Geography and Population
Republika Slovenija is a Central European country, with Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the north-east, Croatia to the south and opened to the rest of the world by the Adriatic Sea.
Slovenia has two million inhabitants, with 102 inhabitants per square kilometre. Around half of the population lives in urban areas. Ljubljana, the capital, is the largest city with approximately 280,000 inhabitants. Slovene is the official language, but Hungarian and Italian are co-official languages for those minority communities.
Slovenia’s flag: In the shield the white represents Mount Triglav, the blue lines the Adriatic sea and local rivers, and the golden stars come from the coat-of-arms of the Counts of Celje, a Slovenian dynastic house from late 14th century.
Slovenia is the third most forested country in Europe. The natural forest is only 60 km from the capital. Wild animals, like deer, bears, squirrels, edible dormouse, are seen in the edges of forests located close to the towns. Many rare and endangered species of animals, such as wolves, lynx, wildcats, wild grouse and pheasants also live in the forests, while on the mountains we may encounter ibex; all of these animals are protected species.
Lipizzaners are thoroughbred horses bred since 1580 in Lipica in the Slovenian karst region of what was then the Hapsburg Monarchy. Slovenian Lipizzaners are represented on the 20c Euro coin. The Kranj bee is a native species of bee of which Slovenia is proud. Each decorated panel conceals a separate hive. Slovene rivers, lakes and seas are rich in fish; its fresh waters harbor also many freshwater crabs. The karst underworld furnishes a home to the world famous “human fish”, (proteus anguinus or white salamander).
The territory of modern Slovenia lies at the heart of Europe, at the meeting point of three European groups: the Germanic, the Slav and the Roman. It was already inhabited by 2500 BC, as can be demonstrated by finds from prehistoric times.
In the Hallstatt cultural era (8th to 6th centuries BC) Illyrians tribes lived here and in the 3rd century BC so did the Indo-European Celts.
Carantania and Carniola were ruled by Slavic tribal princes of 623 to 820 A.D., then annexed by the Frankish king, Charlemagne.
In the 13th century the Hapsburg (Austro-Hungarian) dynasty started to govern Slovene territories; they governed Slovenia until the end of the First World War in 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated. The 15th and 16th centuries were characterized by Turkish attacks, which caused considerable upheavals in rural agricultural areas.
The 1st First World War imposed many losses. Under the Entente Cordiale between the wars, Slovene regions were divided between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Italy.
A resistance movement led by the Liberation Front of the Slovene Nation and its military wing known as Partisans, very quickly appeared and fight the occupiers (Italy, Germany, Hungary).
After World War II, Slovenia was one of the six federal states of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (FPRY), which in 1963 changed its name to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and entered history as a non-aligned state under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito.
In 1991 Slovenia declared itself an independent multi-party Republic, which led to a nine-day war with members of the Yugoslav army. Slovenia successfully defended itself. By 1992, the SFRY had collapsed during the Yugoslav wars and Slovenia was recognized as a new country by the United Nations.
Today, Slovenia is a democratic parliamentary republic, the government is led by the Prime Minister, assisted by other ministers; the electoral system is proportional representation. The President is elected every five years.
Since its independence in 1991, Slovenia has continued to be the wealthiest and most politically open country of the former Yugoslav republics. Its principal trading partners are Germany, Italy, Croatia, Austria and France.
Almost two thirds of the population is employed in the services sector, one third in industry and construction. Main industries are the production of motor vehicles, electric and electronic equipment, wood products, medicaments and commodity production.
The majority of farms in Slovenia are small family holdings using extensive farming methods. Most important is milk production. Farms have developed a range of additional activities, such as homemade produce, to improve their incomes. Farms also contribute to conserving biodiversity, natural assets and typical cultural sites.
By law, all should have access to education. It is free at all levels above kindergarten. Primary school attendance has been compulsory since the 18th century (Maria-Theresa’s reform) and this applies to all children between 6 and 15 years. You can then choose between general, vocational, technical-vocational and specialized educational institutions. Women have the same access to education as men.
Social welfare provides access to health services, social assistance, and education to people in need.
The State offers free screening for early detection of cancer for certain age groups, and special care to the elderly and to those with physical and mental developmental needs. As in many other countries, drug abuse is a problem, the most important drug being alcohol.
Contraceptives and gynaecological health care are free of charge under the obligatory health insurance.
Slovenia has long seen different cults and religions introduced by different peoples and cultures. Even though the Lutheran Reformation of the 16th century was hit by the Counter Reformation, the most singular contribution of the Reformation is at the core of the Slovene identity – the first books and the Sacred Scriptures were written in the Slovene language by Primož Trubar and Jurij Dalmatin.
Under the Communist government after World War II, religious convictions were considered undesirable. Imprisonment and persecution restricted access to jobs; and discrimination was experienced by believers. Following the independence of Slovenia in 1991, the religious institutions regained their social role, although culturally some prejudices still remain.
The four strongest religious groups in Slovenia are Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Islamic and Lutheran.
Women make up 50% of the population of Slovenia, as they have a slightly longer life-span than men. Female employment level is close to 65%, which is 8% lower than for men. More than 92% of working women work full time.
Working women have the right to take maternity leave from a month before the birth until the child’s first birthday, during which time they receive a maternity payment equal to their wage/salary.
In families and partnerships in which both parents work, care for house and children is usually shared between them, helped by the grandparents. Although still mothers on average carry a much heavier burden of domestic tasks than men.
A typical Slovene Sunday lunch would consist of beef broth with dumplings, roast chicken, potatoes and green salad. For feast days a variety of cakes would be baked; most characteristic of these being walnut potica. For picnics a grilled sausage-shaped meat patty (čevapčiči), which was adopted from the cuisine of the former Yugoslavia. Slovenia produces red (Teran) and white wines, one specialty being cviček.
World Day of Prayer in Slovenia
The first Slovenian World Day of Prayer service was held in Rogaska Slatina in 2000. It was organized by Mrs. Ljudmila Schmidt Šemerl from Switzerland, who encouraged other communities, including Velike Lašče, to join the WDP.
In autumn of 2001, Pastor. Corinna Harbig, WDP liaison for Slovenia, brought together the organizers from Rogaska Slatina, Murska Sobota, Maribor. They established the practice of joint preparation and central translation of the worship service and resource materials.
Today the WDP is celebrated in 6 locations in Slovenia, involving around 100 collaborators and attended by around 500 persons. The WDP women are mainly from Catholic, Lutheran, Pentecostal, and Evangelical churches.
The Writer Country Workshop was held in 2016, and the writing groups were formed to develop the materials for the 2019 program.
WDP Slovenia focus is on promoting the movement, organising new groups for children’s service and increasing the participation of young women.