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A country with spectacular mountains thick forests and a short Adriatic coastline Slovenia also enjoys substantial economic and political stability.
It was the only one of the former Yugoslav republics to be in the first wave of candidates for membership of the European Union. It joined in May 2004.
Just a couple of months before EU entry Slovenia became a member of Nato.
Unlike Croatia or Bosnia-Hercegovina Slovenia's independence from Yugoslavia was relatively bloodless.
The move was undoubtedly aided by Western European recognition of the Slovenes' aspirations and the low proportion of other ethnic groups in the country.
Ljubljana castle overlooks the capital's old town
Slovenia has always been the most prosperous region of the former Yugoslavia and has found the transition from a socialist economy to the capitalist free market easier than most.
On 1 January 2007 it became the first of the new EU member states to join the eurozone.
Politically Slovenia was the most liberal republic within Yugoslavia. Throughout the 1980s there was pressure from Slovenia for greater political freedom and pluralism in the federation.
This reputation was tarnished after independence when thousands of nationals of other former Yugoslav republics were removed from population records and lost residency rights.
Parliament later passed a bill restoring their citizenship but a referendum held shortly before EU entry in 2004 overturned it by an overwhelming margin. Human rights groups expressed dismay at the move which embarrassed the leadership as it prepared to celebrate EU membership.
Slovenia has a rumbling dispute with Croatia over sea and land borders dating back to the break-up of Yugoslavia. Slovenia has said it wants to block Croatian EU membership over the disputes but has dropped its previous opposition to Zagreb's entry into NATO.
On 1 January 2008 it became the first former communist state to take on the EU presidency.
President: Danilo Turk
Leftist former diplomat Danilo Turk won the presidential runoff elections in November 2007 ahead of a government-backed conservative.
Mr Turk garnered 68% of votes compared with the 32% gained by his rival former prime minister Lojze Peterle.
Mr Turk has spent most of his career abroad. He was Slovenia's ambassador to the United Nations from 1992 when the country gained international recognition until 2000 when he became an assistant to the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He returned to Slovenia in 2005.
The role of president is largely ceremonial but carries authority in defence and foreign affairs.
Prime minister: Borut Pahor
Borut Pahor's Social Democrats narrowly emerged as the largest party at the September 2008 parliamentary elections and formed a coalition government in November. This ended the four years in government of a centre-right coalition under Slovenian Democrat leader Janez Jansa.
Mr Pahor leads the Social Democrats
Born 1963 Mr Pahor was involved in the reform wing of the Communist Party in Slovenia during Yugoslav rule in the 1980s.
After independence in 1990 he was elected as a member of parliament for the League of Communists - Party of Democratic Reform rising to be chairman of the successor United List of Social Democrats in 1997.
He led the group in a more centrist direction and became speaker of the National Assembly lower house of parliament in 2000-2004. He changed the party name to the Social Democrats in 2005 and was elected their president.
He was elected to the European Parliament in 2004 where he has served on the budgetary control and constitutional affairs committees.
After independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 Slovenia saw a spectacular development of its broadcasting market reflecting the country's economic success.
The media scene is diverse and free and the constitution supports freedom of expression. The main papers are privately owned and support themselves through advertising.
The broadcasting sector is a mix of public and private ownership. The television market is mainly shared between the public service RTV Slovenia and the private stations Pop TV and Kanal A. There are scores of commercial and public radio stations.
About two thirds of TV households are connected to cable or satellite.
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