Slovenia is situated in central Europe and is bordered by Italy, Austria, Croatia, and Hungary. Its geography comprises karstic plateaus and ridges, lofty Alpine peaks, and lush valleys. The highest Alpine peak is Triglav, which is one of Slovenia’s national symbols. The tranquil Lake Bohinj lies in a verdant valley at the foot of the Riglav while the beautiful Lake Bled can be found in the Julian Alps in northwestern Slovenia. The coastline of Slovenia stretches for 46.6km, while its rivers and streams flow for an impressive 26,000km. Slovenia is home to around 7,500 freshwater springs, including numerous mineral springs. It is one of the greenest countries in Europe, with around 60 per cent of its land covered by forest. Only Finland and Sweden can lay claim to larger areas of forest.
There are three different climatic zones in Slovenia; a harsh Alpine climate dominates the mountainous zone, the coast boasts a warmers sub-Mediterranean climate, while the lowlands have a continental climate. The average temperature in Slovenia is 20ºC in the summer and approximately 0ºC in the winter. Some winters can be particularly chilly, with temperatures dropping a few degrees beneath zero. Summers can be very warm, with the temperature reaching 30ºC or higher.
Slovenia is known as the land of wine, with one vineyard or winery for every 70 people. It is also famed for its heavenly coastline, which has often been compared in its beauty and ambience to the Italian Riviera. Slovenia is home to beautiful brown bears, who call its verdant forests home. It is known for its blend of Italian and Eastern European culinary traditions, its small population (of only two million) and its lively capital, Ljubljana, with its intricate architecture and plethora of museums and galleries.
From the 9th century A.D. onwards, Slovenia was subjected to foreign rulers. From the 14th century to 1918, it formed part of the Habsburg Empire, though its people always resisted foreign influences and retained their Slavic language. After World War I, the Slovenians formed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes alongside neighbouring Slav states. The union was subsequently named the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and fell under the influence of the Axis powers in World War II. When socialist leader, Josip Broz Tito passed away in 1980, Slovenia defied the powers that be in Belgrade, embracing democracy. In 1990, the majority of the Slovenian population voted for independence in a referendum; this led to a war with Yugoslavia, which resulted in the Slovenians successfully asserting their independence in 1991.
Slovenia’s varied climatic conditions gives rise to a diverse range of plant life. Its lush forests are filled with fir beech, beech oak and beech trees. Pine trees were planted in the 19th century in the Slovenian Karst to counter the effects of the bora wind and to decorate the rocky landscape. Slovenia is also home to an impressive range of wildlife which includes the sturdy brown bear, the exotic lynx and the intelligent wolf.
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