Slovenia In A Glimpse
Slovenia (Slovenija) is a member of the European Union, Schengen Agreement and NATO. The country lies in Central Europe in the eastern Alps at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, bordered by Austria to the north, Italy to the west, Hungary to the northeast, and Croatia to the southeast. Despite its small size, this eastern Alpine country controls some of Europe's major transit routes.
Previously one of Yugoslavia's six constituent republics, present-day Slovenia became independent in 1991. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy have assisted in Slovenia's transformation to a modern state.
Slovenia's main industries include car parts, chemicals, electronics, electrical appliances, metal goods, textiles and furniture. It has a Mediterranean climate on the coast, continental climate with mild to hot summers, and cold winters in the plateaus and valleys to the east.
Slovenes settled the region in the 6th century, when they were incorporated together with Bavarians and Franks. At that time, Christianisation took place. Afterwards, the Slovene lands were part of the Holy Roman Empire, and later they were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the dissolution at the end of World War I in 1918 - when the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was formed, and turned into a multinational state named Yugoslavia in 1929. After Slovenia was occupied by the Axis powers and later liberated by the Partisans with the help of Western Allies in World War II, Slovenia became a republic in the renewed Yugoslavia, which although communist, distanced itself from Moscow's rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power by the majority Serbs, Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 after a short 10-day war. Slovenia acceded to both NATO and the EU in 2004, and joined the eurozone and the Schengen Area in 2007, completing the final steps of accession to the European Union.
Older Slovene cities have historic influences by baroque (Austrian) and Roman (Italian) architectures. Part of both, the countryside and city architecture in the northwest, shares many commonalities with neighbouring Austria, including countless baroque shrines and steeples. The Ljubljana capital was founded in Roman times; today its university has over 50,000 students.
The most famous Slovenes include the poet France Prešeren (1800-1849) who penned the Slovene national anthem, and the architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) who is credited with Ljubljana's iconic Triple Bridge.
Prices are generally high compared to the rest of the European Union. Some prices vary depending on location. For example, a half-litre beer is usually sold at half the price outsideLjubljana compared to pub sales inside the city.
A value-added tax (VAT) of 22% (with a reduced rate of 9.5% usually applied to foods and some soft drinks) is charged on most purchases, and is always included in the displayed price tags. Non-EU residents are entitled to get this tax back for purchases over a certain value when the goods are exported. Travellers can ask the cashier to write down their name on a bill, then they can show this bill for tax returns when leaving Slovenia through Ljubljana Airport or any of the main border crossings with Croatia.
Tipping. Used not to be expected in Slovenia. However, in recent years, tips are becoming more common, especially in some of the areas highly visited by tourists.
Go out shopping. You can make relatively cheap purchases of groceries and other common supplies in several supermarkets, such as the Slovene supermarket chains of Mercator (international retailer with city-malls with various other smaller local and international stores) and Tus, or the foreign international supermarket chains of Dutch Spar, German Aldi (Hofer) and Lidl, Italian Eurospin, French E. Leclerc and Hungarian CBA.
The standard opening hours are M-Sa 8:00-20:00, with some stores also having opening Su 8:00-10:00 or 15:00.
Slovenia is a relatively safe country to visit. Homosexuals are generally not in danger, although there have been reported attacks in the past. Be cautious in the evening and at night, especially in bigger cities. Some may also become aggressive in crowded bars.
To call police, dial 113. There are emergency phones stationed along highways and some main roads. The closest SOS phones can be found by following the signposts, which are usually put right in front of the phone station, so driving slowly is advisable.
It's advisable to use tick repellents in the woods due to the dangers of widespread Lyme disease and Meningitis. If bitten by one of the two known species of venomous adders in the Julian Alps, you should seek medical help to provide you with antiserums (although these are seldom administered). Tourists may encounter a bear in the forests to the south, though actual attacks are rare.