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Slovenia, Economy

Yugoslav dinar, sugar beets, Adriatic Sea, OSCE, Koper

Prior to independence Slovenia was the most prosperous of the six Yugoslav republics. However, the wars that took place in the region during the early and mid-1990s seriously affected Sloveniaís economy. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was $6,052 in 1992, a sharp decline from the pre-independence figure of $8,658 in 1990. Trade with other countries and tourism were also limited by the war, and the large population of war refugees was a further drain on the economy. In recent years, economic leaders have made efforts to turn the economy around, implementing market and bank reforms and promoting privatization. The presence of a non-Communist government since 1990, along with the republicís sound infrastructure and skilled workforce, helped reverse the downward trend. The GDP began to grow in 1993, and by 1995 was increasing at 5 percent a year. Inflation slowed, and unemployment decreased to a rate lower than many countries of Western Europe. In 2000 the GDP had increased to $18.1 billion, or $9,120 per person.

Industry constituted 38 percent of GDP in Slovenia in 2000. The republicís chief industries produce electrical equipment, processed food, textiles, paper and paper products, chemicals, and wood products. Agriculture accounts for 3 percent of GDP, with dairy farming and livestock dominating this sector. Major crops include cereals such as corn and wheat, potatoes, sugar beets, and fruits (particularly grapes). Germany is by far Sloveniaís most important trading partner in both exports and imports. The other leading countries buying Slovenian goods are Croatia, Italy, France, and Austria. Exports include electrical machinery, road vehicles, chemicals and chemical products, footwear, and furniture. Tourism is also a major source of revenue, with popular resorts at Lake Bled and in the mountains. Revenues from tourism rebounded in 1994 to increase by 8 percent over prewar levels. The largest number of visitors are from Italy, Germany, and Austria.

Slovenia has an excellent transportation network. It contained 20,177 km (12,537 mi) of roads in 2000, and its largest cities are connected by railroads. There are also three major airports and a port at Koper on the Adriatic Sea. In October 1991 the republic released its own currency, the tolar, to replace the Yugoslav dinar (223 tolars equal U.S.$1; 2000 average).

In early 1993 Slovenia joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (since renamed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE). The republic also revived economic contacts with Austria and Italy and established new relations with Iran, China, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. In June 1996 Slovenia became an associate member of the European Union (EU). In December 1997 it was invited to begin the process of joining the organization as a full member.

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