Bosnia and Herzegoviana -- Geography --
Official Name: Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Capital City: Sarajevo
Languages: Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian
Official Currency: Marka (BAM)
Religions: Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant
Population: 4 552 198 (2008)
Land Area: 51,130 sq km
Landforms: A very hilly country with the Dinaric Alps dominating the landscape. Thick forest cover almost 50% of the land. Significant rivers include the Neretua, Sava, Vrbas, and the Bosna - the source of the country's name.
Land Divisions: In stages of agreement and dispute.
Bosnia and Herzegoviana -- History --
Bosnia has been inhabited at least since Neolithic times. In the early Bronze Age, the Neolithic population was replaced by more warlike Indo-European tribes known as the Illyres or Illyrians. Celtic migrations in the 4th and 3rd century BCE displaced many Illyrian tribes from their former lands, but some Celtic and Illyrian tribes mixed. Concrete historical evidence for this period is scarce, but overall it appears that the region was populated by a number of different peoples speaking distinct languages. Conflict between the Illyrians and Romans started in 229 BCE, but Rome wouldn't complete its annexation of the region until 9 CE. In the Roman period, latin-speaking settlers from all over the Roman empire settled among the Illyrians and Roman soldiers were encouraged to retire in the region.
Christianity had already arrived in the region by the end of the 1st century, and numerous artifacts and objects from the time testify to this. Following events from the years 337 and 395 when the Empire split, Dalmatia and Pannonia were included in the Western Roman Empire. The region was conquered by the Ostrogoths in 455, and further exchanged hands between the Alans and Huns in the years to follow. By the 6th century, Emperor Justinian had re-conquered the area for the Byzantine Empire. The Slavs, a migratory people from northeastern Europe, were subjugated by the Eurasian Avars in the 6th century, and together they invaded the Eastern Roman Empire in the 6th and 7th centuries, settling in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina and the surrounding lands. The Serbs and Croats came in a second wave, invited by Emperor Heraclius to drive the Avars from Dalmatia.
Modern knowledge of the political situation in the west Balkans during the dark ages is patchy and confusing. Upon their arrival, the Slavs brought with them a tribal social structure, which probably fell apart and gave way to feudalism only with Frankish penetration into the region in the late 9th century (Bosnia probably originated as one such pre-feudal Slavic entity). It was also around this time that the south Slavs were Christianized. Bosnia, due to its geographic position and terrain, was probably one of the last areas to go through this process, which presumably originated from the urban centers along the Dalmatian coast. The kingdoms of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 9th and 10th century, but by the high middle ages political circumstance led to the area being contested between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Byzantine empire. Following another shift of power between the two in the late 12th century, Bosnia found itself outside the control of both and emerged as an independent state under the rule of local bans.
The first notable Bosnian monarch, Ban Kulin, presided over nearly three decades of peace and stability during which he strengthened the country's economy through treaties with Dubrovnik and Venice. His rule also marked the start of a controversy with the Bosnian Church, an indigenous Christian sect considered heretical by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. In response to Hungarian attempts to use church politics regarding the issue as a way to reclaim sovereignty over Bosnia, Kulin held a council of local church leaders to renounce the heresy in 1203. Despite this, Hungarian ambitions remained unchanged long after Kulin's death in 1204, waning only after an unsuccessful invasion in 1254.
Bosnian history from then until the early 14th century was marked by the power struggle between the Subic and Kotromanic families. This conflict came to an end in 1322, when Stephen II Kotromanic became ban. By the time of his death in 1353, he had succeeded in annexing territories to the north and west, as well as Zahumlje and parts of Dalmatia. He was succeeded by his nephew Tvrtko who, following a prolonged struggle with nobility and inter-family strife, gained full control of the country in 1367. Under Tvrtko, Bosnia grew in both size and power, finally becoming an independent kingdom in 1377. Following his death in 1391 however, Bosnia fell into a long period of decline. The Ottoman Empire had already started its conquest of Europe and posed a major threat to the Balkans throughout the first half of the 15th century. Finally, after decades of political and social instability, Bosnia oficially fell in 1463. Herzegovina would follow in 1482, with a Hungarian-backed reinstated "Bosnian Kingdom" being the last to succumb in 1527.
The Ottoman province of Bosnia.The Ottomans under sultan Mehmed Fatih conquered the region in 1463, although parts of the country held out until late 15th century. The Ottoman rule introduced a number of key changes in political and social administration of the country, namely a new landholding system (see timar), a reorganization of administrative units (see sandzak and vilayet, and a complex system of social differentiation by class (see askeri and reaya) and religious affiliation. Over four centuries of Ottoman rule, the population make-up of Bosnia drastically changed several times as a result of Ottoman conquests, frequent wars with the Habsburgs, migrations, and epidemics. Furthermore, a native bosnian speaking Bosnian Muslim community emerged during the long Ottoman rule mainly as a result of gradually rising number of conversions to Islam, while a significant number of Sephardi Jews settled in Sarajevo after their expulsion from Spain in late 15th century. The Bosnian Christian communities also experienced major changes. The Bosnian Franciscans (and the Catholic population as a whole) were protected by official imperial decree, but on the ground these guarantees were often disregarded; the Orthodox community in Bosnia initially prospered under Ottoman rule, but was later dominated by the Greek Orthodox patriarchs; and the little-known Bosnian Church disappeared altogether. The agrarian unrest in the province in the 19th century eventually sparked a widespread peasant uprising in 1875; the conflict rapidly spread and involved several Balkan states and Great Powers, which eventually forced the Ottomans to cede administration of the country to Austria-Hungary in 1878, thus ending over four centuries of Ottoman rule over Bosnia.
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From 1878 to 1918, Bosnia was administered and from the 1908 annexation directly ruled by Austria-Hungary. Habsburg rule over the region did much to codify laws and introduce new political practices and modernization measures, in the hope of keeping Bosnia a stable and model South Slav province that would resist the forces of nationalism. However, World War I began with the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne; the assassin was Gavrilo Princip, a member of the "Mlada Bosna" organization.
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Following the war, Bosnia was incorporated into the South Slav kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later renamed the kingdom of Yugoslavia). Political life in Bosnia at this time (from 1918 to 1941) was marked by two major trends: social and economic unrest over property redistribution, and formation of several political parties that frequently changed coalitions and alliances with parties in other Yugoslav regions. The redrawing of administrative regions into banovina units only exacerbated this process, which also encouraged plans for the official partition of Bosnia between Croatia and Serbia in the late 1930s.
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When the kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded by Nazi forces in World War II, all of Bosnia was ceded to the the Nazi-puppet state Croatia. The Nazi rule over Bosnia led to widespread persecution, murder, and near-total annihilation of the Jewish population across Bosnia, while the NDH Croatian state also specifically persecuted the Serbian population in the country. Bosnia and Herzegovina thus became the central region in a war that included German, Italian and Croatian armies as well as troops by the royalist Serbian regime and the anti-fascist movement. On 25 November 1943 the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia with Marshal Tito at its helm held a founding conference in Jajce where Bosnia and Herzegovina was reestablished as a republic within the Yugoslavian federation in its Ottoman borders. The conference's conclusions were later confirmed by the Yugoslavian constitution. 25 November is considered a day of national statehood in Bosnia and Herzegovina today.
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From 1945 to 1948, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was established under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito. Yugoslavia consisted of the present-day states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia until it broke up in 1990 when the Communist party failed to win the election.
The Bosnian-Herzegovinian declaration of sovereignty in October of 1991 was followed by a referendum for independence from Yugoslavia in February 1992 boycotted by the Bosnian Serbs.
Bosnian Serbs responded shortly thereafter with armed attacks on Bosnian-Herzegovinian Croats and Bosniaks aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas. The UNPROFOR (UN Protection Force) was deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in mid-1992. 1992 and 1993 saw the greatest bloodshed in Europe after 1945. Following the peace agreement proposal by Lord Owen in 1993, which practically intended to divide the country into three ethnically pure parts, an armed conflict developed between Bosniak and Croat units in a virtual territorial grab. It was later established that Croat military actions were directly supported by the government of Croatia which made this also an international conflict At that time about 70% of the country was in Serb control, and the rest was controlled by Bosniaks and Croats.
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.
Each nation reported many casualties in the three-sided conflict, in which the Bosniaks reported the highest number of deaths and casualties. However, the only case officially ruled by the U.N. Hague tribunal as genocide was the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. At the end of the war approximately 102,000 people had been killed according to the ICTY  and more than 2 million people fled their homes (including over 1 million to neighboring nations and the west).
On November 21, 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Alija Izetbegovic), Croatia (Franjo Tudman), and Serbia (Slobodan Milosevic) signed a peace agreement that brought a halt to the three years of war in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995). The Dayton Agreement succeeded in ending the bloodshed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it institutionalized the division between the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Muslim and Croat entity - Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (51% of the territory), and the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Serb entity - Republika Srpska (49%). Inter-Entity Boundary Line delineates the administrative division of the two Entities.
The enforcement of the implementation of the Dayton Agreement was through a UN mandate using various multinational forces: NATO-led IFOR (Implementation Force), which transitioned to the SFOR (Stabilisation Force) the next year, which in turn transitioned to the EU-led EUFOR at end of 2004. The civil administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina is headed by the High Representative of the international community.
Today the Dayton agreement is considered by many as one of the most controversial pieces of diplomacy that resulted from the Bosnian War. According to most experts while on one hand Dayton agreement did successfully end the war on the other it legitimized territorial gains achieved through ethnic cleansing and genocide, and it created enormous bureaucratic obstacles for Bosnian Herzegovinian tendencies for European integration. As a result many reforms are taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina today as part of the revisions to the Dayton agreement such as unifying of army and police forces and the enforcing of state level institutions. However, the most controversial part and the main clause of the Dayton agreement that stipulated territorial and administrative division of the country will remain in force and unchanged.
Bosnia and Herzegoviana -- Economy --
Bosnia was economically one of the least developed republics of the former Yugoslavia. The republic’s economy was largely devoted to mining, forestry, agriculture, and some sectors of light and heavy manufacturing, notably of armaments. Although Bosnia exported specialty agricultural products, such as fruit and tobacco, it had to import staples, including more than half its food. The war shattered the newly independent country’s economy, and recovery has been tentative.
In 1990, 48 percent of the labor force was employed in industry and 11 percent in agriculture. Bosnia produced mineral products, timber, manufactured goods such as furniture and domestic appliances, and about 40 percent of Yugoslavia’s armaments. By the time war broke out in 1992, Bosnia’s inflation rate was already at 120 percent; during the war, it rose to well over 1,000 percent. Unemployment was about 30 percent when war broke out, and by 1995 it had risen to 75 percent. Prices of goods soared during the war, and average living standards declined sharply. All sectors of the economy were hit hard by the war. About 45 percent of industrial plants, including about 75 percent of the republic’s oil refineries, were destroyed, damaged, or plundered.
The Dayton accord allowed economic recovery to begin. Bosnia’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 20 to 30 percent per year from 1995 to 1998, although the recovery was driven almost entirely by international aid. The GDP in 1998 was estimated to be about $6 billion. Unemployment dropped from its wartime high of 75 percent to 42 percent in 1998. Renewed economic growth has come mainly within the construction, trade, and services sectors, with traditional light industries also showing some capacity for recovery. But the big industrial conglomerates that dominated Bosnia’s prewar economic life remain largely unrestructured and are operating at a fraction of their production capacity. Corrupt political leaders apply regulations and taxes arbitrarily, stymieing the development and growth of new businesses. The black market remains a significant factor. Behind this mixed pattern of recovery lie the special problems of privatization of state-owned firms in Bosnia. Transferring firms to private ownership so that they can prosper or, if unprofitable, fail and cease to be a drag on the system, is a crucial step for the success of a free-market economy. While 90 percent of Bosnia’s registered firms are in private hands, the big conglomerates remain under state ownership. Comprehensive privatization legislation is now in place, but the political obstacles to privatization remain formidable.
The country’s mandated division into two autonomous entities has proved a significant obstacle to economic recovery. The central government has scored notable successes by establishing a single central bank and adopting a unified customs fee schedule for imported and exported goods. But in many essential areas of economic life the governments of the entities, rather than the central government, make the decisions. The Serb Republic’s territory includes much of Bosnia’s agricultural and mineral-rich land, while the industrial zones remain largely within the Muslim-Croat federation.
Prior to the war, Bosnia drew electricity from coal-burning and, to a lesser extent, hydroelectric power plants. As a result of the war, Bosnia’s electricity-generating capacity declined by about 78 percent. Aid-financed reconstruction of the electric power grid has made substantial strides, but the political divisions create serious obstacles to the entire country being reconnected. In 2002 hydroelectric plants accounted for 43 percent of Bosnia’s energy production, with coal-burning plants producing the rest. With most of the hydroelectric plants located in the Croat-controlled area of the Muslim-Croat federation, cooperation across Muslim- and Serb-controlled territory is essential for the widespread distribution of electricity. The cost of electricity varies enormously from region to region. In the Serb Republic the government heavily subsidizes energy producers, cutting the amount users must pay.
In 1990 Bosnia’s imports totaled about $1.9 billion. They consisted primarily of fuel, machinery, transportation equipment, miscellaneous manufactured products, and chemicals. In the same year, exports totaled about $2.1 billion. They consisted mainly of miscellaneous manufactured products, machinery, and raw materials. The war severely disrupted Bosnia’s trade, with both the FRY (now Serbia and Montenegro) and Croatia imposing economic blockades on the republic and supply routes being obstructed by the fighting. In 2003 imports totaled $3.3 billion and exports $1,028 million. The huge trade deficit reflects the degree of Bosnia’s dependence on foreign aid.
In January 1998, after Bosnia’s Muslim, Serb, and Croat leaders failed to agree on a new national currency, the United Nations introduced one, the konvertibilna marka, or just marka. Marka banknotes entered circulation in June 1998 with a value equal to the German deutsche mark (In June 1998 1.79 deutsche marks equaled U.S.$1). Yugoslav dinars continue to circulate in the Serb Republic, and the Croatian kuna was used in the Croat parts of the Muslim-Croat federation. Inflation came down in the federation following the introduction of the new currency. In the Serb Republic, price trends were less clear. The Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, established in 1997 under foreign administration, is the bank of issue for the marka. The Serb Republic and the federation each oversee their own banks.
Much of Bosnia’s infrastructure, including its highways, railroads, and telecommunications network, was devastated in the war. In 1991 Bosnia had 21,168 km (13,154 mi) of highway, of which about half was paved. During the war, about 35 percent of the country’s highways and 40 percent of its bridges were damaged or destroyed. The railroad system consisted of around 1,000 km (600 mi) of track, of which three-quarters was electrified. Damage to the railway system was estimated at about $1 billion. There is an international airport at Sarajevo, which was also seriously damaged in the fighting. From 1995 to 1998 more than $1 billion in foreign aid was provided to rebuild Bosnia’s battered infrastructure. However, reconstruction of the road and rail network also has been hampered by Bosnia’s divisions. More is being done to reconnect the telecommunications network, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) coordinating national reconstruction and providing a $20 million loan. The fourth donors’ conference for Bosnia and Herzegovina, held in Brussels, Belgium, in May 1998, made improvement of infrastructure a continued priority for future aid.
Bosnia and Herzegoviana -- Culture --
Bosnia and Herzegovina (Serbo-Croatian Bosna i Hercegovina), officially the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a country in southeastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Formerly a constituent republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence in March 1992. Bosnia’s diverse population has made the country’s cultural life rich. Epic stories, a form of traditional oral literature, were still sung throughout the country well into the 1950s. Bosnian urban love songs, largely Muslim in origin, were popular throughout the former Yugoslavia.
Literature, Film and Music:
Ivo Andric, a Serb who was raised Catholic in Bosnia, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1961. His novels include Na Drini cuprija (1945); The Bridge on the Drina, (1959), in which a bridge from the Ottoman period symbolically united the peoples of Bosnia. The novelist Mesa Selimovic was of Muslim origin but said that he wrote Serbian literature. The film director Emir Kusturica, also of Muslim origin, made internationally acclaimed films in Sarajevo. His film When Father was Away on Business was a finalist for the Academy Award in the United States for best foreign film in 1984. That film had a cast and crew that included Muslims, Serbs, and Croats. Through 1991 the Bosnian rock group Bijelo Dugme was extremely popular throughout Yugoslavia, playing music influenced by the various traditions of Bosnia.
These ethnic and cultural mixtures have declined since the war. The Muslim authorities regard Andric as having been anti-Muslim, and they closed the museum devoted to him in his home town of Travnik. Filmmaker Kusturica moved to Serbia in 1992. His internationally acclaimed 1995 depiction of the war, Underground, was condemned in Sarajevo. As of early 1999, he had not been able to return there.
Cultural Institutions were Destroyed after the war. The most important library in Bosnia was the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. It was intentionally destroyed by Serb shelling in 1992 and remained in ruins as of early 1999. The world famous bridge in Mostar, built by Ottoman rulers in the 17th century, was intentionally destroyed by Croat shelling in 1994. Throughout Bosnia, churches (Orthodox and Roman Catholic) and mosques were destroyed by the armed forces of the other major ethnic groups. Among the most important losses were two mosques in Banja Luka that were on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) register of world cultural monuments. These mosques were leveled by Serb authorities in 1992, with even the stones removed from the sites.
Bosnia and Herzegoviana -- Political system, law and government --
President: Borislav Paravac (2004)
Prime Minister: Adnan Terzic (2002)
When Bosnia declared independence in 1992, it operated under a modified version of the Yugoslav constitution, which provided for a bicameral (two-chamber) legislature, a government headed by a prime minister, and a collective presidency with one representative from each of the three major ethnic groups.
A new constitution was drafted as part of the Dayton accord, providing for a national government structured much as it had been under the previous constitution. There is a three-member presidency and a bicameral legislature. The central government has very little authority within the country, however, and for the most part its power extends only to foreign trade and foreign affairs. The new constitution recognizes Bosnia as a state officially composed of two entities, the Serb Republic and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All governmental functions not given expressly to the central government belong to the entities.
The Muslim-Croat federation has its own government. Its constitution was drawn up by U.S. government lawyers in 1994. The federation’s government is headed by a president and a bicameral legislature. However, this government has no authority except over foreign affairs. In addition, the legislature can easily be deadlocked when the deputies vote along ethnic lines. In reality, the federation has never really functioned, and the Croat-controlled areas of Bosnia remain free of control by the federation authorities, being closely linked with Croatia instead.
The government of the Serb Republic wields authority over domestic and foreign affairs. In practice, the constitutional system of Bosnia does not provide the structure for a workable state. Bosnia is a member of several international organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations (UN).
The Authorities: Bosnia’s three member executive body comprises one Muslim, one Croat, and one Serb member. All members are formally equal, with chairmanship of the collective body rotating every six months. The members of the presidency are elected by direct popular vote from their respective entities (two from the federation, one from the Serb Republic). The collective presidency is supposed to make decisions by consensus, and a provision exists for nullification of a non-unanimous decision by the presidency if so demanded by the entity whose representative has been outvoted. The presidency, as head of state, has some powers related to foreign policy and represents Bosnia internationally. The presidency also nominates the government, composed of Muslim and Serb co-prime ministers (with a Croat deputy prime minister) and a cabinet known as the Council of Ministers. No more than two-thirds of the members of this cabinet may be from the Muslim-Croat federation, and each minister must have deputy ministers from the other two national groups. Ministers are confirmed by the central legislature. The central legislature has two chambers, the House of Peoples and the House of Representatives. The House of Peoples has 15 members, 5 Muslims, 5 Croats, and 5 Serbs, elected by the parliaments of the entities. The House of Representatives has 42 directly elected members, two-thirds from the federation and one-third from the Serb Republic. The central legislature is charged with drafting laws that implement decisions made by the collective presidency, determining a national budget, and ratifying international treaties. Complicated procedures exist to try to ensure that no ethnic group is outvoted on matters concerning its vital interests. Bosnia has no national court system, but rather each entity has its own system of trial and appellate courts. At the national level there is a Constitutional Court, which decides constitutional issues and disputes between the entities. The Constitutional Court has nine members, four elected by the parliament of the Muslim-Croat federation, two elected by the parliament of the Serb Republic, and three appointed by the president of the European Court of Human Rights who must not be citizens of Bosnia or any neighboring state. The first judges appointed hold five-year terms. Subsequent appointments are supposed to last until the judge reaches age 70.
Political Parties: In every relatively free and fair election in Bosnia in the 20th century, starting in 1910, the population has voted along ethnic lines. In 1945 Yugoslavia emerged from World War II controlled by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (name changed to the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, or LCY, in 1952). In Bosnia, nationalist parties for each of the three largest ethnic groups formed 1990. Since then the most important Muslim party has been the Party of Democratic Action (PDA). In 1998 the PDA became the dominant party in a Muslim coalition, the Coalition for a Whole and Democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most important Croat party is the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CDU-BH), a branch of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union in Croatia. The CDU-BH answers to Croatian party leaders.
For Bosnian Serbs, more than one party has significant backing. The overwhelming winner in the elections in 1990 and 1996 was the Serbian Democratic Party (SDP). This nationalist party advocated either that Bosnia remains in Yugoslavia (when it still could) or that lands inhabited by Serbs in an independent Bosnia should be united with Serbia. While this party was still the largest Serb party in 1998, Sloga (Accord), a coalition of other Serb parties less opposed to Bosnia’s ethnic reintegration, was also created. The coalition received backing from Western Europe and the United States for pledging to support the Dayton peace accord. The third major Serb party was the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party, which staunchly advocated a “Greater Serbia.” The Serbian Radical Party is a branch of the same party in Serbia and is controlled from there.
Social Services: They are supposed to be provided by the entities, not the central government. Within the Muslim-Croat federation, services often are provided by Croat and Muslim authorities (to their respective populations), instead of by the federation government. In the 1990s foreign non-governmental organizations actually provided the bulk of social services. Before the war, health care in Bosnia was state-administered and free.
Defense: Separate Serb, Croat, and Muslim military forces are acknowledged in the national and Muslim-Croat constitutions, with some provisions for coordination but not for joint control. In 1998 the Muslim army (officially the Bosnian army) numbered about 40,000; the Croatian Defense Council had some 16,000 troops in the country. The Serb Republic had up to 30,000 troops in its army. The military forces of one entity are prohibited from entering the other.