Slovene Lands

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The approximate territorial distribution of the Slovenian language, and thus the Slovene lands as traditionally defined, shown in blue Slovenes distribution map.png
The approximate territorial distribution of the Slovenian language, and thus the Slovene lands as traditionally defined, shown in blue

The Slovene lands or Slovenian lands (Slovene : Slovenske dežele or in short Slovensko) is the historical [1] denomination for the territories in Central and Southern Europe where people primarily spoke Slovene. The Slovene lands were part of the Illyrian provinces, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary (in Cisleithania). They encompassed Carniola, southern part of Carinthia, southern part of Styria, Istria, Gorizia and Gradisca, Trieste, and Prekmurje. [2] Their territory more or less corresponds to modern Slovenia and the adjacent territories in Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia, [3] where autochthonous Slovene minorities live. [4] In the areas where present-day Slovenia borders to neighboring countries, they were never homogeneously ethnically Slovene. [5]



Like the Slovaks, the Slovenes preserve the self-designation of the early Slavs as their ethnonym. The term Slovenia ("Slovenija") was not in use prior to the early 19th century, when it was coined for political purposes by the Slovene romantic nationalists, most probably by some pupils of the linguist Jernej Kopitar. [6] It started to be used only from the 1840s on, when the quest for a politically autonomous United Slovenia within the Austrian Empire was first advanced during the Spring of Nations. "Slovenia" became a de facto distinctive administrative and political entity for the first time in 1918, with the unilateral declaration of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, that Slovenia. [7]

Although Slovenia did not exist as an autonomous administrative unit between 1921 and 1941, the Drava Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was frequently called simply "Slovenia", even in some official documents. [8] [9] [10]

Consequently, most Slovene scholars prefer to refer to the "Slovene lands" in English rather than "Slovenia" to describe the territory of modern Slovenia and neighbouring areas in earlier times. The use of the English term "Slovenia" is generally considered by Slovene scholars to be anachronistic due to its modern origin. [11]

Geographical extension

Peter Kosler's "Map of Slovene Land and Provinces", drawn during the Spring of Nations in 1848 and published only in 1861, was the first map of the Slovene lands as a territorial unit. Zemljovid slovenske dezele in pokrajin (Original).jpg
Peter Kosler's "Map of Slovene Land and Provinces", drawn during the Spring of Nations in 1848 and published only in 1861, was the first map of the Slovene lands as a territorial unit.

In the 19th century, the territories regarded as part of the Slovene lands were: [12]

The Žumberak and the area around Čabar, which today belong to Croatia, were long part of the Duchy of Carniola, and thus generally regarded as part of the Slovene lands,[ citation needed ] especially prior to the emergence of Romantic nationalism in the 19th century, when the exact ethnic border between Slovenes and Croats had not yet been specified.[ citation needed ]

Not all of the territories referred to as the "Slovene lands" have always had a Slovene-speaking majority. Several towns, especially in Lower Styria, maintained a German-speaking majority until the late 1910s, most notably Maribor, Celje and Ptuj. [13] The area around Kočevje in Lower Carniola, known as the Gottschee County, had a predominantly German-speaking population between the 14th century and 1941 when they were resettled in an agreement between Nazi German and Fascist Italian occupation forces. [14] A similar German "linguistic island" within an ethnically Slovene territory existed in what is now the Italian comune of Tarvisio, but used to belong to the Duchy of Carinthia until 1919. [15] The city of Trieste, whose municipal territory has been regarded by Slovenes to be an integral part of the Slovene lands, has always had a Romance-speaking majority (first Friulian, then Venetian and Italian). [16] A similar case is that of the town of Gorizia, which served as a major religious center of the Slovene lands for centuries, but was inhabited by a mixed Italian-Slovene-Friulian-German population. [17] The towns of Koper, Izola and Piran, surrounded by an ethnically Slovene population, were inhabited almost exclusively by Venetian-speaking Italians until the Istrian exodus in the late 1940s and 1950s, as were large areas of the comune of Muggia. In southern Carinthia, a process of Germanization started by the end of the 1840s, creating several German-speaking areas within what had previously been a compact Slovene territory. Since the late 1950s, most of southern Carinthia has had a German-speaking majority, with the local Slovene minority living in a scattered pattern throughout the area. [18]

On the other hand, other areas with historically important Slovene communities, such as the Croatian cities of Rijeka and Zagreb, as well as the Slovene villages in the Somogy county of Hungary (the Somogy Slovenes), were never regarded to be part of the Slovene lands. [19] The same goes for the Slovene communities in south-west Friuli (in the villages of Gradisca, Gradiscutta, Gorizzo, Goricizza, Lestizza, and Belgrado in the lower Tagliamento area) which extinguished themselves by the end of the 16th century. [20]

See also

Related Research Articles

The history of Slovenia chronicles the period of the Slovenian territory from the 5th century BC to the present. In the Early Bronze Age, Proto-Illyrian tribes settled an area stretching from present-day Albania to the city of Trieste. Slovenian territory was part of the Roman Empire, and it was devastated by Barbarian incursions in late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages, since the main route from the Pannonian plain to Italy ran through present-day Slovenia. Alpine Slavs, ancestors of modern-day Slovenians, settled the area in the late 6th Century A.D. The Holy Roman Empire controlled the land for nearly 1,000 years, and between the mid 14th century and 1918 most of Slovenia was under Habsburg rule. In 1918, Slovenes formed Yugoslavia along with Serbs and Croats, while a minority came under Italy. The state of Slovenia was created in 1945 as part of federal Yugoslavia. Slovenia gained its independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991, and is today a member of the European Union and NATO.

Carniola Historical region in Slovenia

Carniola is a historical region that comprised parts of present-day Slovenia. Although as a whole it does not exist anymore, Slovenes living within the former borders of the region still tend to identify with its traditional parts Upper Carniola, Lower Carniola, and to a lesser degree with Inner Carniola. In 1991, 47% of the population of Slovenia lived within the borders of the former Duchy of Carniola.


Carantania, also known as Carentania, was a Slavic principality that emerged in the second half of the 7th century, in the territory of present-day southern Austria and north-eastern Slovenia. It was the predecessor of the March of Carinthia, created within the Carolingian Empire in 889.

The Slovenes, also known as Slovenians, are a South Slavic ethnic group native to Slovenia, and also to Italy, Austria and Hungary in addition to having a diaspora throughout the world. Slovenes share a common ancestry, culture, history and speak Slovene as their native language.

Julian March Region

Venezia Giulia, traditionally called Julian March or Julian Venetia is an area of southeastern Europe which is currently divided among Croatia, Italy and Slovenia. The term was coined in 1863 by the Italian linguist Graziadio Isaia Ascoli, a native of the area, to demonstrate that the Austrian Littoral, Veneto, Friuli and Trentino shared a common Italian linguistic identity. Ascoli emphasized the Augustan partition of Roman Italy at the beginning of the Empire, when Venetia et Histria was Regio X.

Duchy of Carniola

The Duchy of Carniola was an imperial estate of the Holy Roman Empire, established under Habsburg rule on the territory of the former East Frankish March of Carniola in 1364. A hereditary land of the Habsburg Monarchy, it became a constituent land of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and part of the Kingdom of Illyria until 1849. A separate crown land from 1849, it was incorporated into the Cisleithanian territories of Austria-Hungary from 1867 until the state's dissolution in 1918. Its capital was Ljubljana.


Goriška is a historical region in western Slovenia on the border with Italy. It comprises the northern part of the wider traditional region of the Slovenian Littoral (Primorska). The name Goriška is an adjective referring to the city of Gorizia, its historical and cultural centre.

Austrian Littoral Former crown land of the Austrian Empire

The Austrian Littoral was a crown land (Kronland) of the Austrian Empire, established in 1849. It consisted of three regions: the Istria peninsula, Gorizia and Gradisca, and the Imperial Free City of Trieste. Throughout history, the region has been frequently contested, with parts of it controlled at various times by the Republic of Venice, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Yugoslavia among others.

United Slovenia

United Slovenia is the name of an unrealized political programme of the Slovene national movement, formulated during the Spring of Nations in 1848. The programme demanded (a) unification of all the Slovene-inhabited areas into one single kingdom under the rule of the Austrian Empire, (b) equal rights of the Slovene language in public, and (c) strongly opposed the planned integration of the Habsburg Monarchy with the German Confederation. The programme failed to meet its main objectives, but it remained the common political program of all currents within the Slovene national movement until World War I.

Kingdom of Illyria

The Kingdom of Illyria was a crown land of the Austrian Empire from 1816 to 1849, the successor state of the Napoleonic Illyrian Provinces, reconquered by Austria in the War of the Sixth Coalition and restored according to the Final Act of the Vienna Congress. Its administrative centre was in Ljubljana

Slovene Littoral

The Slovene Littoral is one of the five traditional regions of Slovenia. Its name recalls the former Austrian Littoral, the Habsburg possessions on the upper Adriatic coast, which the Slovene Littoral was part of.

Princely County of Gorizia and Gradisca

The Princely County of Gorizia and Gradisca, historically sometimes shortened to and spelled "Goritz", was a crown land of the Habsburg dynasty within the Austrian Littoral on the Adriatic Sea, in what is now a multilingual border area of Italy and Slovenia. It was named for its two major urban centers, Gorizia and Gradisca d'Isonzo.

History of the Jews in Slovenia

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Simon Rutar

Simon Rutar was a Slovene historian and geographer. He wrote primarily on the history and geography of the areas that are now part of the Slovenian Littoral, the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the Croatian counties of Istria and Primorsko-Goranska.

Bogumil Vošnjak

Bogumil Vošnjak, also known as Bogomil Vošnjak, was a Slovene and Yugoslav jurist, politician, diplomat, author, and legal historian. He often wrote under the pseudonym Illyricus.

Josip Ferfolja was a Slovene lawyer and Social democratic politician, and human rights activist from the Province of Gorizia. Although he was an Italian citizen for most of his life, he considered himself foremost a Slovenian.

Karel Lavrič

Karel Lavrič, also spelled Laurič or Lauritsch, was a Carniolan liberal politician and lawyer from the Austrian Littoral. He was of Slovene descent and was one of the most prominent activists of the Young Slovene movement. Together with the conservative Lovro Toman, he was considered among the most popular Slovene politicians of the 19th century. He was also called the 'tribune of Goriška'.

World War II in the Slovene Lands started in April 1941 and lasted until May 1945. Slovene Lands was in a unique situation during World War II in Europe, only Greece shared its experience of being trisected, however, Drava Banovina was the only region that experienced a further step — absorption and annexation into neighboring Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Hungary. The Slovene-settled territory was divided largely between Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy, with smaller territories occupied and annexed by Hungary and the Independent State of Croatia.

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Further reading