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A Short History of Slovenia

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Slovenia was inhabited by the Celts and Illyrians whose population was well-developed in the ancient times. This is now bolstered by the discovery of Illyrian friezes near Ljubljana, the country’s capital, which depict ritual sacrifices, feasts, battles, sporting events, and other activities.

The first century saw the establishment of the Roman Empire on the region following 200 years of fighting with the local tribes. This is evidenced by the establishment of the Roman cities of Celje, Ljubljana, Vhrnika and Ptug. In year 595, after the first and second Slavic settlement, the Slavic-Avar army gained control of the territory, thereby consolidating the boundary between Frankish and Avar territories. But from the 14th century to 1918, the Slovenes lived under the rule of the Habsburg dynasty.

After World War I, the Slovenes joined the Slavs to form the state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, and eventually the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes under King Peter I of Serbia, which was renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. When Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers in April 1941, Slovenia was divided into Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Horthy’s Hungary until it became part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945. It was the time when communist dictatorship was established and political opponents and non-communist armed groups were either imprisoned or executed and buried in mass graves. A Socialist Republic of Slovenia emerged prosperous, becoming Yugoslavia’s “unique version” of communism in the region.

But into the end of the Cold War, communism began to weaken with the rise of nationalism and with the League of Communists losing its ideological dominance.  By March 1989, crisis in Yugoslavia deepened, leading to the decline of Yugoslavian rule in Slovenia. In December 1990, a plebiscite had Slovenia voting 88% for independence. In June 1991 Slovenia declared its independence and, with Croatia, recognized each other as independent states. A 10-day war staged by the Yugoslav People’s Army against the Slovenes in July 1991 led to the death of numerous communist soldiers and to the final defeat of communism in the country. 

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