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Slovenians from abroad embark on traditional visit to the homeland

Slovenians from neighbouring countries and from around the world embarked on the traditional visit to the homeland on Wednesday for the start of the Welcome Home event. The main part of the event will take place on Saturday in Radovljica, but the meeting opened on Wednesday with football matches in Brdo pri Kranju.

The main part of the Welcome Home event will take place on Saturday in Radovljica. | Author Stanko Gruden, STA

This year’s event will be enlivened by appearances from a variety of musical, folklore and vocal groups, exhibitions, and discussions on the theme of emigration and the diaspora. This time Radovljica will host the main part of the traditional event on Saturday. The organisers have prepared a rich and varied programme at several locations around the town. The Slovenian visitors from abroad will enjoy a number of different cultural events on the main stage in Grajski Park, and will hear speeches by Peter J Česnik, the minister for Slovenians abroad, and Ciril Globočnik, the mayor of Radovljica.

Approximately half a million Slovenian and people of Slovenian background who still identify as such live outside Slovenia. This represents around a fifth of the world’s total ethnic Slovenian population. The largest Slovenian community in a neighbouring country is in Italy, where around 80,000 people identify as ethnic Slovenian, followed by Austria, with 50,000. There are around 5,000 ethnic Slovenians in Hungary, and 10,000 in Croatia according to official figures, although the portal estimates that the true figure could be significantly higher.

Slovenians have found new homes in numerous other European countries. There are around 50,000 living in Germany, 20,000 in France, and 5,000 in the UK. Slovenians also have a lively and active presence in all the other former Yugoslav republics.

According to the official figures, the largest Slovenian community in a different continent is in the USA, where around 300,000 people identify as being of Slovenian background. There are also large Slovenian communities in Canada, Argentina and Australia.