Slovenes - Orientation

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.

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