BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
The three main ethnic groups in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina are Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Croats and Serbs. After World War II, Bosnia and Herzegovina became a republic within the Yugoslav Socialist Federation. Following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in early 1992 after a referendum boycotted by ethnic Serbs.
A war broke out as the Bosnian Serbs - supported by neighboring Serbia and Montenegro - responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas to form a "Greater Serbia."
In November 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, the warring parties initialed a peace agreement that brought to a halt three years of interethnic civil strife (the final agreement was signed in Paris in December 1995). The High Representative was appointed by the UN Security Council, responsible for implementation of the peace agreement. International administration, backed at first by NATO forces and later by a smaller European Union-led peacekeeping force, has helped the country consolidate stability.
Based on the 1995 Dayton Peace accord, Bosnia and Herzegovina today consists of two Entities--the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina which is largely Bosniak and Croat, and the Bosnian Serb Republic, or Republika Srpska, which is primarily Serb. Before independence, Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked alongside Macedonia as the poorest republic in the former Yugoslav Federation.
Three years of interethnic war following independence caused extensive destruction of physical infrastructure and a sharp economic decline, but Bosnia and Herzegovina has made impressive progress in economic recovery since the end of the interethnic war.