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The city is considered one of the most important cities in the Balkans and has had a long and rich history ever since it was founded by the Ottomans in 1461. It was the site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which sparked World War I; more recently Sarajevo has hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics and was besieged during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s. Sarajevo is part of Canton Sarajevo, one of the ten Cantons in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The river Miljacka runs through the city.
Geography and climate
Sarajevo is located close to the geometric center of the triangularly-shaped Bosnia and Herzegovina, and covers 142 km²(88.2 mi²) of land. The core of the city is built in the Sarajevo valley (Also translated as Sarajevo field), a small depression 500 meters above sea level, nestled between the surrounding mountains. Although much of the city itself is relatively flat, some of the outskirts and far eastern parts are hilly. Neighborhoods in the old town in particular are well known for their steep streets and landscape.
The river Miljacka flows through the city from east to west and is one of the city's chief geographic features. The source of the river Bosna, Vrelo Bosne is found on the city's outskirts near Ilidža and is one of the most well known natural landmarks in the country.
The city is surrounded by five major mountains. In 1984 Bosnia and Herzegovina was the host of the Winter Olympic Games. The unique beauty of this jewel of the Central Europe, the natural wealth that is contained in its fresh and healthy air, mineral and thermal water and the resourceful potential for the enjoying different sports, made Sarajevo and the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina famous all around the world. They are part of the Dinaric Alps mountain range that winds through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia and Montenegro. The mountains are popular tourist attractions for hiking and skiing. In alphabetical order they are:
- Bjelašnica: 2067 meters (6782 ft), southwest
- Igman: 1502 meters (4928 ft), southwest
- Jahorina: 1913 meters (6276 ft), southeast
- Trebević: 1627 meters (5338 ft), southeast
- Treskavica: 2088 meters (6950 ft), north
Sarajevo itself is part of Bosnia proper, known for its mountainous and heavily forested landscape. Natural disasters pose little threat in the region, although small earthquakes have been known to occur.
Sarajevo has a continental climate, lying between the climate zones of central Europe to the North and the Mediterranean to the South. Sarajevo experiences warm summers, with temperatures of 35 °C (95 °F) not being uncommon, and cold winters, when snow is guaranteed due to the city's altitude. Sarajevo has three major weather stations. They are located on Bjelašnica mountain, Butmir, and in the city itself.
The warmest month of the year is July, when the average temperature is about 19 °C (66 °F), although August's average temperature is only a degree lower. The coldest month of the year is January when the average temperature is -1 °C (30 °F). The average year-round temperature is 10 °C (45 °F).
Sarajevo receives about 905 mm (36 inches) of precipitation a year. The rainiest month is October when the city receives 89.4 mm (3.5 in) of rainfall. The driest is February when the city gets only 61.4 mm (2.4 in) of precipitation. Average air pressure at the city's elevation is 942.3 millibars, and this varies little throughout the year.
Main article: History of Sarajevo
The area of present day Sarajevo has a long and rich history dating back to the Stone age, when the Butmir Culture flourished in the area. However, little material evidence of this is available, mostly due to later construction. Several Illyrian settlements existed in the area before it was conquered by Rome in 9 CE. During Roman times, a town named Aquae Sulphurae existed on the location of present day Ilidža, a Sarajevo suburb to the southwest of the city.
The year usually mentioned as the city's founding is 1461, when the first Ottoman governor of Bosnia, Isa-beg Ishaković, transformed this village cluster into a city and a state capital by building a number of key objects, including a mosque, a closed marketplace, a public bath, a hostel and the Governor's castle (Saray) which gave the city its present name (See also: Etymology of the Name of Sarajevo). Sarajevo flourished in the 16th century when its greatest donor and builder Gazi Husrev-beg built most of what is now the old city. By the late 17th century, Sarajevo was the most important city in the Balkans after Istanbul.
In a raid led by Prince Eugene of Savoy in 1697 against the Ottoman Empire, Sarajevo was burned down and leveled. The city was later rebuilt, but never fully recovered from the destruction. The capital of Bosnia was transferred to Travnik. In 1878, Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary, and Sarajevo was quickly brought up to the standards of the industrial age.
In the event that triggered World War I, Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June, 1914. Following the war, in the kingdom of Yugoslavia, Sarajevo was the capital of the Drinska banovina, one of the country's chief provinces. After World War II, Sarajevo grew rapidly as it became an important regional industrial center in Yugoslavia. Modern city blocks were built west of the old city, adding to Sarajevo's architectural uniqueness. The peak of city growth occurred in the early 1980s, when Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.
On April 6, 1992, Sarajevo was surrounded by forces of Bosnian Serbs. The warfare that lasted until October 1995 resulted in large scale destruction and dramatic population shifts (See Siege of Sarajevo for details). Reconstruction of Sarajevo started as soon as the war ended, in 1995. By 2003, most of the city had been rebuilt, with only a few remaining visible ruins in the city center. Modern business buildings and skyscrapers have since been constructed throughout the city.
In terms of politics, Sarajevo is the most important city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the capital of the entire country, as well as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina sub-entity. Sarajevo is also the obvious center of politics for the Sarajevo Canton. It is comprised of four different municipalities and is one of the few cities in the country with a separate city government. Sarajevo is the location of numerous other important political structures, such as dozens of foreign embassies. City government is split into the traditional three branches of democratic government.
The city government’s executive branch (Bosnian:"Gradska Uprava") consists of the mayor, his cabinet, and numerous city organizations that help in the governing of the city. The mayor is the chief of city politics, and has two deputies, along with a number of advisers in the cabinet. The role of the executive branch in city government is outlined in the city constitution.
The current mayor of Sarajevo is Muhidin Hamamdžić, from the Social Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city deputy mayors are Željko Komšić and Slavo Vlaški, who belong to the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the SDP respectively. They are joined by a secretary and a number of advisors.
To help the mayor carry out the executive duties of the city, the executive branch also consists of several city services, or "organizations". They are the "City Service for Running of the Region" (Gradska služba za opću upravu), "City Service for the Finances" (Gradska služba finansija), "City Service for Local Employment" (Gradska služba za lokalno poslovanje), "City Service for City Planning" (Gradska služba za urbano planiranje), and the "City Service for Communal Jobs" (Gradska služba za komunalne poslove).
The main legislative body of the city of Sarajevo is the Gradsko Vijeće, or City Council. Councilmen are elected by municipality according to population, with Novi Grad municipality receiving the most seats in the city council and Stari Grad municipality the least. The council is headed by the council speaker, two deputies, and a secretary, and consists of 24 members. Currently, of these 28, 15 belong to the SDP, 7 to the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, 5 to SDA, and 1 to the HDZ. The president of the City Council is Mira Jadrić-Winterhalter, and deputies are Emin Svrakić and Vladimir Zubić.
As the center of Canton Sarajevo, the city is also the center of judicial procedures for the area, based on the post-transitional judicial system for the country as outlined by the High Representative and his plans for the “High Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils” of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2002. The BiH Constitutional Court is also located in Sarajevo, consisting of nine members. Four of these are selected by the house of representatives of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, two by Republika Srpska's national assembly, and three foreign members are selected by the president of the European Court of Human Rights. The supreme court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Cantonal court of Sarajevo Canton are also located in Sarajevo. Sarajevo is also the center of law training and education for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Main article: Demographics of Sarajevo
Since no official census has been taken since 1991, the exact population of Sarajevo cannot be known. However, the latest estimates from the Sarajevo Canton government, dating from December 2002, are generally thought to be fairly accurate. They put the total population of the city of Sarajevo at 297,399 residents and the number of people in the greater Sarajevo region at 401,118. A more recent estimate for the greater Sarajevo area has the population in mid 2004 at 401,687.
According to the official government statistics, Sarajevo's population density is 2470.1 per square kilometer. The most densely populated part of Sarajevo is in the municipality Novo Sarajevo (7524.5 inhabitants per square kilometer), while the least densely populated is Stari Grad municipality (742.5 inhabitants per square kilometer).
The largest ethnic group in Sarajevo are the Bosniaks; with more than 230,000 people, this group makes up 77.4 percent of the city. The second-largest group are the Serbs, of which there are some 35,000 (12 percent of the city). Croats are the third largest group, with a population of 22,380 (7.5 percent of the total). 9,283 people (3.1 percent of overall population) are classified as others. They most likely consist of Sephardic Jews, and Roma, along with a small number of foreign workers (Mostly of Chinese and African backgrounds).
Main article: Economy of Sarajevo
Sarajevo is economically one of the strongest regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Like many other major cities, its economy is largely based on industries such as manufacturing and tourism. As the center of various levels of area politics, many Sarajevo citizens also work in government. A number of local and international companies are present in the city and contribute to its economic health.
Sarajevo's manufacturing deals with a wide array of products. This includes production of Foods and Beverages, textiles, furniture, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and metalworking. Sarajevo companies also produce unique brands of alcohol, and cigarettes.
A variety of important economic institutions are to be found in Sarajevo. The central bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina is found in the city, as are numerous other independent banks. Overall 19 different banks have their headquarters in Sarajevo. The city also holds the Sarajevo Exchange of securities, Institute for accounting and auditing of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Board for valuable papers of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Register of valuable papers of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Some major companies based in Sarajevo includie Air Bosna (Currently not in operation), BH Telecom , Bosmal , Bosnalijek , CBS Bank , Dnevni Avaz, Energopetrol, Oslobodenje, Fabrika Duhana Sarajevo (Sarajevo Tobacco Factory), Sarajevska Pivara (Sarajevo Brewery), and Unioninvest. Foreign companies with a foothold in the Sarajevo region include Harris Communications, Brown & Root, and, most notably, Coca Cola. The Bosnian-Malaysian firm Bosmal is also situated in the city.
Communications and media
Main article: Communications and Media of Sarajevo
As the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo is naturally the main center of the country's media. Most of the country's major television channels are based in the city, as are the most popular newspapers and magazines.
Newspapers are the most popular and most well established forms of media. The two most popular and credible daily newspapers are the Oslobodenje and the Dnevni Avaz, The buildings of both of these are adjacent to each other, situated in Novi Grad municipality, making the spot the center of the Bosnian media world.
Television is very popular in Sarajevo, even though for most people the number of channels is somewhat limited. Satellites allow for a number of foreign channels to be watched, but the most popular are the local news stations based in the city. FTV is the television of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, while there is also a national radio-television system named Public Broadcast Service of Bosnia and Herzegovina . A Sarajevo Cantonal channel is also available.
Many small independent radio stations exist, although the majority listen to the more established ones such as Radio M, Radio Grad, eFM Student Radio and RSG. RSG, Radio Stari Grad (Radio Old Town) is the most popular of these. Radio Free Europe can still be heard, and several American and West European stations are available for listening as well. Also popular is Radio 202, affiliated with FTV.
Divisions of Sarajevo
Sarajevo, the city and surrounding region, are split into several divisions themselves. These can be official or unofficial, with or without actual political power.
The most important division of the City of Sarajevo are its four Municipalities. Municipalities are the fourth level of political authority in Bosnia and Herzegovina after state, entity, and canton. The Bosnian word for them is "Općina". They are, Centar (Center), Novi Grad (New City), Novo Sarajevo (New Sarajevo), and Stari Grad (Old Town).
Like the city at large, all of the Municipalities have their own regional government, including a foreman, councils, and various Municipality services. The role of these Municipality governments is not as significant as that of other Municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the existence of the Sarajevo city government.
Sarajevo's Municipalities are further split into "local communities" (Bosnian, Mjesne zajednice). Local communities have a small role in city government and are intended as a way for ordinary citizens to get involved in city government. They are based around key city neighborhoods.
Sarajevo also has several suburbs. They are essentially the 5 Municipalities of Canton Sarajevo that are not included in Sarajevo's official city limits. They are, in alphabetical order, the municipalities of Hadžići , Ilidža , Ilijaš , Trnovo , and Vogošća . Of these the cities of Ilidža and Vogošća, found in the Municipalities of the same name, can be considered the most important.
Ilidža is the chief suburb of Sarajevo, located just west of Novi Grad Municipality. According to the latest estimates, Ilidža's population is slightly under 50,000. Sarajevo International Airport is found next to the city. The secondary suburb, Vogošća is located about 6 kilometers north of the city center and has a population of around 9,000. Vogošća has traditionally been an important industrial center.
The people of Sarajevo are known as “Sarayliyas” (Spelled Sarajlijas in Bosnian). Sarayliyas are known for being very proud and patriotic of their city. The song by popular singer Kemal Monteno , “Sarajevo Ljubavi Moja” (Sarajevo Love of Mine ) has come to somewhat epitomize this feeling among the people, and to this day remains something of an unofficial anthem for the city (Alongside with "Kad ja pođoh na Benbašu"). Sarajevo - the only city in the world where, in the same time, you can hear the calls for prayer from Catholic and Orthodox churches, mosques and synagogues.
If one were to describe the stereotypes of Sarayliyas in one word, it would be cosmopolitan. Sarayliyas are known for being modern cultured city dwellers. Bosnians from outside Sarajevo are thought to have the sense that Sarajevo receives too much attention, but this is more of a sibling rivalry than an actual dislike for Sarajevo and its people. Within the city itself, the people of the various Municipalities have somewhat taken up the stereotypes of the regions they live in. Sarajevo is also known for having a very communal feel, despite its large population.
Sarajevo has had a number of famous citizens over the years (See also: Famous Sarayliyas). They include an Academy Award winner, two Nobel Prize winners, legendary musicians, novelists, and politicians. Sarajevo has also produced presidents for three countries.
Tourism is one of Sarajevo's major industries, and is constantly growing now with stability in the region. Sarajevo's mountain ranges and Olympic facilities make it an ideal location for winter sports. Another reason for Sarajevo's popularity among tourists is its 600 years of accumulated history, which have been impacted by both Western and Eastern empires.
Ever since the 1984 Olympics, Sarajevo has been a popular tourist attraction (save for the war years in the early 1990s). Indeed, even long before that Sarajevo was a popular stop for travelers in the Ottoman and Austria-Hungarian empires, and is mentioned in traveling books from all sides of Europe and the Middle East. One of the first structures built in the city was an inn.
Sarajevo overall has some 50 major hotels, along with numerous smaller motels and hospitality businesses. A variety of travel agencies in the city can help organize a visit. The most famous hotel in Sarajevo is the Holiday Inn, whose distinctive color and location has made it something of a city icon.
Various types of tourism are popular in Sarajevo. War tourism focuses on the war years, and the famous spots of the siege of Sarajevo. Some are interested specifically in the historical aspects of the city, while thousands come for the area's nature.
Summer is the busiest season for Sarajevo tourism, as thousands of tourists visit from foreign countries. Many of these are from the neighboring Balkan states, while a very large number are former residents who fled the city during the war.
Sarajevo is full of interesting and notable structures that tourists find attractive. Some notable examples include the mountains Igman and Bjelašnica, Vrelo Bosne park, the Sarajevo cathedral, and the Gazi Husrev-Beg Mosque among others (See also: Sites of interest in Sarajevo).
Geographic and historical factors have combined to make Sarajevo a very small city for its population. Due to this and a lack of parking structures, it is very difficult to find places for parking. This is especially true in the summer months when the number of people in Sarajevo is significantly higher due to the number of tourists. Sarajevo makes up for this with its traditional old world city planning, which allows for pedestrians to easily walk to wherever they need to go. Bicycling is also practiced, but is not very common.
Public transportation is very common and has a long tradition in Sarajevo. The chief methods of this are tramways, trolleys, and buses. Tramways in fact, were first introduced to Europe in Sarajevo during the late 19th century by Austria-Hungarian officials. The Sarajevo tramway is 16 kilometers long.
Overall in Sarajevo there are 7 tramway lines, 4 trolley lines, and 9 bus routes. Most of these run east-west, and are found on the northern bank of the Miljacka. These disproportions however are merely due to the city's layout and practical reasons. During the last years of Yugoslavia, a subway was planned as well but never implemented.
The railroad has always been very important in Sarajevo. The main Sarajevo railroad station is located in the north central part of the city. From there railroad tracks head west before branching off in different directions. The railroad for years was crucial to the industry of the part of town it ran through. This has left a lasting impression on the region, ranging from stereotypes to soccer teams. Historically, Sarajevo was a very important center of the railroad industry in Southeastern Europe, although it has been greatly hurt by the war.
Sarajevo International Airport (intl. code SJJ) is located just a few kilometers southwest of the city. During the war the airport was used for United Nations flights and humanitarian relief. Since the Dayton Accord in 1996, the airport has welcomed a thriving commercial flight business.
The two main streets within Sarajevo are "Titova" (Josip Broz Tito) street and "Zmaj od Bosne" (Dragon of Bosnia) street. Most traffic out of the city is directed to the west, as that is where most important cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are located. Also, the Republika Sprska is directly to the east, and most people have little desire to go there. A highway that connects Sarajevo with Budapest and central Europe is being modernized, but presently it is at some spots little more than a paved countryside road. The speed limit at most parts is 60 or 80 km/h.
Main article: Culture of Sarajevo
Sarajevo’s extensive culture is represented in various ways. Historically, Sarajevo was home to several famous Bosnian poets and thinkers during the times of the Ottoman Empire. Nobel Prize winners Ivo Andrić and Vladimir Prelog are from the city, as was academy award winning director Danis Tanović.
Sarajevo is also home to a number of cultural institutions, dedicated to maintaining the city's culture. The notable Bosniak institute is housed in an impressive building in central Sarajevo, and features various interesting exhibits dealing with the city's and country's culture and history. Also notable are the International Center for Kids and Youth in New Sarajevo Municipality, and the Center for Sarajevo Culture.
Theatres are also an important part of Sarajevo culture. The first great Sarajevo theatre was the national theatre of Bosnia and Herzegovina, built in 1919 and surviving to this day. Prior to that, plays were often held in parks or at the large houses of wealthy families. The first Bosnian opera was held in Sarajevo in 2003. Sarajevo also houses the Sarajevo Youth Theatre.
The most famous in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is located in central Sarajevo. It was established in 1888, from an idea dating back to the first half of the 19th century. The Sarajevo Haggadah is held there. While in Sarajevo one can also visit the Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art, the Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Museum of the City of Sarajevo, and the Bosnian and Herzegovinian Museum of Literature. There existed an impressive Olympic museum dedicated to the 84 games but it was destroyed in the warfare.
In the past, Sarajevo held several famous libraries. Notably Gazi Husrev-Beg's, and the national library. Unfortunately Serbian ultranationalists purposely fired upon the national library with incendiary shells and it was destroyed. An effort is underway to rebuild the library and replace what was lost. An impressive new modern "Gazi Husrev-Beg's" library is also being built.
The Sarajevo Film Festival, which has been going on since 1995, has become the premier film festival in the Balkans. Largely due to its size and the success and popularity of cinema in Bosnia, the event has gained considerable importance and often attracts foreign celebrities. The Sarajevo Winter Festival and Sarajevo Jazz Festival are also well-known, as are the Bašćaršija Nights, a month-long showcase of local culture, music, and dance.
One of the most famous things about Sarajevo is that it was the location of the 1984 Winter Olympics. However, sports and sporting events played an important part in Sarajevo life well before the city hosted the games. For instance, one of the city's best-loved sports is football. The two football clubs, FK Sarajevo and NK Željezničar Sarajevo, both have a long tradition of competing in European and international cups and tournaments.
Another is basketball. The basketball club Bosna Sarajevo won the European championship in 1979. The chess club Bosna Sarajevo has been a championship team since the 1980s. Sarajevo often holds international events and competitions in various other sports as well, such as tennis and kickboxing.
Education has a long tradition in Sarajevo. The first university in Sarajevo was a school of Sufi philosophy established by Gazi Husrev-beg in 1531. Over the years, numerous other religious schools were established as well. The Sarajevo library, in its prime, was in the same category as the Madrassa of Beyazid II. The annexation of Bosnia by Austria-Hungary introduced Sarajevo to Western education.
The first high school in Sarajevo was established in 1887. Starting in the 1940s, numerous modern faculties were added to the University of Sarajevo for a wide variety of professions ranging from economics to forestry. Sarajevo today also has 46 elementary schools (Grades 1-8), and 19 high schools (Grades 9-12). The University of Sarajevo includes faculties for medicine, law, agriculture, technical services, philosophy, and economics.
- Constructions and reconstructions in Sarajevo after war
- Folklore of Sarajevo
- Sites of interest in Sarajevo
- Uherope - Travel Tips to Sarajevo and more
- Relax Tours: Tourism & Travel Agency in Sarajevo (In English)
- Sarajevo, MOJ GRAD! – "Sarajevo, My City!" online city guide and web portal (in Bosnian)
- Official Sarajevo city government site (in Bosnian)
- Sarajevo International Airport (in Bosnian and English)
- Tourism Association of Sarajevo (in Bosnian and English)
- The United States Embassy in Sarajevo
- The British Embassy in Sarajevo
- Embassy Listings for Bosnia and Herzegovina (Embassies of Other Nations to Bosnia and Herzegovina without Websites)
- Sarajevo X portal
- Saray Portal
- Artwork and Photography of talented artists from Sarajevo and rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Interactive Map of Sarajevo
- Official website of the city of Sarajevo 
- Valerijan, Žujo; Imamović, Mustafa; Ćurovac, Muhamed (1997). Sarajevo. Sarajevo: Svjetlost
- Prstojević, Miroslav (1992). Zaboravljeno Sarajevo (Forgotten Sarajevo). Sarajevo: Ideja
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