The country’s full name is Bosnia-Hercegovina, but we usually shorten it to Bosnia. Bosnia is a small country, about the size of West Virginia, with a population of about 3.5 million people. An absolutely gorgeous country with beautiful mountains and rivers and forests. It’s in south-eastern Europe – if you’re looking at a map its just to the right of Italy. It is a country with a rich history dating back thousands of years. Many different cultures, ethnic groups and religious traditions coexist in Bosnia with the three largest being the Bosniaks (who are traditionally Muslim), the Bosnian Serbs (who are traditionally Orthodox Christian) and the Bosnian Croats (who are traditionally Roman Catholic).
The break-up of Yugoslavia
Throughout the early 1990s, the former country of Yugoslavia began to split into several new countries, more or less along older national and ethnic boundaries. Bosnia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in early 1992, sparking a brutal civil war which lasted into early 1996. The three major ethnic groups in Bosnia are the Serbs, the Croats and the Bosniaks. The Serbs and Croats are Christian (Orthodox and Roman Catholic, respectively); the Bosniaks are Muslim.
This is a country and people of contrasts. The countryside is beautiful, but scars from the war are all around. There is forward movement toward becoming a stable, healthy country, yet many cannot let go of the past. The people are generous, hospitable and loving, yet many are still ruled by their fear, grief, and even hatred. The children are so loving and beautiful, but their wounds from the war run so deep.