Istria (Slovene: Slovenska Istra, Italian:
Istria slovena) is
a region in southwest of Slovenia. It comprises the northern part of
the Istrian peninsula, and it is part of the wider
geographical-historical region known as the Slovene Littoral
(Primorska). Its largest urban center is Koper. Other large
settlements are Izola,
Piran and Portorož. The whole region has
around 120 settlements. In its coastal area, both the Slovene and
Italian languages are official.
Slovene Riviera (Slovenska obala in Slovene) is located in Slovene
Istria; both terms are sometimes used interchangeably, especially in
the media, although the Slovenian
Istria includes a
wider geographical area.
3 Economy and transportation
4.1 Slovene-Italian bilingualism
6 External links
View of the Medieval centre of Piran.
The Istrian peninsula was known to Romans as the terra magica. Its
name is derived from the Histri, an Illyrian tribe who, as accounted
by the geographer Strabo, lived in the region. Romans described them
as pirates who were hard to conquer due to the difficulty of
navigating their territory. After two military campaigns, Roman
legions finally subdued them in 177 BC. A lot of remains of ancient
harbours and settlements still remain today, mostly in Ankaran,
Koper and Piran.
With the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476,
Istria was conquered
by the Goths, the Byzantines. With the end of the 6th century,
Carantanians arrived and built their first permanent settlement around
the year 700. During Byzantine rule, it was shortly ruled by Avars.
Istria was annexed by the
Lombards in 751 and by the Avars in 774. It
came under Frankish rule during the reign of Charlemagne, when his son
Carloman conquered the peninsula in 789, and was incorporated into the
Carolingian March of Friuli.
In 952 King Otto I of Germany ceded
Istria together with the vast
March of Verona
March of Verona and Aquileia to the Dukes of Bavaria. From 976 Verona
was ruled by the Dukes of Carinthia, until in 1040 King Henry III
established the separate March of Istria, which thereafter
successively was controlled by various noble dynasties such as the
House of Andechs
House of Andechs (temporarily ruling as Dukes of Merania). In
1208/09 it fell to the Patriarchs of Aquileia, while large parts of
the estates were held by the comital House of Gorizia.
From 1267 the
Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice gradually annexed the Istrian coast,
aided also by the strong presence of the autochthonous
romance-speaking communities; the region regained the oversea ties
which were loosened by the barbarian invasions. The coastal area
somewhat reflowered, but the venetian government enmity with Austria
Ottoman empire limited the relations with the hinterland.
After Napoleon's triumph in Padania, the
Treaty of Campo Formio
Treaty of Campo Formio in
1797 gave most of Venetian Republic and all of the peninsula to the
The fortified Church of the Holy Trinity in Hrastovlje
Between 1805 and 1813, it was under French rule, first as part of the
Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, then as a province within the Illyrian
Provinces. In 1813, it became part of the Austrian Empire, which
unified the whole peninsula under a single administration with the
capital in Pazin. In 1860,
Istria became an autonomous province within
the Austrian Littoral, with its own
Provincial diet (Assembly). What
is today Slovenian
Istria was divided among the administrative
Koper and Volosko: the former extended to the present-day
municipalities of Koper,
Izola and Piran, while the latter extended to
the present-day municipality of Hrpelje-Kozina.
After World War I, according to the peace Treaty of Rapallo, in 1920
Istria became part of Italy.
Fascism and, later, Nazi occupation
spoiled ethnic relations. After World War II,
Istria was assigned to
Yugoslavia. As a consequence, between 1945 and 1954, an estimated
350,000 ethnic Italians left the Slovenian
Istria in the so-called
Istrian exodus, together with several thousand Slovenes. Between 1947
and 1954, Slovenian
Istria was divided between the Federal People's
Yugoslavia and the Free Territory of Trieste. After the
abolition of the Free Territory in 1954, the region became part of the
People's Republic of
Slovenia within Yugoslavia.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, the region experienced profound changes.
A significant portion of the rural population moved to the coastal
towns, which remained semi-deserted after the Istrian Exodus. The
local Italian population shrank in number. Many villages were
depopulated, while the towns grew in number.
Koper developed in an
important portal town, and one of the major centres of Slovenian
The 43 kilometers long coastline of Slovenian
Istria has numerous
peninsulas and bays such as
Piran peninsula and Gulf of Piran, Gulf of
Ankaran peninsula on which is at the same time one of only
two nature reserves on Slovenian coast, the other one being the
Strunjan reserve. In the
Strunjan reserve lies the only coastal
Slovenia which is at the same time the only cliff in Trieste
Bay. The inner part of the region is more hilly, with various types of
landscape, including the most known karst landscape in the Karst
The most important water-flows in Slovenian
Istria are the Dragonja
Rural landscape in Slovenian Istria
Karst landscape near Osp
Moon Bay, Strunjan
Economy and transportation
Istria is the second most prosperous region in Slovenia
after Central Slovenia. The two most important economic branches are
transport and tourism, followed by services and industry.
The Port of
Koper is the only international port in
Slovenia and one
of the largest in the Adriatic Sea. It is considered as one of the
strategically most important firms in Slovenian economy.
Tourism is one of the main industries on the Slovenian coast,
especially in Portorož, Piran,
Izola and Sečovlje,
where the most important historical monument is the Venetian Gothic
Mediterranean town of Piran. The neighboring town of
Portorož is a
popular modern tourist resort, offering entertainment in gambling
tourism. The former fishermen town of
Izola has also been transformed
into a popular tourist destination; many tourists also appreciate the
old Medieval center of the port of Koper, which is however less
popular among tourists than the other two Slovenian coastal towns.
Near the village of
Sečovlje there is the
Sečovlje Salina Nature
Park, which is a cultural heritage site and a tourist attraction.
Among other less important are the
Strunjan nature reserve, various
small camps in the nature, village of
Ankaran and Debeli Rtič.
See also: Wines of Slovenia
Istria is especially renowned for its wines and olive oil.
The most common wine varieties are refosco (red) and malvasia (white).
Other products include cherries, figs, and vegetables, such as
radicchio, tomatoes and asparagus.
Italian language in
Slovenia and Languages of Slovenia
A multilingual sign in Slovene and Italian (also partly in Croatian)
Slovenian Riviera and some villages in the interior, both
Slovene and Italian are official languages. In the rest of
Slovenian Istria, comprising most of its rural area, only Slovene is
recognized as official language.
According to the 2002 census, Slovene is spoken as the first language
by 70,2% of the inhabitants of Slovenian Istria, Italian by 3,3%, and
various forms of Croatian by 16% of the population. The highest
percentage of Italian speakers is in the municipality of
while the highest percentage of Croatian speakers is in
Polls show that the majority of the population in Slovenian
fluent in four languages: Slovene, Italian, Croatian and English.
Both Slovene and Italian are official in the municipalities of Piran,
Izola and Koper. However, Italian is co-official only in the strip of
land on the coast, traditionally inhabited by Istrian Italians. In the
villages in the interior, only Slovene is official.
According to law, all official signs are to be written in both
languages, as should all public notifications. Italian is to be used
in all public offices in the bilingual area. For most jobs in the
public administration and other public offices, the knowledge of both
Slovene and Italian is required. Beside
Slovene language schools,
there are also elementary, high and grammar schools with Italian as
the language of instruction. Pupils may choose between an education in
Slovene or Italian; in either case, the other official language is
being taught during the whole period of education, in order to provide
that all residents speak both languages. At the state-owned University
of Primorska, however, which is also established in the bilingual
area, Slovene is the only language of instruction (although the
official name of the university additionally includes the Italian
Italian may be used in the municipal assemblies of Koper,
Piran, although in practice almost all discussions are carried out in
In the rural areas of Slovenian Istria, the
Istrian dialect of Slovene
is still spoken. It is divided into two sub-dialects: the Rižana
subdialect, spoken in the northern areas, and the Šavrini Hills
subdialect, spoken in the southern areas. In the municipality of
Inner Carniolan dialect is spoken. In a few
villages on the border with Croatia, the
Čičarija dialect is spoken,
which is considered a transitional dialect between Slovene and
In the urban areas, a hybrid regional version of Slovene is spoken,
which is phonetically very different from the rural dialects. It
developed after World War Two, when new settlers from all Slovenia
(many of whom from Slovenian Styria) moved into the towns, left by the
Istrian Italians. Although it has borrowed many words from the Istrian
dialect, it is markedly distinguishable from it.
Istrian Italians living in Slovenian
spoken the Venetian language, which is nowadays being increasingly
replaced by standard Italian.
^ Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, census of 2002
Strunjan Nature Reserve site
Mladinsko zdravilišče Debeli rtič
Coordinates: 45°33′9.09″N 13°54′11.51″E /
45.5525250°N 13.9031972°E / 45.5