Bosnia and Herzegovina


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Bosnia and Herzegovina is Number 12 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Bosnia was conquered by the Turks in 1463, Herzegovina in 1483. As the power of the Ottoman Empire in Europe declined, Austria-Hungary extended its influence in the Balkans. The Congress of Berlin (1878) placed Bosnia and Herzegovina under Austrian occupation; formal annexation followed in 1908. The book includes sections on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. Much attention is paid to the religious composition of the population, which, according to the 1910 census, included 825,418 Orthodox, 612,137 Muslims, 434,061 Roman Catholics, and smaller numbers of Jews, Uniates, and Evangelicals. The study stresses the strategic importance of the territory in dramatic terms: “Bosnia and Herzegovina were at one period picturesquely described as the point of the Turkish lance directed against Europe. Their acquisition by Austria in 1878 transformed them into the point of the German lance pressing towards the Balkans. Their present importance is derived from this fact as their past importance was derived from the other.”

Last updated: November 14, 2017