Four major European geographic units meet on the territory of Slovenia: the Alps, the Dinaric Mountains, the Pannonian Plain, and the Mediterranean, with a small portion of coastline along the Adriatic Sea. The territory has a mosaic structure and an exceptionally high landscape and biological diversity, which are a result of natural attributes and the long-term presence of humans.
Although the climate in the mainly hilly territory is influenced by the continental climate, the Slovene Littoral has the sub-Mediterranean climate, while the Alpine climate is found in the north-western part of the country. The country is one of the most water-rich in Europe, with a dense river network, a rich aquifer system, and significant karstic underground watercourses. Over half of the territory is covered by forest. The settlement of Slovenia is dispersed and uneven.
The Slavic, Germanic, Romance, and Hungarian languages meet here. Although the region is not homogenous, the predominant population is Slovene. Slovene is the only official language throughout the country, whereas Italian and Hungarian are regional minority languages. Slovenia is a largely secularized country, but its culture and identity have been significantly influenced by Catholicism as well as Lutheranism. The economy of Slovenia is small, open, and export-oriented and has been strongly influenced by international conditions. It has been severely hurt by the European economic crisis, started in late 2000s. The main economic field is services, followed by industry and construction.
Historically, the current territory of Slovenia was part of many different state formations, including the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, followed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1918, the Slovenes exercised self-determination for the first time by co-founding the internationally unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, which merged with the Kingdom of Serbia into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (in 1929 renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia). During World War II, Slovenia was occupied and annexed by Germany, Italy, Croatia, and Hungary.
Afterward, it was a founding member of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, later renamed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In June 1991, after the introduction of multi-party representative democracy, Slovenia split from Yugoslavia and became an independent country. In 2004, it entered NATO and the European Union; in 2007 became the first former Communist country to join the Eurozone; and in 2010 joined the OECD, a global association of high-income developed countries.
The majority of people live in towns and cities, but a significant number live in the countryside. Agriculture accounts for only a small proportion of the workforce, while the majority work in services and manufacturing.
Slovenes are renowned as a diligent, hard-working nation, part of the reason that Slovenia is the wealthiest of the new EU members. They constantly aim to prove themselves and to progress. Their toil and persistence has allowed many Slovenes to achieve at the global level. A very good example is the country’s athletes, particularly those involved in extreme sports, from mountaineering and extreme skiing to ultra marathon biking and swimming exploits.
Slovenes are also very thorough in learning foreign languages to make themselves understood. Even primary school students can speak foreign languages. The majority of people can speak good English, while most have a good grasp of German. A large share of the population can communicate in the languages of the old Yugoslavia, while there are many fluent Italian speakers in the areas bordering Italy.