Slovenia or Slavonia?

Two geographical entities – one a country adjacent to Croatia, the other a region in Croatia- both with strong majority Slavic populations – only 70 miles separate them – and yet each is quite distinct from the other.


The Soča River flows through Triglav National Park

Slovenia is the country, though it only became one in 1991. Area – 20,273 km2 (7,827 sq mi), population about 2 million. It’s geography is mountainous and wet. The highest part of Slovenia is 2,864 m or 9,396 ft. It is where the the Swiss Alps run into the Dinaric Alps, with the Adriatic Sea on one side and the Pannonian Plain on the other. (For more on the Pannonian Plain, click Over half is forest. Settlement is scattered.

According to Wikipedia “Slovenia has historically been the crossroads of Slavic, Germanic, and Romance languages and cultures. Although the population is not quite homogeneous, Slovenes comprise the majority. The South Slavic language Slovene is the official language throughout the country. Slovenia is a largely secularized country, but Catholicism and Lutheranism have significantly influenced its culture and identity. The economy of Slovenia is small, open and export-oriented and is thus strongly influenced by the conditions of its exporting partners’ economies. This is especially true with Germany; Slovenia’s biggest trade partner.”

SLOVENIA, the country

Historically, Slovenes have seldom been strong enough to be independent. From the early 1800’s to 1918, they were under the control of the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian Empires (their region was called Carniola) – hence the strong ties with German-speaking peoples. After 1918, they joined forces with other South Slavs to form various confederations, evolving into Yugoslavia in the 1940’s – 1991. Of the 6 Yugoslav Socialist Republics – SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SR Croatia, SR Macedonia, SR Montenegro, SR Serbia, and SR Slovenia, Slovenia was the most cohesive and prosperous, and suffered the least damage during the breakup of Yugoslavia from 1991-2000.

Dances of Slovenia


Plain near Đakovo after harvest

Slavonia is one of 5 major regions within Croatia – a country formed in 1918 from remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Area 12,556 km2 (4,848 sq mi), population about 800,000. Unlike Slovenia which was ruled in Empire days by Austrians, Croatia was ruled by Hungarians. Unlike mountainous Slovenia, Slavonia is part of the Pannonian Plain – relatively flat, fertile farmland. The highest part of Slavonia is 984-metres (3,228 ft). Unlike Slovenia (Slavs whose neighbours were Germans and Italians,) Slavonia is made up of Croatian Slavs whose neighbors are Hungarians and Serbs. Although Croatians and Serbians are both Slavs with virtually the same spoken language, Croatians have a mostly Catholic (western) heritage and write using the Latin alphabet. Serbs have an Orthodox (eastern) heritage and write using the Cyrillic alphabet.

SLAVONIA, the colorful East end of CROATIA

Slavonia is where Croatian and Serbian cultures meet, and it was the scene of many conflicts in the Yugoslav breakup of 1991-2000. Serbian and Hungarian minorities still live in Slavonia, Croatian and Serbian minorities in Hungary, and Hungarian and Croatian minorities in Serbia.

Non-Croats in 5 Slavonian counties (2011)

Dances of Slavonia


John Uhlemann wrote: “And just to make things more confusing for outsiders, “Slovensko” is also the Slovak word for Slovakia. Nice Lado videos.”

Katley @ wrote: “thanks for posting. It seems that Slovenian music is heavily influenced by Germany and Austria. Also liked your take on confusion. It’s a big topic on my blog, with over 19 posts.”

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