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Area: 20,273 sq km (7,827 sq miles)
Population: 2 million
Capital City: Ljubljana (population:270,000)
People: Slovene 83.01%, Serbian 2%, Bosniak 1.1%
Languages: Slovene; Hungarian and Italian enjoy the status of official languages in the ethnically mixed regions along the Hungarian and Italian border. English is widely spoken.
Religion(s): Roman Catholic 57.8%, Muslim 2.4%, Orthodox 2.3%
Major political parties: Government coalition partners: Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), Citizen’s List of Gregor Virant, Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS), Slovenian People’s Party, New Slovenia – Christian People’s Party.
Opposition parties: Social Democrats (SD,Positive Slovenia.
President: Dr Danilo Türk
Prime Minister: Janez Janša
Foreign Minister: Karel Viktor Erjavec
Slovenia is a parliamentary republic with a strong economy and a stable democracy. Having declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, it successfully joined the EU and NATO in 2004, and became an active player in the international arena.
Services are the most important element of Slovenia’s GDP structure, accounting for 60% of GDP, while 31% of GDP is generated by industry, 6% by construction and 3% by agriculture. The main exports are manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and food. The main imports are steel and steel products, petroleum oils/gases, cars, automotive parts and pharmaceuticals. Slovenia’s major trade partners are Germany (40%), Italy, Austria, Croatia, and France.
With GDP per capita at 88% of the EU average, Slovenia ranks highest among the 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004. Despite its economic success, foreign direct investment in Slovenia has lagged behind the regional average, and taxes remain high. The labour market is highly skilled but seen as a bit inflexible. Slovenia became a member of the OECD on 27 May 2010.
In 1990, the first democratic elections took place and were won by the united opposition movement. In the same year more than 88% of the electorate voted for a sovereign and independent Slovenia. Slovenia declared independence on 25 June 1991. A 10-day war ensued, following which the Yugoslav Army withdrew from Slovenia. The European Union recognised Slovenia in January 1992 and the UN accepted it as a member in May 1992.
In 2004, Slovenia joined the EU and NATO. In 2007, Slovenia adopted the Euro and joined the Schengen area. In the first half of 2008, Slovenia assumed the Presidency of the EU, the first of the ten new accession states (of 2004) to do so. In 2009 Slovenia chaired the Council of Europe.
Longer Historical Perspective
In the 14th Century, most of the territory of Slovenia was taken over by the Habsburgs. Their powerful competitors were the counts of Celje, a feudal family from this area, who in 1436 acquired the title of "state counts". Their large dynasty, important at a European political level, died out in 1456 and its numerous large estates became the property of the Habsburgs, who retained control of the area right up to the beginning of the 20th Century.
German colonisation between the 11th and 15th Centuries narrowed Slovenian lands to an area only a little bigger than they are today. The end of the Middle Ages (15th and 16th centuries) was marked by Turkish incursions. Dissatisfaction with the ineffective feudal defences against the Turks and the introduction of new taxes brought about peasant revolts. Uprisings continued until the first half of the 18th Century when Austro-Hungary became dominant.
The first Slovenian political programme, called "Unified Slovenia" emerged during the European "Spring of Nations" in March and April of 1848, demanding that all the lands inhabited by Slovenes should be united into one province, called Slovenia. In this province, Slovene would be made the official language. In 1878, although other neighbouring states became independent with the Treaty of Berlin, Slovenia stayed within the Austro-Hungarian Empire but nationalism in the Balkans increased.
After Austro-Hungary’s defeat in WW1, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles created a Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which became Yugoslavia in 1929. WW2 saw turmoil with German invasion and partisan battles across Yugoslavia. In 1945, Tito declared Socialist Yugoslavia, a federation of six republics - Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Macedonia.
After the death of Tito in 1980, the economic and political situation deteriorated in Yugoslavia. This led, ten years later, to the end of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The first clear demand for Slovenian independence was made in 1987. In 1988 and 1989 the first political opposition parties emerged. In the 1989 May Declaration, they demanded a sovereign state for the Slovenian nation. Slovenia was the first republic to break away, achieving independence relatively peacefully.
Slovenia's Relations with the UK
Following the international recognition of Slovenia, diplomatic relations with the UK were quickly established. The Slovenian Embassy in London opened on 29 April 1992. The UK opened its Embassy in Ljubljana on 25 August 1992. The British Council has had representation in Ljubljana since 1992. A Slovenian consulate was opened in Edinburgh in March 2005 and in Belfast in January 2011.
The UK and Slovenia enjoy excellent bilateral relations. There have been a number of ministerial and official visits in both directions (most recent listed below). The UK was strongly committed to supporting Slovenia’s accession to the EU and NATO. The UK also works closely with Slovenia within the EU on enlargement to the Western Balkans, renewing economic co-ordination, strengthening the Single Market, reducing EU carbon emissions and ensuring open, competitive energy.
There is a UK-Slovenia All-Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by Neil Parish MP and an equivalent body in Slovenia.
The trade between the UK and Slovenia is growing by about 10% a year. In January-October 2010, UK exports to Slovenia were up to 24%, and UK imports up to 37%, compared to the same period in 2009. Two-way trade in 2009 amounted to 450 million GDP, which included medical products, industrial machinery, road vehicles, electrical machinery and office equipment.UK companies who have offices or representation in Slovenia include Glaxo SmithKline, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Unilever, Shell, Astra Zeneca and Castrol. In 2008, the British Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia was established.
In October 2008, HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh made a two-day State Visit to Slovenia at the invitation of President Türk to honour Slovenia's achievements during its period of independence, including its successful Presidency of the EU in the first half of the year.
Recent Visits to the UK
-- Dr Igor Lukšič, Minister of Education, 9-11 January 2011 (World Education Forum)
-- Borut Pahor, the then Prime Minister, 12 April 2011
-- Samuel Žbogar, the then Foreign Minister, 28 January 2010
Dr Danilo Türk, President, 23-24 November 2010
-- Dr Danilo Türk, President, 25 March 2010
-- Borut Pahor, the then Prime Minister, 5 February 2009
-- Mitja Gaspari, the then Minister for European Affairs, 12-13 October 2009
Dr Danilo Türk, President, 12 March 2008
-- Janez Janša, when Prime Minister for the first time, 14 November 2007
Recent Visits to Slovenia
-- Hugh Robertson, Minister of Sports, August 2011Cherie Blair, Blair Foundation, June 2011
Kenneth Clarke, Lord Chancellor, 11 April 2011
-- John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, 20-22 February 2011
-- Neil Parish MP, Chair of the UK-Slovenia All-Party Parliamentary Group, 6-7 January 2011
-- Lord Roper, Chairman of Europe Affairs Committee, House of Lords, 29-30 August 2010
-- Mike Gapes, ex-Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee, House of Commons 30-31 August 2010
-- Sir Andrew Cahn, Chief Executive of UKTI, 18-19 February 2010
-- Geoff Hoon, PM's European Adviser for Economic/Environmental issues, 30-31 August 2009
-- Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Shadow Spokesman, Environment, House of Lords, 30-31 August 2009
-- Lord Grenfell of Kilvey, House of Lords, 30-31 August 2009
-- Mike Gapes, Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee, House of Commons, 30-31 August 2009
-- HM the Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, 21-23 October 2008
-- David Miliband, the then Foreign Secretary (accompanying HM The Queen), 21-23 October 2008
-- David Miliband, the then Foreign Secretary, 28 March 2008 (attending informal meeting of EU ministers)
-- Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, 8-10 January 2008
Slovenia is situated at the crossroads of Central Europe, the Mediterranean and the Balkans. The Alps dominate northern Slovenia along its long border to Austria and cover 42% of its territory. Slovenia's Adriatic coastline stretches 46 km from Italy to Croatia. The main port is Koper. Southern Slovenia's Karst plateau is a limestone region of underground rivers, gorges, and caves. On the Pannonian plain to the east and north east, towards the Croatian and Hungarian borders, the landscape is essentially flat. 64% of the country is forested. Most of Slovenia has a continental climate with cold winters and warm summers. Approximately 30% of the population live in towns of over 10,000 inhabitants, with the rest living in around 6,000 smaller towns and villages. With 99 inhabitants per square kilometre (256/sq mi), Slovenia ranks low among the European countries in population density
Under the Constitution, Slovenia is a democratic republic and a social state governed by law. The state’s authority is based on the principle of the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, with a parliamentary system of government.
The highest legislative body is the National Assembly, which has 90 members elected for four-year terms. Among the members of the National Assembly, two members represent Italian and Hungarian minority communities. The upper chamber of the National Assembly is the National Council, with 40 members who represent social, economic, professional and local interests.
In December 2011 Slovenia saw its first early parliamentary elections. The winner was a newly formed party, Positive Slovenia, headed by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković. However Janković failed to form a Government coalition. The Runner up in the elections,the Slovene Democrats, led by Janez Janša , succeeded in forming a coalition with 4 other, the Citizens List of Gregor Virant (DLGV), Pensioner’s Party (DeSus), People’s Party (SLS) and New Slovenia (NSi).
The President is the official representative of the country and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. His role is mainly ceremonial. He is elected for a five-year term by direct ballot. The last Presidential Election took place in November 2007. It was won by Dr Danilo Türk who succeeded Dr Janez Drnovšek.
The Slovenian Armed Forces are composed of 7,500 professional soldiers, of whom around 6% are deployed overseas in international missions in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Lebanon.
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