Slovenia

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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, NATO, and has observer status in La Francophonie.

History

Main article: History of Slovenia

It is believed that the Slavic ancestors of the present-day Slovenians settled in the area in the 6th century. The Slavic Duchy of Carantania, the first proto-Slovenian state and the first stable Slavic state, was formed in the 7th century. In 745, Carantania lost its independence, being largely subsumed into the Frankish empire. Many Slavs converted to Christianity.

The Freising manuscripts, the earliest surviving written documents in a Slovenian dialect and the first ever Slavic 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 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 on 29 November 1945. Present-day Slovenia was formed on 25 June 1991 upon its independence from Yugoslavia. Slovenia joined NATO on 29 March 2004 and the European Union on 1 May 2004.

See also Timeline of Slovenian history

Politics

Main article: Politics of Slovenia

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.

Regions

File:Slo regions marked3.jpg
Slovenia is traditionally divided into eight regions.

Historical Regions

As given by Enciklopedija Slovenije (Encyclopedia of Slovenia), traditional Slovenian regions, based on the former division of Slovenia on three crown lands (Carniola, Styria and Goriška) and their parts, are:

The last two are usually considered together as Primorska (the Littoral Region). White Carniola (Bela krajina), otherwise part of Lower Carniola, is sometimes considered a separate region, as is Zasavje, which is otherwise a part of Upper and Lower Carniola and Styria.

Natural Regions

The first regionalizations of Slovenia were made by geographers Anton Melik (1935-1936) and Svetozar Ilešič (1968). The newer regionalization by Ivan Gams divides Slovenia in the following macroregions:

  • the Alps (visokogorske Alpe)
  • the Prealpine Hills (predalpsko hribovje)
  • the Ljubljana basin (Ljubljanska kotlina)
  • Submediterranean (Littoral) Slovenia (submediteranska - primorska Slovenija)
  • the dinaric Karst of inner Slovenia (dinarski kras notranje Slovenije)
  • Subpannonian Slovenia (subpanononska Slovenija)

According to a newer natural geographic regionalization, the country consists of four macroregions. These are the Alpine world, the Mediterranean world, the Dinaric world and the Pannonian world. Macroregions are defined according to major relief units (the Alps, the Pannonian plain, the Dinaric mountains) and climate types (continental, alpine, mediterranean). These are often quite interwoven.

Macroregions consist of multiple and very diverse mesoregions. The main factor that defines them is the relief together with the geologic composition. Mesoregions in turn consist of numerous microregions.

Administrative Regions

As of May 2005, only Statistical regions exist, and, as their name suggests, are only used for statistical purposes. There are 12 of these regions.

The Statistical regions are:

  • Pomurska (1)
  • Podravska (2)
  • Koroška (3)
  • Savinjska (4)
  • Zasavska (5)
  • Spodnjeposavska (6)
  • Jugovzhodna Slovenija (7)
  • Osrednjeslovenska (8)
  • Gorenjska (9)
  • Notranjsko-kraška (10)
  • Goriška (11)
  • Obalno-kraška (12)

The Government, however, is preparing a plan for new Administrative regions. The number of these regions is not yet defined, but is said to be around 10 to 12. The plan will, after being publicly unveiled, need to undergo parliamentary debate, and it is expected that constitution changes will be needed before the regionalization can come into effect. If the scenario of 12 Administrative regions is selected, the regions will most likely be the same as the current Statistical regions.

Municipalities

Main article: Municipalities of Slovenia

Slovenia is divided into 193 municipalities (občine, singular - občina), of which 11 have urban status.

Geography

Main article: Geography of Slovenia
File:Si-map.png
Map of Slovenia

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. Grassland covers 5593 km² of the country and fields and gardens 2471 km². There are also 363 km² of orchards and 216 km² of vineyards.

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.

See also: National parks of Slovenia.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Slovenia

Slovenia is a high-income economy which enjoys the highest GDP per capita (US$21,567 in 2005) of the newly joined EU countries. The country has a relatively high rate of inflation (3.6% in 2004) when compared to the European Union average, even though inflation is expected to decline in 2005 to 2.5%. Slovenia's economy grew impressively in 2004, by 4.6%, after relatively slow growth in 2003 (2.5%). Overall, the country is on a sound economic footing. However, much work remains to be done in the areas of privatisation and capital market reform.

During 2000, privatisations were seen in the banking, telecommunications, and public utility sectors. Restrictions on foreign investment are slowly being dismantled, and foreign direct investment (FDI) 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.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Slovenia

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 71.80 years for men and 79.50 years for women.

As of 2004, out of the approx. 18,000 erased people around 4,000 still do not regulate any status.

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

Main article: Culture of Slovenia

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 (Die Ehre des Herzogthums Crain), 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, Umek, Valentino Kanzyani, New Swing Quartet, Siddharta and most recently Atomik Harmonik and Arsov.

Slovenia's learned men include physicist Jožef Stefan, linguist Franc Miklošič and mathematician Jurij Vega.

See also:

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.

As mentioned above, half of the country (53%) is covered by forest. Forests are an important natural resource, but their true value lies in this preserved natural diversity, their ecological (protection of the soil, water and air) and social (tourism and recreation) functions, and the beauty they lend to the Slovenian landscape. In the interior there are typical Central European forests (oak and beech, in the mountains spruce, fir and pine). The tree-line is at 1700-1800 m.

Pine grows also on the Karst plateau. The Karst and White Carniola are well known for the mysterious proteus. Only one third of Kras is now covered by pine forest. It is said that most was cut long ago to make wooden pylons on which the city of Venice now stands. The lime (linden) tree, another common inhabitant of Slovenian forests, is also a national symbol. The national proverb says: "A true Slovenian must raise a child, write a book and plant a tree."

In the Alps, the most beautiful flowers are spurge laurel (Daphne blagayana), different gentians (Clusius' gentian - Gentiana clusii, Froelich's gentian - Gentiana froelichi), avrikelj or lepi jeglič (Primula auricula), edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum, the symbol of Slovenian mountaineering), lepi čeveljc (Cypripedium calceolus), Močvirska logarica or marsh tulip (Fritillaria meleagris), velikonočnica (Pulsatilla grandis).

Fauna include marmot (introduced), steinbocks, and chamois. There are numerous deer, roe deer, boar and hares. The loir or fat dormouse is often found in Slovenian beech forests. Hunting these animals is a long tradition and is well described in the book The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola (Slava Vojvodine Kranjske) (1689), written by Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641-1693). Some important carnivores include the Eurasian lynx (reintroduced to Kočevje area in 1973), European wild cat, fox (especially the red fox), and jackal. There are also hedgehogs, and different species of marten, snakes (viper, grass snake, etc.). As of March 2005, Slovenia also has a limited population of wolves and about 400 brown bears.

There is a variety of birds: the tawny owl, long-eared owl and Eagle Owl, hawks, Short-toed Eagle and other birds of prey, but also other birds such as the woodpecker (black and green woodpecker). The white stork nests in Prekmurje.

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.

See also

Geographical sights

Institutions

External links

General information on Slovenia

Institutions in Slovenia

Slovenian web search engines

Currency


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