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Slovenia (slōvēˈnēə), Slovene Slovenija, officially Republic of Slovenia, republic (2015 est. pop. 2,075,000), 7,817 sq mi (20,246 sq km). It is bounded in the north by Austria, in the northeast by Hungary, in the southeast by Croatia, and in the west by Italy. It has a small strip of seacoast on the Adriatic. Ljubljana is the capital.

Land, People, and Economy

Most of Slovenia is situated in the Karst plateau and in the Julian Alps. The largely mountainous and forested republic is drained by the Drava and Sava rivers. Ljubljana, Maribor, and Celje are the chief cities. The Slovenes constitute more than 80% of the population, but there are also Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks. Almost 60% are Roman Catholic, and there are Muslim and Eastern Orthodox minorites.

Slovenia is the most industrialized and urbanized of all the former Yugoslav republics. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Slovenia's economy grew and tourism increased markedly, unimpeded by the warfare that devastated other regions. Many state companies, however, were not privatized. That situation contributed to a recession in 2009 that was aggravated by excessive lending by state-controlled banks. The subsequent financial crisis led to the adoption of privatization measures in 2012, but the actual privatization of government-owned firms has moved slowly.

Iron, steel, aluminum, electronics, motor vehicles, electric power equipment, wood products, textiles, chemicals, and machine tools are the main industrial products. Farming and livestock raising are important occupations, with potatoes, hops, wheat, sugar beets, corn, and wine grapes the main crops. There are mineral resources of coal, lead, zinc, mercury, uranium, and silver. Exports include household appliances, machinery and transportation equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and food. Machinery, consumer goods, chemicals, and fuels are imported. The country's chief trading partners are Germany, Italy, Austria, France, and Croatia.


Slovenia is governed under the constitution of 1991. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is nominated by the president and elected by the National Assembly. There is a bicameral Parliament. Of the 90 members of the National Assembly, 40 are directly elected and 50 are elected on a proportional basis, all for four-year terms. Members of the 40-seat, advisory National Council are indirectly elected for five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 182 municipalities and 11 urban municipalities.


In ancient times the region was inhabited by the Illyrian and Celtic tribes. In the 1st cent. B.C. they fell under the Roman provinces of Pannonia and Noricum. The region was settled in the 6th cent. A.D. by the South Slavs, who set up the early Slav state of Samo, which in 788 passed to the Franks. At the division of Charlemagne's empire (843) the region passed to the dukes of Bavaria. In 1335, Carinthia and Carniola passed to the Hapsburgs. From that time until 1918 Slovenia was part of Austria and the region was largely comprised in the Austrian crownlands of Carinthia, Carniola, and Styria. In 1918, Slovenia was included in the kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (called Yugoslavia after 1929), and in 1919 Austria formally ceded the region by the Treaty of Saint-Germain.

In World War II Slovenia was divided (1941) among Germany, Italy, and Hungary. After the war, Slovenia was made (1945) a constituent republic of Yugoslavia and received part of the former Italian region of Venezia Giulia. In early 1990, Slovenia elected a non-Communist government and stepped up its demands for greater autonomy with the threat of possible secession. In Feb., 1991, the Slovenian parliament ruled that Slovenian law took precedence over federal law. Slovenia declared independence on June 25, and federal troops moved in, but after some fighting withdrew by July. Slovenia, along with Croatia, was recognized as an independent country by the European Community and the United Nations in 1992.

Milan Kučan was elected president of Slovenia in 1990 and continued as president of the independent republic; he was reelected in Nov., 1997. In 2002, Janez Drnovšek, a Liberal Democrat, was elected president after a runoff election; Drnovšek had been the country's prime minister. Slovenia became a member of NATO and the European Union in 2004, and adopted the euro as its currency three years later. Janez Janša, leader of the Slovenian Democratic party (SDS), became prime minister in Nov., 2004, heading a center-right coalition government.

A dispute over Slovenia's right to access to the Adriatic through waters that Croatia claims has been a source of tension between the two nations, and led Slovenia to block some of the negotiations for Croatia's accession to the European Union. The countries agreed in Aug., 2007, to submit their boundary disputes to international arbitration, and in Sept., 2009, Slovenia ended the freeze on Croatia's accession talks after an agreement stipulated that none of the documents associated with EU application would have any legal impact on the resolution of the border dispute. The agreement was ratified by parliament in Apr., 2010, and was approved in a June, 2010, referendum.

In Nov., 2007, Danilo Türk, a former diplomat and left-of-center candidate, was elected to succeed Drnovšek as president. The opposition Social Democrats won a plurality in Sept., 2008, parliamentary elections, and in November party leader Borut Pahor became prime minister of the four-party coalition government. Pahor's government lost its majority in June, 2011, when one party left the coalition, and subsequently lost a confidence vote in September. In the Dec., 2011, elections, Ljubljana's mayor Zoran Janković led Positive Slovenia, a new center-left party, to a narrow plurality, but the SDS's Janša became prime minister in Jan., 2012, after forming a five-party center-right coalition.

In the 2012 presidential election Pahor defeated Türk in a December runoff; Türk was hurt by the country's severe recession and voter apathy (only 42% of the electorate voted). In Jan., 2013, Janša's coalition lost its majority after he was accused of corruption (he was convicted later in the year), and his minority government lost a confidence vote the following month. A center-left coalition government, with Alenka Bratušek of Positive Slovenia as prime minister, was formed in March. In Apr., 2014, however, she lost a party leadership contest to Janković, and resigned (May) as prime minister. The July election resulted in a plurality for the Miro Cerar party, headed by law professor Miro Cerar and formed six weeks before the election, and he became prime minster of a three-party coalition government in September.

In 2015 Croatia announced its withdrawal from the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) boundary case after a Croatian newspaper revealed that unauthorized conversations between the Slovenian PCA judge and a Slovenian official had taken place, but in 2016 the PCA ruled that the violation was an insufficient reason for withdrawal. It ultimately ruled (2017) largely in favor of Slovenia; the decision was rejected by Croatia. Pahor was reelected president in Nov., 2017, after a runoff. In Mar., 2018, after the supreme court ordered a new referendum on an infrastructure project because the government's strong backing of it had breached campaign rules, Cerar resigned as prime minister.

In the June, 2018, parliamentary elections, Janša's SDS, running on an anti-immigrant platform, won a plurality, but forming a new government was difficult because most of the other large parties in parliament had publicly rejected forming a coalition with SDS. In September, Marjan Šarec, a former mayor and political satirist, became prime minister of a five-party center-left minority government. The coalition subsequently (2019) secured, then lost, the cooperation of the Left party, and in Jan., 2020, Šarec resigned. In March, Janša and the SDS formed a four-party, largely center-right majority government.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Slovenija), Socialist Republic of Slovenia (Socijalistička Republika Slovenija), a republic in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Situated in the extreme northwestern part of the country, Slovenia is bounded by Italy on the west and Austria on the north. Near the Gulf of Trieste it juts into the Adriatic Sea. Area, 20,300 sq km. According to the 1971 census, Slovenia had a population of 1.7 million, of whom 94 percent were Slovenes; in 1975 it had 1,772,000 inhabitants. The official language is Slovene. About 80 percent of the population lives in cities. The capital is Ljubljana; other large cities include Maribor and Celje.

A socialist republic, Slovenia voluntarily merged with other equal socialist republics to form a federal state, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). The present constitution was adopted in 1974. The highest governmental body, the republic’s Skupština, consists of three chambers—the Council of Associated Labor, the Council of Communities, and the Social-Political Council. The government (cabinet) is the Executive Council of the Skupština.

Natural features. Slovenia is predominantly mountainous. In the northwest and north stretch several ranges of the Eastern Alps—the Pohorije, the Karawanken, the Savinja Alps, and the Julian Alps, which rise to 2,863 m at Mount Triglav, the highest peak in Yugoslavia. In the south lies the northern edge of the Dinaric Alps, including the Karst (Kras), a limestone plateau with karst topography. The world-famous Postojna Cave is in the Karst. There are lowlands in the east and in the west, along the Adriatic Sea.

Over most of Slovenia the climate is moderately continental. In the intramontane valleys the mean January temperturė ranges from 0° to - 2°C, and the July temperature averages 18° or 19°C. The precipitation varies between 800 mm and 1,200 mm a year, although in the mountains it may exceed 2,000 mm in places. On the coast the climate is subtropical mediterranean. The main rivers, the Sava and the Drava, belong to the Danube basin. There are both mountain glacial lakes (Bled) and karst lakes. Forests, found chiefly in the mountains, occupy 46 percent of the territory. Beech and oak forests give way to mixed and coniferous forests at higher elevations and then to subalpine and alpine meadows. The Karst Plateau is covered with scanty steppe vegetation, and along the coast grow Mediterranean shrubs.


Historical survey. In antiquity Slovenia was settled by Celtic and Illyrian tribes. After its conquest by Rome in the first century B.C., the area was subjected to intensive romanization. In the sixth and seventh centuries it was settled by the Slovenes, Slavic tribes who occupied a territory considerably larger than present-day Slovenia. An early-feudal state called Carantania arose here in the seventh century. When Carantania became a vassal of Bavaria circa 745, German missionaries began forcibly to convert its population to Christianity. In 788, Carantania became a dependency of the Frankish state, and upon the lat-ter’s disintegration in 843, it was absorbed by the East Frankish kingdom, later, Germany.

Feudal relations were firmly established in the area between the ninth and 11th centuries; the feudal lords were Germans, and the peasants primarily Slovenes. German colonization of Slovene lands, begun in the ninth century, became particularly intensive between the 11th and 13th centuries, when several feudal principalities emerged on Slovene-inhabited territory: Carinthia, Styria, Carniola (Kranj), occupying most of present-day Slovenia, Gorizia, and Istria. The principalities were included in the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1282 the Hapsburgs began seizing Slovene lands, and by the early 16th century they had extended their rule to all the Slovene lands. Slovenia was incorporated into the multinational Austrian monarchy. From the mid-15th century the area was raided by the Turks. Intensified feudal oppression in the late 15th and 16th centuries, coupled with national oppression, touched off a series of peasant uprisings, the largest occurring in 1478, 1515, and 1573. In the 16th century early capitalist relations began developing in the mining industry of Slovenia. Concurrently, the Reformation, essentially a gentry and burgher movement, spread through the towns; it was suppressed by the Hapsburgs in the early 17th century.

An economic revival occurred in the second half of the 18th century, stimulated by reforms introduced by Maria Theresa and Joseph II limiting corvée and partially abolishing the peasantry’s personal dependence. Between 1809 and 1814 most of Slovenia, including Ljubljana, was included in the Illyrian Provinces, subject to Napoleonic France. The reforms promulgated by the French authorities promoted the development of capitalist relations. In 1814–15 the Slovene lands were returned to the Hapsburg Austrian Empire; after the empire was transformed into Austria-Hungary in 1867, the Slovene regions became part of its Austrian portion, Cisleithania.

The development of capitalist relations contributed to the emergence and growth of the Slovene national movement, whose focal point was Carniola. During the Revolution of 1848-49, Slovene liberals put foward the United Slovenia Program, which called for the unification of the Slovene lands into a single administrative and political entity and for equality for the Slovene language. The antifeudal actions of the Slovene peasants during the spring and summer of 1848 did not merge with the liberals’ struggle for national rights because the liberals did not support the peasantry’s chief demand, the abolition of feudal obligations without redemption payments. The abolition of feudal relations after the Revolution of 1848–49 opened the way for the rapid development of capitalism in the Slovene lands, which by the mid-19th century considerably surpassed the other Yugoslav (South Slav) regions in their level of industrial development.

The national movement grew stronger in the 1850’s and 1860’s. In the late 1860’s it split into two camps—the Old Slovenes, who advocated unconditional loyalty to the Hapsburgs and Catholicism, and the Young Slovenes, who revived the program for a united Slovenia. Many of the Young Slovenes advocated Yugoslav and Pan-Slavic ideas. The Workers’ Enlightenment Society, the first independent organization of the Slovenian proletariat, was established in Ljubljana in 1869. The Yugoslav Social Democratic Party was founded in 1896. The influence of Christian socialism spread among some workers. Bourgeois parties arose: the clerical Slovene People’s Party (SPP), which became influential among the broad masses of peasants, was founded in 1892, and the liberal National Progressive Party was organized two years later. Under the influence of the Russian Revolution of 1905-07, mass demonstrations calling for universal suffrage were held in Ljubljana, Trbovlje, Idrija, and other cities.

During World War I, the leadership of the bourgeois Slovene parties supported Austria-Hungary. The October Revolution of 1917 in Russia gave impetus to the Slovene revolutionary movement, manifested in antiwar demonstrations in Ljubljana, Jesenice, and Trbovlje, workers’ strikes, and rebellions in Slovene regiments. Political leaders who favored the formation of a unified Yugoslav state rose to power in the bourgeois parties. On Oct. 29, 1918, the National Assembly in Zagreb, which represented the Slovene, Croatian, and Serbian bourgeoisie and which was presided over by A. Korošec, the leader of the SPP, proclaimed the separation of the Yugoslav lands from Austria-Hungary. On December 1, these lands merged with Serbia to form the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. The Versailles peace treaties excluded from the newly created state some of the lands settled by the Slovenes, which remained in Italy and Austria.

In Slovenia the revolutionary upsurge of 1919-20 was marked by large proletarian demonstrations in support of Soviet Russia and by demand for the democratization of state and public life. In the fall of 1919, communist groups were organized in Ljubljana, Kočevje, and Trbovlje; the next year they merged with the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, also founded in 1919. The SPP, the ruling party in Slovenia, called on the Yugoslav government to grant more extensive rights to the Slovene bourgeoisie. After the coup d’etat of 1929, all political parties were banned (the Communist Party of Yugoslavia had gone underground in 1921).

During the 1930’s, the working class of Slovenia (which, along with Croatia, was the most economically developed region in Yugoslavia) found itself in the forefront of the struggle of the Yugoslav proletariat. There was a miners’ strike in Trbovlje in 1934, and the strike of 14,000 textile workers in 1936 was the largest strike in Yugoslavia in the prewar decade. The Communist Party of Slovenia was formed in 1937 as part of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. During the fascist aggression against Yugoslavia in April 1941, Slovenia was occupied and then divided between Italy (the south, including Ljubljana) and Germany (the north, with Maribor). The Liberation Front of Slovenia, established in Ljubljana on Apr. 27, 1941, included communists, Christian socialists, and representatives of the democratic intelligentsia.

The liberation war of the Slovene people that began in July 1941 was an integral part of the National Liberation War in Yugoslavia. (July 22, the day on which the uprising against the invaders and their accomplices began, is celebrated as the Day of the Uprising of the People of Slovenia.) Slovenia was completely liberated by the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia by May 15, 1945. By a resolution of the Paris Peace Conference of 1946, most of the Slovene-inhabited territory included in Italy from 1918 was reunited with Yugoslavia.

After the country’s liberation and the proclamation on Nov. 29, 1945, of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (FPRY), Slovenia became one of Yugoslavia’s six people’s republics. The status and sovereign rights of the People’s Republic of Slovenia (PRS) as an equal member of the federation were established under the constitution of the FPRY (January 1946) and the constitution of the PRS (January 1947). Under the constitutions promulgated in Yugoslavia and Slovenia in 1963 and 1974, Slovenia is a socialist republic within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In Slovenia, as in all of Yugoslavia, profound revolutionary transformations have been carried out, and socialism is being built. The leading ideological and political force in the building of socialism is the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY). In Slovenia the League of Communists of Slovenia functions as part of the LCY, and the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Slovenia acts as an integral part of the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Yugoslavia.


Economy. Slovenia is economically the most highly developed republic in Yugoslavia. In 1971 industry provided 42 percent of the gross social product; trade, 19.5 percent; agriculture, 11.5 percent; and construction, 8.4 percent. In 1971 more than 43 percent of Slovenia’s work force of 837,000 was employed in industry, crafts, and construction, about 30 percent in agriculture, fishing, and forestry, 4.5 percent in transportation, and about 4 percent in trade and other service sectors.

Slovenia’s industrial production is diversified. Energy is supplied by a series of hydroelectric power plants on the Drava, Sava, and Soča rivers, which generate 15 percent of Yugoslavia’s electricity, and by steam power plants using brown coal at Velenje, Trbovlje, and Šoštanj. Complex ores are mined at Mezica, Šoštanj, and Kamnik, bauxites at Juliski Kranj, antimony at Kamnik, and mercury at Idrija, the world’s third largest mine. There are ferrous metallurgy plants at Jesenice, Rav-ne, and Štore and nonferrous metallurgy enterprises at Mežica (zinc smeltery) and Kidričevo (aluminum). Machine building, the leading industry, includes the production of motor vehicles (Maribor) and electrical goods (Ljubljana, Kranj). Also important are the textile, woodworking, chemical, food, and printing industries. The main industrial centers are Maribor, Ljubljana, Kranj, Celje, and Koper.

About half of Slovenia’s area is used for agriculture. The main agricultural regions are the valleys of the Drava, Mura, and Lendava rivers, the intramontane basins, and especially the flat eastern part of Slovenia. Plowed fields occupy 53 percent of the farmland; orchards (chiefly apple and pear orchards) and vineyards, 8 percent; and meadows and pasturelands, 39 percent. The chief crops are cereals (wheat, corn, rye, barley, and oats), potatoes (24 percent of the Yugoslav harvest), hops, chicory, sugar beets, and flax. In 1973 the livestock population numbered 551,000 head of cattle, 447,000 swine, 24,000 sheep, and 40,000 horses.

International tourism is an important source of revenue. The main tourist attractions are Ljubljana, Maribor, Postojna, and Portorož (on the Adriatic Sea). Railroads linking Yugoslavia with Italy and Austria cross Slovenia, as does the Gorizia-Lju-bljana-Zagreb-Belgrade highway.


Cultural development and public health. In 1971, 97.5 percent of Slovenia’s population was literate. The school system is based on eight-year schools, which had an enrollment of more than 216,000 in the 1973–74 academic year. A complete secondary education is provided by Gymnasiums. More than 15,000 students attended 36 Gymnasiums in 1973-74. There are also schools for training skilled workers, as well as agricultural, technical, and other special schools; in the 1973-74 academic year they had an enrollment of more than 95,000 students. In the 1974-75 academic year, more than 26,000 students were studying in 26 higher educational institutions. Founded in 1595, the University of Ljubljana was reorganized and reopened in 1919.

The majority of Slovenia’s scientific organizations are located in Ljubljana, including its highest scientific institution, the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts. Founded as a scientific society in 1921, organized as an academy in 1938, and reorganized in 1945, the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts comprises five divisions and more than ten research institutes, including institutes of history, language, and biology, the B. KidriC Chemistry Institute, and an institute for the study of the Postojna caves. Research is also conducted at the Geological Institute, founded in 1946; the Institute for the Preservation of Historical Monuments and Nature Conservation, founded in 1913 and reestablished in 1945; and the Institute of the History of the Workers’ Movement, established in 1959. The leading learned and cultural-educational societies are the Association of Mathematicians, Physicists, and Astronomers (1949), the Slovenian Historical Society (1839), and the Matica Slovenska (Slovenian Society, 1864). Several research institutions are affiliated with the University of Ljubljana, notably the J. Stefan Institute of Nuclear Energy under federal jurisdiction since 1947. In 1974, Slovenia had 168 public libraries, 295 scientific and special libraries, and 94 museums.

Three daily newspapers and more than 20 weeklies, magazines, and other periodicals are published in Slovenia. Slovene publishing houses issue about 1,200 books and pamphlets a year. The main press organ is the daily Delo, published in Ljubljana since 1959 by the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Slovenia (1975 circulation, 94,700).

National radio and television broadcasting is supplemented by 12 local radio stations. Radio broadcasting was initiated in Ljubljana in 1928 and television broadcasting in 1958.

In 1972 medical services were provided by 31 hospitals, with 14,400 beds, more than 1,500 outpatient polyclinics, 1,400 physicians, and more than 2,000 dentists. There are mountain climatic resorts at Bled, Bohinj, and Kranjska Gora and seaside resorts at Portorož, Piran, and Izola.

Literature. A rich Slovene folklore tradition existed prior to the appearance of written literature in the tenth century. The oldest Slovene written works are the Brižinski fragments of religious writing. The germanization of the country that began in the eighth century hindered the development of the Slovene literary language, which was replaced by Latin and German before the Reformation. P. Trubar (1508–86), a Protestant priest, developed a Slovene alphabet and published religious literature in Slovene.

In the 18th century, under the influence of the Enlightenment, secular works appeared (M. Pohlin). The national revival at the turn of the 19th century stimulated literary development. The plays of A. T. Linhart (1756–95) are noteworthy for their democratic orientation and the poems of V. Vodnik (1758–1819) for their patriotism. Romanticism became the dominant trend in the 1820’s. Interest in folklore grew, and the literary language was perfected. The collection Poetry (1847) by F. Prešeren (1800–49) was a major contribution to Slovene and European literature.

The shaping of realism in the 1860’s coincided with the development of prose and literary criticism. The distance between literature and the life of the common people was bridged by F. Levstik (1831–87), best-known for his novella Martin Krpan of Verkh (1858). J. Jurčič (1844–81), the father of the Slovene historical novel, gained fame with his novel The Tenth Brother (1866–67). In the novels Cyclamen (1883) and Country Scenes (1882–91) J. Kersnik (1852-97) attempted to give greater psychological depth to characterization. Realistic tendencies appeared in the poetry of the Romantics S. Jenko (1835–69) and S. Gregorčič (1844–1906). The struggle against social and spiritual oppression infused the poems of the realist poet A. Aškerc (1856-1912), who introduced into poetry the image of the proletarian. Among his finest works are the collections Old Truth (1888) and From the Songbook of an Unknown Poor Man (1896). Aškerc also helped popularize Russian literature in Slovenia.

Two new trends emerged at the turn of the century: naturalism, whose leading exponents were F. Govekar (1871–1949) and A. Kraigher (1877–1959), and Slovene modernism, a blend of realism and impressionist and symbolist poetics that was championed by I. Cankar (1876-1918), O. Župančič (1878-1949), D. Kette (1876-99), and J. Murn-Aleksandrov (1879–1901). The foundations of proletarian literature were laid by Cankar’s novels For the Nation’s Good (1901), The King of Betajnova (1902), On the Street of the Poor (1902), and The Farmhand Jernej and His Rights (1907). Slovene poetry of the early 20th century reached its zenith in Župančič’s lyric poetry, published in the collections Across the Plateau (1904) and Monologues (1908). An outstanding prose writer of this period was F. Finžgar (1871–1962), best known for his novel Under the Free Sun (1906-07).

Slovenia’s inclusion in the Yugoslav state in 1918 fostered literary development. In the 1920’s a revolutionary current emerged, chiefly in poetry and journalism. Its leading exponents were S. Kosovel (1904–26), M. Klopčič (born 1905), T. Seliškar (born 1900), and B. Kreft (born 1905). Marxist criticism was introduced by V. Martelanc (1905–43). Expressionism, comprising three distinct currents, became the dominant literary movement. The first current, revolutionary expressionism, included strong realistic elements. The second, anarchistic “cosmism,” was represented by A. Podbevšek (born 1898) and M. Jarc (1900–42) and the third, Catholic, current by A. Vodnik (1901-65), E. Kocbek (born 1904), and I. Pregelj (1883-1960). Realism continued to flourish in the prose of F. Bevk (1890–1970; Heavenly Signs, 1927-29), J. Kozak (1892-1964; Šentpeter, 1924–26), and Finžgar. A number of poets, among them Župančič, F. Albreht (1889-1964), A. Gradnik (1882–1967), and I. Gruden (1893-1948), remained faithful to the traditions of Slovene modernism.

The consolidation of progressive forces in the struggle against the monarchist fascist dictatorship in the early 1930’s stimulated a resurgence of realism. Communists played a prominent role in the literary magazines. The Marxist critics B. Ziherl (1910–76), I. Brnčič (1912–43), and Kreft exposed the harmfulness of the decadent currents and showed the superiority of the realistic method. Realistic prose dealt more extensively and sharply with social and political problems. Documentary genres such as essays became important (J. Kozak, Kreft). Social and psychological plays were written by F. Kozak (1894–1957), Kreft, and Brnčič and historical plays by Kreft, whose Counts of Celje was staged in 1932 (published 1955). A “new,” or “social” realism with a revolutionary bent was developed by Prežihov Voranc (1893-1950), whose best works include Self-made (1940), Doberdob (1929, published 1940), and Požganica (1939), by M. Kranjec (born 1908), noted for his Axis of Life (1935), and by C. Kosmač (born 1910), A. Ingolič (born 1907), and I. Potrč (born 1913).

During the fascist occupation most Slovene writers took part in the national liberation struggle, and many were imprisoned in fascist concentration camps. The leading genre was poetry, chiefly patriotic lyrics, written by župančič, M. Bor (born 1913), and K. Destovnik-Kajuh (1922–44). A number of major works of the 1940’s and early 1950’s depicted the people’s wartime heroism and the construction of a socialist society, notably the lyrics of I. Minatti (born 1924), and C. Vipotnik (1914–72), the prose of Kranjc, Kosmač, and J. Kozak, and the prose and plays of Potrč. In the mid-1950’s modernist currents arose. The conflict between the individual and society, treated from an existentialist perspective, is a persistent theme in the work of the prose writers V. Kavčič (born 1932), P. Zidar (born 1932), and S. Vuga (born 1930), the poets D. Zajc (born 1929), G. Strniša (born 1930), and T. Salamun (born 1941), and the playwrights D. Smole (born 1929) and P. Božic (born 1932).

Contemporary Slovene realism is distinguished by depth of psychological analysis, complexity of composition, and a plurality of ideological positions. A critical approach to the negative phenomena of life is combined with an affirmation of humanist ideals in the prose of Kranjc and M. Mihelič (born 1912) and the poetry of J. Menart (born 1929), the author of Semaphores of Youth (1963). The ethical legacy of the liberation struggle is a moral ideal and criterion for evaluating life for many realists, notably B. Župančič (born 1925), best-known for his novel Funeral Repast (1957), Potrč, noted for his novel Meeting (1962), K. Grabeljšek (born 1906), the author of Pain (1972), and the poet L. Krakar (born 1926). The 1970’s saw a revival of realist criticism, whose leading exponent is J. Vidmar (born 1895).


Architecture and art. Paleolithic schematic bone figurines have been found in Slovenia. The Neolithic (fourth and third millennia B.C.) is represented by aboveground structures, including pile dwellings, and vessels with engraved geometric designs. During the Bronze Age, which lasted from the late third to the early first millennium B.C., Slovenia was inhabited by Illy-rian and Veneti tribes, who surrounded their settlements with ramparts and ditches. Their necropolises, located near settlements, have yielded small bronze statues resembling Etruscan figurines, as well as weapons, ornaments, and situlae on which religious and domestic scenes have been carved in relief. Celtic settlements, among them Celeia (Celje), appeared in the latter half of the first millennium B.C. Between the first century B.C. and the fourth century A.D., the Romans founded Emona (modern Ljubljana), Poetovio (Ptuj), and other fortified cities, in which they erected temples, aqueducts, and statues. Artistic objects made by Goths, by Lombards, and by the Slavs who settled Slovenia in the sixth and seventh centuries date from the era of the migration of peoples (fourth to seventh centuries). Silver rings, fibulae, earrings, and bracelets with engraved, embossed, or enameled geometric and zoomorphic designs have been found in Slavic necropolises in the ninth to 12th centuries.

With the adoption of Catholicism in the eighth century the first stone churches were built. The Romanesque style, which flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries, is best exemplified in the three-aisled basilicas at the monasteries of Stična (1136–56) and Kostanjevica (begun in 1234), the single-aisled church at Jurkološter (1227), and the rotunda baptistery at Koper (13th century). The capitals of such buildings were decorated with carvings, and the tympana of their recessed portals were adorned with reliefs. Feudal lords built donjons and small castles containing a palace and chapel. The urban centers that developed on the site of classical cities, notably Ljubljana, Ptuj, and Celje, preserved their regular layout.

During the Gothic period, which lasted from the 13th to the 16th century, cities grew rapidly and were enclosed by stone walls with towers and gates. The typical town house in central Slovenia was a two-story building with a narrow facade. Under Venetian influence, the cities along the Adriatic (Koper, Piran) acquired three-story palaces with grand halls and bipartite or tripartite lancet windows. Three-aisled Gothic hall churches such as the presbytery of St. Mary’s Church in Crngrob (1521-24, architect Jurko Streit) were built throughout Slovenia, as were two-aisled churches and plain single-aisled churches with flat ceilings. Their massive smooth walls, reinforced by buttresses, were pierced by high windows. Multi-tiered towers such as those in Martjanci (c. 1392) and Solčava (1461-85) were built, and the stellar and latticed vaults of churches were adorned with painted designs, as exemplified by the church in St. Rupert (c. 1482-97).

In addition to tympanum reliefs and carved consoles and keystones, there appeared altar statues and reliefs and wood sculpture. The finest example of medieval wood sculpture in Slovenia is the statue of St. Mary in the church at Solčava, carved in the third quarter of the 14th century. Under Italian influence, the flat linear style of painting that flourished in the first half of the 14th century (the churches at Turnišče and at Sveti Janez on Lake Bohinj) was replaced by a more three-dimensional representation having a naive lifelike immediacy (the paintings at Martjanci, executed in 1392 by Johannes Aquila). The wall paintings by Janez of Ljubljana at Visoko (1443) and Muljava (1456) are notable for their lyricism, their interest in the common people, and their attention to everyday detail and the landscape. Gospel events were frequently depicted as scenes from peasant life, as may be seen from the paintings in Crngrob, executed in 1453 by Master Bolfgangus. The choirs of rural churches were completely covered with colorful painted designs and naïvely expressive painted figures (the 15th-century paintings in the church at Suha, near Škofja Loka).

The first signs of regular town planning date from the 16th century, when castles, urban houses, and turreted town halls (večnici) acquired Renaissance balconies, bay windows, loggias, arcades, and portals adorned with the classical orders. Outstanding examples of the Renaissance style include the portal of the Maribor town hall (1565) and the Nova Grofija Palace in Celje (1580). Renaissance features also appeared in carved altars and relief epitaphs. The wall paintings in the churches at Križna Gora (1502) and at Sveti Primož nad Kamnikom (1504 and c. 1520) are noteworthy for their grandeur, narrative interest, inclusion of details from daily life, individualized figures, and use of perspective. Portraiture appeared, as well as secular decorative painting reflecting the influence of Venetian art (the plafond of Nova Grofija Palace in Celje, c. 1600).

The baroque style was introduced in the 17th century and reached its zenith in the 18th century. Single-aisled baroque churches with side chapels and a dome include the Church of St. James (1613-15) and the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (1700-07) in Ljubljana. Octagonal churches (Smarna Gora, 1711–12, architect G. Maček) and elliptical churches (Poljana, 1720, architect G. Maček) were built, as well as churches with concave facades and towers (Gornji Grad, 1757-63, architect M. Persky). Churches, palaces (Šveiger Palace in Ljubljana, c. 1755), and town halls (Ljubljana, 1717-18, architect G. Maček) were decorated with statues, stuccowork, and paintings. Among outstanding baroque sculptural works are the dynamic marble compositions of F. Robba (Fountain of the Carniolan Rivers, Ljubljana, 1751) and ornate wooden “golden altars.” Baroque painting is best represented by the striking frescoes and altar paintings of F. Jelovšek, V. Metzinger, and F. Bergant, who was noted for painting highly individualized portraits and genre pictures. Slovene craftsmen excelled in met-alwork (lattices and gates), woodwork (pulpits, confessionals, furniture), and ceramics (tiles, majolica).

The classical style of the late 18th and first half of the 19th centuries was adopted in the reconstruction of Ljubljana’s squares and in the building of modest informal urban and country residences in the second quarter of the 19th century. Both classicist and romantic elements are intertwined in F. Kavčič’s genre drawings, L. Janša’s landscapes, M. Langus’ portraits, and J. Tominc’s genre portraits in the Biedermeier style. In the latter half of the 19th century various historical styles influenced the design of public buildings, and in the early 20th century art nouveau was popularized by the architect M. Fabiani. In the 1920’s and 1930’s J. Plečnik, I. Vurnik, and V. Šubic combined national traditions, local materials, and folk ornamentation with a growing sense of functional design and simplicity of form. Ljubljana and other cities were partially reconstructed, although dilapidated buildings and slums remained.

In 19th-century Slovene art, progressive tendencies were associated with the patriotic monuments of the sculptors A. Gangl and I. Zajec, the poetic landscapes of A. Karinger, the intimate genre pictures and portraits of the brothers Janez and Jurij Šubic, and the realistic plein air works of the famous teacher A. Ažbe. In the early 20th century, Ažbe’s students I. Grohar, M. Sternen, M. Jama, and R. Jakopič, known as the Sava group, painted in a light, impressionist manner national landscapes showing peasants at work. In their quest for a national art, H. Smrekar, M. Gaspari, and I. Vavpotič (the Vesna group) turned to folklore, symbolism, and stylization.

From around 1920 a dramatic intensity and a critical attitude toward society were reflected in the paintings and graphic art of F. Tratnik, V. Pilon, and the brothers F. Kralj and T. Kralj. Several versatile masters of realistic painting and graphic art emerged in the 1920’s and 1930’s, among them G. A. Kos, B. Jakac, and F. Mihelič. The outstanding sculptors of this period were F. Berneker, L. Dolinar, and the brothers B. Kalin and Z. Kalin. During the national liberation struggle (1941–45) Jakac and Mihelič were among those who produced political caricatures and graphic works depicting the partisan struggle.

After 1945 new cities with a more informal and distinctive layout were constructed, such as Velenje, built in the late 1940’s and 1950’s according to a plan developed by the architect J. Trenz. Industrial districts, residential complexes, arrays of public buildings—hospitals, schools, and kindergartens—were also built. Ljubljana, the seaside resorts of Koper and Piran, and other cities were modernized. In these public buildings and apartment houses (both long low buildings and skyscrapers) severe, simple, compact forms and functional designs coexist with plasticity and an interest in national artistic traditions. Building materials include prefabricated and monolithic reinforced concrete, local stone, brick, wood, and plastics. Sculpture, mosaics, and frescoes are used in decoration. Among the best examples of contemporary architecture in Ljubljana are the Križanke district (1956, architect J. Plečnik), the Tivoli Sports Hall (1965, architect M. Božič), and the Farantovo Pole district (1966–68, architect E. Ravnikar).

Despite the spread of formal experimentation, whose leading exponents are the sculptors J. Savinšek and S. Tiherc and the painter J. Bernik, art devoted to the revolutionary and national liberation struggle and to the life of the people continues to predominate, championed by the sculptors L. Dolinar, the brothers B. Kalin and Z. Kalin, F. Smerdu, K. Putrih, and D. Tršar and the painters G. A. Kos, B. Jakac and S. Pengov. G. Stupica is noted for his intensely expressive portraits and F. Mihelič for the fairy-tale quality of his works. Also outstanding are the mosaics of M. Pregelj and the stained-glass windows of S. Kregar.

In the maritime regions traditional houses are built of stone and roofed with tile and slate, and in the eastern and alpine regions they are made of wood or pisé and roofed with thatch or shingles. In the northern regions entrance galleries are often decorated with carving. The most popular folk handicrafts are the making of glazed yellow and green ceramics, gold and silver needlework, embroidery and appliqué on leather, wood carving, and glass painting.

Music. Slovene folk music includes lyric, humorous, and wedding songs and old ballads. Polyphonic singing is prevalent in the alpine, maritime, and eastern regions; in the southeast Christmas and New Year’s songs, called koledy, are generally sung in unison. Slovene folk music is diatonic and for the most part in a major key. Variable meter and complex rhythm are characteristic of folk melodies.

Professional music arose in the 15th century, when the first church choirs, singing schools, and guilds of city trumpeters were founded. The first important composers were B. Pras-pergius, J. Slatkonja, the founder of the Vienna court choir, and J. Gallus Carniolus, who composed religious and secular choral polyphonic music. All three composers worked for the most part outside Slovenia, and their work reflected the influence of the religious drama with musical interludes that had been introduced by the Jesuits and of Protestant church singing. The 17th-century organists and composers G. Plavec (Plautz), J. B. Dolar, and I. Poš (Posch) wrote vocal and instrumental pieces in which the influence of Italian operatic music is discernible (Italian operas were performed in Ljubljana from 1660).

Music composition was stimulated by the founding in Ljubljana of the Philharmonic Academy in 1701, the Estates Theater in 1765, the Philharmonic Society in 1794 (where instrumental and singing classes were organized in 1816 and later became the basis for a music school), and music classes at the pedagogical school in 1815. The leading composers between the late 17th and early 19th centuries were J. J. Hočevar, M. Čadež (both of whom wrote music for Catholic plays), J. B. Höffer, M. Omerza (oratorios), J. Zupan (who wrote Belin, the first opera in the Slovene language, in 1780 or 1782), J. Novak (who in 1790 wrote the music for A. T. Linhart’s comedy Happy Day, or Matiček Weds, based on Beaumarchais’s work), L. Dolinar, and G. Rihar (both of whose works reflect national traits).

In the 19th century, under the influence of the national liberation movement, composers sought to create a national musical tradition. The national elements introduced by M. Vilhar, J. Fleišman, G. Mašek, K. Mašek, and B. Potočnik, all of whom wrote mass patriotic songs in the mid-19th century, were reinforced in the works of the romantic composers B. Ipavec and D. Jenko, who composed the first art songs and choral works to Slovene texts. The development of national music was promoted by the Glasbena Matica, a society of Slovene musicians founded in Ljubljana in 1872. The society published the works of Slovene composers, founded a music school in 1882 and a chorus in 1891, and organized a symphony orchestra, the Slovene Philharmonic Society, which existed from 1908 to 1913. National operas and operettas were staged at the Slovene Theater from 1892. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries F. Ger-bič and A. Foerster wrote operatic and orchestral music; Foer-ster’s most popular opera was The Gorenjski Nightingale.

An important role in the development of early 20th-century music was played by the magazine Novi akordi (1901-14), around which many composers rallied, among them G. Krek, E. Adamič, R. Savin, noted for his operas Beautiful Vida and Matija Gubec, and A. Lajovic, whose major works include the symphonic poem Autumn Song and the choral work Psalm. After the formation of Yugoslavia, several new musical organizations and schools were founded and old ones were reorganized. The Ljubljana School of Music was reconstituted as the Conservatory in 1919, as the State Conservatory in 1924, and as the Academy of Music in 1939. An institute of music history was established in Ljubljana in 1934, and a philharmonic society functioned there from 1936 to 1941. S. Osterc founded the contemporary national school of composers. Among the leading composers of the 1920’s and 1930’s were V. Mirk, M. Kozina, and M. Kogoj, best known for his opera Black Masks, based on L. N. Andreev’s work. The composers B. Arnič and M. Bravničar came to prominence in the late 1930’s and 1940’s.

Musical life continues to flourish in people’s Yugoslavia. The Slovene Philharmonic Society, comprising a symphony orchestra and chorus, was founded in 1947. A chorus and orchestra for light music were established under Ljubljana Radio and Television and the Institute of Musicology was organized at the University of Ljubljana. The music magazine Slovenska glasbena revija is published. Musical groups have been organized in Maribor, Osijek, and other cities. Prominent musicians include the composers D. Švara, P. Ramovš, and I. Petrič, the musicologists D. Cvetko, A. Rijavec, and F. Marolt, the conductors B. Leskovic, S. Hubad, Z. Ciglič, and D. Žebre, the pianists and composers M. Lipovšek and P. Šivic, the violinist I. Ozim, and the singers R. Francl, L. Korošec, and V. Bukovec.


Theater. The first theatrical performances in Slovenia, school drama and mystery plays in German and Latin, were given in the 17th century. From 1721 mystery plays written in the Slovene language by the monk Romuald (L. Marušič) were performed in Škofja Loka. A secular theater emerged in the first half of the 17th century, when itinerant German and Italian companies staged comedies and historical plays in the palaces of prominent townsmen and in public squares. Founded in Ljubljana in 1765, the Estates Theater staged German-language productions of plays by A. Iffland, A. von Kotzebue, and from the early 19th century Schiller and Shakespeare. The theater also presented historical dramas written in German by Slovene writers, such as B. Zupančič’s Tetra. In 1789 amateur Slovene actors at the Estates Theater performed the first Slovene play, Micka, Daughter of the Župan by A. T. Linhart, based on a German play by J. Richter. Linhart’s comedy, Happy Day, or Matiček Weds, based on Beaumarchais’s The Marriage of Figaro, was circulated in manuscript form but was not staged owing to the censorship.

After the Revolution of 1848–49, numerous amateur groups were formed under the auspices of Slovene reading rooms in Ljubljana and other cities. Their repertoire included Linhart’s plays and adaptations of contemporary German and Czech plays. In 1867 the writer F. Levstik founded the Theatrical Society in Ljubljana, which gave performances in the Estates Theater and later also in the city’s reading room. Its repertoire included comedies of manners by the Slovene authors F. Celestin, J. Kersnik, and J. Alešovec. The Theatrical Society also founded a drama school and published plays in the series Slovenska Talija. The Slovene Theater was opened in Ljubljana in 1892. The acting style of the first outstanding professional actors—I. Borštnik, Z. Borštnik-Zvonarjeva, J. Nolli, A. Danilo-Cerar, and A. Verovšek—blended romantic and realistic tendencies. The first prominent directors were I. Borštnik and R. Inemann.

Native dramaturgy was of great importance for the further development of the Slovene theater. Historical tragedies and realistic plays were written by Levstik, J. Jurčič, and J. Stritar and naturalistic plays by Z. Kveder and E. Kristan, who in the play Loyalty (1897) introduced the theme of the working class’ struggle for its rights. I. Cankar’s plays The King of Betajnovi, For the Nation’s Good, and Hired Hands were noteworthy for their condemnation of social injustice, their antibourgeois outlook, and their high artistic merit.

In the interwar period the Slovene National Theater was reestablished, a theater was founded in Maribor, and the art of directing developed. The director B. Gavella, who worked at the Slovene National Theater from 1931 to 1934, made a major contribution to the Slovene theater with his outstanding productions of the plays of M. Krleža, Shakespeare, and Molière. The directors B. Kreft, S. Jan, O. Šest, C. Debevec, and later B. Stupica also worked at the theater, where memorable performances were given by H. Nučič, I. Levar, M. Vera, M. Skrbinšek, M. Nablocka, and M. Danilova. During World War II, groups of professional actors performed before partisan detachments, and the playwright M. Bor wrote plays about the Communist members of the underground.

After the country’s liberation from the fascists in 1945, the theaters in Ljubljana and Maribor resumed their work. Several new theaters were established, including the Municipal Theater in Ljubljana. In the immediate postwar years the Slovene National Theater’s company included the directors Gavella, B. Stupica, and F. Delak and the performers Savka Sever, Stane Sever, V. Skrbinšek, and V. Juvanova. The drama company of the Slovene National Theater toured the USSR in 1969. In the mid-1970’s the company included the directors B. Kreft, M. Korun, and Ž. Petan and the actors S. Drolčeva, D. Počka-jeva, M. Potokarjeva, B. Kralj, B. Sotlar, and J. Souček. The theater stages Slovene and foreign classics, plays by the contemporary Slovene playwrights B. Kreft, I. Potrč, and M. Bor, and the plays of A. P. Chekhov and M. Gorky. In 1974 the Soviet director A. A. Goncharov staged Naidenov’s Vaniushin’s Children at this theater. In Ljubljana are the Academy of Theatrical Art, founded in 1945, and the Slovene Theatrical Museum, which since 1965 has published the Documents of the Slovene Theatrical Museum.



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Official name: Republic of Slovenia

Capital city: Ljubljana

Internet country code: .si

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of white (top), blue, and red, with the Slovenian seal (a shield with the image of Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak, in white against a blue background at the center; beneath it are two wavy blue lines depicting seas and rivers, and above it are three six-pointed stars arranged in an inverted trian­gle, which are taken from the coat of arms of the Counts of Celje, the great Slovene dynastic house of the late 14th and early 15th centuries); the seal is in the upper hoist side of the flag centered in the white and blue bands

National anthem: the seventh stanza of France Preseren’s poem “Zdravljica” (A Toast), music by Stanko Premrl

Geographical description: Central Europe, eastern Alps bordering the Adriatic Sea, between Austria and Croatia

Total area: 7,906 sq. mi. (20,273 sq. km.)

Climate: Mediterranean climate on the coast, continental climate with mild to hot summers and cold winters in the plateaus and valleys to the east

Nationality: noun: Slovene(s); adjective: Slovenian

Population: 2,009,245 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Slovene 83.1%, Serb 2%, Croat 1.8%, Bosni­ak 1.1%, other (including Hungarian, Montenegrin, Mace­donian, Albanian, Italian, Roma) or unspecified 12%

Languages spoken: Slovenian (official) 91.1%, Serbo-Croat­ian 4.5%, other or unspecified 4.4%; Hungarian and Ital­ian are spoken in the border regions, and German fluency is common near the Austrian border. Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian are spoken by a sizable (6% of the popula­tion) minority. English is widely understood by business people and students.

Religions: Roman Catholic 57.8%, Muslim 2.4%, Orthodox 2.3%, other Christian 0.9%, unaffiliated 3.5%, other or unspecified 23%, none 10.1%

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Assumption DayAug 15
Christmas DayDec 25
Day of Uprising against Nazi OccupationApr 27
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Independence DayDec 26
National DayJun 25
New Year's holidayJan 1
Preseren DayFeb 8
Reformation DayOct 31
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in S central Europe: settled by the Slovenes in the 6th century; joined Yugoslavia in 1918 and became an autonomous republic in 1946; became fully independent in 1992 and joined the EU in 2004; rises over 2800 m (9000 ft.) in the Julian Alps. Official language: Slovene. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: tolar. Capital: Ljubljana. Pop.: 1 982 000 (2004 est.). Area: 20 251 sq. km (7819 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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