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Melania Trump: a look at the First Lady's humble roots in Slovenia

Ainhoa Barcelona

Growing up in a Slovenian village of fewer than 5,000 inhabitants, a young Melania Trump could never have imagined that she would one day be moving into the White House.

The former model is set to become the First Lady of the United States when her husband Donald is sworn in as the 45th President on Friday. And Melania, 46, will only be the second foreign-born First Lady following Louisa Adams.

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Melania Trump was born Melanija Knavs

The mum-of-one was born Melanija Knavs in April 1970 in Yugoslavia, now modern day Slovenia. Her father Viktor Knavs managed car dealerships while her mother Amalija worked as a patternmaker for a children's clothing company. She has an older sister Ines, who is one year older.

The family grew up in a modest apartment in a housing block in Sevnica, a small town in the Lower Sava Valley. She went to primary school in her hometown, where her schoolmates remember her as a studious girl whose favourite lesson was geography.

Everything you need to know about Melania

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She grew up in a modest apartment in a housing block in Sevnica

Melania herself has always said she had a "beautiful childhood" which involved stints of modelling from a very young age. "My mum was in the fashion business," she explained. "I was five years old when I did my first catwalk and did commercials at 16. I went professional after my studies. My mum loved fashion. We loved to travel and go to Italy and Paris."

In 1985, after finishing high school, Melania moved to Ljubljana to study at the Secondary School of Design and Photography. In the Slovak capital, she lived in an apartment her father had bought years before.

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She went to primary school in her hometown, where her schoolmates remember her as a studious girl

She enrolled at the University of Ljubljana but dropped out after one year when life in the big city took a 180 degree turn. It seemed Melania was destined for a career in modelling.

She was spotted by photographer Stane Jerko at a fashion show in Ljubljana. Her trial photoshoot with him marked the beginning of her modelling career and she signed to an Italian agency in Milan aged 18.

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A sign reading 'Welcome to the hometown of the First Lady'

"I always looked for opportunities and knew how to seize them," she said.

Melania lived in Paris and then New York and has since graced the covers of GQ, Vanity Fair Italia, American Vogue Bulgaria and more. She also featured as a bikini model in a 2000 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

From Slovenia's small town of Sevnica to the world famous White House, Melania's star has undoubtedly gone stratospheric.

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