Where are we?
Back in 1999, the governor of Texas, a certain George 'Dubb-ya' Bush, told a Slovakian journalist that "the only thing I know about Slovakia is what I learned firsthand from your foreign minister, who came to Texas. I had a great meeting with him. It's an exciting country." Unfortunately, Mr. Bush had never met with any representative of Slovakia, rather the SLOVENIAN Prime Minister of the time, Janez Drnovsek!
Since these two fairly new European countries came into independent existence, they have had to put up with probably more than a million similar examples of such a mix-up. Ljubljana Life takes a look at a few of the more comical examples for you...
At a news conference in Rome last year, Italian Prime Minister (not any more) Silvio Berlusconi, introduced Slovenian Prime Minister (not any more) Anton Rop to the crowd of journalists. "I'm very happy to be here today with the Prime Minister of Slovakia."
This next little story is one of our favourites here at Ljubljana Life; A Slovene diplomat (who has asked to remain anonymous) in a major European capital city, has revealed that his staff meet once a month with their counterparts from the Slovak embassy to exchange wrongly-addressed mail!
Check out the Lonely Planet guide to Europe, and look for the photos of Slovakia. We did this, and guess what we found? Yep, that's right. Two photos of Slovenia, one of Ljubljana's market and one of Triglav National Park! You think they'd have done their homework.
On the 23rd of November 2005, the Spanish wing of Reuters made a very common mistake. By now you probably know where we're going with this. The story was about the young SLOVENIAN footballer plying his trade in Spain for Real Sociedad. Not once, not twice, but three times, the report calls him a Slovak!
Go to Amazon, the bookseller not the rainforest in South America. Search for the term 'Slovenian.' The top search result for the term 'Slovenian' is the book 'Slovak for you.'
Now let's look at some of the possible explanations for such a common mix-up;
Both countries became EU members in 2004.
Both countries became independent in the early 90s from larger Communist nations.
Both countries have Karst regions.
Both countries have officially-recognized Hungarian minorities.
Both countries border Austria.
Both countries have white-blue-red flags.
Both countries have shield-shaped coats of arms in the top-left of their flag.
Both of the above-mentioned coats of arms feature mountains with 3 peaks.
Both countries were once a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
A female resident of both countries is a 'Slovenka' in her native tongue.
The adjective form in both countries, in their respecitve languages is 'Slovensk..'
This previous fact means that you'll find Slovenska. Televizia in Slovakia, and Slovenske Zeleznice in Slovenia. Although both would be possible the other way around!
Still, even after all of these minor similarities, you think that people would have got it by now, 15 years since independence was declared!
Anyway, we never get confused here at Ljubljana Life, we know full well that we are priveleged to live and work in the most beautiful city in Slovakia. Wait....
Romell from Philippines Reply
I feel the same, Americans confuse our demonym and the name of our country, the Philippines. the proper spelling of our demonym is "Filipino", but Americans always spell it as "Philippino" and it really offends us. I really understand why Slovenia and Slovakia are always being confused...
Igor from Slovenia Reply
In as much as it makes no difference, Slovenia IS Slovakia. If you took a regular traveler and flew him blindfolded into either of the two countries, I'm sure he would have a very difficult time figuring out where he landed and he would have a 50-50 chance of guessing wrong. I'm sure if I got drunk enough I would have the same problem :)
marko from Slovenia
Ya, except that Slovenia has Alps and some Beaches and lots of forrest. And slovakia has nothing. You have to be blind and deaf not to see the difference
Peter from Slovakia
Oh really Marko, are you 15 or something to say such? The only thing in Slovakia we miss is sea. But we have also beautiful high mountain range Tatras (2655m, Triglav is just 200 m higher), vaste amount of caves (two of them are Ice caves which is very rare, one is aragonite cave, there are only three in the world, others in Mexico and Argentina), beautiful forests full of bears, wolfes, lynx, european bizons, we have 9 national parks, Slovenia just one as far as I know. So you better shut up and jump into the sea from that amazingly long coast of yours.
anonimo from Venezuela Reply
I understand you. I'm Venezuelan and Americans always confuse my country, Venezuela, with Minnesota. Short vision of the world
Срђан from Serbia Reply
Greetings for Slovenes and Slovaks from Serbia.Serbia also has problems with confusion between the terms.For example, many foreigners mixed terms Serbia and Siberia. :)
Kotomir from Slovenia Reply
Both countries are leftovers of Europe's native population which called themselfs SLOVENI (Sclaveni, Sclavani, Sclavini, Sclavi, Sclabeni, Sclabenoi, Slavi, Schiavoni, etc). Even present Slovenians and Slovakians speak almoast the same language. Today only Slovenia (Republika Slovenija) and Slovakia (Slovenská republika) carry on the name Sloveni in their state name. So if we look at the history - and even in the present times: Slovenians and Slovakians are actualy the same nation (!)
Peter from Slovakia
not exactly, the nationality means how u feel now. doesnt care if it have been evolving 1000 or just 10 years. If u feel like New Zealander but your parents are English that doesnt mean u r English too! So to say we are still part of one nation is not true, however when we meet Im sure we will feel that ancient connection somehow
Slovak from Slovakia Reply
We are both children of Great Moravia (Morava River).
csn from United States Reply
I have some vintage missals in Slovak on my website of Catholic Treasure of the Lord Books, and all are in Mint condition, never used, Old New Stock, for anyone interested just Google our Store and you'll find them or Search Slovak Missal. I accidentally listed them as Polish...sorry about that...but they were Slovak.
Michal from Slovak Republic Reply
I'm trying to be tolerant in this topic. From my own experience, I know how hard is to remember who is who among Lithuania and Latvia (especially if in my language they are Litva=LT and Lotysko=LV respectively). Therefore I feel happy when people know that there are two different countries with similar names, similar language, similar flags and the same origin, and they just don't know which is which. anon+hag: Why a common name? For example, Belgium or Switzerland have different names, depending which of their official languages you are using. In this case, it will be both Slovenija (owing to standard south Slavic suffix -ija) and Slovensko (owing to standard western Slavic suffix -sko/-ska). In each case, the root word is correct for both languages. And following the same logic, typical Latin suffix is -ia, which leads to Slovenia for Romance languages. I would also accept typical Anglosaxon suffix -land, producing Slovenland, if the speaker prefers it. Even Slovenstan (in Persian and neighbouring languages) or Slovenpradesh (in south Asian languages) should not offend the inhabitants of the assumed country.
anon from Slovak Republic Reply
hag: Why? Sloven- is also our word, Slovak- isn't. Let's just make it Slovenia. We're both of the same origin anyway.
hag from Slovak Republic Reply
I think it's nice, that we've got almost the same in both countries. Weve got the same roots, history, destiny and also very beautiful girls in both countries. In Slovakia we are only missing the sea(there are just some relicts underground from mesosoic era). So I think we could unite into one country called for example Slovekia .
A. from Ireland Reply
I feel your pain. Most people I come across outside Ireland still think we're part of Britain...
Joe from United States Reply
My wife and small children took a month trip through europe and we VERY much was surprised by the country. Slovenia was an unexpected pleasure. We were really impressed with the people and the scenic views. We hope to return to stay longer next year and maybe buy property for vacationing. It's a long way from Indianapolis, but well worth the trip.
Drew Duncan from United Kingdom Reply
I know from my own experience that there is confusion but time hopefully will sort it out. Many people are ignorant of geography outside their own country. Trying telling a Londoner where parts of Scotland (my country) are and you will see what I mean. I am a regular visitor to Slovenia and so have no confusion but I have been introduced as one who can speak "slovakian", meaning of course "slovenian". Although I should point out that my slovenian is very, very limited. But Slovenia is a wonderful country and I have persuaded a number of people to visit and they have loved it - as I do.
Kun from Japan Reply
One country should really change their name and/or flag, it is confusing!
tom from Slovenia Reply
prudentcroat, i wouldn't expect from you any less..
prudent croat from Tuvalu Reply
I can not make any mistake in boycott of Slovenian consumer goods. Slovenians originated from Slovakians before Hungarians come to central Europe Slovaks and Slovenians were one nation so Hungarian arrival separate Slovakians and after a while it's created now nation of Slovenians. Slovakians are authentic
Dennis from United States Reply
And that one Brit sure is one ignorant moron
Dennis from United States Reply
Hey everyone. Just wanted to say as an American I apologize for our atrocious geography. Many poor schools in America can't afford to keep good geography teachers. I used to tutor at a school that still had textbooks that said Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union still existed. That being said, I would love to visit both Slovakia and Slovenia, though being of Asian descent, I don't know if I would be well treated there lol.
Jodie from United States Reply
Easy mistake to make - if you are George Bush!
Tara from United States Reply
I guess that's what you get when you don't pay attention in geography classes...
psychomode from United Kingdom Reply
same russian flags, same hungarian faces faces, same slavic language, same german culture. doesn't really metter both countries are bloody boring.
Paul Dixon from Brazil Reply
I am an occasional visitor to this site as I intend to visit Slovenia some day (and know it is not Slovakia!) Regarding George Bush's phrase, this reminds me of a Brazilian president some years ago who said: I'm very glad to be here in Bolivia! The problem was, he was in Peru.
Roman from Slovenia Reply
First a little history lesson to J from USA, who is obviously Hungarian, Slovenia never "belonged" to Hungary, except for a smaller part over the river Mura (Moer). Just continue to show your knowledge of history and geography mr. J (or should we call you Bush). And I, not like mister J, will try to refrain from such comments since Slovenians and especially Slovakians experienced Hungarian rule, and it is not a time period the Hungarians can be proud of and we could go further in history, like before the Hungarians settled in this region to decide who should annex what. Regarding the actual topic I like the article, I'm very fond of Slovakia and the two countries do have a lot in common. The mix up is understandable but in the end it only shows the ignorance and arrogance of the people who make the mistakes. So basically two beautiful countries and if you visit them both the mix up wont happen again :-)
Lajos Dézsi from Hungary Reply
"It is 12 of December 1941. Secretary of State Cordell Hull is entering Oval Office. - Mr. President! Hungary declared war against USA! - Who's Hungary? - It's a little state in Europe under leadership of Admiral Horthy. - Admiral? Don't tell me that they have a fleet ready to attack us! - No!! They don't even have acess to the sea. - So who's their enemy?!! - Their enemy is Romania. - So why they don't declare war against Romania?!! - Becouse they are allies, they fight soviets together with Romania."
J. from United States Reply
there is a lot of confusion regarding these "countries". Time has come for Hungary to solve this confusion.Annex them both and make them Hungary's counties. They used to belong to us anyway. :-)
al from United Kingdom Reply
The only thing I have to put up with Slovenia is excessive motorway charges when I travel through the Balkans, otherwise I could not care less if Slovenia was Slovakia or vice versa.
Tomás from Uruguay Reply
Great article, people form other countries also make mistakes confusing Uruguay with Paraguay (I know they have very different names). It´s quite annoying and also funny, and becasue of that I can perfectly distinguish Slovakia from Slovenia. You should aslo include in the text that both nations have qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2010!. Saludos desde Uruguay y VIVA Eslovenia ;)
zabka from Switzerland Reply
I love it!! My husband is watching the olympics (on in vancouver) at the moment and keeps asking me to identify whether the person is Slovak or Slovenian. They show the flag, but it is microscopic so I can't tell from that. Anyway, both are great... By the way Nemci doesn't mean deaf, it means mute.
Slavo from Slovak Republic Reply
Both the mentioned nations are comming from the same origin, whose male was named Sloven and female Slovenka. It is probable that these names are comming from meaning "speaking people" (on the contrary slavic name for Gemany - Nemecko - is comming from meaning "deaf people"). However international name of Slovensko - Slovakia - is comming from name of the most western part (which major part is now in Czech republic) - Slovacko (also comming form the orginal name of the common slavic nation). Thus Slovakia - Slovensko is similar to more known case Greece - Hellas. This name was patially adopted by Slovakian, thus male is Slovak but female remained Slovenka as international name of country is Slovakia while own name is Slovensko. Unlike other slavic contries with longer independent history (Russia, Polland, Chzechia), in middle age, Slovenias and Slovakian were recognized as Austrian and Hungerians speaking slavic language. Just era of nationalism force to form independent nation or ceased to exist. Therefore both turned to origins thousand years old and therefore their name is so similar to original name of slavic proto-nation.
LAURUSKY from Poland Reply
Slovakia is not Slovenia. I know, but many people do not. Slovakia and Slovenia are small and insignificant world of Europe or countries. As mentioned above, Slovakia - Slovenia, Australia - Austria, Lithuania - Latvia. Of course the average educated person should have the least idea of the countries in the world. Unfortunately, this often is not so, and gives rise to misunderstandings. In the world people often know the old names of these countries, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Often it's very funny to see how human stupidity knows no boundaries.
Megiski from Slovak Republic Reply
The 1,2 are nationalities in native/english language, the third is nationality/native-name-of-country. But correction for me, they don't call themselves Slovens, only their country. No matter, maybe it just sounds strange for me.
Richard from Slovak Republic Reply
Compared with Deutsch/German, Magyar/Hungary is Slovak/Slovensko quite correct.
Megiski from Slovak Republic Reply
The strange thing is, that olny slovaks and czechs call Slovakia 'Slovensko' in their own language. Why do they think of themselves/country as Slovens? Everyone else calls them 'Slovaks/ia'.
Peter from Slovakia
Thats actually not true. Yes we called our country "Slovensko" but we DONT call ourselves Slovens but Slovaks "Slovaci". So "Slovaks from Slovakia" is in our language "Slovaci zo Slovenska" I know its weird for you, but it would be very unnatural for us to say "Slovaci zo Slovacska?"
Barbara from Netherlands Reply
Haha!! I have to say that I always new Slovakia and Slovenia were seperate countries (come on, where the hell do people think that Slovakia came from? And why would there be 2 names for the same country?). But, when I came to live in Slovenia for several months for a project, I have to admit I had to look up it's position... I had never heard of the country, although they were EU chairman some time ago... Maybe Slovenia should do something about advertising itself?
Jaap Geurbek from Netherlands Reply
I suggest a new name for Slovenia to end all this confusion: "Atutbeassiat" A country T hat U sed T o B e E enormous A nd S superb S slovakia I n A ancient T times
Himuvi M from Namibia Reply
After reading this website, I could not help but share my experience with you guys. I normally collect news articles about my countryís relations with other countries and file them. Now there was this newspaper story about our ambassador accredited to the Slovak Republic organising a Namibia Week in some European countries including the Slovak Republic. So as usual I cut the newspaper story and decided to file it. In my files I found that a file for Slovenia already exists. And you know what came in my mind? Well we have the country Namibia and the citizens are called Namibians. So I said to myself maybe the country is Slovenia and the citizens are called Slovak. I almost filed that newspaper article in the Slovenia file but somehow my sixth sense was telling me that is just not right. So I ëgoogleí and get a confirmation that indeed Slovenia and Slovakia are two separate states. By the way, this is not the first time this is happening to me. While at high school I always thought that people misspell Australia if they wrote Austria or Colombia if they wrote Colombo or Rwanda if they wrote Luanda.
Andrewl from Lithuania Reply
well when i came back from Slovenia, my friends were asking: - Andy, how was Slovakia? I got pissed off of explaining so we made up new name for both countries. SLOVAKIENIA. Now its impossible to mix it up :D
Lukas from Slovak Republic Reply
Well i live in Scotland for 5 years and people that know me for that long still say i'm from either Slovenia, Czechoslovakia, Poland(worst:D), Slavalalalalvaia or bloody Russia, i allways gently explain that it is like calling a Scotsman Englishman and then they get mad and forget it that instance:D ... no, but few of them had it right and actually have been to our beutiful country :D
Sarah from Algeria Reply
This article has been very didactic to me. I never knew Slovenia was a country in its own right!
lona from Slovenia Reply
i think that is sad that people that seem to be so smart dont know wher Slovenia is and where Slovakia is.....:S
Elizabeth from Slovak Republic Reply
haha thats so funny.. well atleast they know that slovakia exists.. when i tell someone im from slovakia they say "oh wow, youre from the czech republic? cool!"
Kebap from Slovenia Reply
bouth countries are somewhere on the world
Jack Campin from Azerbaijan Reply
They really oughta annex Slavonia as well, to avoid the potential for even more confusion. The problem with Carniola is that canola oil originated in Canada, but how would anybody ever get that right with a new country confusing the issue?. You'd have to annex Canada as well to keep the labels on the bottles accurate. (I'm not actually in Azerbaijan, but there's no way to state my location as Scotland and I'm not willing to say I'm in the UK).
Bob Jones from Canada Reply
I think that Slovenia and Slovakia should unite, taking with them all the regions inbetween, reigniting the Greater Carniola kingdom.
Slavka from Canada Reply
I think this article is great! it totally shows how Slovakia and Slovenia get mixed up...Whenever I say I'm from Slovakia, people start saying stuff about the war and how hard it is and bla bla bla...and I have to explain that I'm not from Slovenia and we were not part of Yugoslavia...Not a single person got it right...onemay think, after 15 years, but hey...open a book in Canada or USA and guess what...even in books from 2000, Slovakia is part of Czechoslovakia...and I'm not aware of any marketing re:Slovakia or Slovenia...so how the heck would people know?
iuco99 from United States Reply
Your observation is inaccurate! He met with Prime Minister Janez Janöa. Janez Drnovsek was the President at the time.
Tini from Argentina Reply
Slovakia,Slovenia,Austria,Australia...seems Mr.Bush has some problems about consider differences.
Lj from United States Reply
Marta: will you please explain to us why you posted this outrageously long address to Slovakians by President Bush? I myself can find absolutely no reason...
Marta from Spain Reply
President Addresses and Thanks Citizens of Slovakia. PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all. Dobr? deÚ. (Applause.) Mr. President, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your strong leadership and friendship. Mr. Mayor, distinguished guests, citizens of a free Slovakia. (Applause.) Thank you for your hospitality. Laura and I are honored, extremely honored to visit your great country. We bring greetings and we bring the good wishes of the American people. (Applause.) With us here today is a group of remarkable men and women from across Central and Eastern Europe, who have fought freedom's fight in their homelands and have earned the respect of the world. We welcome you. We thank you for your example, for your courage and for your sacrifice. (Applause.) I'm proud to stand in this great square, which has seen momentous events in the history of Slovakia and the history of freedom. Almost 17 years ago, thousands of Slovaks gathered peacefully in front of this theater. They came, not to welcome a visiting President, but to light candles, to sing hymns, to pray for an end to tyranny and the restoration of religious liberty. (Applause.) From the hotel to our left, communist authorities watched thousands of candles shining in the darkness -- and gave the order to extinguish them. The authorities succeeded in crushing that protest. But with their candles and prayers, the people of Bratislava lit a fire for freedom that day, a fire that quickly spread across the land. (Applause.) And within 20 months, the regime that drove Slovaks from this square would itself be driven from power. By claiming your own freedom, you inspired a revolution that liberated your nation and helped to transform a continent. (Applause.) Since those days of peaceful protest, the Slovak people have made historic progress. You regained your sovereignty and independence. You built a successful democracy. You established a free economy. And last year, the former member of the Warsaw Pact became a member of NATO, and took its rightful place in the European Union. Every Slovak can be proud of these achievements. And the American people are proud to call you allies and friends and brothers in the cause of freedom. (Applause.) I know that liberty -- the road to liberty and prosperity has not always been straight or easy. But Americans respect your patience, your courage and your determination to secure a better future for your children. As you work to build a free and democratic Slovakia in the heart of Europe, America stands with you. (Applause.) Slovaks know the horror or tyranny, so you're working to bring hope of freedom to people who have not known it. You've sent peacekeepers to Kosovo, and election observers to Kiev. You've brought Iraqis to Bratislava to see firsthand how a nation moves from dictatorship to democracy. Your example is inspiring newly-liberated people. You're showing that a small nation, built on a big idea, can spread liberty throughout the world. At this moment, Slovak soldiers are serving courageously alongside U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some have given their lives in freedom's cause. We honor their memory. We lift them up in our prayers. Words can only go so far in capturing the grief of their families and their countrymen. But by their sacrifice, they have helped purchase a future of freedom for millions. Many of you can still recall the exhilaration of voting for the first time after decades of tyranny. And as you watched jubilant Iraqis dancing in the streets last month, holding up ink-stained fingers, you remembered Velvet Days. For the Iraqi people, this is their 1989, and they will always remember who stood with them in their quest for freedom. (Applause.) In recent times, we have witnessed landmark events in the history of liberty, a Rose Revolution in Georgia, an Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and now, a Purple Revolution in Iraq. With their votes cast and counted, the Iraqi people now begin a great and historic journey. They will from a new government, draft a democratic constitution, and govern themselves as free people. They're putting the days of tyranny and terror behind them and building a free and peaceful society in the heart of the Middle East, and the world's free nations will support them in their struggle. (Applause.) The terrorist insurgents know what's at stake. They know they have no future in a free Iraq. So they're trying desperately to undermine Iraq's progress and throw the country in chaos. They want to return to the day when Iraqis were governed by secret police and informers and fear. They will not succeed. The Iraqi people will not permit a minority of assassins to determine the destiny of their nation. We will fight to defend this freedom and we will prevail. (Applause.) Victory in this struggle will not come easily or quickly, but we have reason to hope. Iraqis have demonstrated their courage and their determination to live in freedom, and that has inspired the world. It is the same determination we saw in Kiev's Independent Square, in Tbilisi's Freedom Square, and in this square almost 17 years ago. (Applause.) We must be equally determined and also patient. The advance of freedom is the concentrated work of generations. It took almost a decade after the Velvet Revolution for democracy to fully take root in this country. And the democratic revolutions that swept this region over 15 years ago are now reaching Georgia and Ukraine. In 10 days, Moldova has the opportunity to place its democratic credentials beyond doubt as its people head to the polls. And inevitably, the people of Belarus will someday proudly belong to the country of democracies. Eventually, the call of liberty comes to every mind and every soul. And one day, freedom's promise will reach every people and every nation. (Applause.) Slovakia has taken great risks for freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq. You have proved yourself a trusted friend and a reliable ally. That is why I recently announced a new solidarity initiative for nations like Slovakia that are standing with America in the war on terror. We will help you to improve your military forces so we can strengthen our ability to work together in the cause of freedom. We're working with your government to make it easier for Slovaks to travel to the United States of America. (Applause.) Hundreds of thousands of our citizens can trace their roots back to this country. Slovak immigrants helped build America and shape its character. We want to deepen the ties of friendship between our people, ties based on common values, a love of freedom, and shared belief in the dignity and matchless value of every human being. (Applause.) The Velvet Generation that fought for these values is growing older. Many of the young students and workers who led freedom's struggle here now struggle to support families and their children. For some, the days of protest and revolution are a distant memory. Today, a new generation that never experienced oppression is coming of age. It is important to pass on to them the lessons of that period. They must learn that freedom is precious, and cannot be taken for granted; that evil is real, and must be confronted; that lasting prosperity requires freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom of association; and that to secure liberty at home, it must be defended abroad. (Applause.) By your efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and across the world, you are teaching young Slovaks these important lessons. And you're teaching the world an important lesson, as well: that the seeds of freedom do not sprout only where they are sown; carried by mighty winds, they cross borders and oceans and continents and take root in distant lands. I've come here to thank you for your contributions to freedom's cause, and to tell you that the American people appreciate your courage and value your friendship. On behalf of all Americans, dakujem, and may God bless you all.
Tadej from United States Reply
Slovenia was never part of USSR. About the flag change, that idea died, but there was something else. Goverment tried to find new logo and a quote to represent Slovenia. The logo wasnt accepted by goverment but quote was, "I feel sLOVEnia".
Tina from United States Reply
So now I realize that people have been mixing up Slovenia and Slovakia for years. I was just recently in Hungary and almost eveywhere I went there was a mention of Slovakia but nothing about Slovenia. In daily conversations I will catch the mixup I get so mad sometimes because they are now two seperate countries people should get that by now! But it's one of the ignorant reasons for people to put the countries as one or forget the other completley I just always happen to hear that it is Slovenia. I love Slovenia I have pictures on my desktop and I'm proud to be Slovenian. It's time other people realize there is a Slovenia as much as a Slovakia.
Tonic from Slovak Republic Reply
Our countries are part of former USSR :) Like this artcle very much. But few years ago heard about some change of flag of Slovenia. Is this idea still alive?