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Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country in Southeastern Europe located on the Balkan Peninsula. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west, and south; Serbia to the east; Montenegro to the southeast; and the Adriatic Sea to the south, with a coastline about 20 kilometers (12 miles) long surrounding the city of Neum.  In the central and eastern interior of the country the geography is mountainous, in the northwest it is moderately hilly, and the northeast is predominantly flatland. The inland is a geographically larger region and has a moderate continental climate, with hot summers and cold and snowy winters. The southern tip of the country has a Mediterranean climate and plain topography.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a region that traces permanent human settlement back to the Neolithic age, during and after which it was populated by several Illyrian and Celtic civilizations. Culturally, politically, and socially, the country has a rich history, having been first settled by the Slavic peoples that populate the area today from the 6th through to the 9th centuries AD. In the 12th century the Banate of Bosnia was established, which evolved into the Kingdom of Bosnia in the 14th century, after which it was annexed into the Ottoman Empire, under whose rule it would remain from the mid-15th to the late 19th centuries.
The Ottomans brought Islam to the region, and altered much of the cultural and social outlook of the country. This was followed by annexation into the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which lasted up until World War I. In the interwar period, Bosnia was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after World War II, the country was granted full republic status in the newly formed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the country proclaimed independence in 1992, which was followed by the Bosnian War, lasting until late 1995.

Today, the country maintains high literacy, life expectancy and education levels and is one of the most frequently visited countries in the region, projected to have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world between 1995 and 2020. Bosnia and Herzegovina is regionally and internationally renowned for its natural beauty and cultural heritage inherited from six historical civilizations, its cuisine, winter sports, its eclectic and unique music, architecture and its festivals, some of which are the largest and most prominent of their kind in Southeastern Europe. The country is home to three main ethnic groups or, officially, constituent peoples, as specified in the constitution. Bosniaks are the largest group of the three, with Serbs second and Croats third. A native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of ethnicity, is identified in English as a Bosnian. The terms Herzegovinian and Bosnian are maintained as a regional rather than ethnic distinction, and the region of Herzegovina has no precisely defined borders of its own. Moreover, the country was simply called "Bosnia” until the Austro-Hungarian occupation at the end of the 19th century.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a bicameral legislature and a three-member Presidency composed of a member of each major ethnic group. However, the central government's power is highly limited, as the country is largely decentralized and comprises two autonomous entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, with a third region, the Brčko District, governed under local government. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is itself complex and consists of 10 federal units – cantons. The country is a potential candidate for membership to the European Union and has been a candidate for North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership since April 2010, when it received a Membership Action Plan at a summit in Tallinn. Additionally, the country has been a member of the Council of Europe since April 2002 and a founding member of the Mediterranean Union upon its establishment in July 2008.

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Coast of Arms


Geography

Bosnia is located in the western Balkans, bordering Croatia (932 km or 579 mi) to the north and west, Serbia (302 km or 188 mi) to the east, and Montenegro (225 km or 140 mi) to the southeast. It has a coastline about 20 kilometers (12 miles) long surrounding the city of Neum. It lies between latitudes 42° and 46° N, and longitudes 15° and 20° E.

The country's name comes from the two regions Bosnia and Herzegovina,  which have a very vaguely defined border between them. Bosnia occupies the northern areas which are roughly four-fifths of the entire country, while Herzegovina occupies the rest in the southern part of the country.
The country is mostly mountainous, encompassing the central Dinaric Alps. The northeastern parts reach into the Pannonian Plain, while in the south it borders the Adriatic.  The Dinaric Alps generally run in a southeast-northwest direction, and  get higher towards the south. The highest point of the country is the peak of Maglić at 2,386 meters (7,828.1 feet), on the Montenegrin border. Major mountains include Kozara, Grmeč, Vlašić, Čvrsnica, Prenj, Romanija, Jahorina, Bjelašnica and Treskavica.

Overall, close to 50% of Bosnia and Herzegovina is forested. Most forest areas are in the centre, east and west parts of Bosnia.  Herzegovina has drier Mediterranean climate, with dominant karst topography. Northern Bosnia (Posavina) contains very fertile agricultural land along the River Sava and the corresponding area is heavily farmed. This farmland is a part of the Pannonian Plain stretching into neighboring Croatia and Serbia. The country has only 20 kilometers (12 miles) of coastline, around the town of Neum in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. Although the city is surrounded by Croatian peninsulas, by international law, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a right of passage to the outer sea.
 
Sarajevo is the capital and largest city. Other major cities are Banja Luka in the northwest region known as Bosanska Krajina, Bijeljina and Tuzla in the northeast, Zenica and Doboj in the central part of Bosnia and Mostar, the largest city in Herzegovina.

There are seven major rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina:
  • The Sava is the largest river of the country, and forms its northern natural border with Croatia. It drains 76% of the country's territory into the Danube and then the Black Sea. Bosnia and Herzegovina is therefore also a member of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR).
  • The Una, Sana and Vrbas are right tributaries of Sava river. They are located in the northwestern region of Bosanska Krajina.
  • The Bosna river gave its name to the country, and is the longest river fully contained within it. It stretches through central Bosnia, from its source near Sarajevo to Sava in the north.
  • The Drina flows through the eastern part of Bosnia, and for the most part it forms a natural border with Serbia.
  • The Neretva is the major river of Herzegovina and the only major river that flows south, into the Adriatic Sea.

Phytogeographically, Bosnia and Herzegovina belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region and Adriatic province of the Mediterranean Region. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina can be subdivided into three ecoregions: the Pannonian mixed forests, Dinaric Mountains mixed forests and Illyrian deciduous forests.


 
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