country profile - BOSNIA & HERCEGOVINA
Background: Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of sovereignty in October 1991 was followed by a declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia on 3 March 1992 after a referendum boycotted by ethnic Serbs. The Bosnian Serbs - supported by neighboring Serbia and Montenegro - responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas to form a "Greater Serbia." In March 1994, Bosniaks and Croats reduced the number of warring factions from three to two by signing an agreement creating a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, the warring parties initialed a peace agreement that brought to a halt three years of interethnic civil strife (the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995). The Dayton Peace Accords retained Bosnia and Herzegovina's international boundaries and created a multi-ethnic and democratic government charged with conducting foreign, diplomatic, and fiscal policy. Also recognized was a second tier of government composed of two entities roughly equal in size: the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska (RS). The Federation and RS governments were charged with overseeing most government functions. The Dayton Accords also established the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to oversee the implementation of the civilian aspects of the agreement. The Peace Implementation Council (PIC) at its conference in Bonn in 1997 also gave the High Representative the authority to impose legislation and remove officials, the so-called "Bonn Powers." In 1995-96, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force (IFOR) of 60,000 troops served in Bosnia to implement and monitor the military aspects of the agreement. IFOR was succeeded by a smaller, NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) whose mission was to deter renewed hostilities. European Union peacekeeping troops (EUFOR) replaced SFOR in December 2004; their mission is to maintain peace and stability throughout the country. EUFOR's mission changed from peacekeeping to civil policing in October 2007, with its presence reduced from nearly 7,000 to less than 2,500 troops. Troop strength at the end of 2009 stood at roughly 2,000.
Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Croatia
Area: total: 51,197 sq km
land: 51,187 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 1,538 km
border countries: Croatia 932 km, Montenegro 249 km, Serbia 357 km
Coastline: 20 km
Climate: hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters; mild, rainy winters along coast
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, chromite, cobalt, manganese, nickel, clay, gypsum, salt, sand, forests, hydropower
Population: 3,867,055 (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.48% (male 269,086/female 252,189)
15-24 years: 12.36% (male 246,849/female 231,007)
25-54 years: 46.48% (male 902,704/female 894,787)
55-64 years: 14.01% (male 259,579/female 282,371)
65 years and over: 13.67% (male 206,288/female 322,195) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 41.2 years
male: 39.8 years
female: 42.6 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.13% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 8.87 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 9.75 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate -0.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Bosnian(s), Herzegovinian(s)
adjective: Bosnian, Herzegovinian
Ethnic groups: Bosniak 48.4%, Serb 32.7%, Croat 14.6%, other 4.3%
note: final 2013 census results are pending; Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim - an adherent of Islam (2013 est.)
Religions: Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, other 14%
Languages: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.5%
male: 99.5%
female: 97.5% (2015 est.)
Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Bosnia and Herzegovina
local long form: none
local short form: Bosna i Hercegovina
former: People's Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Government type: emerging federal democratic republic
Capital: name: Sarajevo
geographic coordinates: 43 52 N, 18 25 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 2 first-order administrative divisions and 1 internationally supervised district* - the Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Federacija Bosne i Hercegovine), the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska, Brcko District (Brcko Distrikt)*; note - Brcko District is in northeastern Bosnia and is a self-governing administrative unit under the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina and formally held in condominium between the two entities
Independence: 1 March 1992 (from Yugoslavia; referendum for independence completed 1 March 1992; independence declared 3 March 1992)
National holiday: National Day, 25 November (1943)
Legal system: civil law system; Constitutional Court review of legislative acts
Suffrage: 18 years of age, 16 if employed; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Chairman of the Presidency Dragan COVIC (chairman since 17 July 2015; presidency member since 17 November 2014 - Croat) ; other members of the three-member presidency rotate every eight months
head of government: Chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis ZVIZDIC (since 11 February 2015)
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the council chairman, approved by the state-level House of Representatives
elections/appointments: 3-member presidency (one Bosniak, one Croat, one Serb) directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term, but then ineligible for 4 years) by constituencies of the 3 ethnic groups; the chairmanship rotates every 8 months and resumes where it left off following each general election; election last held on 12 October 2014 (next to be held in October 2018); the chairman of the Council of Ministers appointed by the presidency and confirmed by the state-level House of Representatives
election results: percent of vote - Mladen IVANIC 48.7% - Serb seat; Dragan COVIC 52.2% - Croat seat; Bakir IZETBEGOVIC 32.9% - Bosniak seat
note: President of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Marinko CAVARA (since 11 February 2015); Vice Presidents Melika MAHMUTBEGOVIC (since 11 February 2015), Milan DUNOVIC (since 11 February 2015); President of the Republika Srpska Milorad DODIK (since 15 November 2010); Vice Presidents Ramiz SALKIC (since 24 November 2014), Josip JERKOVIC (since 24 November 2014)
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliamentary Assembly or Skupstina consists of the House of Peoples or Dom Naroda (15 seats - 5 Bosniak, 5 Croat, 5 Serb; members designated by the Bosniak/Croat Federation's House of Peoples and the Republika Srpska's National Assembly to serve 4-year terms) and the state-level House of Representatives or Predstavnicki Dom (42 seats to include 28 seats allocated to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and 14 to the Republika Srpska; members directly elected by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms); note - the Bosniak/Croat Federation has a bicameral legislature that consists of the House of Peoples (58 seats - 17 Bosniak, 17 Croat, 17 Serb, 7 other) and the House of Representatives (98 seats; members directly elected by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms); Republika Srpska's unicameral legislature is the National Assembly (83 directly elected delegates serve four-year terms)
elections: House of Peoples - last constituted in 11 February 2015 (next likely to be constituted in 2018); state-level House of Representatives - election last held on 12 October 2014 (next to be held in October 2018)
election results: House of Peoples - percent of vote by party/coalition - NA; seats by party/coalition - NA; state-level House of Representatives - percent of vote by party/coalition - Federation votes: SDA 27.9%, DF 15.3%, SBB BiH 14.4%, HDZ BiH-HSS-NHI-HKDU-HSP-dr. Ante Starcevic-HSP Herceg-Bosne 12.2%, SDP BiH 9.5%, HDZ-1990 4.1%, BPS-Sefer Halilovic 3.7%, A-SDA 2.3%, other 10.6%; Republika Srpska votes: SNSD 38.5%, SDS 32.6%, PDP-NDP 7.8%, DNS 5.7%, SDA 4.9%, other 10.5%; seats by party/coalition - SDA 10, SNSD 6, SDS 5, DF 5, SBB BiH 4, HDZ BiH-HSS-NHI-HKDU-HSP-Dr. Ante Starcevic-HSP Herceg-Bosne 4, SDP BiH 3, PDP-NDP 1, HDZ-1990 1, BPS-Sefer Halilovic 1, DNS 1, A-SDA 1
Judicial branch: highest court(s): BiH Constitutional Court (consists of 9 members); Court of BiH (consists of 44 national judges and 7 international judges organized into 3 divisions - Administrative, Appellate, and Criminal, which includes a War Crimes Chamber)
judge selection and term of office: BiH Constitutional Court judges - 4 selected by the Bosniak/Croat Federation's House of Representatives, 2 selected by the Republika Srpska's National Assembly, and 3 non-Bosnian judges selected by the president of the European Court of Human Rights; Court of BiH president and national judges appointed by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council; Court of BiH president appointed for renewable 6-year term; other national judges appointed to serve until age 70; international judges recommended by the president of the Court of BiH and appointed by the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina; international judges appointed to serve until age 70
subordinate courts: the Federation has 10 cantonal courts plus a number of municipal courts; the Republika Srpska has a supreme court, 5 district courts, and a number of municipal courts
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for a Better Future of BiH or SBB BiH [Fahrudin RADONCIC];
Alliance of Independent Social Democrats or SNSD [Milorad DODIK];
Bosnian-Herzegovinian Patriotic Party-Sefer Halilovic or BPS-Sefer Halilovic [Sefer HALILOVIC];
Croat Peasants' Party-New Croat Initiative or HSS-NHI [Ante COLAK];
Croatian Christian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina or HKDU [Ivan MUSA];
Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina or HDZ-BiH [Dragan COVIC];
Croatian Democratic Union 1990 or HDZ-1990 [Martin RAGUZ];
Croatian Party of Rights dr. Ante Starcevic or HSP dr. Ante Starcevic [Zvonko JURISIC];
Croatian Party of Rights of Herceg-Bosne or HSP Herceg-Bosne [Vesna PINJUH];
Democratic Front of DF [Zeljko KOMSIC];
Democratic Peoples' Alliance or DNS [Marko PAVIC];
Party of Democratic Action or SDA [Bakir IZETBEGOVIC];
Party of Democratic Activity or A-SDA [Nermin OGRESEVIC];
Party of Democratic Progress or PDP [Mladen IVANIC];
People's Democratic Movement or NDP [Dragan CAVIC] (unification of the Democratic Party or DP and the People's Democratic Party or NDS);
Serb Democratic Party or SDS [Mladen BOSIC];
Social Democratic Party of BiH or SDP BiH [Nermin NIKSIC]
Political pressure groups and leaders: other: war veterans; displaced persons associations; family associations of missing persons; private media
International organization participation: BIS, CD, CE, CEI, EAPC, EBRD, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, NAM (observer), OAS (observer), OIC (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PFP, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Flag description: a wide medium blue vertical band on the fly side with a yellow isosceles triangle abutting the band and the top of the flag; the remainder of the flag is medium blue with seven full five-pointed white stars and two half stars top and bottom along the hypotenuse of the triangle
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 850,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 22 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 3.5 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 90 (2014 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: post-war reconstruction of the telecommunications network, aided by an internationally sponsored program, resulting in sharp increases in fixed-line telephone availability
domestic: fixed-line teledensity roughly 25 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular subscribership has been increasing rapidly and stands at roughly 80 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 387; no satellite earth stations (2011)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 8, FM 16, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations: 33 (plus 277 repeaters) (September 1995)
Internet country code: .ba
Internet hosts: 69,370 (2009)
Internet users: total: 2.6 million
percent of population: 67.5% (2014 est.)
Airports: 24 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 17
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 11 (2013)
Heliports: 6 (2013)
Railways: total: 965 km
standard gauge: 965 km 1.435-m gauge (565 km electrified) (2014)
Roadways: total: 22,926 km
paved: 19,426 km (4,652 km of interurban roads)
unpaved: 3,500 km (2010)
Waterways: Sava River (northern border) open to shipping but use limited (2011)
Ports and terminals: river port(s): Bosanska Gradiska, Bosanski Brod, Bosanski Samac, Brcko, Orasje (Sava River)
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: sections along the Drina River remain in dispute between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia; discussions continue with Croatia on several small disputed sections of the boundary related to maritime access that hinder final ratification of the 1999 border agreement
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 6,703 (Croatia) (2014)
IDPs: 100,400 (Bosnian Croats, Serbs, and Bosniaks displaced by inter-ethnic violence, human rights violations, and armed conflict during the 1992-1995 war) (2014)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Bosnia and Herzegovina is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children (including the developmentally disabled) subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; Bosnian women and girls are sexually exploited domestically; Roma children are forced to beg and to marry by local organized crime groups; Bosnians are also trafficked to other European countries
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Bosnia and Herzegovina does not comply fully with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; some progress was made in 2013 in prosecuting and convicting trafficking offenders, but authorities significantly decreased their identification of victims; the national referral mechanism did not involve labor inspectors, hampering efforts to identify forced labor victims; the government has not amended all sub-national laws to criminalize all forms of trafficking consistent with national and international law (2014)
Illicit drugs: increasingly a transit point for heroin being trafficked to Western Europe; minor transit point for marijuana; remains highly vulnerable to money-laundering activity given a primarily cash-based and unregulated economy, weak law enforcement, and instances of corruption
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook,