Slavonia, Slovakia, and Slovenia are three distinct regional areas in Eastern Europe. The biggest difference between them is geography, as the three are in separate places, have independent cities, and wholly distinct governing systems and citizens. The languages spoken in each place usually vary, too. There is also a big difference when it comes to basic organization. Slavonia is a region in the eastern part of Croatia, and is known for its historic significance, among other things. Both Slovakia and Slovenia are countries in their own right. Slovakia comprises essentially half of what was formerly known as Czechoslovakia, the remainder of which is known as the Czech Republic; these entities split peaceably in 1993. Slovenia, on the other hand, split out of what was formerly known as Yugoslavia in 1991 after what most scholars agree was several years of brutal warfare. Slovenia, Slovakia, and Croatia are all members of the European Union and use the Euro as currency.
Role of Regional Politics
Countries in the region known as “Eastern Europe” — basically everything past Austria, Germany, and Italy when looking eastward on a map — have generally lacked stability, either politically or economically, since at least the early parts of the 20th century. The recurring rise and fall of Communism has had a lot to do with this, as have the clashes and disputes between prominent ethnic groups. The landscape in the Eastern part of Europe has accordingly been somewhat transient, with new countries and regions emerging and realigning every few decades. Slovakia and Slovenia are two of these countries; Croatia is another.
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The names sound very similar in part because of the peoples’ shared ancestry; their languages, while distinct, also share the same root. In ancient times, all of the land that makes up these regions was contained within the same kingdoms and empires. Modern borders represent different nationalistic identities and modern conceptions of countries and people groups, but the history of most places in this zone shares a lot.
The Croatian Region
Slavonia is a region in eastern Croatia. Croatia itself has a complex and divided history, and has been separated, re-formed, and re-imagined repeatedly over the past several centuries. The region known specifically as Slavonia is in the far east of the country, and shares borders with Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The region is known as one of Croatia’s four “historical regions” and there is a lot of history that has been preserved there, both culturally and architecturally. In terms of geography, it includes two primary rivers, the Drava and the Sava. It is a fertile agricultural area that is home to about 750,000 people. The biggest cities are Osijek and Slavonski Brod. Most people here speak Croatian.
Slovakia, known more formally as the Slovak Republic, is a small country. The capital is Bratislava, and the population is about 5.5 million. The relatively new nation began its statehood when Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993. The split was peaceful, and the two countries are not known to be rivals or antagonists today. Slovakia is bordered by Austria to the west, the Czech Republic and Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, and Hungary to the south. The official language is Slovak.
Republic of Slovenia
Slovenia, or the Republic of Slovenia as it is officially known, was created under much more dramatic circumstances. It was occupied by the Nazi forces during the Second World War, but after the Nazi defeat it fell into Communist rule and eventually became incorporated into the country that would become Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia dissolved in a bloody battle that dominated most of the 1980s and early 1990s, and the region today called Slovenia broke away from the fighting in 1991.
It has a population of about 2 million and the capital is Ljubljana. The country is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the east and Croatia to the south. People here mostly speak Slovene.