Bosnia and Herzegovina, abbreviated BiH or B&H, and often referred to informally as Bosnia, is a nation in Southeastern Europe situated on the Balkan Peninsula. Sarajevo is the capital and biggest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is bounded on the north, west, and south by Croatia; on the east by Serbia; on the southeast by Montenegro; and on the south by the Adriatic Sea, with a shoreline of about 20 kilometers (12 miles) encircling the city of Neum. The topography of the nation is mountainous in the central and eastern heartland, somewhat hilly in the northwest, and mainly flat in the northeast. The interior is a wider geographical area with a mild continental climate characterized by scorching summers and cold, snowy winters. The country’s southernmost region features a Mediterranean climate and a flat terrain.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a territory that dates all the way back to the Neolithic period, when it was inhabited by numerous Illyrian and Celtic civilizations. The nation has a long cultural, political, and social history, having been established by the Slavic peoples that still inhabit the region in the sixth to ninth centuries AD. The Banate of Bosnia was founded in the 12th century and developed into the Kingdom of Bosnia in the 14th century, before being conquered by the Ottoman Empire, where it remained from the mid-15th to the late 19th centuries. The Ottomans introduced Islam to the area and significantly changed the country’s cultural and socioeconomic perspective. This was followed by annexation to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which lasted until the outbreak of the First World War. Bosnia was a member of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia throughout the interwar period and was given full republic status in the newly established Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after World War II. Following Yugoslavia’s disintegration, the nation declared independence in 1992, which was immediately followed by the Bosnian War, which lasted until late 1995.
Today, the nation maintains high levels of literacy, life expectancy, and education and is one of the most frequently visited countries in the area, with the third highest tourist growth rate in the world predicted for the period 1995–2020. Bosnia and Herzegovina is renowned both regionally and internationally for its natural beauty and cultural heritage derived from six historical civilizations, as well as for its cuisine, winter sports, eclectic and unique music, architecture, and festivals, some of which are the largest and most renowned in Southeastern Europe. According to the constitution, the nation is home to three major ethnic groupings, or constituent peoples. Bosniaks are the biggest of the three groups, followed by Serbs and Croats. In English, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of ethnic origin, is referred to as a Bosnian. The names Herzegovinian and Bosnian are used to distinguish regionally rather than ethnically, and Herzegovina has no clearly defined boundaries of its own. Furthermore, before the Austro-Hungarian conquest at the end of the nineteenth century, the nation was simply named “Bosnia.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a bicameral legislature and a three-member Presidency made up of representatives from each of the country’s main ethnic groups. The central government’s authority, however, is severely restricted, since the nation is heavily fragmented and consists of two independent entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, as well as a third area, the Brko District, which is administered by local government. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Federation is complicated in and of itself, consisting of ten federal subdivisions – cantons. The nation is a prospective candidate for EU membership and has been a candidate for NATO membership since April 2010, when it obtained a Membership Action Plan at a Tallinn conference. Additionally, the nation joined the Council of Europe in April 2002 and became a founding member of the Mediterranean Union in July 2008.