Slovenia is a small country. It has only 20,271 km2 of the total area. This creates a good possibility of precise local governance. At first glance, the municipal division should be simple in such a situation. However, Slovenia is not that simple. Here, political, historical, geographical reasons mixed and created several divisions. Therefore, the capital city, Ljubljana, is differentiated in various ways.
Ljubljana belongs to the City Municipality of Ljubljana, which is included in the Central Slovenia Statistical Region of the Republic of Slovenia.
A few centuries ago, it was a part of Upper Carniola’s traditional historic region until it became a separate entity.
Ljubljana: General Briefing
Ljubljana is the capital city of the Republic of Slovenia. As for 2020, its population raised up to 295,504 people. Also, this is the largest city in the country. Its area is estimated at 163.8 km2. The city has high cultural value for Slovenians because the greatest universities, theaters, governmental structures are located here. Also, the city is a place of location of a number of green areas as well as a place of the biggest festivals and concerts happening.
The city is full of life, you can find approximately 10,000 cultural events taking place here each year, including theatre, music, and art festivals. On the other hand, not so far from the city, there are the Ljubljana Marshes, that were included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage. This is a natural area of swamps that covers about 160 square kilometers. The marshes are also known for rare animals and plant species.
The name of the city has an interesting history. In general, scientists still cannot agree on what the most reliable version is. In general, the most popular meaning still remains the one deriving from old Slavic ljub- meaning “to love” or “to like”. In this case, the modern name of the city can be indirectly translated as “Beloved”, which perfectly represents the feeling of the city.
City Municipality of Ljubljana
As a republic, Slovenia has a unitary division. For now, the country is divided into 212 municipalities. In the Slovene language, they are called občina. Eleven of them have the status of urban cities. Further governmental divisions include local communities and districts.
Slovenian is the official language of all the 212 municipalities. In addition, there are three municipalities in Prekmurje, where Hungarian has the status of the second official language, and four municipalities in the Slovene Littoral, where Italian had this status as well.
The City Municipality of Ljubljana, with its 295,504 of the population, takes first place among other ones. After it, the list includes municipalities of Maribor (111,374), Kranj (55,527), Koper/Capodistria (53,322), Celje( 48,675), Novo Mesto (36,285), Velenje (32,912), Nova Gorica (31,938), Ptuj (23,404), Murska Sobota (19,188), Slovenj Gradec (16,870).
The municipality consists of 17 districts. In Slovene, they are called četrtna skupnost. Each one is represented by district councils. This allows building the working vertical of governmental power spreading on the entire territory of the country. Moreover, this allows us to hear everybody and consider problems of even the smallest settlements. Additionally, the municipality includes 37 nearby settlements.
The economy of the municipality is quite strong. The annual budget is approximately 350 million Euros. The current mayor is Zoran Janković, the Slovene businessman, politician, and one of the most influential people in the country. He was the mayor of the city two times. The first one from October 2006 to December 2011. After that, he became a deputy in the National Assembly, but he failed to be elected as the prime minister in the National Assembly, so Zoran decided to return to the post and was reelected the position on 11 April 2012.
Zoran was born in Serbia to a Serb father and a Slovene mother. Then they moved to Slovenia. He got large electoral support from the Serbian minority in Ljubljana, thus it is protected now considerably well. Zoran speaks Slovene, Serbian (this allows us to understand Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin), English, and French.
The official holiday of the City of Ljubljana is celebrated on 9 May. This is the date of the liberation of the city from German occupation during World War II in 1945. Since 1995, the celebration is officially called “the day of freedom and peace” as well.
On the other side, the division of municipalities is not the only type of regional differentiation in the country. If everything were so easy, there would not be a need for this article. During the reading of some articles about Slovenia, you could notice that authors often use such differentiation as Upper or Lower Carniola, Prekmurje, or Istria. Even I used this before.
Those are the traditional historical regions of Slovenia. They are based on the former division of Slovenia in the Habsburg Empire. They include:
- Upper Carniola
- Inner Carniola
- Lower Carniola
- Slovenian Istria
The last two are usually not mentioned separately and considered together as Littoral Region (Primorska). While analyzing the list, you could notice that there are several different Carniolas. Technically, this can be considered as “first Slovenia”. Moreover, from the 12th century, Ljubljana was the capital of Carniola. Firstly, it was administered by the Counts of Gorizia starting from 1279, and until 1335, hence it was under the control of the Holy Roman Empire. After that time, Ljubljana was renamed Laibach, and Carniola was owned by the House of Habsburg until 1797.
There was a short period in history when the city under the control of the Napoleon Empire from 1809 to 1813. At that time, French people renamed it Laybach, and it became the capital of the Illyrian Provinces. However, in a short period, it returned under Austrian control again, and from 1815 to 1849, it was the administrative center of the Kingdom of Illyria of the Austrian Empire.
Then, after the dissolution of the last one, the region joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Ljubljana was the capital of the Drava Banovina, almost a present-day Slovenia shaped Yugoslav province. It was the first time when the region stopped to be named Carniola. After that, Slovenia became Slovenia, and Carniola stayed as a name only in traditional region division.
If to consider the nowadays regions, Ljubljana belonged to the Upper Carniola traditional region until the 19th century. After that time, it became a separate unit. At the beginning of the 19th century, people from Ljubljana stopped being considered as “Upper Carniolans”. Therefore, now the border of Upper Carniola starts at the north border of Ljubljana.
Thus, since the 19th century, Ljubljana stopped being considered as the unofficial capital of the region. Kranj replaced it and gained this status.
The statistical regions of Slovenia are big administrative entities created for different legal and statistical purposes. They are bigger than municipalities, thus the last ones obey them.
There are 12 statistical regions for now, and they were created in 2000. They were grouped into two cohesion regions:
- Eastern Slovenia including the Mura, Drava, Central Sava, Lower Sava, Carinthia, Savinja, Southeast Slovenia, and Littoral–Inner Carniola regions.
- Western Slovenia including the Central Slovenia, Upper Carniola, Coastal–Karst, and Gorizia regions.
Ljubljana belongs to the Central Slovenia Statistical Region. Despite the fact that it includes the largest municipality, it is the second-largest region in terms of territory. In total, it covers 2,555 km² of area. It takes the central geographical position in the country, hence the region has the best connection with other ones, obtaining 169 km of the total length of motorways.
Moreover, it is the most densely populated region in Slovenia. As for 2020, it has a population of 570,773, with the highest proportion of people between ages 25 and 64. Quite obviously, the Slovenians from all over the country move here for education, cultural or better work purposes.
The region attracts 13.2% of the total number of tourists in the country. 90% of which belongs to Ljubljana. This means that people from abroad like to visit not only the capital city but also all other natural, recreational, and historical landmarks of Slovenia.
The Central Statistical Region includes 25 municipalities, one of which is the City Municipality of Ljubljana. The region is the most economically developed too. It takes more than a third of the national GDP. The average net earning here is 90 euros higher than in the rest of Slovenia. The biggest parts of employment rates here are 70% services, 28% industry, and 2.2% agriculture.
The Center of the Entire Country
Ljubljana is not only the capital but the center of the entire country. Now, it is included in the City Municipality that belongs to the Central Slovenia Statistical Region. On the other hand, the city always was the center of Carniola, the part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where Slovenes lives before creating their own country. Here, you can find the most prominent institutions of cultural, educational, governmental, etc. value. Furthermore, it is the transportation center, the point where most of the tourists are coming to as their first destination in Slovenia.