A parliamentary democracy and a former part of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina is east of Croatia, which is on the eastern shore of Adriatic Sea across from Italy. It borders Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro. It is not a member of the European Union.
- Area: 51,129 sq. km, slightly smaller than West Virginia
- Population: 4,007,608; Sarajevo (the Capital) 387,876
- Currency: Convertible Marka (BAM), 1 USD = 1.45 BAM as of August 2007
- Ethnic groups: Bosniak 48.3%, Serb 34.0%, Croat 15.4%, others 2.3%
- Religions: Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Catholic 15%, Protestant 4%
- Languages: Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian, language variants with substantial overlap
- Education: compulsory 8 years of primary school; 407 primary schools with 250,000 students, 171 secondary schools with 80,000 students, 7 universities and 6 academies.
Bosnia’s history has included a succession of dependencies, occupations, and conflicts. For the first centuries A.D., 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. Bosnia remained independent until 1463, by which time the Ottoman Turks had conquered the region. Bosnia was under Ottoman rule until 1878, when it was given to Austria-Hungary as a colony. South Slavs in Serbia and elsewhere were calling for a South Slav state.
On June 28, 1914, Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo at the intersection of Obala Kulina Bana and the Tsar’s Bridge. This event set off a series of diplomatic and military initiatives among the great powers that culminated in World War I. Following the Great War, Bosnia became part of the South Slav state of Yugoslavia, only to be given to Croatia in World War II under a Nazi-puppet regime. 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 the rise of Slobodan Milosevic to power in Serbia in 1986. After Slovenia and Croatia had declared independence from Yugoslavia, in 1992, the Bosnian Government held a referendum and also declared Bosnia’s independence on April 5 of that year. However, Serb representatives favored remaining in Yugoslavia and opposed independence. Bosnian Serbs, supported by neighboring Serbia, responded with armed resistance in an effort to partition the republic along ethnic lines to create a "greater Serbia." In 1994, Muslims and Croats in Bosnia agreed to create the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This left the Serbs as a warring party. The conflict was ended with the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords. Bosnia and Herzegovina today consists of two entities – the Muslim/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is largely Bosniak and Croat, and the Republika Srpska, which is primarily Serb.
Bosnia today reflects the historic struggles of Muslim and Christian cultures and Balkan national/ethnic identities. Sarajevo is a treasure trove of Turkish and Muslim culture, with its Turkish Quarter and Bosniak Institute. The issues of conflict and attempts at solution are current events in Bosnia and Herzegovina.