Slovenia is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the southeast, and the Adriatic Sea to the southwest. Slovenia is mostly mountainous and forested, covers 20,271 square kilometres (7,827 sq mi), and has a population of 2.1 million (2,107,007 people), of which 300,000 live in the capital and largest city Ljubljana. Slovenes form the vast majority of the country's population. Slovene, a South Slavic language, is the official language. Slovenia has a predominantly continental climate, except the Slovene Littoral and the Julian Alps. A sub-mediterranean climate reaches the northern extensions of the Dinaric Alps that traverse the country in a northwest-southeast direction. The Julian Alps in the northwest have an alpine climate. Continental climate is increasingly more pronounced towards the Pannonian Plain in the Northeast. The nation's capital and largest city—Ljubljana—is situated at roughly the centre of the country.
Slovenia has historically been the crossroads of Slavic, Germanic, and Romance languages and cultures. The territory of modern-day Slovenia has been part of many different states: the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Carolingian Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Republic of Venice, the Illyrian Provinces of Napoleon's First French Empire, the Austrian Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire. In October 1918, the Slovenes co-founded the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs. In December 1918, they merged with the Kingdom of Serbia into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. During World War II, Germany, Italy, and Hungary occupied and annexed Slovenia, with a tiny area transferred to Croatia, a Nazi puppet state at that time. In 1945, It became a founding member of Yugoslavia. Post-war, Yugoslavia was initially allied with the Eastern Bloc, but after the Tito-Stalin split of 1948, it never subscribed to the Warsaw Pact, and in 1961, it became one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. In June 1991, Slovenia became the first republic that split from Yugoslavia and became an independent sovereign state.
Slovenia is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy; ranking very high in the Human Development Index. Measured by Gini, it has one of the lowest rates of income inequality in the world. It is a member of various international organizations, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Eurozone, the Schengen Area, the OSCE, the OECD, the Council of Europe, and NATO.
The history of Slovenia chronicles the period of the Slovenian territory from the 5th century BC to the present. In the Early Bronze Age, Proto-Illyrian tribes settled an area stretching from present-day Albania to the city of Trieste. The Slovenian territory was part of the Roman Empire, and it was devastated by the Migration Period's incursions during late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. The main route from the Pannonian plain to Italy ran through present-day Slovenia. Alpine Slavs, ancestors of modern-day Slovenians, settled the area in the late 6th Century AD. The Holy Roman Empire controlled the land for nearly 1,000 years, and between the mid-14th century and 1918 most of Slovenia was under Habsburg rule. In 1918, Slovenes formed Yugoslavia along with Serbs and Croats, while a minority came under Italy. The state of Slovenia was created in 1945 as part of federal Yugoslavia. Slovenia gained its independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991, and is today a member of the European Union and NATO.
Slovenia is situated in Central and Southeast Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean Sea. At the regional conference in Prague in 1994, the International Geographical Union ranked Slovenia among the nine Central European countries, including Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria. 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 Geometric Centre of the Republic of Slovenia is located at coordinates 46°07'11.8" N and 14°48'55.2" E. It lies in Slivka 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 Sea. 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 Karawank 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 southwestern Slovenia's Karst Plateau, a limestone region of underground rivers, gorges, and caves, between Ljubljana and the Mediterranean Sea. On the Pannonian plain to the East and Northeast, toward the Croatian and Hungarian borders, the landscape is essentially flat. However, most of Slovenia is hilly or mountainous, with around 90% of its land surface 200 m (656 ft) or more above sea level.
More than half of Slovenia, which is 11,823 km2 or 4,565 sq mi, is forested; ranking it third in Europe, by the percentage of area forested, 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 primaeval 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.
Government and Politics
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. The president is elected for five years and at maximum for two consecutive terms. He or she mainly has a representative role and is the commander-in-chief of the Slovenian armed 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. The 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 the gradual transition from the Titoist 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 business magnates.
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 both left and right parties contributed to over-loaning and managers' takeovers; the reason behind this was that each bloc tried to establish an economic elite which would support its political forces.
Slovenia has a developed economy and is the richest Slavic country by nominal GDP, and the second richest by GDP (PPP) behind the Czech Republic. Slovenia is also among the top global economies in terms of human capital. Slovenia was at the beginning of 2007 the first new member to introduce the euro as its currency, replacing the tolar. Since 2010, it has been a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. There is a big difference in prosperity between the various regions. The economically wealthiest regions are the Central Slovenia region, which includes the capital Ljubljana and the western Slovenian regions (the Gorizia and Coastal–Karst Statistical Regions), while the least wealthy regions are the Mura, Central Sava, and Littoral–Inner Carniola Statistical Regions.
Among the modes of expression of the culture of Slovenia, a nation-state in Central Europe, are music and dance, literature, visual arts, film, and theatre. A number of festivals take place, showcasing music and literature.