Slovenia, country in central Europe that was part of Yugoslavia for most of the 20th century. Slovenia is a small but topographically diverse country made up of portions of four major European geographic landscapes—the European Alps, the karstic Dinaric Alps, the Pannonian and Danubian lowlands and hills, and the Mediterranean coast. Easily accessible mountain passes (now superseded by tunnels) through Slovenia’s present-day territory have long served as routes for those crossing the Mediterranean and transalpine regions of Europe.
The Slovenes are a South Slavic people with a unique language. For most of its history, Slovenia was largely controlled by the Habsburgs of Austria, who ruled the Holy Roman Empire and its successor states, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary; in addition, coastal portions were held for a time by Venice. As part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia came under communist rule for the bulk of the post-World War II period. With the dissolution of the Yugoslav federation in 1991, a multiparty democratic political system emerged. Slovenia’s economic prosperity in the late 20th century attracted hundreds of thousands of migrants from elsewhere in the Balkans. In the early 21st century, Slovenia integrated economically and politically with western Europe, joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as well as the European Union in 2004. Slovenia’s capital and most important city is Ljubljana.