Slovenia History, Language and Culture
History of Slovenia
An independent nation since 1991, the territory of present-day Slovenia has a rich and tumultuous history that belies its age. Controlled by foreign kingdoms – the Frankish Empire, Holy Roman Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire – until the early 20th century, Slovenia was absorbed into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes at the end of WWI – a territory later renamed, Yugoslavia.
But the turmoil continued in 1941 when the Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia and carved up Slovenia between Germany, Italy and Hungary. This invasion was met with unexpectedly fierce resistance in the form of the Yugoslav Communist Party, led by Josip Broz Tito, who helped defeat the aggressors in 1945 and establish the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia.
Slovenia became a constituent republic of this new federation, but the ruling League of Communists of Slovenia (LCS) sought greater autonomy from Belgrade. Their opposition was muted, however, after similar calls from Croatia were forcefully suppressed by Tito in 1971.
Slovenia’s liberal political atmosphere – the antithesis to the autocratic climate in Serbia under Slobodan Milosevic – saw it become the first Yugoslavian federal state to hold multi-party elections in 1990, which were won by a six-party centre-right coalition, calling itself DEMOS.
After 14 months, during which both Slovenia and Croatia became increasingly alienated from Belgrade, Slovenia declared independence. The central government immediately sent in armoured convoys to take control of federal border posts and key installations in the capital Ljubljana.
The army was clearly not expecting the resistance put up by Slovene irregulars and, after a few weeks of sporadic and largely inconclusive fighting, a ceasefire was reached. By October 1991, all federal military forces had left the republic, and Slovenia proclaimed its independence on 8 October.
Full international recognition followed in January 1992, after which the DEMOS Government collapsed, having achieved its sole objective of securing international recognition. Slovenia was admitted to the United Nations in May 1992 and joined the EU in May 2004 – becoming the first of the former Yugoslav republics to attain membership.
In a little more than two decades, Slovenia has undergone a remarkable transformation from a federal state to an independent, democratic nation and euro zone member. It was a bumpy ride – the global financial crisis of 2008 hit this fledgling nation particularly hard – but the future seems to be bright for this young country of two million.
Did you know?
• Pound for pound Slovenia is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet – the country covers just 0.004% o the world’s surface but is home to 1% of all living creatures.
• The town of Maribor is home to the oldest vine in the world, which is estimated to be approximately 450 years old.
• Slovenia is home to an estimated 700 brown bears, which is one of the largest bear populations in Europe.
Religion in Slovenia
Most of the population is Roman Catholic (75%), with small communities of other Christians including Eastern Orthodox; there are Muslim and Jewish minorities.
Social Conventions in Slovenia
Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Usual European social conventions apply and informal dress is widely acceptable. Smoking is prohibited on public transport, in cinemas, theatres, public offices and in waiting rooms.