21 / 2005
Simon Škvor


Julian Slovenia presents one of the most distinctive emigration regions where reasons should be sought and evaluated in the systematic of the particular space. A complex understanding of the environment and of all its contents, demographic as well, demands as well vertical and horizontal approaches. In other words, comprehension of the entirety or, on the other hand of detailed space characteristics, should be built on a chronological basis and organisation of particular segments and contents.

The historical development of Julian Slovenia can be defined through seven different phases within which specific regional determinants were formed that denoted the social structure of Julian Slovenia in a certain period:

- Nationality determinant:
- Language determinant
- Political determinant
- Religious determinant
- Economic determinant
- Determinant of border land

The group of historical determinants that define Julian Slovenia or denote it should not be understood hierarchically but systematically, correlatively, despite periodical prevalence of influence of a separate determinant. Mutual effects of individual categories are in a complex treating of such small a space as Julian Slovenia, namely very intense. Such intensity of interactive influence reflects precisely in social processes in Julian Slovenia.

In regard of historical significance and in actualisation of contemporary trends in Julian Slovenia, the aspect of borderness is undoubtedly a component that has a multi-strata and very significant influence on the formation of Julian Slovenia as a whole. To be able to understand correctly and complexly that influence and comprehend it as a sort of creative a factor of mainly social-geographical features of Julian Slovenia, it is neccesary to understand the notion of border in Julian Slovenia as a formation of interactive processes between the boundary spaces, and of course at the same time as a phenomenon, which enabled social integration of environment to the political constitution – the state, regardless of content criteria of the space such as nationality and language aspects. Consequently, the long-standing presence of the border in Julian Slovenia definitely shaped a type of territorial behaviour of which is the border (a most typical or demonstrative case is smuggling – “contraband”; furthermore political identification and appurtenance that was connected with the status defined by the border, relation of the state policy to Julian Slovenia and to Slavic population in regard of the Bloc partition …). From the aspect of border and political contents, perhaps the most important period in Julian Slovenia is after World War II. The border that remained after the year 1954 has set another significant viewpoint that must be considered as it is gaining its legal recognition and protection as late as this day when borders are again in the process of reshaping. In question is of course the national minority, a fact that the political and state border and the aspect of national appurtenance have created. Such, political affirmation of the population in Julian Slovenia has a most significant influence precisely on the demographic structure and processes in Julian Slovenia.; on processes of preserving and changing identity, on demographic phenomena and on forming the demographic image of Julian Slovenia that has been denoted above all by the emptying of the region – by emigration.

The settlement structure of Julian Slovenia is markedly rural, with settlements of up to 100 inhabitants that form approximately 80% of the settlement structure. The settlements are organized on two altitude zones – between 100 and 300 metres height above sea level, and between 500 and 600 metres. We can find causes for such a distribution of settlements in natural factors connected with prevailing economic models, which were based on self-consumption – agriculture and stockbreeding. Insight into demographic structure demonstrates at first sight an obvious trend of lessening of population, which of course reflects in dilapidation of the village structure and villages in general. Increasing is the number of settlements with less than 50 inhabitants that present the core of colonisation of Julian Slovenia, with distinctly aged population. Towns present another aspect of the settlement and population genesis. The distribution of towns is linked to space, to relief favourable regions at passages of rivers from highlands to the plain where wide river valleys were formed that open into the flatland parts. However, the space aspect itself does not present the most significant element that contributes to the development of a town. Towns themselves contributed to demographic development of Julian Slovenia, not as settlement cores (in historical sense) but as carriers of the development of peripheral hinterlands, therefore in some way carriers of colonisation development. That is to say, they present gravitational regions of the entire Julian Slovenia.

For a complex understanding of modern demographic development of Julian Slovenia, an insight into the motion of demographic trends in a longer historical period is necessary. Julian Slovenia is defined as a region with distinctive decrease of number of population in the last 80 years. Julian Slovenia reached its demographic peak in the year 1921. Soon after, the process of demographic decline is triggered. To understand the demographic model, which defined the space of Julian Slovenia at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th centuries, it is needed to look at a wider development as well in historical as in economic and political senses. The decay of the Venetian Republic and loss of defined political autonomy of Julian Slovenia were key components in keeping a large share of the population on an otherwise small region of Julian Slovenia. This is characteristic of the river Nadiža valleys in particular. The loss of autonomous deciding with the coming of Austro-Hungary also meant ruining of demographic stability. Besides the political determinant, an important factor that influences demographic changes is the economic factor. The evolutional stream of development was namely subjected to increasingly deepening changes, which the uplands regions in comparison to the flatland regions could not keep pace with. The image that developed in Julian Slovenia refereed to qualitative as well as to quantitative demographic changes. Although we are aware of a demographic increase up to the year 1921, the living standard of the inhabitants was in decrease, which was responsible for the progress of emigration processes.

Emigration in Julian Slovenia therefore developed on the one side as a strategic support to the mountainous survival economy, and on the other because of social political circumstances, which were sharpening and aggravating social development of the multicultural space of Julian Slovenia. A rough image of emigrating from Julian Slovenia indicates the interlacing of temporary and permanent emigration and formation of development phases that base on common characteristics of emigration in a given period.

We cannot neglect the fact data reveal about the irreversible depopulation process triggered and encouraged by emigration itself. Emigration that in Julian Slovenia changes periodically in regard of gender and age of emigrants strongly denotes not only the emptying of the region, therefore numerical decrease, but as well the shaping of social-economic standards in that space.

Demographic structure that reflects from the population statistics in the light of migration processes leans strongly on the in the previous chapter mentioned determinants, which are all along imbued by a strongly stressed economic logic of survival. The content treating of determinants that influenced the development of demographic structure and processes has a markedly systematic character. That means it is almost impossible to categorize qualitatively individual determinants and place them in evaluation scales. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to create a genuine, critical insight into the demographic body without a complex treatment of all mentioned determinants in an equal system. The ultimate population picture of Julian Slovenia and comprehending it also means we can timely predict the development of processes in the future. The new structurisation of the European space will offer such demographic landmarks as Julian Slovenia more than understanding for the bygone pathos.