25 interesting facts about Bosnia & Herzegovina

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From the world’s second shortest coast to Europe’s only free city, these are the most interesting facts about Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Interesting facts about Bosnia & Herzegovina include a UNESCO-listed bridge
Interesting facts about Bosnia & Herzegovina include several famous bridges (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Bosnia and Herzegovina
Population: 3.8 million
Area: 51,197 sq km
Capital city: Sarajevo
Major languages: Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian
Major religions: Islam, Christianity
Time zone: UTC+1 (Central European Time)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about Bosnia & Herzegovina

1. Bosnia & Herzegovina is a country located in southeastern Europe bordering Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.
– Source: Britannica

2. Bosnia & Herzegovina was part of the former state of Yugoslavia. After its break up in 1992, the Bosnian War broke out from 1992 to 1995 leaving 100,000 people dead and around two million displaced.
– Source: BBC News

3. Bosnia & Herzegovina is made up of two autonomous entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, as well as the Brcko District, which is governed by its own local government.
– Source: BBC News

A map showing the different entities of Bosnia & Herzegovina and its neighbouring countries
The different areas of Bosnia & Herzegovina (Shutterstock)

4. Bosnia & Herzegovina has been inhabited for at least 14,000 years. Cave engravings discovered in Badanj Cave date from between 12,000 and 16,000 BC.
– Source: Tim Clancy (2022) Bosnia & Herzegovina. Bradt: Chesham

5. Bosnia & Herzegovina was part of the Ottoman from the 15th century until 1878 when it was absorbed into the Austro-Hungarian empire.
– Source: Britannica

6. Bosnia & Herzegovina’s flag has a blue background split by a large yellow triangle and a diagonal line of nine white stars. The triangle reflects the shape of the country with its three points representing the Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. The stars and colour scheme symbolise Europe, neutrality, unity and peace.
– Source: Moira Butterfield (2019) The Flag Book. Lonely Planet Kids: London

The Bosnia & Herzegovina flag
The Bosnia & Herzegovina flag (Shutterstock)

7. The design of the flag was imposed on Bosnia & Herzegovina by the United Nations High Representative in 1998 after the country failed to agree on a design.
– Source: BBC News

8. In 1914, nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The assassination is considered the spark that ignited the First World War.
– Source: History Channel

9. Latin Bridge, where the assassination took place, was renamed Principov Most (Princip Bridge) during the Yugoslav era. It reverted to its original name after the collapse of Yugoslavia.
– Source: Lonely Planet

Latin Bridge in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Latin Bridge, the site of the 1914 assassination (Shutterstock)

10. In 1918, at the end of the First World War, Bosnia & Herzegovina became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which was renamed Yugoslavia in 1929.
– Source: United States Department of State

11. From 1945 to 1991, Bosnia & Herzegovina was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which included the modern-day countries of Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and Slovenia.
– Source: International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

12. In 1984, Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympic Games. It was the first time the Winter Olympics were held in a communist state.
– Source: The Mirror

A stamp commemorating the Winter Olympics
A stamp commemorating the Olympics (Shutterstock)

13. Bosnia takes its name from the Bosna River while Herzegovina’s name derives from the German word herzog meaning “duke” and the ending ovina meaning “land”. The combination means “dukedom”.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

14. Sutjeska National Park in Bosnia & Herzegovina is known as the “Yosemite of the Balkans”. It is home to the country’s highest mountain, a 75m-high waterfall, biodiverse flora and fauna and part of the UNESCO-listed last remaining primeval forests in Europe.
– Source: Bradt Guides, UNESCO

15. The Sahat-Kula clock in Sarajevo is said to be the world’s only public lunar clock where the hands indicate 12 o’clock at sunset, the time of the Muslim Maghrib prayer. It is adjusted daily by a caretaker.
– Source: National Geographic

The face of the clock
The Sahat-Kula clock (Shutterstock)

16. Bosnia & Herzegovina is sometimes known as the “heart-shaped land” due to the shape of its borders.
– Source: Rough Guides, Tourism BiH

17. The golden lily is the national symbol of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

18. Bosnia & Herzegovina’s most famous site is the Stari Most (meaning simply ‘Old Bridge’) in Mostar. The UNESCO-listed bridge was originally built between 1557 and 1566 but was destroyed in 1993 during the Bosnian War. It was rebuilt in 2004.
– Source: Lonely Planet, UNESCO

Stari Most lit up at night
Stari Most in Mostar (Shutterstock)

19. Bosnia & Herzegovina has 20km (12.4 miles) of coastline along the Adriatic Sea. Of the countries that have a coastline, this is the world’s second shortest after Monaco.
– Source: World Atlas

20. The city of Brčko in Bosnia & Herzegovina is Europe’s only free city. Brčko’s powers more closely resemble a sovereign state as it is almost entirely self-governing. It has its own education system, free-standing courts and separate health and police services.
– Source: The Guardian

21. Another famous bridge in Bosnia & Herzegovina is the UNESCO-listed Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad. The 179.5m long bridge was built in the 16th century and is considered to represent a “major stage in the history of civil engineering and bridge architecture”.
– Source: UNESCO

22. The town of Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina has been a popular Catholic pilgrimage site since 1981 when six children claimed they had been visited by Mary, mother of Jesus. Since then, similar incidents have been reported approximately 40,000 times.
– Source: The Guardian

Statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje
Statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje (Shutterstock)

23. The Siege of Sarajevo, from 5th April 1992 to 29th February 1996, was the longest siege in modern European history. It lasted 1,425 days and saw, on average, more than 300 shells strike the city every day.
– Source: Britannica

24. The UNESCO-listed Stećci Medieval Tombstone Graveyards are a series of over 4,000 medieval monolithic stone tombstones spread across Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. they date from the 12th to 16th centuries.
– Source: UNESCO

25. Bosnia & Herzegovina has never won an Olympic medal. However, the country has only been competing in the Summer Olympics since 1992 and the Winter Olympics since 1994.
– Source: Olympic Database

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Bosnia & Herzegovina using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.