Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

geographical name

Country, Balkan Peninsula, southeastern Europe. It is bounded by Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia. Area: 19,772 sq mi (51,209 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 3,835,000. Capital: Sarajevo. Major ethnic groups include Bosniacs (Bosnian Muslims; about two-fifths of the population), Serbs (about one-third), and Croats (about one-fifth). Languages: Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian (all official). Religions: Christianity (mostly Eastern Orthodox; also Roman Catholic), Islam. Currency: convertible marka. The country's relief is largely mountainous, and elevations of more than 6,000 ft (1,800 m) are common. The land, drained by the Sava, Drina, and Neretva rivers and their tributaries, drops abruptly southward toward the Adriatic Sea. Agriculture is a mainstay of the economy; though the area possesses a variety of minerals, it remains one of the poorest regions of the former Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an emerging republic with two legislative houses. A tripartite presidency is nominally the head of state; a representative of the international community functions as the final authority in this capacity. The head of government is the prime minister (chairman of the Council of Ministers). Habitation long predates the era of Roman rule, during which much of the country was included in the province of Dalmatia. Slav settlement began in the 6th century CE. For the next several centuries, parts of the region fell under the rule of Serbs, Croats, Hungarians, Venetians, and Byzantines. The Ottoman Turks invaded Bosnia in the 14th century, and after many battles it became a Turkish province in 1463. Herzegovina, then known as Hum, was taken in 1482. In the 16th and 17th centuries the area was an important Turkish outpost, constantly at war with the Habsburgs and Venice. During this period much of the population converted to Islam. At the Congress of Berlin after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, Bosnia and Herzegovina were assigned to Austria-Hungary, and they were annexed in 1908. Growing Serbian nationalism resulted in the 1914 assassination of the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb, an event that precipitated World War I. After the war the area became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Following World War II, the twin territories became a republic of communist Yugoslavia. With the collapse of communist regimes in eastern Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence in 1992; its Serbian population objected, and conflict ensued among Serbs, Croats, and Muslims (see Bosnian conflict). A peace accord in 1995 established a loosely federated government roughly divided between the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Serb Republic. In 1996 a NATO peacekeeping force was installed there. By the early 21st century, much of the infrastructure damaged during the conflict had been reconstructed, but ethnic tensions remained.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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