macrohistory & world report

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Map of Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina (capital: Sarajevo) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Bosnia has a transitional economy with limited market reforms. The economy relies heavily on the export of metals, energy, textiles and furniture as well as on remittances and foreign aid. A highly decentralized government hampers economic policy coordination and reform, while excessive bureaucracy and a segmented market discourage foreign investment. The interethnic warfare in Bosnia and Herzegovina caused production to plummet by 80% from 1992 to 1995 and unemployment to soar. With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-99 but slowed in 2000-02 and picked up again during 2003-08, when GDP growth exceeded 5% per year. However, the country declined in 2009 reflecting local effects of the global economic crisis. GDP growth contracted again in 2012, but posted a small gain in 2013. Foreign banks, primarily from Austria and Italy, now control most of the banking sector. The konvertibilna marka (convertible mark or BAM) - the national currency introduced in 1998 - is pegged to the euro, and confidence in the currency and the banking sector has remained stable. Bosnia's private sector is growing slowly, but foreign investment has dropped sharply since 2007. Government spending - including transfer payments - remains high, at roughly 40% of GDP, because of redundant government offices at the state, entity and municipal level. Privatization of state enterprises has been slow, particularly in the Federation, where political division between ethnically-based political parties makes agreement on economic policy more difficult. High unemployment remains the most serious macroeconomic problem. Successful implementation of a value-added tax in 2006 provided a steady source of revenue for the government and helped rein in gray-market activity. National-level statistics have also improved over time but a large share of economic activity remains unofficial and unrecorded. Bosnia and Herzegovina became a full member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement in September 2007. Bosnia and Herzegovina's top economic priorities are: acceleration of integration into the EU; strengthening the fiscal system; public administration reform; World Trade Organization (WTO) membership; and securing economic growth by fostering a dynamic, competitive private sector. In 2009, Bosnia and Herzegovina was granted an International Monetary Fund (IMF) stand-by arrangement, necessitated by sharply increased social spending and a fiscal crisis exacerbated by the global economic downturn. Disbursement of IMF aid was suspended in 2011 after a parliamentary deadlock left Bosnia without a state-level government for over a year. The IMF concluded a new stand-by arrangement with Bosnia in October 2012 which aims to improve national policy coordination, continue fiscal contraction, improve crisis preparedness, and create an environment conducive to private sector development."

Economic growth rate
2011: 2.2%
2010: 0.7%
2009: minus 2.9%

Labor force in agriculture
2008: 20.%

Unemployment rate
2011: 43.3%
2010: 43.1%

Public debt
2011: 44% of GDP

Export commodities
metals, clothing, wood products

Exports partners
2010: Slovenia 20.4%, Croatia 16.6%, Italy 16.5%, Germany 13.5%, Austria 11%

Imports in cash value almost twice exports

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 87th among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal).

Health expenditures
2009: 10.9% of GDP

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2005: 4.5%


Living in an urban area
2010: 49%
2008: 47%

Net migration rate
2012: zero

Ethnic groups
2000: Bosniak 48%, Serb 37.1%, Croat 14.3%, other 0.6% (2000)
World Factbook: note: Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim - an adherent of Islam

Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, other 14%

Bosnian (official), Croatian (official), Serbian


Southeastern Europe, just west of Serbia and Montenegro.


Chief of state is the president, which rotates every eight months among three individuals – a Serb. a Croat and a Bosniak. These three are elected by popular vote to a four-year term and not eligible for another term.

Head of government is the Chairman of the Council of Ministers

Legislature is bicameral, the House of Peoples with 15 seats (5 Bosniaks, 5 Croats and 5 Serb)s.and the House of Representatives with 42 seats (also ethnically proportionaed) Members are elected to four-year terms.

There are also three regional (local) governments one for each of the three ethnicities.

Its capital: Sarajevo.

Recent History

1945: Bosnia-Hercegovina is liberated from fascist rule by partisans under Communist leader Josip Broz Tito. It becomes a republic within Yugoslavia.

March 1, 1992: Croats and Muslims (Bosniak) form an alliance and outvote Serbs in a referendum for independence. March 3, independence is declared. Serbs dislike it and complain that the republic's constitution stipulates that all major decisions must be reached through consensus.

War follows, with ethnic cleansing carried out by Bosnian Serb forces allied with the Yugoslav leader in Belgrade, Slobodan Milosevic. Bosnian Serb forces, under Radovan Karadzic, lay siege to Sarajevo. The UN and NATO intervene.

1995: Dayton peace accord signed in Paris. The accord divides the country in half, one for Bosnian Muslims and Croats, the other for Serbs.

December 2004: European Union peacekeeping troops replace a NATO led international force (SFOR) for maintaining  peace and stability. 

October 2009: attempts at constitutional reform end in failure.

The World Factbook

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