Country profile: Bosnia-Herzegovina

Key facts on one of Europe’s most ethnically divided countries.


Bosnia-Herzegovina is a mountainous Balkan country which, apart from a 20km stretch of coast along  the Adriatic Sea, is landlocked.

The 51,129 sq km country borders Croatia to the north and west, and Serbia and Montenegro to the east.


Part of the Ottoman empire for almost five centuries, Bosnia fell under control of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1878. At the end of World War I, its territory became part of a kingdom later called Yugoslavia.

During World War II it was part of the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia (NDH) while in 1945 it became one of the six republics in the socialist Yugoslav federation.

The country’s proclamation of independence in 1992 sparked a three-and-a-half-year war between Croats, Muslims and Serbs.

The conflict left some 100,000 dead and displaced 2.2 million — over half the population.

Post-war Bosnia remains split into two largely independent entities – the Muslim-Croat Federation and the  Serbs’ Republika Srpska – overseen by a powerful international envoy.

Political Institutions

The two entities are linked by weak central institutions. Each has its own government in which the  portfolios are divided between the three ethnic communities.

The members of the tripartite presidency rotate in eight-month terms as chairman.

The international community’s High Representative, responsible for overseeing civil aspects of the Dayton peace accord, has considerable political powers – including the right to impose laws and sack elected officials.


Bosnia’s population is estimated at 3.8 million.

Muslims make up 40 per cent, Serbs 31 per cent and Croats 10 per cent.


GDP per capita: $7,700 dollars (2007 World Bank)

Currency: konvertibilna marka (BAM), pegged to the euro

External debt: 2.6 billion euros (December 2009 national bank)

Post-war Bosnia remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, with an economy largely dependent on foreign aid.


Central Government:

Office of the High Representative:

Source: News Agencies


Entrenched ethnic divisions could deepen as voters head to the polls after campaign dominated by nationalist rhetoric.

2 Oct 2010
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