Bosnia and Herzegovina


OFFICIAL NAME: Bosnia and Herzegovina
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Emerging federal democratic republic
CAPITAL: Sarajevo
POPULATION: 3,871,643
OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian
MONEY: Convertible Mark
AREA: 19,767 square miles (51,197 square kilometers)
MAJOR RIVERS: Sava River, Neretva River


Bosnian-Herzegovinian Flag


Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina


Bosnia and Herzegovina is bordered by Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro, and has a narrow stretch of land along the Adriatic Sea.


The country consists of numerous mountains. The Dinaric Alps stretch along the western border. The mountainous areas are earthquake-prone. An earthquake in 1969 caused widespread building damage in the city of Banja Luka.


Forest covers half the land in Bosnia and Herzegovina and natural springs are found throughout the country.



Bosnia and Herzegovina is a diverse country made up of a mix of Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats, and people of other ethnicities who follow a mix of Muslim, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and other faiths.


Family and friends play an important role for people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and hospitality is common. People often meet at local coffee shops or cafés, known as kafanes and kafićis.


Popular foods include baklava, a type of sweet cake, and stuffed vegetables, both of which have Turkish roots.


Around 40 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina is covered in forest, consisting of oak, pine, and beech trees. Plums, grapes, pears, and apples are common in the country.


Bosnia and Herzegovina is abundant in wildlife, which includes bears, wolves, foxes, otters, and falcons.


A pilot project in the sustainable collection of wild plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina proved successful in 2009 with the possibility of its use as a model for conservation in other European countries.


Bosnian-Herzegovinian Convertible Mark

Photograph by Mark H. Milstein, Bloomberg News


Bosina and Herzegovina is split into two regions that govern themselves independently, each having its own president. As a result of tensions that remain among the country's three main ethnic communities, the president is elected as part of a tripartite presidency, whereby a Bosniak, Serb, and Croat president rotate, each serving eight months.


Agriculture plays a major role in Bosnia and Herzegovina's economy, with some 50 percent of the land used to raise livestock or grow crops. Some of the main crops include corn, wheat, cotton, and fruit.


Bosnia and Herzegovina's history extends way back to the time of Roman conquest in the first and second centuries B.C. Later, in the sixth century, the area of Bosnia would become part of the Byzantine Empire. The area of Herzegovina came to being in 1448, joining Bosnia later that century under Turkish rule.


The Russo-Turkish War broke out in 1877 and resulted in Bosnia and Herzegovina being placed under the rule of Austria-Hungary the following year. Following World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina fell into the hands of Serbia. During World War II, Bosnia and Herzegovina was incorporated into pro-Hitler Croatia and later became one of six member states of Yugoslavia.


Attempting to free themselves from Yugoslavia and avoid Serbian rule, Bosnaks and Croats voted for independence in 1991. Though the vote was recognized internationally, local Serbs and troops from Serbia fought to declare their rule of the country and were met with resistance by Bosnaks. War lasted for several years and two million people were displaced from their homes as a result.


War came to an end in 1995 after a treaty, the Dayton Agreement, was established. The treaty continues to be enforced by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). What remains is a fractured state, consisting of two independent regions, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Serb Republic of Bosnia Herzegovina.



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