Bosnia and Herzegovina (officially Bosna i Hercegovina, shortened to BiH, also in English variously written Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bosnia-Hercegovina) is a mountainous country in the western Balkans. Its capital is Sarajevo and it was formerly one of the six federal units constituting Yugoslavia.
The republic gained its independence in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and due to the Dayton Accords, it is currently a protectorate of the international community, administered by a High Representative selected by the UN Security Council. It is also decentralized and administratively divided into two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska.
Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves are historical-geographic regions which today have no political status.
Main article: History of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The territories of today's Bosnia and Herzegovina were part of Illyria and later part of the Roman Empire (provinces Dalmatia and Pannonia). After the fall of Rome, the area was contested by the Byzantine Empire and Rome's successors in the West. Slavs settled the region in the 7th century. The first mention of the term Bosnia is in De Administrando Imperio, a book by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Byzantine emperor and historian. The kingdoms of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 9th century. The 11th and 12th centuries saw the rule of the region by the kingdom of Hungary.
The medieval banate of Bosnia gained autonomy by the end of the 12th century, and grew into an independent kingdom in 1377 under king Tvrtko Kotromanić. Bosnia remained independent up until 1463, when Ottoman Turks conquered the region and established the Province of Bosnia. In these times there also lived a certain amount of adherents to the so-called Bosnian Church (variously referred to as krstjani, bogumili, etc) which belonged neither to the Western nor to the Eastern Christian churches.
During the four centuries of Ottoman rule, many Bosnians dropped their ties to Christianity in favor of Islam, including most of the faithful of the Bosnian Church. Bosnia was under Ottoman rule until 1878, when it became a colony under Austria-Hungary. While those living in Bosnia were from 1908 officially in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, South Slavs in Serbia and elsewhere were calling for a South Slav state; World War I began with the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, which was organized by Serb nationalists — the assassin was Gavrilo Princip, a member of the "Young Bosnia" organization. Following the war, Bosnia became part of the South Slav kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later renamed to kingdom of Yugoslavia).
When Yugoslavia was invaded in World War II, all of BH was ceded to Nazi-puppet Croatia. The Cold War saw the establishment of the Communist Yugoslavia under Tito, and the reestablishment of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a republic within its Ottoman borders.
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-Herzegovinian Serbs. Serbia and 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 genocide in Europe after 1945, in which Serb military units massacred tens of thousands of Bosniak and Croat civilians throughout Bosnia. 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. At the end of the war more than 200,000 had been killed 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 Izetbegović), Croatia (Franjo Tuđman), and Serbia (Slobodan Milošević) 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%).
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.
Main article: Politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina rotates among three members (Bosniak, Serb, Croat), each elected as the Chair for a 8-month term within their 4-year term as a member. The three members of the Presidency are elected directly by the people (Federation votes for the Bosniak/Croat, Republika Srpska for the Serb). The Chair of the Council of Ministers is nominated by the Presidency and approved by the House of Representatives. She/he is then responsible for appointing a Foreign Minister, Minister of Foreign Trade, and others as appropriate.
The Parliamentary Assembly is the lawmaking body in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It consists of two houses: the House of Peoples and the House of Representatives. The House of Peoples includes 15 delegates, two-thirds of which come from the Federation (5 Croat and 5 Bosniaks) and one-third from the Republika Srpska (5 Serbs). The House of Representatives is composed of 42 Members, two-thirds elected from the Federation and one-third elected from the Republika Srpska.
The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the supreme, final arbiter of legal matters. It is composed of nine members: four members are selected by the House of Representatives of the Federation, two by the Assembly of the Republika Srpska, and three by the President of the European Court of Human Rights after consultation with the Presidency.
Main article: Political divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska. The district of Brčko is part of both entities.
The Federation is further divided into ten cantons (each subdivided into municipalities):
The RS is divided into municipalities which are grouped into seven regions:
Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Main article: Geography of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia is located in the western Balkans, bordering Croatia to the north and south-west, and Serbia and Montenegro to the east. The country is mostly mountainous, encompassing the central Dinaric Alps. The northeastern parts reach into the Pannonian basin, while in the south it almost borders the Adriatic. The country has only 23 Km of coastline, around the town of Neum in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, although it's enclosed within Croatian territory and territorial waters.
The country's name comes from the two regions Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have a very vaguely defined border between them. Bosnia occupies roughly the northern two thirds of the country, while the southern third is Herzegovina.
The major cities are the capital Sarajevo, Banja Luka in the northwest region known as Bosanska Krajina, Tuzla in the northeast and Mostar, the capital of Herzegovina.
See also: List of cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Main article: Economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Next to the Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina was the poorest republic in the old Yugoslav Federation. For the most part, agriculture has been in private hands, but farms have been small and inefficient, and food has traditionally been a net import for the republic. The centrally planned economy has resulted in some legacies in the economy. Industry is greatly overstaffed, reflecting the rigidity of the planned economy. Under Josip Broz Tito, military industries were pushed in the republic; Bosnia hosted a large share of Yugoslavia's defense plants.
Three years of interethnic strife destroyed the economy and infrastructure in Bosnia, causing unemployment to soar and production to plummet by 80%, as well as causing the death in excess of 100 thousand people (according to a report by Norwegian News Agency NTB  based on current information from researchers at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the Hague, The Netherlands) and displacing half of the population. With an uneasy peace in place, the economic output has been recovering, but GDP still remains below the 1990 level.
Main article: Demographics of Bosnia and Herzegovina
According to the 1991 census, Bosnia is 44% ethnically Muslim (now almost all them declare as Bosniaks), 31% Serb, and 17% Croat, with 6% people declaring themselves Yugoslavs.
There is a strong co-relation between ethnic identity and religion; 88% of Croats are Roman Catholics, 90% of Bosniaks practice Islam, and 99% of Serbs are Orthodox Christians.
According to 2000 data from the CIA World Factbook, Bosnia is ethnically 48% Bosniak, 37.1% Serb, 14.3% Croat, 0.6% other.
Main article: Culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12