date and can't compete with the motorway network. The maintenance and modernisation of the Slovenian railway network has been neglected due to the lack of financial assets. Due to the out-of-date infrastructure, the share of the railway freight transport has been in decline in Slovenia. The railway passenger transport has been recovering after a large drop in the 1990s. The Pan-European railway corridors V and X, and several other major European rail lines intersect in Slovenia. All international transit trains in Slovenia drive through the Ljubljana Railway Hub.
The major Slovenian port is the Port of Koper. It is the largest Northern Adriatic port in terms of container transport, with almost 590,000 TEUs annually and lines to all major world ports. It is much closer to destinations east of the Suez than the ports of Northern Europe. In addition, the maritime passenger traffic mostly takes place in Koper. 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. Splošna plovba, the only Slovenian shipping company, transports freight and is active only in foreign ports.
Air transport in Slovenia is quite low, but has significantly grown since 1991. Of the three international airports in Slovenia, Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport in central Slovenia is the busiest, with connections to many major European destinations. The Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport is located in the eastern part of the country and the Portorož Airport in the western part. The state-owned Adria Airways is the largest Slovenian airline. Since 2003, several new carriers have entered the market, mainly low-cost airlines. The only Slovenian military airport is the Cerklje ob Krki Air Base in the southwestern part of the country. There are also 12 public airports in Slovenia.
With 101 inhabitants per square kilometer (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 Inner Carniola–Karst Statistical Region has the lowest population density while the Central Slovenia Statistical Region has the highest.
According to the 2002 census, Slovenia's main ethnic group are Slovenes (83%), however their share in the total population is continuously decreasing due to their relatively low fertility rate. At least 13% (2002) of the population were immigrants from other parts of Former Yugoslavia and their descendants. They have settled mainly in cities and suburbanised areas. Relatively small but protected by the Constitution of Slovenia are the Hungarian and the Italian ethnic minority. A special position is held by the autochthonous and geographically dispersed Roma ethnic community.
Slovenia is among the European countries with the most pronounced ageing of population, ascribable to a low birth rate and increasing life expectancy. Almost all Slovenian inhabitants older than 64 are retired, with no significant difference between the genders. The working-age group is diminishing in spite of immigration. The proposal to raise the retirement age from the current 57 for women and 58 for men was rejected in a referendum in 2011. In addition, the difference among the genders regarding life expectancy is still significant. The total fertility rate (TFR) in 2014 was estimated at 1.33 children born/woman, which is lower than the replacement rate of 2.1. The majority of children are born to unmarried women (in 2014, 58.3% of all births were outside of marriage). In 2014, life expectancy was 77.83 years (74.21 years male, and 81.69 years female).
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. Nonetheless, from 2000 until 2010, the rate has decreased by about 30%. The differences between regions and the genders are pronounced.
Depending on definition, between 65% and 79% of people live in wider urban areas. According to OECD definition of rural areas none of the Slovene statistical regions is mostly urbanised, meaning that 15% or less of the population lives in rural communities. According to this definition statistical regions are classified:
The only large town is the capital, Ljubljana. Other, medium-sized towns include Maribor, Celje, and Kranj. Overall, there are eleven urban municipalities in Slovenia.
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. This statistic ranks Slovenia among the most homogeneous countries in the EU in terms of the share of speakers of the predominant mother tongue.
Slovene is a highly diverse Slavic language in terms of dialects, with different degrees of mutual intelligibility. Accounts of the number of dialects range from as few as seven dialects, often considered dialect groups or dialect bases that are further subdivided into as many as 50 dialects. Other sources characterize the number of dialects as nine or as eight.
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 the passports issued in those areas are bilingual. In 2002 around 0.2% of the Slovenian population spoke Italian and around 0.4% spoke Hungarian as their native language. Hungarian is co-official with Slovene in 30 settlements in 5 municipalities (whereof 3 are officially bilingual). Italian is co-official with Slovene in 25 settlements in 4 municipalities (all of them officially bilingual).
Romani, spoken in 2002 as the native language by 0.2% of people, is a legally protected language in Slovenia. Romani-speakers mainly belong to the geographically dispersed and marginalized Roma community.
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. Gottscheerish or Granish, the traditional German dialect of Gottschee County, faces extinction.
A significant number of people in Slovenia 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. In 2002, 0.4% of the Slovenian population declared themselves to be native speakers of Albanian and 0.2% native speakers of Macedonian. Czech, 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 residents of Slovenia.
Regarding the knowledge of foreign languages, Slovenia ranks among the top European countries. The most 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. According to the Eurobarometer survey, as of 2005[update] the majority of Slovenes could speak Croatian (61%) and English (56%).
A reported 42% of Slovenes could speak German, which was one of the highest percentages outside German-speaking countries. Italian is widely spoken on the Slovenian Coast and in some other areas of the Slovene 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.
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 persecution of religions, the Communist regime adopted a policy of relative tolerance towards churches. After 1990, the 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 Catholic. In 1991, 71.6% were self-declared Catholics which means a drop of more than 1% annually. The vast majority of Slovenian Catholics belong to the Latin Rite. A small number of Greek Catholics live in the White Carniola region.
Despite a relatively small number of Protestants (less than 1% in 2002), the Protestant legacy is historically significant given that the Slovene standard language and Slovene literature were established by the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Protestantism was extinguished in the Counter-Reformation implemented by the Habsburgs, only surviving in the easternmost regions due to protection of Hungarian nobles, who often happened to be Calvinist. Today, 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.
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.
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. 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 to answer the question about their religious affiliation. According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, 32% of Slovenian citizens responded that "they believe there is a god", whereas 36% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 26% 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: in 2008, around 100,000 non-EU citizens were living in Slovenia, or around 5% of the overall population of the country. The highest number of these foreign-born residents came from Bosnia-Herzegovina, followed by immigrants from Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia and Kosovo.
The number of people immigrating into Slovenia rose steadily from 1995 and has been increasing even more rapidly in recent years. After Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, the annual number of immigrants doubled by 2006 and increased by half yet again by 2009. In 2007, Slovenia had one of the fastest growing net migration rates in the European Union.
As to emigration, between 1880 and 1918 (World War I) many men left Slovenia to work in mining areas in other nations. The United States in particular has been a common choice for emigration, with the 1910 US Census showing that there were already "183,431 persons in the USA of Slovenian mother tongue". But there may have been many more, because a good number avoided anti-Slavic prejudice and "identified themselves as Austrians." Favorite localities before 1900 were Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, as well as Omaha, Nebraska, Joliet, Illinois, Cleveland, Ohio, and rural areas of Iowa. After 1910, they settled in Utah (Bingham Copper Mine), Colorado (especially Pueblo), and Butte, Montana. These areas attracted first many single men (who often boarded with Slovenian families). Then after locating work and having sufficient money, the men sent back for their wives and families to join them.
Slovenia's education ranks as the 12th best in the world and 4th best in the European Union, being significantly higher than the OECD average, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment. Among people age 25 to 64, 12% have attended higher education, while on average Slovenes have 9.6 years of formal education. 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- to 34-year-olds, the rate is 93%. According to the 1991 census there is 99.6% literacy in Slovenia. Lifelong learning is also increasing.
Responsibility for education 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. 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.
After completing elementary school, nearly all children (more than 98%) 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% of secondary school graduates go on to tertiary education.
Among several universities in Slovenia, the best ranked is the University of Ljubljana, ranking among the first 500 or the first 3% of the world's best universities according to the ARWU. Two other public universities include the University of Maribor in Styria region and the University of Primorska in Slovene Littoral. In addition, there is a private University of Nova Gorica and an international EMUNI University.
Slovenia has widespread built heritage, including 2,500 churches, 1,000 castles, ruins, and manor houses, farmhouses, and special structures to dry hay, called hayracks (kozolci).
Three historic sites in Slovenia are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Škocjan Caves and its karst landscape are a protected site. The Idrija Mercury mining site is of world importance, as are the prehistoric pile dwellings in the Ljubljana Marshes.
The most picturesque church is the medieval and Baroque building on Bled Island. The castle above the lake is a museum and restaurant with a view. Near Postojna there is an interesting fortress called the Predjama Castle, half hidden in a cave. Museums in Ljubljana and elsewhere feature unique items such as the Divje Babe Flute and the oldest wheel in the world. Ljubljana has medieval, Baroque, Art Nouveau, and modern architecture. Plečnik's architecture and his innovative paths and bridges along the Ljubljanica are notable.
Comedians historically included the pioneer of Slovene comedy plays Anton Tomaž Linhart and much later singer-songwriter Frane Milčinski (1914–1988), the socialist period comedian and journalist Tone Fornezzi, the Italian-style comedians Nataša Tič Raljan with her Mona Liza character, Gojmir Lešnjak, and Boris Kobal with the characters from the legendary TV Poper Show, and the leading Slovene impersonator Sašo Hribar with his Radio Ga-Ga Show.
Slovenian cuisine is a mixture of the Central European cuisine (especially Austrian and Hungarian), the Mediterranean cuisine and the 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.
Ethnologically most characteristic Slovene dishes were one-pot dishes, such as ričet, Istrian stew (jota), minestrone (mineštra), and žganci buckwheat spoonbread; in the Prekmurje region there is also bujta repa, and prekmurska gibanica pastry. Pršut prosciutto is known (pršut) in the Slovene Littoral. The nut roll (potica) has become a trademark and symbol of Slovenia especially among Slovene diaspora in America. Soups were added to the traditional one-pot meals and various kinds of porridge and stew only in relatively recent history.
Each year since 2000, the Festival of Roasted Potatoes is organized by the Society for the Recognition of Roasted Potatoes as a Distinct Dish, attracting thousands of visitors. The roasted potatoes, which have been traditionally served in most Slovenian families only on Sundays—preceded by a meat-based soup, such as beef or chicken soup—have been depicted on a special edition of post marks by the Post of Slovenia on 23 November 2012. The best known sausage is kranjska klobasa.
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.
Numerous folk dances along with colorful costumes distinguishing between single and married women are found throughout Slovenia. Pueblo, Colorado, home to numerous Slovenian families who emigrated around 1900, has an annual Slovenian Folklore festival.
A number of music, theater, film, book, and children's festivals take place in Slovenia each year, including the music festivals Ljubljana Summer Festival and Lent Festival, the stand up comedy Punch Festival, the children's Pippi Longstocking Festival, and the book festivals Slovene book fair and Frankfurt after the Frankfurt.
In 2012, Maribor was the European Capital of Culture.
The most notable music festival of Slovene music was historically 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. In Titoist Yugoslavia, Jazz festival Ljubljana right after the World War II begun the long tradition of Jazz festivals in Slovenia.
Slovene film actors and actresses historically include Ida Kravanja, who played her roles as Ita Rina in the early European films, and Metka Bučar. 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. Altogether, Bibič played over 150 theatre and over 30 film roles.
Feature film and short film production 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.
Most notable documentaries made by Slovenian directors include the humanitarian films by Tomo Križnar on the Nuba people.
Slovene film critics include Silvan Furlan, the founder of the Slovenian Cinematheque, Zdenko Vrdlovec, Marcel Štefančič Jr., and Simon Popek.
History of Slovene literature began in the 16th century with Primož Trubar and other Protestant Reformers. Poetry in the Slovene language achieved its highest level with the Romantic poet France Prešeren (1800–1849). In the 20th century, the Slovene literary fiction 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.
Postmodernist authors include Boris A. Novak, Marko Kravos, Drago Jančar, Evald Flisar, Tomaž Šalamun, and Brina Svit. Among the post-1990 authors best known are Aleš Debeljak, Miha Mazzini, and Alojz Ihan. There are several literary magazines that publish Slovene prose, poetry, essays, and local literary criticism.
In the Bukla Magazine, issued free of charge, both fiction and non-fiction Slovene books published in the previous month are reviewed since 2005.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 become 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. Many musicians followed Avsenik's steps, including Lojze Slak.
With more than 15 million views for the official a cappella "Africa" performance video since its publishing on YouTube in May 2009 until September 2013 that earned them kudos from the song's co-writer, David Paich, Perpetuum Jazzile is the group from Slovenia that is internationally most listened online. Other Slovenian bands include a historically progressive rock ones that were also popular in Titoism Yugoslavia, such as Buldožer and Lačni Franz, which inspired later comedy rock bands including Zmelkoow, Slon in Sadež and Mi2. With exception of Terrafolk that made appearances worldwide, other bands, such as Zaklonišče Prepeva, Šank Rock, Big Foot Mama, Dan D, and Zablujena generacija, are mostly unknown outside the country. Slovenian metal bands include Negligence (thrash metal), Naio Ssaion (Gothic metal), and Devil Doll (experimental rock).
Slovenian post-WWII singer-songwriters include Frane Milčinski (1914–1988), Tomaž Pengov whose 1973 album Odpotovanja is considered to be the first singer-songwriter album in former Yugoslavia, Tomaž Domicelj, Marko Brecelj, Andrej Šifrer, Eva Sršen, Neca Falk, and Jani Kovačič. After 1990, Adi Smolar, Iztok Mlakar, Vita Mavrič, Vlado Kreslin, Zoran Predin, Peter Lovšin, and Magnifico have been popular in Slovenia, as well.
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.
Slovenia has also produced several DJs, including DJ Umek and Valentino Kanzyani. Specialising in party techno and tech-house, the pair co-founded the label Recycled Loops as well as having releases on labels such as Novamute, Primate, Intec and Bassethound Records.
In addition to the main houses, which include Slovene National Theatre, Ljubljana and Maribor National Drama Theatre, a number of small producers are active in Slovenia, including physical theatre (e.g. Betontanc), street theatre (e.g. Ana Monró Theatre), theatresports championship Impro League, and improvisational theatre (e.g. IGLU Theatre). A popular form is puppetry, mainly performed in the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre. Theater has a rich tradition in Slovenia, starting with the 1867 first ever Slovene-language drama performance.
Slovenia's visual arts, architecture, and design are shaped by a number of architects, designers, painters, sculptors, photographers, graphics artists, as well as 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.
Modern architecture in Slovenia was introduced by Max Fabiani, and in the mid-war period, Jože Plečnik and Ivan Vurnik. In the second half of the 20th century, the national and universal style were merged by the architects Edvard Ravnikar and first generation of his students: Milan Mihelič, Stanko Kristl, Savin Sever. Next generation is mainly still active Marko Mušič, Vojteh Ravnikar, Jurij Kobe and groups of younger architects.
Milko Bambič is known for the first Slovene comic strip Little Negro Bu-ci-bu, an allegory of Mussolini's career, 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 the 1998 Socialization of a Bull, made by Zvonko Čoh and Milan Erič who together drew fifty thousand frames during the ten years of its making. The first entirely computer made animations are the 2003 Perkmandeljc and the 2008 Čikorja an' kafe, both made by Dušan Kastelic.
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 neighboring nations and are intertwinned with modern European movements.
Internationally most notable Slovenian design items include the 1952 Rex chair, a Scandinavian design-inspired wooden chair, by interior designer Niko Kralj that was given in 2012 a permanent place in Designmuseum, Denmark, the largest museum of design in Scandinavia, and is included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art MOMA in New York, as well.
An industrial design item that has changed the international ski industry is Elan SCX by Elan company. Even before the Elan SCX, Elan skis were depicted in two films, the 1985 James Bond film series part A View to a Kill with Roger Moore, and Working Girl where Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver) was depicted as skiing on the RC ELAN model skis and poles.
The renewal of Slovene sculpture begun with Alojz Gangl (1859–1935) who created sculptures for 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. The development of sculpture after World War II was led by a number of artists, including brothers Boris and Zdenko Kalin, Jakob Savinšek stayed with figural art. Younger sculptors, for example Janez Boljka, Drago Tršar and particularly Slavko Tihec, moved towards abstract forms. Jakov Brdar and Mirsad Begić returned to human figures.
In 1917 Hinko Smrekar illustrated Fran Levstik's book about the well-known Slovene folk hero Martin Krpan. 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.
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 organized 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. Some of the best known painters in the second half of the 20th century were Zoran Mušič, Gabrijel Stupica and Marij Pregelj.
In 1841, Janez Puhar (1814–1864) invented a process for photography on glass, recognized on 17 June 1852 in Paris by the Académie Nationale Agricole, Manufacturière et Commerciale. 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.
Slovenia is a natural sports venue, with many Slovenians actively practicing sports. A variety of sports are played in Slovenia on a professional level, 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 have, as well. Since 1992, Slovenian sportspeople have won 22 Olympic medals, including three gold medals, and 19 Paralympic medals, also with three golds.
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 2014 Olympic Alpine Downhill gold medalist Tina Maze, the cross-country skier Petra Majdič, and ski jumpers, such as Primož Peterka and Peter Prevc. Boxing has gained popularity since Dejan Zavec won the IBF Welterweight World Champion title in 2009.
The most successful football club in Slovenia is NK Maribor which reached the group stages of the UEFA Champions League two times and UEFA Europa League three times. Since the major international success of the national football team, qualifying for two FIFA World Cups and one UEFA European Football Championship, association football has become increasingly popular, as well. Slovenian past and current football stars include Branko Oblak, Zlatko Zahovič, Samir Handanović, Jan Oblak and Kevin Kampl. The national basketball team has qualified for 13 Eurobaskets, including a fourth-place finish in 2009, and three FIBA World Championship appearances. Notable Slovenian basketball players include Goran Dragić, Jure Zdovc, Peter Vilfan, Ivo Daneu and Boris Kristančič.
Slovenia was 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 nine Ice Hockey World Championships. The team also qualified for the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics. Anže Kopitar is the most notable Slovene ice hockey player, having helped the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup Championship in 2012 and 2014. Slovenian national handball team has qualified for eight IHF World Men's Handball Championships, including their third-place finish in the 2017 edition, and for ten European Men's Handball Championships. They were the hosts of European Championship in 2004, where they finished as runners-up. Slovenia's most prominent handball team, RK Celje, won the EHF Champions League in the 2003–04 season.
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