Slovenia

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Slovenia

Slovenia (slōvē´nēə), Slovene Slovenija, officially Republic of Slovenia, republic (2005 est. pop. 2,011,000), 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.

Government

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.

History

In ancient times the region was inhabited by the Illyrian and Celtic tribes. In the 1st cent. BC they fell under the Roman provinces of Pannonia and Noricum. The region was settled in the 6th cent. AD 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 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 has 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 the International Court of Justice, 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 Jansa 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, Jansa'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.

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