Bosnia and Herzegovina (i/ˈbɒzniə ənd ˌhɛərtsəɡoʊˈviːnə, –ˌhɜːrt–, –ɡə–/ or /ˌhɜːrtsəˈɡɒvᵻnə/; B&H; Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian: Bosna i Hercegovina / Боснa и Херцеговина [bôsna i xěrt͡seɡoʋina]), sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), and, in short, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southeastern Europe located on the Balkan Peninsula. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west, and south; Serbia to the east; Montenegro to the southeast; and the Adriatic Sea to the south, with a coastline about 20 kilometres (12 miles) long surrounding the city of Neum. In the central and eastern interior of the country the geography is mountainous, in the northwest it is moderately hilly, and the northeast is predominantly flatland. The inland is a geographically larger region and has a moderate continental climate, with hot summers and cold and snowy winters. The southern tip of the country has a Mediterranean climate and plain topography.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a region that traces 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 would remain 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 was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after World War II, the country was granted full republic status in the newly formed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the country proclaimed independence in 1992, which was followed by the Bosnian War, lasting until late 1995.
Today, the country maintains high literacy, life expectancy and education levels and is one of the most frequently visited countries in the region, projected to have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world between 1995 and 2020. Bosnia and Herzegovina is regionally and internationally renowned for its natural beauty 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 identified in English as a Bosnian. The terms Herzegovinian and Bosnian are maintained as a regional rather than ethnic distinction, and the region of Herzegovina has no precisely defined borders of its own. Moreover, the country was simply called “Bosnia” until the Austro-Hungarian occupation at the end of the 19th century.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has 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 region, the Brčko District, governed under local government. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is itself complex and consists of 10 cantons. The country is a potential candidate for membership to the European Union and has been a candidate for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership since April 2010, when it received a Membership Action Plan at a summit in Tallinn. Additionally, the country has been a member of the Council of Europe since April 2002 and a founding member of the Mediterranean Union upon its establishment in July 2008.