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Countries

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bosnia-Herzegovina
(MARCO SECCHI/Getty Images)
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Overview

Bosnia-Herzegovina is a country in the Western Balkans surrounded by Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. A small strip of land gives the country access to the Adriatic Sea. The capital and most populated city is Sarajevo. The country's mountainous geography and centuries of invasions have made it home to several ethnic and religious groups. After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, waves of early Slavs, including Croats and Serbs, raided the Western Balkans in the sixth and early seventh centuries. A semi-independent state, the Banate of Bosnia, emerged in the mid-12th century, followed by a Bosnian kingdom in the late 14th century. The arrival of the Ottoman Empire in the mid-15th century was a turning point for Bosnia, because the Muslim population grew significantly. During this period, Bosnia was often a battleground between the Ottomans and the Habsburg Empire. Bosnia finally fell into Habsburg hands in the late 19th century, but its dominance would last only until the end of World War I. After World War II, Bosnia became a republic within the socialist Yugoslavia. The collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s was followed by severe violence among Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats; that conflict ended only after NATO intervention. The Dayton Accords of 1995 put an end to the violence, but they also created a complex political system. The agreements split Bosnia into two autonomous entities: the Republika Srpska, predominantly Serb, and the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, eminently Bosniak. At the federal level, the Bosniak, Serb and Croat communities share power through a rotating presidency. Bosnia's main challenge is to manage the internal forces that lead to fragmentation, but it also needs to develop efficient political and economic structures that allow the country to generate growth and create jobs.

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