Ancient times

Bosnia dates back to the Neolithic times. The best-known late Stone Age archaeological site in Bosnia and Herzegovina is Neolithic settlement of Butmir, which was established in the second part of third millennium B.C. This settlement existed for several hundred years and was notable for the fact that its inhabitants created the first civilization of craftsmen in this region. They were very skilled in the use of adaptation of hard stone for making tools and they also made high quality and artistic designed pottery and dishes. The original spiritual culture of its inhabitants places archaeology of Bosnia and Herzegovina on a par with that in Europe. On the basis of absolute chronology the assumption is that the settlement was inhabited from 5500 to 4500 B.C.
In the late Bronze Age, the Neolithic population was replaced by more warlike Indo-European tribes known as the Illyrians who came from the east areas and are admitted as relevant owners of the “halstadt” culture. Also, there are some indications that before Illyrians on these areas lived Thracians. This period lasted from the end of the Neolithic times to the sixth century A.D. In the fourth century B.C. there was an immigration of Gauls and Kelts who created a mixture of people who were later conquered by the Romans.
The Romans conquered Bosnia by the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. and folded into the Roman province of Dalmatia. Following events from the years 337 and 395 when the Empire split, Dalmatia and Pannonia were included in the Western Roman Empire. The region was conquered by the Ostrogotths in 455, and further exchanged hands between the Alans and Huns in the years to follow.
The Illyrian pagan religion made it possible, thanks to the Illyrian veteran soldiers of the legions, to introduce from the Orient the popular cult of God Mithra. This cult had spread from Persia and India to all of Europe. The cult of Mithra was respected even in the Roman capital city itself, even after Christianity became recognized as the official religion of the Roman Empire. In Bosnia the cult of the god Mithra was maintained and served as a basis for accepting the religions which came from east, including Manichean and ultimately Islam.


Middle ages

The Slavs, from southeastern Europe invaded the Eastern Roman Empire in the 6th and 7th centuries settling in to where is today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina and it’s surrounding lands.
By the high middle ages, control over Bosnia subsequently was contested between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Byzantine empire. Hungary appointed Ban Borić as the first ruler and Viceroy of Bosnia. The second Bosnian ruler, Ban Kulin, allegedly presided over nearly three decades of peace and stability during which he strengthened the country’s economy through treaties with Dubrovnik and Venice. His rule also marked the start of a controversy with the Bosnian Church an indigenous Christian sect considered heretical by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. The Bosnian Church or heretical sect did not leave any trace in the form of temples or cathedrals, because they did not build such structures. The only material traces we have of their presence are the monumental tombstones – the ‘’stećci” – of which there remain more than 40 thousand. Their locations serve as an indication of where the Bosnian Church dominated.
The Ban Stjepan II Kotromanić ruled from 1322 to 1353 and had succeeded in annexing territories to the north and west, as well as Zahumlje and parts of Dalmatia. His nephew Tvrtko who gained full control of the country in 1367 succeeded him. Under Tvrtko, Bosnia grew in both size and power, becoming an independent kingdom in 1377. Tvrtko fought along side the Serbs in the infamous ‘battle of Kosovo’ where the Ottomans won convincingly. Being from the Bogomilistic religion, the Bosnian people were extremely attracted to the Ottoman way of life, as it appealed to them in many ways due to their similarities of a monotheistic religion. Bosnia’s gradually started converting to Islam and later, officially adapting its Kingdom into the Ottoman Empire in 1463.


Ottoman Era

The expansion of the Ottoman Empire into the Balkans introduced another cultural, political and religious framework. They conquered Bosnia in 1463. Although the Kingdom of Bosnia at the time was weak, the Ottomans nonetheless allowed for the preservation of Bosnia’s identity by incorporating it as an integral province of the Ottoman Empire with its historical name and territorial integrity – a unique case among subjugated states in the Balkans. Within this sandzak of Bosnia, the Ottomans introduced a number of key changes in the territory’s socio-political administration; including a new landholding system, a reorganization of administrative units and a complex system of social differentiation by class and religious affiliation.
Bosnia developed a sizable Jewish population, with many Jews seeking asylum from the Catholics during the brutal expulsion from Spain in 1492. Under the Sultans Beyazid’s orders Bosnia sheltered more than 50,000 Jewish refugees where they lived as equals in harmony until the Nazi’s evaded Bosnia during World War II.
As the Ottoman Empire thrived and expanded into Central Europe, Bosnia was relieved of the pressures of being a frontier province and experienced a prolonged period of general welfare and prosperity. A number of cities, such as Sarajevo and Mostar, were established and grew into major regional centers of trade and urban culture. Within these cities, various Sultans and governors financed the construction of many important works of Bosnian Architecture (such as the Starı Most and Gazi Husrev-beg’s Mosque). Furthermore, numerous Bosnians played influential roles in the Ottoman Empire’s cultural and political history during this time. Bosnian soldiers formed a large component of the Ottoman ranks in the battles of Mohacs and Krbava field, two decisive military victories, while numerous other Bosnians rose through the ranks of the Ottoman military bureaucracy to occupy the highest positions of power in the Empire, including admirals, generals and grand viziers. Many Bosnians also made a lasting impression on Ottoman culture, emerging as mystics, scholars, and celebrated poets in the Turkish, Arabic and Persian languages.
By the late 17th century, however, the Ottoman Empire’s military misfortunes caught up with the country and the conclusion of the Great Turkish War with the Treaty Karlowitz in 1699 once again made Bosnia the empire’s westernmost province. The following hundred years were marked by further military failures, numerous revolts within Bosnia and several outbursts of plague. The Porte’s efforts at modernizing the Ottoman state were met with great hostility in Bosnia, where local aristocrats stood to lose much through the proposed reforms. This, combined with frustrations over political concessions to nascent Christian states in the east, culminated in a famous (albeit ultimately unsuccessful) revolt by Husein Gradaščević in 1831. Related rebellions would be extinguished by 1850, but the situation continued to deteriorate. Later, agrarian unrest eventually sparked the Herzegovinian rebellion, a widespread peasant uprising, in 1875. The conflict rapidly spread and came to involve several Balkan states and Great Powers, which eventually forced the Ottomans to cede administration of the country to Austria-Hungary through the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.


Occupation by Austria-Hungary

Though an Austria-Hungary military force quickly subjugated initial armed resistance upon take-over, tensions remained in certain parts of the country (particularly Herzegovina) and a mass emigration of predominantly Muslim dissidents occurred. However, a state of relative stability was reached soon enough and Austro-Hungarian authorities were able to embark on a number of social and administrative reforms which intended to make Bosnia and Herzegovina into a “model colony”. With the aim of establishing the province as a stable political model that would help dissipate rising South Slav nationalism, Habsburg rule did much to codify laws, to introduce new political practices and generally to provide for modernization. Over the comparatively short period, the Austro-Hungarian rule caused a real culture shock – a ”blitz krieg” of its own kind of the architectural Europeanization of such scope that the great Noble Prize winner for belles letters defined it as ”architectural abortive undertaking of Central Europe”, because the authorities ”built narrow streets, bleak houses with dark halls”. Over the four decades, the European building style was evident in the construction of both residential and large public buildings such as the Country’s Administration Palace (today’s Presidency Building), Marijin Dvor Palace, Retirement Fund’s Palace (it was the first seat of the National Museum), the new Town Hall in the Moorish style, National Theatre and many more.
Although successful economically, Austro-Hungarian policy – which focused on advocating the ideal of a pluralist and multi-confessional Bosnian nation (largely favored by the Muslims) – failed to curb the rising tides of nationalism. The concept of Croat and Serb nationhood had already spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Catholics and Orthodox communities from neighboring Croatia and Serbia in the mid 19th century, and was too well entrenched to allow for the widespread acceptance of a parallel idea of Bosnian nationhood. By the latter half of the 1910s, nationalism was an integral factor of Bosnian politics, with national political parties corresponding to the three groups dominating elections.
The idea of a unified South Slavic state (typically expected to be spearheaded by independent Serbia) became a popular political ideology in the region at this time, including in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Austro-Hungarian government’s decision to formally annex Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 (the Bosnian Crisis) added to a sense of urgency among these nationalists. The political tensions caused by all this culminated on the 28th of June 1914, when Serb nationalist youth Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, an event that proved to be the spark that set off World War I.



Bosnia and Herzegovina were annexed to Serbia as part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes on Oct. 26, 1918. The name was later changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. Becoming a part of the new state, Bosnia and Herzegovina lost the importance it had while it was separate province in the period of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian occupation.
The establishment of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929 brought the redrawing of administrative regions into banates that purposely avoided all historical and ethnic lines, removing any trace of a Bosnian entity. Serbo-Croat tensions over the structuring of the Yugoslav state continued, with the concept of a separate Bosnian division receiving little or no consideration. The famous Cvetković-Maček agreement that created the Croatian banate in 1939 encouraged what was essentially a partition of Bosnia between Croatia and Serbia.
However, outside political circumstances forced Yugoslav politicians to shift their attention to the rising threat posed by Adolf Hitler’s “Nazi Germany”. When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, Bosnia and Herzegovina were made part of Nazi-controlled Croatia.
The Jewish population was nearly exterminated. Hundreds of thousands of Serbs died either in Ustaše concentration camps or in widespread mass killings by Ustaše militia. Many Serbs themselves took up arms and joined the Chetniks, a Serb nationalist movement with the aim of establishing an ethnically homogeneous ”Greater Serbian” state. The Chetniks were responsible for widespread persecution and murder of non-Serbs and communist sympathizers, with the Muslim population of Bosnia, Herzegovina and Sandžak being a primary target. When the Chetniks captured Muslim villages they were systematically massacred. The total estimate of Bosnian Muslims killed by Chetniks is between 120,000 and 150,000.
Beginning in 1941 the Yugoslav communists under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito organized their own multi-ethnic resistance group ”the Partisans” who fought against Axis, Ustaše, and Chetnik forces. They too, committed numerous atrocities, mainly against political opponents of all ethnicities.
On the 25th of November 1943 the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia with Tito at its helm held a founding conference in Jajce where Bosnia and Herzegovina was reestablished as a republic within the Yugoslavian federation in its Ottoman borders. Tito’s authoritarian control kept the ethnic enmity of his patchwork nation in check. Tito died in 1980, and with growing economic dissatisfaction and the fall of the iron curtain over the next decade, Yugoslavia began to splinter.


Bosnian war

In December 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia and asked for recognition by the European Union (EU). In a March 1992 referendum, Bosnian voters chose independence and President Alija Izetbegović declared the nation an independent state. Unlike the other former Yugoslav states, which were generally composed of a dominant ethnic group, Bosnia was an ethnic tangle of Muslims (44%), Serbs (31%), and Croats (17%), and this mix contributed to the duration and savagery of its fight for independence.
Both the Croatian and Serbian presidents had planned to partition Bosnia between themselves. Attempting to carve out their own enclaves, the Serbian minority, with the help of the Serbian Yugoslav army 4th biggest army in the world at the time, took the offensive and attacked Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly on Sarajevo and began its ruthless campaigns of ethnic cleansing, which involved the expulsion or massacre and genocides of Muslims. Croats also began carving out their own communities. By the end of August 1992, rebel Bosnian Serbs had conquered over 60% of Bosnia. The war did not begin to wane until NATO stepped in, bombing Serb positions in Bosnia in August and September 1995. Serbs entered the UN safe havens of Tuzla, Zepa and Srebrenica, where they murdered tens of thousands under the UN supervision. The three years of war and bloodshed had left between 230,000 and 250,000 Bosnians killed and more than 2 million Bosnians displaced.


Independent B&H

Since the war, the country has come a long way rebuilding itself to the standards of the EU, as a result many new 5 star hotels, gigantic shopping malls, banks, restaurants, parks and factories have led the way to a new shinning country.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is getting rave reviews from numerous travel sites and travel blogs from around the world for its uniqueness and soul of its Land. It is growing rapidly into the Balkans most cosmopolitan city because of foreign investments and its promising future.