Slovenia is one of the youngest European countries, having become an independent state in 1991 after the collapse of the Yugoslav federation. Slovenia became the 176th member of the UN and is a full member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement, a participant in NATO's Partnership for Peace, a founding member of WTO and an associate member of the EU.
Slovenia is distinguished by the varied mosaic of its landscape which stretches between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps. The melting of the Alpine, Pannonian, Dinaric and Mediterranean worlds, each leaving its own mark, creates a unique countryside, which is for the most part green. It is a largely mountainous country, almost half of it covered by forests. Cultivated areas with pastures, fields, vineyards and orchards cover 43 percent of the country. More than one half of the population lives in towns, most of which date from Roman times.
The mountain tops rise to more than 2,500 meters in height (Triglav - 2,864m - is the highest Slovene mountain); the south-eastern part slowly changes into wide plates, usually over 1,000 meters in height, where forms of high karst have developed. Lower mountains are covered by forests. The southern and eastern Alps pass into the pre-alpine world, which is mountainous for the main part, but still characterised by limestone and dolomite peaks.
The "original" Karst (the limestone region of underground rivers, gorges and caves) which gave its name to all karst areas around the world, extends through a wide belt of south and south-west Slovenia, from Ljubljana all the way to the Italian border.
In south-west Slovenia, in the area by the
Adriatic coast, the Mediterranean climate determines both the natural
and cultivated vegetation. With about 50 km of coastline, Slovenia is
also a maritime country. The eastern part of Slovenia gradually
transforms into the Pannonian plain. It is mostly an area of hills,
interrupted by extensive plains of gravel and clay. To the south,
along the Sava and Krka rivers, the countryside is characterised by
green hills with meadows and forests.
The distinctive geographic diversity influences the climate: there
is a mixture of continental, Alpine and Mediterranean climates in
Slovenia. The major part of Slovenia has a continental climate, with
cold winters and warm summers. In the north-east, the Alpine climate
means that summers are comfortably warm, while winters are fairly
cold. The Mediterranean climate runs across the coastal region up to
the Soca Valley: summers are extremely hot, while winters are mild,
unless the very strong north wind - called the burja - is blowing.
The average annual precipitation is 800 mm in the east and goes up to
3,000 mm in the north-west. The average annual temperatures are - 2 C
in January, which is the coldest month, and 21 C in July, which is on
average the warmest month.
Slovenia's Constitution, adopted on 23 December 1991, exactly a year after the plebiscite for an independent state, provides for a parliamentary system of government. The highest legislative authority is the National Assembly (Drzavni zbor) consisting of 90 deputies elected for a term of four years by secret ballot, on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
Italian and Hungarian ethnic minorities are guaranteed two seats in the National Assembly. The National Council (Drzavni svet), which is elected for a five- year term, performs an advisory role. Council members (40) represent regions and interest groups.
The head of state, the President of the Republic (elected for a maximum two five-year terms by direct elections), is also the supreme commander of the armed forces. Executive power is vested in the prime minister and the 18-member cabinet. The government must be approved by the National Assembly.
Judges exercise judicial authority, and their appointment is for life. There are district and circuit courts, the high courts are appeals courts while the supreme court is the highest court in the judicial system.
The first Slovene Ombudsman was elected in September 1994, and he reports to the National Assembly on his work.
The highest statute is the Constitution, which is adopted and amended by the Parliament in a special procedure (a 2/3 majority is needed).
Other legal acts in hierarchical order are: laws passed by the Parliament, decrees issued by the government for implementation of laws, regulations, guidelines and orders issued by ministries for the implementation of laws and government decrees; regulations which local government bodies have passed in order to regulate affairs under their jurisdiction.
The new Constitution significantly strengthened the position of the
The vast majority of the population are Slovenians (87.84% - 1991 census). Italians and Hungarians are considered indigenous minorities with rights protected under the Constitution. Other ethnic groups - which mostly arrived in Slovenia after W.W.II as economic immigrants - identify themselves as Croats, Serbs, Muslims, Yugoslavs, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Albanians.
There are indigenous Slovenian minorities in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Ethnic Slovenes living outside the national borders number between 250,000 to 400,000 (depending on the inclusion of second and other generations), with the vast majority of them living overseas and in the countries of the European Union.
The majority of the religious population is Roman
Catholic, although there are small communities of other Christian
denominations (in particular Protestants in the eastern parts of the
country) and of Muslims and Jews.
According to the criteria of the quality of life and general social standards, Slovenia is near or even above the European average. Its population is a highly qualified and capable labour force.
The active population is 65% of the total, 51 % of women being in the active population group. A high proportion of the population are university graduates, and 11% of the labour force employed in the economy have university degrees.
Over the last 3 years, there were 18 students per 1,000
inhabitants; 6,000 students graduate annually from university level
education. There is an extensive social welfare system in Slovenia. In
1994 there were 219 physicians, 577.7 hospital beds and 53 dentists
for every 100,000 inhabitants. A universal state pension fund is
Slovenia has a well-developed road network, and ambitious plans are already under way for extension of the motorway system. By 1999, 386 km of new four lane carriageways will be constructed, connecting the western ports of Koper and Trieste to the eastern gateways to Austria and Hungary.The railroad network is also developed, with all the necessary links to neighbouring countries.
Air traffic is conducted from three international airports (Ljubljana, Maribor and Portoros). Adria Airways is the national air carrier; Ljubljana is regularly connected with all major European airports.
There is a large freight port in Koper, which has become an important gateway into Central Europe in recent years.
There are 114 controlled border crossings which are either international, bilateral, local or village and mountain passes. A passport is required, and customs control is carried out.
Public Relations and Media Office © 1997