History - a short overview

Slovenia has a long and turbulent history. The country has always been within the sphere of influence of other nations, namely Hungary, Serbia, Italy and even Bohemia, ie the Czech Republic. And Slovenia has not always been as small as it is today.

Large parts of the Western Balkans were first settled by Illyrian and later on by Celtic tribe. This included present-day Slovenia. The Greeks had their share as well, founding a colony at the Adriatic Sea coast. Around the year 100 BC, the Kingdom of Noricum was founded, but the kingdom as well as the rest of the Balkans was soon taken over by the Roman Empire. After the Roman Empire had been divided into East and West in 395 AD, present-day Slovenia became a part of the Western Roman Empire. Later on, the area was ruled by Germans. It was not before the 6th century that the name-giving Slavic tribe of the Slovenes settled in the area south of the Alps. Slovenes gradually drove out other tribes and eventually founded the Principality of Karantania - which also included large parts of present-day Southern Austria. Later on, a large West Slavic Empire was founded, but shortly after, at the end of the 8th century, the empire was to be crushed by the Franks. After the invasion, many Bavarians and other German settlers moved to Slovenia, pulling the country's strings for the next 1000 years.

During the 10th century, Hungarian nomads raided Middle Europe several times, leaving wide areas devastated (see also →History of Hungary). This could only be brought to a halt by the German King Otto I. Ever since, Germans heavily influenced Slovenia. After the 12th century, neighbouring Venetia (Venice) gradually grew stronger. In the 13th century, the country was shortly conquered by the Bohemian King Ottokar Přemysl II. (see also →History of the Czech Republic). After this, West Slovenia, i.e. the area along the coast, became a part of Venetia for a very long time. From that time forth, the former Slovenian territory of the Steiermark, Kärnten (present-day Austria) and the Krain as well as the city of →Trieste (Italy) together with East Slovenia were ruled by Habsburg's Austria.

However, the County of Sanegg, spreading over wide parts of present-day Slovenia and →Croatia, successfully managed to withstand Habsburg's and Venetia's supremacy during the 14th and 15th century. At the end of the 15th century, the whole region except for the coast was reigned by the Habsburgers, but unrests as well as occasional invasions by the Ottomans weakened the country. The Ottoman Empire eventually occupied almost all of the Balkans, but they were not able to gain a foothold in Slovenia.

In 1809, Napoleon overran the Balkans and united wide parts of historic Slovenia and Dalmatia in order to form the so-called Illyrian Province. This gave an impulse to the country's development. Slovenia kept on flourishing even after it was handed back to Austria as agreed in the Congress of Berlin. This included Slovenian culture, which was widely promoted by the local government. In the 19th century, industrialisation as well as the railroad reached the small province. After the defeat of Austria-Hungary in World War I, the South Slav nations took their chances and founded the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, dominated by the big winner of the war →Serbia. However, there was substantial resistance against this union in Slovenia. In 1929, the kingdom was renamed Yugoslavia.

In 1941, Yugoslavia suddenly decided to left the previously formed alliance with the fascist axis powers. This was very bad news for Slovenia, too. Within a very short time, Slovenia was occupied and shared out between Germany (incl Austria), Hungary and Italy. As in many other parts of Yugoslavia, resistance groups sprang up quickly. However, many resistance groups had completely different views, and so they partially fought against each other. After the end of World War II, Yugoslavia was re-formed, now ruled by the communists. After the death of Marshal Tito, the political situation gradually became unstable. Additionally, dissatisfaction among the people grew stronger. Partially, this was due to the economic deterioration, although the standard of living in Slovenia as well as in →Croatia was substantially higher than in other parts of the federation. The sudden abolition of Kosovo's autonomy status by the government in Belgrade at the end of the 1980ies set alarm bells ringing for Slovenes.

Slovenia was the first of the Yugoslav republics to hold free and democratic elections in the year 1990. The communists didn't have a chance, and a large majority voted for independence. The leaders were clever enough to prepare the country militarily. On 25 June 1991, Slovenia officially declared its independence from Yugoslavia. As a first precautionary measure, the country sealed off its border with their own troops. However, there were still Serb-dominated JNA (Yugoslav National Army) troops in the country, trying to gain control of strategically important places in the country. The so-called 10-days War broke out, but compared to the war in Bosnia and Croatia, combat action was limited to minor conflicts. One of the reasons of the quick solution of the conflict was the fact, that there are almost no Serbs living in the country. Slovenia never belonged to 'Greater Serbia' - the main sphere of Serb interests.

Slovenia had the best prerequisites for a good start - including two potent neighbours, namely Austria in the north and Italu in the west. Agriculture as well as industry are comparatively well developed. Not to forget mass tourism. In some parts you will meet more Austrians and Italians than locals. However, there was a short quarrel with Italy over possible recourse claims regarding the hinterland of →Trieste (Italy). The problem was tolerably solved, and so Italy gave it's okay for the EU membership of Slovenia. Together with nine other countries, Slovenia joined the European Union in spring 2004.

For more information on the region, esp. about Ex-Yugoslavia and the situation after 1990, see also →Croatia, →Serbia, →Montenegro, →Bosnia-Herzegovina, →Kosovo, and →Macedonia!




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