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Jurij Vega
Primož Trubar
France Prešeren
Slovenes or Slovenians (Slovene Slovenci, dual Slovenca, singular Slovenec, feminine Slovenke, dual Slovenki, singular Slovenka) are a South Slavic people primarily associated with Sloveniamarker and the Slovene language.


Most Slovenes today live within the borders of the independent Sloveniamarker (2,007,711 est. 2008). There are autochthonous Slovene minorities in northeastern parts of Italymarker (estimated at 83,000 - 183,000) , southern Austriamarker (24,855), Croatiamarker (13,200) and Hungarymarker (3,180). Slovenes are recognized as national minorities in all four countries with which Slovenia shares a land border (Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy).

In the Slovenian national census of 2002, 1,631,363 people ethnically declared themselves as Slovenes , while 1,723,434 people claimed Slovene as their mother tongue .

The total number of Slovenes in Austria is 24,855, of whom 17,953 are representatives of the Slovene national minority, while 6,902 are foreign nationals .


Early Alpine Slavs

In 6th century, Slavic peoples settled the region between the Alps and the Adriatic Seamarker in two consecutive migration waves: the first wave took place around 550 and came from the Moravian lands, while the second wave, coming from the southeast, took place after the retreat of Langobards to Italy in 568 (see Slavic settlement of Eastern Alps).

From 623 to 658, Slavic peoples between the upper Elbe River and the Karavankemarker mountain range were united under the leadership of King Samo (Kralj Samo) in what was to become known as Samo's Tribal Union. The tribal union collapsed after Samo's death, but a smaller Slavic tribal principality Carantania (Slovene: Karantanija) remained, with its centre in the present-day region of Carinthia.

Alpine Slavs during the Frankish Empire

Due to pressing danger of Avar tribes from the east, Carantanians accepted union with Bavarians in 745 and later recognized Frankish rule and accepted Christianity in the 8th century. The last Slavic state formation in the region, the principality of Prince Kocelj, lost its independence in 874. Slovene ethnic territory subsequently shrank due to pressing of Germans from the west and the arrival of Hungarians in the Pannonian plain, and stabilized in the present form in the 15th century.

Slovenes between the 18th century and the Second World War

Slovene lands were part of the Illyrian provinces, the Austrian Empiremarker and Austria-Hungary (in Cisleithania).

Many Slovenes emigrated to the United Statesmarker at the turn of the 20th century, mostly due to economic reasons. Those that settled in Bethlehem, Pennsylvaniamarker came to be called Windish. The largest group of Slovenes eventually ended up settling in Cleveland, Ohiomarker and the surrounding area. The second largest group settled in Chicago principally on the Lower West Side, Chicagomarker. The American Slovenian Catholic Union (Ameriško slovenska katoliška enota) was founded as an organization to protect Slovene-American rights in Joliet, Illinoismarker and Cleveland, OH. Today there are KSKJ branches all over the country offering life-insurance and other services to Slovene-Americans. Freethinkers were centered around 18th and Racine Ave. in Chicago where they founded the Slovene National Benefit Society, other Slovene immigrants went to southwestern Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio and the state of West Virginiamarker to work in the coal mines and lumber industry. Some Slovenes also went to the Pittsburghmarker or Youngstown, Ohiomarker areas to work in the steel mills.

Following the 1st World War (1914-1918), they joined other South Slavs in the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbsmarker, followed by Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker, and finally Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker. In the new system of banovinas (since 1929), Slovenes formed a majority in the Drava Banovina.

In 1920 people in the bilingual regions of Carinthia decided in a referendum that most of Carinthia should remain in Austriamarker. Between the two world wars the westernmost areas inhabited by Slovenes were occupied by Italy.

Slovene volunteers also participated in the Spanish Civil War, and the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.

Slovenes during and after World War II

Yugoslavia was invaded by Axis Powers on April 6, 1941 after a coup d'état in the Yugoslav government ended Yugoslavia's participation in the Tripartite Pact and enraged Adolf Hitler. Territory in Yugoslavia was quickly divided between German, Italian, and Hungarian control, and the Nazis soon annexed Lower Styria as Untersteiermark to the "Greater Reich". About 46,000 Slovenes in the Rann (Brežicemarker) Triangle region were forcibly deported to eastern Germany for potential Germanization or forced labor beginning in November 1941.

On 27. April 1941 in Ljubljana National Liberation Front was organized with aim of liberation struggle, forming Slovene partisan army, and structures of future state in liberated areas. More than 30.000 partisans died fighting Axis forces and their collaborators, during the WWII approximately 8 percent of Slovenes perished .

The deported Slovenes were taken to several camps in Saxony, where they were forced to work on German farms or in factories run by German industries from 1941-1945. The forced labourers were not always kept in formal concentration camps, but often just vacant buildings where they slept until the next day's labour took them outside these quarters. Toward the close of the war, these camps were liberated by American and Soviet Army troops, and later repatriated refugees returned to Yugoslavia to find their homes in shambles.

In 1945, Yugoslavia liberated itself and shortly thereafter became a nominally federal Communist statemarker. Slovenia joined the federation as a socialist republic; its own Communist Party having been formed in 1937.

Most of Carinthiamarker remained part of Austriamarker and around 42,000 Slovenes (per 1951 population census ) were recognized as a minority and have enjoyed special rights following the Austrian State Treaty (Staatsvertrag) of 1955. The Slovenes in the Austrian state of Styriamarker (4,250) are not recognized as a minority and do not enjoy special rights, although the State Treaty of July 27, 1955 states otherwise.

Many of the rights required by the 1955 State Treaty are still to be fully implemented. There is also an undercurrent of thinking amongst parts of the population that the Slovene involvement in the partisan war against the Nazi occupation force was a bad thing, and indeed "Tito partisan" is a not an infrequent insult hurled by members of the minority. Many Carinthians are (quite irrationally) afraid of Slovene territorial claims, pointing to the fact that Yugoslav troops entered the state after each of the two World Wars. The former governor, Jörg Haider, regularly played the Slovene card when his popularity started to dwindle, and indeed relied on the strong anti-Slovene attitudes in many parts of the province for his power base. Another interesting phenomenon is for some German speakers to refuse to accept the minority as Slovenes at all, referring to them as Windische, an ethnicity distinct from Slovenes (a claim which linguists reject on the basis that the dialects spoken are by all standards a variant of the Slovene language).

Yugoslavia acquired some territory from Italy after WWII but some 100,000 Slovenes remained behind the Italian border, notably around Triestemarker and Goriziamarker.

In 1991, Slovenia became an independent nation state after a brief ten day war.


The earliest documents written in a Slovene dialect are the Freising manuscripts (Brižinski spomeniki), dated between 972 and 1022, found in 1803 in Freisingmarker, Germanymarker. The first books printed in Slovene were Catechismus and Abecedarium, written by the Protestant reformer Primož Trubar in 1550 and printed in Tübingenmarker, Germany. Jurij Dalmatin translated the Bible into Slovene in 1584. In the second half of the 16th century Slovene became known to other European languages with the multilingual dictionary, compiled by Hieronymus Megiser.


The disintegration of Yugoslavia during the late 1980s and the formation of independent Slovenia in the early 1990s has motivated a search for a particularly Slovenian national identity. One reflection of this is the rejection of a Slavic identity in favour of a "Venetic" one in Slovene nationalism. The autochthonist (protochronist) "Venetic theory" was advanced in the mid 1980s. The name Slovenian is derived from proto-Slavic form slovo "word, talk" (both akin to slišati "to hear", which comes from the IE root *ḱlew-). Thus Slovenci (Slovenians) would mean "people who speak (the same language)", i.e. people who understand each other.

In the late 1980s, several symbols from the Middle Ages were revived as Slovenian national symbols. Among them, the most popular are the so-called Slovene Hat which featured in the coat of arms of the Slovene March, and the Black Panther, a reconstruction of the supposed coat of arms of the Carolingian duchy of Carantania. After being used in the flag, the graphical representation of Triglavmarker has become recognised as a national symbol. Another symbol connected to Triglav comes from the tale of the Zlatorog or Goldenhorn, a legendary creature living on a mountain-top garden near Triglav.


External links


The origin of Slovenes

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