Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Population: demographic situation, languages and religions


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.3Population: demographic situation, languages and religions

Last update: 27 November 2023

With 20,273 km² and slightly over two million inhabitants Slovenia is a small country at the intersection of four major European geographic regions: the Alps, the Dinarides, the Pannonia Plain, and the Mediterranean.

We have been undergoing significant social changes spurred by political, economic and demographic factors.

Demographic situation

The age structure of the population has been changing due to the low and, in some periods declining, birthrate, longer life expectancy and lower mortality. These factors have led to an aging population.

Statistical Office of Slovenia (SURS) data shows:

  • The share of children and young people aged under 14 had risen in recent years (to 15% in 2022), following a decline from 23 to 14% between 1981 and 2010.
  • The share of active working population (aged 15 to 64) declined between 2010 and 2022: from 69.5% to 63.8% (having previously increased from 66% in 1981).
  • The share of people over 65 years of age had doubled since 1981, and stood at 21.1% in 2022.

Based on Statistical Office and the Employment Service of Slovenia data registered unemployment rate stood at 5.4% in December 2022. That’s a decrease from 10.6% in January 2010 but there had been notable fluctuation over the ten-year period. For example, in January 2015 unemployment rate was 13.5%.

The share of inhabitants with Slovenian citizenship slightly decreased in the last decade, from just under 96% in 2011 to 92.5% in December 2022. 

When the most recent population census was conducted (in 2002), ethnic groups were represented as follows:

  • Slovenians: 83.1%
  • Croats: 1.8%
  • Serbs: 2%
  • Muslims (including Bosniacs): 1.6%
  • Hungarians: 0.3%
  • Italians: 0.1%
  • other: 2.2%
  • unknown: 8.9%


The official language and the general language of instruction is Slovenian. According to the last population census, it is the native language of 88% of the Slovenia's population; 92% of the population use Slovenian language at home (Population census 2002).

In ethnically mixed areas, Italian and Hungarian, respectively, are also recognized as official languages. Accordingly, members of the Italian and Hungarian national communities in ethnically mixed areas have the right to education in their respective language.

In addition, Romani language is protected by law, but it is not a language of instruction in formal education.

Over the past decades there have been public discussions about the collective rights of the minorities that are not specified in the Constitution, with Human Rights Ombudsman repeatedly calling for concrete measures to address this area.

So far the most significant policy step has been the declaration on the National communities of members of nations of former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in the Republic of Slovenia (DePNNS) adopted by the National Assembly in 2011.

The latter communities are mostly migrants (and their offspring) who moved to Slovenia from other former Yugoslavian republics between the 1960s and the end of 1980s. Their languages are Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin (all formerly intertwined as Serbo-Croatian) as well as Macedonian and Albanian.

In January 2019, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia put forward for public discussion the draft new Resolution on the National Programme for Language Policy 2019–2023 succeeding the previous five-year programme. In June 2021 the Resolution on the National Programme for Language Policy 2021–2025 (sl) was adopted.


The human right to religious freedom and the relationship between the state and religious communities in the Republic of Slovenia are defined by the Constitution and legislation.

According to Art. 41 of the Constitution religious and other beliefs may be freely professed in private and public life; parents have the right to provide their children with a religious and moral upbringing in accordance with their beliefs.

Furthermore, Art. 7 specifies that the state and religious communities shall be separate; religious communities are entitled to equal rights; and they pursue their activities freely.

There is a special Office for Religious Communities that operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. Among other tasks: it monitors the situation of churches and other religious communities; provides professional assistance; participates in the drafting of relevant regulations, other acts and measures; conducts the registration procedure and keeps the register of churches and other religious communities. In 2020 the register contains 56 churches and other religious communities.

Teaching religious faith is not allowed in public schools. However, at every public school students can select the wide-ranging ’Religion and Ethics’ subject as one of their compulsory-elective subjects within their basic education. If enough students select this subject, it is taught once per week in the seventh, eighth and ninth grade. In the school year 2020/21 this subject was taught in 21 basic schools.

Upper secondary education students in public schools learn about religions through subjects such as history, geography, sociology, philosophy, psychology and Slovenian. Textbooks for these subjects present religions and their holy books.

Religious communities may establish education institutions, residence halls for pupils and students and other similar institutions where they can freely perform educational activities in line with their own statutes, and in accordance with the constitutional and legal order of the Republic of Slovenia.

The state co-finances the activities of such private institutions from preschool to tertiary education. As a rule, state funding covers 85% of salaries and material cost of the programme provision by the comparable public institution if the private education institutions are organised as specified by law and if they provide the officially recognised programme. Some schools receive full state finding of salaries and cost of material.

In 2007 the Catholic church founded the first primary and lower secondary school (Osnovno šolo Alojzija Šuštarja). Classes began in September 2008. Its distinguishing feature is religion being a mandatory subject. In the extended programme pupils can attend catechesis that is normally taught in catholic parishes, using the same textbooks.

Catholic Church has founded four upper secondary general schools (gimnazije). In the school year 2020/21, private upper secondary schools (including those four) enrolled 1,767 students. This represented 6.9% of all students enrolled in general upper secondary schools (25,777). The Catholic gimnazijas enroled 1499 students, representing 5.8% of all gimnazija students in Slovenia (source: Ministry of education science and sport).

The four Catholic schools at this level have been teaching ’Religion and culture’ for some years. There is a special textbook for every year of that type of upper secondary education. The textbooks present the history of world religions, main contemporary religions and their holy books.

The only religious public tertiary education institution in Slovenia is the Faculty of Theology. It is part of the University of Ljubljana and has a unit in Maribor.