The Four Different Names of Slovenia Throughout History

Countries change their official names not very often. Of course, we used to name countries simply, just France, Germany, or Slovenia. However, their official ones are the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Republic of Slovenia. The change of this title usually happens due to some political and historical reasons. Furthermore, Slovenia did this change four times already.

The four official names of Slovenia changed throughout history are Federal Slovenia, People’s Republic of Slovenia, Socialist Republic of Slovenia, and the nowadays one, the Republic of Slovenia.

Slovenia as an official republic was created only at the beginning of the previous century, in spite of the fact that Slovenians as a nation are much older. In this article, let’s find out a bit of the history of Slovenia as well as Yugoslavia and why the country changed the name four times in such a relatively short period of a little bit more than half a century.

Pre-War History

The territories of modern-day Slovenia were a part of the Roman Empire until the 5th century B.C., and later they were devastated by Barbarian incursions in late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. This happened because here was located the main trade route to Italy.

Slavs settled this area in 6th Century A.D. Modern Slovenes are the ancestors of Alpine Slavs. Slavic tribes were migrating at that time quite intensively. The main reasons were the Byzantine Empire and later Kievan Rus’.

Approximately at that time, there was a dissolution of Slavs into three main groups: East-Slavs, West-Slavs, and South-Slavs. Therefore, the Alpine Slav dialect started to form, which later would transform into the Slovenian language. This was the time under the control of the Holy Roman Empire.

After that, most of the territories of modern Slovenia went under the Habsburg Rule in the period between the mid 14th century and 1918. In this time, the Slovene identity started to form. The first official mentions date back to the 16th century. Most Slovenians were living in Inner Austria, the administrative region of the Habsburg Monarchy. They were the majority in the Duchy of Carniola and the County of Gorizia and Gradisca, in Lower Styria and southern Carinthia.

Also, there was a Slovene minority in the Imperial Free City of Trieste, modern-day Italy.

The 19th century became the time of the so-called Slovene National Awakening. After the introduction of political liberties in the Austrian Empire, Slovenes were able to establish a functioning national infrastructure. There was approved a standardized literary language, and the literacy level here was one of the highest in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The person who is considered as “the father” of literature Slovenian is France Prešeren. He spread the Slovenian culture around the world. His poems were translated into English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Slovak, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Bengali, as well as to all the languages of former Yugoslavia. Moreover, he introduced new genres to Slovenian literature. For instance, he wrote the first Slovene ballad and the first Slovene epic. He is the most important personality for the entire Slovene nation. His poem is now used for a national hymn of the Republic of Slovenia. There is even Prešeren Day, a public holiday, celebrated on 8 February.

After-War Period and Four Different Names

After the end of the First World War and dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a part of the modern Slovenian territories were granted under control of the Kingdom of Italy, whereas others went to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. There, Slovenes managed to establish a high level of cultural autonomy, thus the economy and Slovenian arts developed freely.

In the 1930s, the first communistic parties started to form in Slovenia and around the kingdom. However, the Second World War dissoluted Southern Slavs once again. The country was saved by nationalists and partisans who initiated a guerrilla campaign against Nazi occupation. They didn’t get too much support from the allies, thus this allowed them to keep neutrality later.

In 1945, there was formed a new country, the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. It is the first time when Slovenians got their own republic, Federal Slovenia, that was renamed the People’s Republic of Slovenia. This was done because the new constitution of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was established. Thus, the first two official names of Slovenia were Federal Slovenia and the People’s Republic of Slovenia.

In 1948, great political changes happened in Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia changed their political course because of the Tito-Stalin split, also known as Yugoslavia–Soviet split. At that time, the Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist government was changed to a Titoist one-party socialist republic government. The country distanced from the Soviets and Josip Broz Tito, the leader of the country, started to build his own way to socialism.

Therefore, Yugoslavia provided more freedom to its republics in developing its economy in contrast to the countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. Yugoslavia provided the idea of a socialistic market economy, a mix of socialism and capitalism.

This featured economy and ownerships ruled by neither politicians nor businessmen. This factor excluded the planned economy and allowed for employees of those ownerships to share it collectively. Thus, even workers somehow had a part of entrepreneurship. The socialistic market economy even allowed small businesses such as restaurants, crafts shops, cafes, etc. This was not successful around all of Yugoslavia, but the Slovenian economy accepted it well.

The culmination of this process happened in 1963 when the nation changed its name to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Yugoslavian system lets each republic have its own constitution, president and prime minister, supreme court, and parliament. At the top of the Yugoslav government, there was the federal Prime Minister, the federal Parliament, and, of course, the President (Josip Broz Tito, who already was named President for life).

Hence, Slovenia got her second name, Socialist Republic of Slovenia.

In 1980, Tito died, and the Yugoslavian government decided to create a new governmental body controlled by all the presidents of the republic instead of choosing the new president of the federation. After this, each republic followed its own policy. Tito once said, “I am the leader of one country which has two alphabets, three languages, four religions, five nationalities, six republics, surrounded by seven neighbors, a country in which live eight ethnic minorities.” This diversity played a uniting role when Slovenes, Croats, Serbians, Montenegrins, and Macedonians opposed the Nazi threat. However, in peaceful times, they tended to step in their own way each.

On 25 June 1991, Slovenia, together with Croatia, proclaimed independence. This happened after making a referendum, where 94.8% of Slovenians favored the answer “yes” about their future to live in an independent country. This created a great resonance in Yugoslavia, so the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) entered those countries. Slovenia started the Ten-Day War that ended with the Brioni Agreement or Brioni Declaration, under the guidance of the European Community.

The conflict was short and not intense, therefore casualties were not high. The Slovenian Army lost 19 persons and got 182 wounded. On the other side, the YPA suffered 44 fatalities and 146 wounded. Plus, 12 foreign nationals were killed, principally journalists and Bulgarian truck drivers. In general, the Yugoslav Army lost 31 tanks, 22 armored personnel carriers, 6 helicopters, 6,787 infantry weapons, 87 artillery pieces, and got 124 air defense weapons damaged.

After gaining independence, Slovenia got rid of “Socialistic” in its name, thus the modern name of the country became “The Republic of Slovenia”.

Slovenia: The Most Western Slavic Nation

Slovenia and Slovenians have quite an interesting history. The nation was under the control of Germans and Italians for a long time. However, they were doing very well there, promoted their own culture, language, and became one of the most literate nations in those empires.

This made Slovenia the most western Slavic nation, not only in terms of geography but also ideologically. For example, their economy was the most liberal, even in the times of socialist Yugoslavia. And Yugoslavia became their first real “home” country, the country of Southern Slavs.

After World War I, all the Slavs living on the Balkan Peninsula (except Bulgarians) united in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Moreover, during the times of Nazi threat, they opposed a common enemy, so the creation of one more big and powerful country was inevitable. Furthermore, Yugoslavia decided to follow their own type of socialism and do not take an example from the Soviet Union.

On the other hand, ethnic diversity created the country, but it ruined it as well. Every nation needed its own country in a modern liberal and relatively peaceful world.

All the mentioned above events were represented in four names of Slovenia: are Federal Slovenia, People’s Republic of Slovenia, Socialist Republic of Slovenia, and the nowadays one, the Republic of Slovenia. We could also add the very first name, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes to this list, as it includes the name of the nation. However, the individual republic had only four titles. 

Thank you for reading our article. We do our best to provide you with first-hand information about Slovenia and its wonders. We know we are not infallible though. In case you encounter any mistakes in our articles or you have any suggestions, please contact us. Let us know how we could improve. It will help us to keep our information updated and deliver to readers the most valuable possible content.  We will gladly take your suggestions!

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