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For Educators

Where in God’s World?

Fascinating Facts about Slovenia

Slovenia is a small country in Europe bordered by Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and Italy. Its capital and largest city is Ljubljana, which translates to “The Loved One.”

 

A green country that protects 50 percent of its land, Slovenia has over 10,000 caves. Škocjan Caves are connected by one of the largest underground river canyons in the world and include four miles of underground passages and several waterfalls.

 

Postojna cave provides shelter for olms, endangered salamanders sometimes called “cave dragons.” Olms are blind; their eyes are covered by a thin layer of skin, as they have adapted to living in permanent darkness. Growing up to 16 inches long, olms are entirely aquatic amphibians. They have lungs and gills, but they spend all of their time underwater.

 

Slovenia is known for its extreme athletes, including Martin Strel (who won Guinness World Records for swimming the Mississippi, Yangtze, and Amazon Rivers) and Davo Karničar (who is the only person to ski down Mount Everest). One of the original extreme sports, ski jumping is popular here. At Planica, ski jumpers speed down a steep ramp, launch into the air, and try to land as far down the hill as possible.

 

Lunch is the largest meal in a Slovenian day, and it often includes dumplings. Žlikrofi are boiled dumplings made with a pasta dough and filled with potatoes, onions, and spices. These dumplings are typically served with goulash (stew). Made from buckwheat dough, štruklji dumplings are often stuffed with sweet fillings like apples and walnuts.

 

Christmas in Slovenia

Slovenia lights up for Christmas. Elaborate light sculptures grace downtown Ljubljana, and garlands of white lights brighten the Christmas market along the river. Lanterns line the streets on Christmas Eve, and people share povitica (a sweet rolled cake) and mingle on their way to midnight church services. On Christmas Day, carols echo through Postojna. A train zips visitors into the cavern, where actors recreate the story of Christ’s birth in a living nativity scene.

 

Learn the Language

 

The national language of Slovenia is spoken today by only about 2.3 million people, making it an almost secret language. Here are some Slovenian phrases:

 

Hello. How are you?—Zdravo. Kako si?

Let’s find a cave dragon.—Najdemo jamo zmaj!

How far can you jump?—Kako daleč lahko skočite?

I like to eat sweet dumplings.—Rada jesti sladke štruklji.

 

Merry Christmas!—Vesel božic!

 

mhooper

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