The Slovenian littoral, which is forty-six kilometres long and is comprised of three councils - Koper, Izola and Piran - has a very turbulent history. It is an integral part of the Istrian Peninsula, which is distinctly transitional in character and has been directly affected by political and economic changes in the neighbouring countries. Following centuries of economic and political control by the Venetian Republic, the Istrian Peninsula came to be ruled by Austria, and so it remained until the end of the First World War. Between the two Great Wars, the area formed part of the Kingdom of Italy. After the Second World War, the territory became part of the Republic of Slovenia within the framework of Yugoslavia and remained in this position until 1991 - although there was a transitional period during the so-called Free Territory of Trieste, which existed until 1954. Since 1991, the Republic of Slovenia has been an independent state.
Until the end of the Second World War, the historiography of the Slovenian coastal region was mainly a product of Italian historians, who wrote predominantly political rather than economic history. As a consequence, there are no significant works on seamanship or maritime activities. Indeed, it was not until the second half of the twentieth century that Slovenian historians began to write about their own maritime history. As a consequence of their research in the archives of Piran, Koper, Ljubljana, Trieste, Venice, Graz and Vienna, these historians have concluded that maritime activities have had a great historical impact on the economy of Slovenia. The most prolific writers, as we shall see, have been Ferdo Gestrin and Miroslav Pahor, but they have subsequently been joined by a younger generation of scholars.
In 1967, on the tenth anniversary of the Port of Koper, the main public library prepared an exhibition and the first catalogue of maritime literature entitled About the Sea and Seamanship, covering the library holdings on this subject produced by local and foreign authors. The main objective was to assist researchers working in the fields of maritime history, the problems of the sea and the maritime economy. An attempt was also made to secure the collaboration of the Croatian Library Service, but this was not forthcoming.