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The small Balkan country of 3 million people fascinates me due to its great beauty and rich history. It is a country that has suffered over decades and that still stands. The strength and suffering of its people can be compared to the magnitude of the beauty of its landscapes. This is a country I can come back to endlessly.  


Brief History of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Once part of the Roman Empire, later claimed by the Byzantine Empire, and having become an independent Christian state for around 260 years, the Ottoman Empire took over the country in 1463, introducing another cultural, political, and religious framework.

For over the next 300 years, the Turks ruled in Bosnia, hosting also Jewish being kicked out from Spain and becoming in the 19th century a relatively secular society, where intermarriage among religious groups was not uncommon.

However, in the late 1800s, Serbia and Montenegro aided by Russia, fought the Ottoman Empire resulting in Austria-Hungary taking over the country to avoid Russia dominating the Balkans. Since not all were so happy about joining the Austro-Hungarian empire, six years later, the Serbs assassinated the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, precipitating the start of World War I. 4 years later, Austria-Hungary collapsed and Bosnia-Herzegovina became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later called Yugoslavia.

​In 1941, Germany invaded Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were made part of Nazi-controlled Croatia. This resulted in thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies being sent to the death camps. ​At the end of World War II, Bosnia and Herzegovina were reunited into a single state as one of the six republics of the newly re-established Communist Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito.

In 1992, following the collapse of communism, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia which ended up in a 3-year war period. Over the next several years, Bosnian Serb forces, with the backing of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army, perpetrated atrocious crimes against Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Croatian civilians, resulting in the deaths of some 100,000 people (80 percent of them Bosniak) by 1995.

​After the atrocious ethnic cleansing and a United Nations ultimatum to the Serbs, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) joined efforts with Bosnian and Croatian forces for three weeks of bombing Bosnian Serb positions and a ground offensive, which resulted in Serbia agreeing to negotiate. In 1995, the peace accord resulted in the creation of a federalized Bosnia divided between a Croat-Bosniak federation and a Serb republic – each governing roughly one half of the state's territory.

In 2014 the worst flooding in modern times leaves quarter of the population without clean drinking water and half-a-million people are evacuated from their homes.

Today, despite the tension and sanguinary history, and unlike the other former Yugoslav states which were generally composed of a dominant ethnic group, Bosnia is formed by an ethnic tangle of Muslims (50%), Serbs (31%), and Croats (15%), plus a number of smaller groups including Jews and Roma that have learned to co-live despite the language, religious and ethnic differences.

In 2016, Bosnia applied for the EU membership but it still has not complied with all requirements to officially join. Many observers estimate that Bosnia and Herzegovina is at the bottom in terms of EU integration among the Western Balkans states seeking EU membership.  

To me, it's a unique and fascinating country with beautiful people that is worth visiting over and over again.

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