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Slavic ancestors of the present-day Slovenians settled in the area in the 6th century. The Slavic Duchy of Carantania was formed in the 7th century. In 745, Carantania was incorporated into the Carolingian Empire, while Karantanians and other Slavs living in present Slovenia converted to Christianity. Carantania retained its internal independence until 828 when the local princes were deposed following the anti-Frankish rebellion of Ljudevit Posavski and replaced with a German (mostly Bavarian) ascendancy. Under the Emperor Arnulf of Carinthia Carantania, now ruled by a mixed Bavarian-Slav nobility, shortly emerged as a regional power, but was destroyed by the Hungarian invasions in the late 9th century. The Slovene lands were turned into a military borderland of the Carolingian Empire (the Marches of Carinthia, of Carniola and of Friuli). Carantania was established again as an autonomous administrative unit in 976, but it never developed into an unified realm; it soon broke down into what became the duchies of Carinthia, Styria, Carniola and Friuli, into which the Slovenian Lands remained divided up to 1918. The Carantanian identity remained alive into the 12th century when it was slowly replaced by regional identities. The first mentions of a common Slovenian ethnic identity, transcending regional boundiaries, date from the 16th century.
The Freising manuscripts, the earliest surviving written documents in a Slovenian dialect as well as the oldest document written in any Slavic language with Latin script, were written in the 10th century. During the 14th century, most of Slovenian Lands passed under Habsburg rule. In the 15th century, the Habsburg domination was challenged by the Counts of Celje, but by the end of the century the great majority of Slovenian-inhabited territories were incorporated into the Habsburg Monarchy. Most Slovenes lived in the region known as Inner Austria, forming the majority of the population of the Duchy of Carniola and the County of Gorizia and Gradisca, as well as of Lower Styria and southern Carinthia. Slovenians also inhabited most of the territory of the Imperial Free City of Trieste, although representing the minority of its population. Slovenian majorities also existed in the Prekmurje region of the Kingdom of Hungary, in the Venetian Slovenia and north-western Istria which were part of the Republic of Venice.
In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation spread throughout the Slovenian Lands. During this period, the first books in Slovenian language were written by the Lutheran preacher Primož Trubar and his followers, establishing the base for the development of the Slovenian standard language. Although almost all Protestants were expelled from the Slovenian Lands (with the exception of Prekmurje) by the beginning of the 17th century, they left a strong legacy in the tradition of the Slovenian culture, which was partially incorporated in the Catholic Counter-Reformation. The Slovenian cultural tradition was further reinforced in the Enlightenment period by the endeavours of the Zois circle.
1805 to 1848
After a short French interim between 1805 and 1813, all Slovenian Lands were included in the Austrian Empire. Slowly, a distinct Slovenian national consciousness developed, and the quest for a political unification of all Slovenes became widespread. In 1848, a mass political and popular movement for a United Slovenia (Zedinjena Slovenija) emerged as part of the Spring of Nations movement within the Austrian Empire.
1848 to 1918
Between 1848 and 1918, numerous institutions (including theatres, publishing houses, as well as political, financial and cultural organisations) were founded in the so-called Slovenian National Awakening; despite their political and institutional fragmentation and lack of a proper political representation, the Slovenes were able to establish a functioning and integrated national infrastructure. During this period, the town of Ljubljana, the capital of Carniola, emerged as the undisputed centre of all Slovenian Lands, while the Slovenes developed an internationally comparable literature and culture. Nevertheless, the Slovenian national question remained unsolved, so the political élite of the time started looking towards other Slavic nations in Austria-Hungary and the Balkans in order to engage in a common political action against German and Magyar hegemony. The idea of a common political entity of all South Slavs, known as Yugoslavia, emerged.
Post-World War I
During World War I, after the Italian attack on Austria-Hungary in 1915, the Italian front opened, and some of the most important battles (the Battles of the Isonzo) were fought along the river Soča and on the Kras Plateau in the Slovene Littoral. With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1918, the Slovenians initially joined the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which soon afterwards merged into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later renamed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The western part of the Slovenian Lands (the Slovenian Littoral and the western part of Inner Carniola) was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy and became known under the name of Julian March. In 1920, in the Carinthian Plebiscite, the majority of Carinthian Slovenes voted to remain in Austria. Although the Slovenes in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia were submitted to an intolerant centralist policy trying to eradicate a distinct Slovenian national consciousness, they were still better off than the Slovenes in Italy, Austria and Hungary, which became victims of policies of forced assimilation and violent persecution. As a reaction to the fascist violence of the Italian State in the Julian March, the organisation TIGR, regarded as the first armed antifascist resistance group in Europe, was founded in 1927.
1941 to World War II
In April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers. Slovenia was divided between Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Horthy's Hungary. Soon, a liberation movement under Communist leadership emerged. Due to political assassinations carried out by the Communist guerrillas as well as the pre-existing radical anti-Communism of the conservative circles of Slovenian society, a civil war between Slovenes broke out in the Italian-occupied south-eastern Slovenia (Ljubljana, Lower Carniola and Inner Carniola) between the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People and the Axis-sponsored anti-communist militia, the Slovene Home Guard. Nevertheless, the Slovenian partisan guerrilla managed to liberate large portions of the Slovene Lands, making an important contribution to the defeat of Nazism.
Post-World War II to Present-day
Following the re-establishment of Yugoslavia at the end of World War II, Slovenia became a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, officially declared on 29 November 1945. A Communist dictatorship was established, but due to the Tito-Stalin split the conditions regarding economic and personal freedom were better than in the Eastern Bloc. In 1947, Italy ceded most of the Julian March to Yugoslavia and Slovenia thus regained the Slovenian Littoral, including the access to the sea. Starting from the 1950s, the Socialist Republic of Slovenia enjoyed a relatively wide autonomy under the rule of the local Communist élite. In 1990, the first free and democratic elections were held and the DEMOS coalition defeated the former Communist parties. In December 1990, the overwhelming majority of Slovenian citizens voted for independence, which was declared on 25 June 1991. A short Ten-Day War followed in which the Slovenians rejected Yugoslav military interference. After 1990, a stable democratic system slowly evolved, together with economic liberalisation and gradual growth of prosperity. Slovenia joined NATO on 29 March 2004 and the European Union on 1 May 2004. Slovenia is the first post-Communist country to hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first six months of 2008.