Central and Eastern Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of sovereignty in October of 1991, was followed by a referendum for independence from the former Yugoslavia in February of 1992. The Bosnian Serbs - supported by neighboring Serbia - 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, Bosnia's 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 signed a peace agreement that brought to a halt the three years of interethnic civil strife (the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995). The Dayton Agreement divides Bosnia and Herzegovina roughly equally between the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb Republika Srpska. 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 is to deter renewed hostilities. SFOR remains in place, with troop levels to be reduced to about 19,000 by spring 2000.
Climate: hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters; mild, rainy winters along coast
Geography: within Bosnia and Herzegovina's recognized borders, the country is divided into a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation (about 51% of the territory) and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska (about 49% of the territory); the region called Herzegovina is contiguous to Croatia and traditionally has been settled by an ethnic Croat majority
Government - note: The Dayton Agreement, signed in Paris on 14 December 1995, retained Bosnia's exterior border and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government - based on proportional representation similar to that which existed in the former socialist regime - is charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy. The Dayton Agreement also recognized a second tier of government, comprised of two entities - a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb Republika Srpska (RS) - each presiding over roughly one-half the territory. The Federation and RS governments are charged with overseeing internal functions. The Dayton Agreement established the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to oversee the implementation of the civilian aspects of the agreement. About 250 international and 450 local staff members are employed by the OHR.
Economy - overview: Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked next to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the poorest republic in the old Yugoslav federation. Although agriculture has been almost all in private hands, farms have been small and inefficient, and the republic traditionally has been a net importer of food. Industry has been greatly overstaffed, one reflection of the socialist economic structure of Yugoslavia. TITO had pushed the development of military industries in the republic with the result that Bosnia hosted a large share of Yugoslavia's defense plants. The bitter interethnic warfare in Bosnia caused production to plummet by 80% from 1990 to 1995, unemployment to soar, and human misery to multiply. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-98 at high percentage rates on a low base; but output growth slowed appreciably in 1999, and GDP remains far below the 1990 level. Economic data are of limited use because, although both entities issue figures, national-level statistics are not available. Moreover, official data do not capture the large share of activity that occurs on the black market. In 1999, the convertible mark - the national currency introduced in 1998 - gained wider acceptance, and the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina dramatically increased its reserve holdings. Implementation of privatization, however, faltered in both areas. Banking reform is also lagging. The country receives substantial amounts of reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid from the international community but will have to prepare for an era of declining assistance.
Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Washington, D.C.:
http://www.bosnianembassy.org | E-mail: Embofbih@aol.com
Permanent Mission of Bosnia-Herzegovina
866 UN Plaza, Suite 580
New York, NY 10017
Telephone: +1 212-751-9015
Fax: +1 212-751-9019