History of Bosnia and Herzegovina


Illyrian period

The area of today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. In the Bronze Age, the Neolithic population was replaced by the Illyrians, a people who spoke a common Indo-European language. Several Illyrian tribes should be noted who populated what is now present day Bosnia and Herzegovina. The main one among them, the Dalmati, from who the origin of the word Dalmatia comes from, lived across western Bosnia, while in central Bosnia lived the Daesitiates.

Liburnians are the probably the historically most famous Illyrian tribe in the region. They lived in northwestern Bosnia and were known as robbers. Ardiaei lived south of Liburnians and the Autariatae lived farther to the south. Other Illyrian tribes that should be mentioned are the Labeates and Daorsi. Celtic migrations in the 4th and 3rd century BC have removed many Illyrian tribes from the former territory. However, some Celtic and Illyrian tribes were mixed, as Scordisci, a mixed Illyrian-Celtic tribe in northeastern Bosnia.

The first clashes of the Illyrians and the Roman Empire occurred in 229 BC. The Illyrian wars that lasted from 229 until 219 BC, the Illyrians lost the valley of Neretva. In the next 200 years, there was a number of rebellions and uprisings of the Illyrians under Roman rule, and one such rebellion was raised in 6 AD, around Vareš and Vranduk (led by Boton and Pineza) but intense Roman action suppressed it in year 9, so that in the time of Emperor Tiberius (9 AD), all of the Illyrian territory eventually came under Roman authority.

On the coast and along the lower course of the river Neretva lived the Ardians, who were well taught in navigation, for which they were unjustly called ‘pirates’ which by their geopolitical enemies of the Roman and Hellenistic world, even though they exercised interception of others, mostly Roman ships and chariots, for legitimate charging road and sea tolls as a form of business. This is proof that the Illyrians were sovereign on territory of the present-day region of Bosnia, which the leading researchers of Illyrians today call the narrow Illyria.

Roman Age

In the 9th year AD the whole of the territory after the last of the local rebellion finally became a Roman province called Illyricum. Roman settlers, soldiers, and merchants settled a considerable part of Dalmatia, and founded several cities in the area of what is today Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thus Blagaj, on the Buna River, was built on the foundations of the Roman city of Bon. Christianity was already present at the end of year 1 AD. Events from 337 to 395 AD led to the division of the Roman Empire, and the province of Dalmatia and Pannonia were included in the Western Roman Empire. The decline of the Roman Empire in the 5th century causes a breakdown of the government when the Huns, and later the Goths conquer Pannonia and Dalmatia. Later the Goths are defeated by the Eastern Roman or the Byzantine Empire in the Gothic War (535-553). From then on Bosnia will be under the Byzantine rule for a long period of time.

Slavic Raids

Slavic incursions across the Roman provinces start in the 6th century, with frequent massacres of the local population, such as the massacre of over 7000 women and children in just two days in 548 in Drač. In these raids many cities, farms, forts and temples collapse. The Slavic force was so merciless that the local population was forced to accept their language in order to apparently assimilate and gain the grace of the Slavic hordes to spare the lives of the population. The Roman historian Procopius, in his records from the year 550, described the Slavs as unseen savages and the greatest danger to civilization, giving full particulars of all their massacres of the Illyrians and Thracians. He states that in these massacres over 4 million people were killed or taken as slaves, i.e. most of the then population of the Roman province of Dalmatia i.e. Illyria.

In the 10th century the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who according to sources was also a historian, in the area Herzegovina divides three early medieval principalities: Paganija, Zahumlje and Travunija. The first known count of Zahumlje was Mihovil Vičević (910 – 950). Later Zahumlje reportedly came under the authority of the Croatian rulers Tomislav and Krešimir.

Medieval Bosnia

In the Middle Ages, in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, there was a state Bosnia that at the peak of its powers was one of the strongest Balkan states. The first Bosnian king was Tvrtko I Kotromanic, who was crowned in Mile near Visoko.

Banate of Bosnia

With the influence of external political situation (usually Byzantium), the tribal society began to crumble in Bosnia. By the end of the 9th century the then Bosnia became a state with developed feudal characteristics. Since the early 12th century there is an occurrence of Bosnian nobles produced by tribal elders. According to the economic power, the ruling class is divided in: the lords, nobles and squires. They enjoyed feudal estates, which were obtained from the wartime successes, provided that, if necessary they perform military service.

The Ban Kulin era

Wanting a business relation with his neighbors, as well as assisting each other in wars, Ban Kulin in 1189 concluded a trade agreement with the Dubrovnik Republic, led by count Krvaš. The rule of Kulin marked a falling under the influence of the Byzantine Empire, and the country largely at peace. Coined by the people, and essentially sentimental was the saying ‘za Kulina bana i dobrijeh dana’. At the end of the 12th century began the accusations that Kulin Ban protects heretics (i.e. the infidels). That did not suit Pope Innocent III, who wanted to destroy the Bosnian Church, and therefore calls on the Hungarian-Croatian King on a crusade. Realizing what a danger Bosnia is in Kulin, in the presence of a large number of subjects of the Bosnian Church, accepts the teaching of the Church as ordained by Rome in front of the Pope’s officiary on Bilino Polje near Zenica in 1203.

Ban Matej Ninoslav is mention as the successor of Kulin Ban in 1230. It was after a series of wars that he joined Livno parish of Neretva and Ustiprača to Bosnia.

The Kotromanić dynasty

Ninoslav was inherited by ban Stjepan I (1290). The new Bosnian ban had power only along the banks of the Drina, so that the above condition stated was utilized by a powerful Croatian feudal Pavle Šubić, ban of Croatia and Dalmatia, and his rule spread to a larger part of Bosnia. Son of Pavle Šubić, Mladen, inherited his father’s titles and territories, and also took care of the future Bosnian ban Stjepan II Kotromanić. In 1322 Stjepan II leaves his guardian and fights against him on the side of the Croatian-Hungarian king Karlo Robert and the other Croatian nobles. With their help he drove the family Subić, and established authority over the entire territory of Bosnia. Bosnia has experienced its highest peak during the last ban Tvrtko I ruling (1353-1391). After the coronation of Tvrtko I in Mile near Visoko, in 1377, the country is ruled by kings.

The Bosnian Kingdom

The dichotomy rule between ban Stjepan Kotroman and the noble family Šubić is continueed even after the time when the power over parts of Bosnia, which are governed by ban Kotroman, fall in the hands of his son ban Stjepan II Kotromanić in 1314. The Šubić family even attempt to arbitrarily assume the title of ‘ban Bosanski’ and claim the entire territory of Bosnia, but Stjepan II is quick to prevent them and in 1322 he excommunicated the noble family Šubić and establishes full control of Bosnia.

Territorial expansion of Bosnia

Soon ban Stjepan II Kotromanić adds the Hum area to Bosnia (Herzegovina today), and the whole territory from the river Neretva to Cetina becomes part of Bosnia. Ban Stjepan II also annexes to Bosnia a big part of Dalmatia, from Dubrovnik to Split, and also Krajina, Usora and Soli. Ban Stjepan II Kotromanić supported the Bosnian Church, which brought him into conflict with the Pope, so in order to please him he agrees to give freedom of action to Franciscans in Bosnia in 1340, and he himself transfers to Catholicism in April 1347 when he sent a letter requesting an increase in number of trained Catholic priests in Bosnia. The Franciscans soon formed the Bosnian Franciscan vicarage whose headquarters was in Mile sine 1340, which rapidly expanded and included a lot more territory from the Bosnian state, extending all the way to Romania, so that in 1385 The Bosnian Franciscans vicarage subsumed 35 Franciscan monastery, of which however only 4 were in Bosnia. With the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth in 1353 with the Hungarian King Ludwig I, one of the most influential European rulers then, Stjepan II raised the reputation of Bosnia and the Kotromanić lineage drew closer to the world of higher European politics.

In the same year, Ban Stjepan II Kotromanić died and was buried in the Franciscan monastery in Visoko. After his death, on power comes the Byzantine puppet Tvrtko I Kotromanić who at that moment was only 15 years of age and had problems with settling relations between the Bosnian nobility. Hungary, led by King Ludwig I tried to take advantage of Tvrtko’s youth in their pretensions to Bosnia. After he confirmed his place in Bosnia, due to the influence of his patron Byzantium, Tvrtko annexed a large part of Serbia to Bosnia, including in the area of today’s Sandžak region, then Zeta and southern Dalmatia, including the Adriatic coast from Dubrovnik to Boka Kotor.

Tvrtko I Kotromanić, the first Bosnian King

After all of his success Tvrtko is crowned king in 1377 in Mile near Visoko (now Arnautovići), which is the crowning place of all subsequent Bosnian kings. Upon the death of the Hungarian king in 1382 riots erupt on the Dalmatian coast, and the King Tvrtko uses this opportunity and sends the Bosnian army in this part of Dalmatia, and takes full control over the whole of Dalmatia, annexes Split, Trogir, Šibenik along with the islands Brač, Korčula and Hvar. In the last decade of his reign, the king was faced with incursions by the Ottomans in Bosnia, first in the fall of 1386, then in summer of 1388 at Bilećaa, when the Bosnians led by Duke Vlatko Vuković won against the Ottomans. They returned from the battle of Kosovo without any significant losses. After Tvrtko’s death in 1391, a volatile political climate in reins again in Bosnia caused by the Hungarian-Byzantine rivalry that for the umpteenth time prompts feuds among the Bosnian nobility. This results in a frequent change of Bosnian kings, and Hungary also trying to take advantage of the opportunity in their pretensions on Bosnia.

Political instability and attacks of the Ottoman Empire

Shortly after Tvrtko’s death, in 1391, Stjepan Dabiša the cousin of Tvrtko becomes kings. In 1394 after King Sigismund of Luxembourg comes to rule in Hungary, the Bosnian king Stjepan Dabiša loses control over the northern part of Croatia, Slavonia and parts of Dalmatia, which are won over by the newly enthroned King of Hungary. The danger of a resurgence of Hungarian rule forces Bosnian nobility to declare Stjepan Ostoja for the new king of Bosnia, who was very pro Hungarian oriented. In 1404 the Bosnian nobility removes from power the pro Hungarian Stjepan Ostoja, and in his place set the pro Byzantium Tvrtko II, otherwise the illegitimate son of King Tvrtko I. The Hungarian King Sigismund of Luxembourg led 50,000 troops to Bosnia in the massacre in Dobor in 1408 killing almost all of Bosnian aristocracy, some 200 families, including all the generals and admirals. He provides former King Stjepan Ostoja military aid in order to re-establish his authority in 1409. In 1414 the Ottoman Empire appears on the geopolitical scene. It supports the Byzantium Bosnian nobles and declares that it recognizes only Tvrtko II as the legitimate king of Bosnia, which lead to a conflict between Stjepan Ostoja and Hungary on one side, and Tvrtko II and the Ottoman Empire on the other. Stjepan Ostoja and his Hungarian helpers are defeated in Central Bosnia in 1415, although he somehow stays on power. After his death, his son Stjepan Ostojić becomes king of Bosnia, and in 1420 Tvrtko II finally regains the Bosnian throne.

The collapse of the Bosnian state

Tvrtko, however, remains in power until his death in 1443, and his reign is characterized by the restoration of Bosnian towns and an increasing influence of the Franciscans in Bosnia. Upon his death in 1443, the Bosnian nobility hands the power to King Stjepan Tomas. The most powerful Bosnian noble in the territory of Hum, Stjepan Vukčić Kosača, refused at first to acknowledge Stjepan Tomaš as the new king, which resulted in the conflict within Bosnia on the matter, and that conflict ended in 1446 strengthening the position of King Tomas, although the Bosnian noble Kosača continues to have a very strong influence in the south of Bosnia i.e. the area of Hum. This is reflected in the fact that in 1448 he gives himself the title ‘Herceg’ and allegedly because of this title that part of Bosnia later became known as ‘Herzegovina’. In 1461, Stjepan Tomašević, son of King Tomaš, becomes the new king of Bosnia. He faces a strong threat from the Ottoman invaders and their pretensions towards Bosnia and direct and appeal for help in the defense against the Ottoman Empire. The Hungarian king promises aid to Bosnia in 1462, after which King Stjepan Tomašević refuses to pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire, which was paid in order to keep the peace in Bosnia. A year later, in 1463, a vast Ottoman army, under the command of Mehmed II the Conqueror attacked Bosnia.

The Bosnian royal fort Bobovac was the first that fell, on the 20th of June 1463, after which the king Stjepan Tomašević relocated to a fortress in Ključ. Besieged by Ottoman forces he decided to surrender, and is ultimately executed. After that the Bosniacs concluded some sort of peace treaty with the Ottomans and in only seven days to surrendered the keys to the 20 other fortresses throughout Bosnia.

Ottoman era

The Ottoman Empire was essentially a military organization which was only interested in new conquests and tax collection, and its administrative system was primarily designed to ensure two things: the military manpower and money for its payment. This administrative system had been very diligently implemented, primarily through tax registers of the population from which, as Bosnia is concerned, two things can be noted: the process of conversion of Bosniacs to Islam, because these tax registers sorted Bosniacs by religion, and also from them can be seen that there was no mass immigration of Turks to Bosnia or anyone else that could significantly change the ethnic picture of Bosniacs.

The Bosnian Eyalet

In 1527 the Bosnian Eyalet is established which late, in 1580, became the Pashaluk of Bosnia. It was the largest sociopolitical unit within the Ottoman Empire, which consisted of several Sandžak, in the case of Bosnia eight. Bosnian Eyalet was administered by the Beylerbey, and several parts of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina were included in it, plus some parts of today’s Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. While neighboring countries were fragmented in several eyalets, Bosnia remained a unique country and maintained its territorial integrity through the whole time of Ottoman occupation. The first seat of the Bosnian eyalet was in Banja Luka from 1527, which in 1639 moved to Sarajevo, then to Travnik in 1697 and again to Sarajevo in 1850.

On the military plan Bosniacs served as pawns in this period for the occupiers, they are recruited and participate in the many wars that were led by the Ottoman Empire; from the war against Austria (1593 – 1603), the war with Venice (1640 – 1669), and again against Austria in 1663, after which there is a ceasefire, which lasted until 1683 when the war continues again. In the period from 1684 the Austrians gradually conquered Hungary, which was largely under the control of the Bosnian military notables, which caused a huge migration of Bosniacs from Hungary to Bosnia. Also, Venice made a major assault on Bosnia 1685, which was stopped. Then, in 1697, one of the most serious invasions of Bosnia by the Austrian army under the command of Prince Eugene of Savoy happened. After victories in southern Hungary, about 6000 Austrian soldiers came to Sarajevo and found its defenders unprepared for combat, and on the 23rd of October 1697 they almost completely burnt the city which was then the capital of the Bosnian eyalet with over 120 mosques. The Austrian army retreated, and the war with the Austrians ends by signing the ‘Karlovački mir’ agreement in Sremski Karlovci in 1699. This war was the first major military defeat of the Ottoman Empire, as Hungary and Transylvania are left to Austria, and a large part of Dalmatia and Greece came under the rule of Venice. The result of the wars with Venice and Austria i.e. the loss of large parts of territory, was a major blow to the Ottoman Empire, which was could hardly wait for the first opportunity to re-start the war with Venice, which happened in 1714, after the breach of certain points of the agreement by Venice. Austria again became an ally of Venice, and they enjoyed a great victory at Novi Sad (Petrovaradin) in 1716, while all of their attacks on Bosnia were successfully ceased. Later on there is the signing of a new peace treaty in Požarevac in 1718, where Austria and Venice got certain parts of Bosnia, and today’s southwestern border of Bosnia was created.

At the time of the conclusion of the ‘Karlovački mir’ in 1699 there were 12 captaincies in Bosnia, whose number increased to 32 in the late 18th century, covering virtually the whole of Bosnia. Captaincy only existed in Bosnia. In essence, they represented the almost absolute independence of Bosnia, as far as concerning the local government, they still had to pay taxes to the Ottoman Empire but they were no longer directly ruled by foreigners, but the Bosnians themselves, which represented a significant step toward independence of Bosnia and made it privileged in comparison to all the other countries that were under the Ottoman occupation. In 1813 the sultan tried to reduce this independence, and sent Siliktar Ali Pasha to Bosnia, who had the task to begin the process of abolishing captaincy in Bosnia. The sultan soon sent a large army, composed of Turkish and Albanian troops to conquer Sarajevo, and also carried out attacks on Mostar and Srebrenica in 1820, and two captains were killed: from Banja Luka and Derventa.

The great uprising and the struggle for autonomy

In 1831 rises there was a great uprising of Bosniacs for the autonomy of Bosnia led by Husein-kapetan Gradaščević. That same year, the Bosnian army, headed by Gradaščević, conquered Travnik and captured the vizier, and publicly humiliated him, forcing him to remove his new ‘reform’ clothes and put on the traditional wear. Then the Bosnian army with over 25,000 soldiers defeated the Grand vizier in Kosovo, and in Sarajevo on the 12th of September 1831 officially declared the autonomy of Bosnia. It signified the full independence of Bosnia, although a diplomatic message was sent to the Sultan announcing that he will still be regarded as the supreme ruler of Bosnia. The Sultan then manages to bring discord among Bosniacs, in the form traitors Ali-aga Rizvanbegović and Smail-aga Čengić. He sent a large military contingent of more than 30,000 troops to Sarajevo and the Bosnian Army experienced a crushing defeat in May of 1832. Husein-kapetan Gradaščević retreated to Austria. The movement for autonomy i.e. the independence of Bosnia, is suppressed in 1850. In 1836 a number of captains from around the area of Bihać raised a rebellion which was bloodily suppressed by troops from Anatolia. The next uprising occurred in 1840 when again the vizier gets evicted from Travnik, but the uprising was quickly extinguished by the regular invading troops. In 1850 the sultan sent to Omer Pasha Latas to Bosna, who by the end of the 1850 established full control over Bosnia and abolishes captaincy, and introduces a new system of government that divided the country into 9 areas. Each area was under the rule of kaymakam. In 1875 the Herzegovinian uprising erupted and quickly developed into a true uprising that notes outstanding results.

The great uprising and the struggle for autonomy

In 1831 rises there was a great uprising of Bosniacs for the autonomy of Bosnia led by Husein-kapetan Gradaščević. That same year, the Bosnian army, headed by Gradaščević, conquered Travnik and captured the vizier, and publicly humiliated him, forcing him to remove his new ‘reform’ clothes and put on the traditional wear. Then the Bosnian army with over 25,000 soldiers defeated the Grand vizier in Kosovo, and in Sarajevo on the 12th of September 1831 officially declared the autonomy of Bosnia. It signified the full independence of Bosnia, although a diplomatic message was sent to the Sultan announcing that he will still be regarded as the supreme ruler of Bosnia. The Sultan then manages to bring discord among Bosniacs, in the form traitors Ali-aga Rizvanbegović and Smail-aga Čengić. He sent a large military contingent of more than 30,000 troops to Sarajevo and the Bosnian Army experienced a crushing defeat in May of 1832. Husein-kapetan Gradaščević retreated to Austria. The movement for autonomy i.e. the independence of Bosnia, is suppressed in 1850. In 1836 a number of captains from around the area of Bihać raised a rebellion which was bloodily suppressed by troops from Anatolia. The next uprising occurred in 1840 when again the vizier gets evicted from Travnik, but the uprising was quickly extinguished by the regular invading troops. In 1850 the sultan sent to Omer Pasha Latas to Bosna, who by the end of the 1850 established full control over Bosnia and abolishes captaincy, and introduces a new system of government that divided the country into 9 areas. Each area was under the rule of kaymakam. In 1875 the Herzegovinian uprising erupted and quickly developed into a true uprising that notes outstanding results.

Annexation of Bosnia by the Austro-Hungarian Empirevv

OIn 1877 Russia, along with Austria, declared war the Ottoman Empire and already at the beginning of 1878 the Russians came close to Istanbul, which prompted a truce, where the Russians were the ones who dictated the terms which, of course, went much more in favor of them than their allies the Austrians. By this agreement, Russia ensured Bulgaria’s significant expansion and gain of almost complete autonomy from the Ottoman Empire. Bosnia, however, by the agreement remained a part of the Ottoman Empire, with major reforms, and according to Article 14 of that agreement Bosnian revenue from that point, and over the next three years, must be exclusively spent for Bosnian purposes. This situation was an opportunity for the Bosniacs to reopen the issues of autonomy of Bosnia, which was apparently seen as a threat of new conflict in international circles, therefore the peace agreement was corrected in July 1878 in Berlin at the famous Berlin Congress where it was decided that Bosnia, although theoretically still under Ottoman occupation, is administered by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire

With the occupation of 1878 BIH effectively became part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. But until 1908 it formally and legally remained under the sovereignty of the sultan. BIH had a special state-legal status and a specific organization and structure of government. Such administration remained for the next 40 years thanks to 25th article of the Berlin Treaty and the so called Novi Pazar Convention (Istanbul Convention).

Former Bosnian vilayet became Reichsland, sandžaks became postal districts, qadi were transformed into districts, while nahiye became district offices. During the Austro-Hungarian there were 54 districts with 23 district offices. The center of power was transferred to the National Government in Sarajevo. It officially started work on the 1st of January 1879. At the head of government was the head of State. The Austro-Hungarian Empire tried to turn an occupation into an annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as possible.

Coincidentally, on the whole territory of the country communication and a better connection of all parts of BIH began establishing. Roads, railways, factories were built and industrial enterprises were opened. Industrialization affected all aspects of life. From all parts of the Empire skilled labor force came and brought new ways to further enhance BIH with it. The Austro-Hungarian administration opened up a number of educational and cultural institutions, and at the time many political parties and cultural associations were established.

However, the occupation of Bosnia in 1878 and the arrival of Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia were major historical turning points and a challenge for the people – a transition from one civilization circle to another, in a completely different culture and way of life, which provoked dramatic and fateful consequences in people’s lives. In this situation in 1908 came the official merger of BIH to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Austro-Hungarian Empire forcibly changed the constitutional state, which led to a major crisis and an opposition of the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Serbia to the act of annexation. However, there is a political and financial agreement and the annexation is recognized by countries that initially opposed it. In these circumstances, the Parliament and the Provincial Government became the highest government authorities.

In such circumstances, on the 28th of June 1914 the assassination of the crown prince Franz Ferdinand of the Habsburg Monarchy happened. This was the reason for the outbreak of the First World War.

The age of the Kingdom of SHS / Kingdom of Yugoslavia

At the end of World War I, in all parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire aspirations for independence of all its provinces came to surface. That was what happened in Bosnia as well. On the 11th of November 1918 the newly formed committee of the National Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina sent its representatives to Zagreb. They became members of the National Council of State of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in a unified state. When in December 1st 1918 Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed, already on the 31st of December of the same year National Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina formed, which had jurisdiction until the 31st of January 1919. The then BIH government was renamed the national government. Its rights were constantly reduced, and in 1924 it was completely extinguished.

At the time, the political life in Bosnia was marked by social and economic conflicts over land ownership issues, and the creation of more political parties. While the state was divided into 33 regions that erased traditional geographic boundaries, Bosnian politicians such as Mehmed Spaho ensured that Bosnia and Herzegovina preserved its territorial integrity.

The establishment of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929 brought a withdrawal of the borders in banates, who allegedly bypassed all historical and ethnic lines, however obliterated any trace of the Bosnian entity. The famous Cvetković-Maček agreement created the Croatian banate in 1939 which was practically a rough division of Bosnia between Serbia and Croatia.

In this period Bosnians were in a particularly difficult position. Landowners land was confiscated, the representation of Bosniacs in the government was negligible, and they were without any rights or religious autonomy which was reduced by the King’s decision in 1930. Neither the Serbs nor the Croats, except for a small group of people, were any better off. There was poverty and misery. The economy was stagnant, which strongly reflected in social and life opportunities. However, this period was marked by the start of World War in Europe in 1939, while Yugoslavia would not become a target until 6 April 1941 because its association with the Tripartite Pact. On the 17th of April the army of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia capitulated and the occupied territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina was under the rule of the pro Nazi ISC. During the War the ISC government systematically expelled and killed Jewish, Serb and the Romani population, as well as those who did not agree with the fascist laws and government.

World War II

In July 1941 began the uprising of all antifascist forces against Nazism and Fascism. The Yugoslav Communist Party joined the rebels. Led by Josip Broz they organized a multi-ethnic resistance movement simply called partisans.vvv

On the 25th of November 1943 in Mrkonjić Grad, the Antifascist Council of National Liberation of BIH established Bosnia and Herzegovina as a republic within the Yugoslav federation, with the historical boundaries that dated back to the Ottoman era. This was confirmed in the Second Meeting of Jajce on the 28th and 29th of November 1943. In 1943 the Allies began supporting the partisans and fascists from then on lose all support. Since then, the partisans generated a multitude of military success. Of the seven enemy offensives on the soil of Yugoslavia, five were led in BIH. Especially famous successes were in Kozara, Neretva, Sutjeska and Drvar.

At the Second ZAVNOBIH session in Sanski Most in 1944 it was decided that ZAVNOBIH will become the highest legislative and executive body in BIH, and the Declaration of the Rights of Citizens of BIH was approved. These and some other decisions made on that occasion defined the basis of the statehood of BIH.

At the Third ZAVNOBIH session in 1945 in Sarajevo the forming of the government was completed and ZAVNOBIH evolved into the National Assembly of BIH.

BIH emerged as devastated and impoverished in all fields of life from World War II. According to estimates, 500,000 people lost their lives during World War II in Bosnia.

Yugoslavia (1945 – 1992)

Immediately after the war, due to the situation the republic was in, the state began intensive reconstruction and construction. The legislative construction of the state continued as well. On the 30th of December 1946 the new constitution of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was enacted by which the state has ordinance over its own means of production and natural resources. All political parties other than the Communist Party of Yugoslavia were prohibited, as well as all the national societies. The situation improved after 1948. Since then, BIH, as well as the whole of Yugoslavia, started moving in the direction of the so-called self-managed socialism.

In the coming decades there is significant economic prosperity: numerous successful enterprises, infrastructure construction, the achievements in the health, educational, cultural and sports life. However, the lack of democratic freedom in the country was noticeable. In late 60’s and early 70’s there’s a change in the constitution and a significant social and economic change is felt in the political system.

During this period, the educational system received much attention. A large number of primary and secondary schools were opened and universities developed. Also a number of institutions were opened: museums, theaters, libraries, gyms, galleries etc. Thanks to these changes the illiteracy rate in BIH had been reduced to a minimum percentage by the end of the 20th century.

The reputation Bosnia of in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia was on a constant rise. The creativity of prominent individuals and institutions were observed in the world.

The disintegration of Yugoslavia

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union came the disappearance of the communist regime from the European soil. Therefore, the European Community in Brussels on the 16th of December 1991 adopted the Declaration on Yugoslavia. Responding to the Declaration, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina made a decision on the recognition of the independence and statehood in the same year. Some republics had already left the SFRY. The Parliament of BIH, following the opinion of the Arbitration Commission in February 1992, brought the decision to announce a referendum of Independence. The referendum was held on the 29th of February and 1st of March 1992. In it two thirds of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted for sovereignty and independence. The EU Council of Ministers in Brussels on 6th of April 1992 decided on the international recognition of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent state. On the same day the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina began. In this situation on the 22nd of May 1992 BIH was admitted into membership of the UN. Already then the most terrible conflict began that lasted until late 1995.

With the conclusion of the Dayton Agreement on the 21st of November 1995 and its official signing about a month later in Paris, peace was established on the territory of Bosnia and Annex 4 of the Dayton Agreement became the Constitution of BIH, which has since been administratively divided into two entities, Federation of BIH and RS, and the entity FBIH is further divided into cantons, which are divided into municipalities, while the RS entity is further divided into municipalities only. In addition to the established entities there is also Brčko District.

The last two decades in BIH have been marked by reconstruction, building and development. Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently in the process of accession to the European Union and in 2007 the Stabilization and Association Agreement was signed.

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