Bosnia and Herzegovina,[a] abbreviated BiH or B&H,[b] sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country of South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city.
Bosnia and Herzegovina are almost a landlocked country – to the south it has a narrow coast on the Adriatic Sea, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) long and surrounding the town of Neum. It is bordered by Serbia to the east, Montenegro to the southeast, and Croatia surrounding north and southwest. In the central and eastern interior of the country the geography is mountainous, in the northwest moderately hilly, and the northeast predominantly flatland. The inland, Bosnia, is a geographically larger region and has a moderate continental climate, with hot summers and cold and snowy winters. The southern tip, Herzegovina, has a Mediterranean climate and mostly mountainous topography.
Bosnia and Herzegovina trace permanent human settlement back to the Neolithic age, during and after which it was populated by several Illyrian and Celtic civilizations. Culturally, politically, and socially, the country has a rich history, having been first settled by the Slavic peoples that populate the area today from the 6th through to the 9th centuries. In the 12th century the Banate of Bosnia was established, which evolved into the Kingdom of Bosnia in the 14th century, after which it was annexed into the Ottoman Empire, under whose rule it remained from the mid-15th to the late 19th centuries. The Ottomans brought Islam to the region and altered much of the cultural and social outlook of the country. This was followed by annexation into the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which lasted up until World War I. In the interwar period, Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after World War II, it was granted full republic status in the newly formed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the republic proclaimed independence in 1992, which was followed by the Bosnian War, lasting until late 1995.
Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina has grown at double-digit rates in recent years. Bosnia and Herzegovina are regionally and internationally renowned for its natural environment and cultural heritage inherited from six historical civilizations, its cuisine, winter sports, its eclectic and unique music, architecture, and its festivals, some of which are the largest and most prominent of their kind in Southeastern Europe. The country is home to three main ethnic groups or, officially, constituent peoples, as specified in the constitution. Bosniaks are the largest group of the three, with Serbs second, and Croats third. A native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of ethnicity, is usually identified in English as a Bosnian. Minorities, defined under the constitutional nomenclature “Others”, include Jews, Roma, Poles, Ukrainians, and Turks. Bosnia and Herzegovina have a bicameral legislature and a three-member Presidency composed of a member of each major ethnic group. However, the central government’s power is highly limited, as the country is largely decentralized and comprises two autonomous entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, with a third unit, the Brčko District, governed under local government. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of 10 cantons.
Bosnia and Herzegovina rank highly in terms of human development and have an economy dominated by the industry and agriculture sectors, followed by the tourism and service sectors. The country has social security and universal healthcare system, and primary- and secondary-level education is tuition-free. It is a member of the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, PfP, CEFTA, and a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean upon its establishment in July 2008. The country is an applicant for membership to the European Union and has been a candidate for NATO membership since April 2010, when it received a Membership Action Plan.