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Slovenia - Ljubljana

member region: Ljubljana
  • Area: 20,273 km2
  • Length of borders: 1,382 km; with Austria: 330 km; with Italy: 280 km; with Hungary: 102 km; with Croatia: 670 km
  • Length of coastline: 46.6 km
  • Population: 1,964,036 (2002 census)
  • Population density: 96.9 inh. per km2
  • Nationalities (2002 census): Slovenian 1,631,363; Italian 2,258; Hungarian 6,243; others: 324,172
  • Language: Slovenian; in nationally mixed areas also Italian and Hungarian
    (Source: Statistical Office of the RS)
The land and its location
Between the Alps, the Adriatic and the Pannonian Plain

Slovenia covers 20,273 square kilometres stretching between the Alps, the Adriatic and the Pannonian Plain. In spite of its geographically small size, it is a convergence point of a range of different landscapes: Alpine and Mediterranean, Pannonian and
Dinaric, each of which has its own characteristics and unique features.
At the heart of Europe, between 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 one of the most important Central European gateways to the world. The still developing railway links, which from 1857 connected Vienna and Trieste, now link the Danube region in these two ethnically mixed areas. Approximately 34% of the population live in towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants, whilst the rest live in nearly six thousand smaller towns and villages.

The capital, Ljubljana, is the largest city as well as the political, administrative, economic, educational and cultural centre of Slovenia. Ljubljana’s history goes back several thousand years. Archaeological findings from the Bronze Age are proof that as early as 2000 BC there were pile-dwellings of fishermen and hunters on the lake which once covered the Ljubljana basin. Prior to the Roman colonisation, Roman legionaries erected fortresses alongside the River Ljubljanica, which subsequently grew into the walled Roman settlement of Julia Emona. The city, with its castle originating in the 12th century and its old city centre, also boasts a rich medieval heritage, as well as numerous Renaissance, Baroque and Secessionist buildings. The works of the architect Joze Plecnik, who gave the city a new image in the modernist, neo-classical and Secessionist style, are particularly well known; he designed bridges spanning the River Ljubljanica, the main food market, Tivoli Park, the National and
University Library, Zale Cemetery and the sports stadium. There are numerous museums, galleries, theatres and other cultural establishments in Ljubljana. The city also stages many performances of international importance.

Other Slovenian towns also have a rich history and a lively pulse: from Maribor, with the oldest vine in the world; to Celje, from where the only Slovenian counts ruled in the 15th century; from Ptuj, the oldest Slovenian town; to Nova Gorica, which was built after the Second World War; from sunny Koper, the most important sea port; to Murska Sobota in the Prekmurje region.

The language and its meaning 
The preserved dual form and an exceptional diversity of dialects

The Slovenian language has played a special role throughout Slovenian history and it is still considered one of the foundations of national identity. Slovenian is a South Slavonic language, spoken by only two million people. In spite of various, in particular
Germanic influences, it has preserved its special features. The most notable of them is the dual form, the grammatical number used for two people or things in all the inflected parts of speech. In the past, a number of languages had a dual form, but nowadays it is very rare. 

The development of the Slovenian language and its public use have been linked to the religious sphere of life. According to some classifications, there are 36 separate dialects in Slovenia. Slovenian is now taught at a number of universities abroad. 

Freedom of belief
Between Catholicism and Evangelism

Like the guaranteed right of the preservation of national identity, all the people of Slovenia have a right to their own religious beliefs. As the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia states that no-one is obliged to declare their religious or other beliefs, there are no exact figures on numbers within various religious groups. But according to public surveys, most Slovenes are Catholic (around 60 %) and the Roman Catholic Church is certainly the biggest and most visibly active in public life. Its significance and the regard in which it is held have been confirmed by the two visits made by Pope John Paul II to the country. There are 38 other religious communities, spiritual groups,
societies and associations registered in Slovenia. 

Population and other trends
Fewer marriages and births

Slovenia’s population is slowly declining. Sadly, Slovenia is the country with one of the lowest birth-rates in Europe. Just as in other modern societies, the average number of people per household is decreasing and the number of marriages is also falling, whilst the average age of mothers having their first child is increasing. In 2003, Slovenian women had on average only 1.2 children. But those children who are born have a promising future: the infant mortality rate is among the lowest in Europe and the world. In 2001-2002 life expectancy for men was 72.33 years and 79.87 for women. People living in Slovenia have good education and employment opportunities, and are well educated by all the usual indicators. 

More than 60% of people in Slovenia read at least one book a year, which puts Slovenia near the top of reading ratings in Europe. Museums in Slovenia register approximately 1.5 million visitors a year, approximately a million and a half people visit cinemas every year, whilst nearly half a million go to the theatre. More than a hundred thousand people, mostly the young, take part in amateur cultural activities.

For more information on Slovenia, see: