Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina The coat of arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
( Bosnia and Herzegovina Serbo-Croatian: Bosna i Hercegovina, ; sometimes known as Босна и Херцеговина Bosnia-Herzegovina and informally as Bosnia) is a country in Southeast Europe, in the Balkans, bordering Serbia to the east, Montenegro to the southeast, and Croatia to the north and southwest. In the south it has a 20 kilometres (12 miles) long coast on the Adriatic Sea, with the town of Neum being its only access to the sea. Bosnia has a moderate continental climate with hot summers and cold, snowy winters. In the central and eastern regions, the geography is mountainous, in the northwest it is moderately hilly, and in the northeast it is predominantly flat. Herzegovina, the smaller, southern region, has a Mediterranean climate and is mostly mountainous. Sarajevo is the capital and the largest city.
The area has been inhabited since at least the
Upper Paleolithic, but evidence suggests that during the Neolithic age, permanent human settlements were established, including those that belonged to the Butmir, Kakanj, and Vučedol cultures. After the arrival of the first Indo-Europeans, the area was populated by several Illyrian and Celtic civilizations. The ancestors of the South Slavic peoples that populate the area today arrived during the 6th through the 9th century. In the 12th century, the Banate of Bosnia was established; by the 14th century, this had evolved into the Kingdom of Bosnia. In the mid-15th century, it was annexed into the Ottoman Empire, under whose rule it remained until the late 19th century; the Ottomans brought Islam to the region. From the late 19th century until World War I, the country was annexed into the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. In the interwar period, Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. After World War II, it was granted full republic status in the newly formed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1992, following the breakup of Yugoslavia, the republic proclaimed independence. This was followed by the Bosnian War, which lasted until late 1995 and ended with the signing of the Dayton Agreement.
The country is home to three main
ethnic groups: Bosniaks are the largest group, Serbs the second-largest, and Croats the third-largest. Minorities include Jews, Roma, Albanians, Montenegrins, Ukrainians and Turks. Bosnia and Herzegovina has a bicameral legislature and a three-member presidency made up of one member from each of the three major ethnic groups. However, the central government's power is highly limited, as the country is largely decentralized. It comprises two autonomous entities—the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska—and a third unit, the Brčko District, which is governed by its own local government.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a
developing country and ranks 74th in the Human Development Index. Its economy is dominated by industry and agriculture, followed by tourism and the service sector. Tourism has increased significantly in recent years. The country has a social-security and universal-healthcare system, and primary and secondary level education is free. It is a member of the UN, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe, the Partnership for Peace, and the Central European Free Trade Agreement; it is also a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean, established in July 2008. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an EU candidate country and has also been a candidate for NATO membership since April 2010. ( )