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Where Do Slovenians Expatriates Live Around the World?

Immigration and emigration are inevitable parts of every nation. Moreover, this is inevitable part of the life of human beings. Nature created us with a desire to discover new lands, territories, and spaces. That’s why children move from parents to their own houses as well as expats move from their country. Nothing personal, just human nature.

Approximately, there are around 0.5-1 million of Slovenes living outside the country. The biggest populations are in neighboring countries like Austria, Germany, Italy, Croatia as well as in the United States and Canada. New Zealand and Australia are also countries with a high number of Slovenian Expatriates living in.

Slovenians are not an exemption. With a long history of getting national, they tried different lands for this purpose. As a part of vast and various Slavic culture, they shared customs and traditions all around the world along with other Slavs. How does it happen and when? Let’s find out together!

History of Emigration

Naturally, emigrating Slovenians were workers with intentions to return to their own land. However, as a long lifetime in some other country changes habits and the style of living, they started to become expatriates. That meant that they were not intended for returning home but for starting a new “lifespan” in their new countries. 

From ethnic territories, Slovenes emigrated in three waves. The first one is the period from 1860 and 1914. At that time, Europe experiences a great increase in population. This happened due to industrialization beginning. Therefore, Slovenians, as well as other Europeans, had to find some other lands to grow nutrition.

Furthermore, some Slovenes wanted to avoid military service. It is estimated that almost a third of the national population left ethnic territories. The most popular destinations were the USA, Germany, Argentina, and other parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some people went to Canada, Brazil, etc. 

The second wave is the period from 1918 to 1941. The First and The Second World Wars made a deep scar in the European surface as well as in the hearts of Europeans. For Slovenians also, it was the time saying “goodbye” to their land. A combination of economic and political reasons forced them to abandon houses and to look for a better life out of their motherland. This time, destination points shifted to Australia, Canada, and Argentina, because the USA made a restriction on immigration. In Europe, Slovenes moved to France, Germany, and Belgium as well as to other parts of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians. During this one and the previous periods, it was usual for Slovenian women to emigrate to Egypt and serve as nurses or nannies for rich families. 

The third wave happened after the Second World War and the end of the 1970s. There were people who did not want to put up with communist regimes, so they left their land and moved to the capitalistic world. To mention destinations, it was added such countries as Sweden and the United Kingdom to the previous selection. 

Modern Emigration

After gaining independence, emigration continued in small numbers. Today’s expats are looking for adventures, love, or career, oppositely to mentioned above, the previous three waves. The emigration rate raised during the economic and financial crisis in 2008-2009, but now the readings are stable: around 9,000 per year. Slovenians are less likely to move out of their country because of political and economic stability, pleasurable weather, beautiful landscapes, and cultural reasons. 

Slovenian Diaspora

By official governmental data of 2002, there were living 1,631,363 Slovenians in the country. If to take into consideration the entire world, this number rises to 2-2.5 million. The meaning covered by the term “Slovenian diaspora”, we mean people who share a common ancestry, culture, history, and speak the Slovene language as their native one, of course. For sure, that data changed in almost 20 years, but the general picture shows the tendency which we need. 

Slovene Americans

The diaspora in the United States is estimated as 164,634–178,415 persons constantly living there. Most of them emigrated in the period from the 1880s to World War I. The largest concentrations of the immigrants are located in such cities and states: Cleveland (Ohio), Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), Pueblo (Colorado), Johnstown (Pennsylvania), Chicago (Illinois), Joliet (Illinois), Indianapolis (Indiana), Milwaukee (Wisconsin), Eveleth (Minnesota). 

There, they established a variety of social groups and organizations. Among them, there are Jugoslovenska katoliška jednota (South Slavic Catholic Union), Slovenski Narodni Dom (Slovenian National Home), Napredne Slovenke Amerike (Progressive Slovene Women of America), Slovenian Catholic Center, National Cleveland-style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, Slovene Home for the Aged, Slovenian National Home.

To mention about media, the first Slovenian newspaper was Ameriški Slovenec (American Slovene) established in 1891. After that, US libraries cataloged 45 Slovene-language newspapers published in the USA in different locations.

Slovene Minority in Italy

The most significant Slovenian population inside Europe is in Italy. Most of it is living in the Italian autonomous region of Friuli – Venezia Giulia. It is an Italian region among four other ones with the special autonomous statute. It has a long story, but fortunately a lot they gain a national identity there. Now, Italian and Slovenian cultures are equally promoted on the territory of the region.  

Slovene diaspora in Italy gave an enormous amount of notable people to the world, including Slovenes in Italy as well as Italians of Slovene descent.

Carinthian Slovenes

Slovene minority in southern Austria counts 24,855 persons. They are the minority group living in the Austrian state of Carinthia, that borders Slovenia. They are guaranteed as a minority group by the Austrian Constitution and have all the necessary rights for that. The region is bilingual; furthermore, there exists a unique Carinthian dialect of the Slovenian language.

Almost 50% of children have bilingual education there. There are formed various Slovenian cultural, religious, and student organizations in order to give the population appropriate protection. Moreover, there are two weekly-publishing Slovenian newspapers: Nedelja and Novice, and two bilingual ones: Mohorjeva družba-Hermagoras, Drava Verlag. 

Slovenes of Croatia

According to the 2011 census, there were 10,517 Slovenes in Croatia. In general, they live in  Istria County, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, and consolidated city-county Zagreb. The minority is officially recognized as an autochthonous national minority, and therefore, they have the exclusive representatives in the Croatian Parliament as well as a right for their national expression.

The minority founded the Central library of Slovenes in the Republic of Croatia in Karlovac city. As Slovenian and Croatian are close in the language terms, there is no problem with that. They found 12 Slovene Cultural societies there as well. 

It is essential to mention that Josip Tito, the well-known president of Yugoslavia from 1953 to 1980, was a Croatian with Slovenian roots (his mother was Slovenian). 

Prekmurje Slovenes

Hungarian Slovenes are estimated at 3,180. They speak Prekmurje Slovene dialect and live mainly in Rába Valley, in the Szombathely region, and Budapest. The traditional name for Slovenes in the Hungarian language is Vendek or Vends. 

Other Regions outside Europe 

In Canada, there are 40,470 Slovenians. In Australia, 16,093 Australians declared themselves as people with Slovenian origins. In Argentina, there are 30,000 Slovene Argentines or Argentine Slovenes. All of them or their ancestors came to the mentioned above countries in the 20th century, during harsh Nazi regimes and World Wars. 

Slovenians Around the World

Despite the fact that the small amount of Slovenes compared to other nations, they put down roots all around the entire world due to various historical, political, economic, and financial reasons. Of course, the 20th century was, maybe, the hardest in European History. World Wars, communistic and Nazi regimes, political and economic crises. Everything mentioned above was a great reason to move and find a “better life.” 

On the other hand, a man has such a nature to discover, to open new horizons, to see new places. Sometimes it happens that those places seem to be better for individual personalities or so on. Sometimes, intraspecific aggression plays a role in moving around. To mention, this is the mechanism created by nature in order to spread the population in different areas. 

Slovenes, like all the nations of the world, moved to countries. Some of them live really near, in the neighboring countries. On the other hand, there are some who chose their point of destination in some distant countries, such as Argentina, the USA, Canada or Australia, and New Zealand. They are developing their culture, establishing Slovenian organizations, saving their national identity even in such an environment. 

Moreover, in the modern world, where emigration transformed into something else, it is a manifestation of will but not a vital need as it was before, during the 20th century, for instance (at least, in European and Western countries). Nowadays, especially in the time of free access to almost all the information about anything, we have a right to choose. This choice is what our parents wanted to have. This choice is the reason why they emigrated because they wished to have this choice to be in their children’s lives. 

Thus, the world revolves, and we are spinning along with it. People move around, and it is nothing wrong with that.

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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