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Bosnia & Herzegovinia

Geography and Topography

Capital: Sarajevo

Population: 311 161 inhabitants

Area:   51,197 Sq kilometers

Language: Bosnian, Croatian and Bosnian

Religion: Muslim (40%), Serb Orthodox (31%), Roman Catholicism (15%)

Currency: Convertible Mark


Bosnia is a country in South -Eastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. The region is rich as it traces permanent human settlement back to the Neolithic age. Culturally, politically and socially, the country has one of the richest histories in the Balkan region. From the 6th to the 9th century A.D, the country was populated by the Slavic people, who established the first independent Banat in the region. It was known as the “Banat of Bosnia” in the early 12th century. It evolved into the kingdom of Bosnia in the 14th century, after which it was annexed to the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire ruled the country from the mid15th to the late 19th centuries. The Ottoman Empire brought Islam into the region, thus changing the cultural and social outlook of the country. It was followed by the annexation to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which lasted till World War I. The country proclaimed its independence in 1992 after the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Performing Arts


Bosnian music is composed of a mix of Bosniak, Croat, Serbian, Greek, Roman, Turkish, Hungarian and Macedonian music as well as occidental influences. During its annexation to Yugoslavia, Bosnian music was published by amateur ensembles produced by the state called Kulturno-Umjetnička Društva, which constitutes the roots of the Bosnian music.

The shouted, polyphonic Ganga is a traditional form of Bosnian music. Ganga is a type of singing typical of rural Bosnia & Herzegovina. It is characterised by a solo vocalist beginning with one line of the song who is then joined by a group of singers culminating in a emotive wailing sound. Within the Bosnian folk music tradition, we notice that some folk songs are in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), evidence of the Jewish population of Bosnia’s influence on the country’s musical traditions.

The Sevdalinka is probably the most unique and recognizable style from Bosnia. It is an emotional style, often involving melancholic folk songs which describe sad stories. Traditionally, the songs were played with a Saz, a Turkish string instrument which was replaced by the accordion. The Sevdalinka style is typically Bosnian although it is a mix between Turkish music and Bosnian which also uses Muslim melodies. Examples which illustrate the 3 influences are Kad Ja Podoh na Benbasu the unofficial hymn of Sarajevo and  Kraj Tanana Sadrvana. Links to both these melodies are found below.

The “modern folk” genre is based on diverse influences, Sevdah stories and music from Serbia or Turkey whilst incorporating elements from pop music. During the Yugoslavian era, artists such as Halid Beslic, Halid Muslimovic or Haris Dzinovic enjoyed both Serb and Croat popularity  Rock became really popular from the beginning of the 20th century with bands such as Indexi, Dugme Bijelo, Jagode Divlje, Plavi Orkestar, Jabuka Crvena, Pusenje Zabranjeno and Hari Mata Hari. There is also a developed Heavy Metal scene in Bosnia. Electronic music also became really popular with artists and producers such as Adi Lukovac or Axa who favoured the development of styles such as Drum and Base, Trance, Breakbeat and Industrial. Hip-Hop is relatively new and became quite popular thanks to rappers such as Edo Maajka.




Kolo is a dance form with its roots in folk traditions of certain countries in Eastern Europe. Whilst it is primarily danced in Bosnia & Herzegovina, it is also popular in Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. It is a group dance performed by dozens of people at the time, the norm being three dozen. The dance is performed in a circle and involves practically no movement above the waist. The dance is accompanied by an instrumental two-beat music played by an accordion. Whilst Kolo is generally performed by both men and women, some dances feature only men whilst others feature only women. Variations of Kolo are performed at weddings and other cultural ceremonies. Dancers of Kolo wear a very specific type of shoe known as the Opanci. The shoes are traditionally made out of pig leather and must be custom made to fit the measurements of the individual dancer’s foot.

 Interesting Facts

  • Bosnia has been inhabited since at least the Neolithic age
  • The Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge over the Drina River in Easter Bosnia was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007
  • The most significant and important event in the sporting history of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the hosting of the 1984 winter Olympics.


The Bosnian Community in Australia

More information about Bosnia & Herzegovina