Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Republic of Slovenia

In a few days I'm taking my first overnight bus from Brno to Zagreb, Croatia. The plan is to spend a two days in Croatia seeing the capital and going to Plitvice. Then it's just a couple of hours on a train to Slovenia. Slovenia not Slovakia.

The Republic of Slovenia is a bit smaller than New Jersey with a population just over 2 million people. It's in Central/Southeastern Europe. It sounds like the perfect place for nature lovers because it has the Alps and borders the Mediterranean. Plus, more than half of the country is forested.

Slovenia was part of the Holy Roman Empire and then under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After WWI, they formed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. During WWII, the Kingdom was invaded and Slovenia was carved up between Germany, Italy, Croatia and Hungary. After the war it became part of Yugoslavia.

Slovenia was the economic power in communist Yugoslavia. It only had 8% of the population but produced around 20% of the GDP and 1/3rd of all exports. As Yugoslavia became dominated by Serbia, Slovenia had had enough and declared its independence on 25 June 1991. After a 10-day war with the Yugoslav army, which left 66 people dead, a truce was signed and Slovenia was free for the first time in its history. It just celebrated its 20th anniversary as an independent country.

It joined the UN in 1992 and in 2004 it joined both NATO and the EU. Slovenia was the first former communist country to join the Eurozone when it replaced the tolar with the euro as the national currency in 2007.

When I go to Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, I just speak Czech, with a few Serbo-Croatian words thrown in, and I get by with very few problems. Several times, people have asked me if I'm Slovene. They speak Slovenian in Slovenia. So I wonder if my Czech will work better or worse there. I'm sure that it will be fun finding out. The plan is to spend a couple of days in the capital Ljubljana with day trips to Bled and Maribor.

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