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The country of Bosnia and Herzegovina is situated in southeast Europe on the Balkan Peninsula. It is bordered by, clockwise and beginning in the north, by Croatia, Serbia. Montenegro, and the Adriatic Sea. The capital and largest city is Sarajevo, and it has no official language at the federal level, but Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian are all spoken there. The larger region, Bosnia, is in the northern and central parts of the country while Herzegovina is in the south and southwest.

Numerous ethnic groups live in in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but there are three major groups. Bosniaks make up 48% of the population, Serbs make up 33%, and Croats make up 15%. Additionally, the immigrant population, which is the remaining 4%, include Bulgarians, Greeks, Italians, Germans, Turks, and Ukranians.

Bosniaks are of South Slavic heritage, and since 1993, it has been used as the name of the Bosnian Muslim nationality. The term was adopted by the Bosnian Muslim leadership.They are sometimes called Bosnian Muslims, particularly by English-speakers. For the most part, Bosniaks live in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the surrounding area. Genetic studies show that Bosniaks have a close affinity to other South Slavs.

Not to be confused with Serbians, the Serbs are a South Slavic ethnic group from across the Balkans. The majority of today's Serbs live in Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are enclaves of Serbs in Slovenia and in Macedonia. The majority of Serbs are Eastern Orthodox Christians. Genetic testing shows that Serbs have a close affinity with Balkan peoples, particularly with those from the former Yugoslavia.

Croats are a South Slav ethnic group originally from the junction of Central Europe and the Balkans. The majority of Croats live in Croatia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are also officially recognized as minorities in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Slovakia. The predominant religion of Croats is Roman Catholic. DNA testing results are nearly same as DNA of Serbs.

All three groups, then, share their South Slav roots. The main thing that separates these three groups of people is their faith. The constitution provides for freedom of religion. Both the federal and state governments abide by the constitution in the matter in areas that are ethnically integrated, at least where the officials belong to the majority religion, but local authorities have, from time to time, restricted or abridged that right when the individuals involved are of the minority religion.

.After the Yugoslav republic dissolved in 1991, the talk in the region was about independence. A referendum was held in 1992, and the majority of the Serb population opposed the idea and boycotted the polls.

Soon, a civil war was raging, with the ethnic nationalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina attempted to take control of the territories they claimed as theirs. Between 1992 and the end of 1995, numerous campaigns of ethnic cleansing killed thousands and displaced in excess of two million people in the region.

The Dayton Accords of 1995, which was agreed upon by the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia, ended the war in Bosnia and outlined a General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It called for the establishment of Bosnia as a single state consisting of two parts. Those two parts were the Bosnian Serb Republic and the Bosnian-Croat federation, and allowed for Sarajevo to remain the undivided capital city of the new entity. The process was brokered by Richard Holbrooke, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs, and US Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

The country created by the Accords was an extremely ethnically divided and highly decentralized state which has an international civilian representative whose job it is to remove officials and to impose laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Accords also established Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country with two absolutely autonomous units, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, inhabited mostly by Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks. and the Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska), peopled by Serbs. Each of these entities has its own separate legislature and president. The government is a tripartite government, one Bosniak, one Serb, and one Croat directly elected. The tripartite rotates every eight months.



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