Slovenia, officially the Republic of Slovenia, is a nation state in Central Europe at the crossroads of main European cultural and trade routes. It borders Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Croatia to the south and southeast and Hungary to the northeast. Relative to its geography, history, economy, culture, and language, it is a very diverse country distinguished by a transitional character. It is characterized by a high economic and social level.

The Republic of Slovenia sits at the crossroads of southern Central Europe bordering Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Italy. Geographical diversity - mountains, forests, sea - makes the region attractive to many. Historically, it’s been a well-established trade route between Europe and Asia and an important seaport for trade along the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas.

This parliamentary republic was the first former Communist country to join the European Union (EU) and it’s a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Slovenia’s forests are exceptional in their biodiversity, which includes more than 24,000 species of animal. Although a very small portion of the Earth’s landmass (0.004%), a full 1% of the Earth’s living organisms are native to Slovenia, where 12.5% of the nation is covered under ecological protection laws. Only Finland and Sweden have a higher percentage of forestland than Slovenia’s 58.5%.

Perhaps the most notable of Slovenia’s animals is the Lipizzan horse, beloved around the world for its extraordinary beauty and exceptional performance in entertainment and sports performances. First bred in the Kras plateau region, the horse gets its name from the Italian spelling (Lipizza) of the village name - Lipica.

Slovenians love their cars, crowding the nation’s highways and motorways at a higher than average density than the rest of the EU.

From the coastlines to the Alps, Slovenia provides a diversity in geography and climate that is rarely found elsewhere. Its temperate climate is held in check by four major geographical features that buffer harsh winter extremes and a long expanse of sea coast that replaces extreme summer heat with the balmy weather Slovenians love. Higher elevations do see snow in the winter, however, but mountain ranges surrounding the nation shields it from the high winds experienced elsewhere in Europe.

By European standards, Slovenia enjoys a low population density, just 262 people per square mile. About 83% of the people are of Slovene descent; 57.8% identify as Roman Catholic (2002).

Its whole-hearted embrace of the arts puts Slovenia at the top of the map for cultural diversity celebrated in grand style. So popular are events involving song and dance, prose and poetry, theater and film, food and fun that the city of Maribor was commemorated as the EU Capital of Culture in 2012. Slovenians enjoy festivals galore, including the delicious annual Festival of Roasted Potatoes.

Sports fans love studying in Slovenia, where the geography and climate provide the ideal playing field for many team and individual sports. The celebration of indoor and outdoor sports, summer and winter, has paid off for Slovenia, which claims 22 Olympic medals and 19 Paralympic medals won since 1992.

Even though it was hard hit by the global economic crisis of 2007 - 2010, Slovenia remains one of the richest Slavic states, with a GDP of $22,192 per capita. Prosperity levels vary widely across the country, though. Lingering economic woes are attributed to relatively high taxes, an inflexible labor market, and an aging population.

Roughly two-thirds of the population is employed by the service industry and the remaining one-third by construction and industry (mainly automobile, electric / electronic equipment, machinery, pharmaceuticals, fuels).

Almost everybody older than 64 is retired. Low birth rates in the last couple of generations have left the workforce short on the workers needed to fill jobs made available by retirees. Opportunities for work after graduation are plentiful.