Slovenia has the lowest population density in Europe, with 101 people per square kilometer (262/sq mi) (compared to 402/km2 (1042/sq mi) for the Netherlands and 195/km2 (505/sq mi) for Italy). The population density is lowest in the Inner Carniola–Karst Statistical Region and greatest in the Central Slovenia Statistical Region.
According to the 2002 census, the Slovenes are Slovenia’s largest ethnic group (83 percent), although their proportion of the overall population is steadily declining owing to their comparatively low fertility rate. At least 13% of the population in 2002 was made up of immigrants from other areas of the former Yugoslavia and their descendants. They have mostly settled in cities and suburbs. The Hungarian and Italian ethnic minorities are very tiny, although they are protected by Slovenia’s Constitution. The autochthonous and geographically scattered Roma ethnic group has a unique position.
Slovenia has one of the most noticeable population agings in Europe, owing to a low birth rate and rising life expectancy. Almost all Slovenians over the age of 64 are retired, with no discernible gender difference. Despite immigration, the working-age population is shrinking. A vote in 2011 rejected a plan to increase the retirement age from the current 57 for women and 58 for men. Furthermore, there is still a substantial disparity in life expectancy between the sexes. In 2014, the total fertility rate (TFR) was projected to be 1.33 children born per woman, which was lower than the replacement rate of 2.1. Unmarried women have the bulk of children (in 2014, 58.3 percent of all births were outside of marriage). In 2014, the average life expectancy was 77.83 years (74.21 years male, and 81.69 years female).
Slovenia has a suicide rate of 22 per 100,000 people per year in 2009, placing it among the top European nations in this category. Nonetheless, the rate fell by approximately 30 percent between 2000 and 2010. There are significant variations across areas and genders.
Prior to WWII, about 97 percent of the population identified as Catholic (Roman Rite), approximately 2.5 percent as Lutheran, and approximately 0.5 percent as members of other faiths.
In pre-Communist Slovenia, Catholicism had a significant role in both social and political life. Following 1945, the nation experienced a slow but persistent secularization trend. Following a decade of religious persecution, the Communist government established a policy of relative tolerance toward churches. The Catholic Church recovered some of its previous power after 1990, although Slovenia remains a mainly secular country. According to the 2002 census, Catholicism accounts for 57.8 percent of the population. In 1991, 71.6 percent were self-declared Catholics, a decrease of more than 1% each year. The Latin Rite is used by the overwhelming majority of Slovenian Catholics. The White Carniola area is home to a small number of Greek Catholics.
Despite a very small population of Protestants (less than 1% in 2002), the Protestant heritage is historically important since the Protestant Reformation created the Slovene standard language and literature in the 16th century. Today, a large Lutheran minority resides in Prekmurje’s easternmost area, where they account for about one-fifth of the population and are led by a bishop with his seat in Murska Sobota.
A tiny Jewish community has traditionally coexisted with these two Christian faiths. Despite the losses sustained during the Holocaust, Judaism still has a few hundred followers, the most of whom live in Ljubljana, home to the country’s only functioning synagogue.
According to the 2002 census, Islam is the second most common religious denomination, accounting for about 2.4 percent of the population. The majority of Slovenian Muslims are from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Orthodox Christianity is the third biggest denomination, accounting for about 2.2 percent of the population, with the majority of followers adhering to the Serbian Orthodox Church and a minority subscribing to the Macedonian and other Orthodox churches.
In 2002, about 10% of Slovenes proclaimed themselves atheists, another 10% professed no particular religion, and approximately 16% chose not to answer the question regarding their religious affiliation. According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, 32% of Slovenian people “think there is a deity,” 36% “believe there is some kind of spirit or life force,” and 26% “do not believe there is any type of spirit, god, or life force.”
Immigration and emigration
Around 12% of Slovenians were born abroad: in 2008, over 100,000 non-EU nationals lived in Slovenia, accounting for approximately 5% of the total population. Bosnia and Herzegovina had the largest proportion of these foreign-born inhabitants, followed by Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, and Kosovo.
Since 1995, the number of individuals coming to Slovenia has gradually increased, and in recent years, it has increased even more quickly. Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, and the yearly number of immigrants more than quadrupled by 2006, then more than doubled again by 2009. Slovenia has one of the European Union’s fastest increasing net migration rates in 2007.
In terms of emigration (leaving their country), numerous men left Slovenia between 1880 and 1918 (World War I) to work in mining regions in other countries. The United States, in particular, has been a popular destination for emigrants, with the 1910 US Census revealing “183,431 people in the USA of Slovenian mother language.” However, there may have been many more since many avoided anti-Slavic prejudice and “identified as Austrians.” Prior to 1900, popular locations included Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, as well as Omaha, Nebraska, Joliet, Illinois, Cleveland, Ohio, and rural regions of Iowa. They arrived in Utah (Bingham Copper Mine), Colorado (particularly Pueblo), and Butte, Montana after 1910. These regions initially drew a large number of single males (who often boarded with Slovenian families). The men then sent back for their wives and families to join them after finding employment and having enough money.