Bosnia and Herzegovina

Terrain

Mountains and valleys.

Natural hazards  destructive earthquakes. Highest point  Maglic 2,386 m

Economy

Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked next to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the poorest republic in the old Yugoslav federation. Although agriculture is almost all in private hands, farms are small and inefficient, and the republic traditionally is a net importer of food. Industry has been greatly overstaffed, one reflection of the socialist economic structure of Yugoslavia. Tito had pushed the development of military industries in the republic with the result that Bosnia-Herzegovina hosted a large share of Yugoslavia's defense plants. The bitter inter ethnic warfare in Bosnia caused production to plummet by 80% from 1990 to 1995, unemployment to soar, and human misery to multiply. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-99 at high percentage rates from a low base; but output growth slowed in 2000 and 2001. GDP remains far below the 1990 level. Economic data are of limited use because, although both entities issue figures, national-level statistics are limited. Moreover, official data do not capture the large share of activity that occurs on the black market. The konvertibilna marka - the national currency introduced in 1998 - is now pegged to the euro, and the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina has dramatically increased its reserve holdings. Implementation of privatization, however, has been slow, and local entities only reluctantly support national-level institutions. Banking reform accelerated in 2001 as all the communist-era payments bureaus were shut down. The country receives substantial amounts of reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid from the international community but will have to prepare for an era of declining assistance.

Understand

Until recently, the idea of a Bosnian-Herzegovinan nationality mainly applied to the nation's Muslims, also referred to as Bosniaks. Bosnia and Herzegovina's Croatians and Serbs looked to Serbia and Croatia for guidance and as the mother country and both had aspirations for political union with either Serbia or Croatia once the Yugoslav state began to fall apart in the early 1990s. This of course spelled disaster for the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina and as a result a bloody civil war was fought between all three groups. In the end the Croatian-Muslim alliance fought the Serbian forces on the ground whilst NATO attacked the Bosnian Serbs from the air. A peace treaty followed with a heavy handled role of the U.S. Clinton Administration helping seal the deal. The result was that Bosnia would be a federation comprising a Croat-Muslim unit alongside a Serb autonomous entity. Things have rapidly improved since then but the two regions of Bosnia still have a long way to go towards complete political and social union. As of now, it could be said Bosnia-Herzegovina functions as one country with two or even three different parts. However, the central government lies in Sarajevo and there is one common currency, the Mark KM.

Climate

Hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters; mild, rainy winters along coast

History

National holiday  National Day, 25 November

Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of sovereignty in October 1991, was followed by a declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia on 3 March 1992 after a referendum boycotted by ethnic Serbs.

Independence  1 March 1992 from Yugoslavia; referendum for independence was completed 1 March 1992; independence was declared 3 March 1992

The Bosnia-Herzegovinan Serbs responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines. In March 1994, Bosniaks and Croats reduced the number of warring factions from three to two by signing an agreement creating a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, the warring parties signed a peace agreement that brought to a halt the three bloody years of ethno-religious civil strife the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995.

Constitution  the Dayton Agreement, signed 14 December 1995, included a new constitution now in force; note - each of the entities also has its own constitution.

The Dayton Agreement retained Bosnia and Herzegovina's international boundaries and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government was charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy. Also recognized was a second tier of government comprised of two entities roughly equal in size: the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnia-Herzegovinan Serb-led Republika Srpska RS. The Federation and RS governments were charged with overseeing internal functions.

In 1995-96, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force IFOR of 60,000 troops served in Bosnia to implement and monitor the military aspects of the agreement. IFOR was succeeded by a smaller, NATO-led Stabilization Force SFOR whose mission is to deter renewed hostilities. SFOR remains in place although troop levels were reduced to approximately 12,000 by the close of 2002.

Culture

Bosniaks 46.1% of the population, Serbs 37.9%, and Croats 14.6% form the largest ethnic groups in the country. Since the break-up of Yugoslavia, Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim — an adherent of Islam. Also note that ethnicity and religion mostly overlap; with Muslims 44% of the population, mostly Bosniaks, minority Gypsies, Orthodox Christians 36%, mostly Serbs, and Catholic Christians 16%, mostly Croats being the three main faith groups of the country. There are also some Protestants and Jews as well. Nevertheless, the country is highly secular and religion is seen as more of a traditional and cultural identity than a set of rituals and rules.