Statehood Day (25.6.)

What has changed in Slovenia since it won independence?

At the Statehood Day, 25 June, we prepared a longer release describing economic, environmental and demographic changes experienced by Slovenia in the last almost 30 years.

  • 19 June 2019 at 10:30
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25 June is the Statehood Day in Slovenia. On this day in 1991 Slovenia became formally independent by adopting the Declaration of Independence and the Basic Constitutional Charter on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Slovenia. Two days later, on 27 June 1991, the Yugoslav People’s Army attacked and the ten-day independence war started.
Twenty-eight years later we can examine what changed in the meantime. At the very start Slovenia was faced with great economic problems, which were successfully overcome. Of course, they were not solved forever; in 2008 the great economic crisis started, but it, too, was successfully overcome.


In 1991 the Slovenian economy was faced with the loss of the Yugoslav market and the introduction of the market economy. In the first years of independence Slovenia was battling high inflation: in 1991 it was almost 250% and did not fall below 10% until 1995. In 2015 Slovenia recorded a deflation (–0.5%), while in 2018 inflation stood at 1.4%. Economic activity slowed down: in 1991 real GDP dropped by 8.9% and in 1992 by another 5.5%.

After a relatively peaceful longer period of growth, the Slovenian economy again experienced more turbulent years just when it “became of age”. The global economic and financial crisis devastated all its sectors. In 2009 GDP dropped by 7.8% and after a brief upward movement in 2010 and 2011 again declined in 2012 and 2013. The economic crisis exposed a strong interdependence of economic sectors, since enterprises, banks, general government, and public finance were all affected. In the past five years the Slovenian economy recovered with annual growth rates between 3% and 5%. The large integration of the Slovenian economy in foreign markets is even more pronounced.

Since 1991 the structure of economy has changed significantly. The share of value added from agricultural activity in total GDP declined by more than a half, i.e. from 5.7% (1991) to 2.2% (2018). The share of industry and construction also declined significantly; in 1991 these two activities generated 44% of GDP and in 2018 33.2%. On the other hand, the share of services jumped from 50.3% (1991) to 64.6% (2018). Similar changes were experienced by other countries.

In 2018, Slovenia was 16th in the EU-28 in terms of GDP per capita, which was the highest in Luxembourg (EUR 96,000) and the lowest in Bulgaria (EUR 7,800).


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Exports and imports


Changes in the economy reflect in Slovenia’s external trade. In 1992 the main export goods were road vehicles (11% of exports), followed by articles of apparel and clothing accessories (10%) and electric machinery and apparatus (9%). In 2018 the largest share of export was generated by road vehicles (16%), followed by electric machinery and apparatus (10%) and medicinal and pharmaceutical products (also 10%).

In all these years Slovenia’s most important trading partner was Germany. As regards other EU Member States, trading increased the most with Austria. As regards EU non-member countries, Slovenia exported most goods to countries established on the territory of former Yugoslavia. After 1991 Slovenia’s exports to the Russian Federation increased, more significantly after the onset of the economic and financial crisis in 2008. Imports from China increased significantly; in 1992 they represented 0.3% and in 2018 3.3% of total Slovenia’s imports. In 2017 over a fifth of importers were trading with China. More companies in Slovenia are trading only with Italy, Germany and Austria.


In 1991, 1.4 million and in 2018 almost 5.7 million tourist arrivals were recorded in Slovenia. However, direct comparison with the latest data is not possible due to changes in the methodology of data collection.

In 2018 the average number of nights per tourist was 2.6. Even though due to methodological changes the 1991 and 2018 data cannot be compared directly, it is interesting that in 1991 a tourist spent on average 3.4 nights.

Most overnight stays of foreign tourists in Slovenia in 2018 were generated by tourists from Germany and Italy (12% each), followed by Austria (9%), the Netherlands and Croatia (5% each), the United Kingdom and Hungary (4% each).

As regards tourists from non-European countries, the most numerous were tourists from the United States, who generated 3% of all foreign overnight stays in Slovenia, which is 24% more than in 2017. They were followed by tourists from other Asian countries and by tourists from Israel, Republic of Korea and China.


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An important aspect of the quality of life is the environment in which one lives. Unfortunately, not all environmental indicators are available since 1991, but recent trends show that environmental management in Slovenia is improving. In 2017, 478 kg of municipal waste per capita was generated in Slovenia. The share of separately collected waste is rapidly increasing. In 2002 only 8.6% of waste was collected separately, while according to the latest data 70% of waste is collected separately.


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Gross fixed capital formation and current expenditure for environmental protection also show that our attitude towards the environment is improving; their shares in GDP were increasing for 15 years (capital formation to 1.15% of GDP and current expenditure to 1.30% of GDP in 2015), while in 2017 they decreased compared to 2015 (capital formation to 0.54% of GDP and current expenditure to 1.24% of GDP).

Changes are also observed in food production: in 2000 there were 115 organic farms and in 2017 almost 3.200.


Slovenia is getting older. On 1 January 1991 the mean age of Slovenia’s population was 35.9 years and on 1 January 2019 43.4 years. In 1991 almost 21% of the population was younger than 15, while at the beginning of 2019 the share was almost 6 percentage points lower at 15%. The situation regarding people aged 65+ is the opposite: in 1991 the share was almost 11% and in 2019 almost 20%. What does that mean?

Fewer pupils, more retired people

The result of the changed demographic situation is smaller enrolment in elementary schools. In the school year 2018/19 there were almost 39,000 fewer elementary school pupils than in the school year 1991/92. The number of children enrolled in elementary school has been slightly increasing since 2011, which is a result of the increased number of births between 2004 and 2010.

On the other hand, the number of retired persons is increasing, the ratio between insured persons and retired persons is changing and the difference between earnings and pensions is increasing. In 1991 there were fewer than 400,000 retired persons (persons receiving old age, disability, survivor’s or widow(er)’s pensions); by 2018 the number increased to 617,000. In 1991 the ratio between insured persons and retired persons was 2.0 and in 2018 1.52. In other words, in 2018 there was just over one and a half insured person (included in compulsory or voluntary pension insurance) per one retired person. The ratio between earnings and pensions is also getting worse. In 1992 average net pensions were 78.4% of average net earnings; in 2018 only 58.5%.


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International migration

Most people immigrated to Slovenia in 2007, 2008 and 2009 (about 30,000 per year). At that time many work permits for foreign nationals were issued. Since 2010 between 14,000 and 17,000 people per year have immigrated to Slovenia.

From 2006 on between 12,000 and 16,000 people per year have emigrated from Slovenia, most in 2009 (19,000), followed by 2017, when almost 18,000 people emigrated from Slovenia.


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Among emigrants 54% were citizens of Slovenia and 46% were foreign nationals. Most of the citizens of Slovenia (44%) emigrated to Austria or Germany. Half of citizens of Slovenia who emigrated in 2017 had upper secondary education, a third had tertiary education and others had basic education or less.



There are no accurate data on the health status of the population, but we have data on the self-assessment of the health status. In the survey people aged 16+ were asked about their overall health status, i.e. physical, social and emotional. In 2005–2018 self-assessment improved. In 2018 almost two thirds of respondents assessed their health status as good or very good.

Compared to 1991 people are living longer. In 1991 the mean age at death was 70 years and in 2017 almost 8 years more. Girls born in Slovenia in 2017 can expect to live 83.7 years and boys just over 78 years.

In 2018 the average duration of one sick leave was 16.5 calendar days (for men 13.2 days and for women 20.4 days). In 2005–2018 the average duration of one sick leave was the longest in 2005 (17.2 days) and the shortest in 2014 (13.7 days). At the level of statistical regions, in 2018 the average duration of one sick leave was the longest in the Koroška statistical region (23.8 days) and the shortest in the Osrednjeslovenska statistical region (13.8 days).

Persons in employment and unemployed persons

There were 1,034,000 working age people in Slovenia in 2018, 981,000 of them in employment and 53,000 unemployed. The LFS unemployment rate was 5.1%, for men 4.6% and for women 5.7%. The employment rate was 55.8%, for men 61.0% and for women 50.7%.

The unemployment rate in 2018 was lower than in 2017 in all statistical regions except in Primorsko-notranjska, where it increased by 1.5 percentage points. It was the lowest in Koroška and Posavska (3.2%) and the highest in Pomurska (9.2%) and Primorsko-notranjska (7.0%). In the same comparison the activity rate increased in all statistical regions except in three: Koroška, Posavska and Primorsko-notranjska. In 2018 it was the highest in Osrednjeslovenska (57.4%) and the lowest in Pomurska (51.8%).


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A resident of Slovenia born at the end of the 1980s had to change three currencies and four types of banknotes before completing their 18th birthday. With independence in 1991 Yugoslav dinars were replaced by Slovenian tolars, which were first printed as provisional payment notes and only later replaced by real banknotes. In 2007 tolars (SIT) were replaced by euros (EUR). A comparison of average earnings in the past twenty years is therefore hardly possible. We can see, however, that since 1991 the prices have increased less than the earnings.

One can learn more from the data on how much time one had to work to buy a certain good or service in 1991 and in 2018. To buy a kilo of brown bread, in 2018 one had to work almost a third less than in 1991. For a kilo of sugar one had to work three times less, for a kilo of coffee four times less and for a new Renault Clio two times less than 27 years ago.

What is the outlook?

The population of Slovenia is expected to be increasing by about 2025 (to around 2,083,000), mostly on account of positive net migration. Natural increase in 2017 was negative for the first time after 2005. After 2025 the population is expected to slowly decline. On 1 January 2080 Slovenia is expected to have 1,938,000 residents, 6% fewer than in the starting year of projections, i.e. in 2015.

In the next 65 years the age structure of Slovenia’s population is expected to change drastically. In 2018, 19.4% of the population is aged 65+. By 2057 the share is expected to increase to almost 31%. Life expectancy at birth will increase; boys born in Slovenia in 2080 could expect to live 87 years and girls more than 91 years.

When making use of the data and information of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, always add: "Source: SURS". More: Copyright.