|THE SLOVENIA COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Slovenia within the continent of Europe
Map of Slovenia
Flag Description of Slovenia:The Slovenia flag was officially adopted on June 24, 1991.
Red, white and blue are traditional Pan-Slavic colors. The Slovenian coat of arms features three gold stars, said to be symbolic of the Duchy of Celje arms. The mountains shown in white are representative of the Alps, and the wavy blue lines across the bottom indicate Slovenia's valuable access to the sea.
Official name Republika Slovenija (Republic of Slovenia)
Form of government unitary multiparty republic with two legislative houses (National Council ; National Assembly )
Head of state President: Borut Pahor
Head of government Prime Minister: Miro Cerar
Official language Slovene
Official religion none
Monetary unit euro1 (€)
Population (2013 est.) 2,060,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 7,827
Total area (sq km) 20,273
- Urban: (2011) 49.9%
- Rural: (2011) 50.1%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2011) 76.6 years
- Female: (2011) 82.9 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2009) 100%
- Female: (2009) 100%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 22,830
1The Slovenian tolar (SlT) was the former monetary unit; on Jan. 1, 2007, SlT 239.64 = €1.
Background of Slovenia
The Slovene lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the latter's dissolution at the end of World War I. In 1918, the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new multinational state, which was named Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War II, Slovenia became a republic of the renewed Yugoslavia, which though communist, distanced itself from Moscow's rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power by the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 after a short 10-day war. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy have assisted in Slovenia's transformation to a modern state. Slovenia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004; it joined the eurozone in 2007.
Slovenia, country in central Europe that was part of Yugoslavia for most of the 20th century. Slovenia is a small but topographically diverse country made up of portions of four major European geographic landscapes—the European Alps, the karstic Dinaric Alps, the Pannonian and Danubian lowlands and hills, and the Mediterranean coast. Easily accessible mountain passes (now superseded by tunnels) through Slovenia’s present-day territory have long served as routes for those crossing the Mediterranean and transalpine regions of Europe.
The Slovenes are a South Slavic people with a unique language. For most of its history, Slovenia was largely controlled by the Habsburgs of Austria, who ruled the Holy Roman Empire and its successor states, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary; in addition, coastal portions were held for a time by Venice. As part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia came under communist rule for the bulk of the post-World War II period. With the dissolution of the Yugoslav federation in 1991, a multiparty democratic political system emerged. Slovenia’s economic prosperity in the late 20th century attracted hundreds of thousands of migrants from elsewhere in the Balkans. In the early 21st century, Slovenia integrated economically and politically with western Europe, joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as well as the European Union in 2004. Slovenia’s capital and most important city is Ljubljana.
Geography of Slovenia
Slovenia is bordered by Austria to the north and Hungary to the far northeast. To the east, southeast, and south, Slovenia shares a 416-mile- (670-km-) long border with Croatia. To the southwest Slovenia is adjacent to the Italian port city of Trieste and occupies a portion of the Istrian Peninsula, where it has an important coastline along the Gulf of Venice. Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is situated to the west.
Slovenia is mostly elevated. Outside the coastal area, its terrain consists largely of karstic plateaus and ridges, magnificently precipitous Alpine peaks, and (between the elevated areas) valleys, basins, and arable or pastorally useful karstic poljes. The only major flat area is in the northeast. Tectonic fault lines cross the country, and Ljubljana suffered a devastating earthquake in 1895.
In Slovenia four main physiographic regions can be distinguished. The first is the Alpine region, which takes up about two-fifths of Slovenia’s surface area. In the north and northwest, along the borders with Italy and Austria, are the High Alps, comprising the Kamnik and Savinja, the Karavanke (Karawanken), and the Julian Alps; the latter includes Slovenia’s highest peak, Mount Triglav, at 9,396 feet (2,864 metres). In a vale beneath Triglav lie idyllic Lake Bohinj and Lake Bled. Slightly lower than the High Alps is the subalpine “ridge-and-valley” terrain. The main subalpine range is the Pohorje, located south of the Drava River. The historical name for the central Alpine lands is Gorenjska (Upper Carniola), a name that Slovenes still use. Slovenes refer to the Mea and Mislinja river valleys as Koroška (Carinthia). On Gorenjska’s southern edge is the spacious Ljubljana basin, which contains the capital as well as the industrial city of Kranj.
Slovenia’s second major physiographic region, the Kras (Karst), a spur of the lengthy Dinaric Alps in the southwestern part of the country, is dotted with caves and underground rivers, the characteristic features of karst topography (whose term is derived from the name of the region). Although it constitutes one-fourth of Slovenia’s area, the Kras region has only a fraction of the country’s population, which is concentrated between the wooded limestone ridges in dry and blind valleys, hollows, and poljes. Water is scarce in this region. The Suha Krajina is a karstified plateau; the Bela Krajina is a transitional belt that contains plains and points toward the Subpannonia (Pannonian Plain). Most of the region is known to Slovenes by its historical names: Dolenjska (Lower Carniola) and Notranjska (Inner Carniola). Scientific study of karst terrain is a Slovene specialty, research having begun during the 18th century in Habsburg Carniola.
The next largest physiographic region (occupying one-fifth of the country) is the fertile Subpannonia; it is located in eastern and northeastern Slovenia and includes the valleys of the Sava, Drava, and Mura rivers. Its basins contain the cities of Maribor (on the Drava) and Celje (on the Savinja River, a tributary of the Sava). Subpannonia corresponds in part to the lower part of the old Austrian duchy of Styria; Slovenes call their portion Štajerska and share some traits with their Austrian neighbours. Beyond a saddle of hills known as the Slovenske Gorice is Prekmurje, a wheat-growing region drained by the Mura River in the extreme northeast of the country. It was ruled by Hungary until 1918; its main town is Murska Sobota.
The fourth principal region (occupying barely one-twelfth of Slovenia’s surface) is Primorska, or the Slovene Littoral. It overlaps what were the Habsburg regions of Trieste and Gorizia and is made up of Slovenia’s portion of the Istrian Peninsula, the Adriatic hinterland, and the Soča and Vipava river valleys. The 29-mile (47-km) strip of coast makes up Slovenia’s riviera. The city of Koper (just south of Trieste) is Slovenia’s major port.
Most of Slovenia’s intricate fluvial network is directed toward the Danube River. The Sava originates in the Julian Alps and flows past Ljubljana toward Croatia; its narrow valley serves as a rail conduit to Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, and farther to Belgrade, Serbia’s capital. The Drava enters Slovenia from the Austrian state of Kärnten, and the Mura emerges from the Austrian state of Steiermark; they meet in Croatia and, like the Sava, ultimately reach the Danube. In the west the Soča originates beneath Mount Triglav and, after a precipitous course, reaches the Gulf of Venice in Italian territory.
The relatively steep gradients of Slovenia’s topography create fast runoff, which in turn ensures most of Slovenia copious water and hydroelectric resources. On the other hand, it also washes away valuable soil nutrients. Pollution of the rivers remains a problem.
Slovenia’s complex geology has created a pedological mosaic. The small, thick Pleistocene cover is acidic and viscid. Permeable thin brown podzols—cambisols and fluvisols—are productive if fertilized, but they cover only about one-tenth of its surface, chiefly to the northeast. The carbonate bedrock underlying much of the country produces thin lithosols suited to forest growth. There are many good alluvial soils (particularly in Subpannonia) as well as bog varieties. Karstic sinkholes and poljes are famous for having terra rossa, a red soil produced by the degradation of the underlying limestone.
Slovenia may be divided into three climatic zones. Conditions in Istria indicate a transition from the Mediterranean climate of the Dalmatian coast to a moderate continental climate. In the moderate zone the highest monthly precipitation (up to 15 inches [381 mm]) occurs in spring and autumn, and the highest temperatures (often rising above 80 °F [27 °C]) occur in June and July. Winter temperatures rarely drop below 50 °F (10 °C), but this mildness is sometimes interrupted by the strong bora, a cold northerly wind.
Central and northern Slovenia have a continental “cool summer” climate; the eastern third of the country also falls into the continental category but has warm summers. Monthly summer rainfall in the cool belt is more than 3 inches (80 mm), and high temperatures average in the upper 60s F (about 20 °C), although there are uncomfortable hot spells. The east and northeast have much less overall precipitation, and midsummer highs reach well past 70 °F (21 °C). From November to February, temperature readings below freezing occur frequently, but snow cover has become less frequent and usually melts rapidly.
- Plant and animal life
Slovenia’s flora reflects the country’s physiographic diversity, especially its varying elevations. At the highest elevations below the tree line, junipers alternate with high meadowland. Lower is a central belt of coniferous and deciduous trees (birch and beech) mixed with pasturage and arable lands, and, still lower, deciduous growth including karstic heath and maquis (good for rough grazing) is found. At sea level along the Slovene Littoral is a typically Mediterranean cover of brushwood, including maquis. Fruit and vegetable areas are scattered about the country, and forests, which are noted for their mushrooms, cover about three-fifths of the terrain.
Several animal species have been given protected status. Along with others of direct economic importance, they include the reintroduced (though still rare) ibex, the European brown bear, the chamois, the wild boar, and red, fallow, and roe deer as well as standard varieties of small game. The lynx has reappeared. The Subpannonian habitat suits migratory fowl and upland birds, and the trout and grayling found in the Soča River are renowned among sport anglers. The Adriatic waters off Slovenia’s coast are not an especially favourable environment for fish.
Demography of Slovenia
- Ethnic groups
About nine-tenths of Slovenia’s people are ethnically Slovene. They are descendants of settlers who arrived in the 6th century ce. Historians differ on the exact origin of the settlers, but they do agree that most of them were Slavs who migrated westward from the vast Russian Plain, probably from a locale in between the Black Sea and the Carpathian Mountains. Italians and Hungarians are Slovenia’s two main ethnic minority groups, though neither community is large. Italians live mainly in Primorska (southwestern Istria) and Hungarians principally in the northeastern Prekmurje region. Communities of Roma (Gypsies) are also autochthonous to Slovenia and are found mostly in northeastern Slovenia or scattered throughout southern Slovenia near the border with Croatia.
The disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991 took many immigrants to Slovenia from other former Yugoslav republics (mainly from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo). Despite linguistic kinship with people from the Balkan Peninsula, the Slovenes are culturally an Alpine folk who have more in common with northern Italians, southern Germans, and the Swiss.
Slovene, the official language of Slovenia, is a South Slavic language, but it also has affinities to West Slavic Czech and to Slovak. Eastern Slovene dialects blend with Kajkavian forms of Serbo-Croatian, but literary Slovene is remote from its Croatian counterparts, and it borrows words from the German and Italian languages, which are still spoken by older generations of Slovenians. In addition, there are marked differences between the eastern Slovene dialects and the standard Slovene spoken in most of the country. Slovene is one of the few languages to have preserved the dual grammatical number (used to refer to exactly two persons or things in addition to singular and plural forms) of Proto-Indo-European. Italian and Hungarian are the other major languages spoken in Slovenia, mainly in the regions where these two ethnic communities reside.
Christianity was accepted by the Slavic tribes in the 8th century ce. The authority of a once-powerful Roman Catholic Church hierarchy was broken by the flight of conservative Catholics (including many clerics) in 1945, and religious practice was further vitiated by communism and the acceleration of industrialization and consumerism. In the early 21st century about three-fifths of Slovenes adhered to Roman Catholicism, down from four-fifths in the 1990s. An influx of Muslim and Orthodox Christian immigrants to Slovenia in the 1970s and, later, in the 1990s further altered the religious composition of the country. Many Orthodox churches are in Ljubljana and southeastern Slovenia. Most of Slovenia’s Muslim population (the second largest religious group in the country at the beginning of the 21st century) live in the capital. After much prolonged pressure from the Muslim community, the Slovenian government in 2004 approved the construction of the country’s first mosque, a decision that was met with much opposition. There are a few Protestant communities in northeastern Slovenia, and Buddhism and other faiths are practiced in some urban centres. About one-fourth of Slovenians did not specify their religion in the country’s 2002 census; many considered religion to be a sensitive issue.
- Settlement patterns
Slovenia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (called Yugoslavia beginning in 1929) after World War I, and it entered a period of agricultural decline and rapid industrialization that induced people to settle at lower elevations or simply to emigrate—a process that accelerated after World War II. The expulsion of ethnic Germans following World War II, and later the collectivization of land during communist rule, also affected settlement patterns in Slovenia. Several villages were abandoned and essentially became ghost towns. (Some of the vacant dwellings from these deserted farms and villages now serve as second homes for urbanites.)
A second major change in settlement patterns occurred in the 1960s when the communist government began establishing industry in urban centres and, beginning in the 1970s, in towns as well. In cities and larger towns this shift was evident in the proliferation of high-rise housing. But though more housing was constructed, cities continued to suffer from a shortage of apartments (most of which were offered to unskilled migrant labourers from the southern republics of the Yugoslav federation). Under communist rule, efficient rail and bus systems were developed, and the majority of Slovenes who worked in cities commuted daily from the suburbs and outlying rural areas. Throughout the 1980s, when industry became more decentralized, the bulk of Slovenes still commuted to work. In general, commuting was part of the daily routine for much of the population.
At the beginning of the 21st century, Slovenia’s population remained overdispersed. Three-fourths of the country’s population centres were hamlets with fewer than 200 residents, and only about half of the population lived in urban areas. Commuting to urban jobs remained common.
- Demographic trends
A comparison of 20th-century census data with Slovenia’s first official census (1857) reveals that the population of what is present-day Slovenia increased by only about 500,000 people from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. This was partly due to emigration, which was highest in the decades prior to World War I, when about one-third of the population left Slovenia for overseas countries. Italy occupied Slovenian territory at the conclusion of World War I, and the threat of fascism drove out more Slovenians, mainly to western Europe. Accelerated economic growth during the second and third decades of the 20th century helped to stanch emigration, however; but after World War II the communist regime, coupled with a depressed economy, caused another mass migration from Slovenia. About 100,000 Slovenes left for Argentina, Canada, the United States, and Australia from 1945 to 1970.
By the second half of the 20th century, Slovenia had undergone an intense transformation from a rural to a nonagrarian society. Population growth, however, was not as great as elsewhere in Europe, owing to emigration and, until the 1970s, the absence of immigration. However, a flow of migrants from the Balkan Peninsula to the highly industrialized regions of central and western Slovenia maintained the country’s population levels. The disintegration of the Yugoslav federation in 1991 further increased the number of immigrants entering Slovenia. Moreover, the conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo brought an influx of about 70,000 refugees and asylum seekers to Slovenia. By the early 21st century, migration flows in and out of Slovenia had nearly balanced each other out, and the population of Slovenia was roughly the same as it had been in 1991. Also, about one-sixth of non-Slovenes had become Slovenian citizens.
Like much of central and eastern Europe, Slovenia has an aging population, and its birth rate is among the lowest in Europe. Life expectancy compares favourably with former communist countries in eastern and central Europe, standing at about 75 years for men and 80 for women.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the largest concentrations of Slovenes outside Slovenia resided in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the Austrian states of Kärnten and Steiermark, and in the Hungarian counties of Vas and Zala. There are also smaller groups in Croatian towns and other urban centres of the former Yugoslav federation.
Economy of Slovenia
Drawing upon a long tradition of crafts, Slovenes began the modernization and diversification of their economy in the early 20th century. Owing in part to this head start, Slovenia made great progress under Yugoslavia’s market-oriented “self-management” form of socialism (communism). For most of the period of federation, Slovenes made up less than 10 percent of Yugoslavia’s population, yet they produced 20 percent of the country’s wealth and 30 percent of its exports. By the 1980s, however, the Yugoslav economic system had succumbed to debt and stagnation, and resentment over the Belgrade central government’s policy of distributing subsidies from the more prosperous northern republics to the less-affluent and often corrupt southern republics was probably the principal catalyst of Slovene independence. Yugoslavia’s breakup, however, deprived Slovenia of a secure market and caused economic dislocation as Slovene enterprises were forced to compete for business in a broader market at a time of worldwide recession. Intrinsic weaknesses of “socially owned” enterprises were exposed, including featherbedding, limited professional skills, poor competitiveness, undercapitalization, outmoded production methods, and resistance to innovation. Positive features included the modern infrastructure and Slovenia’s traditionally strong social discipline.
In the early 21st century the Slovene economy was based primarily on services and trade. The shift to a market economy has improved the standard of living in rural localities despite only modest changes in the traditional smallholding pattern of landownership. It also produced a small group of newly wealthy individuals, tajkuni (“tycoons”). Most of the economy has been privatized, and a significant source of income comes from the manufacture of automotive parts, pharmaceuticals, and electrical appliances.
- Agriculture and forestry
Archaic Slovene farming methods began to change in the late 1700s with the introduction of modern crop rotation and new plants such as potatoes, corn (maize), beans, and alfalfa, which helped to end a cycle of famine. By the mid-20th century, dairy and meat products dominated agriculture, and cereals had been largely abandoned. Under communist rule, private plots were limited to 25 acres (10 hectares), and expropriated lands were turned over to collective and state farms. The resulting 250 “social” enterprises (collectives and state farms) were linked to food processing. They proved efficient, especially in raising poultry and cattle, but operated at high cost.
By the early 21st century, agriculture was making a relatively small contribution to Slovenia’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employing less than one-tenth of the country’s workforce. Since Slovenia produces about four-fifths of its food requirements, it is not wholly self-sufficient; however, progress in the agrarian sector has been immense. Leading agricultural crops include wheat, corn (maize), sugar beets, barley, potatoes, apples, and pears. There is also some viticulture. Formerly state-owned farms have been privatized. The majority of Slovenia’s farms are family owned. Livestock raising (especially pigs, cattle, and sheep) is an important agricultural activity. Horse breeding, particularly at Lipica—the original home of Vienna’s celebrated Lipizzaner horses—also contributes to the economy.
Timber remains crucial to the Slovene industry, but wood is often imported. Slovenia is heavily forested, with more than three-fifths of its land covered with trees. However, forests have been damaged by factory and motor-vehicle emissions, and the bark beetle has reduced the quality of wood in older forests.
- Resources and power
Although limestone, which is quarried and used in construction, is abundant, mining has declined in importance in Slovenia, as resources have been exhausted and environmental restrictions have been applied. In the process many Slovene mines, including mercury, uranium, lead, zinc, and brown coal mines, have been closed, though the Velenje lignite mine is still important.
Because Slovene coal reserves have become meagre and are of declining quality, natural gas (through a pipeline from Russia) and oil have grown in relative importance as sources of energy. Fossil fuel-fired thermoelectricity provides about two-fifths of Slovenia’s power. A number of hydroelectric plants on the Drava, Soča, and Sava rivers generate about another one-fourth of the country’s total power. Nuclear power, produced at a plant in Krško (near the Croatian border), is also important, contributing about one-third of Slovenia’s power. Slovenia shares the power generated at Krško with Croatia.
Slovenia’s modern industrial history began in the 19th century with the injection of capital from major cities (e.g., Vienna, Prague, and Graz) and areas under the rule of the Habsburg monarchy. By 1910 one-tenth of workers were employed in industry. The post-1918 Yugoslav market especially benefited from the Slovene manufacture of textiles and iron and other metals, the mining of coal, and the production of wood products. Small industries evolved because of good transportation, electrification, and a skilled, highly motivated labour force, so that by 1939 the number of industrial employees had doubled. Under communist rule, industry was virtually force-fed. The manufacture of metals and engines received top priority; textiles came second; and electrical machinery, a new branch, followed.
In the immediate aftermath of the collapse of communism, about half of Slovenia’s workforce was employed in the manufacturing sector, while employment in agriculture shrank to less than one-fifth. Because production had been oriented toward Yugoslavia’s needs, not all Slovene industry could compete in more-developed markets. Nevertheless, Slovenia had a well-balanced manufacturing base that included metal products, automotive parts, furniture, paper, shoes, sporting goods, electronic equipment, and textiles. By the early 21st century, Slovenia had begun to manufacture pharmaceuticals for export and specialized electronics as well. Foreign investment in Slovenia increased, evidenced by a proliferation of internationally owned vehicle assembly plants. Manufacturing contributed about one-fifth to GDP and employed about one-fourth of the labour force.
The Bank of Slovenia is the country’s central bank. It issues Slovenia’s currency, the euro, which replaced the Slovene toler in 2007. Capital controls were fully lifted upon Slovenia’s entry into the European Union (EU). Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Italy are Slovenia’s leading foreign investors. There is a stock exchange in Ljubljana.
With the loss of the Yugoslav market, Slovenia’s trade goal became integration with its new main partner, the EU, and the majority of the country’s trade is with other EU members—particularly Germany, Italy, France, and Austria—as well as with Croatia. At the beginning of the 21st century, Slovenia’s trade with other former Yugoslav republics also had increased. Chief imports include machinery and transport equipment, chemical products, mineral fuels, and metals. Slovenia’s exports include automobiles and vehicle parts, electric machinery, pharmaceuticals and other chemical products, and furniture. A significant amount of Slovenia’s exports pass through the country’s Adriatic port of Koper.
The service sector is the largest component of Slovenia’s economy. Tourism has greatly increased in importance since the early 1990s. Foreign visitors—many of whom simply used to pass through Slovenia on their way to the eastern Mediterranean—now take advantage of recreational opportunities such as skiing, hiking, boating, fishing, and hunting, which are plentiful as a result of Slovenia’s diverse topography. A particularly notable attraction is the system of limestone caves at Škocjan, which was designated a World Heritage site in 1986. Another draw for tourists is Triglav National Park, featuring Mount Triglav. Hot-springs and mineral-water resorts have gained popularity; one such spa, Rogaška Slatina, is housed in a Neoclassical building from the Habsburg era. Other prominent resorts include Portoro-Portorose on the Adriatic Sea and those in the Alpine towns of Bled, Bohinj, Bovec, and Kranjska Gora, which are favourite destinations for skiers, hikers, and mountain climbers. Dozens of surviving medieval structures are found in Slovenia; one of the most imposing is the Castle of Ljubljana (Ljubljanski Grad), built in 1144 on a hilltop overlooking Ljubljana. The capital city is also home to many excellent examples of Baroque architecture, including an Ursuline church and a Franciscan monastery. Visitors to Slovenia are largely from Europe (notably Germany, Italy, Austria, Croatia, and the United Kingdom).
- Labour and taxation
Labour unions began to emerge in Slovenia only following the collapse of communism. About two-thirds of the labour force belongs to unions. The two largest labour unions are the Association of Independent Trade Unions of Slovenia and Independence, Confederation of New Trade Unions of Slovenia. Strikes are not common.
The central government receives a major portion of its income from a value-added tax and a progressive income tax, whereas local governments derive most of their revenue from a flat-rate income tax and property levies. On all products a unified value-added tax was introduced in the 1990s. In general, tax evasion has been considered a widespread problem in Slovenia.
- Transportation and telecommunications
Slovenia’s eastern Alpine location and easily accessible transit routes have been crucial since antiquity. Vestiges of the Roman road and settlement network are still visible. During the 1840s the Habsburg government in Vienna built the monumental Southern Railroad, which passed through Slovenia on its way from the Austrian capital to Trieste.
Two major highway-rail corridors cross present-day Slovenia, one running from Iran to northwestern Europe and the other from Spain to Russia. Avtocestas (expressways) are the nexus of road travel to Italy, Austria, and Hungary. Routes leading into Croatia have been improved. In 2000 a railway line was built to directly connect Slovenia and Hungary. The Karavanke Tunnel, nearly 5 miles (8 km) long, opened in 1991 and connects Slovenia with Austria. Despite efforts to improve its highways, Slovenia suffers traffic congestion, particularly near Ljubljana and Maribor. Many of Slovenia’s rail cars have been modernized, and high-speed intercity service has been introduced, linking the cities of Maribor, Celje, and Ljubljana; however, much of the system’s track remains outdated, limiting the performance of the equipment.
The country’s principal international airport is located about 12 miles (20 km) north of Ljubljana at Brnik, and there are other airports at Maribor and Portorož. Adria Airways, the national airline, provides direct service to most major European cities.
Although Slovenia’s telecommunications market had been fully privatized by 2001, only a few companies dominate the sector. The number of Internet users in Slovenia is among the highest in Europe. Virtually all households in Slovenia have access to fixed-line telephone service, and cellular phones are prevalent.
Government and Society of Slovenia
- Constitutional framework
Slovenia’s constitution, which was adopted in 1991, established a parliamentary form of government. A president, whose role is largely ceremonial, serves as head of state; presidents are popularly elected for a five-year term and can serve two consecutive terms. The head of government is the prime minister, who is normally the leader of the majority party in the National Assembly (lower house of the parliament), with which most legislative authority rests. Of its 90 members, 88 are elected by proportional representation to four-year terms, with the remaining two seats reserved for one representative each from the Italian- and Hungarian-speaking communities. The nonpartisan National Council, which represents economic and local interests, principally performs an advisory role, but it has the authority to propose new laws, to request the Constitutional Court to review legislative acts, and to initiate national referenda.
- Local government
The občina (municipality) is Slovenia’s local administrative unit. The country is divided into hundreds of municipalities, about a dozen of which have the status of urban municipality. A popularly elected mayor, municipal council, and supervisory committee govern each municipality. Local government in Slovenia is chiefly responsible for municipal services, primary education, and the administration of social and cultural programs.
Slovenia’s judiciary consists of a Supreme Court and a system of lower courts, the district and regional courts, which hear both civil and criminal cases. The High Labour and Social Court deals with individual and collective labour issues and social disputes. The Constitutional Court is the highest body of judicial authority and upholds the constitutionality and legality of the legislative acts.
Judges are elected by the National Assembly after nomination by the 11-member Judicial Council. Every six years the National Assembly also elects an ombudsman, who is charged with protecting the public’s human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Constitutional Court is composed of nine judges who are elected for a term of nine years.
- Political process
All Slovene citizens age 18 and older are eligible to vote. The first free and democratic elections in Slovenia were held in April 1990. Until that time the only authorized political party was the Communist Party. Following the introduction of a multiparty system, the centre-left Liberal Democratic Party dominated the parliament at the head of various coalitions until 2004, when the centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party gained a majority in the 2004 elections and formed a coalition with the New Slovenia–Christian People’s Party, the Slovenian Democratic Party of Pensioners, and the Slovenian People’s Party. In the 2008 parliamentary elections the centre-left Social Democrats narrowly edged out the Slovenian Democratic Party.
The Slovenian Armed Forces (Slovenska Vojska; SV) consist of an army, a navy, and an air force. Slovenes become eligible to serve in the country’s voluntary military forces at age 17. Conscription was abolished in 2003, the year before Slovenia became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Slovenia’s specialized capabilities within NATO include mountain warfare, demining, policing, special operations, and field medicine. Slovenian troops have taken part in many United Nations peacekeeping missions, including those in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s and in Afghanistan and the Middle East in the early 2000s.
- Health and welfare
The state provides most medical services, and Slovenia’s public health system is one of the best developed in central and eastern Europe, though there is a lack of physicians in some remote areas of the country and in certain specialized fields of medicine. Social services provided by the government include unemployment, disability, and pension insurance, as well as family and dependant allowances. Both the pension system and social service programs have faced problems owing to the country’s aging population and shrinking workforce. In 2000 Slovenia’s pension system was reformed to raise the retirement age and to introduce special circumstances that would allow some people to qualify for an earlier retirement. Pensioners accounted for about one-fourth of the population in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century.
The Slovene state started several social housing programs in 1996. By the early 2000s, several thousand one- and two-bedroom apartments had been built for low-income families. In general, real-estate prices in Slovenia are comparable to those in most European countries. Property is generally more expensive in the capital and along the Adriatic coast.
Virtually all Slovenes age 15 and older are literate. Primary schooling is compulsory and free for all children between ages 6 and 15. Secondary schools are either vocational or academic. A diploma from a secondary school is the main requirement for admission to one of Slovenia’s three chief universities—those of Ljubljana, Maribor, and Koper (University of Primorska). The University of Ljubljana, founded in 1595 and reopened in 1919, has divisions that include the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities and arts, education, theology, law, medicine, and engineering. The University of Maribor, founded in 1975, is vocationally oriented. There are also several independent technical and vocational schools. In the ethnically mixed regions of Istria and Prekmurje, classes are taught in Italian and Hungarian along with Slovene.
The Slovene government finances research institutes, especially in the natural sciences and technology. A Slovene scholarly tradition dates back to the 17th-century, when the Carniolan polymath Johann Weichard Freiherr von Valvasor provided some of the first written and pictorial descriptions of the Slovene landscape, in his encyclopaedic volumes Die Ehre des Herzogtums Krain (1689; “Glory of the Duchy of Carniola”). The premier centres of research include the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (1938) and the Joef Stefan Institute (1949), the latter for scientific research.
Culture Life of Slovenia
History of Slovenia
In ancient times the region was inhabited by the Illyrian and Celtic tribes. In the 1st cent. B.C. they fell under the Roman provinces of Pannonia and Noricum. The region was settled in the 6th cent. A.D. by the South Slavs, who set up the early Slav state of Samo, which in 788 passed to the Franks. At the division of Charlemagne's empire (843) the region passed to the dukes of Bavaria. In 1335, Carinthia and Carniola passed to the Hapsburgs. From that time until 1918 Slovenia was part of Austria and the region was largely comprised in the Austrian crownlands of Carinthia, Carniola, and Styria. In 1918, Slovenia was included in the kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (called Yugoslavia after 1929), and in 1919 Austria formally ceded the region by the Treaty of Saint-Germain.
In World War II Slovenia was divided (1941) among Germany, Italy, and Hungary. After the war, Slovenia was made (1945) a constituent republic of Yugoslavia and received part of the former Italian region of Venezia Giulia. In early 1990, Slovenia elected a non-Communist government and stepped up its demands for greater autonomy with the threat of possible secession. In Feb., 1991, the Slovenian parliament ruled that Slovenian law took precedence over federal law. Slovenia declared independence on June 25, and federal troops moved in, but after some fighting withdrew by July. Slovenia, along with Croatia, was recognized as an independent country by the European Community and the United Nations in 1992.
Milan Kučan was elected president of Slovenia in 1990 and continued as president of the independent republic; he was reelected in Nov., 1997. In 2002, Janez Drnovšek, a Liberal Democrat, was elected president after a runoff election; Drnovšek had been the country's prime minister. Slovenia became a member of NATO and the European Union in 2004, and adopted the euro as its currency three years later. Janez Janša became prime minister in Nov., 2004, heading a center-right coalition government.
A dispute over Slovenia's right to access to the Adriatic through waters that Croatia claims has been a source of tension between the two nations, and has led Slovenia to block some of the negotiations for Croatia's accession to the European Union. The countries agreed in Aug., 2007, to submit their boundary disputes to the International Court of Justice, and in Sept., 2009, Slovenia ended the freeze on Croatia's accession talks after an agreement stipulated that none of the documents associated with EU application would have any legal impact on the resolution of the border dispute. The agreement was ratified by parliament in Apr., 2010, and was approved in a June, 2010, referendum.
In Nov., 2007, Danilo Türk, a former diplomat and left-of-center candidate, was elected to succeed Drnovšek as president. The opposition Social Democrats won a plurality in Sept., 2008, parliamentary elections, and in November party leader Borut Pahor became prime minister of the four-party coalition government. Pahor's government lost its majority in June, 2011, when one party left the coalition, and subsequently lost a confidence vote in September. In the Dec., 2011, elections, Ljubljana's mayor Zoran Janković led Positive Slovenia, a new center-left party, to a narrow plurality, but Jansa became prime minister in Jan., 2012, after forming a five-party center-right coalition.
In the 2012 presidential election Pahor defeated Türk in a December runoff; Türk was hurt by the country's severe recession and voter apathy (only 42% of the electorate voted). In Jan., 2013, Jansa's coalition lost its majority after he was accused of corruption (he was convicted later in the year), and his minority government lost a confidence vote the following month. A center-left coalition government, with Alenka Bratušek of Positive Slovenia as prime minister, was formed in March.
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