About Slovenia

From Culture.si

This section looks at the long history of the country, spanning from Roman times to the third millennium, and stretching between the Alps, the Adriatic and the Pannonian Plain. It presents its land and peoples as well as its political, economic and cultural structures.

Triglav National Park 2002 mountains.jpgTriglav National Park, Triglav is the highest mountain in Slovenia, Julian Alps. Iconic in Slovene national identity and contemporary art. Mount Triglav

Geography and topography

Slovenia covers an area of 20,273 square kilometres between the Alps, the Adriatic and the Pannonian Plain. With Austria to the north, Italy to the west, Hungary to the east and Croatia to the south, Slovenia has always been a crossroads of trans-European routes. The port of Koper is a unique Central European sea gateway; the roads and the railway (which as early as 1857 connected Vienna and Trieste) link the Danube region with the Mediterranean, whilst north west-south east connections link Central Europe with the Balkans.

The largest part of Slovenia is taken up by the Alps, with several river sources and waterfalls and numerous endemic species of flora and Alpine fauna. 47.3 per cent of the country's population lives in the pre-Alpine hills and valleys. The Alpine region stretches over much of the territory in the northern half of Slovenia, and includes Mount Triglav (2,864 metres high), a large protected natural area of 83,807 hectares, and the Ljubljana and Celje basins, which rank among the most densely-populated parts of Slovenia. Slovenia is the third most forested country in Europe, with 58 per cent of its land area covered by woods and forests. It is also here that the Adriatic reaches deepest into Central Europe and exerts its climatic influence over 8.6 per cent of the country’s territory, resulting in a vine-growing and fruit-cultivating hinterland. In the lower Mediterranean part of Slovenia, the limestone landscape phenomena - numerous karst sinkholes and swallow holes and more than 1,000 caves and chasms - gave the name to the branch of science known as 'karstology'. In the south of Slovenia there is the cool and damp Dinaric, a north-eastern section of the Dinaric Alps which covers 28.1 per cent of Slovene territory. This is the most forested part of the country with plenty of game, and consists of the Cerknica Intermittent Lake (its waters disappear in the Spring) and the Postojna karst cave of 19.5 kilometres. Finally there is the Pannonian region in the east (accounting for 21.2 per cent of territory), the most fertile farmland in Slovenia, rich with vineyards and thermal and mineral waters.

Postojna Cave 2007 White chamber.jpg Postojna Cave, 2007

The country's geographical diversity results in several different types of climates in Slovenia: continental, Alpine and Mediterranean. Approximately 11 per cent of the Slovene countryside is protected by legislation as natural heritage, the largest area being the Triglav National Park with its surface area of 848 square kilometres. The Škocjan caves were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1986, and the Sečovlje Salt Pans and Cerknica Lake are included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. Slovenia is also home to more than 3,200 plant species and 15,000 animal species, and is one of the few countries in Europe with a stable and vital brown bear population.


When speaking of the separate areas of Slovenia, regional names are more commonly used than geographical ones, however it is very hard to define the exact borders between them. Generally, Gorenjska (Upper Carniola) stretches from the centre up into the north and north west of the country, Štajerska (Styria) and Prekmurje (the Mura River region) extend towards Hungary in the east, Koroška (Carinthia) follows the Drava river in the north east, Notranjska (Inner Carniola) is located in the south west, Dolenjska (Lower Carniola) stretches from the centre towards the south, Bela Krajina (White Carniola) runs along the Croatian border in the south and Primorska (the coast and its hinterland along the Italian border) is situated in the west. Gorenjska is mainly Alpine and Primorska Mediterranean, but Štajerska reaches into the Pannonian Plain, and Notranjska into both Dinaric and Mediterranean types of landscape.


From Prehistoric Times to the Celts

Slovene territory was inhabited in prehistoric times and there is evidence of human habitation around 250,000 years ago. Perhaps the most important find is a flute discovered in Divje babe above the Idrija valley, dating from the Wurm glacial age when the area was inhabited by Neanderthals.

In the late Stone and Bronze Ages, the inhabitants of the area were engaged in livestock rearing and farming. Subsequently, during the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, the Urnfield culture existed in this region. Fortified hilltop settlements and beautifully-crafted iron objects and weapons were typical of the Hallstatt period (Most na Soči, Vače, Rifnik, St. Vid near Stična).

In the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE, present-day Slovenia was occupied by Celtic tribes. They formed the first state, called Noricum. The names of many present places (Bohinj, Tuhinj) date from this time, as well as the names of rivers (the Sava, the Savinja, the Drava). Noricum was annexed by the Roman Empire around 10 BCE.

Roman rule and Slav settlement

Emona, Legacy of a Roman City small shops reconstruction.jpgEmona small shops, reconstructed by Katarina Toman Kracina, Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana (MGML) archive Emona, Legacy of a Roman City small shops reconstruction

The Romans established posts at Emona (Ljubljana), Poetovia (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 exposed to invasions by the Huns and Germanic tribes during their incursions into Italy. After the departure of the last Germanic tribe - the Langobards - to Italy in 568 CE, the Slavs from the East began to dominate the area. After the successful resistance against the nomadic Asian Avars (from 623 to 626 CE), the Slavic people united with King Samo’s tribal confederation, whose centre was in what is now the Czech Republic. The confederation fell apart in 658 and the Slav people, located in present-day Carinthia, formed the independent duchy of Carantania, based at the Krn Castle, north of today's Klagenfurt (Austria). Until 1414 a special ceremony of princes of Carantania took place, conducted in Slovene language.

The Carantania duchy

In the mid 8th century Carantania became a vassal duchy under the rule of the Bavarians, who began spreading Christianity. Three decades later Carantanians together with the Bavarians came under Frankish rule. At the beginning of the 9th century the Franks removed the fractious Carantanian princes, replacing them with their own border dukes. Consequently, the Frankish feudal system reached the Slovene territory.

The Magyar invasion of the Pannonian Plain in the late 9th century effectively isolated the Slovene territory from the other western Slavs. Thus, the Slavs of Carantania and of Carniola to the south began developing into an independent nation of Slovenes. After the victory of Emperor Otto I over the Magyars in 955 CE, 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 Great Carantania in 976 CE (the 'Freising Manuscripts', a few prayers written in Slovene, date from this period). In the late Middle Ages the historic states of Štajerska (Styria), Koroška (Carinthia), Kranjska (Carniola), Gorizia, Trieste and Istria were formed from the border regions and incorporated into the medieval German state.

Habsburg rule, the counts of Celje, Turkish incursions and peasant revolts

In the 14th century most of the territory of Slovenia was taken over by the Habsburgs. The counts of Celje, a feudal family from this area who in 1436 acquired the title of state counts, were their 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. Thereafter intensive German colonisation diminished Slovene lands, and by the 15th century they were of a similar size to the present-day Slovene ethnic territory.

At the end of the Middle Ages life was fraught with Turkish raids and the introduction of new taxes. In 1515 a peasant revolt spread across nearly the whole Slovene territory and in 1572-3 the united Slovene-Croatian peasant revolts wrought havoc throughout the wider region. Uprisings, which often met with bloody defeats, continued throughout the 17th century.

From Reformation to the Enlightenment and first school programmes in Slovene

The Reformation, represented mainly by Lutheranism, spread across Slovene territory in the middle of the 16th century. This helped to establish the underpinnings of the Slovene literary language. In 1550 Primož Trubar published the first two books in Slovene, Katekizem and Abecednik ('Catechism' and 'Abecedary') - see Literature. The Protestants published around 50 books in Slovene, including the first Slovene grammar book and a translation of the Bible by Dalmatin in 1584. At the beginning of the 17th century Protestantism was suppressed by monarchic absolutism as well as by the Counter Reformation of the Catholic Church which introduced the new aesthetics of Baroque culture. The Enlightenment in Central Europe, particularly under the Habsburg monarchy, was a progressive period for the Slovene people. It hastened economic development and facilitated the appearance of a Slovene middle class. Under the reign of Emperor Joseph II (1765-1790) many societal infrastructures were established, including land reforms, the feudal system, the modernisation of the Church and compulsory primary education conducted in the Slovene language (1774). The start of cultural-linguistic activities by Slovene intellectuals of the time brought about a national revival and the birth of the Slovene nation in the modern sense of the word. Before the Napoleonic Wars Slovenes acquired some secular literature, along with the first historical study based on the ethnic principle by Anton Tomaž Linhart and the first comprehensive grammar by Jernej Kopitar.

From Napoleon’s Illyrian Provinces and Romantic movement to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy

When Napoleon captured the south-eastern Slovene regions (consisting of Upper Carinthia, Gorizia, Trieste, Istria, Dalmatia and Carniola and Croatia south of the river Sava), the Illyrian Provinces of the French state (1809-1813) were created and Ljubljana was made their capital. The short-lived period of French rule which followed changed the taxation system and improved the position of the Slovene language in schools; it did not, however, abolish feudalism. It was at this juncture that France Prešeren, a poet representative of Slovene Romanticism, asserted the right to a unified written language for all Slovenes, defending it against attempts to blend it into the artificial Illyrian language of the Southern Slavs. The first Slovene political programme, called Unified Slovenia, emerged during the European Spring of Nations in 1848. It demanded that all the lands inhabited by Slovenes should be united into Slovenia, an autonomous province with its own provincial assembly within the framework of the Habsburg monarchy, where Slovene would be the official language. In 1867 Slovene representatives received a majority of votes in the provincial elections. In the same year, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was established and split into two equal parts. Most of the territory of present-day Slovenia remained in the Austrian part of the monarchy, while Pomurje fell into the Hungarian part. The Slovenes in Veneto had already decided in 1866 to join Italy. The idea of a unified Slovenia remained the central theme of the national-political efforts of the Slovene nation within the Habsburg monarchy for the next 60 years. By the end of the 19th century industry had developed considerably in Slovenia and the population had become as socially differentiated as in other European nations.

World War I, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia

The First World War brought heavy casualties to Slovenia, particularly on the bloody Soča front in Slovenia's western border area. In 1917, as the imperialistic policies of the superpowers threatened to split Slovene territory among a number of states, Slovene, Croatian and Serbian representatives brought before the Vienna Parliament the May Declaration, which advocated the creation of a unified state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs living within Habsburg territory. This declaration was rejected, but following the dissolution of Austro-Hungarian Empire in the aftermath of the war, a National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs took power in Zagreb on 6 October 1918. On 29 October independence was declared by the Croatian parliament and by a national gathering in Ljubljana, declaring the establishment of the new state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. Despite disagreements, and against a background of pressure from the Serbs for unification and moves by the Italians to take more territory than had been agreed, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed on 1 December 1918 in Belgrade by Alexander Karađorđević, Prince-Regent for his father, Peter I of Serbia. Eight years later the new state became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia under the personal dictatorship of the king. Following a plebiscite in 1920, the Slovene part of Carinthia was annexed to Austria. Thereafter the Slovene nation within the centralised Yugoslavia had less and less constitutional and legal autonomy, but preserved its ethnic compactness and managed to develop both economically and culturally.

World War II and the post-war Republic of Yugoslavia

In April 1941, during the Second World War, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was attacked by Germans and Slovene territory was divided between Germany, Italy and Hungary. In the same year the Liberation Front of the Slovene Nation was founded in Ljubljana and began armed resistance against the occupying forces. Within the Liberation Front the Communist Party soon adopted the leading role. At the end of the war the partisan army liberated most of ethnic Slovenia. In October 1943 an assembly of representatives of liberation movement decided that Slovenia would join the new Yugoslavia. In 1945 the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (FPRY) was declared, uniting Slovenes, Croatians, Serbs, Bosnians, Macedonians and the other nations living in Montenegro, Vojvodina, Kosovo and Metohija. By 1947 all private property had been nationalised. After the break with the Soviet Union in 1948, Yugoslavia began introducing a milder version of authoritarian system, based on common ownership and self-management. In 1956 Josip Broz Tito, together with other leaders (Nehru of India, Sukarno of Indonesia, Nasser of Egypt and Nkrumah of Ghana), founded the Non-Aligned Movement.

The road to independence

Slovenia’s economy developed rapidly, particularly in the 1950s when the country was strongly industrialised. Despite restrictive economic and social legislation within Yugoslavia, Slovenia managed to preserve a high level of economic development with a skilled workforce, working discipline and organisation. After the economic reform and further economic decentralisation of Yugoslavia in 1965 and 1966 Slovenia was approaching a market economy. Its domestic product was 2.5 times the average, a fact which strengthened national confidence among the Slovenes. After the death of Tito in 1980 the economic and political situation in Yugoslavia became very strained, leading ultimately to the dissolution of the state 10 years later.

The first clear demand for Slovene independence was made in 1987 by a group of intellectuals in the 57th edition of the magazine Nova revija, and demands for democratisation in the centralised Yugoslavia were sparked off. In April 1990 the first democratic elections in Slovenia took place and the united opposition movement DEMOS led by Jože Pučnik emerged victorious. In the same year more than 88 per cent of the electorate voted for a sovereign and independent Slovenia. This was followed on 25 June 1991 by a declaration of independence. The very next day, the newly-formed state was attacked by the Yugoslav Army. After a 10-day war a truce was called and in October 1991 the last soldiers of the Yugoslav Army left Slovenia. In November a law on de-nationalisation was adopted, followed in December by a new constitution.

The European Union recognised Slovenia in January 1992, and the UN accepted it as a member in May 1992. Slovenia joined the European Union and NATO 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.


1991: Parliamentary democracy

The Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, which was adopted by the National Assembly on 23 December 1991, laid the foundations for the parliamentary democracy, the legal system (which is based on respect of human rights and fundamental freedom), the principle of a legal and socially-just state, and the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers. The Constitution can be amended following a proposal made by 20 National Assembly deputies, by the Government, or by at least 30,000 voters.

Head of State

The President of the Republic is elected for a maximum of two five-year terms by direct elections. The President represents the Republic of Slovenia and is commander-in-chief of its defence forces. He calls elections to the National Assembly and performs other duties defined by the Constitution. Nataša Pirc Musar was elected as President of the Republic of Slovenia in November 2022.

Slovene Parliament

The bicameral Slovene Parliament is composed of the National Assembly and the National Council. The parliament is characterised by an asymmetric duality, as the Constitution does not accord equal powers to both chambers.

The National Assembly, the highest legislative authority in Slovenia, is composed of 90 deputies. The National Assembly exercises legislative, voting and monitoring functions. It enacts national programmes, laws, constitutional amendments and resolutions, elects the Prime Minister and other ministers, and selects judges for the Constitutional Court, the Governor of the Bank of Slovenia, the Ombudsman and other key state officials. The National Assembly enacts its monitoring function through committees and commissions for special tasks.

The National Council is a mainly advisory body composed of representatives of social, economic, professional and local interests. Its 40 members are elected indirectly for a five-year term. Among its best-known powers is the authority of the 'postponing veto', ie it can demand that the Parliament re-discusses a certain piece of legislation. Following such a veto, the Parliament has to pass the law with an absolute majority.


The Government of the Republic of Slovenia is a body of executive power and the highest body of the state administration, independent within the framework of its jurisdiction, and responsible to the National Assembly. The Government proposes laws to be adopted by the National Assembly, the state budget, national programmes and other acts through which the fundamental and long-term political directions for individual areas within the state’s competence are determined. It functions as a cabinet led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is responsible for ensuring the unity of the political and administrative direction of the Government and co-ordinates the work of the ministers. He also proposes ministers, who are appointed and relieved of their duties by the National Assembly.

The state administration consists of the 14 ministries: Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Public Administration, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, and Ministry of Defence. The government includes also the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy and the Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenians Abroad.

Parliamentary elections were held in Slovenia in April 2022 and the 15th Government of the Republic of Slovenia, led by Dr Robert Golob, the Prime Minister, was appointed by the National Assembly on 1st of June 2022. The Freedom Movement (Gibanje Svoboda) formed a three-party coalition government with the Social Democrats and The Left. In addition to the parliamentary election, the year 2022 also saw the presidential and local elections.


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 decides on the conformity of laws with the Constitution; all laws and regulations must conform with the general principles of international law and with ratified international agreements. The Constitutional Court is composed of nine judges who are elected for a period of nine years.

Human Rights Ombudsman

The Ombudsman is responsible for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in relation to state and local self-government authorities and bearers of public authority. In January 2019 Peter Svetina was elected as the fifth Slovene Human Rights Ombudsman, for a period of six years, by deputies in the National Assembly upon the proposal of the President of the Republic of Slovenia. Since attaining EU membership, Slovenia has also had direct access to the European Ombudsman.

Local self-government

The basic units of local self-government are municipalities. The authorities of a municipality comprise a mayor, a municipal council (the highest decision-making body) and a supervisory committee. Mayors and members of the municipal council are elected by the residents in local elections every four years. The last local elections in Slovenia took place on in November 2022.

In 2018 there are 212 municipalities in Slovenia, 12 of which enjoy the status of urban municipality. The capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana, which is also the largest city; other urban municipalities are Maribor, Celje, Murska Sobota, Ptuj, Novo mesto, Krško, Velenje, Slovenj Gradec, Kranj, Nova Gorica and Koper-Capodistria.

National insignia

Slovenia’s coat of arms is in the shape of a shield with the outline of Mount Triglav in white, beneath which are two wavy blue lines representing the sea and the rivers, and above which are three gold six-pointed stars, arranged in the shape of an inverted triangle (a medieval symbol pertaining to the Celje counts, the last great local dynasty on Slovene medieval territory). As on the flag, the three national colours (white, blue and red) of Carniola - the central historic state of the territory of the Slovene people - are used.

The national anthem

The seventh stanza of Zdravljica [A Toast], a poem by France Prešeren (1800-1849) on the equal and peaceful co-existence of large and small nations in the world, is used as the Slovene national anthem since March 1990. Zdravljica was written in 1844, and in it the poet declares his belief in a free-thinking political awareness, of Slovenes and all Slavs, promoting the idea of a Unified Slovenia, which the 1848 Revolution elevated into a national political programme. Zdravljica also became the call for a new internationalism. The music is written by Stanko Premrl and is taken from a choral composition of the same name. Extract from Stanza 7:

God's blessing on all nations,
Who long and work for that bright day,
When o'er earth's habitations
No war, no strife shall hold its sway;
Who long to see
That all men free
No more shall foes, but neighbours be!

Zdravljica, a poem that celebrates peace, freedom and fraternity, has been awarded the European Heritage Label in March 2020 among ten pieces of heritage which testify about European ideals, values, history and integration.


The Statistical Office RS estimates that in 2022 Slovenia had a population of 2,110,547. In addition to the majority community of Slovenes (1,937,250), there are 171,458 foreign citizens who represent about 8% of Slovenia’s population.

The Italians (2,258) and Hungarians (6,243) are national minorities protected under the Constitution, each having a representative in the National Assembly. In ethnically mixed areas, bilingualism is guaranteed, nurseries and schools are provided for minority children, and minority languages are used by the local media. The status and special rights of Romany (Gypsy) communities living in Slovenia (3,246 people) are determined by statute. Co-operation with and support for the Slovene minorities is carried out particularly in the fields of culture, sport and education; funds are also allocated for publishing and the media.

Other ethnic groups in Slovenia are (Population census 2002): Slovenians 83.1% Croats 1.8% Serbians 2.0% Muslims (including Bosniacs) 1.6% Hungarians 0.3% Italians 0.1% other 2.2% unknown 8.9%.

After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Slovenes living in the area of the former Yugoslavia became citizens of other countries overnight. There are several associations of Slovenes in Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Croatia. Slovene minorities living in Italy, Austria and Hungary enjoy the right to use their own language and preserve their culture according to international agreements. In Italy, Slovenes live in the regions of Trieste and Gorizia and in the province of Udine. In this area the Republic of Slovenia is represented by the Consulate General of Slovenia in Trieste. The Slovene minority in the region has two main organisations: the Slovene Cultural and Economic Association and the Council of Slovene Organisations.

In Austria, the majority of Slovenes live in Carinthia, and are represented by the Consulate General of Slovenia in Klagenfurt/Celovec. Some Slovenes also live in Styria, where, however, they are not recognised as a minority. The main organisations of the Slovene community are: the National Council of Slovenes in Carinthia, the Union of Slovene Organisations, the Joint Co-ordination Committee of Carinthian Slovenes in Carinthia and the Cultural Association Article 7 in Styria. In Hungary, the Slovene national minority - around 3,000 people - resides mainly in the Porabje region, where Slovenes are organised within the Association of Slovenes, and the National Slovene Self-government. The Consulate General of Slovenia in Szentgotthárd operates in this area.

Slovene people emigrated in particular to both Americas (the USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela etc) and to Australia. These people and their descendants find co-operation with the Republic of Slovenia in the areas of culture and education to be of particular importance. Much attention is also devoted to maintaining contacts with their country of origin and to strengthening Slovene identity among younger generations. At the present time between 250,000 and 400,000 Slovenes (depending on whether second and subsequent generations are counted) live outside the country, in other continents and in the countries of the EU.

One in eight residents of Slovenia is an immigrant, according to a special release of the Slovenian Statistical Office in December 2018.

Several decades of living in the same state reflects in the current immigration structure of Slovenia. Among 250,000 immigrants, 216,000 (86%) were born in one of the former Yugoslav republics, most of them (108,000) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by Croatia (45,000) and Serbia (25,000). Among the residents of Slovenia there are 171 foreign countries of birth.

In addition to the mentioned area of former Yugoslavia, the most common are Germany (7,300), Italy (4,100) and the Russian Federation (3,000). The most common non-European countries of birth are China (1,000), the United States (800), and Argentina and Canada (400 each).


The official language of Slovenia is Slovenian, a South Slavic language spoken by only two million people. In nationally-mixed regions Italian and Hungarian are also spoken. The use of foreign languages in communication, including English, German, Italian, French and Spanish, is widespread throughout the country, while the Croat and Serb languages are easily understood.

The Slovenian language has played an important role throughout Slovene history. In spite of various influences, in particular Germanic, it has preserved its unique features. The most notable is the use of dual form, the grammatical number used for two people or things in all the inflected parts of speech, which is nowadays a very rare phenomenon in linguistics. Due to the varied relief of the territory and the various influences coming from neighbouring non-Slavic countries, many dialects developed alongside the standard language. According to some classifications, there are 40 separate dialects in Slovenia. Slovenian is now taught at more than 60 university departments around the world. At 28 foreign universities in Europe students can obtain a degree in Slovene and continue their study of Slovene at postgraduate level. Foreigners have been increasingly interested in learning Slovenian, rising from 200-300 students each year at the end of the 1980s to 2,000 per annum in 2022 (figures from the Centre for Slovene as Second and Foreign Language, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana).

According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, released in Brussels in 2012, a total of 92 per cent of Slovenes speak at least one foreign language. English is spoken by 59 per cent of the Slovenes surveyed, which is considerably higher than the European average, which is 38 per cent. German language is spoken by 42 per cent of the Slovenians surveyed.

In the context of events in celebration of the European Day of Languages (26 September), a booklet entitled On Slovene, a short Slovenian-English publication was published, intended for a wider public, presenting the role, status, historical development, geographical usage, and grammatical structure of the Slovenian language. The last part addresses the challenges facing Slovenian in the 21st century, particularly with regard to the multilingual environment of the European Union. The use of Slovenian as one of the EU official languages within the European Parliament has been described in more detail.


Along with the guaranteed right of the preservation of national identity, the people of Slovenia have a right to their own religious beliefs. According to the 2002 census the largest section of the population (57,8 per cent) are Roman Catholics. 0,8 of the population declared that they belong to the Protestant Church (it has its roots in the Reformation, and is most widely spread in the eastern part of Slovenia), 2,3 per cent to the Orthodox Church and 2,4 per cent to Islam (census 2002). Around 38 other religious communities, spiritual groups, societies and associations are also registered in Slovenia.


In 2020 there were 2,095,861 people living in Slovenia. Approximately 50 per cent of the people reside in urban areas and 30 per cent in towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants, whilst the rest live in nearly 6,000 smaller towns and villages. The municipalities of Ljubljana (292,988, 2019), Maribor (112,100), Kranj (37,941), Celje (49,600) and Koper-Capodistria (52,540) are Slovenia’s five largest urban settlements.

The population density currently stands at 103 inhabitants per square kilometre, a figure much lower than in the majority of other European states. People have mainly settled the river valleys and transport routes, where long ago Slovene towns began to emerge, whilst the mountainous and forested areas remain unpopulated.

Slovenia’s population is slowly declining and the country has the low birth rate, 1,6. About 17,400 children were born in 2022, which was 8% fewer than in the previous year.


  • National Statistics Office website
  • Facts about Slovenia, Government Communication Office, Ljubljana (last update June 2011, PDF)
  • Discover Slovenia, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana (1996)
  • Encyclopedia Slovenia


  • Milko Kos, Zgodovina Slovencev: od naselitve do petnajstega stoletja, Ljubljana: Slovenska matica, 1955 (‘History of Slovenes – from the settlement to the 15th century’)
  • Bogo Grafenauer, Zgodovina slovenskega naroda (1-5), Ljubljana: Državna založba Slovenije, 1954-74 (‘The History of Slovene Nation’ in 5 books)
  • Bogo Grafenauer, Od naselitve do konca 18, stoletja, Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, 1979 (‘From the settlement to the end of the 18th century’)
  • Metod Mikuž, Oris zgodovine Slovencev v stari Jugoslaviji, 1917-1941, Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 1965 (‘An outline of the history of Slovenes in old Yugoslavia’)
  • Metod Mikuž: Pregled zgodovine narodnoosvobodilne borbe v Sloveniji (1-5), Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, 1960-1973 (‘An overview of the history of the fight for liberation in Slovenia’)
  • Zgodovina Slovencev, Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, 1979 ('History of Slovenes')
  • Slovenska novejša zgodovina, 1948-1992. Ljubljana: INZ, Mladinska knjiga, 2005 ('Slovene contemporary history')
  • Peter Vodopivec, Od Pohlinove slovenice do samostojne države - Slovenska zgodovina od konca 18, stoletja do konca 20, stoletja. Ljubljana: Modrijan, 2006 ('From Pohlin's Grammar up to an independent state - history of Slovenia from the end of 18th century through to the end of 20th century')
  • Peter Štih, Vasko Simoniti, Peter Vodopivec, Slovenska zgodovina: družba - politika - kultura, Ljubljana: Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino, 2008 ('Slovenian History: Society - Politics - Culture')

Sources in English

  • The Land Inbetween: A History of Slovenia

With contributions by Oto Luthar, Igor Grdina, Marjeta Sašel Kos, Petra Svoljšak, Peter Kos, Dušan Kos, Peter Štih, Alja Brglez and Martin Pogačar.

Contents: From Prehistory to the End of the Ancient World - The Early Middle Ages - Feudalism - The Early Modern Period - Modernization and National Emancipation - From the Habsburg Monarchy to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia - From a Socialist Republic to an Independent State.

The first comprehensive history of Slovenes in English was published in autumn 2008 by Peter Lang Publishing Group. The book is an accurate scientific work giving special attention to cultural history, the result of years of work by nine Slovenian historians, archaeologists and anthropologists. On over 500 pages the book presents Slovenia from prehistory to its entry into the EU in 2004.

External links

... more about "About Slovenia"
This section looks at the long history of the country, spanning from Roman times to the third millennium, and stretching between the Alps, the Adriatic and the Pannonian Plain. +
This section looks at the long history of the country, spanning from Roman times to the third millennium, and stretching between the Alps, the Adriatic and the Pannonian Plain. +