Bosnia and Herzegovina Overview

By | January 22, 2021
Bosna i Hercegovina
Official language Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian
Capital Sarajevo
Form of government republic
Area 51.129 km²
Residents 4,600,000
Currency mark
Time zone UTC +1 (CET)
License plate BiH
Internet TLD .ba
Telephone area code 00387 (Source: ALLCITYCODES)

Bosnia and Herzegovina Overview


The former republic of Yugoslavia (independent since 1992) is located in southeastern Europe in the northwest of the Balkan Peninsula and includes the two historical landscapes of Bosnia (after the Bosna River) in the north and Herzegovina (Duchy) in the south. The country borders Serbia to the east, Montenegro to the southeast,Croatia to the west and north.In the southwest, Bosnia-Herzegovina has narrow access to the Mediterranean (20 km coastline). The national area covers 51.129 km². See Bosnia and Herzegovina country abbreviation.

The country is mostly mountainous, especially the west is occupied by the Dinaric Mountains, which extend from north to west. The Bosnian Ore Mountains are located in the center of Bosnia. The highest elevation in the country is the Maglic on the border with neighboring Yugoslavia (2,386 m). The mountains consist mainly of limestone. Due to the high water solubility of this rock, large parts are karstified; typical of this are underground cave systems in which the seeping water drains away.

Lowlands can only be found along the existing rivers, almost all of which flow into the Sava. These include, for example, Bosna, Drina, Una and Vrbas. The Sava forms the northern border with Croatia and flows into the Danube near Belgrade (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). The Neretva flows into the Adriatic Sea.

The capital Sarajevo,founded in the 13th century, is centrally located inland.


Bosnia and Herzegovina has a predominantly continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. In the capital Sarajevo, the average January temperatures are around -1.5 °C, the average July values ​​are around 20 °C. The summer temperatures are lower in the mountains, the winters are longer and colder. Mediterranean influences are increasing in the southern part of the country. In Mostar in the southwest of the country, the January average is around 5 °C, in July an average of 26 °C has been reached. Precipitation amounts are between 900 mm and 1 500 mm. In the south, precipitation falls mainly in the winter months.

Flora and fauna

Almost half of Bosnia and Herzegovina is forested. Deciduous and mixed forests can be found in the lower regions, which merge into coniferous forests in the higher regions of the mountains. The Sutjeska National Park contains stocks of the untouched and protected Perucica jungle. Here beeches, firs and spruces reach heights of up to 60 m.

In the remote forest areas, rare animal species such as wolf, brown bear, ibex, wildcat and golden eagle can still find a suitable habitat in Europe. Wild boar, deer, foxes and deer are common. There are also many types of reptiles, including numerous snake species such as the Aesculapian and Leopard Snakes, as well as the venomous snakes, cross and sand otters.


About 4.6 million people live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but estimates have only been available for several years. At the beginning of the 21st century, the population was several hundred thousand lower, and many refugees have returned. The civil war that broke out after independence in 1992 likely killed more than 300,000 people, and the number of those who fled abroad is estimated at just under a million.

The civil war has also changed the composition and distribution of the population. There are essentially three ethnic groups: Muslim Bosnians (who call themselves “Bosniaks” and make up almost half of the population, around 4% more than in 1991), Serbs who profess the Serbian Orthodox Church (their share of 31% in 1991 to 37% today), and Catholic Croatians. All three languages ​​of the ethnic groups are official languages. While the vocabulary and pronunciation hardly differ, Serbian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, Croatian and Bosnian the Latin alphabet.

According to COUNTRYAAH, the average population density is 78 people per square kilometer. The proportion of the urban population is about 42%. Around 500,000 people live in the agglomeration of the capitalSarajevo. Other major cities are Banja Luka (225,000 residents in the agglomeration), Tuzla (around 130,000), Zenica (around 128,000) and Mostar (around 112,000).

Population growth is estimated at 0.7%. The average life expectancy for men is 75 years, for women 82 years. School attendance is free of charge, children are required to attend school between seven and 15 years. Approx. 97% of the population can read and write.

Political system

Since independence in 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a republic consisting of two autonomous states: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Serbian Republic (Republika Srpska). According to the constitution (December 1995) set out in the Dayton Peace Treaty, the country’s government as a whole should reflect the ethnic composition of the population and be responsible for foreign trade, monetary policy, migration, telecommunications, border and airspace protection. The country is overseen by a high representative of the international community (Valentin Inzko, since 2009), which limits sovereignty.

The state is led by a three-member presidium, which consists of a Croat, a Serb and a Muslim (Bosniak), who alternate in the presidency after eight months. The three members of the Presidium are elected directly every four years (currently Bakir Izetbegović, Nebojša Radmanović, Željko Komšić). The head of government (state prime minister) has been Vjekoslav Bevanda (Croat) since 2012.

The legislature lies with the bicameral parliament (Skupstina). The 42 members of the House of Representatives are directly elected by the people for four years (28 Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 14 Serbian Republic). The members of the Chamber of Peoples are elected by the parliaments of the member states (ten Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, five Serbian Republic).

Each of the two states has its own government and parliament. In the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the parliament consists of two chambers (Chamber of Deputies / 98 seats and Chamber of Nations / 58 seats). Likewise in the Serbian Republic: National Assembly / 83 seats and Council of Peoples / 28 seats. The respective president is elected by the parliament.


The country was initially able to recover significantly from the destruction caused by the civil war, but was severely affected by the crisis in the euro zone. The unemployment rate is still very high (officially 44%); average wages are still at the lower end in a European comparison. However, illicit trade is flourishing, with over half of the unemployed illegally making a living. Bosnia-Herzegovina is highly dependent on international financial and economic aid.

Almost 13% of the land area is used as usable space. The main cultivation areas (for fruit, tobacco, corn, potatoes, wheat, sugar beet, wine) are the lowlands along the rivers. Food must be imported. Livestock farming is of importance, cattle and sheep farming dominate here.

In industry there are companies in the light, steel, chemical and armaments industries, as well as ironworks. Iron ores, charcoal, textiles and minerals are exported. Mineral resources include lignite, iron ore, bauxite, copper, manganese, zinc and gold. The country’s energy requirements can be partly met by hydropower plants.

Croatia, Italy and Germany are the most important trading partners for exports, and Croatia, Germany and Russia for imports – especially oil, food and chemical products.

The existing infrastructure was badly affected by the civil war. Modernization measures are necessary for the railways. In the expansion of the road network, the construction of a north-south motorway was declared a priority. International airports are located in Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja Luka and Tuzla.

Currency is the convertible mark (= 100 fening).