Slovenia is a small country in central and southern Europe. It shares borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. The capital city is Ljubljana. Other big cities are Maribor (in the east) and Koper (on the coast, next to the Italian border). Slovenia has been part of the European Union since 2004 and uses the Euro as its currency.
Slovenia has been inhabited by people for about 200,000 years. Neanderthals, a type of people who existed before modern-humans, lived in present-day Slovenia as well as other parts of Europe.
A Long ago Slovenia was part of the Roman Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Serbs (renamed later as Yugoslavia). Slovenia was the most developed part of Yugoslavia and many Slovenes didn't like the fact that much of the money made in the country was sent to poorer regions like Bosnia and Montenegro. Slovenia became an independent country in 1991 after a 10 day war with the Yugoslavian Army and joined the European Union in 2004. Slovenia started using the Euro as its currency on January 1st, 2007.
Slovenia is very small but a land of contrasts. The coastal regions have a Mediterranean climate and the inland areas have a continental and alpine climate. The highest mountain in Slovenia is Triglav (2,864m). Almost half of the land is covered by forests making Slovenia one of the most forested countries in Europe. The area near the coast and the Italian city of Trieste is Karst which is a region consisting of limestone rocks, underground caves and rivers.
A range of interesting animals live in Slovenia including the bear, ibex, jackal, wolves, boar and deer. The olm is a creature which only lives in Slovenian caves and is known as the human fish. The country is also well known for the Lipizzan horses especially in the village of Lipica near the Italian border.
The majority of people living in Slovenia speak Slovenian as their native language. There are sizeable communities of Italian and Hungarian speakers close to the borders with Hungary and Italy. English and German are widely spoken and many older Slovenes have a knowledge of Serbian and often Russian too. The Slovenian language is also spoken in the Trieste area of Italy. The literacy rate (number of people who can read and write) in Slovenia is about 100 percent. The current life expectancy of the people of Slovenia is around 76 years of age.
The population of Slovenia is increasing faster than other European countries because of immigration, mostly from other former-Yugoslavian countries.
Slovenia is a popular destination for European tourists especially those from Germany, Austria, the UK and Italy. The capital city, Ljubljana, is noted for its museums and night-life and its central location in the country make it a good arrival and departure point. Lake Bled is considered to be the premier attraction in the country and during summer months can be very crowded. Piran, on the Meditteraneun coast and nearby towns are popular for water sports and the Venetian architecture. Caves, including Postojna Cave and Škocjan Caves, attract tourists from all over the world.
There is only one UNESCO World Heritage Site in Slovenia - Škocjan Caves. The caves are considered important because of they are one of the largest underground canyons in the world, because of the Karst landscape and the accessibility for tourists.
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