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The Republic of Slovenia is generally called Slovenia. Located in central Europe, it is is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, and Croatia to the south and southeast. To the southwest is the Adriatic Sea. Its capital is Ljubljana. Most of the country is mountainous. The official language is Slovene.

The Slavs who were the ancestors of today's Slovenes, began to settle in the eastern Alps during the late 6th century. This Slavic tribe became known as the Alpine Slavs, and they were not the only ones to settle there. There were Celts who had been part of the Roman Empire who had a hand in the conversion of the Slavs to Christianity.

The Slavs had turned over their allegiance to the Avar Khans, but after the Byzantine emperor Heraclius defeated the Avars, a Slav named Samo established a Slavic kingdom over which he ruled from 623 until 658.

In 748, it fell under Frankish and in the 10th century when the Frankish Empire was partitioned and the Slavs became part of the German kingdom, and for the next few centuries, a cacophony of empires and kingdoms dominated the Slavs. They were never under Ottoman rule, however, and while it seemed the rest of the world, and even as part of the Habsburg Empire, the Alpine Slavs were primarily Protestant.

During the 14th century, much of what is Slovenia today was taken and controlled by the Habsburg Monarchy, and that's the way it stayed for a few centuries.

The Reformation and the Counter-Reformation in the 16th century affected the Slovenes as it spread like wildfire through the Slovene lands. Many of the Slovene Catholics were converted to Protestantism during the Reformation in the beginning of the 16th century, but by the end of the century, the Counter-Reformation had reconverted many to Catholicism. The first Slovene language books were written by Primo┼ż Trubar, a Protestant preacher, and his followers.

Standardization of the Slovene language started in the late 1700s with clergy from Carniola at the forefront of that movement, while peasants began to use the Slovene vernacular. The major language, however, was German. There was a revival of Slovene literature. It was, after all, the age of enlightenment.

From 1805 to 1813, Slovene territory was part of the autonomous province of the French Empire called the Illyrian Provinces. The French and their revolution influenced the people in many ways during this short time, particularly in the matter of liberty. The feudal system remained.

In the summer of 1813, Austria and France went to war, and Austria occupied the Slovene lands and they became part of the Austrian Empire. The Illyrian Movement, led by young Croatian activists, sought to establish a Croatian national revival uniting all South Slavic people, primarily through ethnic and linguistic unity. These young intellectuals demanded unification as well as an autonomous Slovene kingdom within the Austrian Empire.

Between 1880 and 1917, more than 300,000 Slovenes migrated out of the area into other countries, with a large percentage going to Germany, Egypt, South America, and the United States. A large number of Slovenes settled in Cleveland, Ohio and its suburbs, while the second largest number settled in the Lower West Side of Chicago. Others moved to Pennsylvania and West Virginia to find work in the coal mines as well as the lumber industry, northern Minnesota to mining work in the Iron Range, and to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Youngstown, Ohio, finding work in the steel mills.

After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved, the National Council of Slovenes, Croats took power and declared independence, and they established the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which merged in 1919 with Serbia and became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929, that kingdom was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The territory of Slovenia was the most westernized and industrialized in Yugoslavia, and economically, they were booming.

Then came World War II, which saw Slovenes transported to work camps in Saxony from 1942 to 1945. Upon the libration of Yugoslavia, about 25,000 Slovene civilians were killed by the Axis.

In the 1980s, they began a push toward democracy and independence, and in 1989m they broke away from Yugoslavia and founded the Republic of Slovenia. The first elections took place in 1990, and at Christmastime, they passed a constitution. They officially declared independence on June 25, 1991 and fought the Ten-Day War two days later. The resulting Brioni Accord granted independence to Slovenia as well as Croatia, though there was a 90-day waiting period. All of the Yugoslavian military left Slovenia.

In December of 1992, the internationally-recognized country of Slovenia finally elected its first president.

 

 

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