From as early as the 9th century, Slovenia had fallen under foreign rulers, including partial but cooperative control by Bavarian dukes and the Republic of Venice. With the exception of Napoleon's 4-year tutelage of parts of Slovenia and Croatia -- the "Illyrian Provinces" -- Slovenia was part of the Habsburg empire from the 14th century until 1918. Nevertheless, Slovenia strongly resisted Germanizing influences and retained its unique Slavic language and culture.
In 1918, after World War I, the Slovenians joined with other southern Slav states such in forming the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Renamed in 1929 under a Serb monarch, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia fell to the Axis powers during World War II.
Slovenia continued to be Yugoslavia's most prosperous and advanced republic through the communist era, at the forefront of Yugoslavia's unique version of communism. Within a few years of Tito's death in 1980, Belgrade initiated plans to further concentrate political and economic power in its hands. Defying the politicians in Belgrade, Slovenia embraced democracy and an opening of its society in cultural, civic, and economic realms to a degree almost unprecedented in the communist world. In September 1989, the General Assembly of the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia adopted an amendment to its constitution asserting Slovenia's right to secede from Yugoslavia. On December 23, 1990, 88% of Slovenia's population voted for independence in a referendum, and on June 25, 1990, the Republic of Slovenia declared its independence. A nearly bloodless 10-day war with Yugoslavia followed; Yugoslav National Army forces withdrew after Slovenia demonstrated stiff resistance to Belgrade.
The Slovenians succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991. Historical ties to Western Europe made Slovenia a strong candidate for future membership in the European Union. It is slated to become a member in 2004.