Friday, October 21, 2005


The Republic of Slovenia (Slovenian: Republika Slovenija) is a coastal sub-Alpine country in southern Central Europe bordering Italy to the west, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north.
Slovenia was part of: Kingdom of Yugoslavia until 1945, SFR of Yugoslavia from 1945 until gaining independence in 1991. It became a member of the European Union on 1 May 2004. It is also a member of the Council of Europe, the NATO.
History It is believed that the Slavonic ancestors of the present-day Slovenians settled in the area in the 6th century. The Slavonic Duchy of Carantania, the first proto-Slovenian state and the first stable Slavonic state, was formed in the 7th century. In 745, Carantania lost its independence, being largely subsumed into the Frankish empire. Many Slavonic tribes converted to Christianity.
The Freising manuscripts, the earliest surviving written documents in Slovenian and the first ever Slavonic dialect documents in Latin script, were written around 1000. During the 14th century, most of Slovenia's regions passed into ownership of the Habsburgs whose lands later formed the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with the Slovenians inhabiting all or most of the provinces of Carniola, Gorizia and Gradisca, and parts of the provinces of Istria, Carinthia and Styria.
In 1848 a strong programme for a united Slovenia emerged as part of the "Spring of Nations" movement within Austria.
With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918, Slovenians joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later renamed (1929) the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Following the re-establishment of Yugoslavia at the end of World War II, Slovenia became a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, officially declared in 1945. Present-day Slovenia was formed on 25 June 1991 upon its independence from Yugoslavia.
Politics The Slovenian head of state is the president, who is elected by popular vote every 5 years. The executive branch is headed by the prime minister and the council of ministers or cabinet, which are elected by the parliament.
The bicameral Slovenian parliament consists of the National Assembly or Državni zbor, and the Državni svet or National Council. The National Assembly has 90 seats, which are partially filled with directly elected representatives, and partially with proportionally elected representatives (two seats reserved for autochthonous Hungarian and Italian minorities). The National Council has 40 seats, and is made up of representatives of social, economic, professional and local interest groups. Parliamentary elections are held every four years, while National Council members are elected indirectly every 5 years.
Economy Slovenia is a high-income economy which enjoys the highest GDP per capita of the newly joined EU countries. The country has a relatively high rate of inflation when compared to the European Union average, even though inflation is expected to decline in 2005 to 2.5%. Overall, the country is on a sound economic footing. However, much work remains to be done in the areas of privatization and capital market reform.
During 2000, privatizations were seen in the banking, telecommunications, and public utility sectors. Restrictions on foreign investment are slowly being dismantled, and foreign direct investment is expected to increase over the next two years. Slovenia can be considered one of the economic front-runners of the countries that joined the European Union in 2004. In mid-2004 Slovenia agreed to adopt the euro by 2007 and therefore, must keep its debt levels, budget deficities, interest rates and inflation levels within the Maastrict criteria.
Historical regions Traditional Slovenian regions, based on the former division of Slovenia on three crown lands (Carniola, Styria and Goriška) and their parts, are:
Gorenjska (Upper Carniola) (denoted on the map by U.C.)
Štajerska (Styria) (S)
Prekmurje (Transmuraland) (T)
Koroška (Carinthia) (C)
Notranjska (Inner Carniola) (I.C.)
Dolenjska (Lower Carniola) (L.C.)
Goriška (G)
Slovenska Istra (Slovenian Istria) (L)
Municipalities: Slovenia is divided into 193 municipalities (občine, singular - občina), of which 11 have urban status.
Geography Four major European geographic regions meet in Slovenia: the Alps, the Dinarides, the Pannonian plain, and the Mediterranean. Slovenia's highest peak is Triglav (2864 m); the country's average height above the sea level is 557 m. Around one half of the country (10,124 km²) is covered by forests; this makes Slovenia the third most forested country in Europe, after Finland and Sweden. Remnants of primeval forests are still to be found, the largest in the Kočevje area.
Its climate is Submediterranean on the coast, Alpine in the mountains and continental with mild to hot summers and cold winters in the plateaus and valleys to the east. The average temperatures are -2°C in January and 21°C in July. The average rainfall is 1000 mm for the coast, up to 3500 mm for the Alps, 800 mm for south east and 1400 mm for central Slovenia.
Demographics Slovenia's ethnic groups are: Slovenians (89%); Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks and other nationalities of the former Yugoslavia (10%); and the ethnic Hungarian and Italian minorities (0.5%). Life expectancy in 2000 was 71 years for men and 79 years for women.
With 95 inhabitants per km², Slovenia ranks low among the European countries in population density (compare with 320/km² for the Netherlands or 195/km² for Italy). Approximately 50% of the total population lives in urban areas, the rest in rural.
The official language is Slovenian, which is a member of the South Slavic language group. Hungarian and Italian enjoy the status of official language in the nationally mixed regions along the Hungarian and Italian border.
Culture Slovenia got its first printed book with protestant reformer Primož Trubar (1508-1586). It was actually two books, Catechismus (a catechism) and Abecedarium, which was published in 1550 in Tübingen, Germany.
Part of the country, namely Carniola (which existed until the 19th century) was etnographically and historically well described in the book The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, published in 1689 by baron Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641-1693).
Slovenia's two great literates were poet Dr. France Prešeren (1800-1849) and writer Ivan Cankar (1876-1918). The most important Slovenian painters are Ivana Kobilca and impressionist Rihard Jakopič. The most important Slovenian architect is Jože Plečnik.
Slovenia is a homeland of numerous musicians and composers, including Renaissance composer Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591). He influenced Central European classical music very much. In the 20th century, Bojan Adamič was a renowned film music composer.
Contemporary popular musicians have been Slavko Avsenik, Laibach, Vlado Kreslin, New Swing Quartet, Siddharta and most recently Atomik Harmonik.
Slovenia's learned men include physicist Jožef Stefan, linguist Franc Miklošič and mathematician Jurij Vega.
Biodiversity Although Slovenia is a small country, different influences interact there. The Alps are in the north (namely, Julian Alps, Karavanke, Kamnik Alps), the Dinarides lie in the south, and there is also a small part of Pannonian plain and a Littoral Region. It also has Karst - a very rich underground world. Diverse flora and fauna are found there.
The autochthonous fish Soča trout is found in Slovenia. There are dolphins in the Adriatic Sea, but also whales can appear here.
Domestic animals originating in Slovenia include the Carniolan honeybee, the autochthonous Karst Sheepdog and the Lipizzan horse breed.
The national proverb says: "A true Slovenian must raise a child, write a book and plant a tree."

By Marinka Žitnik


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