Slovenia is a rural nation in an urban world. Its population of two million people lives in no fewer than 6000 small towns and villages. Only two of those have more than 100,000 inhabitants. The entire functional urban region around the capital, Ljubljana, however, has about one million inhabitants. The capital is Slovenia’s only ‘downtown’.
The relationship between Slovenia and Ljubljana has always been strained. Ljubljana emerged after independence and deindustrialization with fewer problems than other, smaller towns. Still, it has to compete with them for investors or public funds. Often much smaller municipalities have better infrastructure amenities and transport links. But within the dispersed urban system of Slovenia, Ljubljana is the only place with enough critical mass and social dynamics to sustain urban development by its own means.