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Total population
6-7 million
Regions with significant populations
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,531,159
 Turkey 109,000 to 2,000,000 including people of Bosnian ancestry[1][2]
 United States 300,000[]
 Austria 128,047[]
 Netherlands 123,787[]
 Sweden 58,181 (2016)[3]
 Norway 50,000[4]
 Australia 39,440[5][6]
 Italy 31,000[]
 France 30,000[7]
 Canada 25,740[8]
 Denmark 22,404[9]
Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian)
Majority: Christianity: (Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism) and Sunni Islam
Minority: Judaism, Agnosticism, Atheism
Related ethnic groups
Bosniaks, Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Jews, Bosnian Roma

Bosnians (Serbo-Croatian: Bosanci/?; singular: Bosanac/?) are people who live in Bosnia or who are of Bosnian descent. Bosnia is one of two main regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to the latest official population census made in Bosnia and Herzegovina, most of the population identified with Bosniak, Croat or Serb nationality. Some people identified with "Bosnian" nationality, however these are listed under the category "Others" (along with all the other options such as Jews, Romas etc.). According to the latest population census (2013), there were around 2.7% "Others".

A Bosnian can be anyone who holds citizenship of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and thus is largely synonymous with the all-encompassing national demonym Bosnians and Herzegovinians. This includes, but is not limited to, members of the constituent ethnic groups of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. Those who reside in the smaller geographical region of Herzegovina usually prefer to identify as Herzegovinians.

The CIA World Factbook, used in this article as a source for numbers, does not mention a sole "Bosnian" nationality. Instead, it mentions "Bosnian(s), Herzegovinian(s)", thereby emphasizing the regional significance and equity between the terms.

Ethnic minorities in this territory, such as Jews, Roma, Albanians, Montenegrins and others, may consider "Bosnian" as an adjective modifying their ethnicity (e.g. "Bosnian Roma") to indicate place of residence. Other times, they use (with equal rights) the term "Herzegovinians".

In addition, a sizable population in Bosnia and Herzegovina believe that the term "Bosnians" defines a people who constitute a distinct collective cultural identity or ethnic group. According to the latest (2013) census, however, this population does not rise above 2.7%.

According to a study conducted by the University of Montenegro, Faculty for Sport and Physical Education in Nik?i?, Montenegro and the University of Novi Sad in Serbia, Bosnian people are the tallest in the world.[10][11][12][13]


Earliest records

The earliest cultural and linguistic roots of Bosnian history can be traced back to the Migration Period of the Early Middle Ages. At that time, the Slavs from southeastern Europe invaded the Eastern Roman Empire and settled the Balkan peninsula. There, they mixed with the indigenous paleo-Balkan peoples, mostly romanized tribes, generically known as the Illyrians on the territory of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also the Celtic population which had intermingled with these since the 4th century BC, and to a lesser extent the Germanic-speaking Ostrogoths which had entered the area in the late 4th century AD. From the chaos of the Dark Ages, from 800 AD, the Slavic tribes coalesced into early principalities. As these expanded, they came to include other Slavic tribes and territories, and later evolved into centralized Kingdoms.[14][15]

In the twelfth century, a Bosnian state arose that was characterized by an independent religious structure. It developed as a powerful kingdom in the fourteenth century; the designation Bo?njani was used to describe the kingdom's inhabitants. Although there is no credible source for the name, it is speculated that the name could be drawn from a regional name derived from the name of the Bosna river, which flows through the heart of the land. However, the river's name suffer from the same problem as well, so problem of the name persist.

Bosnian Kingdom

Territorial expansion of the Bosnian kingdom in the Middle Ages

The Bosnian Kingdom grew and expanded under the Kotromani? 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.

Ottoman era

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. Territory that partly belonged to the medieval Croatian Kingdom and partly to the Bosnian Kingdom remained under Ottoman rule for centuries, so long that it was referred to as Turkish Croatia (later as Bosanska Krajina).

These developments altered Bosnian history, as many residents adopted Islam, adding to the complex Bosnian ethno-religious identity. The Bosnian Church disappeared, although the circumstances of its decline has been debated as much as defining its nature and origins. Some historians contend that the Bosnian Krstjani converted en masse to Islam, seeking refuge from Catholic and Orthodox persecution. Others argue that the Bosnian Church had already ceased to operate many decades before the Turkish conquest. Whatever the case, a native and distinct Slavic Muslim community developed among the Bosnians under Ottoman rule, quickly becoming dominant. By the early 1600s, approximately two-thirds of the Bosnian population was Muslim.[16]

Austro-Hungarian era

Bosnians at the time of the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1878 to 1918, Benjamin Kallay, Joint Imperial Minister of Finance and Vienna-based administrator of Bosnia, promoted Bo?nja?tvo, a policy that aimed to inspire in Bosnia's people 'a feeling that they belong to a great and powerful nation'.[17] The policy advocated the ideal of a pluralist and multi-confessional Bosnian nation and viewed Bosnians as "speaking the Bosnian language and divided into three religions with equal rights."[18][19] The policy tried to isolate Bosnia and Herzegovina from its irredentist neighbors (the Orthodox in Serbia, Catholics in Croatia, and the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire). The empire tried to discourage the concept of Croat or Serb nationhood, which had spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina's Catholic and Orthodox communities from neighboring Croatia and Serbia in the mid-19th century.[19] Croats and Serbs who opposed the imperial policy and identified with nationalist ideas, ignored claims of Bosnian nationhood and instead counted Bosnian Muslims as part of their own nations, a concept that was rejected by most Bosnian Muslims.[20][21] Following the death of Kallay, the policy was abandoned. By the latter half of the 1910s, nationalism was an integral factor of Bosnian politics, with national political parties corresponding to the three groups dominating elections.[19]

U.S. scholars Robert J. Donia and John V.A. Fine conclude that:

Yugoslav era

During the period when Yugoslavia was established as a nation, the political establishment in Bosnia and Herzegovina was dominated by Serb and Croat policies; neither of the two terms, Bosnian or Bosniak, was recognized to identify the people as a constituent nation.[23][24] Consequently, Bosnian Muslims, or anyone who claimed a Bosnian/Bosniak ethnicity, were classified in Yugoslav population statistics as under the category 'regional affiliation.' This classification was used in the last Yugoslav census taken in 1991 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The census classifications in former Yugoslavia were often subject to political manipulation because the counting of populations was critical to power of each group. In the constitutional amendments of 1947, Bosnian Muslims requested the option of 'Bosnian.' But, in the 1948 census, they were given only the choices to identify as 'ethnically undeclared Muslim', 'Serb-Muslim' or 'Croat-Muslim' (the vast majority chose the first option).[24] In the 1953 census, the category "Yugoslav, ethnically undeclared" was introduced; the overwhelming majority of those who identified by this category were Bosnian Muslim.[24]

In the 1961 census, the Bosniaks or Bosnian Muslims were categorized as an ethnic group defined as one of 'Muslim-Ethnic affiliation,' but not as a Yugoslav "constitutive nation" alongside Serbs and Croats. In 1964, the Fourth Congress of the Bosnian Party assured the Bosniaks' of the right to self-determination. In 1968 at a meeting of the Bosnian Central Committee, Bosniaks were accepted as a distinct nation, though the leadership decided not to use the Bosniak or Bosnian name.[24][25] Hence, as a compromise, the option of "Muslims by nationality" was introduced as a category in the 1971 census. This was the official category for use by Bosniaks until the final Yugoslav census in 1991.[24]

Modern era

In 1990 the name Bosniaks was reintroduced to replace the term "Muslim by nationality". This resulted in Bosniak, or even Muslim, as terms being (re)coined recently as a political compromise. In the centuries of the Ottoman Empire, distinctions among citizens (for taxation purposes, military service etc.) was made based primarily on the individual's religious identity, which was closely tied to ethnicity.

The number of people who identified as Bosnians under the latest (2013) population census is not exactly known, however it is not above 2.73%, as this is the number of people who identified as "Others" and "Bosnians" are listed under this "Others" category.


Mosque, Catholic church and Serbian Orthodox Church in Bosanska Krupa

According to the latest population census (2013) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there were relatively few people who identified as "Bosnians", thereby it is difficult to establish the religious connection between this group of people and some of the religions present in that country.

According to Tone Bringa, an author and anthropologist, she says of Bosnia and Bosnians:

"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."[26]

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".[26] Still, large numbers of Bosnians are secular, a trend strengthened in the post-World War II in Bosnia and Herzegovina as they were part of the Communist political system of the Soviet Union that rejected traditional organized religion.


According to the latest official population census made in Bosnia and Herzegovina, most of the people identified with Bosniak, Croat or Serb nationality. Some people identified with "Bosnian" nationality, however these are listed under the category "Others" (along with all the other options such as Jews, Romas etc.). According to the latest population census (2013), there were around 2.7% "Others".

In a 2007 survey conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 57% of those surveyed primarily identified by an ethnic designation, while 43% opted for "being a citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina". In addition, 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 Bosnia-Herzegovina?". In the same survey, 43% said that they identify as a citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina as the primary identity, 14% identified with a specific ethnic or religious group, while 41% chose the dual identity.[27][28]

See also


  1. ^ Joshua Project (2010-04-13). "Bosniak of Turkey Ethnic People Profile". Joshuaproject.net. Retrieved . 
  2. ^ Milliyet (2008-06-06). "Türkiye'deki Kürtlerin say?s?!". Milliyet.com.tr. Retrieved . 
  3. ^ "Foreign-born persons by country of birth and year". Statistiska Centralbyrån. Retrieved 2018. 
  4. ^ Migrants in Europe - Survey: Norway Archived July 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex - Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2010. 
  6. ^ "20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex - Australia" (Microsoft Excel download). 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2010. 
  7. ^ "Présentation de la Bosnie-Herzégovine". France Diplomatie : : Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères. Retrieved 2018. 
  8. ^ "Ethnic origin population". Retrieved 2018. 
  9. ^ "Statistics Denmark:FOLK2: Population 1. January by sex, age, ancestry, country of origin and citizenship". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 2013. 
  10. ^ Popovic, Stevo; Bjelica, Dusko; Tanase, Gabriela Doina; Mila?inovi?, Rajko (2015). "Body Height and Its Estimation Utilizing Arm Span Measurements in Bosnian and Herzegovinian Adults". Montenegrin Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 4 (1): 29-36. Retrieved 2017. 
  11. ^ Popovic, S.; Bjelica, D.; Tanase, G.D.; Mila?inovi?, R. (2015). "(PDF) Body Height and Its Estimation Utilizing Arm Span Measurements in Bosnian and Herzegovinian Adults" (.pdf). Montenegrin Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 4 (1): 29-36. Retrieved 2017. 
  12. ^ "The World's Tallest Countries". Worldatlas.com. Retrieved 2018. 
  13. ^ Briscoe, Jake (17 June 2016). "Top 10 Tallest Countries in 2017 - Highest Average Heights by Nation - The Gazette Review". The Gazette Review. Retrieved 2017. 
  14. ^ Fine, John Van Antwerp. The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472081497. Retrieved 2017. 
  15. ^ De Administrando Imperio. Homepage.univie.ac.at – via http://homepage.univie.ac.at/ilja.steffelbauer/DAI.pdf. 
  16. ^ Malcolm 1995, p. 71.
  17. ^ Sugar, Peter F. (1963). Industrialization of Bosnia-Hercegovina: 1878-1918. University of Washington Press. p. 201. 
  18. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (2008). "Nationalism and the 'Idiocy' of the Countryside: The Case of Serbia". Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia at Peace and at War: Selected Writings, 1983-2007. LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 74-76. ISBN 978-3-03735-912-9. 
  19. ^ a b c Velikonja, Mitja (1992). Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-1-58544-226-3. 
  20. ^ Central and South-Eastern Europe, 2004, Volume 4, p 110
  21. ^ Banac, Ivo (1988). The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-9493-2. 
  22. ^ Robert Donia, John VA Fine (2005). Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed. Columbia University Press. Retrieved 2012. , p. 73, 1995,
  23. ^ Klemen?i?, Matja? (2004). The Former Yugoslavia's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook. ABC-CLIO. p. 113. ISBN 1-57607-294-0. 
  24. ^ a b c d e Banac, Ivo (1988). The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics. Cornell University Press. pp. 287-288. ISBN 0-8014-9493-1. 
  25. ^ Kostic, Roland (2007). Ambivalent Peace: External Peacebuilding, Threatened Identity and Reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Report No. 78. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University. p. 65. 
  26. ^ a b Shatzmiller, Maya (2002). Islam and Bosnia: Conflict Resolution and Foreign Policy in Multi-Ethnic States. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-7735-2413-2. 
  27. ^ "UNDP Published a Major Research on Return, Identity, Politics and Social Trust". United Nations Development Programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina. 2007-07-07. Retrieved . 
  28. ^ "Pulse of the citizenry". United Nations Development Programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina. 2007-07-07. pp. 19-20. Retrieved . 

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