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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Background: Bosnia and Herzegovina’s declaration of sovereignty in October 1991, was followed by a referendum for independence from the former Yugoslavia in February 1992. The Bosnian Serbs – supported by neighboring Serbia – responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas to form a “greater Serbia.” 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. On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, the warring parties signed a peace agreement that brought to a halt the three years of interethnic civil strife (the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995). The Dayton Agreement retained Bosnia and Herzegovina’s international boundaries and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government is charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy. Also recognized was a second tier of government comprised of two entities roughly equal in size: the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska (RS). The Federation and RS governments are charged with overseeing internal functions. In 1995-96, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force (IFOR) of 60,000 troops served in Bosnia to implement and monitor the military aspects of the agreement. IFOR was succeeded by a smaller, NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) whose mission is to deter renewed hostilities. SFOR remains in place at a level of approximately 21,000 troops.
Government type: emerging democracy
Capital: Sarajevo
Currency: 1 convertible marka (KM) = 100 convertible pfenniga

Geography of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Croatia
Geographic coordinates: 44 00 N, 18 00 E
Map references: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe
total: 51,129 sq. km
land: 51,129 sq. km
water: 0 sq. km
Land boundaries:
total: 1,459 km
border countries: Croatia 932 km, Serbia and Montenegro 527 km (312 km with Serbia, 215 km with Montenegro)
Coastline: 20 km
Climate: hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters; mild, rainy winters along coast
Terrain: mountains and valleys
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point: Maglic 2,386 m
Natural resources: coal, iron, bauxite, manganese, forests, copper, chromium, lead, zinc, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 14%
permanent crops: 5%
permanent pastures: 20%
forests and woodland: 39%
other: 22% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 20 sq. km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: destructive earthquakes
Environment – current issues: air pollution from metallurgical plants; sites for disposing of urban waste are limited; water shortages and destruction of infrastructure because of the 1992-95 civil strife.
Environment – international agreements:
party to:  Air Pollution, Climate Change, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: 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); the region called Herzegovina is contiguous to Croatia and traditionally has been settled by an ethnic Croat majority.

People of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Population:4,025,476 (July 2005 est.) 
Age structure:
0-14 years:  20.13% 
15-64 years:  70.78%
65 years and over:  9.09% 
Population growth rate: 1.38%
Birth rate: 12.86 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 7.99 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 8.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 24.35 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  71.75 years
male:  69.04 years
female:  74.65 years 
Total fertility rate: 1.71 children born/woman 
noun: Bosnian(s), Herzegovinian(s)
adjective: Bosnian, Herzegovinian
Ethnic groups: Serb 31%, Bosniak 44%, Croat 17%, Yugoslav 5.5%, other 2.5% (1991)
note: Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim – an adherent of Islam
Religions: Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, Protestant 4%, other 10%
Languages: Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian

History of Bosnia and Herzegovina

For the first centuries of the Christian era, Bosnia was part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of Rome, Bosnia was contested by Byzantium and Rome’s successors in the west. Slavs settled the region in the 7th century, and the kingdoms of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia in the 9th century. The 11th and 12th centuries saw the rule of the region by the kingdom of Hungary. The medieval kingdom of Bosnia gained its independence around 1200 A.D. Bosnia remained independent until 1463, when Ottoman Turks conquered the region.

During Ottoman rule, many Bosnians converted to Christianity in favor of Islam. Bosnia was under Ottoman rule until 1878, when it was given to Austria-Hungary as a colony. While those living in Bosnia came under rule by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, South Slavs in Serbia and elsewhere were calling for a South Slav state. World War I began when Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Following the Great War, Bosnia became part of the South Slav state of Yugoslavia, only to be given to Nazi-puppet Croatia in World War II. During this period, many atrocities were committed against Jews, Serbs, and others who resisted the occupation. The Cold War saw the establishment of the Communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Tito, and the reestablishment of Bosnia as a republic with its medieval borders.

Yugoslavia’s unraveling was hastened by the rise of Slobodan Milosevic to power in 1986. Milosevic’s embrace of Serb nationalism led to intrastate ethnic strife. Slovenia and Croatia both declared independence in 1991, and Bosnia-Herzegovina soon followed. In February 1992, the Bosnian Government held a referendum on independence, and Bosnian Serbs, supported by neighboring Serbia, responded with armed resistance in an effort to partition the republic along ethnic lines to create a “greater Serbia.”

Muslims and Croats in Bosnia signed an agreement in March 1994 creating the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This narrowed the field of warring parties down to two. The conflict continued through most of 1995, ending with the Dayton Peace Agreement signed on November 21, 1995 (the final version was signed December 14, 1995 in Paris). BiH today consists of two entities, the largely Bosniak and Croat Federation and the primarily Serb, Republika Srpska.

Bosnia and Herzegovina Economy

Economy – overview: Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked next to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the poorest republic in the old Yugoslav federation. Although agriculture is almost all in private hands, farms are small and inefficient, and the republic traditionally is a net importer of food. Industry has been greatly overstaffed, one reflection of the socialist economic structure of Yugoslavia. TITO had pushed the development of military industries in the republic with the result that Bosnia hosted a large share of Yugoslavia’s defense plants. The bitter interethnic warfare in Bosnia caused production to plummet by 80% from 1990 to 1995, unemployment to soar, and human misery to multiply. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-98 at high percentage rates from a low base; but output growth slowed appreciably in 1999 and 2000, and GDP remains far below the 1990 level. Economic data are of limited use because, although both entities issue figures, national-level statistics are not available. Moreover, official data do not capture the large share of activity that occurs on the black market. The marka – the national currency introduced in 1998 – has gained wide acceptance, and the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina has dramatically increased its reserve holdings. Implementation of privatization, however, has been slower than anticipated. Banking reform accelerated in early 2001 as all the communist-era payments bureaus were shut down. The country receives substantial amounts of reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid from the international community but will have to prepare for an era of declining assistance.

GDP: purchasing power parity – $6.5 billion (2000 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 8% (2000 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $1,700 (2000 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 19%
industry: 23%
services: 58% (1996 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 1.026 million
Unemployment rate: 35%-40% (1999 est.)
revenues:  $1.9 billion
expenditures:  $2.2 billion (1999 est.) 
Industries: steel, coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, manganese, bauxite, vehicle assembly, textiles, tobacco products, wooden furniture, tank and aircraft assembly, domestic appliances, oil refining
Industrial production growth rate: 10% (2000 est.)
Electricity – production: 2.585 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel:  38.68%
hydro:  61.32%
nuclear:  0%
other:  0% (1999)
Electricity – consumption: 2.684 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity – exports: 150 million kWh (1999)
Electricity – imports: 430 million kWh (1999)
Agriculture – products: wheat, corn, fruits, vegetables; livestock
$950 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports – partners: Croatia, Switzerland, Italy, Germany
Imports: $2.45 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports – partners: Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Italy
Debt – external: $3.4 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: $1 billion (1999 est.)
Currency: marka (BAM)

Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina