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Historic Sites in Bosnia

Historic Sites in Bosnia

1. Vranduk

Vranduk in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a picturesque town best known for its medieval castle. Located approximately 10km north of Zenica, numerous preserved travelogues and manuscripts describe Vranduk as one of the most interesting, the most intriguing and the most resilient parts of Bosnia.

The medieval Vranduk Castle sits on a hill above the Bosna river and once served as the residence of King Stjepan Tomas, who ruled Bosnia in the mid-fifteenth century AD. There are several other interesting attractions in the town including the Ottoman-period Fatih Sultan Mosque.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Bosnia and Herzegovina, country situated in the western Balkan Peninsula of Europe. The larger region of Bosnia occupies the northern and central parts of the country, and Herzegovina occupies the south and southwest. These historical regions do not correspond with the two autonomous political entities that were established by the internationally brokered Dayton Accords of 1995: the Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic), located in the north and east, and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, occupying the western and central areas. The capital of the country is Sarajevo important regional cities include Mostar and Banja Luka.

The land has often felt the influences of stronger regional powers that have vied for control over it, and these influences have helped to create Bosnia and Herzegovina’s characteristically rich ethnic and religious mix. Islam, Orthodox Christianity, and Roman Catholicism are all present, with the three faiths generally corresponding to three major ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats, respectively. This multiethnic population, as well as the country’s historical and geographic position between Serbia and Croatia, has long made Bosnia and Herzegovina vulnerable to nationalist territorial aspirations.

Ruled by the Ottoman Empire from the 15th century, the region came under the control of Austria-Hungary in 1878 and subsequently played a key role in the outbreak of World War I. In 1918 it was incorporated into the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, where it had no formal status of its own. After World War II it became a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Following the disintegration of that state in 1991, the majority of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted for independence in a 1992 referendum. Much of the country’s Serb population, however, opposed independence and boycotted the referendum.

War soon consumed the region, as ethnic nationalists within Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of Serbia and Croatia in some cases, tried to take control of territories they claimed as their own. Horrific ethnic cleansing campaigns between 1992 and the end of 1995 killed thousands and violently displaced more than two million people in much of Bosnia and Herzegovina. International intervention into the Bosnian conflict led finally to a peace agreement, the Dayton Accords, in late 1995. The Dayton agreement ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it also established the country as a fragile, highly decentralized, and ethnically divided state in which an international civilian representative remains authorized to impose legislation and to remove domestic officials in order to protect the peace. Although the vast majority of citizens continue to desire sustainable peace, they hold to different ideas about the best configuration of the state, and some even question its future existence.

EuroDocs > History of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Primary Documents

Antiquity through 1899

  • Strabo: Geographica
  • Appian, The Illyrian Wars
  • The Chronicle of Marcellinus
  • De administrando imperio
  • Croatian Cyrillic Script
  • History of the Conflict
  • Treaty of Karlowitz
  • Travels in Southeastern Europe
  • Travels in the Slavonic provinces of Turkey-in-Europe
  • San Stefano peace treaty between Russia and the Ottoman Empire
  • The Treaty of Berlin, Excerpts on the Balkans

Kingdom of Yugoslavia and WWII (1900-1945)

  • Documents of the 20th Century: Yugoslavia
  • Through the Lands of the Serb
  • The Burden of the Balkans
  • Protocol between Austria-Hungary and Turkey
  • World War I Document Archive
  • World War I
  • UN International Criminal Tribunal of former Yugoslavia
  • Ethnographic Map of the Balkan Peninsula
  • Map of WWII Axis Invasion of Yugoslavia
  • Yugoslavia in WWII
  • Holocaust Era in Croatia: Jasenovac 1941-1945
  • Documents and Books from World War II (WWII) in Yugoslavia
  • Resolution of Sarajevo Muslims
  • Documents of communist crimes in Nis
  • Documents of communist crimes in Kragujevac
  • Photos of victims from Kragujevac

Socialist Yugoslavia (1945–1992)

  • Foreign relations between the Bosnia and the US
  • The Failure of the Soviet-Yugoslav Rapprochement
  • Bihać Republic
  • Photos from Jewish community in Yugoslavia
  • Intelligence reports on Bosnia used in the Clinton presidency
  • UN Resolutions Concerning Yugoslavia
  • Report on the Referendum on Independence in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Independence and Bosnian War (1992–1995)

  • Footage: The Former Yugoslavia War
  • Survivor Stories
  • Washington Agreement
  • Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Srebrenica Genocide
  • Srebrenica Conference Documents
  • Lessons from Bosnia
  • Photographs of Bosnia
  • Survival In Sarajevo: Photographs
  • Bosnian Crisis 1994 Footage
  • Major War Criminals / Suspects
  • Statement by the Mayor of Tuzla on the Tuzla massacre
  • Eyewitness report of the Tuzla Massacre
  • Srebrenica: A Cry from the Grave
  • Serbs Free More U.N. Captives Bosnia Troops Mass at Sarajevo
  • Dayton Peace Accords on Bosnia
  • The Secret History of Dayton

Modern Day Bosnia & Herzegovina (1995-present)

  • Iran/Bosnia Arms
  • IFOR in Bosnia
  • United States Calvary Peacekeepers in Bosnia
  • Physicians for Human Rights Forensic Monitoring Reports
  • Special Parallel Relations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Republika Srpska
  • Military agreement between Kosovo Force (KFOR) and Yugoslavia
  • Državna himna Bosne i Hercegovine
  • Stabilisation and Association Agreement: Bosnia
  • Old Bosnian Serb plan 'thriving'
  • Joint Trial of Jadranko Prlić
  • The Trial of Radovan Karadzic

Legal Documents & Constitutions

Maps, Newspapers, and Other Collections

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: World Documents Library
  • Peace Agreement Database: Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Centropa Bosnia: Oral Jewish History
  • Intermediate Europe: Bosnia-Herzegovina Index
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina Population and Social Data
  • Bosnia Herzegovinan Newspapers
  • Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection
  • Map Collections: Bosnia
  • Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union Web Archive: Bosnia-Hercegovina

EuroDocs > History of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Primary Documents

2. Jahorina

Source: flickr Jahorina

Home to the best-loved ski field in all of Bosnia and former host of the Winter Olympics, Jahorina draws snow lovers and summertime hikers alike to its high perch amidst the pine-spotted upper levels of the Dinaric Alps. Of course it’s the lifts and pistes here that take centre stage for most travelers, with no fewer than 10 chairs and a planned gondola serving 30 kilometers of groomed alpine runs. But Jahorina isn’t only for when the snow falls not with the hunting lodges and pre-historic wonders of the Orlovaca cave system nearby, along with the pretty town of Pale beckoning from the valley below.

Steps towards EU membership

2015 March - European Union and Bosnia sign Stabilisation and Association Agreement, raising possibility of Bosnia joining Union. Bosnia formally applies for membership in 2016.

2016 March - UN tribunal in The Hague finds former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic guilty of genocide and war crimes - including genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre - and sentences him to 40 years in jail.

2017 November - Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic is found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity during the Bosnian War. He is sentenced to life imprisonment.

2018 October - Veteran nationalist Milorad Dodik wins Serbian seat on three-member federal presidency. He has proposed that the Serb Republic should secede.


The name Sarajevo derives from the Turkish noun saray, meaning "palace" or "mansion" (from Persian sarāy, سرای , of the same meaning) academia is split on the origin of the evo attached to the end. In Slavic languages, the addition of "evo" may indicate a posessive noun, thereby making the name of Sarajevo, 'city of the palace."

One theory is that it may come from the Ottoman Turkish term saray ovası, first recorded in 1455, [24] meaning "the plains around the palace" or simply "palace plains". [25]

However, in his Dictionary of Turkish loanwords, Abdulah Škaljić maintains that the evo ending is more likely to have come from the widespread Slavic suffix evo used to indicate place names, than from the Turkish ending ova. [26] The first mention of the name Sarajevo was in a 1507 letter written by Firuz Bey. [27] The official name during the 400 years of Ottoman rule was Saraybosna ("Palace of Bosnia"), which remains the city's name in Modern Turkish.

Sarajevo has had many nicknames. The earliest is Šeher, the term Isa-Beg Ishaković used to describe the town he was going to build—which is Turkish for "city" (şehir), in turn coming from the Persian shahr ( شهر , meaning "city"). As Sarajevo developed, numerous nicknames came from comparisons to other cities in the Islamic world, i.e. "Damascus of the North" and "European Jerusalem" the latter being the most popular.

Geography Edit

Sarajevo is near the geometric center of the triangular-shaped Bosnia and Herzegovina and within the historical region of Bosnia proper. It is situated 518 meters (1,699 ft) above sea level and lies in the Sarajevo valley, in the middle of the Dinaric Alps. [28] The valley itself once formed a vast expanse of greenery, but gave way to urban expansion and development in the post-World War II era. The city is surrounded by heavily forested hills and five major mountains. The highest of the surrounding peaks is Treskavica at 2,088 meters (6,850 ft), then Bjelašnica mountain at 2,067 meters (6,781 ft), Jahorina at 1,913 meters (6,276 ft), Trebević at 1,627 meters (5,338 ft), with 1,502 meters (4,928 ft) Igman being the shortest. The last four are also known as the Olympic Mountains of Sarajevo, having hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics which took place in the city. The city itself has its fair share of hilly terrain, as evidenced by the many steeply inclined streets and residences seemingly perched on the hillsides.

The Miljacka river is one of the city's chief geographic features. It flows through the city from east through the center of Sarajevo to the west part of the city where it eventually meets up with the Bosna river. Miljacka river is "The Sarajevo River", with its source (Vrelo Miljacke) 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) south of the town of Pale [29] at the foothills of Mount Jahorina, several kilometers to the east of Sarajevo center. The Bosna's source, Vrelo Bosne near Ilidža (west Sarajevo), is another notable natural landmark and a popular destination for Sarajevans and other tourists. Several smaller rivers and streams such as Koševski Potok also run through the city and its vicinity.

Cityscape Edit

Sarajevo is close to the center of the triangular shape of Bosnia and Herzegovina in southeastern Europe. The Sarajevo city proper consists of four municipalities (or "in Bosnian and Croatian: općina, in Serbian: opština"): Centar (Center), Novi Grad (New City), Novo Sarajevo (New Sarajevo), and Stari Grad (Old City), while the Sarajevo metropolitan area (Greater Sarajevo area) includes these and the neighbouring municipalities of Ilidža, Hadžići, Vogošća and Ilijaš.

The Metropolitan area was reduced in the 1990s after the war and the Dayton-imposed administrative division of the country, with several municipalities partitioned along the border of the newly recognised Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS), creating several new municipalities which together form the city of Istočno Sarajevo in the Republika Srpska: Istočna Ilidza, Istočno Novo Sarajevo, Istočni Stari Grad, Lukavica, Pale (RS-section), and Trnovo (RS-section), along with the municipality of Sokolac (which was not traditionally part of the Sarajevo area and was not partitioned).

The city has an urban area of 1,041.5 square kilometres (402.1 sq mi). Veliki Park (Great park) is the largest green area in the center of Sarajevo. It's nestled between Titova, Koševo, Džidžikovac, Tina Ujevića and Trampina Streets and in the lower part there is a monument dedicated to the Children of Sarajevo.

Climate Edit

Sarajevo has either a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification: Dfb), or an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb), depending on if either the 0 °C or the -3 °C isotherms are used. Sarajevo's climate exhibits four seasons and uniformly spread precipitation, typical of both Cfb and Dfb climates. The proximity of the Adriatic Sea moderates Sarajevo's climate somewhat, although the mountains to the south of the city greatly reduce this maritime influence. [30] The average yearly temperature is 10 °C (50 °F), with January (−0.5 °C (31.1 °F) on average) being the coldest month of the year and July (19.7 °C (67.5 °F) on average) the warmest.

The highest recorded temperature was 40.7 °C (105 °F) on 19 August 1946, and on 23 August 2008 (41.0) while the lowest recorded temperature was −26.2 °C (−15.2 °F) on 25 January 1942. On average, Sarajevo has 7 days where the temperature exceeds 32 °C (89.6 °F) and 4 days where the temperature drops below −15 °C (5 °F) per year. [31] The city typically experiences mildly cloudy skies, with an average yearly cloud cover of 45%.

The cloudiest month is December (75% average cloud cover) while the clearest is August (37%). Moderate precipitation occurs fairly consistently throughout the year, with an average 75 days of rainfall. Suitable climatic conditions have allowed winter sports to flourish in the region, as exemplified by the 1984 Winter Olympics that were held in Sarajevo. Average winds are 28–48 km/h (17–30 mph) and the city has 1,769 hours of sunshine.

Climate data for Sarajevo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 18.2
Average high °C (°F) 3.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.2
Average low °C (°F) −3.3
Record low °C (°F) −26.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 68
Average rainy days 8 10 13 17 17 16 14 13 15 13 12 11 159
Average snowy days 10 12 9 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 2 6 12 53
Average relative humidity (%) 79 74 68 67 68 70 69 69 75 77 76 81 73
Mean monthly sunshine hours 57.1 83.8 125.6 152.3 191.7 207.1 256.3 238.2 186.6 148.8 81.2 40.7 1,769.4
Source 1: Pogoda.ru.net [32]
Source 2: NOAA (sun, 1961–1990) [33]

Air quality Edit

Air pollution is a major issue in Sarajevo. [34] [35] According to the 2016 World Health Organization's Ambient Air Pollution Database, [36] the annual average PM2.5 concentration in 2010 was estimated to be 30 μg/m 3 based on PM10 measurement, which is 3 times higher than recommended by WHO Air Quality Guidelines [37] for the annual average PM2.5. There are no recent direct long-term PM2.5 measurements available in Sarajevo and only estimates can be made from PM10, which is the less health-relevant than PM2.5. [38] Real-time air quality data in the form of PM10, ozone, NO2, CO and SO2 by the Federal Hydrometeorological Institute. [39]

Ancient times Edit

One of the earliest findings of settlement in the Sarajevo area is that of the Neolithic Butmir culture. The discoveries at Butmir were made on the grounds of the modern-day Sarajevo suburb Ilidža in 1893 by Austro-Hungarian authorities during the construction of an agricultural school. The area's richness in flint was attractive to Neolithic humans, and the settlement flourished. The settlement developed unique ceramics and pottery designs, which characterize the Butmir people as a unique culture, as described at the International Congress of Archaeologists and Anthropologists meeting in Sarajevo in 1894. [40]

The next prominent culture in Sarajevo were the Illyrians. The ancient people, who considered most of the Western Balkans as their homeland, had several key settlements in the region, mostly around the river Miljacka and the Sarajevo valley. The Illyrians in the Sarajevo region belonged to the Daesitiates, the last Illyrian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina to resist Roman occupation. Their defeat by the Roman emperor Tiberius in 9 AD marks the start of Roman rule in the region. The Romans never built up the region of modern-day Bosnia, but the Roman colony of Aquae Sulphurae was near the top of present-day Ilidža, and was the most important settlement of the time. [41] After the Romans, the Goths settled the area, followed by the Slavs in the 7th century. [42]

Middle Ages Edit

During the Middle Ages, Sarajevo was part of the Bosnian province of Vrhbosna near the traditional center of the Kingdom of Bosnia. Though a city named Vrhbosna existed, the exact settlement in Sarajevo at this time is debated. Various documents note a place called Tornik in the region, most likely in the area of the Marijin Dvor neighborhood. By all indications, Tornik was a very small marketplace surrounded by a proportionally small village, and was not considered very important by Ragusan merchants.

Other scholars say that Vrhbosna was a major town in the wider area of modern-day Sarajevo. Papal documents say that in 1238, a cathedral dedicated to Saint Paul was built in the area. Disciples of the notable saints Cyril and Methodius stopped in the region, founding a church near Vrelo Bosne. Whether or not the town was somewhere in the area of modern-day Sarajevo, the documents attest to its and the region's importance. There was also a citadel Hodidjed north-east to the Old City, dating from around 1263 until it was occupied by the Ottoman Empire in 1429. [43]

Ottoman era Edit

Sarajevo was founded by the Ottoman Empire in the 1450s upon its conquest of the region, with 1461 used as the city's founding date. The first Ottoman governor of Bosnia, Isa-Beg Ishaković, transformed the cluster of villages into a city and state capital by building a number of key structures, including a mosque, a closed marketplace, a public bath, a hostel, and of course the governor's castle ("Saray") which gave the city its present name. The mosque was named "Careva Džamija" (the Emperor's Mosque) in honor of Sultan Mehmed II. With the improvements, Sarajevo quickly grew into the largest city in the region. By the 15th century the settlement was established as a city, named Bosna-Saraj, around the citadel in 1461.

Following the expulsion of Jews from Spain at the end of the 15th century, and the invitation from the Ottoman Empire to resettle their population, Sephardic Jews arrived in Sarajevo, which over time would become a leading center of Sephardic culture and the Ladino language. Though relatively small in size, a Jewish quarter would develop over several blocks in Baščaršija.

Many local Christians converted to Islam at this time. To accommodate the new pilgrims on the road to Mecca, in 1541, Gazi Husrev-beg's quartermaster Vekil-Harrach built a Pilgrim's mosque for which it is still known to this day as the Hadžijska Mosque.

Under leaders such as the second governor Gazi Husrev-beg, Sarajevo grew at a rapid rate. Husrev-beg greatly shaped the physical city, as most of what is now the Old Town was built during his reign. Sarajevo became known for its large marketplace and numerous mosques, which by the middle of the 16th century numbered more than 100. At the peak of the empire, Sarajevo was the biggest and most important Ottoman city in the Balkans after Istanbul. [44] By 1660, the population of Sarajevo was estimated to be over 80,000. [45] By contrast, Belgrade in 1683 had 100,000, [46] and Zagreb as late as 1851 had 14,000 people. As political conditions changed, Sarajevo became the site of warfare.

In 1697, during the Great Turkish War, a raid was led by Prince Eugene of Savoy of the Habsburg Monarchy against the Ottoman Empire, which conquered Sarajevo and left it plague-infected and burned to the ground. After his men had looted thoroughly, they set the city on fire and destroyed nearly all of it in one day. Only a handful of neighborhoods, some mosques, and an Orthodox church, were left standing. Numerous other fires weakened the city, which was later rebuilt but never fully recovered from the destruction. By 1807, it had only some 60,000 residents. [45]

In the 1830s, several battles of the Bosnian uprising had taken place around the city. These had been led by Husein Gradaščević. Today, a major city street is named Zmaj od Bosne (Dragon of Bosnia) in his honor. The rebellion failed and for several more decades, the Ottoman state remained in control of Bosnia.

The Ottoman Empire made Sarajevo an important administrative centre by 1850. Baščaršija became the central commercial district and cultural center of the city in the 15th century when Isa-Beg Ishaković founded the town. [47] The toponym Baščaršija derives from the Turkish language.

Austria-Hungary Edit

Austria-Hungary's occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina came in 1878 as part of the Treaty of Berlin, and complete annexation followed in 1908, angering the Serbs. Sarajevo was industrialized by Austria-Hungary, who used the city as a testing area for new inventions such as tramways, which were established in 1885 before they were later installed in Vienna. Architects and engineers wanting to help rebuild Sarajevo as a modern European capital rushed to the city. A fire that burned down a large part of the central city area (čaršija) left more room for redevelopment. As a result, the city has a unique blend of the remaining Ottoman city market and contemporary western architecture. Sarajevo also has some examples of Secession- and Pseudo-Moorish styles that date from this period.

The Austro-Hungarian period was one of great development for the city, as the Western power brought its new acquisition up to the standards of the Victorian age. Various factories and other buildings were built at this time, [48] and a large number of institutions were both Westernized and modernized. For the first time in history, Sarajevo's population began writing in Latin script. [42] [49] For the first time in centuries, the city significantly expanded outside its traditional borders. Much of the city's contemporary central municipality (Centar) was constructed during this period.

Architecture in Sarajevo quickly developed into a wide range of styles and buildings. The Sacred Heart Cathedral, for example, was constructed using elements of neo-gothic and Romanesque architecture. The National Museum, Sarajevo brewery, and City Hall were also constructed during this period. Additionally, Austrian officials made Sarajevo the first city in this part of Europe to have a tramway.

Although the Bosnia Vilayet de jure remained part of the Ottoman Empire, it was de facto governed as an integral part of Austria-Hungary with the Ottomans having no say in its day-to-day governance. This lasted until 1908 when the territory was formally annexed and turned into a condominium, jointly controlled by both Austrian Cisleithania and Hungarian Transleithania.

In the event that triggered World War I, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, along with his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian and self-declared Yugoslav, and member of Young Bosnia. [50] This was followed by the Anti-Serb riots in Sarajevo, which resulted in two deaths and destruction of property.

In the ensuing war, however, most of the Balkan offensives occurred near Belgrade, and Sarajevo largely escaped damage and destruction. Following the war, Bosnia was annexed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and Sarajevo became the capital of the Drina Province.

The Academy of Fine Arts was originally built to serve as an Evangelical Church in 1899.

Yugoslavia Edit

After World War I and pressure from the Royal Serbian Army, alongside rebelling Slavic nations in Austria-Hungary, Sarajevo became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Though it held some political significance as the center of first the Bosnian region and then the Drinska Banovina, the city was no longer a national capital and saw a decline in global influence. [51]

During World War II, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia's army was overrun by German and Italian forces. Following a German bombing campaign, Sarajevo was captured on 15 April 1941 by the 16th Motorized infantry Division. The Axis powers created the Independent State of Croatia and included Sarajevo in its territory.

Immediately following the occupation, the main Sephardi Jewish synagogue, Il Kal Grande, was looted, burned, and destroyed by the Nazis. Within a matter of months, the centuries-old Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jewish communities of Sarajevo, comprising the vast majority of Bosnian Jewry, would be rounded up in the Old Synagogue (Stari hram) and deported to their deaths in Croatian concentration camps. Roughly 85% of Bosnia's Jewish population would perish at the hands of the Nazis and the Ustaše during the Holocaust in the region. The Sarajevo Haggadah was the most important artifact which survived this period, smuggled out of Sarajevo and saved from the Nazis and Ustaše by the chief librarian of the National Museum, Derviš Korkut.

On 12 October 1941, a group of 108 notable Bosniak citizens of Sarajevo signed the Resolution of Sarajevo Muslims by which they condemned the Genocide of Serbs organized by the Ustaše, made a distinction between the Bosniaks who participated in such persecutions and the rest of the Bosniak population, presented information about the persecutions of Bosniaks by Serbs, and requested security for all citizens of the country, regardless of their identity. [52] During the summer of 1941, Ustaše militia periodically interned and executed groups of Sarajevo Serbs. [53] In August 1941, they arrested about one hundred Serbs suspected of ties to the resistance armies, mostly church officials and members of the intelligentsia, and executed them or deported them to concentration camps. [53] By mid-summer 1942, around 20,000 Serbs found refuge in Sarajevo from Ustaše terror. [54]

The city was bombed by the Allies from 1943 to 1944. [55] The Yugoslav Partisan movement was represented in the city. In the period February–May 1945, Maks Luburić set up an Ustaše headquarters in a building known as Villa Luburić and used it as a torture and execution place whose 323 victims were identified after the war. The resistance was led by Vladimir Perić Valter, who died while leading the liberation of the city on 6 April 1945.

After the war, Sarajevo was the capital of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Republic Government invested heavily in Sarajevo, building many new residential blocks in the municipalities of Novi Grad and Novo Sarajevo, while simultaneously developing the city's industry and transforming Sarajevo into a modern city. Sarajevo grew rapidly as it became an important regional industrial center in Yugoslavia. Between the end of the war and the end of Yugoslavia, the city grew from a population of 115,000 to more than 600,000 people. The Vraca Memorial Park, a monument for victims of World War II, was dedicated on 25 November, the "Statehood Day of Bosnia and Herzegovina" when the ZAVNOBIH held their first meeting in 1943. [56]

A crowning moment of Sarajevo's time in Socialist Yugoslavia was the 1984 Winter Olympics. Sarajevo beat out Sapporo, Japan and Falun/Gothenburg, Sweden to host the Olympic Games. The games were followed by a tourism boom, making the 1980s one of the city's most prosperous decades. [57]

Health Institute in Sarajevo.

Iconic Sarajevo Holiday Inn (now Hotel Holiday) and UNITIC World Trade Towers.

View west toward parts of Novo Sarajevo.

Bosnian War Edit

The Bosnian War for independence resulted in large-scale destruction and dramatic population shifts during the Siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1996. Thousands of Sarajevans lost their lives under the constant bombardment and sniper shooting at civilians by the Serb forces during the siege, [60] the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. [61] Bosnian Serb forces of the Republika Srpska and the Yugoslav People's Army besieged Sarajevo from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996.

When Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia and achieved United Nations recognition, Serbian leaders declared a new Serbian national state Republika Srpska (RS) which was carved out from the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. [62] The Army of Republika Srpska encircled Sarajevo with a siege force of 18,000 [63] stationed in the surrounding hills, from which they assaulted the city with artillery, mortars, tanks, anti-aircraft guns, heavy machine-guns, multiple rocket launchers, rocket-launched aircraft bombs, and sniper rifles. [63] From 2 May 1992, the Serbs blockaded the city. The Bosnian government defence forces inside the besieged city were poorly equipped and unable to break the siege.

During the siege, 11,541 people lost their lives, including over 1,500 children. An additional 56,000 people were wounded, including nearly 15,000 children. [60] The 1991 census indicates that before the siege the city and its surrounding areas had a population of 525,980.

When the siege ended, the concrete scars caused by mortar shell explosions left marks that were filled with red resin. After the red resin was placed, it left floral patterns which led to them being dubbed Sarajevo Roses. Division of the territory according to the Dayton Agreement resulted in a mass exodus in early 1996 of some 62,000 Sarajevo Serbs from the city and its suburbs, creating today's more monoethnic post-war city. [64]

Present Edit

Various modern buildings now occupy Sarajevo's skyline, most significantly the Bosmal City Center, BBI Centar, Sarajevo City Center (all the three by architect Sead Gološ) and the Avaz Twist Tower, which at the time of its building was the tallest skyscraper in former Yugoslavia.

Recent years have seen population growth as well as increases in tourism. [65] In 2014, the city saw anti-government protests and riots and record rainfall that caused historic flooding.

Largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina Edit

Sarajevo is the capital [66] of the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its sub-entity, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as of the Sarajevo Canton. It is also the de jure capital of another entity, Republika Srpska. [67] Each of these levels of government has its parliament or council, as well as judicial courts, in the city. All national institutions and foreign embassies are in Sarajevo.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Parliament office in Sarajevo was damaged heavily in the Bosnian War. Due to damage, the staff and documents were moved to a nearby ground level office to resume the work. In late 2006, reconstruction work started on Parliament and was finished in 2007. The cost of reconstruction was supported 80% by the Greek Government through the Hellenic Program of Balkans Reconstruction (ESOAV) and 20% by Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Municipalities and city government Edit

The City of Sarajevo comprises four municipalities: Centar, Novi Grad, Novo Sarajevo, and Stari Grad. Each operate their own municipal government, while united they form one city government with its own constitution. The executive branch (Bosnian: Gradska uprava) consists of a mayor, with two deputies and a cabinet. The legislative branch consists of the City Council, or Gradsko vijeće. The council has 28 members, including a council speaker, two deputies, and a secretary. Councilors are elected by the municipality in numbers roughly proportional to their population. [69] The City Statute requires the city council to include at least six councillors from each constituent people and at least two from the ranks of Others.

Sarajevo's Municipalities are further split into "local communities" (Bosnian, Mjesne zajednice). Local communities have a small role in city government and are intended as a way for ordinary citizens to get involved in city government. They are based on key neighborhoods in the city.

Sarajevo's large manufacturing, administrative, and tourism sectors make it the strongest economic region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Indeed, Sarajevo Canton generates almost 25% of the country's GDP. [70] After years of war, Sarajevo's economy saw reconstruction and rehabilitation programs. [71] The Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina opened in Sarajevo in 1997 and the Sarajevo Stock Exchange began trading in 2002.

While Sarajevo had a large industrial base during its communist period, only a few pre-existing businesses have successfully adapted to the market economy. Sarajevo industries now include tobacco products, furniture, hosiery, automobiles, and communication equipment. [42] Companies based in Sarajevo include BH Telecom, Bosnalijek, Energopetrol, Sarajevo Tobacco Factory, and Sarajevska pivara (Sarajevo Brewery).

In 2019, the total export for the Sarajevo Canton was worth about 1,427,496,000 KM. Most of Sarajevo's exports (20.55%) head to Germany, with Serbia and Croatia following behind at 12% respectively. The largest amount of imported goods come from Croatia, at 20.95%. With a worth of total import at about 4,872,213,000 KM, the total import is almost 3.4 times the total export. [72]

In 1981, Sarajevo's GDP per capita was 133% of the Yugoslav average. [73] Gross pay in Sarajevo in 2019 was KM 1,741 or €889, while net salary was KM 1,200 or €613. [72]

Sarajevo has a wide tourist industry and a fast expanding service sector thanks to the strong annual growth in tourist arrivals. Sarajevo also benefits from being both a summer and winter destination with continuity in its tourism throughout the year. The travel guide series, Lonely Planet named Sarajevo as the 43rd best city in the world, [18] and in December 2009, listed Sarajevo as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2010. [19]

In 2019, 733.259 tourists visited Sarajevo, giving 1.667.545 overnight stays, which is more than 20% more than in 2018. [74] [75]

Sports-related tourism uses the legacy facilities of the 1984 Winter Olympics, especially the skiing facilities on the nearby mountains of Bjelašnica, Igman, Jahorina, Trebević, and Treskavica. Sarajevo's 600 years of history, influenced by both Western and Eastern empires, makes it a tourist attraction with splendid variations. Sarajevo has hosted travellers for centuries, because it was an important trading center during the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires and because it was a natural stop for many routes between East and West. Examples of popular destinations in Sarajevo include the Vrelo Bosne park, the Sarajevo cathedral, and the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque. Tourism in Sarajevo is chiefly focused on historical, religious, cultural sites and winter sports.

Sarajevo is host to many parks throughout the city and on the outskirts of city. A popular activity among Sarajevo citizens is street chess, usually played at Trg Oslobođenja - Alija Izetbegović. Veliki Park is the largest green area in the center of Sarajevo. It is nestled between Titova, Koševo, Džidžikovac, Tina Ujevića and Trampina Streets and in the lower part, there is a monument dedicated to the Children of Sarajevo. Hastahana is a popular place to relax in the Austro-Hungarian neighborhood of Marijin Dvor. [76] Goat's Bridge, locally known as Kozija Ćuprija, in the Miljacka Canyon is also a popular park destination along the Dariva walkway and river Miljacka. [77] [78] On 24 December 2012, a park hosting two brass sculptures resembling two mourning mothers was dedicated as the Friendship Park, commemorating over 45 years of friendship between Sarajevo and Baku.

Sarajevo is also famous for its city lookouts including an observation deck on Avaz Twist Tower, Park Prinčeva restaurant, Vidikovac lookout (Mt. Trebević), Zmajevac lookout and Yellow/White fortresses lookouts (in Vratnik) as well as numerous other rooftops throughout the city (i.e. Alta Shopping Center, BBI Centar, Hotel Hecco Deluxe). A symbol of Sarajevo is the Trebević cable car which was reconstructed in 2018, also it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city taking visitors from the city center to Mount Trebević.

There is also a UNESCO tentative monument, the Old Jewish Cemetery, almost 500 years old site that is the second-largest Jewish sepulchral complex in Europe, the one in Prague being the largest. It is also one of the most significant memorial complexes in the world. It represents the eternal proof of coexistence of two or more different confessions under different administrations and rules, and the proof of mutual respect and tolerance. [79]

Great Park (Veliki Park).

Great Lane (Velika aleja), Ilidža.

The spring of the Bosna river is in Sarajevo.

Thanks to steady but constant and stable growth after the war, today's built-up area that includes not only previously mentioned urban municipalities but the urban part of Hadžići that is uninterruptedly connected to Ilidža, the westernmost part of the Sarajevo urban settlement, is inhabited by more than 419,000 people, while the metro area including 8 additional municipalities, 14 in total goes up to 555,210 inhabitants. [81] It is noticeable that the fastest-growing municipalities are Novi Grad, one of the main ones and the most inhabited one where the population has increased by almost 4,000 people or 2.95% since the 2013 census, and Ilidža that has recorded an increase of almost 7% since 2013. [82]

In June 2016, the final results of the 2013 census were published. According to the census, the population of the Sarajevo Canton was 413,593, with 55,181 residents in Centar, 118,553 in Novi Grad, 64,814 in Novo Sarajevo and 36,976 in Stari Grad. [83]

The last official Yugoslav census took place in 1991 and recorded 527,049 people living in the city of Sarajevo (ten municipalities). In the settlement of Sarajevo proper, there were 454,319 inhabitants. [84] The war displaced hundreds of thousands of people, a large majority of whom have not returned.

The war changed the ethnic and religious profile of the city. It had long been a multicultural city, [85] and often went by the nickname of "Europe's Jerusalem". [1] At the time of the 1991 census, 49.2 per cent of the city's population of 527,049 were Bosniaks, 29.8 percent Serbs, 10.7 percent Yugoslavs, 6.6 percent Croats and 3.6 percent other ethnicities (Jews, Romas, etc.).

According to academic Fran Markowitz, there are a number of "administrative apparatuses and public pressures that push people who might prefer to identify as flexible, multiply constituted hybrids or with one of the now unnamed minority groups into one of the three Bosniac-Croat-Serb constituent nations". [86] These include respondents being encouraged by census interviewers to identity as belonging to one of the three constituent peoples. [87] Her analysis of marriage registration data shows, for instance, that 67 percent of people marrying in 2003 identified as Bosniak or Muslim, which is significantly lower than the 79.6 percent census figure from 2002 (unlike the census, where people respond to an interviewer, applicants to the marriage registry fill in the form themselves).

Ethnic composition of Sarajevo city proper, by municipalities, 2013 census
Municipality Total Bosniaks Serbs Croats Others
Centar 55,181 41,702 (75.57%) 2,186 (3.96%) 3,333 (6.04%) 7,960 (14.42%)
Novi Grad 118,553 99,773 (84.16%) 4,367 (3.68%) 4,947 (4.17%) 9,466 (7.98%)
Novo Sarajevo 64,814 48,188 (74.35%) 3,402 (5.25%) 4,639 (7.16%) 8,585 (13.24%)
Stari Grad 36,976 32,794 (88.69%) 467 (1.3%) 685 (1.85%) 3,030 (8.19%)
Total 275,524 222,457 (80.74%) 10,422 (3.78%) 13,604 (4.94%) 29,041 (10.54%)

Roads and highways Edit

Sarajevo's location in a valley between mountains makes it a compact city. Narrow city streets and a lack of parking areas restrict automobile traffic but allow better pedestrian and cyclist mobility. The two main roads are Titova Ulica (Street of Marshal Tito) and the east–west Zmaj od Bosne (Dragon of Bosnia) highway (E761). Located roughly at the center of the country, Sarajevo is Bosnia's main intersection. The city is connected to all the other major cities by highway or national road like Zenica, Banja Luka, Tuzla, Mostar, Goražde and Foča.

Tourists from Central Europe and elsewhere visiting Dalmatia driving via Budapest through Sarajevo also contribute to the traffic congestion in and around Sarajevo. The trans-European highway, Corridor 5C, runs through Sarajevo connecting it to Budapest in the north, and Ploče at the Adriatic sea in the south. [88] The highway is being built by the government and should cost 3.5 billion Euro. Up until March 2012, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina invested around 600 million Euro in the A1. In 2014, the sections Sarajevo-Zenica and Sarajevo-Tarčin were completed including the Sarajevo Beltway ring road.

Tram, bus and trolleybus Edit

There are seven tramway lines supplemented by five trolleybus lines and numerous bus routes. The main railroad station in Sarajevo is in the north-central area of the city. From there, the tracks head west before branching off in different directions, including to industrial zones in the city. Sarajevo is undergoing a major infrastructure renewal many highways and streets are being repaved, the tram system is undergoing modernization, and new bridges and roads are under construction.

Future metro plans Edit

To solve traffic congestion in the city, Sarajevo-based architect Muzafer Osmanagić proposed a study called "Eco Energy 2010–2015", idealizing a subway system underneath the bed of the river Miljacka. The first line of Metro Sarajevo would connect Baščaršija with Otoka. This line would cost some 150 million KM and be financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. [90]

Railway Edit

Sarajevo has daily international connections which twice a day connect the city with Zagreb and Ploče. There are also connections between Sarajevo and all major cities within Bosnia and Herzegovina. Once, the East Bosnian railway connected Sarajevo to Belgrade.

Cable car (Mt. Trebević) Edit

Trebević Cable Car, Sarajevo's key landmark during the 1984 Winter Olympics, was rebuilt by JKP GRAS Sarajevo and Sarajevo Canton as one of the new transportation systems in 2017 and it reopened on 6 April 2018 at 11:00 AM. The cable car runs from Sarajevo at Bistrik station to the slopes of Trebević at Vidikovac station. [91]

Airport Edit

Sarajevo International Airport (IATA: SJJ), also called Butmir, is just a few kilometers southwest of the city and was voted Best European Airport With Under 1,000,000 Passengers at the 15th Annual ACI-Europe in Munich in 2005.

First regular flights to Sarajevo using an airfield in the suburb of Butmir begin in 1930 when the domestic airliner Aeroput opened a regular route linking Belgrade to Podgorica through Sarajevo. [92] Later, Aeroput opened a route which linked Sarajevo with Split, Rijeka and Dubrovnik, and in 1938, first international flights were introduced when Aeroput extended the route Dubrovnik – Sarajevo – Zagreb to Vienna, Brno and Prague. [92] [93] The airfield in Butmir remained in use all the way until 1969. The need for a new airport in Sarajevo, with an asphalt-concrete runway, was acknowledged in the mid-1960s when JAT, Yugoslav national carrier at that time, began acquiring jet planes. The construction of the airport began in 1966 at its present location, not far from the old one. [ citation needed ]

Sarajevo Airport opened on 2 June 1969 for domestic traffic. In 1970, Frankfurt became the first international destination served. Most of the time the airport was a 'feeder' airport where passengers embarked for flights to Zagreb and Belgrade on their way to international destinations. Over time, the traffic volume steadily grew from 70,000 to 600,000 passengers a year. Later, during the Bosnian War, the airport was used for UN flights and humanitarian relief. Since the Dayton Agreement in 1995, the airport retook its role as the main air gate to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In 2017, 957,971 passengers traveled through the airport, which was 61,4% of the total airport traffic in Bosnia and Herzegovina. [94] [95]

Plans for extension of the passenger terminal, together with upgrading and expanding the taxiway and apron, started in fall 2012. The existing terminal was expanded by approximately 7,000 square metres (75,347 square feet). [96] The upgraded airport was directly linked to the commercial retail center Sarajevo Airport Center, making it easier for tourists and travellers to spend their time before flight boarding shopping and enjoying the many amenities that are offered. [97] Between 2015 and 2018, the airport was upgraded for more than 25 million euros.

Twin towns – sister cities Edit

  • Coventry, United Kingdom (since 1957)
  • Tlemcen, Algeria (since 1964)
  • Baku, Azerbaijan (since 1972)
  • Magdeburg, Germany (since 1972)
  • Friedrichshafen, Germany (since 1972)
  • Tripoli, Libya (since 1976)
  • Ferrara, Italy (since 1978)
  • Bursa, Turkey (since 1979)
  • Innsbruck, Austria (since 1980)
  • Tianjin, China (since 1981)
  • Harrisburg, United States (since 1984)
  • Venice, Italy (since 1994)
  • Collegno, Italy (since 1994)
  • Ankara, Turkey (since 1994)
  • Budapest, Hungary (since 1995)
  • Serre Chevalier, France (since 1995)
  • Prato, Italy (since 1995)
  • Tirana, Albania (since 1996)
  • Barcelona, Spain (since 2000)
  • Istanbul, Turkey (since 1997)
  • Kuwait City, Kuwait (since 1998)
  • Dayton, United States (since 1999)
  • Madrid, Spain (since 2007)
  • Pula, Croatia (since 2012)
  • Tehran, Iran (since 2016)
  • Skopje, North Macedonia (since 2017)
  • Doha, Qatar (since 2018)

Friendship Edit

Sarajevo is befriended with: [98] [99] [100]

  • Naples, Italy (since 1976)
  • Wolfsburg, Germany (since 1985)
  • Calgary, Canada (since 1986)
  • Stockholm, Sweden (since 1997)
  • Zagreb, Croatia (since 2001)
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia (since 2002)
  • Salt Lake City, United States (since 2002)
  • Cairo, Egypt (since 2006)
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia (since 2006)
  • Konya, Turkey (since 2007)
  • Vukovar, Croatia (since 2011)
  • Bad Ischl, Austria (since 2016)
  • Hiroshima, Japan (since 2017)
  • Central AO (Moscow), Russia (since 2017)
  • Belgrade, Serbia (since 2017)
  • Rueil-Malmaison, France

As the largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo is the main center of the country's media. Most of the communications and media infrastructure was destroyed during the war but reconstruction monitored by the Office of the High Representative has helped to modernize the industry as a whole. [101] For example, the Internet was first made available to the city in 1995. [102]

Oslobođenje (Liberation), founded in 1943, is Sarajevo's longest-running continuously circulating newspaper and the only one to survive the war. However, this long-running and trusted newspaper has fallen behind Dnevni avaz (Daily Voice), founded in 1995, and Jutarnje Novine (Morning News) in circulation in Sarajevo. [103] Other local periodicals include the Croatian newspaper Hrvatska riječ and the Bosnian magazine Start, as well as weekly newspapers Slobodna Bosna (Free Bosnia) and BH Dani (BH Days). Novi Plamen, a monthly magazine, is the most left-wing publication.

The Radio and Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHRT) is Sarajevo's public television station and was created in 1945 under the umbrella of the Yugoslav Radio Television (JRT). It had its first television program aired in 1961, while continuous programming started in 1969. It is one of three main TV stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Other stations based in the city include Hayat TV, O Kanal, OBN, TV Kantona Sarajevo and TV Alfa.

The headquarters of Al Jazeera Balkans is also in Sarajevo, with a broadcasting studio at the top of the BBI Centar. The news channel covers Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro and the surrounding Balkan states. [104]

Many small independent radio stations exist, including established stations such as Radio M, RSG Radio (Radio Old Town), Studentski eFM Radio, [105] Radio 202 and Radio BIR. [106] Radio Free Europe, as well as several American and Western European stations are available.

Higher Education Edit

Higher education has a long and rich tradition in Sarajevo. The first institution that can be classified as a tertiary educational institution was a school of Sufi philosophy established by Gazi Husrev-beg in 1537 numerous other religious schools have been established over time. In 1887, under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a Sharia Law School began a five-year program. [107] In the 1940s, the University of Sarajevo became the city's first secular higher education institute, effectively building upon the foundations established by the Saraybosna Hanıka in 1537. In the 1950s, post-bachelor graduate degrees became available. [108] Severely damaged during the war, it was recently rebuilt in partnership with more than 40 other universities.

There are also several universities in Sarajevo, including:

Primary and Secondary Education Edit

As of 2005 [update] , there are 46 elementary schools (Grades 1–9) and 33 high schools (Grades 10–13) in Sarajevo, including three schools for children with special needs. [109]

There are also several international schools in Sarajevo, catering to the expatriate community some of which are Sarajevo International School and the French International School [110] of Sarajevo, established in 1998.

Sarajevo has been home to many different religions for centuries, giving the city a range of diverse cultures. In the time of Ottoman occupation of Bosnia, Muslims, Bosnian Serbs, Roman Catholics, and Sephardi Jews all shared the city while maintaining distinctive identities. They were joined during the brief occupation by Austria-Hungary by a smaller number of Germans, Hungarians, Slovaks, Czechs and Ashkenazi Jews. By 1909, about 50% of the city's inhabitants were Muslim, 25% were Catholic, 15% were Orthodox, and 10% were Jewish. [111]

Historically, Sarajevo has been home to several prominent Bosnian poets, scholars, philosophers and writers. To list only a very few Nobel Prize-winner Vladimir Prelog is from the city, as are the writer Zlatko Topčić and the poet Abdulah Sidran. Nobel Prize-winner Ivo Andrić attended high school in Sarajevo for two years. Academy Award-winning director Danis Tanović lives in the city.

The Sarajevo National Theatre is the oldest professional theater in Bosnia and Herzegovina, having been established in 1921.

Museums Edit

Sarajevo is rich in museums, including the Museum of Sarajevo, the Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art, Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Museum of Literature and Theatre Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (established in 1888) home to the Sarajevo Haggadah, [112] an illuminated manuscript and the oldest Sephardic Jewish document in the world [113] issued in Barcelona around 1350, containing the traditional Jewish Haggadah, is on permanent display at the museum. It is the only remaining illustrated Sephardic Haggadah in the world. [114] The National Museum also hosts year-round exhibitions pertaining to local, regional and international culture and history, and exhibits over 5,000 artefacts from Bosnia's history.

The Alija Izetbegović Museum was opened on 19 October 2007 and is in the old town fort, more specifically in the Vratnik Kapija towers Ploča and Širokac. The museum is a commemoration of the influence and body of work of Alija Izetbegović, the first president of the Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The city also hosts the Sarajevo National Theatre, established in 1921, and the Sarajevo Youth Theatre. Some other cultural institutions include the Center for Sarajevo Culture, Sarajevo City Library, National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Bosniak Institute, a privately owned library and art collection focusing on Bosniak history.

Demolitions associated with the war, as well as reconstruction, destroyed several institutions and cultural or religious symbols including the Gazi Husrev-beg Library, the national library, the Sarajevo Oriental Institute, and a museum dedicated to the 1984 Winter Olympics. Consequently, the different levels of government established strong cultural protection laws and institutions. [115] Bodies charged with cultural preservation in Sarajevo include the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina (and their Sarajevo Canton counterpart), and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Commission to Preserve National Monuments.

Bosniak Institute, containing collections of the history of Bosnia and Bosniaks.

Music Edit

Sarajevo is and has historically been one of the most important musical enclaves in the region. The Sarajevo school of pop rock developed in the city between 1961 and 1991. This type of music began with bands like Indexi, Pro Arte, and singer-songwriter Kemal Monteno. It continued into the 1980s, with bands such as Plavi orkestar, Crvena jabuka, and Divlje jagode, by most accounts, pioneering the regional rock and roll movement. Sarajevo was also the home and birthplace of arguably the most popular and influential Yugoslav rock band of all time, Bijelo Dugme, somewhat of a Bosnian parallel to the Rolling Stones, in both popularity and influence.

Sarajevo was also the home of a very notable post-punk urban subculture known as the New Primitives, which began during the early 1980s with the Baglama Band which was banned shortly after its first LP and was brought into the mainstream through bands such as Zabranjeno Pušenje and Elvis J. Kurtović & His Meteors, as well as the Top lista nadrealista radio, and later television show. Other notable bands considered to be part of this subculture are Bombaj Štampa. Besides and separately from the New Primitives, Sarajevo is the hometown to one of the most significant ex-Yugoslavian alternative industrial-noise bands, SCH.

Perhaps more importantly, Sarajevo in the late 19th and throughout the 20th century was home to a burgeoning and large center of Sevdalinka record-making and contributed greatly to bringing this historical genre of music to the mainstream, which had for many centuries been a staple of Bosnian culture. Songwriters and musicians such as Himzo Polovina, Safet Isović, Zaim Imamović, Zehra Deović, Halid Bešlić, Hanka Paldum, Nada Mamula, Meho Puzić and many more composed and wrote some of their most important pieces in the city.

Sarajevo also greatly influenced the pop scene of Yugoslavia with musicians like Zdravko Čolić, Kemal Monteno, Dino Merlin, Seid Memić Vajta, Hari Mata Hari, Mladen Vojičić Tifa, Željko Bebek and many more.

Many newer Sarajevo-based bands have also found a name and established themselves in Sarajevo, such as Regina who also had two albums out in Yugoslavia and Letu Štuke, who actually formed their band in Yugoslavia with the famous Bosnian-American writer Aleksandar Hemon and got their real breakthrough later in the 2000s. Sarajevo is now home to an important and eclectic mix of new bands and independent musicians, which continue to thrive with the ever-increasing number of festivals, creative showcases and concerts around the country. The city is also home to the region's largest jazz festival, the Jazz Fest Sarajevo.

American heavy metal band Savatage, released a song entitled "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" on their 1995 album Dead Winter Dead, which was about a cello player playing a forgotten Christmas carol in war-torn Sarajevo. The song was later re-released by the same band under the name Trans-Siberian Orchestra on their 1996 debut album Christmas Eve and Other Stories, which the song gave them instant success.

Festivals Edit

Sarajevo is internationally renowned for its eclectic and diverse selection of over 50 annual festivals. The Sarajevo Film Festival was established in 1995 during the Bosnian War and has become the premier and largest film festival in Southeast Europe. [116] It has been hosted at the National Theater, with screenings at the Open-air theater Metalac and the Bosnian Cultural Center, all in downtown Sarajevo. The MESS International Festival is an experimental theatre festival and the oldest living theatre festival in the Balkans. [117] The annual Sarajevo Youth Film Festival showcases feature, animated and short films from around the world and is the premier student film festival in the Balkans. [118] The Sarajevo Winter Festival, Jazz Fest Sarajevo and Sarajevo International Music Festival are well-known, as is the Baščaršija Nights festival, a month-long showcase of local culture, music, and dance. [ citation needed ]

The first incarnation of the Sarajevo Film Festival was hosted in still-warring Sarajevo in 1995, and has now progressed into being the biggest and most significant festival in Southeast Europe. [116] A talent campus is also held during the duration of the festival, with lecturers speaking on behalf of world cinematography and holding workshops for film students from across Southeast Europe. [119]

The Jazz Fest Sarajevo is the region's largest and most diverse of its kind. The festival takes place at the Bosnian Cultural Center (aka "Main Stage"), just down the street from the SFF, at the Sarajevo Youth Stage Theater (aka "Strange Fruits Stage"), at the Dom Vojske Federacije (aka "Solo Stage"), and at the CDA (aka "Groove Stage").

Sports Edit

Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. Yugoslavia won one medal, a silver in men's giant slalom awarded to Jure Franko. [123] Many of the Olympic facilities survived the war or were reconstructed, including the Zetra Olympic Hall and Asim Ferhatović Stadium. In an attempt to bring back some of Sarajevo's Olympic glory, [124] the original Olympic luge and bobsled tracks are being repaired, due to the efforts of both the Olympic Committee of Bosnia and Herzegovina [125] and local sports enthusiasts. [126] After co-hosting the Southeast Europe Friendship games, Sarajevo was awarded the 2009 Special Olympic winter games, [127] but cancelled these plans. [128] [129] The ice arena for the 1984 Olympics, Zetra Stadium, was used during the war as a temporary hospital and, later, for housing NATO troops of the IFOR.

In 2011, Sarajevo was the host city of the 51st World Military Skiing Championship with over 350 participants from 23 different nations. This was the first international event of such standing since the 1984 Olympics. [130] Football (soccer) is popular in Sarajevo the city hosts FK Sarajevo and FK Željezničar, which both compete in European and international cups and tournaments and have a very large trophy cabinet in the former Yugoslavia as well as independent Bosnia and Herzegovina. Other notable soccer clubs are FK Olimpik, SAŠK and Slavija.

One of only three stadiums in Bosnia and Herzegovina that has the UEFA category 3 is the Grbavica Stadium, the home stadium of FK Željezničar.

Another popular sport is basketball the basketball club KK Bosna Royal won the European Championship in 1979 as well as many Yugoslav and Bosnian national championships, making it one of the greatest basketball clubs in the former Yugoslavia. The chess club, Bosna Sarajevo, has been a championship team since the 1980s and is the third-ranked chess club in Europe, having won four consecutive European championships in the nineties. Handball club RK Bosna also competes in the European Champions League and is considered one of the most well organised handball clubs in Southeast Europe with a very large fan base and excellent national, as well as international results. Sarajevo often holds international events and competitions in sports such as tennis and kickboxing.

The popularity of tennis has been picking up in recent years. Since 2003, BH Telecom Indoors is an annual tennis tournament in Sarajevo.

Since 2007, the Sarajevo Half Marathon has been organized every year in late September. Giro di Sarajevo is also a run in the city with over 2,200 cyclists taking part in 2015. [131]

In February 2019, Sarajevo and East Sarajevo hosted the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOWF).

Historic Sites in Bosnia - History

In the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, conflict between the three main ethnic groups, the Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, resulted in genocide committed by the Serbs against the Muslims in Bosnia.

Bosnia is one of several small countries that emerged from the break-up of Yugoslavia, a multicultural country created after World War I by the victorious Western Allies. Yugoslavia was composed of ethnic and religious groups that had been historical rivals, even bitter enemies, including the Serbs (Orthodox Christians), Croats (Catholics) and ethnic Albanians (Muslims).

Related Maps

Former Yugoslavia

Ethnic Groups

During World War II, Yugoslavia was invaded by Nazi Germany and was partitioned. A fierce resistance movement sprang up led by Josip Tito. Following Germany's defeat, Tito reunified Yugoslavia under the slogan "Brotherhood and Unity," merging together Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, along with two self-governing provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina.

Tito, a Communist, was a strong leader who maintained ties with the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War, playing one superpower against the other while obtaining financial assistance and other aid from both. After his death in 1980 and without his strong leadership, Yugoslavia quickly plunged into political and economic chaos.

A new leader arose by the late 1980s, a Serbian named Slobodan Milosevic, a former Communist who had turned to nationalism and religious hatred to gain power. He began by inflaming long-standing tensions between Serbs and Muslims in the independent provence of Kosovo. Orthodox Christian Serbs in Kosovo were in the minority and claimed they were being mistreated by the Albanian Muslim majority. Serbian-backed political unrest in Kosovo eventually led to its loss of independence and domination by Milosevic.

In June 1991, Slovenia and Croatia both declared their independence from Yugoslavia soon resulting in civil war. The national army of Yugoslavia, now made up of Serbs controlled by Milosevic, stormed into Slovenia but failed to subdue the separatists there and withdrew after only ten days of fighting.

Milosevic quickly lost interest in Slovenia, a country with almost no Serbs. Instead, he turned his attention to Croatia, a Catholic country where Orthodox Serbs made up 12 percent of the population.

During World War II, Croatia had been a pro-Nazi state led by Ante Pavelic and his fascist Ustasha Party. Serbs living in Croatia as well as Jews had been the targets of widespread Ustasha massacres. In the concentration camp at Jasenovac, they had been slaughtered by the tens of thousands.

In 1991, the new Croat government, led by Franjo Tudjman, seemed to be reviving fascism, even using the old Ustasha flag, and also enacted discriminatory laws targeting Orthodox Serbs.

Aided by Serbian guerrillas in Croatia, Milosevic's forces invaded in July 1991 to 'protect' the Serbian minority. In the city of Vukovar, they bombarded the outgunned Croats for 86 consecutive days and reduced it to rubble. After Vukovar fell, the Serbs began the first mass executions of the conflict, killing hundreds of Croat men and burying them in mass graves.

The response of the international community was limited. The U.S. under President George Bush chose not to get involved militarily, but instead recognized the independence of both Slovenia and Croatia. An arms embargo was imposed for all of the former Yugoslavia by the United Nations. However, the Serbs under Milosevic were already the best armed force and thus maintained a big military advantage.

By the end of 1991, a U.S.-sponsored cease-fire agreement was brokered between the Serbs and Croats fighting in Croatia.

In April 1992, the U.S. and European Community chose to recognize the independence of Bosnia, a mostly Muslim country where the Serb minority made up 32 percent of the population. Milosevic responded to Bosnia's declaration of independence by attacking Sarajevo, its capital city, best known for hosting the 1984 Winter Olympics. Sarajevo soon became known as the city where Serb snipers continually shot down helpless civilians in the streets, including eventually over 3,500 children.

Bosnian Muslims were hopelessly outgunned. As the Serbs gained ground, they began to systematically roundup local Muslims in scenes eerily similar to those that had occurred under the Nazis during World War II, including mass shootings, forced repopulation of entire towns, and confinement in make-shift concentration camps for men and boys. The Serbs also terrorized Muslim families into fleeing their villages by using rape as a weapon against women and girls.

The actions of the Serbs were labeled as 'ethnic cleansing,' a name which quickly took hold among the international media.

Despite media reports of the secret camps, the mass killings, as well as the destruction of Muslim mosques and historic architecture in Bosnia, the world community remained mostly indifferent. The U.N. responded by imposing economic sanctions on Serbia and also deployed its troops to protect the distribution of food and medicine to dispossessed Muslims. But the U.N. strictly prohibited its troops from interfering militarily against the Serbs. Thus they remained steadfastly neutral no matter how bad the situation became.

Throughout 1993, confident that the U.N., United States and the European Community would not take militarily action, Serbs in Bosnia freely committed genocide against Muslims. Bosnian Serbs operated under the local leadership of Radovan Karadzic, president of the illegitimate Bosnian Serb Republic. Karadzic had once told a group of journalists, "Serbs and Muslims are like cats and dogs. They cannot live together in peace. It is impossible."

When Karadzic was confronted by reporters about ongoing atrocities, he bluntly denied involvement of his soldiers or special police units.

On February 6, 1994, the world's attention turned completely to Bosnia as a marketplace in Sarajevo was struck by a Serb mortar shell killing 68 persons and wounding nearly 200. Sights and sounds of the bloody carnage were broadcast globally by the international news media and soon resulted in calls for military intervention against the Serbs.

The U.S. under its new President, Bill Clinton, who had promised during his election campaign in 1992 to stop the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, now issued an ultimatum through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) demanding that the Serbs withdraw their artillery from Sarajevo. The Serbs quickly complied and a NATO-imposed cease-fire in Sarajevo was declared.

The U.S. then launched diplomatic efforts aimed at unifying Bosnian Muslims and the Croats against the Serbs. However, this new Muslim-Croat alliance failed to stop the Serbs from attacking Muslim towns in Bosnia which had been declared Safe Havens by the U.N. A total of six Muslim towns had been established as Safe Havens in May 1993 under the supervision of U.N. peacekeepers.

Bosnian Serbs not only attacked the Safe Havens but also attacked the U.N. peacekeepers as well. NATO forces responded by launching limited air strikes against Serb ground positions. The Serbs retaliated by taking hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers as hostages and turning them into human shields, chained to military targets such as ammo supply dumps.

At this point, some of the worst genocidal activities of the four-year-old conflict occurred. In Srebrenica, a Safe Haven, U.N. peacekeepers stood by helplessly as the Serbs under the command of General Ratko Mladic systematically selected and then slaughtered nearly 8,000 men and boys between the ages of twelve and sixty - the worst mass murder in Europe since World War II. In addition, the Serbs continued to engage in mass rapes of Muslim females.

On August 30, 1995, effective military intervention finally began as the U.S. led a massive NATO bombing campaign in response to the killings at Srebrenica, targeting Serbian artillery positions throughout Bosnia. The bombardment continued into October. Serb forces also lost ground to Bosnian Muslims who had received arms shipments from the Islamic world. As a result, half of Bosnia was eventually retaken by Muslim-Croat troops.

Faced with the heavy NATO bombardment and a string of ground losses to the Muslim-Croat alliance, Serb leader Milosevic was now ready to talk peace. On November 1, 1995, leaders of the warring factions including Milosevic and Tudjman traveled to the U.S. for peace talks at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio.

After three weeks of negotiations, a peace accord was declared. Terms of the agreement included partitioning Bosnia into two main portions known as the Bosnian Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation. The agreement also called for democratic elections and stipulated that war criminals would be handed over for prosecution. 60,000 NATO soldiers were deployed to preserve the cease-fire.

By now, over 200,000 Muslim civilians had been systematically murdered. More than 20,000 were missing and feared dead, while 2,000,000 had become refugees. It was, according to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, "the greatest failure of the West since the 1930s."

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina make up a triangular-shaped republic, about half the size of Kentucky, on the Balkan peninsula. The Bosnian region in the north is mountainous and covered with thick forests. The Herzegovina region in the south is largely rugged, flat farmland. It has a narrow coastline without natural harbors stretching 13 mi (20 km) along the Adriatic Sea.


Emerging democracy, with a rotating, tripartite presidency divided between predominantly Serb, Croatian, and Bosnian political parties.


Called Illyricum in ancient times, the area now called Bosnia and Herzegovina was conquered by the Romans in the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. and folded into the Roman province of Dalmatia. In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. , Goths overran that portion of the declining Roman Empire and occupied the area until the 6th century, when the Byzantine Empire claimed it. Slavs began settling the region during the 7th century. Around 1200, Bosnia won independence from Hungary and endured as an independent Christian state for some 260 years.

The expansion of the Ottoman Empire into the Balkans introduced another cultural, political, and religious framework. The Turks defeated the Serbs at the famous battle of Kosovo in 1389. They conquered Bosnia in 1463. During the roughly 450 years Bosnia and Herzegovina were under Ottoman rule, many Christian Slavs became Muslim. A Bosnian Islamic elite gradually developed and ruled the country on behalf of the Turkish overlords. As the borders of the Ottoman Empire began to shrink in the 19th century, Muslims from elsewhere in the Balkans migrated to Bosnia. Bosnia also developed a sizable Jewish population, with many Jews settling in Sarajevo after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. However, through the 19th century the term Bosnian commonly included residents of all faiths. A relatively secular society, intermarriage among religious groups was not uncommon.

Neighboring Serbia and Montenegro fought against the Ottoman Empire in 1876 and were aided by the Russians, their fellow Slavs. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, following the end of the Russo-Turkish War (1877?1878), Austria-Hungary was given a mandate to occupy and govern Bosnia and Herzegovina, in an effort by Europe to ensure that Russia did not dominate the Balkans. Although the provinces were still officially part of the Ottoman Empire, they were annexed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire on Oct. 7, 1908. As a result, relations with Serbia, which had claims on Bosnia and Herzegovina, became embittered. The hostility between the two countries climaxed in the assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, by a Serbian nationalist. This event precipitated the start of World War I (1914?1918). Bosnia and Herzegovina were annexed to Serbia as part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes on Oct. 26, 1918. The name was later changed to Yugoslavia in 1929.

When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, Bosnia and Herzegovina were made part of Nazi-controlled Croatia. During the German and Italian occupation, Bosnian and Herzegovinian resistance fighters fought a fierce guerrilla war against the Ustachi, the Croatian Fascist troops. At the end of World War II, Bosnia and Herzegovina were reunited into a single state as one of the six republics of the newly reestablished Communist Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito. His authoritarian control kept the ethnic enmity of his patchwork nation in check. Tito died in 1980, and with growing economic dissatisfaction and the fall of the iron curtain over the next decade, Yugoslavia began to splinter.

In Dec. 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia and asked for recognition by the European Union (EU). In a March 1992 referendum, Bosnian voters chose independence, and President Alija Izetbegovic declared the nation an independent state. Unlike the other former Yugoslav states, which were generally composed of a dominant ethnic group, Bosnia was an ethnic tangle of Muslims (44%), Serbs (31%), and Croats (17%), and this mix contributed to the duration and savagery of its fight for independence.

Ethnic Antgonism Erupts in War

Both the Croatian and Serbian presidents had planned to partition Bosnia between themselves. Attempting to carve out their own enclaves, the Serbian minority, with the help of the Serbian Yugoslav army, took the offensive and laid siege, particularly on Sarajevo, and began its ruthless campaigns of ethnic cleansing, which involved the expulsion or massacre of Muslims. Croats also began carving out their own communities. By the end of Aug. 1992, rebel Bosnian Serbs had conquered over 60% of Bosnia. The war did not begin to wane until NATO stepped in, bombing Serb positions in Bosnia in Aug. and Sept. 1995. Serbs entered the UN safe havens of Tuzla, Zepa, and Srebrenica, where they murdered thousands. About 250,000 died in the war between 1992 and 1995.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, led to an agreement in 1995 that called for a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb entity within the larger federation of Bosnia. Sixty thousand NATO troops were to supervise its implementation. Fighting abated and orderly elections were held in Sept. 1996. President Izetbegovic, a Bosnian Muslim, or Bosniak, won the majority of votes to become the leader of the three-member presidency, each representing one of the three ethnic groups.

But this alliance of unreconstructed enemies had little success in creating a working government or keeping violent clashes in check. The terms of the Dec. 1995 Dayton Peace Accord were largely ignored by Bosnian Serbs, with its former president, arch-nationalist Radovan Karadzic, still in de facto control of the Serbian enclave. Many indicted war criminals, including Karadzic, remain at large. NATO proved to be a largely ineffective peacekeeping force.

After the Dayton Peace Accord, Challenges Remain

The crucial priorities facing postwar Bosnian leaders were rebuilding the economy, resettling the estimated one million refugees still displaced, and establishing a working government. Progress on these goals has been minimal, and a massive corruption scandal uncovered in 1999 severely tested the goodwill of the international community.

In 1994, the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia opened in The Hague, Netherlands. In Aug. 2001, Radislav Drstic, a Bosnian Serb general, was found guilty of genocide in the killing of up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. It was the first genocide conviction in Europe since the UN genocide treaty was drawn up in 1951. In 2001, the trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic began. He was charged with crimes against humanity. The expensive and lengthy trial ended without a verdict when he died in March 2006.

Under pressure from Paddy Ashdown, the international administrator of Bosnia authorized under the Dayton Accord, Bosnian Serb leaders finally admitted in June 2004 that Serbian troops were responsible for the massacre of up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. Until then, Serb leaders had refused to acknowledge guilt in the worst civilian massacre since World War II. In Feb. 2007, the International Court of Justice ruled that the massacre was genocide, but stopped short of saying Serbia was directly responsible. The decision spared Serbia from having to pay war reparations to Bosnia. The court's president, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, however, criticized Serbia for not preventing the genocide. The court also ordered Serbia to turn over Bosnian Serb leaders, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karakzic, who are accused of orchestrating the genocide and other crimes. Bosnians expressed disappointment with the ruling they had demanded that Serbia pay war reparations.

In Dec. 2004, the European Union officially took over NATO's peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. It is the largest peacekeeping operation the EU has undertaken. In March 2005, Ashdown, the international administrator, sacked Dragan Covic, the Croat member of the presidency, charging him with corruption and abuse of office. Covic became the third member of the Bosnian presidency forced to resign since the tripartite presidency was established.

Small Steps Toward Inclusion in the EU

Elections in Oct. 2006 reinforced the lingering ethnic tensions in the country. The Serbian coalition, which favors an independent state, narrowly defeated the Muslim-Croat Federation that prefers moving toward a more unified country. In Jan. 2007, Bosnian Serb Nikola Spiric took over as prime minister and formed a new government. He resigned in Nov. 2007 to protest reforms introduced by an international envoy, who was appointed under the Dayton Accords by the UN and the European Union and has the power to enact legislation and dismiss ministers. Spiric said the reforms, which the EU said would help the country's entrance into the organization, would diminish the influence of Bosnian Serbs and enhance those of other ethnic groups. Crisis was averted later in November, when Spiric and the country's Croat and Muslim leaders agreed on a series of reforms approved by Parliament.

On July 21, 2008, Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb president during the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, was charged with genocide, persecution, deportation, and other crimes against non-Serb civilians. Karadzic orchestrated the massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995 in Srebrenica. He was found outside Belgrade. The arrest will likely bring Serbia closer to joining the European Union.

Since the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010, Bosnia had been in a political deadlock, without a government. In Dec. 2011, the Bosniak, Serb and Croatian communities successfully produced a government, bringing the country a little closer to EU membership.

In Oct. 2012, the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic began his defence at his war crimes trial in The Hague. Karadzic stands accused of ten charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during the war in the 1990s, including the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo.

2014 Brings Worst Flooding in a Century

In May 2014, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina were hit with the heaviest rains and flooding in over a century. Electricity was lost in several towns and villages. At least 44 people were killed in the flooding, and authorities believed that the death toll could rise. Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksander Vucic declared a state of emergency for the whole country. During a news conference, Vucic said, "This is the greatest flooding disaster ever. Not only in the past 100 years this has never happened in Serbia's history."

In Bosnia, rivers surpassed record levels and army helicopters had to evacuate dozens stranded in their homes in the town of Maglaj. Authorities could not reach Doboj, a town in northern Bosnia, because all roads leading to the town were washed out. The government sent troops to central and eastern towns where thousands had to be evacuated, their homes destroyed by the floods. Sarajevo meteorologist Zeljko Majstorovic said, "This is the worst rainfall in Bosnia since 1894, when weather measurements started to be recorded."

In Nov. 2014, the new presidency took office. Mladen Ivani? was named chairman of the presidency. Dragan ?ovi? and Bakir Izetbegovi? would serve with him as members of the presidency. Three months later, Denis Zvizdic was named prime minister.

Federation Elects New Entity

In Feb. 2015, the Federation parliament confirmed Marinko Cavara, of the Croatian Democratic Union, as federation president. Melika Mahmutbegovic, from the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, and Milan Dunovic, from the Democratic Front, were also confirmed as Bosniak and Serb vice presidents.

The appointments were another big step by the country towards forming governments. Having a Federation entity would now enable a state government, called the Council of Ministers, to be formed. "We will soon have a government and start solving the accumulated problems," Cavara said after his confirmation.

On July 17, 2015, Dragan ?ovi? became chairman of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, succeeding Mladen Ivani?. Along with Bakir Izetbegovi?, Ivani? would serve as a member of the presidency, a three-member body which serves as head of state collectively.

Historic Sites in Bosnia - History

The end of the Cold War and the decline of Communism greatly altered the international political scene. The reunification of Germany, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the departure of Czechoslovakia from Communist influence were among some of the changes. [1]

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia led by Josip Broz Tito was one of the most liberal communist regimes. Tito kept control over diverse ethnic, religious, and nationalist groups under the umbrella of a unified ‘greater Yugoslavia.’ [2] In the political vacuum after Tito’s death, politicians began exploiting nationalist rhetoric, pitting the Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks (Muslims) against each other. The multi-ethnic republic of Bosnia quickly became the site of deadly warfare and ‘ethnic cleansing.’ The genocidal war claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 people. [3]

Bosnia, and the other five nations that made up the former republic of Yugoslavia, is located in southeastern Europe (also known as the Balkans) between Italy and Romania. The population is approximately 3.5 million people, with 48 percent of them Bosniaks, 37 percent Serbs, and 14 percent Croats. Bosnia is slightly smaller than West Virginia but with more than double the population. [4]

In 1980, Tito died. He had held the economy together across the various republics, and in the absence of that strong leadership and control, the economies started to collapse. Leaders like Slobodan Milošević of Serbia and Franjo Tuđman of Croatia began to rise to power based on campaigns of propaganda and ethno-nationalism. From 1991-1992, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia. These declarations of independence led to war breaking out in the former Yugoslavia. In 1992, the Siege of Sarajevo began. The war endured from 1992 to 1995. [5].

A tower burns in downtown Sarajevo after heavy shelling, June 1992

Siege of Sarajevo

Bosniaks and Croats voted for independence from Yugoslavia in a referendum on March 1, 1992. The European Community recognized an independent Bosnia on April 6, 1992. [6] That day, Serb militants opened fire on thousands of peaceful demonstrators in Sarajevo, killing at least five and wounding 30. One day later, Serb leader Slobodan Milošević blocked all roads leading to Sarajevo and shut down the airport. Around 400,000 civilians were trapped and cut off from food, medicine, water, and electricity for the duration of the 1,425-day siege. [7] This was the longest siege of a capital city in modern history and it produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World II. [8]

Horrific violence and human rights abuses took place during the siege. At a soccer game in 1993 at least 15 people were killed and 80 were wounded by a mortar attack. Red Cross trucks were raided and destroyed and maternity wards were hit, killing mothers and newborns. Many more were killed while in line for water. [9]

Sarajevo residents collecting firewood, winter of 1992–1993

Food scarcity was a major issue for those who survived death by sniper fire and mortar attacks. An average Sarajevan lost 30 pounds during the siege. According to UN officials, in 1994 over 7,000 flights brought nearly 82,000 tons of aid into Sarajevo via humanitarian airlift. However, this effort was often suspended due to airport closings caused by shelling and sniper attacks in the area. [10]

On February 29, 1996, the Bosnian government declared that the siege of Sarajevo was finally over. By that time, Sarajevo’s population had decreased by an estimated 200,000 people. That number includes those who escaped via an 800-meter tunnel that opened during the summer of 1993, the only direct link that Sarajevo had with the outside world. The tunnel began at the edge of the besieged city and ran under the airport to Bosniak held territory on the other side it was used to transport food, medicine, weapons, and wounded people. [11]

Foča Rape Camps

Bosnian Serbs took control of the city of Foča in 1992 and began expelling Bosniaks. About 2,700 people went missing or were killed in Foča from 1992 to 1994. Men were sent to concentration camps and women and girls were taken to locations commonly described as ‘rape camps.’ Hundreds of Bosniak women and girls faced repeated sexual violence by Serb paramilitary forces in an estimated 20,000 rapes between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia. The campaign against non-Serb civilians in the region also included ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and the destruction of Bosnian property and cultural sites, including the demolition of 13 mosques. [12]

Ongoing burials of identified Bosniak victims

Srebrenica Genocide

One of the most notorious massacres occurred near Srebrenica, a Bosniak-dominated town that had been officially declared a” Safe Area” by the UN. In July of 1995, Serb General Ratko Mladic and his troops entered the “Safe Area” where they overwhelmed UN forces separated the women and children from the men and murdered over 8,000 Bosniaks. It was the single largest massacre in Europe since World War II. [13]

Lašva Valley Case

The Lašva Valley case refers to war crimes committed by Bosnian Croats against Bosniaks in the Lašva River Valley region of central Bosnia. In 1992, Croats began destroying mosques and Bosniak homes, murdering civilians, and pillaging villages. In 1993, Croats targeted civilians by shelling major shopping centers and using Bosniaks as human shields in battle. [14] Nearly 2,000 community members disappeared or were killed at this time. [15]

The death of long-time communist leader Josip Broz Tito left a power vacuum and politicians Slobodan Milošević of Serbia and Franjo Tuđman of Croatia competed for control. Slobodan Milošević rose to power in 1987 and began a propaganda campaign exploiting nationalist rhetoric that incited hatred and violence and pitted Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks against each other. [16]

Hundreds of concentration camps were established, mass killings were carried out, and Muslim mosques and historic sites were destroyed. People were pressed tightly into barracks and deprived of basic necessities. Despite media coverage, the global community failed to take significant action. Nearly 14,000 Muslim men were incarcerated in the camps and more than 10,000 of them perished. [17]

U.S. officials became aware of the concentration camps as early as May 1992. One of the worst was Omarska, where thousands of Muslim and Croat civilian men were held in metal cages and killed in groups of ten to fifteen every few days. Serbs denied access to those who wanted to investigate the camps, including relief officials and journalists. Serbs tried to cover up mass graves by moving bodies to mining sites where they were mangled by mining equipment or drenched in chemicals before being thrown into mine pits.

Violence was committed on all sides. Bosniaks and Croats also operated some camps where Serbs were detained.

Eventually, the United Nations deployed troops to protect the distribution of food and medicine to dispossessed Muslims, but their mandate as Peacekeepers didn’t allow any military interference. Throughout 1993, the Serbs were confident that the UN, the US, and the European Community (EC) would not take military action.

On February 6, 1994, a plea was made to President Bill Clinton for military intervention after an attack on a marketplace in Sarajevo killed 68 people and wounded over 200. Clinton issued an ultimatum through NATO, demanding that Serbs withdraw their artillery from Sarajevo. The Serbs complied, and a cease-fire was declared. Unfortunately, the Serbs continued to attack safe havens and UN peacekeepers. NATO responded by launching limited air strikes against Serbs’ ground positions, but that didn’t prevent the massacre in Srebrenica. [18]

Peace Talks

The genocide lasted from Bosnia’ secession in 1992 until the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement.

In October 1992, Lord David Owen of the European Union and former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance proposed a draft constitution organizing Bosnia into a decentralized federation according to the “Vance-Owen” plan. Bosnian Serbs rejected this plan.

Dayton Peace Agreement is signed in Paris, France, December 14, 1995 (The U.S. National Archives)

In 1994, the US decided to take on a more active role, seeking to back diplomacy with the threat of NATO air power in protecting” Safe Areas” and UN peacekeepers. That year, the U.S. special envoy helped reach a cease-fire between Bosnian Croats and Muslims. Shortly after, a five-nation Contact Group (United States, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany) drafted the 51/49 territorial compromise that all sides eventually accepted. The Dayton Peace Agreement allotted 51% of the country to the Croat-Muslim Federation and 49% to the Serb Republic. The main participants from the region were Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, Croatian President Franjo Tuđman, and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegović, with Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed “Mo” Sacirbey. After its initiation in Dayton, Ohio, the full agreement was signed in Paris, France on December 14, 1995. [19]

Part of the agreement mandated international organizations to monitor, oversee, and implement crucial parts of the plan. One of the major criticisms of the agreement is that the legal structure does not follow some of the basic principles of international law, leaving the Bosnian political situation highly unstable. [20]

In 1996, NATO’s Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina sent 20,000 U.S. troops to prevent new hostilities. More than 60,000 NATO-led troops from over 40 countries were deployed. U.S. troops began pulling out of Bosnia in 2004. Per the Dayton Agreements, in 2004 the U.S. troops in Bosnia were replaced with 600 E.U. troops (EUFOR) in an effort dubbed “Operation Althea.” As of March of 2019, these 600 troops remain in Bosnia with the primary responsibility to maintain peace and security by supporting the authorities as needed. [21]

Justice Process

On May 25, 1993, while the conflict was still ongoing, the UN established the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Netherlands, to prosecute the perpetrators of the atrocities. It was the first international tribunal since the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg after World War II and the first to prosecute the crime of genocide. In addition, it was the first time a tribunal had begun operations while a conflict was occurring, with a goal of providing some measure of deterrence against violence. 161 people, including Serbs, Bosniaks, and Croats, were indicted, and 90 people were convicted and sentenced. Notable cases included those of Radovan Karadžić, Slobodan Milošević, and Ratko Mladić. [22]

Serbian leader Radovan Karadžić was charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions for his role in the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 men and boys. He was arrested in Belgrade after being on the run for 13 years and was sentenced to 40 years in prison in March of 2016. [23] The United Nations Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunal heard Karadžić’s appeal in March of 2019 and not only confirmed his 2016 conviction but extended his sentence to life in prison. [24]

Slobodan Milošević was indicted in May 1999 but was found dead of a heart attack in his cell in The Hague on March 11, 2006. His trial for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity therefore ended without a verdict. [25]

Ratko Mladić, commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, was indicted for genocide, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts, and other crimes against Bosnian civilians, most notably for his role in the siege of Sarajevo and commanding the Srebrenica massacre. Mladić was a fugitive of the ICTY until his arrest on May 26, 2011. On November 22, 2017, he was found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity, and violating the laws or customs of war. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. [26]

As of August of 2019, 250 war crimes cases are pending in Bosnian courts. Efforts have been made to speed up the prosecution rate of these cases, but little headway has been made. [27]

Currently an uneasy peace holds in Bosnia. However, as specified in the Dayton Accords, Bosnia is one state but is divided from within. Specifically, the state is made up of three largely distinct communities–Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Bosnian Croats, and Bosnian Serbs. Each of the three ethnic groups has its own president and prime minister. Every eight months the presidency is rotated among the three. Relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina (encompassing both Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats) and Republika Srpska (the region largely occupied by Bosnian Serbs) are still extremely fragile and cooperation is minimal at best. [28]

In October of 2019, President Milorad Dodik (representing Republika Srpska) was elected to serve his term as Bosnian President. However, Dodik has made it clear that he wants Republika Srpska to secede from Bosnia. [29] He has even gone so far as to directly deny the genocide, calling it a “fabricated myth.” Tensions are rising, and the international community is beginning to recognize the threat that Dodik poses for an increase in enmity. [30] As of February 2020, the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau warning that Dodik is generating the destruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that sanctions against him must be implemented. [31]

Looking forward, some interstate cooperation and progress have been made within the region. Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia signed an agreement in 2019 to increase cooperation between the states in looking for the 12,000 remaining missing persons from the Yugoslav wars. [32] Within Bosnia however, an increase in genocide denial is building tension within the state. The consequences of the genocide denial and potential sanctions against the president remain to be seen.

Updated: World Without Genocide, April 2020

[7] Laurie R. Blank, Gregory P. Noone, “International Law and Armed Conflict: Fundamental Principles and Contemporary Challenges in the Law of War”


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Sarajevo, capital and cultural centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It lies in the narrow valley of the Miljacka River at the foot of Mount Trebević. The city retains a strong Muslim character, having many mosques, wooden houses with ornate interiors, and the ancient Turkish marketplace (the Baščaršija) much of the population is Muslim. The city’s principal mosques are the Gazi Husreff-Bey’s Mosque, or Begova Džamija (1530), and the Mosque of Ali Pasha (1560–61). Husreff-Bey also built the medrese (madrasah), a Muslim school of theology the Imaret, a free kitchen for the poor and the hamam, public baths. A late 16th-century clock tower is adjacent to the Begova Džamija. Museums include the Mlada Bosna (“Young Bosnia”), an annex of the town museum the Museum of the Revolution, chronicling the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1878 and a Jewish museum. Sarajevo has a university (1949) that includes faculties in mining and technology, an academy of sciences, an art college, and several hospitals. A number of streets named for trades survive from an original 37, and the Kazandžviluk (coppersmith’s bazaar) is preserved in its original form.

Near Sarajevo are the remains of a Neolithic settlement of the Butmir culture. The Romans established a rest centre at nearby Ilidža, where the Bosna River has its source there is still a sulfurous spa. The Goths, followed by the Slavs, began settling in the area about the 7th century. In 1415 Sarajevo is mentioned as Vrhbosna, and, after the Turks invaded in the late 15th century, the town developed as a trading centre and stronghold of Muslim culture. Dubrovnik merchants built the Latin quarter (Latinluk), and migrating Sephardic Jews founded their quarter, Čifuthani. The 17th and 18th centuries were less fortunate—Prince Eugene of Savoy burned the town in 1697, while fires and plagues decimated the population.

The declining Ottoman Empire made Sarajevo the administrative seat of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1850. When the Austro-Hungarian Empire ousted the Turks in 1878, Sarajevo remained the administrative seat and was largely modernized in the following decades. During this period it also became the centre of the Bosnian Serbs’ resistance movement, the Mlada Bosna, whose resentment of Austrian rule culminated on June 28, 1914, when a Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated the Austrian heir apparent, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife. The Austro-Hungarian government used this incident as a pretext for mobilizing against Serbia, thus precipitating World War I. In November 1918 the Diet of Sarajevo proclaimed union within Yugoslavia. During the German occupation of World War II, Sarajevo resistance fighters in the republic fought several crucial battles against the Germans. After World War II, Sarajevo rapidly repaired the considerable war damage. After Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence in 1992, Sarajevo became a focal point of fierce warfare in the region in the mid-90s, and the city suffered considerable damage. Recovery was slow thereafter.

Sarajevo is the centre of a road network and has a rail connection to the Adriatic. Old craft trades, particularly metalware and carpet making, continue. Sarajevo was the site for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games. The city’s pre-civil war industry included a sugar-beet refinery, brewery, furniture factory, tobacco factory, hosiery works, communications plants, an agribusiness combine, and an automobile industry. Pop. (2005 est.) 380,000.

Watch the video: Γιάτσε, ανάμεσα σε καταπράσινες κοιλάδες Βοσνία-Ερζεγοβίνη. Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina (January 2022).