Slovenia: country overview12 May 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 12 February 2013
Dissatisfied with the exercise of power by the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 after a short 10-day war. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy have assisted in Slovenia's transformation to a modern state. Slovenia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004; it joined the eurozone in 2007.
Year of EU entry: 2004
Member of Schengen area: Yes
Political system: Republic
Capital city: Ljubljana
Total area: 20 273 km²
Population: 2 million
Listen to the official EU language: Slovenian
Previously one of Yugoslavia’s six constituent republics, present-day Slovenia became independent in 1991 as Yugoslavia fell apart. It is bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia.
Four major European geographic regions meet in Slovenia: the Alps, the Dinaric area, the Pannonian plain and the Mediterranean. The country is mountainous, and Slovenes are keen skiers and hikers. The national flag depicts the three-peaked Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain at 2 864 metres.
The country was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The capital, Ljubljana, was founded in Roman times. Its university, with more than 50 000 students, contributes to the city’s busy cultural life. The main industries are car parts, chemicals, electronics, electrical appliances, metal goods, textiles and furniture.Tourist attractions include the famous caves at Postojna, with their decor of stalactites and stalagmites. Graffiti in the caves shows that the first tourists came here in 1213.
Slovenian cuisine is strongly influenced by that of its neighbours. From Austria comes Strudel and Wiener Schnitzel . Italy has contributed risotto and ravioli and Hungary goulash. The potica is a traditional Slovenian cake made by rolling up a layer of dough covered with walnuts.
Among the most famous Slovenes are the physicistJožef Stefan, the linguistFranc Miklošič and the architect Jože Plečnik.
Slovenia became the first 2004 European Union entrant to adopt the euro (on 1 January 2007) and has experienced one of the most stable political and economic transitions in Central and Southeastern Europe. With the highest per capita GDP in Central Europe, Slovenia has excellent infrastructure, a well-educated work force, and a strategic location between the Balkans and Western Europe. Privatization has lagged since 2002, and the economy has one of highest levels of state control in the EU. Structural reforms to improve the business environment have allowed for somewhat greater foreign participation in Slovenia's economy and helped to lower unemployment. In March 2004, Slovenia became the first transition country to graduate from borrower status to donor partner at the World Bank. In 2007, Slovenia was invited to begin the process for joining the OECD; it became a member in 2012. Despite its economic success, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Slovenia has lagged behind the region average, and taxes remain relatively high. Furthermore, the labor market is often seen as inflexible, and legacy industries are losing sales to more competitive firms in China, India, and elsewhere. In 2009, the global recession caused the economy to contract - through falling exports and industrial production - by 8%, and unemployment to rise. Although growth resumed in 2010, it dipped into negative territory in 2012 and the unemployment rate continued to rise, exceeding 12% in 2012.
Source: CIA - The World Factbook and European Commission