Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. It has been the cultural, educational, economic, political, and administrative centre of independent Slovenia since 1991. During antiquity, a Roman city called Emona stood in the area. Ljubljana itself was first mentioned in the first half of the 12th century. Situated at the middle of a trade route between the northern Adriatic Sea and the Danube region, it was the historical capital of Carniola, one of the Slovene-inhabited parts of the Habsburg Monarchy. It was under Habsburg rule from the Middle Ages until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. After World War II, Ljubljana became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It retained this status until Slovenia became independent in 1991 and Ljubljana became the capital of the newly formed state.
The city, with an area of 163.8 square km (63.2 sq. mi.), is situated in the Ljubljana Basin in Central Slovenia, between the Alps and the Karst. Ljubljana is located some 250 km (160 mi) east of Venice, and 350 km (220 mi) southwest of Vienna. Ljubljana Castle, which sits atop Castle Hill (Grajski grič) south of the city centre, has an elevation of 366 meters (1,201 ft). The highest point of the city, called Grmada, reaches 676 meters (2,218 ft), 3 meters (9.8 ft) more than the nearby Mount Saint Mary (Šmarna gora) peak, a popular hiking destination. These are located in the northern part of the city.