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ETHNONYMS: Krainisch, Slovenec (plural, Slovenci), Slovenian, Slovenski, Wendisch, Windisch


Identification. Slovenia was the northwesternmost republic of Yugoslavia; it is now an independent state. The name "Slovenec" is derived from the common name for the Slavs, which is the equivalent of the Greek "Sklavenos" (Romanian "Slavjanin"; Czech, Slovak "Slovan"). There is disagreement about the origin of the word for the Slavs. It is thought to derive either from the word slava (glory) or from the word slovo (word), referring to those who speak clearly, as opposed to the neighboring Germans who do not. (The Slavic root nem, which forms the word for German, nemec, also forms words meaning mute.)

Location. Slovenia is situated in the Karst Plateau and the Julian Alps. It is drained by the Sava and Drava rivers. It is bordered on the north by Austria, on the southwest by Italy, and by the former Yugoslav republic of Croatia, another now independent state, on the south and east. It also shares a small border to the east with Hungary. Slovenia is located Between 49° and 50° N and 12° and 19° E. Its area is 20,251 square kilometers. The largest part of Slovenia is Mountainous. Much of the land is karstic, rugged and stony. Only a small eastern section lies within the Pannonian Plain. Summers are short, often cool, and sometimes rainy. Winters are cold but not severe.

Demography. Compared to Serbia's, Slovenia's population increase has been gradual, growing in urban sections and generally declining in rural ones since 1891 because of exhaustion of free land. According to census figures, in 1921 the Slovene population was 1.05 million; in 1931, 1,266,604; in 1948,1,439,800; and in 1961, 1,584,368. The latest Population figure (1990) is 1,891,864. Population density in 1990 was 93 persons per square kilometer. Large Slovene Populations also live in southern Austria and in the United States (especially in Cleveland, Ohio; Pennsylvania; and Minnesota).

Linguistic Affiliation. The Slovene language, one of the South Slavic Group of the Slavic Family, is one of the most archaic of the Slavic languages. It includes thirty-six dialects, and twenty-nine subdialects, many of which are distinct enough to be unintelligible to Slovene speakers of different areas.

History and Cultural Relations

In the area that is today Slovenia, early Iron Age settlements attributed to Illyrians came under Roman control by 14 b.c. By AD. 650 Slavic tribes, including the Slovenes, were in full possession of Illyria. In the middle of the seventh century Slovenes were included in the Slavic union led by King Samo (617-658). Later the Slovenes came under the domination of the Franks and became the object of intensive Christian proselytizing, particularly under Charlemagne (768-814). During the Middle Ages Slovene lands became part of the Holy Roman Empire and by the middle of the fourteenth Century, Hapsburg domination over the duchies of Carinthia and Carniola was established and continued until 1918, with the brief interruption of the Napoleonic conquest of Carniola (1809-1813).

By the tenth century German lords and the Catholic church represented the feudal order. The peasants were burdened with various feudal obligations. By the sixteenth Century the Reformation encouraged the rise of Slovene national consciousness and the Slovene language was adopted in church services. In 1584 the first Slovene grammar appeared. But the Counter Reformation was successful in opposing Protestantism. From the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries there were peasant revolts. Problems were mitigated by the enlightened policy of agrarian reform under Maria Theresa (1740-1780) and her son Joseph II (1780-1790). In 1848 when all serf obligations were abolished, Slovene national consciousness culminated in the call for the creation of a Slovenían kingdom under Austria. The years from 1848 to 1918 saw mixed developments since, in spite of improvements in agricultural practices, taxes increased, as did land subdivisions and mortgaging of farms. The agrarian crisis of the 1890s that followed forced large numbers of peasants to emigrate to the United States.

In 1918, with the end of Austrian rule, the new South Slav state was formed, initially called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes and later named Yugoslavia. World War II saw the fall of the Yugoslav government, and on 2 April 1941 the Germans invaded Yugoslavia, giving rise to the Partisan movement. Slovenia was occupied by the Germans except in the southwest section, which was controlled by the Italians, and a small area of Prekomurje, which fell to the Hungarians. On 29 November 1945 the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was formed, and Slovenia gained a part of the Istrian Peninsula and the territory surrounding Trieste as well as certain regions west of the Italian city of Goricia. More stringent land reforms followed that did not greatly help the situation in Slovenia, where there were not many rich peasants with enough land to be distributed. The program of collectivization of the land was introduced in 1948 and, while the bulk of the peasant holdings remained private, the peasant economy became strictly regulated by the Communist program. In 1948 Yugoslavia broke with the Cominform and introduced regional autonomy, which culminated in the Constitutional Law of 1953 giving considerable authority to local government bodies, the people's committees (narodni odbor ). In 1955 the Law on Organization of Communes and Districts instituted the communal system. In April 1963 the constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia became law. In 1971 the decision was made to establish a collective presidency, which President Tito encouraged. In 1974 a new Yugoslav constitution was introduced. Since Tito's death, on 4 May 1980, economic and national problems have increased. On 22 January 1990 the Communist party of Yugoslavia renounced its constitutionally guaranteed leading role in society and called on parliament to enact political pluralism leading to a multiparty system. In the spring of 1990 the Slovene Communists lost in the elections and Slovenia then advocated turning Yugoslavia into a loose federation of allied states. A Slovene secessionist movement gained strength and succeeded in establishing independence in 1991. Slovenia has its own militia, which the national government had declared illegal prior to Independence, and has established its own currency.


In the most typical settlements, called planned or long Villages, houses were lined up close together on either side of the road with the narrow end of the house facing the road, or houses were built only on one side of the road, or houses faced a central square with a church. In areas where the topography permitted, land surrounding the village was divided into open fields or sections, which in turn were subdivided into long parallel fields or strips. Traditionally each peasant possessed one or more strips in each section of the village land, and all villagers cooperated in a villagewide system of crop rotation (kolobarjenje). After the harvest the fields were opened for pasturing the cattle of the entire village. Houses were made of stone with attached sheds for animals, which contained a stove to cook food for pigs (kuhinja ). Detached wooden barns were for storage of hay and cattle fodder. Houses were one-and-one-half stories with two rooms and no cellar. In the kitchen was a raised hearth on which an open fire burned vented by a hole in the ceiling. Meat was stored in the attic. Roofs were thatched. The second room was the main room, heated by a large tiled stove. Tile roofs date from after World War II. Today modernization has proceeded with revenues from factory work and with remittances from family members who have migrated to cities and to foreign Countries. Electrification, piped water, electric stoves and refrigerators, and house enlargements are among the improvements. Apartment buildings have grown up around factories and in urban centers. Tourism and urban development have given cities a very modern appearance.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities . Farming, livestock raising, and forestry have been the traditional rural Occupations of peasants. Agricultural land is limited by rugged mountains, stony valleys, and karstic soil. Only at high altitudes are alpine black soils found. Slovenia does not produce enough grain for its own needs and must rely on imports. The main crops are wheat on the flat areas; rye, barley, and oats at higher elevations; and maize, clover, and potatoes. Turnips, carrots, beets, and cabbages are cultivated for animal as well as for human consumption. The animal economy includes milk cows, beef cattle, pigs, sheep in the mountains, and poultry. Horse and oxen for draft, the traditional sources of power, have been replaced by tractors, but only in the post-World War II period. Forest exploitation has been important for Slovene peasants, who owned 90 percent of the woodland by the period between the two wars. Furniture factories and sawmills are often close to peasant villages. Traditional methods of distribution included exchanges in regional markets. Industrialization began in the nineteenth century aided by the construction of a railroad line connecting Trieste and Ljubljana. Slovenia's resources include natural gas, oil, mercury, coal, lead, silver, and zinc. Iron, steel, and aluminum are produced. Slovenia produces considerable electrical energy. There are also paper, textile, wood, and chemical industries. While in 1900 75 percent of the population was engaged in agriculture, by 1960 this figure was reduced to 32.3 percent and a large portion of these worked part-time in factories. Of all the former Yugoslav republics, Slovenia was the most industrialized and urbanized and had the highest per capita income.

Industrial Arts. The traditional village included artisans such as tailors, weavers, cobblers, smiths, carpenters, and millers, and their products provided for most of the villagers' needs.

Trade. Villagewide and regional markets once dominated local trade, where cattle were traded and textiles, tools, rope, sweets, etc. were sold. Now there are inns and stores in the countryside providing for the village needs. Horse smuggling was common in the interwar period, when horses were bought in Croatia and sold in Italy. In the modern period much of the rural trade has been controlled by cooperative farms, to which cattle, hogs, potatoes, lumber, hay, etc. are sold at prices the peasants consider unfavorable. Consequently rural areas have attempted to develop their own specialties not demanded by the cooperatives, such as breeding hogs and selling young pigs, thereby circumventing official channels. Today Slovenia imports wheat and industrial products from the West and exports wood and textile products, nonferrous metal products, livestock, and numerous other commodities. Slovenia is attempting to increase capital-intensive and specialized industries and reduce exporting of lumber and meat in order to compete on the world market.

Division of Labor. The traditional Slovene family was patriarchal and extended. Division of labor by sex was clear but not rigid. Women carried the main burden of the fieldwork, cutting and raking hay, digging potatoes, planting, weeding, hoeing, and caring for the crops throughout the year. Women also milked the cows, cared for the pigs, made everyday clothes and linen, prepared the food and cared for the Children. Men scythed or mowed, fed the cattle, plowed, repaired buildings and tools, lumbered, and carted wood, etc. But today both men and women may work in the factory and Divide up the fieldwork more informally. Other activities also divided the sexes. Thus only men and boys played ball in the balina fields. Young boys, but not girls, could sleep in barns at night. Men peopled the local inns. Typically boys helped the father and girls, the mother. Village specialists had far less land and engaged in weaving, forging, carpentry, etc.; some villagers owned sawmills and were millers.

Land Tenure. Various traces of evidence suggest ancient landholdings may have been held jointly by brothers. The joint family, or South Slavic zadruga, it is suggested, was then modified and equal division was practiced. When land became increasingly scarce by the fourteenth century, partible inheritance was replaced by impartible inheritance with a preference for primogeniture. Disinherited brothers, unless they married women who inherited land, were forced to emigrate, to turn to specialized village crafts, or become day laborers. In the modern period, primogeniture has broken down since many sons prefer to leave rural life for factories or specialized training, leaving only a younger son or a daughter to maintain the land and homestead. However, the rule of impartibility is generally maintained since landholdings are too small to be further subdivided.


Kin Groups and Descent. Kinship is bilateral with a patrilineal emphasis. The typical kin group was the stem family composed of the patriarch head (gospodar ), his wife, their children, various unmarried collateral relatives of the gospodar, and the wife and offspring of the eldest son. The Presence of common surnames, archival records, and legends suggest that lineage relations existed between dominant joint families.

Marriage and the Family

Marriage. Traditionally, village or regional endogamy was preferred. Marriages were arranged by parents and involved bargaining over dowry and inheritance. Preferred residence was virilocal, but it was sometimes uxorilocal if the inheritor of the land was a daughter. The aim was to gain land in a Marriage, and thus a peasant with little land might try to marry his son to an inheriting woman. Weddings were the occasion of a veselica, a celebration with feasting, music, games, etc., and might extend over three days. Civil marriages in the postwar period have not replaced religious marriages, which, However, are much briefer than formerly. Divorce, while permitted by civil law, is still relatively rare in rural areas.

Domestic Unit. The large stem family with many children has become smaller, increasingly being replaced by a small extended family or a nuclear family composed of parents, one to three children, and one or more members of the older generation.

Inheritance. Land is inherited by the rules of impartibility and primogeniture when possible. Women are granted dowries and may inherit land if there is no son. The son also Inherits money and animals. While status is not inherited, traditionally the son of a craftsman tended to follow his Father's occupation; however, in the modern period education and factory work have opened opportunities to all strata and both sexes.

Socialization. Children are welcomed, with sons preferred. Swaddling is no longer practiced, but a restraining nightgown may be used for the first year. Schooling is universal and education beyond high school is desired by the younger generation.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The family is tied to other families by relations among kin and relations to godparents and Neighbors. Traditionally, villagewide activities were organized by the church, by singing societies, by firemens' organizations, which included other activities such as dramatic productions, and by veselicas at many occasions such as weddings, threshing, and the kolina festivities when a pig was slaughtered. Additionally, regional markets were centers for social interaction of all kinds. All these activities have declined in the modern period. Traditionally there were clear differences in social Status in the peasant village. The highest status was occupied by the largest landowners and in some areas by the millers who owned larger forest reserves. Middle peasants were next, and the landless or semilandless craftsmen had the lowest status. In the postwar period peasants who became political functionaries occupied an ambiguous status, having a measure of power but often coming from the landless class. Status also became far more fluid as factory work and educational activities expanded.

Political Organization. The post-1848 village was ruled by an elected village council under the village head (podžupan ), who was subordinate to the občina, a council representing a number of villages, which in turn was subordinated to the District. This structure was successively altered under the Communist regime and the communal system. Local village government lost much of its autonomy, being replaced by people's committees (narodni odbor) at the občina and District level. After 1955 the communal system was instituted. The commune replaced the občina as the basic political unit and local units were further consolidated. Full-time peasants had less rights and were less fully represented than others.

Social Control. In the traditional village social control was informally exercised through face-to-face relations, gossip, social ostracism, the power of the local Catholic church and the village council, and only secondarily by the legal mechanisms of the state. In the postwar period local methods largely have been replaced by official ones.

Conflict. Traditionally conflicts between villages over such issues as boundary disputes, inheritance, rights to forest land, and road construction were settled by the village council or local courts. Postwar conflicts such as those between the Village and the cooperative farms no longer are settled locally. Ethnic antagonisms between Slovenes and the representatives of the southern nationalities have been sources of tensions.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. The main religious beliefs of the Slovenes are those of the Roman Catholic church. While legends relate activities of witches and magical forces, such themes are intermixed with Christian dogma.

Religious Practitioners and Ceremonies. In the prewar period the parish was supported by a church tax administered by the village council and the priest was paid by the state and received remuneration from parishioners for his services, which included: hearing confessions; religious education for children; and officiation at masses, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and funerals. The religious calendar was full and well observed, including pilgrimages to large churches with stops at wayside shrines and general celebrations on religious holidays. In the postwar period the activities and power of the Catholic church were seriously curtailed, although the priests attempted to continue to offer their services and the Catholic religion remained a strong moral force. In the post-Communist period, of course, the church has considerably greater latitude.

Arts. Traditional arts included decorative motifs on buildings such as barns, gravestone decorations, and religious carvings and paintings in churches following central European styles. In peasant houses one saw colorful tile stoves, wall stippling giving the impression of wallpaper, woven cloths, wooden carvings on boxes and other items, and hand-carved simple furniture. Local folk art declined during the Communist period, becoming commercialized and standardized and being sold primarily in tourist-orientated state-controlled stores, but there has been a rich growth of modern architecture and painting in urban centers.

Medicine. Modern medicine has penetrated the rural area. Children receive inoculations, chest X rays are available to everyone, and most children are born in hospitals. Peasants receive health insurance, although coverage has been limited as compared to that available to workers. While local cures and traditional herbs are still used, the primary curer is the medical doctor.

Death and Afterlife. Funerals follow traditional Catholic customs. The body is placed in an open coffin in the house for forty-eight hours while friends and relatives pay a last call and sprinkle the body with holy water or salt. After the coffin is closed, it is placed in the open door, and the priest invokes a benediction and leads prayer. There follows the funeral mass at the church, a graveside benediction, the burial, and then the funeral feast. For eight days thereafter friends visit the family of the deceased and pray, eat, and drink together. Finally, there are additional requiem masses thirteen and eighteen days later.


Grafenauer, Bogo (1954-1962). Zgodovina slovenskega naroda (History of the Slovene people). 5 vols. Ljubljana: Kmečka Knjiga.

Hočevar, Toussaint (1965). The Structure of the Slovenian Economy, 1848-1963. New York: Studia Slovenica.

Mal, Josip (1928). Zgodovina slovenskega naroda: Najnovejša doba (History of the Slovene nation: The modern period). Celje: Druzba sv. Mohorja.

Melik, Anton (1963). Slovenija: Geografski opis (Slovenia: A geographic description). Ljubljana: Slovenska Matica.

Slovene Studies (1979-). Journal of the Society for Slovene Studies. University of Alberta. Edmonton, Canada.

Winner, Irene (1971). A Slovenian Village: Zerovnica. Providence: Brown University Press.


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ALTERNATE NAMES: Slovenci; Slovenians [both forms, Slovene and Slovenian, are used as noun and adjective]

LOCATION: Slovenia and regions of Austria, Italy, and Hungary along their Slovenian borders

POPULATION: 1.7 million

LANGUAGE: Slovenian

RELIGION: Roman Catholicism


The Slovenes originally lived in the area northeast of the Carpathian Mountains. They settled in the eastern Alpine region of Central Europe in the sixth and seventh centuries ad. They formed a short-lived country called Karantania in the eighth century. They didn't have their own independent state in modern times until 1991.

For over a thousand years, Slovenes lived under mostly German rule as part of the Holy Roman (9621806), Austrian (18041867), and Austro-Hungarian (18671918) empires. The region where the Slovenes live became part of Yugoslavia after World War I ended in 1918.

During centuries of foreign rule, the Slovenes preserved their language. Over the last 200 years, they formed a modern nation with a rich culture and aspirations for political independence, which they achieved when Yugoslavia fell apart in June 1991, after two of its republics, Croatia and Slovenia, proclaimed their independence.


The Republic of Slovenia borders Italy in the west, Austria in the north, Hungary in the northeast, and Croatia in the east and south. It is about the size of the state of New Jersey. Slovenia's climate varies with its geographical makeup.

About 50 percent of Slovenes live in cities. Ljubljana, the capital, has approximately 330,000 inhabitants. Before World War II (193945), over 50 percent of Slovenes made their living from farming. In the 1990s, the number of peasant farmers had dwindled to 7 percent. After World War II, Yugoslavia industrialized quickly but did not become urbanized. In independent Slovenia, many Slovenes still live in the country and commute to work in the cities.

Most of Slovenia's population of 2 million are Slovene1.7 million, or 88 percent.


The language of Slovenes is Slovenian, which is the official language of the Republic of Slovenia. Slovenian is a South Slavic language, closely related to Croatian and similar to other Slavic languages, such as Czech. It is spoken by approximately two million people in the Slovene ethnic territory, and by emigrants around the world.

At present, slang, especially of youth, and technical language of professional groups are heavily influenced by English. In teenagers' talk, the English words "full" and "cool" are common expressions of emphasis. For examples, To je ful dober! (This is very good!) is often heard. Another often-used English expression is "OK."

People are most often named after Catholic saints such as Ann, Andrew, Joseph, Maria, and Matthew (Ana, Andrej, Jože, Marija, Matevž ). Also popular are old Slavic personal names, such as Iztok or Vesna. Family names are derived from people's occupations. Examples include Kmet (farmer), or Kovač (blacksmith). Locations also become family or given names. For examples, Dolinar (one who lives in a valley), or Hribar (one who lives on a mountain). Names derived from animals are also popular: Medved (bear), Petelin (rooster), or Volk (wolf).


Many Slovene folk traditions are associated with seasonal celebrations. Adults and children enjoy the spring Carnival season, called pust (Mardi Gras). Celebrations include parades, carnivals, and masquerade balls. Kurentovanje in the city of Ptuj (in northeastern Slovenia) is the most famous tourist attraction. The central figure in the event is the kurent, who has fur clothing and unusual masks with horns. These represent human and animals traits. They are meant to evoke images of another planet. Always happy, the kurent is considered to forecast spring, fertility, and new life. Accompanied by a ceremonial plowman, he visits farms and wishes their owners a prosperous year.

Also for Carnival season, the traditional pastries krofi and flancati (similar to doughnuts) are prepared. Costumed children, wearing masks, go from house to house, asking: "Do you have anything for Pusta, Hrusta?" People give them sweets and fruits. Adults attend masquerade balls.

Slovene heroes are usually optimistic, wise, and cheerful. The story about Kralj Matjaž (King Mathias) dates to difficult times in Slovene history. People imagined a good king, who would protect them from danger and never die. Instead, he and his army are said to be sleeping under Mount Peca. When needed, the king and his soldiers will awaken and protect their people.


Although 90 percent of Slovenes claim to be Catholic, many fewer practice their religion by attending mass regularly or receiving the sacraments. But Slovene culture is inseparable from Catholicism. Small numbers of people belong to other religious groups. Besides the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Protestant Church (Lutheran) is the oldest.


Religious holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, Assumption Day (August 15), and All Saints' Day (November 1) are recognized as national holidays. A few nonreligious holidays are also observed. Since gaining independence in 1991, Slovenes celebrate Statehood Day (June 25), and Independence Day (December 26).

Although the majority of Slovenes are Catholic, Reformation Day is also observed as a national holiday on October 31 to recognize the important role the Protestants played in establishing the identity of the Slovene nation. In 1550, is was the Protestants who published the first book in the Slovene language.


Major life transitions are marked with religious ceremonies and celebrations appropriate to the Roman Catholic tradition followed by the majority of Slovenes. Such events as baptism, first communion, and confirmation are considered important rites of passage in a child's life.


When meeting, Slovenes exchange various greetings, depending on the time of day. Until 10 am, they say dobro jutro (good morning). During the day it is dober dan (good day). After dark one says dober vecer (good evening). The reply to all of the above is Bogdaj (May God grant you).

Slovenes, especially the young, often say zivijo (long life) when meeting friends and acquaintances. At parting, various phrases are used. The most common are nasvidenje (so long), adijo (goodbye) and, in the evening, lahko noc (good night). When Slovenes meet or part, they often shake hands.

Slovenes are courteous visitors and when invited to dinner will always bring small gifts. Hvala (thanks) is the word used to express gratitude, to which prosim (please) is the polite response. Prosim is also used when a request is put forward, or when a listener did not hear or understand what was said.


Statistics show that the quality of life in Slovenia is good. Life expectancy for men is seventy years and for women seventy-six years. Mothers are entitled to one year's maternity leave so that they can stay with their babies and nurse them. Maternity leave is actually "parental" leave, as half of it can be used by fathers.

There is a shortage of housing. Apartments are small and modest. Very few children have their own rooms. Most share them with other siblings, sometimes even with parents. However, many people living in cities have small cottages, called vikendi, in the country, in the mountains, along rivers, or in spas where they spend their weekends.

Every family has at least one radio and television, while telephones and computers are somewhat less common.


The majority of young people get married in their twenties and establish a family with one or two children. Families with three or more children are rare.

Slovenes maintain close relations with their parents, siblings, and extended families. In recent decades, younger husbands have begun to share responsibility for housework and the education of children. About half of all marriages end in divorce, and most children are left with their mothers. In general, divorce is easily obtained.


Slovenes wear modern, Western-style clothing. Young people love blue jeans and T-shirts. Women are mostly elegantly dressed and like Italian fashions, while men dress informally, even at the office.


Slovenes love breads and potatoes. Potatoes are served boiled, sautéed, deep-fried, or roasted, and are used in various dishes. Breakfast consists of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, and rolls with butter and jam. Zemlja, a special kind of hard roll, is especially popular. Some people skip breakfast and drink only strong coffee.

For lunch, the main meal of the day, people eat soup, meat, a main-course starch, vegetables, and a salad. Lunch is prepared by working mothers after returning from work and is eaten in the midafternoon. Supper is a light meal with salads, yogurt, and leftovers from lunch.

Slovenes have many traditional dishes, often prepared for celebrations. One of the most genuine festive Slovene foods is a rolled yeast cake, called potica, with sweet (walnuts, tarragon, raisins) or salty (cracklings or crisp pork fat) fillings. Potica is served at Christmas and Easter. Among traditional meat dishes, kranjske klobase (sau-sages, similar to Polish kielbasa) are well known, as are pork dishes (koline) in winter.


The Slovene literacy rate (ability to read and write) is almost 100 percent. Compulsory eight-year elementary education has been a legal requirement since 1869. About 90 percent of students who finish elementary school continue their education at the secondary level. Some go to four-year schools to prepare for higher studies, but many enter two-and three-year vocational schools. A school year lasts 190 days. Not all students graduate.

Those who finish take the upper-level comprehensive exam (velika matura), which enables them to enroll in university. There is no tuition in the public school system at any level for full-time students, but parents have to pay for the students' textbooks and other supplies. Since 1991, the law allows home-schooling and private schools, though there are few private schools.


Music has always been an important part of the Slovene culture. Vocal and instrumental music has ritual and entertainment functions. Folk songs are simple in form, lyrics, and music, and deal with love, patriotism, war, work traditions, changes of season, and religious and family holidays. In the past, folk singing was part of everyday life.

Slovenes have built hundreds of churches and numerous art galleries, which are testimony to a rich cultural heritage. Although influenced by particularly Slovene cultural characteristics, the literature, music, visual arts, architecture, and theater in Slovenia have been part of larger art movements in Central Europe. Slovene artists worked in the European art centers, and European masters came to Slovenia. The same is true today.


Most employed people work a forty-hour week. Some industrious Slovenes work much longer. Besides holding jobs in factories and offices, many work second jobs, run their own businesses, or work on small, family-owned farms. Switching from a communist to a capitalist economy has been difficult.


Slovenes like hiking, mountain climbing, biking, swimming, rafting and rowing, tennis, horseback riding, fishing, and many other sports. In winter, they ski and skate. Almost every child and adult owns a bike, and many ride bikes to school or the office every day. Skiing has a long history in this part of the world and is probably the most popular sport in Slovenia. Skis were invented in Slovenia at the same time as in Scandinavia. They were once a major means of transportation. Today, there are a few hundred thousand recreational skiers, from whose ranks competitive skiers are recruited. They compete internationally.


Many schools organize dances for their students on weekends. Proms (maturitetni plesi) are traditional in elementary and secondary schools and are organized for graduates every year in the spring. Adults dance on various occasions. The polka and waltz are very popular, but Slovenes dance all major dances from the tango to the macarena.

Slovenes enjoy strolling, often in attractive old town centers, meeting people, chatting, and having a drink in small coffee shops, or kavarnas. Weekend trips to the mountains are also very popular. Slovenes enjoy walking in the woods and picking mushrooms to prepare them as culinary specialties.

Movies, concerts, and theater performances are enjoyed by many people. In Slovenia, concerts have greater attendance than soccer games. Young people enjoy listening to various jazz, rock, and pop groups. Although there are several local rock groups, young people listen mostly to popular American, English, and German groups. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Marley are known to every Slovene teenager. Television viewing has increased in the last decade. Besides Slovene television programs, Slovenes can also watch Italian, Austrian, English, and American television shows, including news on CNN.


Folk arts were mostly associated with crafts and decorating peasants' or, later, workers' homes. Painters often decorated furniture (for example chests, bed headboards, and cribs). Painting on glass was popular in the nineteenth century. Talented but unschooled folk artists often portrayed religious images and geometric patterns. Traditional Slovene crafts include pottery, woodenware, embroidery, lace making, candle making, gingerbread pastries, glass making, wrought iron, and clock making. Potters produce many useful objects such as pots, baking and roasting dishes, jars, pitchers, and goblets.

Woodenware (spoons, various kitchen utensils, toothpicks, and sieves) was produced in several centers. The best known of these, Ribnica Valley, is still active.


Alcoholism is an old, persistent, and serious problem among Slovenes of all ages and both sexes. Consumption of alcohol has increased by about 25 percent during the last decade. Drug use has also increased, especially among young people.

Unemployment has always been a problem for Slovenes. At most times, it was solved by emigration. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, thousands of Slovenes emigrated to industrialized Europe and the United States. Economic emigration continued after World War II. Many emigrants returned home in the 1980s. Today, about 14 percent of Slovenes are out of work.


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Glenny, Michael. The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War. New York: Penguin, 1992.

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