Evidence suggests that people first populated the area known today as Slovenia as far back as 250,000BC. People were known to have settled in the area around Ljubljana by around 400BC when the Celts started arriving.
With the expansion of Julius Caesar’s empire comes the establishment of the Roman town Emona on the left bank of the Ljubljanica, of which some remains can still be found in today’s Ljubljana. Thriving for a relatively short period of time, Emona is abandoned some time during the 6th century AD, and the region is invaded several times by the Huns and other early Germanic tribes.
Ljubljana is first mentioned in writing in 1144. The now primarily Slavic city is invaded by the Habsburgs, who control the city and Slovenia almost uninterrupted up until WWI. The city expands during the first few hundred years of this period and the basic shape of the Old Town as it is today is laid out.
16th to 18th Centuries
Protestant influence grows with the Reformation and continued Austrian occupation. The first book in Slovenian is published in 1550. The city is seriously damaged by the earthquake of 1511 and much of the city is rebuilt in the Baroque style.
Napoleon visits the city in 1809 and makes it the capital of the Ilirske province. As with many occupied countries in this part of the world, a national awakening takes place during the 19th century. Slovenian becomes Slovenia’s official language, the first college is founded, and the city grows into the shape and form it more or less is to this day. Ljubljana’s importance is boosted by the arrival of the first railway in 1849. After much of the city is destroyed by the huge earthquake of 1895, the city is almost completely rebuilt at the start of the 20th century. The Old Town is preserved practically intact.
Between the wars
After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Slovenia becomes part of the State, and then the Kingdom, of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs on December 1, 1918, which subsequently becomes the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. The Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) builds many of his most important buildings in the capital between the two World Wars. Slovenia is occupied by the Italians, Germans and Hungarians during WWII. In 1945, Croatian-born Tito, whose mother was born in Slovenia, establishes the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Socialism & Yugoslavia
Slovenia develops as the richest and most Westernised of the Yugoslavian states. After the so-called Tito-Stalin split of 1948, Yugoslavia becomes much less oppressive. Yugoslavs enjoy many freedoms and are even allowed to travel out of the region and work in the West. Tito dies in Ljubljana on the afternoon of May 4, 1980. Relative freedom and prosperity doesn’t stop the region from suffering the same blows as the rest of the Communist world, and Slovenia becomes the first country to declare independence from Yugoslavia, officially becoming independent on June 25, 1991 after the population votes in a referendum in favour of the move on December 23, 1990.
Independence & Beyond
After a slightly shaky start, Slovenia establishes itself as the tiger of the former Yugoslavia. A shrewd combination of nationalist pride and business acumen keeps much of the country’s industry in local hands. Slovenia joins the UN on May 22, 1992 and the EU on May 1, 2004, several weeks before joining NATO. The local currency, the tolar, is replaced by the euro on January 1, 2007. At the end of the year, Slovenia becomes a member of the Schengen countries, and in 2008 proudly takes over the EU presidency for half a year.