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History of Bosnia and Herzegovina

This is the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. See also the history of Bosnia[?], history of Herzegovina[?], history of Yugoslavia, history of Europe, and history of present-day nations and states.

For the first centuries of the Christian era, Bosnia was part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of Rome, Bosnia was contested by Byzantium and Rome's successors in the West. Slavs settled the region in the 7th century, and the kingdoms of Serbia and Croatia split control of Bosnia in the 9th century. The 11th and 12th centuries saw the rule of the region by the kingdom of Hungary. The medieval kingdom of Bosnia gained its independence around 1200 A.D. Bosnia remained independent up until 1463, when Ottoman Turks conquered the region.

During Ottoman rule, many Bosnians dropped their ties to Christianity in favor of Islam. Bosnia was under Ottoman rule until 1878, when it was given to Austria-Hungary as a colony. While those living in Bosnia enjoyed the benefits of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, South Slavs in Serbia and elsewhere were calling for a South Slav state; World War I began when Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Following the Great War, Bosnia became part of the South Slav state of Yugoslavia, only to be given to Nazi-puppet Croatia in World War II. The Cold War saw the establishment of the Communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Tito, and the reestablishment of Bosnia as a republic with its medieval borders.

Yugoslavia's unraveling was hastened by the rise of Franjo Tudjman to power in Croatia as well as Alija Izetbegovic in Bosnia both were extremist leaders as was Milosevic in Serbia. Slovenia and Croatia both declared independence in 1991, and Bosnia-Herzegovina soon followed. In February 1992, the Bosnian Government held a referendum on independence, and Bosnian Serbs, refused to join the referendum out of fear of a creation of an Islamic state. After a majority of Muslim and Croatian communities voted for Bosnian independence, Bosnian Serb snipers fired on civilians on March 1, 1992.

Bosnia's parliament declared the republic's independence on April 5, 1992. Full recognition of its independence by the U.S. and most European countries occurred soon after, on April 7, and Bosnia-Herzegovina was admitted to the United Nations on May 22.

In 1993, Bosnian Croats and Muslims began fighting over the 30 percent of Bosnia not already seized by the Bosnian Serbs. This civil war between three parties became the most chaotic, bloody and gruesome war in Europe since World War II. Numerous cease-fire agreements were signed, only to be broken again when one of the sides felt it was to their advantage. Many acts of war crimes were committed by all parties, which promted the United Nations to establish the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

In 1994, NATO got involved in the conflict, to enforce UN attempts to stop the war. On February 8th, NATO jets shot down four Serb aircraft over central Bosnia; this was the alliance's first use of force since it was founded in 1949. The so-called Vance-Owen peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina was announced on Febrary 9[?], 1994 and in March 1994, Muslims and Croats in Bosnia signed the peace agreement, creating the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This narrowed the field of warring parties down to two. In 1994-95, NATO bombed the Serbs and as a result of NATO bombing the Muslim-Croat alliance gained the initiative in the war, retaking much of Eastern Bosnia from the Serbs. In July 1995, the worst massacre of the civil war occurred, when Serbs killed over 7,000 Muslims man in the "safe area" of Srebrenica. The killings were retaliation for the crimes the Muslims of Srebrenica committed on the surrounding Serb villages The conflict continued through most of 1995, ending with the Dayton Peace Agreement[?] signed on November 21, 1995 (the final version was signed December 14, 1995 in Paris). The Muslim-Croat Federation[?], along with the Serb-led Republika Srpska[?], was to make up Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 1995-96, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force (IFOR[?]) of 60,000 troops served in Bosnia to implement and monitor the military aspects of the agreement. IFOR was succeeded by a smaller, NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR[?]) whose mission is to deter renewed hostilities. SFOR remains in place, with about 20,000 troops as of August 2001.

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