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In the eyes of many a Yugoslavian despot, Slovenia is the golden goose that got away. Rich in resources, naturally good looking and persistently peaceful, Slovenia has been doing just fine (flourishing, even) since breaking away from its Yugoslav owners in 1991. Travellers in search of an antidote to much of Europe's crowds and high prices can, at least for the meantime, consider it their little secret.

Little Slovenia (Slovenija) straddles Eastern and Western Europe. Many of its cities and towns bear the imprint of the Habsburg Empire and the Venetian Republic, while up in the Julian Alps you'd almost think you were in Bavaria. The 2 million Slovenes were economically the most well off among the peoples of what was once Yugoslavia, and the relative affluence of this country on the 'sunny side of the Alps' is immediately apparent.

Except for a brief period in June and July 1991 when Yugoslavia attempted to stop its smallest child from leaving its collapsing nest, there's been no fighting, no war and no terrorism in Slovenia. While Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina became embroiled in the bitterest conflict in Europe since WWII, Slovenes got on with making money and keeping out of the limelight.

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