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Bosnia and Herzegovina


Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of sovereignty in October 1991, was followed by a declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia on 3 March 1992 after a referendum boycotted by ethnic Serbs. The Bosnian Serbs - supported by neighboring Serbia and Montenegro - responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas to form a "greater Serbia." In March 1994, Bosniaks and Croats reduced the number of warring factions from three to two by signing an agreement creating a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, the warring parties signed a peace agreement that brought to a halt the three years of interethnic civil strife (the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995). The Dayton Agreement retained Bosnia and Herzegovina's international boundaries and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government was charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy. Also recognized was a second tier of government comprised of two entities roughly equal in size: the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska (RS). The Federation and RS governments were charged with overseeing internal functions. In 1995-96, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force (IFOR) of 60,000 troops served in Bosnia to implement and monitor the military aspects of the agreement. IFOR was succeeded by a smaller, NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) whose mission is to deter renewed hostilities. SFOR remains in place at the January 2002 level of approximately 18,000 troops, though further reductions may take place later in the year.



Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Croatia

Geographic coordinates:

44 00 N, 18 00 E

Map references:



total: 51,129 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 51,129 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 1,459 km

border countries:

Croatia 932 km, Yugoslavia 527 km


20 km


hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters; mild, rainy winters along coast


mountains and valleys

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m :highest point: Maglic 2,386 m

Natural resources:

Coal, iron, bauxite, manganese, forests, copper, chromium, lead, zinc, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 3%
other: 87% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:

20 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards: destructive earthquakes

n xstyle="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: tahoma">Geography - note:
within Bosnia and Herzegovina's recognized borders, the country is divided into a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation (about 51% of the territory) and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska or RS (about 49% of the territory); the region called Herzegovina is contiguous to Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Montenegro), and traditionally has been settled by an ethnic Croat majority in the west and an ethnic Serb majority in the east.





all data dealing with population are subject to considerable error because of the dislocations caused by military action and ethnic cleansing (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 19.8% (male 403,391; female 382,037)
15-64 years: 70.6% (male 1,432,559; female 1,366,224)
65 years and over: 9.6% (male 161,659; female 218,518) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.76% (2002 est.)


noun: Bosnian(s)
adjective: Bosnian

Ethnic groups:

Serb 31%, Bosniak 44%, Croat 17%, Yugoslav 5.5%, other 2.5% (1991)
note: Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim - an adherent of Islam


Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, Protestant 4%, other 10%


Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian


Conventional short form

: Bosnia and Herzegovina

local short form:

Bosna i Hercegovina

Government type:

emerging federal democratic republic



Administrative divisions:

there are two first-order administrative divisions and one internationally supervised district* - Brcko district (Brcko Distrikt)*, the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Federacija Bosna i Hercegovina) and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska; note - Brcko district is in northeastern Bosnia and is an administrative unit under the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina; it is not part of either Republika Srpska or the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the district remains under international supervision


1 March 1992 (from Yugoslavia; referendum for independence was completed 1 March 1992; independence was declared 3 March 1992)

National holiday:

National Day, 25 November (1943)


the Dayton Agreement, signed 14 December 1995, included a new constitution now in force; note - each of the entities also has its own constitution

Executive branch:

chief of state: Chairman of the Presidency Beriz BELKIC (chairman since 14 February 2002, presidency member since 30 March 2001 - Bosniak); other members of the three-member rotating (every eight months) presidency: Zivko RADISIC (since 13 October 1998 - Serb) and Jozo KRIZANOVIC (since 30 March 2001 - Croat)
elections: the three members of the presidency (one Bosniak, one Croat, one Serb) are elected by popular vote for a four-year term; the member with the most votes becomes the chairman unless he or she was the incumbent chairman at the time of the election, but the chairmanship rotates every eight months; election last held 12-13 September 1998 (next to be held NA October 2002); the chairman of the Council of Ministers is appointed by the presidency and confirmed by the National House of Representatives
head of government: Chairman of the Council of Ministers Dragan MIKEREVIC (since 15 March 2002), position rotates every eight months
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the council chairman; approved by the National House of Representatives
election results: percent of vote - Zivko RADISIC with 52% of the Serb vote was elected chairman of the collective presidency for the first eight months; Ante JELAVIC with 52% of the Croat vote followed RADISIC in the rotation; Alija IZETBEGOVIC with 87% of the Bosniak vote won the highest number of votes in the election but was ineligible to serve a second term until RADISIC and JELAVIC had each served a first term as Chairman of the Presidency; IZETBEGOVIC retired from the presidency 14 October 2000 and was replaced first temporarily by Halid GENJAC and subsequently by Beriz BELKIC; Ante JELAVIC was replaced by Jozo KRIZANOVIC in March 2001 when the High Representative barred him from public office


President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Safet HALILOVIC (since 1 January 2002); Vice President Karlo FILIPOVIC (since 1 January 2002); note - president and vice president rotate every year; President of the Republika Srpska: Mirko SAROVIC (since 11 November 2000); Vice President of the Republika Srpska: Dragan CAVIZ (since NA)

Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliamentary Assembly or Skupstina consists of the National House of Representatives or Predstavnicki Dom (42 seats - 14 Serb, 14 Croat, and 14 Bosniak; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Peoples or Dom Naroda (15 seats - 5 Bosniak, 5 Croat, 5 Serb; members elected by the Bosniak/Croat Federation's House of Representatives and the Republika Srpska's National Assembly to serve four-year terms); note - Bosnia's election law specifies four-year terms for the state and first-order administrative division entity legislatures; officials elected in 2000 and previously were elected to two-year terms on the presumption that a permanent law would be in place before 2002

Judicial branch:

BiH Constitutional Court (consists of nine members: four members are selected by the Bosniak/Croat Federation's House of Representatives, two members by the Republika Srpska's National Assembly, and three non-Bosnian members by the president of the European Court of Human Rights)
note: a new state court, mandated in November 2000, has jurisdiction over cases related to state-level law and appellate jurisdiction over cases initiated in the entities; the entities each have a Supreme Court; each entity also has a number of lower courts; there are 10 cantonal courts in the Federation, plus a number of municipal courts; the Republika Srpska has five municipal courts

Political parties and leaders:

Bosnian Party or BOSS [Mirnes AJANOVIC]; Bosnian Patriotic Party or BPS [Sefer HALILOVIC]; Civic Democratic Party of BiH or GDS [Ibrahim SPAHIC]; Croat Christian Democratic Union or HKDU BiH [Ante PASALIC]; Croatian Democratic Union of BiH or HDZ-BiH [Ante JELAVIC; note - not recognized by the international community]; Croatian Party of Rights of BiH or HSP-BiH [Zdravko HRSTIC]; Croatian Peasants Party of BiH or HSS-BiH [Ilija SIMIC]; Democratic National Alliance or DNS [Dragan KOSTIC]; Democratic Party of Pensioners or DPS [Alojz KNEZOVIC]; Democratic Party of RS or DSRS [Dragomir DUMIC]; Democratic Peoples Union or DNZ [Fikret ABDIC]; Democratic Socialist Party or DSP [Nebojsa RADMANOVIC]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDS [Rasim KADIC]; New Croatian Initiative or NHI [Kresimir ZUBAK]; Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina or SBH [Safet HALILOVIC]; Party of Democratic Action or SDA [Sulejman TIHIC]; Party of Democratic Progress or PDP [Mladen IVANIC]; Party of Independent Social Democrats or SNSD [Milorad DODIK]; Pensioners' Party of FBiH [Husein VOJNIKOVIC]; Pensioners' Party of SR [Stojan BOGOSAVAC]; People's Party-Working for Progress or NS-RZB [Mladen IVANKOVIC]; Republican Party of BiH or RP [Stjepan KLJUIC]; Serb Democratic Party or SDS [Dragan KALINIC]; Serb National Alliance (Serb People's Alliance) or SNS [Branislav LULIC]; Social Democratic Party of BIH or SDP-BiH [Zlatko LAGUMDZIJA]; Socialist Party of Republika Srpska or SPRS [Zivko RADISIC]

Flag description:

a wide medium blue vertical band on the fly side with a yellow isosceles triangle abutting the band and the top of the flag; the remainder of the flag is medium blue with seven full five-pointed white stars and two half stars top and bottom along the hypotenuse of the triangle

Government - note:

The Dayton Agreement, signed in Paris on 14 December 1995, retained Bosnia and Herzegovina's exterior border and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government - based on proportional representation similar to that which existed in the former socialist regime - is charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy. The Dayton Agreement also recognized a second tier of government, comprised of two entities - a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb Republika Srpska (RS) - each presiding over roughly one-half the territory. The Federation and RS governments are charged with overseeing internal functions. The Bosniak/Croat Federation is further divided into 10 cantons. The Dayton Agreement established the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to oversee the implementation of the civilian aspects of the agreement. About 250 international and 450 local staff members are employed by the OHR.



Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked next to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the poorest republic in the old Yugoslav federation. Although agriculture is almost all in private hands, farms are small and inefficient, and the republic traditionally is a net importer of food. Industry has been greatly overstaffed, one reflection of the socialist economic structure ofYugoslavia. TITO had pushed the development of military industries in the republic with the result that Bosnia hosted a large share of Yugoslavia's defense plants. The bitter interethnic warfare in Bosnia caused production to plummet by 80% from 1990 to 1995, unemployment to soar, and human misery to multiply. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-99 at high percentage rates from a low base; but output growth slowed in 2000 and 2001. GDP remains far below the 1990 level. Economic data are of limited use because, although both entities issue figures, national-level statistics are limited. Moreover, official data do not capture the large share of activity that occurs on the black market. The marka - the national currency introduced in 1998 - is now pegged to the euro, and the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina has dramatically increased its reserve holdings. Implementation of privatization, however, has been slow, and local entities only reluctantly support national-level institutions. Banking reform accelerated in 2001 as all the communist-era payments bureaus were shut down. The country receives substantial amounts of reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid from the international community but will have to prepare for an era of declining assistance.


steel, coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, manganese, bauxite, vehicle assembly, textiles, tobacco products, wooden furniture, tank and aircraft assembly, domestic appliances, oil refining

Electricity - production:

2.615 billion kWh (2000)


wheat, corn, fruits, vegetables; livestock


marka (BAM)


Telephones - main lines in use:

303,000 (1997)

Telephone system:

General assessment:

telephone and telegraph network needs modernization and expansion; many urban areas are below average as contrasted with services in other former Yugoslav republics


no satellite earth stations

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 8, FM 16, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations: 33 (plus 277 repeaters) (September 1995)

Internet users:

3,500 (2000)



total: 1,021 km (795 km electrified; operating as diesel or steam until grids are repaired)
standard gauge: 1,021 km 1.435-m gauge; note - many segments still need repair and/or reconstruction because of war damage (2000 est.)


total: 21,846 km
paved: 14,020 Km; note


road system is in need of maintenance and repair (2001)
unpaved: 7,826 km

Ports and harbors:

Bosanska Gradiska, Bosanski Brod, Bosanski Samac, and Brcko (all inland waterway ports on the Sava), Orasje


27 (2001)


Military branches:

VF Army (the air and air defense forces are subordinate commands within the Army), VRS Army (the air and air defense forces are subordinate commands within the Army)


Since the time of the Roman Empire, the Balkans has been a crossroads of religions and civilizations. The ethnic groups now known as Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs are largely the result of different religious and cultural identities created by contact with neighboring empires that expanded and contracted in the Balkans over centuries. With minor differences, they speak the same language, called Serbo-Croatian or sometimes Bosnian.

Called Illyricum in ancient times, the Romans conquered the area now called Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. and folded it into the Roman province of Dalmatia. In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. Goths overran that portion of the declining Roman Empire and occupied the area until the 6th century, when theByzantine Empire claimed it. Slavs began settling the region during the 7th century. Around 1200,Bosnia won independence from Hungary and endured as an independent Christian state for some 260 years.

The expansion of the Ottoman Empire into the Balkans introduced another cultural, political, and religious framework. The Turks defeated the Serbs at the famous battle of Kosovo in 1389. They conqueredBosnia in 1463. During the roughly 450 yearsBosnia and Herzegovina were under Ottoman rule, many Christian Slavs became Muslim. Bosnian Islamic elite gradually developed and ruled the country on behalf of the Turkish overlords. As the borders of the Ottoman Empire began to shrink in the 19th century, Muslims from elsewhere in the Balkans migrated to Bosnia. Bosnia also developed a sizable Jewish population, with many Jews settling in Sarajevo after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. However, through the 19th century the termBosnian commonly included residents of all faiths. A relatively secular society, intermarriage among religious groups was not unknown.

Neighboring Serbia and Montenegro fought against the Ottoman Empire in 1876, and were aided by the Russians, their fellow Slavs. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, following the end of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), Austria-Hungary was given a mandate to occupy and governBosnia and Herzegovina, in an effort by Europe to ensure that Russia did not dominate the Balkans. Although the provinces were still officially part of the Ottoman Empire, they were annexed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire on Oct. 7, 1908. As a result, relations with Serbia, which had claims on Bosnia and Herzegovina, became embittered. The hostility between the two countries climaxed in the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand inSarajevo on June 28, 1914, by a Serbian nationalist. This event precipitated the start of World War I (1914–18).Bosnia and Herzegovina were annexed to Serbia as part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes on Oct. 26, 1918. The name was later changed to Yugoslavia in 1929.

When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, Bosnia and Herzegovina were made part of Nazi-controlled Croatia. During the German and Italian occupation, Bosnian and Herzegovinian resistance fighters fought a fierce guerrilla war against the Ustachi, the Croatian Fascist troops. At the end of World War II, Bosnia and Herzegovina were reunited into a single state as one of the six republics of the newly reestablished Communist Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito. His authoritarian control kept the ethnic enmities of his patchwork nation in check. Tito died in 1980, and with growing economic dissatisfaction and the fall of the iron curtain over the next decade, Yugoslavia began to splinter.

In Dec. 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia and asked for recognition by the European Union (EU). In a March 1992 referendum, Bosnian voters chose independence, and President Izetbegovic declared the nation an independent state. Unlike the other former Yugoslav states, which were generally composed of a dominant ethnic group, Bosnia was an ethnic tangle of Muslims (44%), Serbs (31%), and Croats (17%), and this mix contributed to the duration and savagery of its fight for independence.

Both the Croatian and Serbian presidents had planned to partition Bosnia between themselves. Attempting to carve out their own enclaves, the Serbian minority, with the help of the Serbian Yugoslav army, took the offensive and laid siege, particularly on Sarajevo, and began its ruthless campaigns of ethnic cleansing, which involved the expulsion or massacre of Muslims. Croats also began carving out their own communities. By the end of Aug. 1992, rebel Bosnian Serbs had conquered over 60% ofBosnia. The war did not begin to wane until NATO stepped in, bombing Serb positions in Bosnia in Aug. and Sept. 1995. This was followed by a joint offensive by Bosnian Muslim and Croatian forces that took back a significant amount of critical Bosnian territory.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks in Dayton,Ohio, led to an agreement in 1995 that called for a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb entity within the larger federation ofBosnia. Sixty thousand NATO troops were to supervise its implementation. Fighting abated and orderly elections were held in Sept. 1996. President Alija Izetbegovic, a Bosnian Muslim, or Bosniac, won the majority of votes to become the leader of the three-member presidency, each representing one of the three ethnic groups.

But this alliance of unreconstructed enemies had little success in creating a working government or keeping violent clashes in check. The terms of the Dec. 1995 Dayton Peace Accord were largely ignored by Bosnian Serbs, with its former president, arch-nationalist Radovan Karadzic, still in de facto control of the Serbian enclave. Many indicted war criminals, including Karadzic, remain at large. Despite NATO's pledge in Oct. 1997 to remain in Bosnia beyond the 1998 mandate, the largely ineffective peacekeeping force was characterized by chronic ambivalence.

The crucial priorities facing postwar Bosnian leaders were rebuilding the economy, resettling the estimated one million refugees still displaced, and establishing a working government. Progress on these goals has been minimal, and a massive corruption scandal uncovered in 1999 severely tested the goodwill of the international community. Millions of dollars from international aid projects earmarked for reconstruction and humanitarian purposes had been pilfered by Bosnian officials, according to an American-led international antifraud unit.

The UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia adjourned in The Hague, Netherlands. As of 2001, more than 100 individuals had been indicted. The first genocide conviction was handed down in Aug. 2001. Radislav Drstic, a Bosnian Serb general, was found guilty of genocide in the killing of up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. It was the first genocide conviction in Europe since the UN genocide treaty was drawn up in 1951. In 2001, the trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic began. He was charged with crimes against humanity.

In July 2002, the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia met for the first time since war broke out in the Balkans more than a decade ago. The countries pledged to cooperate on the repatriation of refugees, fight organized crime, and assist each other in economic development.

In presidential elections in Oct. 2002, the rotating tripartite presidency was divided between Mirko Sarovic (Serb Democratic Party), Dragan Covic (Croatian Democratic Union), and Sulejman Tihic (Party of Democratic Action, a primarily Muslim party).

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