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History of Slovenia

Present-day Slovenia was inhabited by the Illyrians and Celts until the Romans conquered the area in about 100 BC. In the 400 and 500s the Huns and Germans came in, followed by the Slavs, who intermarried with the locals and these people have dominated the region ever since.

In the 700s the Germans reentered the area and introduced Catholicism, which is still the predominant religion (although at times Protestantism was introduced and accepted). The Magyars (Hungarians) invaded the following century, but by 1000 the region was divided and ruled over primarily by the Holy Roman Empire. By the 1300s the territory was ruled by the Austrian Hapsburgs and was reduced in size, similar to the modern state.

The 1500s resulted in raids by the Turks, but never falling entirely to the Ottoman Turks and in the 1600s the Hapsburgs had solidified rule and introduced a number of reforms in Slovenia that greatly benefited the people.

Unlike many other southern Slavic states, Slovenia's lands fell directly under Austria-Hungary's rule, not classified as a semi-autonomous state. This actually benefited the Slovenes since it gave them greater access to utilities offered by the government, such as education, trade, and more political influence.

In the early 1800s the French, under Napoleon took the lands of Slovenia and this brief transfer of power and the ideas the French introduced created a national identity and a growing independence movement.

World War I created independence movements throughout the Balkan Peninsula and was in fact started with the murder of Austria's Archduke by a Serb nationalist in Sarajevo. After the war, the Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs united to form their own country, which later incorporated Montenegro, Bosnia, and what is today Macedonia, at which time it was renamed Yugoslavia.

Immediately after this union, Slovenia became one of the most economically and industrially prosperous countries within Yugoslavia. However, this progress was interrupted by World War II (WWII) in 1941 when the region was overrun by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Eventually the region was liberated and Yugoslavia again emerged as a communist country.

After WWII, Slovenia again surged ahead of the rest of Yugoslavia and again independence movements arose. In 1991 Slovenia finally declared independence, but was immediately attacked by the Yugoslavian Serb-led army, but after a brief war the two sides stopped fighting and Yugoslavia essentially granted Slovenia independence.

Slovenia has continued their growth since 1991, joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, and adopted the Euro in 2007. Today, the region seems to have more in common with the EU countries than with most of the former Yugoslav countries.

This page was last updated: March, 2013