Slovenia Economy and Culture

ECONOMY

GDP growth in 2003-2004 remained close to 3%, with a deficit public in decline but still more than 6%. While the unemployment rate is significantly lower than the European average (6.7% in 2008), inflation is quite high (5.7% in 2008). Although industrial production slowed slightly in 2003, the standard of living is getting closer and closer to that of the West, also thanks to widespread literacy (over 99.6%). Moreover, Slovenia had already enjoyed a certain prosperity within the Yugoslav Federation, the result of a work of liberalization and privatization that began in the 1980s. Even if with independence the country had to deal, as well as with the loss of the internal market of the former Yugoslavia, with its own limited technological development in the face of tougher competition, in the second half of the nineties of the century. last year, the economic recovery was favored by foreign investments (especially Austrian, German and Italian). Today the GDP per capita is the highest among the former socialist countries (US $ 27,149 million in 2008). Since 14 July 1997 foreign citizens have been allowed to purchase land and properties located in the country. Agriculture plays a secondary role, as it is limited by the scarcity of arable land (no more than 15% of the total territory); it employs 8.7% of the active population and contributes 2.3% to GDP. The main crops are cereals (corn and wheat), potatoes, sugar beets and fruit (grapes in particular). Breeding (cattle and pigs) is discreetly developed. The main mining productions are those of lignite (Velenje and Zasavje), lead and zinc (Crna) and mercury (Idrija); Small quantities of oil and natural gas are also extracted. About a quarter of energy production comes from the Krško nuclear power plant. Slovenian industry, which employs 34.5% of the workforce and produces 34% of GDP, is fairly diversified. The basic sectors are partly obsolete, such as the chemical (sulfuric acid, caustic soda and tannin), the metallurgical (lead in Mežica, zinc in Celje), the steel industry (in Jesenice, Store, Ravne) and the mechanical (Novo Mesto). The most advanced and competitive sectors are telecommunications and the pharmaceutical sector (factories in Lek and Crca). Also important are the paper industry (Videm and Goricana), furniture factories and the food and textile sectors. The tertiary sector employs 56.8% of assets and contributes to the formation of GDP for 63.7%. The banking system is controlled by the central bank (Bank of Slovenia). According to constructmaterials, there is a stock exchange in Ljubljana. The mainly exported products are: paper, chemicals, aluminum, machinery and means of transport, timber, textiles, cast iron and steel. The privileged commercial partners are the countries of European Union, in particular Germany, Italy, France and Austria, with which Slovenia carries out two thirds of the exchanges. The main tourist attractions are the seaside resorts of the short stretch of the Adriatic coast, the winter sports centers (Kranjska Gora) and the spas (Catež, Radece and Rogašca Slatina).

CULTURE: TRADITIONS

One of the most unique traditions of the Slovenian land, which has no comparison in any other country in the world, is closely linked to beekeeping, an economic activity that experienced its maximum development in the 18th and 19th centuries. The wooden beehives with removable boxes were in fact decorated on the front with panels painted with a fresh and naive style: the most usual themes were biblical episodes and lives of saints, but there was also no lack of historical re-enactments, celebrations of work in the fields and scenes of life daily which vividly stigmatized human vices and weaknesses. It is not known if these decorations had an exclusively practical value, that is, if they were used by the beekeeper to distinguish their hives, or if they were intended as a wish for prosperity. The richest collection of painted tablets (over 600 specimens) can be admired in the Radovljica Beekeeping Museum. This peculiar expression of local artistic craftsmanship has gradually exhausted its most spontaneous and original vein, while the working of wrought iron (Kropa), the production of wooden artefacts (Ribnica) and the art of embroidery continue to be handed down. (Idrija). In addition to the beehives, other vestiges typical of the rural landscape are the kozolec, characteristic rack structures, surmounted by a double sloping roof, which act as a deposit for forage. Another element that connotes peasant civilization and constitutes a common denominator in which the Slovenian soul recognizes itself, despite the large number of regional variants, are the folk tales of the oral tradition. Many have as their subject evil creatures and spells, but the best known ones narrate the deeds of heroes with exceptional powers, among whom stands Martin Krpan, a smuggler in the service of the Viennese emperor, engaged in the fight against the Turkish marauders: a figure of which he writer F. Levstik he revived his fame by publishing a collection of his amazing exploits. Many rituals are also hinged on legendary characters for the celebration of traditional festivities, the most heartfelt of which is certainly Carnival. The protagonist of this anniversary in the town of Ptuj is the figure of Kurent, a sort of deity of unbridled pleasure that symbolizes the most primitive side of human nature. The festival culminates in the procession of satyrs, who go from house to house waving clubs bristling with quills and ringing cowbells to drive away evil spirits. To ensure good luck and health, the people who watch their dances throw small terracotta pots on the ground. In Cerknica instead the masks that symbolize legendary characters parade through the streets to give the farmers the opportunity to tease them with pitchforks. Also in Cerknica at the end of September a unique festival takes place which inaugurates the dormouse hunting season, whose meat is considered a delicacy in Inner Carniola. The dish that is traditionally eaten in the family on the evening of San Martino (11 November) is instead the goose, accompanied by new wine. § Slovenian cuisine is strongly influenced by the culinary traditions of neighboring countries: various types of sausages, breaded cutlets and fruit-filled puff pastry strudels come from Austria, especially soups from Italy (a prominent role, especially that of pork, veal and beef, and pršut stands out among the cured meats smoked and flavored with juniper, which is eaten with bread with three flours (buckwheat, wheat and corn), made up of ravioli and risotto), while of Hungarian origin are goulash and paprikaš, a spicy stew based on chicken and beef. Among the traditional first courses stand out the štruklji, rolls of pasta filled with meat or ricotta flavored with chives, and zganci, buckwheat flour dumplings cooked in a cabbage soup. The meat has three overlapping layers, then rolled up and baked in the oven. The most typical desserts are potica, a pastry cake with a filling of walnuts, raisins, poppy seeds, figs and honey, and pogača, stuffed with apples and flavored with a fortified wine. The Slovenian land produces excellent wines, the most famous of which are Cviček, Teran, Refošk (red) and Malvazija (white). Another national drink is žganje, a highly alcoholic brandy distilled from plums, cherries or pears.

Slovenia Economy