Sunday, August 27, 2006

Slovenia, history overview, and the old Yugoslavia

This black bear was in our yard in US (tagged B-4 and later sedated and moved 10 miles away, to bigger woods). We thought of him as we read of the bears in Slovenia mostly brown bears, I understand. Slovenia is bear-friendly. See

Slovenia is a beautiful and very tidy-looking country. Strong alpine influence, efforts to improve and restore habitats for wildlife. Do a search for walking tours, natural history tours, and the photos and accounts are splendid.

Slovenia was part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire until WWI. The country then joined the Serbs and Croats as part of Yugoslavia in 1929. There is a good historical overview, a photo gallery and easy-to-read map at Click on the presentation and photos sections especially. This is the government Public Relations and Media Office.

Slovenia consists of varied cultures, related to a broad range of geographic features. For an overview, see If you cannot get that site, then try just the "" There also is a beautiful poster under a search for "rtd." Alps, skiing, all beautiful and mostly prosperous-looking.

Groups have struggled for centuries with invaders and internal ruler issues, as did the rest of Europe. The Balkans were at a particularly divisive crossroads, and now part of the Balkans, like Slovenia, and Croatia seem to look north, to France and Austria-Hungary; and other parts of the Balkans seem to look south, to Turkey, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Serbia, Albania.

Recommendation: Find a copy of the old Baedeker's Yugoslavia (Jarrold&Sons Ltd., Norwich, Great Britain 1987-89) complete with old map. Baedeker's alphabetical list and pictures of all the main places for all the countries, not by separate country, and excellent understandable history, make for easy reading. Roads different, of course, but cultural descriptions remain.

The listing of previously separate ethnic groups/countries there are: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Vojvodina (now part of Croatia), Beograd (as its own listing), Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. Baedeker at page 9.

After WWII, Yugoslavia began to identify less with Russia, but remained communist. In 1991, it declared its independence from Yugoslavia, after a brief war; and by now - 2006 - all the former Yugoslavian states (Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Slovenia) are independent. There have been horrific wars and ethnic-religious killing in those other areas.

Some regions within the original Yugoslavian states are also in process of determining whether to be independent (such as Kosovo, from Serbia). See CIA informational website, with map and factbook, at From the map, you see a small port access area south of Trieste (part of Italy), but the rest of the country is landlocked, much within sight of the Alps.

The tourist board has set up several recommended tourist routes -- as in Germany, taking themes and showing you where to go for those theme. Those sound good if you are focusing on Slovenia for a larger part of your trip. See map and info at