Top Quotes: “Bosnia and Herzegovina: Everything You Need to Know — Noah Gil-Smith”

Austin Rose
5 min readMay 9, 2024


“The medieval period saw the rise of the Bosnian Kingdom, a sovereign state that flourished from the 12th to the 15th century, known for its tolerance and multiculturalism. However, the arrival of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century ushered in a new era of Islamic influence and dominance.”

“In the late 19th century, Bosnia and Herzegovina fell under Austro-Hungarian rule, marking a significant shift in its political and cultural landscape. The Austro-Hungarian era brought modernization and infrastructure development, but also tensions between ethnic and religious communities.”

“Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a sovereign state with a complex political system comprising two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, each with its own government and institutions.”

Bosniaks, who were predominantly Muslim, sought to maintain Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unity as a multiethnic state, while Serbs and Croats advocated for secession and integration with neighboring Serbia and Croatia, respectively.

In 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina held a referendum on independence, which was boycotted by Bosnian Serbs. Despite international recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty, the Declaration of Independence sparked violence and bloodshed as ethnic militias and paramilitary groups vied for control of territory.

The Bosnian War, which lasted from 1992 to 1995, was characterized by ethnic cleansing, genocide, and widespread atrocities committed against civilians. Bosnian Serb forces, led by Radovan Karadzié and Ratko Madic, besieged cities such as Sarajevo and Srebrenica, subjecting civilians to indiscriminate shelling, sniper fire, and mass killings.

The siege of Sarajevo, which lasted for nearly four years, became a symbol of the brutality and suffering of the Bosnian War, with thousands of civilians killed and injured by artillery and sniper attacks. The Srebrenica massacre in July 1995, where Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys, was the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II and was later classified as genocide by international courts.

The Bosnian War drew the attention of the international community, leading to diplomatic efforts to broker peace and end the conflict. The Dayton Agreement, signed in December 1995, brought an end to the fighting and established the framework for post-war reconstruction and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Under the Dayton Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided into two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, predominantly inhabited by Bosniaks and Croats, and Republika Srpska, predominantly inhabited by Serbs. The country’s complex political system, which included a rotating presidency and decentralized government structures, aimed to balance the interests of the country’s different ethnic groups and prevent a return to conflict.”

“The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is predominantly inhabited by Bosniaks and Croats and operates under a semi-presidential system, with a rotating presidency and a bicameral parliament consisting of the House of Peoples and the House of Representatives. The president of the Federation is elected every four years and shares power with the entity’s prime minister, who is appointed by the president.

Republika Srpska, on the other hand, is predominantly inhabited by Serbs and operates under a parliamentary system, with a president and a national assembly. The president of Republika Srpska is elected every four years and holds executive authority, while the national assembly serves as the legislative body responsible for enacting laws and policies.

In addition to the two entities, Bosnia and Herzegovina also has a central government, which oversees foreign affairs, defense, and other national-level responsibilities. The central government is comprised of a tripartite presidency, with a member representing each of the country’s three main ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats. The presidency operates on a rotating basis, with a new member elected every eight months.

The central government also includes a council of ministers, headed by a chairman, who is responsible for coordinating government policies and implementing decisions made by the presidency and the parliamentary assembly. The parliamentary assembly, known as the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the House of Peoples, each representing the interests of the country’s different ethnic groups.

Despite the complex system of governance, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political landscape is characterized by ethnic divisions, political polarization, and institutional inefficiencies. The country’s decentralized structure has led to overlapping jurisdictions, bureaucratic obstacles, and challenges in decision-making, hindering effective governance and hampering efforts to address pressing socioeconomic issues.”

“Primary education is free and accessible to all children, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, and is delivered in both Bosnian and Croatian languages, reflecting the country’s linguistic diversity.”

“During the Bosnian War in the 1990s, Mostar suffered extensive damage, including the destruction of the Old Bridge, which was later rebuilt using traditional methods and materials.”

“Jajce, a quaint town located in central Bosnia and Herzegovina, holds a unique charm as it stands at the confluence of the Pliva and Vrbas rivers. Its name, derived from the Turkish word “egg,” is thought to be a reference to the shape of the hill on which the town is built.

“The official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina are Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian, with each language sharing similarities in vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. These languages are collectively known as Serbo-Croatian, although there are regional variations and dialects that distinguish them from one another.

Bosnian is the most widely spoken language in Bosnia and Herzegovina and serves as the official language of the country. It is based on the Western variant of the Shtokavian dialect and uses both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. Bosnian is spoken by Bosniaks, who are predominantly Muslim, as well as by other ethnic groups in the country.

Croatian is another official language of Bosnia and Herzegovina, primarily spoken by Bosnian Croats, who are Catholic. Croatian is based on the Western variant of the Shtokavian dialect and primarily uses the Latin alphabet. While Croatian and Bosnian share many linguistic features, there are also some differences in vocabulary and pronunciation.

Serbian is the third official language of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is spoken by Bosnian Serbs, who are Orthodox Christians. Serbian is based on the Eastern variant of the Shtokavian dialect and uses both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.”

“One of the most iconic war memorials in Bosnia is the Sarajevo War Tunnel, also known as the Tunnel of Hope, which played a crucial role during the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s Bosnian War. The tunnel, constructed beneath the airport runway, provided a lifeline for the besieged city, allowing food, supplies, and humanitarian aid to be smuggled in and residents to escape to safety.”



Austin Rose

I read non-fiction and take copious notes. Currently traveling around the world for 5 years, follow my journey at