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The approximate territory historically known as "Slovene Lands" is shown in green
Slovene Lands or Slovenian Lands ( or shortly German: Slowenische Länder or archaically Windische Länder) is the historical denomination for the whole of the Slovene-inhabited territories in Central Europe. It more or less corresponds to modern Sloveniamarker and the adjacent territories in Italymarker, Austriamarker and Hungarymarker in which autochthonous Slovene minorities live.


Throughout most of Slovene history, the Slovene ethnic territory belonged to different states, although the vast majority became part of the Habsburg Monarchy by the end of the 15th century. Up to the end of World War I, modern Slovenia was divided between the Austrianmarker provinces of Carniola, Carinthia, Styria and the Austrian Littoral, with a small part belonging to the Kingdom of Hungary. The very word Slovenia ("Slovenija") did not exist until early 19th century, when it was coined for political purposes by the Slovenian romantic nationalists, most probably by some pupils of the linguist Jernej Kopitar. It started to be used only from the 1840s on, when the quest for a politically autonomous United Slovenia within the Austrian Empiremarker was first advanced during the Spring of Nations. It is only since October 29, 1918, when Slovenes declared independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and established the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbsmarker, that Slovenia de facto became a distinctive administrative and political entity. Although Slovenia did not exist as an autonomous administrative unit between 1921 and 1941, the Drava Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker was frequently called simply "Slovenia", even in some official documents. Before that, "Slovene Lands" and not "Slovenia" is the correct term to describe the territory of modern Slovenia and neighbouring areas.

Geographical extension

In the 19th century, the territories regarded as part of the Slovene Lands were the following ones:

The Žumberak and the area around Čabarmarker, which today belong to Croatiamarker, were long part of the Duchy of Carniola, and thus generally regarded as part of the Slovene Lands, especially prior to the emergence of Romantic nationalism in the 19th century, when the exact ethnic border between Slovenes and Croats had not yet been specified.

Not all of the territories referred to as "Slovene Lands" have always had a Slovene-speaking majority. Several towns, especially in Lower Styria, maintained an German speaking majority until the late 1910s, most notably Maribormarker, Celjemarker and Ptujmarker. The area around Kočevjemarker in Lower Carniola, known as the Gottschee County, had a predominantly German-speaking population between the 14th century and 1941 when they were resettled in an agreement between Nazi German and Fascist Italian occupation forces. A similar German "linguistic island" within an ethnically Slovene territory existed in what is now the Italian comune of Tarvisiomarker, but used to belong to the Duchy of Carinthia until 1919. The city of Triestemarker, whose municipal territory has been regarded by Slovenes to be an integral part of the Slovene Lands, has always had a Romance-speaking majority (first Friulian, then Venetian and Italian). A similar case is that of the town of Goriziamarker, which served as a major religious center of the Slovene Lands for centuries, but was inhabited by a mixed Italian-Slovene-Friulian-German population. The towns of Kopermarker, Izolamarker and Piranmarker, surrounded by an ethnically Slovene population, were inhabited almost exclusively by Venetian-speaking Italians until the Istrian exodus in the late 1940s and 1950s, as were large areas of the comune of Muggiamarker. In southern Carinthia, a process of Germanization started by the end of 1840s, creating several German-speaking areas within what had previously been a compact Slovene territory. Since the late 1950s, most of southern Carinthia has had a German-speaking majority, with the local Slovene minority living in a scattered pattern throughout the area.

On the other hand, other areas with historically important Slovenian communities, such as the Croatianmarker cities of Rijekamarker and Zagrebmarker, as well as the Slovene villages in the Somogymarker county of Hungarymarker (the Somogy Slovenes) were never regarded to be part of the Slovene Lands. The same goes for the Slovene communities in south-west Friulimarker (in the villages of Gradisca, Gradiscutta, Gorizzo, Goricizza, Lestizzamarker, and Belgrado in the lower Tagliamentomarker area) which extinguished themselves by the end of the 16th century.

See also


  1. Ingrid Merchiers, Cultural Nationalism in the South Slav Habsburg Lands in the Early Nineteenth Century: the Scholarly Network of Jernej Kopitar (1780-1844) (Munich: O. Sagner, 2007)
  2. Jurij Perovšek, Slovenska osamosvojitev v letu 1918 (Ljubljana: Modrijan, 1998)
  3. Ivan Selan, Slovenija [Kartografsko gradivo]: Dravska banovina (Ljubljana: Kmetijska zbornica Dravske banovine, 1938)
  4. Vinko Vrhunec, Slovenija v šestletki cestnih del (Ljubljana: Banovinska uprava Dravske banovine, 1939)
  5. Andrej Gosar, Banovina Slovenija: politična, finančna in gospodarska vprašanja (Ljubljana: Dejanje, 1940)
  6. Peter Štih, Vasko Simoniti, Peter Vodopivec, Slowenische Geschichte: Gesellschaft - Politik - Kultur (Graz: Leykam, 2008)
  7. Branko Božič, Zgodovina slovenskega naroda (Ljubljana: Prešernova družba, 1969)
  8. Janez Cvirn: Trdnjavski trikotnik (Maribor: Obzorja, 1997)
  9. Mitja Ferenc, Kočevska: izgubljena kulturna dediščina kočevskih Nemcev (Ljubljana: Muzej novejše zgodovine, 1993)
  10. Tina Bahovec, Das österreichisch-italienisch-slovenische Dreiländereck: Ursachen und Folgen der nationalstaatlichen Dreiteilung einer Region (Klagenfurt - Ljubljana: Hermagoras/Mohorjeva, 2006)
  11. Jože Pirjevec, "Trst je naš!" Boj Slovencev za morje (1848-1954) (Ljubljana: Nova revija, 2008)
  12. Aldo Rupel et al., Krajevni leksikon Slovencev v Italiji (Trieste - Duino: SLORI, 1995)
  13. Andreas Moritsch & Thomas M. Barker, The Slovene Minority of Carinthia (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984)
  14. Etnologija Slovencev na Madžarskem = A Magyarországi szlovének néprajza (Budapest: A Magyar Néprajzi Társaság, 1997
  15. Ferdo Gestrin, Slovanske migracije v Italijo (Ljubljana: Slovenska matica, 1998)

Further reading

  • Bogo Grafenauer, Slovensko narodno vprašanje in slovenski zgodovinski položaj (Ljubljana: Slovenska matica, 1987)
  • Josip Gruden & Josip Mal, Zgodovina slovenskega naroda I.-II. (Celje: Mohorjeva družba, 1992-1993)
  • Janko Prunk, A brief history of Slovenia: Historical background of the Republic of Slovenia (Ljubljana: Mihelač, 1994)

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