For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Area: 51,233 sq. km, slightly smaller than West Virginia.
Cities: Capital--Sarajevo (est. pop 387,876); Banja Luka (220,407); Mostar (208,904); Tuzla (118,500); Bihac (49,544).
Terrain: Mountains in the central and southern regions, plains along the Sava River in the north.
Climate: Hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long severe winters; mild, rainy winters in the southeast.

Nationalities: Bosniac (Muslim), Bosnian Croat; Bosnian Serb.
Population (July 1998 est.): 3,365,727.
Population growth rate (1998 est.): 3.63%.
Ethnic groups: Bosniak 48.1 %, Serb 37.1%, Croat 14.3%, others 0.5%. (Source: Bosnia-Herzegovina Agency for Statistics as of December 2000. Please note that the figure for Serbs includes some living in the FRY who lived on the territory of B-H before the war.)
Religions: Muslim (40%); Orthodox (3 1%); Catholic (15%); Protestant (4%); other (10%).
Languages: Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian (formerly "Serbo-Croatian").
Education: Mandatory 8 years of primary school, 4 years in secondary school, and 4 years in universities and academies. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are 407 primary schools with 250,000 students, 171 secondary schools with 80,000 students, 6 universities in the major cities--Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja Luka, Tuzla, and Bihac--and 6 academies--4 pedagogic and 2 art academies. Health: Infant mortality rate--30.8 deaths/1,000. Life expectancy--male 69.2, female 74.6. Work force (total): 1,026,254.

Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: The Dayton Agreement, signed December 14, 1995, included a new constitution now in force.
Independence: April 1992 (from Yugoslavia).
Branches: Executive--Chairman of the Presidency and two other members of three-member rotating presidency (chief of state), Chairman of the Council of Ministers (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet).
Legislative--bicameral parliamentary assembly, consisting of National House of Representatives and House of Peoples (parliament).
Judicial--Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, both supervised by the Ministry of Justice.
Subdivisions: two entities: Muslim/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (divided into 10 cantons) and Republika Srpska.
Political parties: Party of Democratic Action (SDA); Croatian Democratic Union of BiH (HDZ-BiH); Serb Democratic Party (SDS); Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH); Civic Democratic Party (GDS); Croatian Peasants'Party of BiH (HSS); Independent Social Democratic Party (SNSD); Liberal Bosniak Organization (LBO); Liberal Party (LS); Muslim-Bosniac Organization (MBO); Republican Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RS); Serb Civic Council (SGV); Social Democratic Party (SDP); Socialist Party of Republika Srpska (SPRS); Democratic Socialist Party (DSP); Social Democrats of Bosnia Herzegovina; Party for Democratic Progress (PDP); National Democratic Union (DNZ); Serb National Alliance (SNS); Coalition for a United and Democratic BiH (coalition of SDA, SBiH, LS, and GDS).
Suffrage: Age 16 if employed, universal at age 18.

GDP (1997 est.): Purchasing power parity--$4.41 billion.
GDP growth rate (1997 est.): 3.5%.
Income per capita (1997 est.): Purchasing power parity--41,690.
Inflation rate: 5%.
Natural resources: Coal, iron, bauxite, manganese, forests, copper, chromium, lead, zinc.
Agriculture: Products--Wheat, corn, fruits, vegetables; livestock.
Industry: Types--Steel, minerals, vehicle assembly, textiles, tobacco products, wooden furniture, tank and aircraft assembly, domestic appliances, oil refining.
Trade (1995): Exports--$152 million.

Bosnia's parliament declared the republic's independence on April 5, 1992. However, this move was opposed by Serb representatives who favored remaining in Yugoslavia. Full recognition of its independence by the U.S. and most European countries occurred soon after, on April 7, and Bosnia-Herzegovina was admitted to the United Nations on May 22. The war that then ensued was ended in 1995 with the crucial participation of the United States in brokering the Dayton Accords. After leading the diplomatic and military effort to secure the Dayton agreement, the U.S. has continued to lead the effort to ensure its implementation. U.S. troops participate in the Bosnia Peacekeeping force (SFOR), and the U.S. has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to help with reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, economic development, and military reconstruction in Bosnia. USAID has played a large role in post-war Bosnia, including programs in economic development and reform, democratic reform (media, elections), infrastructure development, and training programs for Bosnian professionals, among others. Additionally, there are many NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that have likewise played significant roles in the reconstruction of the public.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Cliff Bond
Deputy Chief of Mission--Christopher Hoh
Political Officer--Velia dePirro
Economic Officer--Harvey Lee
Consular Officer--Alma Gurski
Administrative Officer--David Newell
Public Affairs Officer--Douglas Ebner
USAID--Edward Kadunc

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.

Next to 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 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, caused the death of about 200,000 people, and displaced half of the population. However, considerable progress has been made since peace was reestablished in the republic. Due to Bosnia's strict currency board regime, inflation has remained low in the Federation and RS. However, growth has been uneven, with the Federation outpacing the RS. Bosnia's most immediate task remains economic revitalization. In order to do this fully, the environment must be conducive to a private sector, market-led economy. Bosnia faces a dual challenge: not only must the nation recover from the war, but it also must make the transition from socialism to capitalism.

Support for Eastern European Democracy (SEED) and other foreign assistance accounts for 20%-25% of economic growth in Bosnia. Movement has been slow, but progress has been made in economic reform. A Central Bank was established in late 1997, successful debt negotiations were held with the London Club in December 1997 and with the Paris Club in October 1998, and a new currency linked to the Deutchmark was introduced in mid-1998, and has remained stable.


Principal Government Officials
State Level
Tri-Presidency--Jozo Krizanovic (Bosnian Croat and Chairman), Zivko Radisic (Bosnian Serb), Beriz Belkic (Bosniac)
Chairman of the Council of Ministers--Zlatko Lagumdzija

Cabinet of Ministers
Foreign Affairs--Zlatko Lagumdzija also Chairman of the Council of Ministers Deputies--Ivica Misic/Milovan Blagojevic

European Integration--Dragan Mikerevic
Deputies--Rasim Kadic/Zora Marijanovic

Foreign Trade and Economic Relations--Azra Hadziahmetovic
Deputies--Jadranko Prlic/Nikola Kragulj

Treasury--Ante Dozamet
Deputies--Muharem Imanovic/Gordana Kovic

Civil Works and Communications--Svetozar Mihajlovic
Deputies--Jusuf Halilagic/Milan Lovric

Human Right and Refugees--Kresimir Zubak
Deputies: Kadrija Sabic-Karacic/Vladislav Vladicic

President--Karlo Filipovic (Croat)
Vice President--Safet Halilovic (Bosniac)
Prime Minister--Alija Behman
Deputy Prime Minister--Nikola Grabovac

Cabinet of Ministers
Agriculture,Water Management & Forestry--Behija Hadzihajdarevic
Defense--Mijo Anic
Education, Science, Culture, & Sports--Mujo Demirovic Energy, Mining, & Industry--Hasan Becirovic
Finance--Nikola Grabovac *(also Deputy Prime Minister)
Health--Zeljko Misanovic
Interior--Muhamed Besic
Justice--Zvonko Mijan
Refugees, Displaced Persons & Social Welfare--Sefer Halilovic
Trade--Andrija Jurkovic
Transport & Communications--Besim Mehmedic
Urban Planning & Environmental Protection--Ramiz Mehmedagic
War Veteran Affairs--Suada Hadzovic

Republika Srpska
President--Mirko Sarovic
Vice President--Dragan Cavic
Prime Minister--Mladen Ivanic
Deputy Prime Minister--Petar Kunic

National Assembly (83 members)
Speaker--Dragan Kalinic

Administration and Local Self-Management--Petar Kunic
Defense--Slobodan Bilic
Education--Goran Savanovic
Energy and Mining--Bosko Lemez
Foreign Economic Relations--Fuad Turalic
Finance--Milenko Vracar
Health and Social Policy--Milorad Balaban
Industry and Technology--Pero Bukejlovic
Interior--Dragomir Jovicic
Justice--Biljana Maric
Refugee Affairs--Mico Micic
Religion--Dusan Antelj
Science and Culture--Mitar Novakovic
Sports and Youth--Zoran Tesanovic
Trade and Tourism--Zeljko Tadic
Traffic and Communications--Branko Dokic
Urban Planning, Utilities, Environment--Nedjo Duric
War Veterans Issues--Dragan Solaja
Water Resources and Forestry (Agriculture) --Rajko Latinovic

General Government Framework Information and Information Regarding the President and the Cabinet
Under the provisions of the Dayton Peace Accords, the entities have many competencies in areas such as finance, taxation, business development, and general legislation. Entities and cantons control their own budgets, spending on infrastructure, health care, and education as well.

Presidency. The Presidency in Bosnia Herzegovina rotates among three members (Bosniak, Serb, Croat), each elected for a 4-year term. The three members of the Presidency are directly elected (Federation votes for the Bosniak/Croat, RS for the Serb).

The Presidency is responsible for:

  • Conducting the foreign policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Appointing ambassadors and other international representatives, no more than two-thirds of which may come from the Federation;
  • Representing Bosnia and Herzegovina in European and international organizations and institutions and seeking membership in such organizations and institutions of which it is not a member;
  • Negotiating, denouncing, and, with the consent of the Parliamentary Assembly, ratifying treaties of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Executing decisions of the Parliamentary Assembly;
  • Proposing, upon the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, an annual budget to the Parliamentary Assembly;
  • Reporting as requested, but no less than annually, to the Parliamentary Assembly on expenditures by the Presidency;
  • Coordinating as necessary with international and non-governmental organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and; Performing such other functions as may be necessary to carry out its duties, as may be assigned to it by the Parliamentary Assembly, or as may be agreed by the Entities.
The Chair of the Council of Ministers is nominated by the Presidency and approved by the House of Representatives. He is then responsible for appointing a Foreign Minister, Minister of Foreign Trade, and others as appropriate. The Council is responsible for carrying out the policies and decisions in the fields of foreign policy; foreign trade policy; customs policy; monetary policy; finances of the institutions and for the international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina; immigration, refugee, and asylum policy andbregulation; international and inter-Entity criminal law enforcement, including relations with Interpol; establishment and operation of common and international communications facilities; regulation of inter-Entity transportation; air traffic control; facilitation of inter-Entity coordination; and other matters as agreed by the Entities.

Legislature. 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 Bosniacs) and one-third from the RS (5 Serbs). Nine members of the House of Peoples constitutes a quorum, provided that at least three delegates from each group are present.

Federation representatives are selected by the House of Peoples of the Federation, and RS representatives are selected by the RS National Assembly. The House of Representatives is comprised of 42 Members, two-thirds elected from the Federation and one-third elected from the RS. Federation representatives are elected directly by the voters of the Federation, and RS representatives are selected by the RS National Assembly (the National Assembly is directly elected by RS voters).

The Parliamentary Assembly is responsible for enacting legislation as necessary to implement decisions of the Presidency or to carry out the responsibilities of the Assembly under the constitution; deciding upon the sources and amounts of revenues for the operations of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and international obligations of Bosnia and Herzegovina; approving a budget for the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina; and deciding whether to consent to the ratification of treaties.

Judiciary. The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the supreme, final arbiter of legal matters. It is composed of nine members: four are selected by the House of Representatives of the Federation, two by the Assembly of the RS, and three by the President of the European Court of Human Rights after consultation with the Presidency.

The Constitutional Court's original jurisdiction lies in deciding any constitutional dispute that arises between the Entities or between Bosnia and Herzegovina and an Entity or Entities. The Court also has appellate jurisdiction within the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both the Federation and the RS government have established lower court systems for their territories.

The implementation of the Dayton Accords of 1995 has focused the efforts of policymakers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the international community, on regional stabilization in the former Yugoslavia. However, with the efforts to bring peace in Kosovo and Macedonia, donor resources for Bosnia will be diminished. Bosnia and Herzegovina's relations with its neighbors of Croatia, Albania, and Serbia have been fairly stable since the signing of Dayton in 1995.

The U.S. role in the Dayton Accords and their implementation has been key to any of the successes in Bosnia. In the 3 years since the Dayton Accords were signed, over $14 billion in foreign aid has moved into Bosnia, about $800 million of it coming from SEED funds. As stated above, this support has been key to the growth and revitalization of the economy and infrastructure in the republic.

In addition to SEED funding, USAID programs have been crucial to the redevelopment of Bosnia and Herzegovina. USAID has programming in the following areas: economic policy reform and restructuring; private sector development (the Business Development Program); infrastructure rebuilding; democratic reforms in the media, political process and elections, and rule of law/legal code formulation; and training programs for women and diplomats.

[This is a mobile copy of Bosnia and Herzegovina (09/01)]

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