Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosna i Hercegovina
Capital city Sarajevo
Surface 51,129 km²
Population 3,531,159
Road network length 21,846 km
Length of highway network 249 km
First highway 2000
Motorway name Autoput / Autocesta
Traffic drives Right
License plate code BIH

Bosnia and Herzegovina, often simply Bosnia (Bosnian, Croatian and Latin Serbian: Bosna i Hercegovina, Cyrillic: Босна и Херцеговина), is a country in southeastern Europe. The country has 3.5 million inhabitants and the capital is Sarajevo.


According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in the Western Balkans, with a very short coastline on the Adriatic Sea near Neum. The country further borders Croatia to the west and north, Serbia to the east and Montenegro to the southeast. The country measures a maximum of 280 kilometers from west to east and 280 kilometers from north to south. The country is dominated by the Dinaric Alps, a rugged karst and limestone mountain range with the 2,386 meter high Maglić as the highest point. Large parts of the country are dominated by inaccessible mountain ridges, highlands and canyons. The north of Bosnia and Herzegovina mainly has some low hills and is sometimes considered part of the Pannonian plain. The Sava River forms the northern border with Croatia and is the country’s largest river. Several tributaries flow from Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Sava, including the Bosna, after which the country is named. The Drina forms the eastern border with Serbia and the Neretva is the only river flowing south to the Adriatic Sea. About half of Bosnia and Herzegovina is forested.

Bosnia-Herzegovina lies on the transition from a Mediterranean climate in the south to an Alpine and continental climate in the north, characterized by hot summers and cold winters with snow. The capital Sarajevo is located at an altitude of 550 meters and has maximum temperatures ranging from 4°C in January to 27°C in August. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, but the south is drier in summer but wetter in spring and autumn. Precipitation varies from 900 mm in Sarajevo to 1,500 mm in Mostar. However, Mostar is also the sunniest city in the country.


Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the few countries with a shrinking population. The country reached its peak in the late 1980s with 4.3 million inhabitants. This fell sharply to 3.6 million in 1996 because of the Bosnian War. The population then grew again to 3.8 million in the mid-2000s, but then began to decline again. See Bosnia and Herzegovina population density.

The country is made up of three ethnic groups, the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. The Bosniaks make up half of the population, Serbs just under a third and Croats about 15%. Religiously, the country is roughly 50/50 divided between Islam and Christianity. This demographic was a major cause of the complex Bosnia war in the early 1990s.

No official national languages ​​have been established in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian are considered the three formal languages ​​of the country. The three languages ​​have mutual intelligibility and are collectively referred to as Serbo-Croatian.

By far the largest city is the capital Sarajevo, which has more than 350,000 inhabitants. Other cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants are Banja Luka, Tuzla, Zenica, Bijeljina and Mostar. In total there are 20 towns with more than 40,000 inhabitants.

Administrative division

The entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the end of the Bosnian War, under the Dayton Agreements, the country was divided into two entities: Republika Srpska in the north and east and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the center, west and south. Both entities cover half of the Bosnian land area, however the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina comprises two thirds of the inhabitants and Republika Srpska only one third. The borders between the two entities are very erratic and in fact the result of the frontline at the end of the Bosnian War. In the north, the Brčko district was created in 2000, which officially belongs to both entities but is not governed by either of them.

The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is further divided into 10 cantons. The municipalities form the lowest tier of government, but the Republika Srpska has no further regional division, here the municipalities are the third tier of government, in the federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina the fourth tier.


As part of the former Yugoslavia, the country was originally a socialist planned economy. After the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, however, it was unable to shape a transition to a free market economy due to the outbreak of the Bosnian War. Only after the war could one focus on the economic transition, but at the same time the country had to be rebuilt after the war. The country still faces major economic problems, the economy shrank by 60% in the early 1990s and the political contradictions after the war prevented the emergence of a functioning and efficient government and an attractive investment climate. The level of prosperity has grown slowly since then, but high unemployment and emigration mean that the country’s development is slow.


The region was populated by Slavic peoples from the 6th century onwards. The Banat of Bosnia was founded in the 12th century, which became part of the Kingdom of Bosnia in the 14th century. It was then annexed by the Ottoman Empire, who brought Islam to the region. In 1878 the area came under the administration of Austria-Hungary. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Yugoslav nationalist, triggering the First World War. After the war, Bosnia was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In April 1941 it was occupied by Nazi Germany. After World War II Bosnia was a republic of Yugoslavia.

Bosnia remained the least developed part of Yugoslavia. The mountainous terrain meant that the area had little high-quality infrastructure and modern trade routes did not pass through Bosnia. The Autoput Bratstvo i Jedinstvo was constructed just outside Bosnia between 1948 and 1950. Bosnia’s central location meant that much of the Yugoslav army was stationed in the region, as well as the production and storage of large quantities of weapons. Yugoslavia was not part of the Eastern Bloc and was more open to Western investment.

After Tito’s death in 1980, nationalist sentiments began to emerge in Yugoslavia, including and especially in Bosnia. In 1990, the first free elections were held in which nationalist parties in Bosnia won over President Milošević’s centralist party. The following year, Yugoslavia began to disintegrate and independent countries were proclaimed, some of which were short-lived. In Bosnia there were mainly contradictions between the pro-independence parties of the Croats and Bosniaks on the one hand and the centralist Serbs, who wanted to keep the country of Yugoslavia. Various phases of conflict broke out in 1992, initially between the Serbs and the Croats and Bosniaks, but later that year also between Croats and Bosniaks themselves. The Bosnian War was marked by brutal violence, widespread destruction and ethnic cleansing. The Serbs had an advantage militarily but eventually lost momentum when the Croats and Bosniaks joined forces against the Serbs from 1994 onwards. NATO intervened in 1995 with Operation Deliberate Force, in conjunction with a United Nations military mission. The war ended on November 21, 1995 with agreements signed inDayton, Ohio, the so-called “Dayton Accords”. In this, the country was divided into two entities, the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The war was the largest conflict in Europe since World War II and ran parallel to other conflicts involving Yugoslavia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina Location Map