I was doing a “random facts about your country” poll on my Instagram stories today, so I figured it was time for another Travel Trivia post. This one is going to be about interesting facts from my homeland, Slovenia.
As you can see on the map below, it is vaguely shaped like a chicken and we love that. SLOVEenia also has the word love in its very name, which is vastly exploited by every existing tourist agency out there.
- Slovenia is tiny, so you can drive across the whole country in about 4 hours. Despite that we have practically every type of terrain you could want: Alpine mountains form the spine of our chicken, Karst plateaus and a tiny bit of seaside coastline are located in its butt, and rolling hills span across the belly and the head. The country is full of waterfalls, amazing underground cave systems and interesting gorges. About 60% of Slovenia is still covered in forests and 1/3 of our country is part of the European nature protection zone called Natura 2000.
- The entire population of Slovenia is a bit less than 2 million people. Despite that we have about 30 different dialects of Slovenian language, which fall into 7 main groups. 270.000 of us live in Ljubljana, our capital, which is the largest city and central hub.
- Slovenian is notoriously hard to learn for foreigners. We have some pretty complicated grammar rules and ours is one of only 2 languages in the world that use dual – a special form for referring to two objects, i.e. singular, dual, plural. We don’t just say a book (knjiga) and books (knjige), we also squeeze in knjigi (two books). Mix that with 3 genders and 6 cases and you know you’re in trouble. 🙂 More about our insane language in this video here.
- The oldest written records of Slovenian language are the Freising manuscripts (Brižinski spomeniki), made around the year 1000, which are also the oldest known written records of any Slavic language.
- Our most famous poet was France Prešeren, about whom I already wrote here. He is also the one who wrote our national anthem.
- One of our national symbols is the linden tree leaf, although it has been kind of neglected in the past couple of years. Every year important statesmen gather under the Najevnik linden tree, the oldest one in Slovenia, which is supposed to be about 800 years old. A more common unofficial national symbol is also Kekec, a shepherd boy from an old school Slovenian kids movie made in 1963, which has been the butt of a joke among both foreigners and Slovenians for the past 20 years or so. Kekec is also a brand of the most horribly processed classic liver pate with an undetermined taste (to us it just tastes like childhood).
- We have one of the largest brown bear populations in Europe, so we export our brown bears to countries where the species is endangered. You can even go on bear photo safaris.
- We also have more than 7000 kilometres of hiking trails across the land – hiking and mountaineering are pretty big in Slovenia. Our highest mountain is Triglav (3864 m) and they say you aren’t a true Slovenian if you haven’t conquered it at least once (I haven’t yet).
- Slovenia is known for its wines, apparently we have 52 vine varieties and they say we have a vineyard for every 70 people. We also have the oldest grapevine in the world growing in Maribor, our second largest city, which still produces wine.
- They also say that one person in 20 is a beekeeper in Slovenia, which is surprising, because I don’t know any. Although I’m not a big fan of honey I can admit that Slovenian honey is quite good and my country was also the one to suggest World Bee Day, which is now on 20th of May every year. Slovenia also has the world’s second largest ski jumping hill in Planica, which makes for some incredible ski jumping views if you attend a live competition (check out some jumps here).
- There’s a stereotype about Slovenians that we tend to be pessimistic and always in competition with our neighbours. If you’re planning a picnic and the weather looks nice, be sure that a Slovenian will look up at the sky and worriedly say something like “hm… I hope it won’t rain today”. Similarly, if your neighbour buys a new car, you must immediately replace yours with a better model. The joke goes that you must do the same when they get a new wife as well, but we’re not really that all that bad. But still, stereotypes exists for a reason and one of the popular sarcastic Slovenian sayings that we use to describe certain people’s attitude is naj sosedu crkne krava (may the neighbour’s cow drop dead). 🙂
- Although we like to complain that our government should be doing more for the environment and we still have huge issues with waste processing, environmental awareness and industrial pollution on a national level, we’re actually doing relatively well. In 2018 Slovenia was named the most sustainable country in the world in terms of green tourism, so at least we’re doing something right.
I’ve tried to limit this post to 12 interesting facts about Slovenia, but of course my country has much more to offer. We have crazy Carnival traditions, vanishing lakes, old Roman towns and many other intriguing spots to explore, so stay tuned for more of my blog posts from Slovenia as I manage to write them. You can also check out my guest post about 10 lesser known Slovenian attractions here if you’re thinking of visiting Slovenia soon.
If you want some official impressions of Slovenia, you can check out our national tourism promotional video here, under the I feel Slovenia brand, because the good old on the sunny side of the Alps promotional slogan was taken by the Austrians at some point.
Epic Slovenian chicken cover drawing by Samo, my friend who draws cool things under Nyradir.
P.S.: Our current president also has a rather interesting Instagram account here, which tends to make people cringe.