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SLOVENIA


GETTING TO KNOW SLOVENIA

Slovenia lies in the heart of Europe, where the Alps meet the Mediterranean and the Pannonian Plain meets the Karst. This small green country measures 20,273 km2 in area, and is home to sincere, hospitable people of great diligence. It has an exceptional number of top athletes, and a wealth of cultural creativity. In Slovenia it is not difficult to compare the value of goods and services, as they are priced in one of the world’s major currencies, the euro.


 
POPULATION OF SLOVENIA:
The inhabitants of Slovenia are regarded as hard-working, diligent and proud people. The most important values for the just over two million inhabitants include family, health and honesty. Something of major importance for the Slovenian national consciousness and sense of belonging is the Slovenian language, or slovenščina. This is the official language of the country, while in areas inhabited by members of the Italian and Hungarian ethnic communities, Italian and Hungarian are also official languages.

Ethnic groups
The population of Slovenia is considered to be relatively homogeneous. The majority of those belonging to other ethnic groups only moved to Slovenia after the Second World War. Most people came here from other republics of the former Yugoslavia, and found opportunities to work and raise families.

According to the latest census, the current make-up of the Slovenian population is:
- Slovenes 83 %
- Serbs 2%
- Croats 1.8 %
- Bosniacs and muslims 1.6 %
- Hungarians 0.3 %
- Albanians 0.3 %
- Macedonians 0.2 %
- Montenegrins 0.15 %
- Roma 0.17 %
- Italians 0.1 %

Despite their small numbers, the Italian and Hungarian ethnic communities have protected status. Each of these communities has a guaranteed seat for its representative in the 90-seat Slovenian parliament, and the two communities receive government funds for autonomous functioning.

The Roma community also has special status in Slovenia. Roma live mainly in eastern and south-eastern Slovenia.

Diffuse settlement
Slovenia is not a very urbanised country, with the proportion of the population living in towns and urban settlements barely exceeding 50 percent. Although this proportion is continuously increasing, the countryside is inhabited increasingly by older people, and especially owing to the more tranquil lifestyle, in many areas the countryside is continuing to develop.

The average population density in Slovenia is 99 people per km².

Slovenian character
Although the population of Slovenia shares many common characteristics, the Slovenians have some more recognisable qualities. Apart from being hard-working and diligent, the things they like doing, they do with great passion and energy. Slovenians are regarded as slightly more individualist, but on the right occasion they are able to show a great sense of solidarity and work for the benefit of the group and wider community.

One of the characteristic qualities of Slovenians is their persistent desire to prove themselves. This is most evident in sports. Slovenia has one of the highest proportions of the population in the world involved in extreme sports. The successful Alpinist and climbing expeditions to the Himalayas deserve mention.
 

If you believe the stereotype, the Slovenians are rather reserved people who know how to let their hair down in the right company. Despite the proverbial envy of neighbours or schadenfreude, the Slovenians are an open and hospitable people.

You can easily make yourself understood with Slovenians, since the great majority speak English and other languages well. Another of the highest values for Slovenians is friendship. So you can expect the friendships you develop in Slovenia to last all your life.



LANDSCAPE:

Endless variety
One of the first things you notice on arriving in Slovenia is the extraordinary variety and diversity of landscapes. Driving across Slovenia creates the impression that in a very short space of time you have driven across several countries.

In this small piece of Europe, bountiful Nature has combined and interwoven a whole range of diverse landscapes. Mighty Alpine peaks with sheer faces, deep karst caves and potholes, softly rounded hills and vast plains: Slovenia has all of these. There are also beautiful lakes and bubbling brooks, the silence of forests and the crashing waves of the sea.

In slightly more geographical terms, this means that Slovenia lies at the junction of the Alpine, Mediterranean, Pannonian and Dinaric worlds, all of which have left their mark on its landscape.

Green areas
In Slovenia the predominant colour is green. Forests cover almost 60% of the territory, and there are even remnants of virgin forest in the south of the country. The sunny slopes of many hills in the winegrowing districts are planted with vines. Meadows can still be found in the valleys, although most fertile areas are used for agriculture.
 

Mountains and highlands...
Most of Slovenia is mountainous or hilly, particularly its northern part along the border with Austria. Running from east to west are the Julian Alps, the Karavanke range and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. Slovenia's highest peak, Triglav, is in the Julian Alps, while the foothills of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps are just half an hour's drive from the capital, Ljubljana. All the mountain groups include peaks over 2,000 metres high. Further to the east lies the mighty Pohorje, a highland area reaching heights of around 1,500 metres.
 

Hills also occupy large areas to the west and south of Ljubljana.

... coast and hills...
Slovenia's coast is short but full of variety. There you will find the internationally famous Sečovlje saltworks and beautifully preserved medieval towns such as Piran. The hinterland is dominated by the hills of Slovenian Istria. There are also many hills in south-eastern and eastern Slovenia, in the winegrowing areas.
 

... valleys...
A significant part of Slovenia's surface is taken up by plains, basins, valleys and karst poljes. Most of the flat areas are in the north-east of the country, where the Pannonian Plain begins. Ljubljana and its environs lie in the largest basin. The Celje basin is also sizeable.

... and the underworld

Slovenia is remarkable even below the surface. In its karst areas there are thousands of karst caves.



Protected areas
Over a third of the territory of Slovenia is protected. The largest part of it falls into the Europe-wide Natura 2000 network, which aims to protect biological diversity. Protected areas also include numerous nature parks and Slovenia's only national park – the Triglav National Park.

Slovenia's landscape diversity is given an additional stamp by a wealth of water resources. Slovenia is one of the richest countries in Europe in terms of water. Many streams, rivers and lakes are still entirely free from pollution.
 

Endless choice
All these natural riches mean that Slovenia offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor activities. In the morning you could be skiing in a mountain ski resort, the afternoon could find you strolling along the shore of the Adriatic Sea or pampering yourself in a spa in the east of Slovenia, while in the evening you could be attending a cultural event at the other end of the country. In the midst of this busy schedule, time can nevertheless still be found for gastronomic pleasures.

Such examples of a day spent in Slovenia are not merely theoretical: you will meet lots of people who actually do this. You can get from the coastal town of Koper to Jesenice in the north of the country in under two hours. From Koper to Murska Sobota in the far north-east of the country, it will take you roughly three hours by car.


SAFETY:

Slovenia is a safe country. Wherever you are, even late at night in the cities, you can have no cause for concern. There is nevertheless a marginal risk of becoming a victim of certain crimes, most commonly theft. The risk of such unpleasantness can be minimised, if not prevented, by taking the right action. We recommend that you:
- safeguard your belongings and do not leave them in the open, in a car for example
- only carry as much cash as you need
- keep valuables and large sums of cash in a hotel safe
- avoid unlit and deserted streets after dark
- lock your car, and park in well-lit public parking areas
- before leaving home make photocopies of all documents, travel tickets, reservations, etc.; in the event of theft or loss, this will make it easier to prove your identity and to arrange replacement documents
 

What to do if…?
If you become a victim of theft despite your precautions, call the police immediately on 113.
If your documents are stolen or lost, you can also turn to your embassy or consulate in Slovenia.

Beggars
In larger towns and cities you might be approached by homeless people begging for money, but they are not dangerous.



POLITICS AND THE ECONOMY:


Power relations
Slovenia is a democratic parliamentary republic. Since the last general elections in autumn 2008 the country has been run by a centre-left coalition under the Social Democrats. The party leader is the current prime minister, Borut Pahor. The president, a position of great authority but no major executive power, is Dr Danilo Turk. Most power is held by the government, which is supervised by the 90 parliamentary deputies. There are seven political parties in parliament. The largest opposition party is the centre-right SDS, led by Janez Janša, who was prime minister between 2004 and 2008.

Successful leadership
One of Slovenia’s major policy successes was joining the European Union. This was one of its first major goals following independence in 1991. After years of negotiations, Slovenia succeeded in joining the organisation with nine other countries on 1 May 2004. In 2005 it assumed the presidency of the OSCE, and then two and a half years later, on 1 January 2007 to be precise, Slovenia was the first of the new EU members to join the euro, before becoming the first new member to hold the presidency of EU in the first half of 2008. Slovenia has been part of the Schengen Area since the end of 2007, which means that there is no control of border crossings with neighbouring countries in the EU. Slovenia presided over the Council of Europe’s committee of ministers in 2009, and is expected to join the OECD in 2010.

Rapid economic development
As a member of the EU, Slovenia now has trade relations with the countries of western Europe, Germany, Austria and Italy in particular. Slovenia is known as a small but reliable partner, with a rational way of acting, and a skilled workforce. Its economic development since independence has been a considerable success, particularly between 1995 and 2008, when the economy grew by an average of 4% each year. The official unemployment rate stood at 6% at the end of 2008, although the true rate was even lower. Slovenia saw its first significant decline in economic growth in 2009 as a result of the global economic crisis: the economy is forecast to not begin growing again until 2010.

Slovenia’s per capita GDP is 91% of the EU average, ranking it 16th of the 27 countries.

Main sectors of the economy
Services are the largest sector of the economy, accounting for 64% of total GDP in 2008. Tourism is an increasingly important service sector.
 

Manufacturing accounts for approximately 26% of total GDP, construction for 8% and agriculture for 2%.

The most important sectors of manufacturing industry include steel and metals, the car industry, white goods, wood and textiles, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, and machinery.

Opportunities

Slovenia’s economy offers opportunities in the development of sectors and jobs with high added value, particularly in liquid crystal technology, nanotechnology, medical physics and pharmaceuticals, but must ensure that learning is transferred into applications and that corporate workforces are well trained.



MONEY AND EXCHANGE RATES:

The single European currency
Slovenia's currency, the tolar, was replaced by the euro on 1 January 2007. The euro is the single European currency and is currently used by 15 other member states of the European Union as well as Slovenia.

There are seven euro banknotes, which are identical in all the countries of the eurozone. The banknotes have values of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.

There are eight euro coins. They have a common reverse, portraying a map of Europe, while each country in the eurozone has its own design on the obverse. Despite their different designs, coins from different countries are legal tender in all the countries of the eurozone.

Restrictions on bringing money into Slovenia
If you are a citizen of the European Union, there are no restrictions on bringing money into Slovenia. If you are not an EU citizen, you must declare amounts of €10,000 or over.

Changing money, cash withdrawals and payments
In Slovenia you can change money at banks, bureaux de change, hotel receptions, travel agents, petrol stations and large shopping centres. The exchange rate is published daily by the Bank of Slovenia.
You can withdraw cash 24 hours a day from cash dispensers around the country. Most cash dispensers also accept MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, Cirrus and Visa Electron Plus. Slovenia is extremely well provided with cash dispensers.

Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept a range of credit and debit cards.

Budgeting for your trip

Slovenia is cheaper than most of its neighbours and prices are significantly lower than in western Europe. Very thrifty travellers can survive on around €30 a day. The average traveller spends between €50 and €70 a day, but if you want to stay in nice hotels and eat at better restaurants, you can count on spending up to €150 a day.

Price guidelines
Average prices of some basic foods in shops are the following:
1 kg of bread 2,00 EUR
1 litre of milk 0,75 EUR
½ litre of beer 0,95 EUR
daily paper 1,00 EUR

Average prices of some basic foods in restaurants are the following:
1,00 EUR for a cup of espresso coffee,
1,40 EUR for 2 dl of cola,
7,00 EUR for a classical, large pizza,
7,00 EUR for a portion of pasta with Bolognese sauce.
- hostel – €20–€35
- hotel***– €40–€80
- bus (Ljubljana–Novo Mesto, 70 km) approx. €7
- train (Ljubljana–Bled – 60 km) approx. €5,5

In tourist spots you can expect slightly higher prices, while outside the tourist spots the prices will be lower than the average.
 

Tipping
Tipping is not compulsory in Slovenia, but people who provide various services – from waiting staff and taxi drivers to tourist guides – will appreciate even a token tip. It is customary in Slovenia, if you have enjoyed your meal and are satisfied with the service, to tell the waiter to 'round up the bill a little'. This means that the waiter can keep a few euros for himself.



BASIC INFORMATIONS ON SLOVENIA:


-Population: 2,051,000
-Position: Slovenia is in central Europe.
-Area: 20,273 km2
-Government: Slovenia is a democratic republic founded on the principle of the separation of powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of authority.
-Capital city: Ljubljana, population: 265,000



-President of the Republic: Danilo Türk
-Prime Minister: Borut Pahor
-President of the National Assembly: Pavel Gantar
-Membership of international organisations: Slovenia has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004 and a member of NATO since 7 April 2004. It is also a member of many other international organisations.
-Administrative division: 58 administrative units, 210 municipalities.
-Other major centres: Maribor, Kranj, Celje, Koper, Novo Mesto, Velenje, Murska Sobota.
-Official language: Slovene; also Hungarian and Italian in their respective ethnically mixed areas.
-Religion: The majority of the population is Roman Catholic; Slovenia also has 40 other officially registered religious communities.
-Currency: euro (EUR), since 1 January 2007.
-GDP per capita (in EUR): 22,800¬ (2008) - this is 90% of the average GDP per capita in the 27 EU member states.
-Registered unemployment rate: 9.4% (September 2009)
-Average age: 41.4 years
-Life expectancy: men 73 years, women 81 years
-Fertility rate: 1.2
-Climate: Alpine, Pannonian, Mediterranean
-Time: Central European Time (UTC + 1), Central European Summer Time (UTC + 2)
-Average temperatures: July 21°C, January 0°C
-Electricity supply: 230 V
-Units of measurement: metric – metres, kilometres, grams, kilograms. Temperatures are expressed in degrees Celsius.
-Length of borders: with Austria 330 km, with Italy 280 km, with Hungary 102 km and with Croatia 670 km; total 1,382 km
-Length of coastline: 46.6 km
-Highest peak: Triglav, 2,864 m
-Geometric centre of Slovenia: Vače
-Average height above sea level: 556.8 m
-Universities: University of Ljubljana, University of Maribor, University of Primorska.
-More interesting facts are available on the website of the national statistics office.



HOW TO GET TO SLOVENIA:

Slovenia lies in central Europe, and borders Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary. It is just a few hours’ travel from Venice or Vienna. Slovenia is easy to reach from neighbouring countries, with good road and rail links, and daily flights from numerous European cities. As a maritime nation, Slovenia can also be reached by sea.

How to get to Slovenia by all the different means of transport is described in detail in individual columns. Some basic information is given here.

By car
The majority of drivers enter Slovenia by motorway. To drive on motorways in Slovenia you must have a vignette, or face heavy fines. The basic cross-shaped motorway network in the country is almost complete, with only a short section of the Dolenjska road yet to be built.
Local roads are the most picturesque and interesting routes around the country, and provide the best opportunity to get to know its natural beauty and its sights. The journey planner makes it easier to find the right roads.

Road safety regulations require the use of dipped lights at all times when driving, even during the day, while the maximum allowable blood alcohol level is 0.5 parts per thousand. Breath tests are frequent, so it is perhaps better to avoid drinking and driving altogether.
There are 24-hour service stations and petrol stations approximately every 30 km on the motorways. Petrol stations are also common in the cities and in smaller towns.

In case of breakdown on the road, the AMZS will be happy to assist. Call 1987.

By bus and train
Buses and trains to Slovenia run every day from numerous European cities. It is also possible to arrive by sleeping car.

By air
There are daily flights from Slovenia’s main international gateway, Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, to a number of European cities, including flights operated by two low-cost airlines, EasyJet and Brussels Airlines, which fly to London and Brussels. Adria Airways, Slovenia’s sole carrier, has the most flights to Ljubljana.
 

By sea

Between May and October powerboats operate frequent routes from Venice, Trieste, Poreč and Rovinj. Cruise ships occasionally dock at Koper. If arriving on your own vessel, you should be aware that the international border crossings are at Koper and Piran, and at Izola between May and October. Izola, Koper and Portorož have fully equipped marinas where boats can moor.



NATURE:


Nature has combined and interwoven great natural riches in this small piece of Europe and granted Slovenia extraordinary variety and diversity that is still well preserved today. Over a third of the country's territory lies within the Europe-wide network of Natura 2000 protected areas, while other valuable areas have been proclaimed major parks and reserves. Direct contact with nature is possible even on the edges of cities.

Green riches
Centuries ago, over 90% of Slovenia was covered by forest. Slovenia's trees are still its most important lung, absorbing greenhouse gas emissions. But on their own they are not enough. This is why Slovenia is promoting green tourism, to reduce the environmental impact as much as possible. By behaving appropriately and responsibly, you too are part of this form of tourism. See the Nature – Green Slovenia chapter for advice on what you can do to help preserve green nature.


Flora and fauna

Approximately 60% of Slovenia is covered by forests, and over one million new trees are planted in Slovenia every year. Plant diversity is enormous. In areas where there are no forests there is other natural vegetation such as thickets and meadows. Particularly in mountain areas, there are many endangered and protected species of flowers.

Fertile soil is mainly found in the east of the country and in flat areas in river valleys, so this is where agriculture is most developed. The sunny sides of many hills in the south and west of Slovenia offer good conditions for vines.
 

For contact with wild animals in Slovenia, you can head for the forests that lie just outside many towns. Large numbers of deer live in the forests, and increasing numbers of brown bears, a previously endangered species. Slovenia's rivers, lakes and sea are home to a rich variety of aquatic species. Many species of birds nest in Slovenia, and the territory is a staging area for migratory species.

The animal kingdom
To make contact with wild animals in Slovenia you need only go to the edge of the forest, just outside the towns. There are plenty of roe deer in the forests, and they wander close to the towns and villages. There is a good chance of seeing a smaller animal of some type, such as a squirrel.
 

The brown bear also lives in Slovenia’s forests. As they range throughout the forests as far as Bosnia and Herzegovina, their actual number is not known, but it is estimated that about 700 bears live in Slovenia. As of the last decade they are no longer endangered, but it is nevertheless rare that individuals are shot. Bears generally prefer to avoid humans, and your chance of encountering a bear in the wild is extremely slim.

Many other very rare and endangered animal species inhabit the forests, such as the wolf, the lynx, the wildcat, the capercaillie and the pheasant. These are all protected. The ibex is also protected, and can be seen in the mountains.

Slovenia’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters are home to a diversity of species. Alongside numerous fish species, some clean rivers are still inhabited by freshwater crayfish, which are highly endangered.

Many bird species nest in Slovenia, while it is also a vital habitat for migratory species. The landscape parks are the best place to see large numbers of birds.



HISTORY AND CULTURE:

Independent since 1991, Slovenia does not have a majestic history like many larger European nations, but the past is nevertheless important. For many it is surprising that such a small nation, without kings or famous military leaders of its own, could even form, survive and carve out an independent path. But this is the result of the resilience and determination of the Slovene people, whose culture and common language have survived for centuries in this green piece of Europe. Less

Looking back
The ancestors of the Slovenes, who migrated to present-day Slovenia in the 7th century, may not have played a leading role in the major historical events in Europe and the world, but they were always involved.

As late as the 20th century Slovenia was still being ruled by foreigners, mostly the Habsburg monarchy of Austro-Hungary. The Slovene people nevertheless succeeded in forging a collective consciousness and national allegiance. Slovenia became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after the First World War, then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after the Second World War. After more than 70 years of living inside Yugoslavia, almost 90% of voters opted for independence in the referendum held in 1990. Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004, and also became a member of Nato. It was the first of the new EU members to join the euro, in 2007.

The History section gives information about other major milestones in Slovenia’s history.

Culture

A major cultural milestone was the publication of the first book in Slovene in 1550, which made Slovene a literary language. The greatest Slovenian poet is France Prešeren, whose poem A Toast is now the national anthem. The annual Prešeren Prizes are the highest awards for the most important and momentous achievements in culture.
 

Slovenia has a very well-developed network of cultural institutions, organisations and associations, comparable with the wealthiest and most progressive countries in Europe. They host numerous events whose renown has spread to the rest of the world. The range of cultural events, festivals, concerts and exhibitions is enough to satisfy the most demanding of guests.

The small size of the market means that many artistic and cultural activities in Slovenia enjoy significant support and subsidies from the government, and funding from local authorities.



WEATHER AND CLIMATE IN SLOVENIA:

The weather in Slovenia varies from season to season. There are also three climatic influences that meet in the country. A harsh Alpine climate prevails in the mountains, the coast has a sub-Mediterranean climate, and the north-east lowlands have a continental climate. The average temperature is above 20°C in July, and around 0°C in January. It is worth checking the current weather, so that you can dress and equip yourself appropriately. 

 

Source: www.slovenia.info

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