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Slovenian, Settlement

Present-day Slovenia was first settled in the 6th century. Most of the country's 1,73,000 Slovenes reside within the borders of the independent country, although many can be found in Europe, North America and in bordering countries. In the 7th century, the Slovenes joined the Slavic Empire of King Samo (627-658) to defend themselves against the warlike Avars. The empire, which consisted of an alliance of Slovenes, Bohemians and Slovaks, was successful in defending the territory but collapsed after Samo's death.

One of the first Slovenes to come to Canada was the Reverend Frederick Baraga, who arrived as an envoy of the Jesuit Brotherhood in 1830. Reverend Baraga worked with the Aboriginal Peoples of the Lake Superior region where he became an authority on the language of the Ottawa and Chippewa peoples. Reverend Baraga's presence in Canada inspired many other Slovenes to immigrate to Canada, especially during the latter decades of the 19th century.

Between 1900 and 1915 several thousand Slovenians moved to Canada. Most went to Ontario, but Slovenia communities also formed in the Alberta towns of Canmore, Barrhead, Coleman, Banff, Botha and Evergreen. A majority of the Slovenes in Alberta became farmers, while others worked in the province's coalmines.

During the 1920s and 1930s, approximately 4,000 more Slovenians came to Canada, although relatively few settled in Alberta. Those who did chose the prairies moved to Calgary, Edmonton or the Crow's Nest Pass area. Slovenes who arrived prior to World War II came primarily for economic reasons, but beginning in 1948, many were political refugees opposed to the communist regime in Yugoslavia. Modern Slovenian is a country in transition. Following the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991, Slovenia became a sovereign state. They gained a democratic parliament and a new constitution.