Bosnia and Herzegovina


Bosnia and Herzegovina flag

Bosnia and Herzegovina, sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or just Bosnia, is a country situated in Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Croatia. With a total area of 19,741 square miles, Bosnia and Herzegovina is slightly smaller than West Virginia. By land mass, it is the 129th largest country in the world. Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to approximately 3.8 million people and has a density of 194 inhabitants per square mile. The capital and largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina is Sarajevo, with a population of about 669 thousand people and a density of 5,997 inhabitants per square mile.

Basic History of Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia_mapBosnia and Herzegovina, alongside Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Kosovo, are the states that the former Yugoslavia was constituted of. In October 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its sovereignty and in March 1992 declared its independence from former Yugoslavia. After ethnic Serbs boycotted the independence referendum, the Bosnian Serbs, who were 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”. Between March 1992 and December 1995, an international armed conflict took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In March 1994, Bosniaks and Croats signed an agreement creating a joint Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a year later, in December 1995, they signed the Dayton Peace Accords, which was the effect of the Bosnian War. This agreement retained Bosnia and Herzegovina’s international boundaries and created a multi-ethnic and democratic government charged with conducting foreign, diplomatic, and fiscal policy. NATO sent an international peacekeeping force (IFOR) of 60,000 troops, which was later succeeded by a smaller NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR), which numbers around 600 troops.

Geography of Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia_map_Located in Eastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked – it has only 12 miles of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. It borders Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s total area is of 19,741 square miles, ranked 129 in comparison to the world. 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). Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into two first-order administrative divisions, the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one internationally supervised district, Brcko District, in northeastern Bosnia, which is a self-governing administrative unit under the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina and formally held in condominium between the two entities. Destructive earthquakes are frequent in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, the country has environmental issues like air pollution from metallurgical plants, water shortages and destruction of infrastructure because of the 1992-95 civil strife, and deforestation. Also, sites for disposing of urban waste are limited. The climate in Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of hot summers and cold winters. Areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters, while the weather along cost is mild, with rainy winters. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s natural resources are many. The lowest point in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the Adriatic Sea, while the highest peak is Maglic (7,828 feet).

Population of Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia_populationBosnia and Herzegovina’s total population is 3,875,723 people and has a density of 194 inhabitants per square mile, according to a September 2013 estimate provided by CIA World Factbook. By population, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the 128th most populous country in the world. The last census that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina was in 1991 and showed a total number of 4,587,678. Statistics show that between 1991 and 2013, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s population decreased with 711,955 people. As stated by CIA, the population growth in 2013 is of -0.1%. The literacy rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina is of 97.9%, 99.4% for males and 96.5% for females, the unemployment rate in youth ages 15-24 is of 57.5%. Even though obesity rate is of 26.5%, life expectancy of the total population is 76.12 years, 73.13 years for males and 79.34 years. Birth rate is of 8.92 births/1,000 population and death rate is of 9.53 deaths/1,000 population, while sex ratio of the total population is of 0.95 male(s)/female. According to a projection made by the United Nations, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s population will reach 3.5 million people in 2030 and 3 million people in 2050.

Largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia_sarajevoSarajevo is the capital and the largest city in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with a total population of 669,000 people and a density of 5,997 inhabitants per square mile. Because it is a city known for its traditional culture and religious diversity, Sarajevo was nicknamed “Jerusalem of Europe” and “Jerusalem of the Balkans”. Other important cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Tuzla – 499,221 people, Banja Luka – 250,000 people, Bijeljina – 150,000 people, and Zenica – 130,000 people.

Ethnicity in Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia_ethnicityDuring the Yugoslavian wars in the 1990s, many people migrated and caused important demographic shifts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even though no census was carried out after the war period and political disagreement made it impossible to organize one, the authorities from Bosnia and Herzegovina announced that a population census will be held in 2013. Until then, the only official data regarding the ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats) are provided by CIA World Factbook. According to this statistics dating from 2000, in Bosnia and Herzegovina there were 48% Bosniaks, 37.1% Serbs, 14.3% Croats, and 0.6% of other nationalities. Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim – an adherent of Islam.

Religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia_religionLike with ethnic groups, there are no recent numbers in what concerns religion. The latest ones are an estimate of CIA. According to this estimate from 2013, the dominant religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina is Islam, Muslim accounting for 40% of the total population. The next largest religious group is Orthodox, accounting for 31% of the total population, followed by Roman Catholic (15%), and of other religions – 14%. A 2001 census showed that in Bosnia and Herzegovina 45% of the population was Muslim, 36% were practicing Serbian Orthodoxy, 15% were Catholic, 1% Protestant, and 3% were of other religions, mostly atheists, Jews and others.

Language in Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia_languageUnlike other countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina has three official languages: Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. All these three languages are mutually intelligible standards of Serbo-Croatian. On the other hand, according to CIA World Factbook, only Bosnian and Croatian appear to be official, while Serbian not. In Bosnia and Herzegovina are also used foreign languages like English, French and German.

Economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia_economyWith an economy based on the export of metals and on remittances and foreign aid, Bosnia and Herzegovina had a GDP of $32.43 billion in 2012, similar to the one in 2011 ($32.66 billion) and to the one in 2010 ($32.25 billion). Due to its history, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s economy remained a transitional one, affected by a highly decentralized government, by excessive bureaucracy, and by a segmented market which discourages foreign investment. In 2012, the economic growth was negative, of -0.7%, while in 2011 it reported a 1.3% growth and in in 2010 it reported a 0.7% growth. It reported negative growth despite the 2009 agreement signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The agreement was suspended in 2011 after Bosnia hadn’t had a government for over a year. In 2012, the IMF concluded a new stand-by arrangement with Bosnia. The first tranches were paid in November and December 2012.