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What are Slovenians like?

Slovenians are a special nation. The Slovenian population alone is remarkable – there are just two million of us living in Slovenia and less than half a million in other parts of the world. We could have chosen to live in the suburbs of one of the metropoles, but instead, we found our place under the sun at the junction of different worlds – the Alpine, the Pannonian and the Mediterranean – making us unique.

Slovenians can be reserved like Alpine people, open like Mediterraneans or good-hearted like Pannonians. Since there are not that many of us, we often joke that in Slovenia everyone knows each other. We also love sports, hiking in the mountains, cultural events and singing. We put our free time and quality of life first. We speak many foreign languages, swear by all things green, and have been shaped by different circumstances – from our geographical position, to our varied historical and cultural contexts. We believe that all its natural beauty make Slovenia the most beautiful place in the world.  

We love discovering the world and trying new things, which means we travel a lot and are not afraid of innovation. At the same time, we highly value our home along with our families, health and quality of life. We are also sports enthusiasts, be it climbing, skiing, ski jumping, athletics or team sports. Slovenia is one of the smallest nations in the world that has qualified for all the major world and European championships in team sports, along with basketball, volleyball, handball, football and ice hockey at the Olympics. It’s just who we are!

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    Graphics: Irena Kogoj

We enjoy spending our free time getting some exercise, especially outdoors. There is a saying that you are not a true Slovenian until you have conquered Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia (2,864 m) and a symbol of the Slovenian identity.

The Alpine Association of Slovenia is one of the largest, with 60,000 members. Slovenia has a network of 10,000 kilometres of mountain trails with 178 mountain cottages, shelters and bivouacs, accommodating more than 10,000 day visitors and offering 7,400 beds. In 2019, there were over 1.7 million visitors to the mountains.

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    Graphics: Irena Kogoj

Not only do we enjoy playing sports, we also love to cheer on our favourite teams. Slovenians support their athletes at competitions at home and abroad.

The traditional Ski Jumping World Cup in Planica is visited by some 60,000 people every year. At the last European volleyball championship in Paris, the Slovenian team was cheered on by over 8,000 Slovenian fans.

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    Graphics: Irena Kogoj

When we are at home, we take our shoes off and put on slippers. Foreigners might find it unusual when they are asked to take off their shoes upon visiting a Slovenian at home, but we really don’t like it when someone walks around our homes with shoes on.

This is a cultural habit that has been passed on from generation to generation. Of course, this is also common in some other cultures.

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    Graphics: Irena Kogoj

The Slovenian language has many particularities, including no swear words, and it is one of the very few languages in the world that uses a dual grammatical number. Among all Slavic languages, Slovenian has the most dialects – more than 50 – and even Slovenians have difficulty understanding them all.

Slovenian is a South Slavic language, and one of the few Indo-European languages that has preserved its dual. We (un)consciously use dual every day in our speech and this makes us a rare breed. The Slovenian language has 25 letters: a b c č d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s š t u v z ž. It has three grammatical numbers, six cases with eight inclinations and three grammatical sexes.

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    Graphics: Irena Kogoj

We are known for being very compassionate and always ready to help. Slovenians often spend their free time volunteering for firefighting associations or helping the less fortunate.

According to Slovenian Philanthropy, there are 1,650 volunteer organisations and more than 290,000 volunteers registered, which is 30% of all Slovenian citizens.

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    Graphics: Irena Kogoj

We speak a lot of foreign languages: in Europe, we are in fourth place (behind Luxembourgers, the Finnish and Norwegians). Almost half of Slovenians aged between 18 and 69 speak three or more foreign languages.

This is also due to the Slovenian education system, which encourages learning foreign languages from a very early age.

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Slovenia presents itself abroad with its country brand "I feel Slovenia", based on that typical Slovenian green colour. The choice of colour was no coincidence, with green being the prevalent colour we see if we observe Slovenia from the air. Slovenia is also a very sustainable and eco-friendly country, active in sustainable technology and concept development.

Slovenia is characterised by having a lot of forest cover (58% of the country), which ranks it in third place in Europe in this category. According to the findings of the European Commission, Slovenia’s forests have the highest level of species diversity among all EU countries, and they are very important for the preservation of biodiversity in both Slovenia and the EU as a whole.

Author: Polona Prešeren

Date: 17. March 2020

Time to read: 4 min