Bosnia and Herzegovina - Encyclopedia Information
Official name Bosnia and Herzegovina
Formation 1992 / 1992
Population 3.8 million / 192 people per sq mile (74 people per sq km)
Total area 19,741 sq. miles (51,129 sq. km)
Languages Bosnian*, Serbian*, Croatian*
Religions Muslim (mainly Sunni) 40%, Orthodox Christian 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, Other 14%
Ethnic mix Bosniak 48%, Serb 34%, Croat 16%, Other 2%
Government Parliamentary system
Currency Marka = 100 pfeninga
Literacy rate 98%
Calorie consumption 3084 kilocalories
Bosnia and Herzegovina (officially, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina) is a mountainous country in the western Balkans. Initially a part of Illyria, Bosnia later became a part of the Roman Empire as the Province of Illyria. In 395 after the death of Roman Emperor Theodosius I (347–95), the Roman Empire was divided into two parts: the Byzantine Empire or the Eastern Empire, ruled by Arcadius (c. 377–408), a son of Theodosius I, and the Western Roman Empire, ruled by another of his sons Flavius Augustus Honorius (384–423).
The Drina River, now the boundary between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, separated the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. Illyria and Pannonia were included in the Western Roman Empire; Bosnia initially was part of the Byzantine Empire, but because it lay right on the border between the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, it changed hands often.
In 455 the Ostrogoths (a Germanic tribe, also known as the Eastern Goths) invaded Pannonia and Dalmatia and brought the regions under their dominance. However after a series of wars fought between the Roman Empire and the Ostrogoths, which became known as the Gothic Wars (535–53), the Emperor Justinian (483–565) of the Eastern Roman Empire defeated the kingdom of the Ostrogoths and reclaimed Pannonia. Then in the sixth century, the Eastern Roman Empire invaded Dalmatia and reclaimed its territory.
During the sixth and seventh centuries, the Slavs from Poland, along with Turkic Avars (nomadic Euroasian tribes), invaded the Eastern Roman Empire and established their settlements in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its surrounding areas. In the eighth century, in a bid to remove the Avars and Slavs from Dalmatia, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (c. 575–641) invited the Croats and Serbs to establish their settlements in the region and fight alongside the Roman Empire.
They successfully drove the Avars out of Dalmatia and, in recognition of their service, the region of Dalmatia (including Bosnia and Herzegovina) was split between the Croats and Serbs, with the title of duke conferred on their leaders.
By 925 a major portion of Bosnia was under the rule of the first Croatian king Tomislav (c. 10th century).
However between 930 and 960 the eastern parts of Bosnia as well as the western parts of Serbia came under the rule of the Serbian Caslav Klonimirovic (r. 927–60), who acknowledged the sovereignty of the Byzantine Empire.
In 1060 Croatian King Petar Kresimir IV (r.
1058–74) regained control of Bosnia and declared its independence from the Byzantine Empire. In 1077 after taking control of the Hum region (Herzegovina), Serbian Prince Mihalio of Zeta (located in present-day Montenegro) followed suit. Mihalio was later crowned king of Serbia by Pope Gregory VII.
His son Konstantin Bodin conquered and seized a major part of Bosnia from Croatia in 1083. However after Konstantin’s death in 1101 the Croats reclaimed most of the regions that had been conquered by the Serbs. In 1102 the kingdom of Croatia, along with a major part of Bosnia, became a part of the Hungarian Empire. In 1160 the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (?1118–80) defeated Hungary and reclaimed Bosnia as part of the Byzantine Empire.
The Ottomans of Turkey attacked the Byzantine Empire in 1383 and finally conquered the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1463.
The 15th century saw the growth of the Sephardic Jewish community, as Jews from Spain came to settle in the Ottoman Empire. In 1541 the Turks occupied Slavonia, which consisted of Croatia and most of Hungary. They ruled this region for more then a century before surrendering it to Austria under the Treaty of Karlowitz after losing the Austro-Ottoman War (also called the Great Turkish War, 1683–99). Later in 1716 Austria also occupied the northern part of Serbia and Bosnia. The power shifted back to the Turks in 1739, when Austria ceded the regions under the Treaty of Belgrade.
The Ottoman Era lasted until 1878. During this period Islam came to be the dominant religion in Bosnia. As the Ottoman Empire disintegrated and following its defeat in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), Bosnia and Herzegovina was invaded by Austro-Hungarian forces. By 1908 it had become a colony of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In 1914 World War I began after Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated by the Serbs in Sarajevo. Austria was supported by Germany, whereas Serbia was backed by Russia. Following the end of the war in 1918 Bosnia and Herzegovina became part of the South Slav kingdom of Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenes (Serbo-Croatians), which was later renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (literally, “Land of the South Slavs”; [ jug means “south”]) in 1929. This was the first of three separate, but successive, political entities that existed during most of the 20th century on the Balkan Peninsula in Europe.
It existed under that name until it was invaded in 1941 by the Axis powers. Thousands of Jews and Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina were killed in concentration camps. In 1944 Germany was pushed out of Yugoslavia under the guidance of Josip Broz Tito (1892–1980), with support from the British and Soviet armies. Thereafter both countries became republics within a Socialist state established immediately after World War II in 1945 as Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (DFY), which in 1946 became the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (FPRY), and in April 7, 1963, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).
This remained in place until 1992, by which time four of its six constituent republics—Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina— had seceded. At this point the region was in a condition of tumult and crisis given the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the independence of its former republics. The third, formed in 1992 and called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), was on the territory of the remaining republics of Serbia (including the autonomous provinces of Vojvodina and of Kosovo, officially known as Kosovo and Metohija) and Montenegro. FRY, under President Slobodan Milosevic (b. 1941), intervened militarily to unite ethnic Serbs in neighboring republics into a “Greater Serbia.” All of these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful but caused great dislocation, bloodshed, and misery. This led to the deployment of United Nations’ protective forces in 1992. By the end of the conflict in 1995, an estimated 200,000 people had lost their lives, and more than two million people had fled their homes in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
On November 21, 1995, the presidents of Serbia (Slobodan Milosevic), Croatia (Franjo Tudman [1922–99]), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Alija Izetbegovic [1925–2003]) signed a U.S.-sponsored peace accord in Dayton, Ohio, which marked the end of the conflict in the region. The accord came to be known as the Dayton Accord. It provided for the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina into two political entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 51 percent of the territory (administered by Bosnian-Herzegovinian Muslims and Croats); and the Republika Srpska with 49 percent of the territory (administered by Bosnian-Herzegovinian Serbs).
The power-sharing agreement that was approved by the Dayton Accord makes Bosnia and Herzegovina one of the world’s most complex democracies. It provides that the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina will consist of three members: one Croat, one Bosniak from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term, in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim an adherent of Islam), and a Serb from Republika Srpska.
Each of them is elected for a four-year term.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) posted 34,000 peacekeeping troops in order to restore peace and help rebuild the nation, but inter-ethnic problems still exist. The European Union (EU) took over the policing responsibilities in 2003. In 2003 the name Yugoslavia was officially abolished when the state was transformed into a loose commonwealth called Serbia and Montenegro.
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in southeastern Europe. The country’s name reflects its mixed origin, with Bosnia occupying roughly the northern two-thirds of the country. The nation shares its borders with Croatia to the north, south, and west; Serbia and Montenegro are located to the east; and to the south, the Adriatic Sea coastline is just 12 miles away. The southern and central landscape is complemented by the Dinaric Alps. The highest point in the country is Mt. Maglic in Herzegovina at a height of 7,825 feet.
The country has rainy winters, with the minimum temperature in the capital of Sarajevo reaching 34°F in January. The landscape and conditions near Sarajevo made it suitable as a site for the 1984 Winter Olympics. Summer temperatures average 70°F.
Economically this was one of the weakest republics of the former Yugoslavia, and the devastation of war has made matters worse. The standard of living remains low because of rising inflation and large foreign debts. The country is also dealing with large-scale unemployment that affects close to 40 percent of the population.
The economy of Bosnia is largely concentrated in mining, forestry, agriculture, and the armaments industries. Although private farmers cultivate the land, the farms are small. Bosnia exports fruit and tobacco but has to import large quantities of basic food items. The country relies heavily on reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid from the international community.
CULTURE AND LIFESTYLE
The influences of Turkish, Mediterranean, and Western European cultures are evident in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are also considerable differences in the lifestyles between the urban and rural populations, and cultural clashes between the traditional and modern worlds. Among these diverse populations, hospitality, spontaneity, and a quick wit are greatly valued.
Bosnians follow a number of religions that include Islam, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism. The various groups lived together in relative peace and tolerance for generations, but in the regional crisis that emerged in the 1990s ethnic tensions were stoked by leaders and manipulated for their own ends. In 1991 Bosnia had an urban population that was comparatively mixed by occupation, neighborhood, marriage, and friendship, and hoped for a standard of living like that of Western Europe and a rural population that was divided along ethnic lines and poorer.
Following the devastation of war, ethnic conflict has been suppressed but continues to simmer below the surface as Muslims, Croats, and Serbs are more conscious of their religious identification, and Muslim women have adopted more conservative dress, something not formerly characteristic of urbanized women. Among the Bosnian population, the memories of bloodshed and destruction of sacred sites, including houses of worship, linger. Another effect of the war was the serious damage done to the economy, which forced working women out of the workforce and back into their traditional roles of wife and mother.
Education is mandated by the state so most of the population is literate. The Bosnian and SerboCroatian language shares its roots with Indo-European languages such as Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Slovenian. The Serbo-Croatian language has also borrowed some words from Turkish, Arabic, and Persian.
A world-famous film festival is held every year in Sarajevo. Sarajevo is also famous for its Banja Luka, Mostar, and Bihac Museums. Roman mosaics, Neolithic era pottery, Asian architecture, and ancient Catholic and Orthodox artifacts and paintings form an integral part of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s cultural heritage.
Bosnian cuisine consists principally of bread and roasted meats. Vegetarians in Bosnia have limited choices, especially because finding fresh fruits and vegetables can be challenging in Bosnia’s long winters.
The meals here vary only slightly from each other. Daily breakfast is called kwizija and usually consists of milk and tea with scrambled eggs, bread, and butter. Lunch is considered the most important meal of the day and includes soup followed by a meat or fish dish, vegetables, salad, and dessert. The cuisine is not spicy. The meat and vegetables are traditionally made by slow roasting and are served in a ceramic pot with a long, wide neck. Bosanski lonac, a stew sometimes known as Bosnian Pot, is a rich Bosnian specialty. The recipe has many variations, though the main ingredients remain beef, lamb, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots, seasoned with parsley, garlic, and pepper. Bosnian dishes like shish kebabs and burek (a type of pastry stuffed with meat) illustrate the influence of Turkish cuisine. Tufahijia is a special dessert made of apples stuffed with walnuts and topped with whipped cream. Baklava is a sweet dessert prepared only on special occasions.
Popular meeting places are kafane, coffeehouses, and kafici, the more modern café bars, and many people enjoy strolling through the town promenades (korza) in the summertime. The consumption of alcohol, once fairly common in Bosnia, and Herzegovina, is actively discouraged among Muslims, and in some areas it is prohibited.