What Should I Know About Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Matthew F.
Matthew F.
Man holding a globe
Man holding a globe

Bosnia and Herzegovina is an often war-torn country on the Balkan Peninsula in Southern Europe. It is a former Yugoslavian republic, and home to three distinct and diverse ethnic groups and languages: that of the Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats. The country is 19,741 sq mi (51,128 sq km), about the size of West Virginia in the United States, and is commonly called Bosnia. Its capital is Sarajevo and its people are Muslim, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country of roughly 4 million people, bordered by Croatia on the north, Serbia on the east, and Montenegro on the south. The country has both a continental and a Mediterranean climate, and features one narrow outlet to the Adriatic Sea. It lies mostly on the Dinaric Alps chain of the Balkan Peninsula. The country was formed from the former states Bosnia in the North, and Herzegovina in the South, whose principal city and former capital is Mostar. The country features three distinct religious groups, with Bosniaks (48%) mostly Muslim, Serbs (37%) mostly Eastern Orthodox, and Croats (14%) most Roman Catholic.

Much of the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been shaped by frequent wars. After declaring their independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, the population, economy, and politics of the country have been dictated by conflict. The Bosnian War created distinct and segregated cultural pockets in Bosnia and Herzegovina through civil war and refugee flight. Roughly 100,000 people were killed in three years of fighting in the early 1990s.

The fighting was ended in 1995 with the Dayton Agreement, and today Bosnia and Herzegovina still remains mostly segregated. The country is governed by a three-party presidency, made up of one Bosniak, one Serb, and one Croat. The government features a Parliamentary Assembly, a House of Representatives, and a House of Peoples. Since the war devastated the country’s economy, Bosnia has relied on agriculture, mining, and vehicle and aircraft assembly.

The history of Bosnia and Herzegovina can be traced to the seventh century when the region was first settled by Serbs. The country reached its height of power in the 1300s before it fell to the powerful Turkish state in 1463, under whose power it remained until the 19th century. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 led to another change in control of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Austria gaining administration over the region until 1908.

In 1914, the murder of an Austrian leader by a Serbian nationalist thrust Bosnia and Herzegovina into the middle of World War I. After the war, the country was annexed to Serbia. By World War II it was controlled by German Croatia, before it traded hands to Yugoslavia in 1946, where it remained until war in 1991. In between, the Winter Olympic Games were held in Sarajevo in 1984.

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Bosnia and Herzegovnia in the seventh century were first populated by Bosnians. Example is Blessed Catherine of Bosnia (20 December 1425 - 25 October 1478) was the Queen consort of Bosnia as the wife of King Stephen Thomas. She was a daughter of Stjepan Vukčić Kosača, Duke of Saint Sava. Born into the House of Kosača and married into the House of Kotromanić, her Bosnian, name is often rendered Katarina Kosača or Kosača-Kotromanić. After her husband's death in 1461 she became the queen dowager of Bosnia, but had to flee the Ottoman invasion in 1463.


Bosnian is mostly populated with Muslims(Bosnians), while Herzegovnia on the southern part is populated with Croats.

After the ex-Yu and 1991-1995 wars in Bosnia and Herzegovnia there came the formation of the Serbian entity called the Serbian Republic. the capital is Banja Luka and the majority are Serbs. They tend to join with Serbia.

Bosnia and Herzegovnia in the seventh century were first populated by Croats (middle part at source of river Neretva) while Serbs settled the eastern part.

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