Small countries are usually lacking people’s attention. Even on school lessons of geography, we tended to remember the top larger countries, but not vice versa. It’s a pity because usually, they are not less interesting than big ones. Slovenia is one of such, small but containing a lot of peculiarities inside.
The advantages of small countries like Slovenia are economic and political flexibility, good relations with neighboring countries, the multilingualism of its citizens, and small territory that makes any point of the country easy and fast to reach.
Slovenia can be easily considered as a small one. With an area of 20,273 square kilometers, Slovenian takes 11th place among European countries. If to omit island states like Cyprus and Malta, its place becomes 9th.
Moreover, the first six of the list are the microstates, with an area up to 1000 square kilometers, such as Vatican City, Andorra, San Marino, etc. Therefore, from the continental, undisputable states with territory above 1000 square kilometers, Slovenia will take third place after Luxembourg and Montenegro.
Economic and Political Flexibility
Small countries are usually wealthier and easier to govern than their big neighbors are. Let’s take into consideration Switzerland, Lichtenstein, or Luxembourg. They all are claimed richer than neighboring France, Germany, or Italy, for instance. Moreover, the more complex the governmental system in a small country, the better management of the country then. Look at the situation in Switzerland. It is a federation that is very unusual for such tiny countries (the USA and Russia are federations).
Of course, we are talking about countries with a decent level of democracy, as Slovenia is. Small states with local dictatorships cannot be so successful.
After the breakup of Yugoslavia, Slovenia was in a similar condition. It was the smallest one among other post-Yugoslav states, its economy was the most flexible, and the government was the most democratic. Moreover, Slovenia was the most ethnically unilateral.
This led to the fast economic transformation and, therefore, growth, with a relatively great implementation of external funds. For example, the first not-Slovenian supermarket, Spar, was opened in 1991, right after Slovenia gained independence. Now, the foreign investments take 24.7% of the GDP of Slovenia. The main investors are Austria (33.6%), Switzerland (11.3%), Germany (10.4%), Italy (7.9%), and Croatia (7.7%).
Thus, the last data shows that Slovenia’s nominal gross domestic product is 54.154 billion US dollars. On the other hand, its GDP (PPP) per capita is 38,506 international dollars. That makes Slovenia the wealthiest country among other Slavic ones, with the average monthly net wage higher than even in Portugal, Greece, and Malta.
Once, again this is a plus for small countries with open, transparent, and free markets as well as a high level of democracy.
Good Relations with Neighbors
Small countries usually are in good relationships with their bigger neighbors. Of course, this can play either a good or a bad role in the lives of ordinary citizens. For example, to have an aggressive warrior whose aim is to raise the power of their nuclear weapons is hard. On the other hand, in Europe, you won’t find such a case, so let’s consider small countries that are in conditions similar to Slovenia’s ones.
Usually, small countries are uniting with neighbors to have some defense partners in case of an emergency. This political strategy is quite an old one. The Slovenian case is not an exception. During WWII times, it entered Yugoslavia in order to confront the Nazi threat.
On the other hand, after Slovenia became an independent country, the Western neighbors accepted it immediately. There were some reasons for this. Most of the territory of Slovenia was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy. Therefore, a lot of Slovenians knew German or Italian as their second language even had families there.
Hence, the European Union helped to regulate the Ten-Day War that happened after Slovenia’s independence proclamation. Under the political sponsorship of the EU, Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia signed the Brioni Agreement or Brioni Declaration, that was the end of this war.
After this, Slovenia started to take active steps in the direction of the EU and NATO. The neighbors favored this and helped Slovenia in its development. The country became a member of those organizations and adopted Euro in 2004, as well as a part of the Schengen area.
Usually, small countries consist only of one nation, and that nation has its own distinctive language. For instance, Luxembourgish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, or Slovenian. This creates a natural need to know one of the “dominant” world languages. It is less probable that a new book from an unknown English or French author will appear someday in one of those languages.
Now, such language is English, but years ago, Slovenians were very good in German, Italian, or Serbian. Today, even movies in theaters are shown in the original audio track, but with Slovenian subtitles. Aside from the cinema, the majority of university books, YouTube content, fiction books, and so on are in English.
Furthermore, knowing a second language broadens your horizons as well. People who know more than one language usually know more and look at things from different perspectives. For instance, history can be interpreted in different ways, as well as psychology or philosophy.
Any Place is Fast to Reach
It’s easy to reach from one side of the country to any other one. From Koper, a city in South-East, to Murska-Sobota, the city in the Noth-East part of the country, it is 2 hours and 45 minutes by car. This is the longest trip in the country. The capital, Ljubljana, is reachable in 1.5 hours from any point in the country.
Moreover, Slovenian is full of various things. Two-thirds of the country is mountainous. This region is full of picturesque lakes, hiking trails, challenging for reaching peaks, forests, thermal baths, wetlands, karst caves, and the most beautiful rivers. Slovenia is the third most forested country in Europe. Forests cover 58.3% of the territory. Also, the country has access to the Adriatic Sea. Slovene Riviera is 47 kilometers from the coastline. This small area includes a lot of seaside activities, beaches, picturesque towns, and many more.
Easy access to the seaside means good emotions and lovely time spending, especially when you can drive an hour or two and enjoy the beauty of a sunset over the sea horizon. Furthermore, it is profitable in economic matters as well, because if the country has ports, seaside tourism attractions, etc. people live in a wealthier environment.
Ljubljana is the Center of Everything
This may sound too obvious, but it is a true advantage. If you live in a small country, you definitely know where the next concert of your favorite band will happen, where you can visit the next big festival, or where you need to go to get your visa.
The most important things happen in the capital of a small country. In our case, it is Ljubljana. 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.
Ljubljana 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, a natural area of swamps that covers about 160 square kilometers, which was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage.
Size Doesn’t Matter
All the mentioned above things are only tendencies of small European states such as Slovenian is. We cannot even define those as general rules because every country is a unique case based on peculiarities of culture, language, location, history, weather, and a lot more various factors.
On the other hand, we found similarities among small European states and described how they influence the everyday life of each citizen. Definitely, living in a small country doesn’t mean a priory good life, but as small countries are usually lacking people’s attention, this was a good reason to write this article.
In general, Slovenia’s size is a win-win. The country was lucky with neighbors as well as lucky to raise a decent national identity and gain independence. Moreover, such size makes traveling for Slovenians very comfortable. It is good that the country is so naturally diverse. Because if not, people had to go to neighboring countries to get different nature experiences.
On the other hand, this is also not bad, because learning new cultures, new languages always broaden horizons and advance people’s paradigm. Slovenia also is lucky to be a place to be on the crossroad of the cultures. To be precise, the Slavic and the Western ones.
Now, the country is a part of the European Union and Schengen area, so basically, there are no borders anymore between European countries. We all became European citizens and live in one big peaceful European community. This fact makes our time period one of the best in human history.