Rapidly Developing Slovenia: A Paradise for Beekeepers

Welcome to Slovenia, also known as the Republic of Slovenia. With a population of slightly over two million, it is a small nation in Central Europe.

Rapidly Developing Slovenia: A Paradise for Beekeepers
The country of Slovenia, where beekeeping is a way of life, is expanding rapidly. Photo by Francisco Ghisletti / Unsplash

Slovenia is known for its beautiful landscapes and lakes, as well as the 220-meter-long Solkan Bridge, which is made out of 4533 stone blocks and has a stone arch. It's also the longest stone arch railroad bridge in the world. Less well-known is the fact that Slovenia's national territory is shaped like a chicken. It's something that Slovenians talk about a lot. And if you look at a contour map of the country, you can't help but see the similarity.

Slovenia has one of the largest populations of brown bears in Europe, which is another interesting fact. If whale-watching trips are popular all over the world, bear-watching trips can be taken in Slovenia's forests. And it makes sense that there would be bees where there are bears. Slovenia is called the "heart and soul of beekeeping" in Europe for a reason. And keeping bees is a very important part of the culture and history of Slovenia. In Slovenia, one out of every 200 people keeps bees.

Slovenia is known as a country that has grown quickly and had its own success story. At the beginning of the transition period, it was the most prosperous country in the area that had been socialist. Even though there have been economic crises, it has been able to keep this position.

The small country's history since it became independent has been full of firsts. It was the first country in south-eastern Europe to join the European Union. It was also the first of the "new European Union countries" to join the euro area. It was also the first country in the region to switch from being a borrower to a donor with the World Bank. It also does better than the rest of the region, or at least is one of the best, when it comes to most measures of human development.

The woodlands of Slovenia are a great place to go on a bear-watching excursion.
The woodlands of Slovenia are a great place to go on a bear-watching excursion. Photo by Alex Azabache / Unsplash

The transition from a planned to market economy in Slovenia during the Cold War

Slovenia got off to a good start in the transition process because of things that happened in the past. A lot of what later became Yugoslavia was part of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years. Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, and most of Central Europe were all part of the Habsburg Empire for hundreds of years.

After the Second World War, Yugoslavia was put under socialist rule, just like the rest of central, southeast, and eastern Europe. But after Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito broke away from Moscow, Yugoslavia became one of the most important non-aligned countries during the Cold War. This gave the federation the freedom to pursue its economic policies, such as nationalizing large companies while letting smaller companies run on their own. It also received loans from the West.

When Slovenia switched from a planned economy to a market economy, it had the highest GDP per person of any country in the region. Some of the reasons had to do with how Yugoslavia as a whole was different, and some had to do with how Slovenia was different from Yugoslavia.

Slovenia had its own remarkable success story.
Slovenia had its own remarkable success story. Photo by Petar Vukobrat / Unsplash

Trade and Development in Slovenia

Slovenia is known as a country with great infrastructure, a well-educated workforce, and a good location between the Balkans and Western Europe. It also has one of the highest GDPs per person in Central Europe. It is the most developed transition country, with a long history of mining, a chemical industry, and developed service activities. But today, industries like farming, forestry, and fishing only make up 2.5% of the GDP and employ only 6% of the population.

Most of Slovenia's trade is with other countries in the EU, mostly Germany and Italy. This is because of a big shift toward the West and the growing markets of Central and Eastern Europe. This was done because the Yugoslav markets were falling apart. So, foreign trade is very important to the Slovenian economy. Slovenia has a highly educated workforce, a well-developed infrastructure, and is located at a major transportation hub. Even though it has one of the lowest levels of foreign direct investment, it has been steadily growing over the past few years.

During negotiations to join the EU, Slovenia demanded a lot of concessions and wouldn't let full competition into key parts of the economy. For example, it is the only country in Central and Eastern Europe that still runs its banks. During the socialist era, the country also built up a large public service sector, which it has kept. Slovenia still has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and education is free up to the post-graduate level.

At the same time, because there aren't as many babies being born and people are living longer, Slovenia has one of the oldest populations in Europe. Almost everyone in Slovenia over the age of 64 is retired, and there aren't any big differences between men and women. Despite immigration, the number of people who are working is going down.