"This is page about Bosnians (as citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina)."Nationality

poptime=4.5 million (est.)
popplace=Bosnia and Herzegovina:

groups=Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats
langs=Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian
rels=Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, Agnosticism, Judaism, Atheism.

Bosnians (Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian: "Bosanci" / "Босанци"; sing. "Bosanac" / "Босанац") are a Slavic people who live in, or come from, Bosnia. By the modern state definition a Bosnian can be anyone who holds a citizenship in the state including members of the constituent ethnic groups of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. Additionally, ethnic minorities such as Jews, Roma, Albanians, Montenegrins, and others may consider "Bosnian" to be attached to their ethnicity (eg. "Bosnia Albanians"). Some individuals choose to identify solely as Bosnian at a national level. These are not confined to Bosnia and Herzegovina, as over 8,000 Slavic Muslims or migrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina in Slovenia declare Bosnian ethnicity.

In addition, there is a sizable population in Bosnia and Herzegovina who believe that Bosnians are a nation holding a distinct collective cultural identity. By this usage, a Bosnian would be an individual who belonged to this culture. They assert that this collective identity is capable of diminishing or overcoming existing political and ethnic divisions [ [] , from Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina website] .

In the July 2007 survey [cite web|url=|title=UNDP Published a Major Research on Return, Identity, Politics and Social Trust|publisher=United Nations Development Programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina|date=2007-07-07|accessdate=2007-07-27] conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 57% of surveyed identified an ethnic designation as the primary one, while 43% opted for "being a citizen of BiH". However, 75% of the surveyors answered positively to the question "As well as thinking of yourself as a [Bosniak, Croat, Serb] ,do you also think of yourself as being a citizen of the whole of BiH?". In the same survey, 43% opted for Bosnian-Herzegovinian as the primary identity, 14% identified themselves solely with their specific ethnic or religious group, while 41% expressed the dual identity. [cite web|url=|title=Pulse of the citizenry|publisher=United Nations Development Programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina|date=2007-07-07|accessdate=2007-07-27|pages=19-20 (Internet Explorer-only link)]


The earliest cultural and linguistic roots of Bosnian history can be traced back to the Migration Period of the Early Middle Ages. It was then that the Serbs, Croats, and other Slavs from northeastern Europe, invaded the Eastern Roman Empire with their Avar overlords and settled the Balkan peninsula. There, they mixed with the indigenous paleo-Balkan peoples known collectively as the Illyrians. From the chaos of the Dark Ages, from 800 AD, the Croatian and Serbian tribes coalesced into early principalities. As these expanded, they came to include other Slavic tribes and territories, and later evolved into centralized Kingdoms. The Croats to the west swore allegiance to Rome, influenced by neighboring Catholic kingdoms, while the Serbs to the east fell under Byzantine influence and embraced Orthodoxy; cementing their separate identities. In contrast, there was no prominent tribe in Bosnia, and an independent Bosnian state did not arise until much later. Prior to this, the core Bosnian lands (between the Drina and Bosna rivers) was in a near-constant state of flux between Serb and Croat rule. In the twelfth century, a semi-independent Bosnian "banovina" arose which was characterised by a weak religious structure and unclear ethnic affiliation. It rose to become a powerful kingdom in the fourteenth century, when the designation Bošnjani was first used to sometimes describe the kingdom's inhabitants. It was probably a regional name derived from the river Bosna which flows through the heart of the country. Before the collapse of the Roman Empire, the river was called the "Bosona" by the native Illyrians, and some scholars speculate that the name Bosnia itself derives from this term.

The Bosnian kingdom grew and expanded under the Kotromanic dynasty to include Croatian and Serbian territories. As a consequence, even more Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians dwelt within its borders, along with adherents of a native Bosnian Church whose origins and nature are a subject of continued debate among scholars. Those belonging to this sect simply called themselves "Krstjani" ("Christians"). Many scholars have argued that these Bosnian Krstjani were Manichaean dualists related to the Bogomils of Bulgaria, while others question this theory, citing lack of historical evidence. Both Catholic and Orthodox Church authorities considered the Bosnian Church heretical, and launched vigorous proselytizing campaigns to stem its influence. As a result of these divisions, no coherent religious identity developed in medieval Bosnia as it had in Croatia and Serbia.

As the centuries passed, the Bosnian kingdom slowly began to decline. It had become fractured by increased political and religious disunity. By then, the Ottoman Turks had already gained a foothold in the Balkans; first defeating the Serbs at the Battle of Kosovo and expanding westward, the Turks eventually conquered all of Bosnia and portions of neighboring Croatia. These developments would alter Bosnian history forever, introducing an Islamic component into the already confounded Bosnian ethno-religious identity. The Bosnian Church would forever disappear, although the circumstances under which it did are as hotly debated as its nature and origins. Some historians contend that the Bosnian "Krstjani" converted en masse to Islam, seeking refuge from Catholic and Orthodox persecution, while others argue that the Bosnian Church had already ceased to operate many decades before the Turkish conquest. Whatever the case, a distinct Slavic Muslim community developed under Ottoman rule in Bosnia, giving rise to the modern Bosniaks.

During the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1878 to 1918, the administration of Benjamin Kallay, the Austro-Hungarian governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina, enforced the idea of a strengthened unitary Bosnian nation (Bosanci) that would incorporate Muslim Bosnians as well as the Bosnian Catholics and Bosnian Orthodox Christians, who at that time were slowly beginning to separate into distinct peoples which threatened to destabilize Bosnia. Kallay symbolized the new nation with a structured, modern introduction of an official Bosnian flag, Bosnian language and coat of arms. In this way the Bosnian distinctiveness was strengthened and more importantly underlined and distanced from Serbian and Croatian nationalist interests in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Plut, Dijana; (2002) “What is Democracy in Textbooks?” pg. 117-118 ] . However, another view is that rather than being a reflection of reality or a concern for Bosnian people, the Austrian actions were merely self-serving. As Serbia grew into a regional power and possible focus of a united South Slavic state, Austria's interests were threatened- these being: to preserve its multi-ethnic empire and further expand its influence in the Balkans. She aimed to this by keeping the South Slavic people separate via embedding ideas within them that they are distinct peoples, as is the old axiom "divide and conquer". Some Bosnian Muslim notables jumped at the idea, no doubt partly because they saw an opportunity to promote their personal power by avoiding Serbian or Croatian influence [ An Illustrated History of Modern Europe. Denis Richards] .

The idea was fiercely opposed by Croats and Serbs, as it came at a time when neighboring Serbia and Croatia were reinforcing their national and ethnic identity in the process of building their own nation states. Famous contemporary Bosniak writer Safvet-beg Basagic tells in his own words: "Don't you know Bosniak, there was a time not long ago - at most 15 summers, when in our proud Bosnia and heroic land Herzegovina, from Trebinje (south) to Bosanski brod (north), a single Serb or Croat didn't walk. But today, through their whims, strangers spread from both directions (Serbia and Croatia). [...] Both guests have arrived, in a gentle false way, to take the most holy away from us - our proud and dear name (Bosniaks).Fact|date=February 2008

During the time when Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of Yugoslavia and heavily influenced by Croat and Serb politics neither of the two terms "Bosnian" or "Bosniak" were recognized as a nation. Thus, Bosnian Muslims and anyone who confessed themselves to Bosnian ethnicity were listed under the category "regional affiliation" by the Yugoslavian statistics. This also applied to the last census in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991. However, because of this, census format in former Yugoslavia was often subject of political manipulation. As a matter of fact, Muslim Bosnians requested the option "Bosnian" in the constitutional amendments of 1947 and 1973, but instead they had to declare themselves either as Serbs or Croats until 1963, "undecideds" or "Muslim in a national sense" (with lower case m) until 1973, and Muslims (with capital M) until 1993.

In 1990 the name Bosniaks was re-introduced to replace the term Muslim but it was too late for that term to be realistically accepted by non-Muslim ethnic groups in Bosnia.

This resulted in Bosniak, or even Muslim, as terms being (re)coined recently as a political compromise. Peculiarly enough, in the present day Bosnia it is practically impossible for a citizen to declare her/himself as Bosnian. Due to wide-spread practices in the Ottoman empire, the distinction (for taxation purposes, military service etc.) was made based mainly on religion and this heritage only contributed to the ethnic chaos in the Balkans that followed in the wake of its retreat from Europe.Fact|date=February 2008

In 1999, a Bosnian child born in Sarajevo was announced as the symbolic 6 billionth person in the world to mark the world population reaching this milestone. [cite news|url=|title=Population reaches six billion|publisher=BBC News|date=1999-10-12|accessdate=2008-04-04]

Bosnians in respect to religion

Bosnians are a multi-religious as much as multi-ethnic society but this is not to say that its component religions and ethnicities are homogeneous and independent from each other.

According to Tone Bringa, an author and anthropologist, in respect to Bosnia and Bosnians she states that "Neither Bosniak, nor Croat, nor Serb identities can be fully understood with reference only to Islam or Christianity respectively but have to be considered in a specific Bosnian context that has resulted in a shared history and locality among Bosnians of Islamic as well as Christian backgrounds." According to Bringa, in Bosnia there is a singular, “trans-ethnic culture” that encompassed each ethnicity and makes different faiths, including Christianity and Islam, “synergistically interdependent”. Bringa, Tone; Being Muslim the Bosnian Way ISBN 0-691-00175-8 ]

Still large numbers of Bosnians are secular which is a trend that has more profoundly found root in last 60 years in Bosnia and Herzegovina as they were part of the Communist system that rejected traditional organized religion.


In 2005 various South European medical schools and institutions specializing in human genetics did an analysis of the variation at 28 Y-chromosome markers among a sample of males from throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, relatively equally split among all three major ethnic groups.Marjanović, Damir; et al. " [ The peopling of modern Bosnia-Herzegovina: Y-chromosome haplogroups in the three main ethnic groups] ." "Institute for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Sarajevo." November, 2005] The most notable find was the high frequency of haplogroup I; specifically its subclade I-P37 (I2a), which had a frequency of 71% among Bosnian Croats, 44% among Bosniaks, and 31% among Bosnian Serbs. A similar study in Croatia found that Croatian Croats had a frequency of about 45%, but that among them Croats in Dalmatia had a particularly high frequency (around two thirds).Marjanović, Damir; et al. " [ The peopling of modern Bosnia-Herzegovina: Y-chromosome haplogroups in the three main ethnic groups] ." "Institute for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Sarajevo." November, 2005.]

Subclade I2a* is typical of South Slavs, especially Croats and Bosnians. Another subclade, I2a1 (formerly I1b1b, I1b2), is strongly associated with indigenous Sardinians, but it is also found at low to moderate frequency among populations of the Basque Country, Iberia in general, France, mainland Italy, the British Isles, and Sweden. Contrasting with the tendentially southeastern distribution of I2a* and southwestern distribution of I2a1, the subclade I2b is most commonly found among populations of Northwest Europe, especially Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the British Isles.

Bosnians today

Recently, the denial of Bosnian nationhood, as a unifying trait of those who stem from Bosnia and Herzegovina, has generally been used by some political factions to drive the constituent ethnicities of Bosnia and Herzegovina further apart.

Because of this pressure and because of its complex history Bosnian national identity today remains a complex issue among its adherents. Variably members of the Bosnian nation, of various ethnic and religious backgrounds who live or stem from Bosnia and Herzegovina, define themselves Bosnians primarily as they feel they belong to the same geographical region which characterizes them with particular cultural and historical traits. However, many choose to declare themselves as Bosnian as a method for overcoming ethnic animosities aroused by the recent war. Due to more recent war and massive relocations of Bosnians they have experienced a significant internationalization of their identity with many considering themselves as having dual identity (one as Bosnians and another of the country where they currently live). As a result in diaspora Bosnians have shown tendencies towards more or less successful organizing into viable Bosnian communities.

Given heavy involvement of the European community in political integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnian nationalization issue is viewed by some as a contemporary European experiment strikingly similar to modern Europeanism movement.

Maps and demographic illustrations

ee also

* Bosniaks
* Serbs
* Croats
* Herzegovinians
* Bosnian War
* History of Bosnia and Herzegovina
* List of Bosnians
* Views of the renowned writer Meša Selimović on Bosnians []

External links

* [ Bosnia-Hercegovina: An Interdisciplinary Study]


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