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Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia in the West, is a sovereign state in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for 26 kilometres (16 miles) of Adriatic Sea coastline, centered on the town of Neum. The interior of the country is mountainous centrally and to the south, hilly in the northwest, and flatland in the northeast. Inland is the larger geographic region with a moderate continental climate, marked by hot summers and cold, snowy winters. The southern tip of the country has a Mediterranean climate and plane topography.
The country is home to three ethnic groups, or so-called "constituent peoples," a term unique among Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosniaks are the largest group of the three, with Serb's second and Croat's third. Regardless of ethnicity, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina is often identified in English as a Bosnian. The terms Herzegovinian and Bosnian are maintained as a regional rather than an ethnic distinction, and Herzegovina has no precisely defined borders of its own. Moreover, the country was called just "Bosnia" (without Herzegovina) until Austro-Hungarian occupation at the end of the nineteenth century.

Pre-Slavic Period (until 958)

The earliest Neolithic population became known in the Antiquity as the Illyrians.

Conflict between the Illyrians and Romans started in 229 BC, but Rome would not complete its annexation of the region until AD 9. It was precisely in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina that Rome fought one of the most difficult battles in its history since the Punic Wars, as described by the Roman historian Suetonius. This was the Roman campaign against the revolt of indigenous communities from Illyricum, known in history as the Great Illyrian Revolt, and also as the Pannonian revolt, or Bellum Batonianum, the latter named after two leaders of the rebellious Illyrian communities, Bato/Baton of the Daesitiates, and Bato of the Breuci.

The Great Illyrian revolt was a rising up of Illyrians against the Romans, more specifically a revolt against Tiberius' attempt to recruit them for his war against the Germans. The Illyrians put up a fierce resistance to the most powerful army on earth at the time (the Roman Army) for four years (AD 6 to AD 9), but they were finally subdued by Rome in AD 9, with the Roman side suffering heavy losses.

The last Illyrian stronghold, of which their defence won the admiration of Roman historians, is said to have been Arduba.] Bato of Daesitiates was captured and taken to Italy. It is alleged that when Tiberius asked Bato and the Daesitiates why they had rebelled. Baton was reputed to have answered: "You Romans are to blame for this; for you send as guardians of your flocks, not dogs or shepherds, but wolves." Bato spent the rest of his life in the Italian town of Ravenna.

In the Roman period, Latin-speaking settlers from the entire Roman Empire settled among the Illyrians, and Roman soldiers were encouraged to retire in the region.

The land was originally part of Illyria up until the Roman occupation. Following the split of the Roman Empire between 337 and 395 AD, Dalmatia and Pannonia became parts of the Western Roman Empire. Some claim that the region was conquered by the Ostrogoths in 455 AD. It subsequently changed hands between the Alans and the Huns. By the 6th century, Emperor Justinian had reconquered the area for the Byzantine Empire. The Illyrians were conquered by the Avars in the 6th century.

Medieval Bosnia (958-1463)

Modern knowledge of the political situation in the west Balkans during the Early Middle Ages is unclear. Upon their arrival, the Slavs brought with them a tribal social structure which probably fell apart and gave way to Feudalism only with Frankish penetration into the region in the late 9th century. It was also around this time that the Illyrians were Christianized. Bosnia and Herzegovina, because of its geographic position and terrain, was probably one of the last areas to go through this process, which presumably originated from the urban centers along the Dalmatian coast.

The principalities of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 9th and 10th century, but by the High Middle Ages, political circumstance led to the area being contested between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Byzantine Empire. Following another shift of power between the two in the early 12th century, Bosnia found itself outside the control of both and emerged as an independent state under the rule of local bans.

Ottoman Era (1463-1878)

The Ottoman conquest of Bosnia marked a new era in the country's history and introduced drastic changes in the political and cultural landscape. The Ottomans allowed for the preservation of Bosnia's identity by incorporating it as an integral province of the Ottoman Empire with its historical name and territorial integrity - a unique case among subjugated states in the Balkans.

By the late 17th century, the Empire's military misfortunes caught up with the country, and the conclusion of the Great Turkish War with the treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 once again made Bosnia the Empire's westernmost province. The following century was marked by further military failures, numerous revolts within Bosnia, and several outbursts of plague.

Austro-Hungarian rule (1878-1918)

At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister Gyula Andrassy obtained the occupation and administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he also obtained the right to station garrisons in the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, which remained under Ottoman administration. The Sanjak preserved the separation of Serbia and Montenegro, and the Austro-Hungarian garrisons there would open the way for a dash to Salonika that "would bring the western half of the Balkans under permanent Austrian influence.

On July 2, 1908, in response to the pressing of the Austrian-Hungarian claim, the Russian Imperial Foreign Minister Alexander Izvolsky offered to support the Bosnian Annexation in return for Vienna's support for Russia's bid for naval access through the Dardanelles Straits into the Mediterranean. With the Russians being, at least, provisionally willing to keep their word over Bosnia Herzegovina for the first time in 11 years, Austria-Hungary waited a reasonably adequate time and then published the annexation proclamation on October 6, 1908. The international furore over the annexation announcement caused Izvolsky to drop the Dardanelles Straits question, altogether, in an effort to obtain a European conference over the Bosnian Annexation. This conference never materialized and without English or French support, the Russians and their client state, Serbia, were compelled to accept the Austrian-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia Herzegovina in March 1909.

The political tensions caused by all this culminated on 28 June 1914, when Serb nationalist youth Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo - an event that proved to be the spark that set off World War I. Although some Bosnians died serving in the armies of the various warring states, Bosnia and Herzegovina itself managed to escape the conflict relatively unscathed.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1941)

Following the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the South Slav Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (soon renamed Yugoslavia). Political life in Bosnia at this time was marked by two major trends: social and economic unrest over property redistribution, and formation of several political parties that frequently changed coalitions and alliances with parties in other Yugoslav regions.

The establishment of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929, however, brought the redrawing of administrative regions into banates or banovinas that purposely avoided all historical and ethnic lines, removing any trace of a Bosnian entity. Serbo-Croat tensions over the structuring of the Yugoslav state continued, with the concept of a separate Bosnian division receiving little or no consideration.

The famous Cvetkovic-Macek Agreement that created the Croatian banate in 1939 encouraged what was essentially a partition of Bosnia between Croatia and Serbia. However, outside political circumstances forced Yugoslav politicians to shift their attention to the rising threat posed by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. Following a period that saw attempts at appeasement, the signing of the Tripartite Treaty, and a coup d'etat, Yugoslavia was finally invaded by Germany on 6 April 1941.

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