In the Southeastern European mountainous areas, the Bosnia and Herzegovina country has a deep history of being conquered and overcome by other countries and cultures.
The Bosnian Muslims, also known as Bosniacs, were Christian Slavs that were converted by the Ottomans to Islam.
The conversion was an advantage for the people that lived there to maintain their land and pay lower taxes.
It has long been an area with many religions and conflicts that remain through today.
Fun Facts about Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Population: 3,840,000 people
Capital City: Sarajevo (with 579,000 people)
Languages: Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian
Area: 19,741 sq mi (51,129 sq km)
Religions: Muslim, Orthodox, Roman Catholic
Literacy Percentage: 97
Life Expectancy: 72 years
In ancient times, this area was conquered in the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. by the Romans and added to the province known as Dalmatia. By the 4th and 4th centuries A.D., the Goths overtook the area and occupied it until the 6th century A.D. At that time, it was claimed by the Byzantine Empire.
In the 7th century A.D., Slavs began to settle in the area and it wasn’t until nearing 1200 that Bosnia actually became independent of Hungary. It remained an independent and Christian state for almost 260 years.
The Ottoman Empire expansion included the takeover of many countries that were near the Balkan Sea. This introduced religious, political and cultural differences to the area. By 1493, the Turks conquered Bosnia and for 450 years the area known as Bosnia Herzegovina was under the rule of the Ottomans. During that time many of the Slavs that were Christian converted to Islam.
Over the years Muslims from neighboring countries migrated to Bosnia and it also developed a large Jewish population in Sarajevo due to the 1492 expulsion from Spain.
By the 19th century, the word ‘Bosnian’ referred to everyone of all faiths that lived in the area. Since they were a secular society, many of the people intermarried within other religious groups.
Not all of the countries allowed the Ottoman Empire to take over. The countries that were close, Serbia and Montenegro battled against them and were assisted by their fellow Slavs, the Russians. At the closure of the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878), it was agreed that Austria-Hungary could govern and occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina so that Russia would not achieve domination.
The relations with Serbia, who thought they still had the right to Bosnia and Herzegovina, became so strong that there was great hostility between the countries. The final occurrence was the assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, by a Serbian, and this was what ended up starting World War I.
- The area was eventually added to Serbia and as part of the growing country and in 1929, the name was changed to Yugoslavia.
- Upon the launch of World War II, the German Nazis took over the area and made it part of Croatia. The resistance fighters in Bosnia and Herzegovina fought against the invaders including what they called the ‘Croatian Fascist troops’.
- When WW II ended, Bosnia and Herzegovina were once again united as part of now Communist Yugoslavia. After the fall of communism, Yugoslavia began to also fall apart and in 1991 they declared their independence from Yugoslavia.
The combination of so many different ethnic types of peoples created disruption and unrest in the country. The Serbs that lived in the country still wanted to remain a part of Yugoslavia, where the Bosniacs and Coats wanted independence. A terrible war broke out that divided the country and killed over 250,000 people.
- The country still struggles in poverty with low income and very little in economic structure.
- In 1995, the U.S. sponsored peace talks in the American city of Dayton, Ohio that finalized an agreement for a federation made up of Muslims and Croats with a Serbian entity included in the larger Bosnian federation.
- NATO sent 60,000 troops into the area to supervise the implementation of the agreement and avert the fighting.
- An election was held to bring a President, a Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) into power and each of the ethnic groups was represented in their government.
- Arguments and fighting still broke out in the country and the NATO forces didn’t seem to be able to be an effective peacekeeping force.
The main industries in Bosnia Herzegovina include metal works such as steel, iron, ore, coal, zinc, lead, manganese and bauxite. Vehicle assembly is one of the most dominant industries.
The area has much in the way of agriculture including corn, fruits, wheat, vegetables and livestock.
Bosnia Herzegovina exports metals, wood products and clothing.