The only English language magazine covering business and finances in Slovenia

Last Issue
Past Issues
Comment / Question
Ljubljana - Many Faces of the Capital

Back in 2006, Slovenian Business Report published a cover story on Ljubljana in 2016, featuring a provocative graphic in which some 50 construction cranes were Photoshopped into a classical postcard shot of Slovenia’s capital. Less than a year after that story, the mayor's office issued its “2025 Vision” of Ljubljana. It seems our predictions will come true; even if Ljubljana won't resemble the Berlin of the nineties – then the largest construction site in Europe – it has already became the largest construction site in Slovenia, and multiple cranes have become a reality in the center of the city. In a few years Ljubljana will certainly have a new image. Whether it will be liked by its citizens and by a growing numbers of foreign visitors is another question.


However, this construction bonanza (and see the article on the largest projects later in this issue) is just a part of the vibrant developments in Slovenian capital. Perhaps the most important aspect of the city's life is its dynamic economy. At least in the Slovenian context, Ljubljana is an economic powerhouse. Forty percent of all the companies active in the country have their seats in Central Slovenia, with around one third being located in the capital itself. Those companies are big (again, in Slovenian terms) and profitable: 181 of the companies featured in SBR’s last list of Slovenia’s top 500 companies have their seat in the capital, and 203 from our list of the 500 most profitable ones. The capital is also inevitably the most important financial center of the country. It doesn't just have Slovenia's only stock exchange; banks and insurance companies with headquarters in Ljubljana control over 70 percent of Slovenia's banking market.


And, its thriving business life aside, Ljubljana is simply a good place to live. The country’s wooded hills, its limestone Karst plateau, its skiing, mountaineering, sailing, alps, and Mediterranean are all just an hour’s drive from Ljubljana or less. One can literally walk from the center of the city to the woods – not a park, truly the woods – which is something that not many of the world's capitals can boast. Ljubljana is safe, clean, has an excellent well-developed infrastructure and good traffic connections with neighboring capitals and other metropolitan centers like Vienna, Milan, Venice and Munich.




Of course, Ljubljana is also a small town, ranking 245th in Europe. Ever heard of Surgut, Russia, or Sefton, in the UK, or Gelsenkirchen in Germany? Not very likely, if you don't live there. Yet those cities are about the same size as Ljubljana. On the other hand, Ljubljana is 38th on the list of world's richest cities, according to data published by UBS bank. That list compares average personal net earnings; citizens of Ljubljana earn more than their counterparts in such better-known burgs as Hong Kong, Prague, Istanbul and Johannesburg. The average salary in Ljubljana in December 2007 was 1,788 euros – almost 20 percent above the Slovenian average of 1,491 euros.


The same UBS survey has Ljubljana as the world's 47th most expensive city, making it as expensive (or cheap) as nearby Budapest – or for that matter, remote Santiago de Chile. The average price per square meter of an old apartment is around 2,500 to 3,500 euros, depending on the size of the flat. New apartments are pricier –  reaching up to 6,000 euros per square meter. A small, older house within the town's limits costs on average around half a million euros. A similar house in Ljubljana's surroundings costs on average 276,000 euros – almost one half less.


No wonder Ljubljana's population is both shrinking and getting older: young families would in general rather move out of town and combine Ljubljana's high wages with the more affordable rents of the vicinity. The result is a growing number of commuters: 67,400 people come to work in Ljubljana from other places every day. The vast majority use cars, a seemingly economic choice in a country with just about the cheapest gas in Europe (within the EU, lower gas prices can only be found in the Baltic states and in Romania). Even though Ljubljana’s public transportation system is relatively well-developed, the number of passengers is diminishing. At the same time parking and traffic congestion are inevitably becoming more and more serious problems, as is air pollution. Sooner or later city authorities may be forced to introduce some limitations, most probably in the form of tolls – which would be higher for those living outside the town. According to analysts, real estate prices have also reached their peak. Living in Ljubljana may thus become attractive for young people and families again. After all, even a very drastic traffic ban shouldn't create many problems for citizens of a town where you can easily reach almost any destination by foot.







Number of:


Ø      Inhabitants: 267,386

Ø      Overnight stays in hotels: 721,800

Ø      Students: 43,989

Ø      Libraries: 130

Ø      Cars: 163,546

Ø      Companies: 16,853


Total revenues of Ljubljana’s companies: 26 billion euros/year

Value added created by Ljubljana’s companies: 5.3 billion euros



World’s 38th richest city

World’s 47th most expensive city

Sources: Statistični urad Republike Slovenije, Mestna občina Ljubljana, UBS,

Home | Subscribe | Comment | Print | Contact
© 2005 SBR  |  Developed by