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Key facts:

Official Name:

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)

Date of Independence:

1 March 1992 (independence from Yugoslavia)

Population:

3,842 millions – Federation (FBiH) 2.327 million, Republika Srpska (RS) 1.437 million, Brcko District 103,249 (sources: Agency for Statistics of BiH; Statistical Office of FBiH and RS Institute of Statistics)

Capital:

Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of the Federation, Banja Luka is the capital of Republika Srpska

Other important cities:

Tuzla, Zenica, Mostar

Area:

51,129 sq km (19,741 sq miles)

Main religions:

Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, Islam

Languages:

Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian

Main ethnic groups:

Most citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) belong to one of the following three ethnic groups: Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Serbs and Croats. In 1991, when the last census was taken, Bosniaks made up 43% of the population, Serbs 31% and Croats 17%.

Currency:

1 convertible marka (KM), under a currency board tied previously to 1 German mark and now 0.51 euro

President:

Bakir Izetbegović, Željko Komšić, Nebojša Radmanović  (Members of the tri-partite Presidency)

Prime minister:

 Vjekoslav Bevanda (Chairman of the Council of Ministers)

EU relations:

A Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU was signed on 16 June 2008, but has not become effective yet (as of June 2012).

International organizations:

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a member of the United Nations, the OSCE and the Council of Europe (since 2002). It is also a member of the IMF and an observer with the WTO. Bosnia became a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace in 2006 and was conditionally offered NATO's Membership Action Plan in 2010, if outstanding property issues related to defence property are resolved.

The international role:

The Dayton Peace Agreement established the High Representative to oversee the implementation of the civilian aspects of the agreement. Valentin Inzko, an Austrian diplomat, has been the High Representative since March 2009. The High Representative has the power to dismiss domestic officials and to impose legislation. From 2002 to 2011, the High Representative also acted as an EU Special Representative. Now there is a separate EU SR who is also head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia. Since 2011, this post has been held by Peter Soerensen.

Structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina:

As a result of the 1992-1995 war fought between Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, Bosnia's constitutional structure is decentralised and complex. Bosnia is divided in two "entities": the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska. The Federation is further divided in 10 Cantons, and in addition there is the District of Brcko, which belongs to neither Entity. This set-up was agreed in the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the war, as well as the 1994 Federation Agreement, which ended fighting between Croats and Bosniaks and created the Federation as their common political structure.

Central Government:

The Bosnian central government has a limited number of responsibilities. The prime minister, known formally as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, is currently Vjekoslav Bevanda, a Croat. The three-member Presidency is Bosnia and Herzegovina's highest political institution, but has largely representational functions. The Serb member is directly elected by RS citizens, while citizens of the Federation vote either for the Bosniak or the Croat member. The three members are currently: Bakir Izetbegovic (Bosniak), Nebojsa Radmanovic (Bosnian Serb) and Zeljko Komsic (Bosnian Croat). The chairmanship of the Presidency rotates between the three members every 8 months. The state-level parliament, the Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has two chambers:

  • The House of Representatives with 48 elected members.
  • The House of Peoples (15 deputies appointed by the two entity parliaments – 5 Serbs, 5 Bosniaks, 5 Croats).

Republika Srpska (RS):

Republika Srpska (RS), one of the two entities, has its own government and president, currently Milorad Dodik. The prime minister is Aleksandar Džombić. The RS also has a parliament of its own, the 83-member National Assembly.

Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH):

The other entity, the Federation (FBiH), , has its own president, Živko Budimir, aBosnian Croat. The prime minister is Nermin Nikšić, a Bosniak. The Federation has a double-chambered parliament similarly structured as that at the state level; it is divided in a House of Representatives (98 directly elected members) and a House of Peoples (58 delegates from the Cantons). Of the 10 Cantons, five have a Bosniak majority, three have a Croat majority, and two are mixed. Each Canton has a government and a parliament.

Brcko:

After an international arbitration process between 1996 and 1999, the strategically important town of Brcko linking eastern and western RS as well as the Federation with Croatia, was awarded the status of a district. It is thus not part of either entity. It has its own jurisdiction (apart from state-level laws, which apply across Bosnia) and a special international supervisor.

Political parties:  

The Bosniak Party of Democratic Action(SDA - Stranka Demokratske Akcije) was founded in 1990. Until 2000, its president was Alija Izetbegovic, the wartime president of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While it used to garner an overwhelming majority of Bosniak votes, it has lost many supporters to the SBiH; the two parties are currently similarly strong. The SDA is currently headed by Sulejman Tihic.
The Bosniak Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina(SBiH – Stranka za Bosnu i Hercegovinu) was founded by Haris Silajdzic, another wartime leader who left the SDA in 1997. Silajdzic openly demands the abolition of the RS, which he claims was "created by genocide". As a Bosniak candidate for the three-member Presidency, Haris Silajdzic won 66% of the Bosniak votes in the 2006 elections.
The Social-Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina(SDP BiH – Socijaldemokratska Partija Bosne i Hercegovine) has its origins in the League of Communists of BiH. The party is led by Zlatko Lagumdzija. Although the party claims a multi-ethnic constituency, it is mainly supported by Bosniaks. However, in 2006 its Croat candidate for the Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, won office as the main Croat party split in two.
The Croat Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH –Hrvatska demokratska zajednica Bosne i Hercegovine) used to be the leading Croat political party. It was formed in 1990 and was dominant among Croats until 2006 when it split in two. Since 2005 the leader of the HDZ BiH has been Dragan Covic.
The Croat Democratic Union 1990 (HDZ 1990 – Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica 1990) is a spin-off from the HDZ BiH formed in 2006. Led by Bozo Ljubic, the party calls itself the "real HDZ" in protest against what it claims are undemocratic tendencies and corruption of the HDZ BiH. In the 2006 elections, the party successfully challenged the HDZ BiH, winning almost as many Croat votes as the HDZ BiH in the Federation and the Cantons.
The New Croat Initiative – (NHI – Nova Hrvatska Inicijativa) was founded in 1998 by Kresimir Zubak, a former HDZ member and former member of the Bosnian Presidency. The HNI merged in 2007 with Ivo Komsic's Croat Peasants' Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Serb Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD - Savez nezavisnih socijaldemokrata) is led by Milorad Dodik, currently the prime minister of Republika Srpska. The SNSD is currently the most popular party in the RS.
The Serb Democratic Party (SDS – Srpska Demokratska Stranka,) is the main Bosnian Serb party before, during and for many years after the war, co-founded and initially led by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. It is currently headed by Mladen Bosic. In the last national elections in 2006, the SDS lost a lot of ground to Milorad Dodik's Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).

June 2012

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