Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Bosna i Hercegovina
Босна и Херцеговина
Bosnia rel 2002.jpg
BosniaHerzegovina location.png
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.jpg
Arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina.png
Flag Coat of Arms
Capital Sarajevo
Government Parliamentary Democracy
Language Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian (official)
President Željko Komšić, Šefik Džaferović, Milorad Dodik
Prime minister Denis Zvizdić
Area 19,767 sq mi
Population 3,280,000 (2020)
GDP 2007 $15.1 billion
GDP per capita $3,939
Currency konvertibilna marka
конвертибилна марка

(convertible mark)

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a Balkan country formerly part of Yugoslavia. Its capital is Sarajevo. The country, as has much of the region, has experienced ethnic conflicts for several years (see Bosnian War). The region of Bosnia and Kosovo in nearby Serbia were especially hit by the violence. To attempt to resolve conflicts, the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of three members, representing each of the major ethnic groups: the Croats, Bosniaks, and Serbs. The country is split into two federal entities; the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska (Serb Republic.)


  • Area: 51,129 km2, slightly smaller than West Virginia.
  • Cities: Capital—Sarajevo (est. pop 387,876); Banja Luka (220,407); Mostar (208,904); Tuzla (118,500); Bihac (49,544).
  • Terrain: Mountains in the central and southern regions, plains along the Sava River in the north.
  • Climate: Hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters; mild, rainy winters in the southeast.


The three main ethnic groups in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina are Bosniak, Serb, and Croat, and languages are Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian (formerly "Serbo-Croatian"). Nationalities are Bosniak (Muslim), Bosnian Serb, and Bosnian Croat. Religions include Islam, Serb Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, some Protestant sects, and some others.

  • Nationalities: Bosniak (Muslim), Bosnian Croat, Bosnian Serb.
  • Population (July 2004 est.): 3.8 million (Note: all data dealing with population are subject to considerable error because of the dislocations caused by military action and ethnic cleansing. The most recent census was conducted in 1991.)
  • Population growth rate (2004 est.): 0.45%.
  • Ethnic groups: Bosniak 48.3%, Serb 34.0%, Croat 15.4%, others 2.3%. (Source: UNDP Human Development Report 2002—Bosnia-Herzegovina)
  • Religions: Muslim (40%); Orthodox (31%); Catholic (15%); Protestant (4%); other (10%).
  • Languages: Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian (formerly "Serbo-Croatian").
  • Education: Mandatory 8–9 years of primary school (depending on region), 3–4 years in secondary school (vocational/liberal arts), and 3–5 years in universities (depending on major). In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are 1,089 primary schools with 350,000 students and 289 secondary schools with 162,000 students. The main public universities are in larger cities (Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja Luka, Tuzla, Bihac, Zenica) and there are a number of private institutions of higher education. Adult literacy rate—male 94.1%, female 78.0%.
  • Health: Infant mortality rate (2005 est.)--21.05 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy (2005 est.)--male 70.09, female 75.8.
  • Work force (2001 est.): 1.026 million.

Government and Political Conditions

General Government Framework

Under the provisions of the Dayton Peace Accords, the Entities have competencies in areas such as taxation, except indirect taxation, business development, and general legislation. Entities and cantons control their own budgets, spending on infrastructure, health care, and education. Ongoing reforms have led to the creation of a single, multi-ethnic military under state-level command and control to replace the previous Entity-based institutions and a state-level Indirect Taxation Administration (ITA) that is responsible for the implementation of a nationwide value-added tax (VAT), revenues from which are collected in the "Single Account." The Single Account funds the governments of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country's foreign debt, the two Entities, and Brcko District. Customs, which had been collected by agencies of the two Entities, also is now collected by a new single state customs service.


The Presidency in Bosnia and Herzegovina rotates every eight months among three members (Bosniak, Serb, Croat), each elected for a 4-year term. The three members of the Presidency are directly elected (the Federation votes for the Bosniak and Croat, and the Republika Srpska for the Serb).

The Presidency is responsible for:

  • Conducting the foreign policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Appointing ambassadors and other international representatives, no more than two-thirds of whom may come from the Federation;
  • Representing Bosnia and Herzegovina in European and international organizations and institutions and seeking membership in such organizations and institutions of which it is not a member;
  • Negotiating, denouncing, and, with the consent of the Parliamentary Assembly, ratifying treaties of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Executing decisions of the Parliamentary Assembly;
  • Proposing, upon the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, an annual budget to the Parliamentary Assembly;
  • Reporting as requested, but no less than annually, to the Parliamentary Assembly on expenditures by the Presidency;
  • Coordinating as necessary with international and non-governmental organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Exercising command and control over the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina in peacetime, crises, and war, and;
  • Performing such other functions as may be necessary to carry out its duties, as may be assigned to it by the Parliamentary Assembly, or as may be agreed by the Entities.

The Chair of the Council of Ministers is nominated by the Presidency and approved by the House of Representatives. He is then responsible for appointing a Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, Minister of Foreign Trade, and others as appropriate. The Council is responsible for carrying out the policies and decisions in the fields of defense, intelligence, foreign policy; foreign trade policy; customs policy; monetary policy; finances of the institutions and for the international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina; immigration, refugee, and asylum policy and regulation; international and inter-Entity criminal law enforcement, including relations with Interpol; establishment and operation of common and international communications facilities; regulation of inter-Entity transportation; air traffic control; facilitation of inter-Entity coordination; and other matters as agreed by the Entities.


The Parliamentary Assembly is the lawmaking body in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It consists of two houses: the House of Peoples and the House of Representatives.

The House of Peoples includes 15 delegates, two-thirds of whom come from the Federation (5 Croats and 5 Bosniaks) and one-third from the Republika Srpska (5 Serbs). Nine members of the House of Peoples constitutes a quorum, provided that at least three delegates from each group are present. Federation representatives are selected by the House of Peoples of the Federation, and Republika Srpska representatives are selected by the Republika Srpska National Assembly.

The House of Representatives is comprised of 42 members, two-thirds elected from the Federation and one-third elected from the Republika Srpska. Federation representatives are elected directly by the voters of the Federation, and Republika Srpska representatives are directly elected by Republika Srpska voters.

The Parliamentary Assembly is responsible for enacting legislation as necessary to implement decisions of the Presidency or to carry out the responsibilities of the Assembly under the constitution; deciding upon the sources and amounts of revenues for the operations of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina; approving a budget for the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and deciding whether to consent to the ratification of treaties.


The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the supreme, final arbiter of legal matters. It is composed of nine members: four are selected by the House of Representatives of the Federation, two by the Assembly of the Republika Srpska, and three by the President of the European Court of Human Rights after consultation with the Presidency. The Constitutional Court's original jurisdiction lies in deciding any constitutional dispute that arises between the Entities or between Bosnia and Herzegovina and an Entity or Entities. The Court also has appellate jurisdiction within the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both the Federation and the Republika Srpska government have established lower court systems for their territories.

Principle government officials

  • Tri-Presidency: Željko Komšić (Croat and current chairman), Šefik Džaferović (Bosniak), Milorad Dodik (Serb)
  • Chairman of the Council of Ministers (head of government): Denis Zvizdić
  • Chairman of the House of Peoples: Bakir Izetbegović
  • Vice Chairmen of the House of Peoples: Dragan Čović and Nikola Špirić
  • Vice Chairmen of the House of Representatives: Borjana Krišto and Nebojša Radmanović

Foreign Relations

The implementation of the Dayton Accords of 1995 has focused the efforts of policymakers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the international community, on regional stabilization in the former Yugoslavia. However, donor resources for Bosnia and Herzegovina have diminished due to competing assistance priorities elsewhere in the region and globally. Bosnia and Herzegovina's relations with its neighbors Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia have been fairly stable since the signing of Dayton in 1995. The U.S. role in the Dayton Accords and their implementation has been key to successes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since the Dayton Accords were signed, over $15 billion in foreign aid has moved into Bosnia and Herzegovina, approximately $1.38 billion of it coming from Support for East European Democracy (SEED) funds. U.S. Government assistance, managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, Treasury, and Commerce, have been crucial to the redevelopment of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The U.S. Government currently has programming in the following areas: economic policy reform and restructuring; private sector development; fostering democratic reforms in local government, civic education, and civil society; rule of law, including support to law enforcement, judicial, and prosecutorial institutions; and security sector assistance.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a member of the United Nations (1992); International Monetary Fund (IMF) (1992), World Bank (1995), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) (1992); and the Council of Europe (2002). It also participates in regional cooperation through the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Central-European Initiative (CEI), Southeast Europe Co-operation Initiative (SECI), Southeast Europe Co-operation Process (SEECP), Adriatic-Ionic Initiative (AII) and others.


Bosnia and Herzegovina was among the poorer areas of the old Yugoslav Federation and remains one of the poorer countries in Europe. For the most part, agriculture remains in private hands, but farms have been small and inefficient, and net food imports increased dramatically in the aftermath of the 1992-1995 war. Many industries are still overstaffed, reflecting the legacy of the centrally-planned economy, though limited privatization has improved efficiency in certain sectors. Under Tito, military industries were widespread in Bosnia, which hosted a large share of Yugoslavia's defense plants. During the war, three years of interethnic strife damaged or destroyed much of the economy and infrastructure in Bosnia, caused the death of about 100,000 people, and displaced half of the population.

Considerable progress has been made since peace was reestablished following the Dayton Accords. Still regarded as a transition economy, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) sees the long-term goal of EU membership as a driver to further economic growth and development. Due to Bosnia and Herzegovina's strict currency board regime, which links the Konvertibilna Marka (BAM or KM) to the Euro, inflation has remained relatively low and, as a result, the BAM is one of the most stable currencies in Southeast Europe. The banking sector has been fully reformed, with a significant inflow of foreign banks (foreign ownership currently stands at 85% of the banking sector) providing businesses with easier access to capital and a better range of banking services. Lending has slowed significantly since 2008.

Per capita GDP in 2007 was approximately U.S. $3,939, with a total nominal GDP of approximately U.S. $15.1 billion. The estimated real GDP growth rate for 2007 was 6.8%, and projected growth for 2008 is around 6%. While official unemployment is approximately 40%, "unofficial" estimates of unemployment that include the large gray economy are approximately 18%-22%. Bosnia and Herzegovina's most immediate task remains economic revitalization. The country needs meaningful progress in structural reforms to strengthen the basis for sustained, private sector-led growth. In order to improve the business climate, private sector growth—especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs)--and foreign direct investment (FDI) acceleration are needed to spur increased economic growth and job creation. Creating a single economic space will be key to attracting increased foreign investment. Privatization has been slow, and unemployment remains high.

BiH's top economic priorities are: acceleration of EU integration; strengthening the fiscal system; public administration reform; World Trade Organization (WTO) membership; and securing economic growth by fostering a dynamic, competitive private sector. To date, work on these priorities has been inconsistent. The country has received a substantial amount of foreign assistance and will need to demonstrate its ability to implement its economic reform agenda in order to advance its stated goal of EU accession.

  • Nominal GDP (2007 Central Bank and IMF figures): $15.1 billion. (U.S.$1=1.43 km)
  • GDP real growth rate (2007 Central Bank figure): 6.8%.
  • Nominal GDP per capita: $3,939.
  • Inflation rate (2007 est.): 4.9%.
  • Natural resources: Hydropower, coal, iron ore, bauxite, manganese, forests, copper, chromium, lead, zinc, cobalt, nickel, clay, gypsum, salt, sand, forests.
  • Agriculture: Products—wheat, corn, fruits, vegetables, livestock.
  • Industry: Steel, aluminum, minerals, vehicle assembly, textiles, tobacco products, wooden furniture, explosives, munitions, aircraft repair, domestic appliances, oil refining.
  • Trade (2007 Central Bank figures): Exports--$4.2 billion. Imports--$9.9 billion.


For the first centuries of the Christian era, Bosnia was part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of Rome, Bosnia was contested by Byzantium and Rome's successors in the west. Slavs settled the region in the 7th century, and the kingdoms of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia in the 9th century. The 11th and 12th centuries saw the rule of the region by the kingdom of Hungary. The medieval kingdom of Bosnia gained its independence around 1200 A.D. Bosnia remained independent until 1463, when Ottoman Turks conquered the region.

During Ottoman rule, many Bosnians converted from Christianity to Islam. Bosnia was under Ottoman rule until 1878, when the Congress of Berlin transferred administrative control to Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia in 1908. While those living in Bosnia came under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, South Slavs in Serbia and elsewhere were calling for a South Slav state. World War I began when Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Following the Great War, Bosnia became part of the South Slav state of Yugoslavia, only to be given to the Nazi-puppet state, the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in World War II. During this period, many atrocities were committed against Jews, Serbs, and others who resisted the occupation. The Cold War saw the establishment of the Communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito, and the reestablishment of Bosnia as a republic with its medieval borders within the federation of Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia's unraveling was hastened by Slobodan Milosevic's rise to power in 1986. Milosevic's embrace of Serb nationalism led to intrastate ethnic strife. Slovenia and Croatia both declared independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991. By late September 1991, Bosnian Serb Radovan Karadzic's SDS had declared four self-proclaimed "Serb Autonomous Regions (SAO)" in Bosnia. In October 1991, the Bosnian Serbs announced the formation within Bosnia of a "Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina" that would have its own constitution and parliamentary assembly. In January 1992, Radovan Karadzic publicly proclaimed a fully independent "Republic of the Serbian People in Bosnia-Herzegovina." On March 1, 1992, the Bosnian Government held a referendum on independence. Bosnia's parliament declared the republic's independence on April 5, 1992. However, this move was opposed by Serb representatives, who had voted in their own referendum in November 1991 in favor of remaining in Yugoslavia. Bosnian Serbs, supported by neighboring Serbia, responded with armed force in an effort to partition the republic along ethnic lines to create a "greater Serbia." Full recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina's independence by the United States and most European countries occurred on April 7, and Bosnia and Herzegovina was admitted to the United Nations on May 22, 1992.

In March 1994, Muslims and Croats in Bosnia signed an agreement creating the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This narrowed the field of warring parties to two. The conflict continued through most of 1995, and many atrocities were committed, including acts of genocide committed by members of the Army of Republika Srpska in and around Srebrenica from July 12–22, 1995, where approximately 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed. The conflict ended with the November 21, 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which was formally signed on December 14, 1995 in Paris.

Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the political and military leaders of the Bosnian Serb separatist movement, were indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [1] in The Hague in July 1995 on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity stemming from their role in the Srebrenica massacre. Karadzic was apprehended and transferred to the ICTY in The Hague by Serbian authorities on July 21, 2008. Mladic remains at large.

Bosnia and Herzegovina today consists of two Entities—the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is largely Bosniak and Croat, and the Republika Srpska, which is primarily Serb. In July 2000, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina rendered a decision whereby Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs are recognized as constituent people throughout the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In March 2002, this decision was formally recognized and agreed by the major political parties in both Entities.

The most recent national elections took place in October 2006, electing new state presidency members; Entity governments; and state, Entity, and cantonal parliaments. The wartime nationalist parties—SDS, HDZ, and SDA—lost ground to SNSD, SBiH, and HDZ-1990, although these parties relied heavily on ethnically based messages to appeal to voters. A six-party coalition has formed a national government. The next national elections are scheduled for October 2010. In October 2008, Bosnia and Herzegovina held municipal elections where mayors and members of municipal and cantonal assemblies were directly elected (in all municipalities except Mostar and Brcko District).

Muslims in Europe by country.

The international community retains an extraordinary civilian and military presence in BiH stemming from the Dayton Peace Accords. The Dayton Accords created the position of High Representative, an international official charged with overseeing implementation of the civilian aspects of the agreement. The current High Representative (since July 2007) is Slovakia's Miroslav Lajcak [].

In December 1995, NATO deployed a 60,000-troop Implementation Force (IFOR) to oversee implementation of the military aspects of the peace agreement. IFOR transitioned into a smaller Stabilization Force (SFOR) in 1996. With the end of the SFOR mission in December 2004, the European Union (EU) assumed primary responsibility for military stabilization operations. Approximately 2,000 EU troops remain deployed in Bosnia []. NATO maintains a small headquarters operation with responsibility to assist with defense reform and efforts against persons indicted for war crimes and counterterrorism [].

Bosnia-Hercegovina is still recovering from the bloody inter-ethnic war of 1992-95. Around 250,000 people died in the conflict between Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs. Almost 8,000 Muslims were killed by Bosnian Serbs at Srebrenica in 1995 - Europe's worst atrocity since World War II. Many Muslims were displaced, as were members of other communities. A peacekeeping force remains in the country, whose frontiers have long been considered the western borders of the Islamic faith in Europe. [2]

See also

Copyright Details
License: This work is in the Public Domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the U.S. Code
Source: File available from the United States Federal Government.

Source = [3]