Slovenia lies at the heart of Europe, bordering on Austria to the north, Croatia to the south, Hungary to the east and Italy to the west. From whichever way you enter the country, you are greeted by breathtaking landscapes – the blue Mediterranean, the Karst underworld, Alpine peaks and valleys, the Pannonian Plain and the rolling Dolenjska hills – and the exceptional diversity of this small country.
Slovenia has a population of just over two million, with a population density of 99 inhabitants per 1 km2, which is half the European average. Slovenes, the majority nation, coexist in harmony with the Italian and Hungarian minorities, and many ethnic groups from the Western Balkans.
We tend to describe ourselves as broad-minded individuals, as hard-working and diligent people. While we see our language as a national value, we also speak many foreign languages, showing a sincere desire for communication and understanding. Our vibrant history and geographical position have made us a people who appreciate differences.
Slovenia through history
Slovenia is a young country by global standards, having been independent since 1991. The ancestors of the Slovenes were Slavs who migrated from the Carpathians to the present-day territory in the 6th century, before a hundred years later founding the oldest known Slavic state, Carantania, although this did not last long.
Until the 20th century Slovenia was under foreign rule, mostly by the Habsburg monarchy of Austro-Hungary. During this time the Slovenes emerged as a nation and forged their own identity, despite oppression and sustained pressure to assimilate. Slovenia became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after the First World War, then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after the Second World War. After more than 70 years of living in Yugoslavia, the Slovenes built a consensus to strike out an independent path, almost 90% of the population voting for independence in the 1990 referendum. Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, and also became a member of Nato. več
State symbols project the recognisability of a country. Slovenia’s symbols highlight historical facts and its cultural tradition, testifying to the fact that the Slovenians are the genuine heirs to the cultural and national heritage of Karantania, the first Slav state and one of the first states following the collapse of the Roman Empire.
Slovenia's national flag is white, blue and red and bears the Slovenian cot of arms. The three-coloured flag first appeared during the Spring of Nations in 1848. The National Assembly upon the announcement of Slovenia's independence on 25 June 1991 took the decision on the design of the present flag.
The national flag is one of the state symbols, so we hang it out whenever we want to emphasize our appurtenance to the country – such as in times of war, national holidays or during sport games of our national teams, or to signify that our country is a participant in some event, such as international conferences, fairs, state visits, etc.
The Coat of Arms
Slovenia’s coat of arms is in the shape of a shield. In the middle of the shield is the outline of Mount Triglav in white; beneath which are two wavy blue lines, representing the sea and the rivers and above are three gold six-pointed stars, arranged in the shape of an inverted triangle.
As on the flag, the three national colours (white, blue and red) of Carniola - the central historic state on the territory of the Slovenian people - are used. The six- pointed stars are the symbols of the Celje counts, the last great dynasty on Slovenian territory, and Mount Triglav as a symbol of Slovenehood. The coat of arms was designed by the sculptor Marko Pogačnik.
The seventh stanza of Zdravljica (A Toast), a lengthy poem by France Prešeren (1800–1849) in used as the Slovenian national anthem. The poem was set to music decades ago by Stanko Premrl (1880–1965).
Zdravljica, a toast to all good-hearted people, was written in 1844, and in it the poet declares his belief in a free-thinking Slovenian and Slavonic political awareness, promoting the idela of a Unified Slovenia, which the March revolution in 1848 elevated into a national political programme.
Translation of the Slovenian anthem:
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 man free,
no more shall foes but neighbours be.
Audio recording (mp3, 1.5 MB) - Concert on the occasion of the main state celebration of the Independence and Unity Day, 23 December 2005 (conductor: Uroš Lajovic, choirmaster: Robert Mraček)
Slovene is the official and state language of the Republic of Slovenia and the native language of approximately 2.4 million people.
Slovene is a fully developed and internally richly-structured modern language. The codification of literary Slovene in grammars, dictionaries and normative reference books has a rich tradition stemming from the 16th century (the first Slovene book was printed in 1550).
More information on the Slovenian language you can find in the publication On Slovene.
Nature has provided Slovenia with a whole range of special features. Four major European geographic regions meet in Slovenia: the Alps, the Dinaric area, the Pannonian plain and the Mediterranean.
A closer look at our country unravels the infinite beauty of green forests and meadows, Alpine peaks and the diversity of land, lakes, rivers and seas, Karstic land and its mysterious underground features. Among the natural gems of Slovenia are also the mountain Triglav which is the highest mountain in Slovenia. It is 2,864 meters highthe Region Kras, a rocky land where the influence of water on the limestone in the ground creats extraordinary surface shapes, caves and the distinctive underground decantations. Saltpans, an area by the sea which is specially designed in order to extract salt from the sea water in the summer. It consists of salt fields, canals, sea banks supported by stone walls, water gates, saltpan houses, pathways, bridges, pumps, etc. They offer shelter to numerous animals, because we can find various ecosystems in the saltpans, such as polloy (poloj), salty lawn, salty puddle, brackish pond. Primeval forests and rich world of thermal and mineral water.
Forests cover half the territory; Slovenia is the third most forested country in Europe, right after Finland and Sweden. Remnants of primeval forests are still to be found, the largest in the Kočevje area. Bears, which can no longer be found north of this region, still live in these forests, and it also is possible to encounter a wolf or a lynx.
Approximately 11% of Slovenia's territory is specially protected; the largest area with such a regime is the Triglav National Park with a surface area of 848 km2.
- Parks in Slovenia (pdf, 2,5 MB)
- Protected areas of Slovenia (pdf, 7 MB)
- Digital Encyclopedia of Natural and Cultural Heritage - DEDI
Culture defines and enriches us
Culture has a special place in Slovenia’s history and is inextricably linked with out national pride. The country’s cultural and artistic achievements represent unique milestones of Slovenehood. Within us, nearly all Slovenes are poets, painters, cooks, dancers, winemakers, musicians, directors, actors and sculptors. We can make art out of anything we hold dear. In addition to traditional craftsmanship, the art of which has been passed through generations for centuries, Slovenia’s achievements in contemporary and modern arts place the country firmly on the world map.
Cultural heritage is everything that results from the creativity of humans and their various activities, from social development and from events that have typified individual periods in the Slovenian lands. Owing to the valuable historical, cultural and civilisational message they communicate, their respect and protection are a bond for the nation and each individual.
Good food and drink
Slovenia offers a surprising variety of both traditional dishes and culinary delights. While every region has its own typical dishes, the cuisine is largely based on meat, cabbage, beans, potatoes and štruklji (dough rolls) which have as many as 70 different fillings. When it comes to sweets we cannot but mention potica, a cake made with leavened dough and filled with anything form ground walnuts, poppy seeds, raisins, tarragon, cottage cheese, honey and even pork crackling. And then there are wines – from quality blended wines to exquisite varietal, Prädikat and sparkling wines. Many winemakers offer tours of their cellars and wine-tasting, while top-end restaurants usually provide qualified sommeliers to assist you with your choice of wine for every occasion.