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A history of Slovenia

Slovenia History

Slovenia achieved national independence in 1991. Below, we look at the history of the Slovene people from ancient times to the present day.

Early Settlement and Development

Slovenia was first established by early humans more than 250,000 years ago and was originally settled by Illyrian and Celtic peoples, becoming part of the Roman Empire in the first century B.C. In the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, the territory of the present-day Slovenia was occupied by Celtic tribes, which formed the first state called Noricum.

The names of many present places (Bohinj, Tuhinj) date from this time, as well as the names of rivers (the Sava, the Savinja, the Drava). Around 10 BC, Noricum was annexed by the Roman Empire and Roman cities started to emerge, among them Emona (Ljubljana), Celeia (Celje) and Poetovia (Ptuj). Well-constructed trade and military roads ran across Slovenian territory from Italy to Pannonia. Under the Roman Empire, the population became Romanised and Christianity began to assert itself.

In the late 4th century a battle took place in Slovenia which was a direct cause of the partition of the Roman empire into two parts. In the 5th and 6th centuries, the area was exposed to invasions by the Huns and Germanic tribes during their incursions into Italy.

After the departure of the last Germanic tribe - the Langobards - to Italy in 568, Slavs began to dominate the area. In the 6th century, the descendants of the Slovenes known as Slavs migrated from the Carpathians to the present-day territory. Slavs inhabited the area, before later founding the oldest known Slavic state, Carantania, a hundred years later. The oldest Slavic state, ruled from Karnburg near present-day Klagenfurt, was short-lived, and came under the overlordship of the Franks.

During the 7th century, the Slavs established the state of Samu, which owed its allegiance to the Avars, who dominated the Hungarian land until they were defeated by Charlemagne in the late 8th century.

When the Hungarians were defeated by the Turks in 1526, Hungary accepted to be governed by Austrian Hapsburg in order to escape Turkish domination; the Hapsburg monarchy was the first known to include all of the Slovene regions. Hence, Slovenia and Croatia became part of the Austro-Hungarian kingdom when the dual monarchy was established in 1867. As with Croatia and dissimilar to the other Balkan states, it is primarily Roman Catholic.

The 20th Century

After Austria-Hungary was conquered in World War I, Slovenia announced its independence. It united formally with Montenegro, Serbia, and Croatia on Dec. 4, 1918, to form the new nation called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The name was subsequently changed to Yugoslavia in 1929.

The first Slovenian university was established in Ljubljana in 1919, but the next year Slovenia lost significant territory in the north and the west. In 1920 Koroška voted to join Austria in a referendum, while Primorska went to Italy under the Treaty of Rapallo. In 1929 King Alexander I overturned the constitution and proclaimed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In the period of World War II, Germany occupied Yugoslavia, and Slovenia was divided among Germany, Italy, and Hungary. For the duration of the war many Slovenes fought a guerilla war against the Nazis under the leadership of the Croatian-born Communist resistance leader, Marshal Tito.

Following the ultimate defeat of the Axis powers in 1945, Slovenia was once more rendered a republic of the newly established Communist nation of Yugoslavia. The Second World War was a catastrophe for Slovenia, as in terms of loss of life where 5% of the population perished.

A leading role in the liberation battle was conducted by the communists, who after the defeat of the aggressors in 1945 under the leadership of Josip Broz (Tito) who led the struggle against the Axis powers, the People’s Republic was formed which became known as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Slovenia became one of the six Yugoslav republics.

The Post War Years...

Slovenia's Long Journey to Independence

Slovenia was undisputedly the most economically sophisticated of the former Yugoslav republics. Following Tito’s death in 1980, a major economic, political and social crisis emerged. With the increase in opposition between the ethnic groups and the up-rise of nationalist politicians, fragmentation of Yugoslavia within a decade became inevitable.

In terms of global standards, Slovenia is relatively a young country, having found their independence in 1991. Slovenia stirred for greater autonomy and from time to time threatened to withdraw. It interposed a multi-party system and in 1990 elected a non-Communist government.

Slovenia was under foreign government until the 20th century, predominately by the Habsburg monarchy of Austro-Hungary. During this time the Slovenes came forth as a nation and carved their own identity, notwithstanding subjugation and continuous pressure to conform.

After the First World War, Slovenia became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after the Second World War. After being inhabitants of Yugoslavia for more than 70 years, the Slovenes formed a consensus to set about an independent path, virtually 90% of the population voting for independence in the 1990 referendum.

Slovenia was undisputedly the most economically sophisticated of the former Yugoslav republics. Following Tito’s death in 1980, a major economic, political and social crisis emerged. With the increase in opposition between the ethnic groups and the up rise of nationalist politicians, fragmentation of Yugoslavia within a decade became inevitable.

In terms of global standards, Slovenia is relatively a young country, having found their independence in 1991.

Slovenia stirred for greater autonomy and from time to time threatened to withdraw. It interposed a multi-party system and in 1990 elected a non-Communist government. Slovenia asserted it’s independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991. The Serbian-dominated Yugoslavian army tried to intimidate Slovenia which resulted in some brief fighting, but the army then decommissioned its forces. The fight was dissimilar to the ones in Croatia and Bosnia, where there was a protracted conflict and large loss of military and civilian life. Slovenia was able to separate itself from Yugoslavia with comparatively little violence with only a 100 people dying in the struggle.

Slovenia and Integration with the International Community

Having been granted recognition for it’s independence by the European Community in 1992, the country set about adjusting its economy and society towards western Europe. Slovenia went on to join the EU in 2004, and also became a member of NATO.

Slovenia after independence has now become a stable, democratic and prosperous country after a long road to independence – the Slovene people now have their own country and one which instils great national pride.

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