Independent since 1991, Slovenia does not have a majestic history like many larger European nations, but the past is nevertheless important. For many it is surprising that such a small nation, without kings or famous military leaders of its own, could even form, survive and carve out an independent path. But this is the result of the resilience and determination of the Slovene people, whose culture and common language have survived for centuries in this green piece of Europe.
The ancestors of the Slovenes, who migrated to present-day Slovenia in the 7th century, may not have played a leading role in the major historical events in Europe and the world, but they were always involved. As late as the 20th century Slovenia was still being ruled by foreigners, mostly the Habsburg monarchy of Austro-Hungary. The Slovene people nevertheless succeeded in forging a collective consciousness and national allegiance. Slovenia became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after the First World War, then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after the Second World War. After more than 70 years of living inside Yugoslavia, almost 90% of voters opted for independence in the referendum held in 1990. Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004, and also became a member of Nato. It was the first of the new EU members to join the euro, in 2007. The History section gives information about other major milestones in Slovenia’s history.
A major cultural milestone was the publication of the first book in Slovene in 1550, which made Slovene a literary language. The greatest Slovenian poet is France Prešeren, whose poem A Toast is now the national anthem. The annual Prešeren Prizes are the highest awards for the most important and momentous achievements in culture. Slovenia has a very well-developed network of cultural institutions, organisations and associations, comparable with the wealthiest and most progressive countries in Europe. They host numerous events whose renown has spread to the rest of the world. The range of cultural events, festivals, concerts and exhibitions is enough to satisfy the most demanding of guests. The small size of the market means that many artistic and cultural activities in Slovenia enjoy significant support and subsidies from the government, and funding from local authorities.