Prehistory to Slavic settlement
Present-day Slovenia has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and there is evidence of human habitation from around 250,000 years ago. A pierced cave bear bone, dating from 43100 ± 700 BP, found in 1995 in Divje Babe cave near Cerkno, is possibly the oldest musical instrument discovered in the world. In the 1920s and 1930s, artifacts belonging to the Cro-Magnon such as pierced bones, bone points, and needle were found by archaeologist Srečko Brodar in Potok Cave.
In 2002, remains of pile dwellings over 4,500 years old were discovered in the Ljubljana Marshes, now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Ljubljana Marshes Wooden Wheel, the oldest wooden wheel in the world. It shows that wooden wheels appeared almost simultaneously in Mesopotamia and Europe. In the transition period between the Bronze age to the Iron age, the Urnfield culture flourished. Archaeological remains dating from the Hallstatt period have been found, particularly in southeastern Slovenia, among them a number of situlas in Novo Mesto, the "Town of Situlas". In the Iron Age, present-day Slovenia was inhabited by Illyrian and Celtic tribes until the 1st century BC.
's south wall (reconstruction) in present-day Ljubljana
The area that is present-day Slovenia was in Roman times shared between Venetia et Histria (region X of Roman Italia in the classification of Augustus) and the provinces Pannonia and Noricum. The Romans established posts at Emona (Ljubljana), Poetovio (Ptuj), and Celeia (Celje); and constructed trade and military roads that ran across Slovene territory from Italy to Pannonia. In the 5th and 6th centuries, the area was subject to invasions by the Huns and Germanic tribes during their incursions into Italy. A part of the inner state was protected with a defensive line of towers and walls called Claustra Alpium Iuliarum. A crucial battle between Theodosius I and Eugenius took place in the Vipava Valley in 394.
The Slavic tribes migrated to the Alpine area after the westward departure of the Lombards (the last Germanic tribe) in 568, and under pressure from Avars established a Slavic settlement in the Eastern Alps. From 623 to 624 or possibly 626 onwards, King Samo united the Alpine and Western Slavs against the Avars and Germanic peoples and established what is referred to as Samo's Kingdom. After its disintegration following Samo's death in 658 or 659, the ancestors of the Slovenes located in present-day Carinthia formed the independent duchy of Carantania. and Carniola, later duchy Carniola. Other parts of present-day Slovenia were again ruled by Avars before Charlemagne's victory over them in 803.
The Carantanians, one of the ancestral groups of the modern Slovenes, particularly the Carinthian Slovenes, were the first Slavic people to accept Christianity. They were mostly Christianized by Irish missionaries, among them Modestus, known as the "Apostle of Carantanians". This process, together with the Christianization of the Bavarians, was later described in the memorandum known as the Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, which is thought to have overemphasized the role of the Church of Salzburg in the Christianization process over similar efforts of the Patriarchate of Aquileia.
In the mid-8th century, Carantania became a vassal duchy under the rule of the Bavarians, who began spreading Christianity. Three decades later, the Carantanians were incorporated, together with the Bavarians, into the Carolingian Empire. During the same period Carniola, too, came under the Franks, and was Christianised from Aquileia. Following the anti-Frankish rebellion of Liudewit at the beginning of the 9th century, the Franks removed the Carantanian princes, replacing them with their own border dukes. Consequently, the Frankish feudal system reached the Slovene territory.
After the victory of Emperor Otto I over the Magyars in 955, Slovene territory was divided into a number of border regions of the Holy Roman Empire. Carantania, being the most important, was elevated into the Duchy of Carinthia in 976.
By the 11th century, the Germanization of what is now Lower Austria, effectively isolated the Slovene-inhabited territory from the other western Slavs, speeding up the development of the Slavs of Carantania and of Carniola into an independent Carantanian/Carniolans/Slovene ethnic group. By the late Middle Ages, the historic provinces of Carniola, Styria, Carinthia, Gorizia, Trieste, and Istria developed from the border regions and were incorporated into the medieval German state. The consolidation and formation of these historical lands took place in a long period between the 11th and 14th centuries, and were led by a number of important feudal families, such as the Dukes of Spannheim, the Counts of Gorizia, the Counts of Celje, and, finally, the House of Habsburg. In a parallel process, an intensive German colonization significantly diminished the extent of Slovene-speaking areas. By the 15th century, the Slovene ethnic territory was reduced to its present size.
In the 14th century, most of the territory of present-day Slovenia was taken over by the Habsburgs, the Hungarian clan Záh administering the territories connecting Slovenia with Slovakia and Moravia was exterminated in 1330 and the Slovenes permanently lost the connection with their Slovak kinsmen. The counts of Celje, a feudal family from this area who in 1436 acquired the title of state princes, were Habsburgs' powerful competitors for some time. This large dynasty, important at a European political level, had its seat in Slovene territory but died out in 1456. Its numerous large estates subsequently became the property of the Habsburgs, who retained control of the area right up until the beginning of the 20th century. Patria del Friuli ruled present western Slovenia until Venetian takeover in 1420.
At the end of the Middle Ages, the Slovene Lands suffered a serious economic and demographic setback because of the Turkish raids. In 1515, a peasant revolt spread across nearly the whole Slovene territory. In 1572 and 1573 the Croatian-Slovenian peasant revolt wrought havoc throughout the wider region. Such uprisings, which often met with bloody defeats, continued throughout the 17th century.
Early modern period
The Republic of Venice was dissolved by France and Venetian Slovenia was passed to the Austrian Empire in 1797. The Slovene Lands were part of the French-administered Illyrian provinces established by Napoleon, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. Slovenes inhabited most of Carniola, the southern part of the duchies of Carinthia and Styria, the northern and eastern areas of the Austrian Littoral, as well as Prekmurje in the Kingdom of Hungary. Industrialization was accompanied by construction of railroads to link cities and markets, but the urbanization was limited.
Due to limited opportunities, between 1880 and 1910 there was extensive emigration, and around 300,000 Slovenes (i.e. 1 in 6) emigrated to other countries, mostly to the US, but also to South America (the main part to Argentina), Germany, Egypt, and to larger cities in Austria-Hungary, especially Vienna and Graz. The area of the United States with the highest concentration of Slovenian immigrants is Cleveland, Ohio. The other locations in the United States where many Slovenians settled were areas with substantial industrial and mining activities: Pittsburgh, Chicago, Pueblo, Butte, northern Minnesota, and the Salt Lake Valley. The men were important as workers in the mining industry, because of some of the skills they brought from Slovenia. Despite this, the Slovene population increased significantly. Literacy was exceptionally high, at 80–90%.
The 19th century also saw a revival of culture in the Slovene language, accompanied by a Romantic nationalist quest for cultural and political autonomy. The idea of a United Slovenia, first advanced during the revolutions of 1848, became the common platform of most Slovenian parties and political movements in Austria-Hungary. During the same period, Yugoslavism, an ideology stressing the unity of all South Slavic peoples, spread as a reaction to Pan-German nationalism and Italian irredentism.
World War I
World War I brought heavy casualties to Slovenes, particularly the twelve Battles of the Isonzo, which took place in present-day Slovenia's western border area with Italy. Hundreds of thousands of Slovene conscripts were drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army, and over 30,000 of them died. Hundreds of thousands of Slovenes from Gorizia and Gradisca were resettled in refugee camps in Italy and Austria. While the refugees in Austria received decent treatment, the Slovene refugees in Italian camps were treated as state enemies, and several thousand died of malnutrition and diseases between 1915 and 1918. Entire areas of the Slovene Littoral were destroyed.
The Treaty of Rapallo of 1920 left approximately 327,000 out of the total population of 1.3 million Slovenes in Italy. After the fascists took power in Italy, they were subjected to a policy of violent Fascist Italianization. This caused the mass emigration of Slovenes, especially the middle class, from the Slovenian Littoral and Trieste to Yugoslavia and South America. Those who remained organized several connected networks of both passive and armed resistance. The best known was the militant anti-fascist organization TIGR, formed in 1927 in order to fight Fascist oppression of the Slovene and Croat populations in the Julian March.
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia)
The proclamation of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs at Congress Square
in Ljubljana on 20 October 1918
The Slovene People's Party launched a movement for self-determination, demanding the creation of a semi-independent South Slavic state under Habsburg rule. The proposal was picked up by most Slovene parties, and a mass mobilization of Slovene civil society, known as the
Declaration Movement, followed. This demand was rejected by the Austrian political elites; but following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the aftermath of the First World War, the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs took power in Zagreb on 6 October 1918. On 29 October, independence was declared by a national gathering in Ljubljana, and by the Croatian parliament, declaring the establishment of the new State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs.
The map showing the present territory of Slovenia, with traditional regional boundaries; the Slovene-speaking areas annexed by Italy after WWI are shown in stripes
On 1 December 1918 the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs merged with Serbia, becoming part of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes; in 1929 it was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The main territory of Slovenia, being the most industrialized and westernized compared to other less developed parts of Yugoslavia, became the main center of industrial production: Compared to Serbia, for example, Slovenian industrial production was four times greater; and it was 22 times greater than in Macedonia. The interwar period brought further industrialization in Slovenia, with rapid economic growth in the 1920s, followed by a relatively successful economic adjustment to the 1929 economic crisis and Great Depression.
Following a plebiscite in October 1920, the Slovene-speaking southern Carinthia was ceded to Austria. With the Treaty of Trianon, on the other hand, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was awarded the Slovene-inhabited Prekmurje region, formerly part of Austro-Hungary.
Slovenes living in territories that fell under the rule of the neighboring states—Italy, Austria, and Hungary—were subjected to assimilation.
World War II
Slovenia was the only present-day European nation that was trisected and completely annexed into both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy during World War II. In addition, the Prekmurje region in the east was annexed to Hungary, and some villages in the Lower Sava Valley were incorporated in the newly created Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia (NDH).
Axis forces invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941 and defeated the country in a few weeks. The southern part, including Ljubljana, was annexed to Italy, while the Nazis took over the northern and eastern parts of the country. The Nazis had a plan of ethnic cleansing of these areas, and they resettled or expelled the local Slovene civilian population to the puppet states of Nedić's Serbia (7,500) and NDH (10,000). In addition, some 46,000 Slovenes were expelled to Germany, including children who were separated from their parents and allocated to German families. At the same time, the ethnic Germans in the Gottschee enclave in the Italian annexation zone were resettled to the Nazi-controlled areas cleansed of their Slovene population. Around 30,000 to 40,000 Slovene men were drafted to the German Army and sent to the Eastern front. The Slovene language was banned from education, and its use in the public life was limited to the absolute minimum.
In south-central Slovenia, annexed by Fascist Italy and renamed to Province of Ljubljana, the Slovenian National Liberation Front was organized in April 1941. Led by the Communist Party, it formed the Slovene Partisan units as part of the Yugoslav Partisans led by the Communist leader Josip Broz Tito.
Partisans fighting for Trieste and Primorje region, 1945
After the resistance started in summer 1941, Italian violence against the Slovene civilian population escalated, as well. The Italian authorities deported some 25,000 people to the concentration camps, which equaled 7.5% of the population of their occupation zone. The most infamous ones were Rab and Gonars. To counter the Communist-led insurgence, the Italians sponsored local anti-guerrilla units, formed mostly by the local conservative Catholic Slovene population that resented the revolutionary violence of the partisans. After the Italian armistice of September 1943, the Germans took over both the Province of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Littoral, incorporating them into what was known as the Operation Zone of Adriatic Coastal Region. They united the Slovene anti-Communist counter-insurgence into the Slovene Home Guard and appointed a puppet regime in the Province of Ljubljana. The anti-Nazi resistance however expanded, creating its own administrative structures as the basis for Slovene statehood within a new, federal and socialist Yugoslavia.
In 1945, Yugoslavia was liberated by the partisan resistance and soon became a socialist federation known as the People's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Slovenia joined the federation as a constituent republic, led by its own pro-Communist leadership.
Approximately 8% of the entire Slovene population died during World War II. The small Jewish community, mostly settled in the Prekmurje region, perished in 1944 in the holocaust of Hungarian Jews. The German speaking minority, amounting to 2.5% of the Slovenian population prior to WWII, was either expelled or killed in the aftermath of the war. Hundreds of Istrian Italians and Slovenes that opposed communism were killed in the foibe massacres, and more than 25,000 fled or were expelled from Slovenian Istria in the aftermath of the war.
Location of Slovenia within Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Following the re-establishment of Yugoslavia during World War II, Slovenia became part of Federal Yugoslavia. A socialist state was established, but because of the Tito–Stalin split in 1948, economic and personal freedoms were broader than in the rest of the Eastern Bloc. In 1947, the Slovene Littoral and the western half of Inner Carniola, which had been annexed by Italy after World War One, were annexed to Slovenia.
After the failure of forced collectivisation that was attempted from 1949–53, a policy of gradual economic liberalisation, known as workers self-management, was introduced under the advice and supervision of the Slovene Marxist theoretician and Communist leader Edvard Kardelj, the main ideologue of the Titoist path to socialism. Suspected opponents of this policy both from within and outside the Communist party were persecuted and thousands were sent to the Goli otok.
The late 1950s saw a policy of liberalisation in the cultural sphere, as well, and limited border crossing into neighboring Italy and Austria was allowed again. Until the 1980s, Slovenia enjoyed relatively broad autonomy within the federation. In 1956, Josip Broz Tito, together with other leaders, founded the Non-Aligned Movement. Particularly in the 1950s, Slovenia's economy developed rapidly and was strongly industrialised. With further economic decentralisation of Yugoslavia in 1965–66, Slovenia's domestic product was 2.5 times the average of Yugoslav republics.
Opposition to the regime was mostly limited to intellectual and literary circles, and became especially vocal after Tito's death in 1980, when the economic and political situation in Yugoslavia became very strained. Political disputes around economic measures were echoed in the public sentiment, as many Slovenians felt they were being economically exploited, having to sustain an expensive and inefficient federal administration.
Slovenian Spring, democracy and independence
In 1987 a group of intellectuals demanded Slovene independence in the 57th edition of the magazine Nova revija. Demands for democratisation and more Slovenian independence were sparked off. A mass democratic movement, coordinated by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, pushed the Communists in the direction of democratic reforms.
In September 1989, numerous constitutional amendments were passed to introduce parliamentary democracy to Slovenia. The same year Action North united both the opposition and democratized communist establishment in Slovenia as the first defense action against attacks by Slobodan Milošević's supporters, leading to Slovenian independence. On 7 March 1990, the Slovenian Assembly changed the official name of the state to the "Republic of Slovenia". In April 1990, the first democratic election in Slovenia took place, and the united opposition movement DEMOS led by Jože Pučnik emerged victorious.
Slovenian forces attacking a Yugoslav army tank during the Ten-Day War
The initial revolutionary events in Slovenia pre-dated the Revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe by almost a year, but went largely unnoticed by international observers. On 23 December 1990, more than 88% of the electorate voted for a sovereign and independent Slovenia. On 25 June 1991, Slovenia became independent through the passage of appropriate legal documents. On 27 June in the early morning, the Yugoslav People's Army dispatched its forces to prevent further measures for the establishment of a new country, which led to the Ten-Day War. On 7 July, the Brijuni Agreement was signed, implementing a truce and a three-month halt of the enforcement of Slovenia's independence. In the end of the month, the last soldiers of the Yugoslav Army left Slovenia.
In December 1991, a new constitution was adopted, followed in 1992 by the laws on denationalisation and privatization. The members of the European Union recognised Slovenia as an independent state on 15 January 1992, and the United Nations accepted it as a member on 22 May 1992.
Slovenia joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. Slovenia has one Commissioner in the European Commission, and seven Slovene parliamentarians were elected to the European Parliament at elections on 13 June 2004. In 2004 Slovenia also joined NATO. Slovenia subsequently succeeded in meeting the Maastricht criteria and joined the Eurozone (the first transition country to do so) on 1 January 2007. It was the first post-Communist country to hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, for the first six months of 2008. On 21 July 2010, it became a member of the OECD.
The disillusionment with domestic socio-economic elites at municipal and national levels was expressed at the 2012–2013 Slovenian protests on a wider scale than in the smaller 15 October 2011 protests. In relation to the leading politicians' response to allegations made by the official Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of the Republic of Slovenia, legal experts expressed the need for changes in the system that would limit political arbitrariness.