Bosnian americans

by Olivia Miller


Bosnia-Herzegovina, located on the Balkan peninsula in Eastern Europe, is a republic of the former Yugoslavia. The northern portion, Bosnia, is mountainous and wooded, while Herzegovina, to the south, is primarily flatland. The republic has a land area of 19,741 square miles (51,129 square kilometers) and a population of 2.6 million, down from 4.3 million before the war of the 1990s. Bosnia's capital is Sarajevo, the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics. Mostar is the capital of Herzegovina. Almost 95 percent of the population speaks Bosnian, also called Serbo-Croatian. Bosnians descended from Slavic settlers who came to the area in the early Middle Ages. The population includes Catholic Bosnian Croats (17 percent); Eastern Orthodox Bosnian Serbs (31 percent); and Bosnian Muslims (44 percent), whose ancestors converted from Christianity centuries ago. Some historians have pointed out that the residents of Bosnia are ethnically much the same and have chosen to identify as Croats or Serbs primarily for religious and political reasons.

From 1992 until 1995, Bosnian Serbs waged a war against non-Serbs. The war ended with the Dayton Peace Accord, which recognizes Bosnia-Herzegovina as a single state that is partitioned, with a Muslim-Croat federation given 51 percent of the area and a Serbian republic given 49 percent. The Bosnia-Herzegovina flag, adopted February 4, 1998, has a blue background with a yellow inverted triangle in the center. To the left of the triangle is a row of white stars in a line from the top edge to the bottom edge of the flag.


In the first few centuries A.D., the Roman Empire held Bosnia. After the empire disintegrated, various powers sought control of the land. Slavs were living in Bosnia by the seventh century, and by the tenth century they had an independent state. In the ninth century, the two kingdoms of Serbia and Croatia were established.

Bosnia briefly lost its independence to Hungary in the twelfth century, but regained it around 1180. It prospered and expanded under three especially powerful rulers: Ban Kulin, who reigned from 1180 to 1204; Ban Stephen Kotromanic, who ruled from 1322 to 1353; and King Stephen Tvrtko, who reigned from 1353 to 1391. After Tvrtko's death, internal struggles weakened the nation. The neighboring Ottoman Turks were becoming increasingly aggressive, and they conquered Bosnia in 1463. For more than 400 years, Bosnia was an important province of the Ottoman Empire. Islam was the official religion, though non-Muslim faiths were allowed. Indeed, in the Ottoman era many Jews came from Spain, where they faced persecution or death at the hands of the Catholic Inquisition, to find a tolerant home in Bosnia.

By the nineteenth century, however, many Bosnians were dissatisfied with Ottoman rule. Clashes between peasants and landowners were frequent, and there was tension between Christians and Muslims. Foreign powers became interested in the region. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, following the end of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), Austria-Hungary took over the administration of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Many Bosnian Muslims, who thought the new rulers favored Serbian interests, emigrated to Turkey and other parts of the Ottoman Empire. The Austro-Hungarian government formally annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908. Nationalists in Serbia, who had hoped to make Bosnia-Herzegovina part of a great Serb nation, were outraged. In 1914, a Serb nationalist assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo, thrusting the nations into World War I from 1914 to 1918. At the end of the war came the creation of the South Slav state, which together with Serbia became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Bosnia's Muslim Slavs were urged to register themselves as Serbs or Croats. Nazi Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, invaded Yugoslavia in 1941. The Nazis set up a puppet Croatian state, incorporating all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but persecuted and killed Serbs, Gypsies, and Jews, as well as Croats who opposed the regime. Yugoslav communist Josip Broz Tito led a multi-ethnic force against Germany, and at the end of World War II, he became premier of Yugoslavia. Under Tito's rule, Yugoslavia was a one-party dictatorship that restricted religious practice for 35 years.


After Tito's death in 1980, the presidents of the six republics and two autonomous regions ruled Yugoslavia by committee. The country suffered economic problems in the 1980s, and the decade was also marked by a rise in nationalism among its component republics. The Muslim-led government of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia in March 1992. The following month, the United States and the European community recognized the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Interethnic fighting began as the Yugoslav National Army, under the leadership of Slobodan Milosevic, attacked Sarajevo. Milosevic, the leader of Serbia, sought to unite all Serbian lands and to purge the regions of non-Serb populations. Serbs, Croats, and Muslims fought to expand or keep their territories within Bosnia. By mid-1995, most of the country was in the hands of Bosnian Serbs who were accused of conducting "ethnic cleansing"—the systematic killing or expulsion of other ethnic groups. At the time the Dayton peace agreement was signed in December 1995, more than one million Bosnians remained displaced within the borders of the republic. At least one million more were living as refugees in 25 other countries, primarily in the neighboring republics of former Yugoslavia but also throughout Western Europe.

At the end of the twentieth century, the United Nations maintained a peacekeeping operation and arbitrates disputes in Bosnia. Since June 1995, the areas of control have changed frequently. The Muslim/Croat Federation reclaimed large amounts of territory in western Bosnia. In addition, Bosnian Serb forces took military control of two U.N. safe areas, Zepa and Srebrenica. In March of 1999, an international arbitration panel ruled that a 30-square-mile part of northern Bosnia around the town of Brcko would be a neutral community under international supervision, rather than a part of the Bosnian Serb Republic. Under authority of the Dayton agreement, the panel also dismissed Bosnian Serb President Nikola Poplasen, who resigned immediately.

Many Bosnian Americans were refugees who were forced to leave their war-torn country and rebuild their lives in America.
Many Bosnian Americans were refugees who were forced to leave their war-torn country and rebuild their lives in America.


The first Serb immigrants came in the first half of the nineteenth century and helped settle the American West. Many were young men from the Dalmatian coast, where they had worked as sailors or fishermen. Once in the United States, many of them worked in fishing or shipping in cities such as San Francisco, New Orleans, and Galveston, Texas, where they worked in the fishing and shipping industries. Most of them married outside of their ethnic group. Accurate immigration figures for Bosnians are impossible to obtain. Until 1918 the U.S. Immigration Service counted Croatians from Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina separately from other Croatians, who were classified as Slovenians. After 1918 Croatians were listed as Yugoslavs. Prior to 1993, data for immigration from Bosnia-Herzegovina was not available separately from Yugoslavia.


There were six waves of Serbian/Croatian immigration. The earliest occurred from 1820 to 1880. The largest wave of Yugoslav immigrants took place from 1880 to 1914, when approximately 100,000 Serbs arrived in the United States. Most were unskilled laborers who fled the Austro-Hungarian policies of forced assimilation. Croatian and Serbian immigrants were largely young, impoverished peasant men. In the United States they settled in the major industrial cities of the East and Midwest, working long hours at low-paying jobs.

The third wave happened between World War I and World War II. From 1921 to 1930, 49,064 immigrants arrived. These interwar years were times of Serbian nationalist fervor. The Yugoslav regime became increasingly dictatorial, ruling provinces through military governors. Immigrants sought freedom from ethnic oppression by coming to the United States. The number of immigrants dropped to 5,835 in the decade from 1931 to 1941, and then decreased to 1,576 during World War II when Germany controlled Yugoslavia. Immigration was further reduced during the postwar years when the Communist Party under Tito took over the country. The fourth wave was made up of displaced persons and war refugees from 1945 until 1965.

The fifth major surge began in the sixties, when 20,381 Yugoslavians immigrated, a surge that continued into the next decade with 30,540 more immigrants. During the years of Tito's rule, Yugoslavia received economic and diplomatic support from the United States. In the 1970s, the U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, went as far as to say that the United States would risk nuclear war on Yugoslavia's behalf. From 1981 to 1990, 19,200 Yugoslavians immigrated to the United States. These Croatian and Serbian immigrants were intellectuals, artists and professionals who adapted easily to life in the United States.

The sixth wave came as a response to disintegrating political stability after Bosnia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1992. These immigrants have primarily been Muslim, pushed out by Serbs fighting to create a Serb-only region. From 1991 to 1994, 11,500 immigrated. The number fell to 8,300 in 1995, then rose to 11,900 in 1996. In 1994, with the U.S. Census records listing Bosnians as a separate category, 337 refugees were granted permanent residence. There were an additional 3,818 refugees in 1995 and 6,246 in 1996. In 1996, 19,242 Bosnians filed for refugee status. Of these, 14,654 were eventually approved, and 1,939 were denied. Bosnian refugees settled into communities all over the United States. Most received help from charitable organizations, as well as aid from the immigrants who preceded them. In 1998, 88 Bosnians and Herzegovinans were winners of the DV-99 diversity lottery. The diversity lottery is conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.


Most Bosnian immigrants have settled quickly into long-established ethnic enclaves. Bosnian Serbs tend to settle with other Serbs and Bosnian Croats in local Croatian communities. Until the war in the 1990s, Bosnian Muslim immigrants had been so few in number that there was no Bosnian Muslim community into which they could integrate. They concentrated in urban areas, some of which now have significant Bosnian Muslim populations. In the Astoria section of New York City, for instance, Bosnian Muslims built a mosque that was dedicated in 1997.

Of the 258,000 Americans of Yugoslavian ancestry living in the United States in 1990, 37 percent lived in the West, 23 percent lived in the Northeast, 28 percent lived in the Midwest, and only 12 percent lived in the South. Cities with large Yugoslavian American populations included Chicago, New York, Newark, Detroit, St. Louis, Des Moines, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and Jacksonville, Florida. According to the 1990 census, the highest concentration of Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims is in a neighborhood near 185th Street in eastern Cleveland.

Serbs and Croats have left their mark on many parts of the United States. Early Croatian immigrants prospered as merchants and fruit growers in California's Pajaro Valley. Croatians were among the first settlers of Reno, Nevada. New Orleans became a center of Croatian immigration in the early nineteenth century. The first Slavic ethnic society in the South was established in 1874 by a group of Croatians and Serbs.

Bosnian Americans who came as refugees after 1992 have settled in fast-growing enclaves in cities such as New York, St. Louis, St. Petersburg, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. In St. Louis, for example, the Bosnian population reached 8,000 in 1999; of these 7,000 are Muslims. In the early 1990s, there had been fewer than 1,000 Bosnians in St. Louis. In 1998, Bosnian immigrants arrived in St. Louis at a rate of 40 to 60 per week. About 5,000 Bosnians live in Salt Lake City, where an annual "Living Traditions Festival" includes Bosnian dance and music performances by the American Bosnian and Herzegovinian Association of Utah.

About 15,000 Bosnians live in the Queens borough of New York City. Most are refugees who were settled by religious or nonprofit groups. Bosnian American refugees are especially attracted to established ethnic communities because many refugees are separated from immediate family members. It often takes several years to reunite families, so the Bosnian community provides needed social support.

Acculturation and Assimilation

Bosnian refugees face many challenges in the United States. They must start over, learning a new language, new customs, and new skills. One Bosnian American refugee described this adjustment to the St. Petersburg Times as "in some ways like being a blind man who wants to take care of himself but is powerless to do so." Since their immigration was not necessarily by choice, they often find the experience more overwhelming in comparison to immigrants who were eager to come here. Learning English is the first step that Bosnians take once they reach the United States, though many Bosnians speak several European languages. Established Bosnian communities offer services such as English-language classes, computer training classes, no-cost legal services, and instruction on understanding health insurance, buying a home, and managing other complicated aspects of American life. Established communities also usually provide a place for worship.

By 1999, more than one million Bosnia refugees remained in the United States even though the war ended in 1995. Many cannot return to Bosnia because of the boundaries of territories changed and their homes are in a divided country. Many are like Nijaz (pronounced nee-AHS) Hadzidedic (hah-jee-DED-ich), a Muslim Bosnian living in Memphis, Tennessee. Hadzidedic, a Bosnian journalist who was shot by Serbian soldiers during the war, came in 1994 as a refugee sponsored by a local Catholic charity. His brother and niece joined him in 1997. Hadzidedic found work in lower-status jobs such as security guard, factory worker, and bellhop. After he becomes a U.S. citizen, he plans to return to the Balkans and work as a translator.

Bosnian Americans often seek higher education and better employment opportunities. Many also Americanize their names, which are difficult for Americans to pronounce. Earlier immigrants often discovered with surprise that immigration officials had Americanized their names on the documents that admitted them to the country.


Three main groups, Serbs, who are Eastern Orthodox, Crozts, who are Catholic, and Muslims who are Islamic, comprise Bosnia-Herzegovina's population. Each group has its distinct beliefs, traditions, and customs. Bosnian American communities have good informal networks of communication. Places of worship provide a gathering spot for religious activities as well as weddings, baptisms (for Croats and Serbs) and funerals.

Islamic culture dominated Bosnia for centuries. Modern Western culture penetrated Bosnia and Herzegovina only after Austria occupied the region in 1878. Gradually, Latin and Cyrillic scripts replaced Arabic script. After 1918, secular education began replacing Islamic schools, and education became available to women.

Almost all Bosnian family names end in "ic," which essentially means "child of," much like the English "John-son." Women's first names tend to end in "a" and "ica," pronounced EET-sa. Family names are often an indication of ethnicity. Sulejmanagic, for example, is a Muslim name, as are others containing such Islamic or Turkish roots as "hadj" or "bey," pronounced "beg." Children receive their father's last name. Hence, someone with an Islamic-sounding root in his or her last name may be presumed to be, at least by heritage, a Muslim.


Bosnia has many proverbs derived from the three ethnic groups that make up its population. Here are a few that are known to all three groups: He who is late may gnaw the bones; A good rest is half the work; Complain to one who can help you; He who lies for you will lie against you; You can make peasant drunk on a glass of water and a gypsy violin.


The cuisine of Bosnia reflects influences from Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Meat dishes of lamb, pork, and beef, typically small sausages called cevapcici (kabobs) or hamburger patties called pljeskavica are grilled with onions and served on a fresh somun, a thick pita bread. Cevapcici are made from ground meat and spices that are shaped into little cylinders, cooked on an open fire and served on an open platter. Another favorite is a Bosnian stew called bosanski lonac, which is a slow-roasted mixture of layers of meat and vegetables eaten with chunks of brown bread. It is usually served in a vaselike ceramic pot. Serbian meat and fish dishes are typically cooked first, then braised with vegetables such as tomatoes and green peppers.

Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences are evident in aschinicas (pronounced ash-chee-neetsa-as), restaurants offering various kinds of cooked meat, filled vegetables called dolmas, kabobs, and salads, with Greek baklava for dessert. The filling most often consists of ground meat, rice, spices, and various kinds of chopped vegetables. Containers can be hollowed-out peppers, potatoes, or onions. Some dolmas are made from cabbage leaves, grapevine, kale, or some other leaf large enough and softened enough by cooking that it can be wrapped around the little ball made of the filling. When enough pieces are made, they are stacked in an amphora-shaped tureen that is then covered with its own lid or with a piece of parchment tightly tied around its neck. The dish is then cooked slowly on a low, covered fire.

Pita, pastry filled with meat or vegetables, is another distinctive Bosnian dish. In other parts of the former Yugoslavia, pitas that are meat-filled are called burek. Pita meat pie often is the final course of a meal or is served as a light supper on its own.

Orthodox Bosnians include special dishes in their Easter celebrations. In Orthodox tradition, after the midnight service, the congregation walks around the church seven times carrying candles, then goes home to a supper that includes hardboiled eggs that have been dyed and decorated, and Pasca, a round, sweet yeast cake filled with either sour cream or cottage cheese.

Homemade brandy, known as rakija in the former Yugoslavia but exported to the United States as slivovitz (plum brandy) or loza (grape brandy or grapa ), is the liquor of choice for men on most occasions. Women may opt instead for fruit juice. Popular nonalcoholic beverages other than fruit juices include Turkish-style coffee ( kahva, kafa or kava ), a thin yogurt drink called kefir, and a tea known as salep.


The arts were highly developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The three major ethnic groups contributed a great wealth of song, dance, literature, and poetry. The Serbian Bosnian American culture is centered around music. Choirs and tamburica orchestras have been a part of local communities since 1901, when the Gorski Vijenac (Mountain Wreath) choir of Pittsburgh was founded. The tamburica is a South Slavic stringed instrument much like a mandolin. It exists five different sizes and musical ranges. The Bosnian community in St. Louis holds an annual Tamburitza Extravanganza Festival where as many as twenty bands from all over the country perform. The Duquesne University Tamburitzans maintains a folklore institute and trains new performers.

Sviraj (pronounced svee-rye, with a rolled "r") is a popular group of ethnic Balkan musicians who preserve their heritage through performances that celebrate the music of Eastern Europe. Sviraj means "Play!" in Serbian and Croatian. The music has its roots in Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Dalmatia, and Romania.


For centuries Bosnia was well known for having the widest variety of folk costumes of any region of the former Yugoslavia. Today, these outfits serve as stage costumes rather than street wear. Traditionally, older men wore breeches, a cummerbund, a striped shirt, a vest, and even a fez , a hat that was usually red. These garments were often colorful and richly embroidered. The typical women's costume was a fine linen blouse embroidered with floral or folk motifs, worn under a vest called a jelek that was cut low under the breast and made of velvet, embroidered with silver or gold thread. A colorful skirt was covered by an apron and worn on top of a white linen petticoat that showed beneath the skirt. The baggy trousers worn by women, called dimije, spread to all three ethnic groups as a folk costume, though each group wore different colors as specified by the Ottoman Empire. Dimije were rare on the streets of cities before World War II, but they were common in rural districts and among the older women within the cities. Traditional fashion lore dictated that you could tell how high in the mountains a woman's village was by how high on the ankles she tied her dimije to keep the hems out of the snow.

The devout Muslim women of Bosnia have not traditionally worn the chador familiar in fundamentalist Muslim countries. The chador is a garment that covers women from head to toes. Bosnian Muslim women instead wear head scarves and raincoats as symbolic substitutes for the chador , particularly on religious holidays.


Music and dance reflect Bosnia's great diversity. During the years of Tito's rule, Bosnian amateur folklore groups, called cultural art societies, flourished throughout the region. They were required to perform the folk music and dances of all three major ethnic groups. Some such troupes also performed contemporary plays, modern dance, choral works, and ballet.

Bosnian music can be divided into rural and urban traditions. The rural tradition is characterized by such musical styles as ravne pjesme (flat song) of limited scale; ganga, an almost shouted polyphonic style; and other types of songs that may be accompanied on the shargija (a simple long-necked lute), the wooden flute, or the diple, a droneless bagpipe. The urban is more in the Turkish style, with its melismatic singing—more than one note per syllable— and accompaniment on the saz, a larger and more elaborate version of the shargija. Epic poems, an ancient tradition, are still sung to the sound of the gusle, a single-string bowed fiddle. While Bosnia's Jewish population was decimated by World War II, its influence remains apparent in folk songs sung in Ladino, a dialect descended from 15th-century Spanish.

In the 1990s, the influence of Western pop music and of new native pop music in a folkish style, played on the accordion, became apparent. But modern influences have not displaced sevdalinka. With a name derived from the Turkish word sevda (love), sevdalinka songs have been the dominant form of music in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Incorporating both Western and Eastern elements, these deeply emotional songs speak metaphorically and symbolically of love won and lost, much like American country western music.

Bosnia has one of the richest and yet least known of all the regional folk dance traditions of the former Yugoslavia. Dances range from the nijemo kolo, accompanied only by the sound of stamping feet and the clash of silver ornaments on the women's aprons, to line dances in which the sexes are segregated as they are in the Middle East, to Croatian and Serbian dances similar to those performed across the borders in their native regions. As with traditional music, however, these folk dances are losing popularity as modern European social dances and rock and roll steps gain favor.


In addition to American holidays, Bosnian Americans observe their individual religions' holidays. The Serbian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian one commonly used in the West. Serb Bosnian Americans follow this calendar for holidays. For example, Orthodox Christmas falls on January 7 rather than December 25. Eastern Orthodox Christian families also celebrate the Slava, or saint's name day, of each member of the family. Muslim Bosnian Americans follow Islam's holidays and calendar, including Ramadan, the month of ritual fasting. At the end of Ramadan, a period called Bajram, they exchange visits and small gifts during the three days. Croat Bosnian Americans observe Catholic holidays.


The official language of Bosnia-Herzegovina is Bosnian, also called Serbo-Croatian. The language goes by different names because of the country's ethnic differences and rivalries. People in the Muslim-controlled sector call it Bosnian, those in Croat areas call it Croatian, and those in Serb areas refer to it as Serbian.

Bosnian belongs to the Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family and more specifically to the group of South Slavic languages, which includes Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Slovenian. It actually has a few words that are recognizably related to English. Bosnian "sin" is "son," and Bosnian "sestra" is "sister." Bosnian has many borrowed words from other European languages, English, Turkish, Arabic, and Persian.

Bosnian is written in either the Cyrillic or the Latin alphabet. Its letters are generally pronounced as they are in English, with certain exceptions. "C" is pronounced "ts"; "ác" is pronounced similar to "tch" but with a thinner sound, more like the thickened "t" in future; "<caron>c" is pronounced "tch" as in "match"; "dj" is pronounced roughly like "j" in "jam"; "j" is pronounced "y" and in "Yugoslavia"; "s" is pronounced "sh"; "z" is pronounced "zh" as in "Zhivago."

Bosnian Americans generally have little difficulty pronouncing English, although the "th" and "w" sounds may give them some trouble. They may also find some English verbs hard to understand. Bosnian uses fewer auxiliary verbs, such as "be" and "do" than English, and Bosnian speakers may be puzzled by questions in English, in which the auxiliary verb comes before the subject, as in "Did you eat?"


During the war, one of the most frequently asked questions was, "Sta je tvoje ime?" (pronounced stah-yeah-tVOya) meaning "what is your name" in Bosnian, because the name was the major clue to ethnicity.

Family and Community Dynamics

In most Bosnian American families, both husband and wife work outside the home, but the wife still has primary responsibility for housework and cooking. In Bosnia, the effects off the wars of the twentieth century and migration away from rural areas after World War II have resulted in fewer extended families living together. But Bosnian Americans tend to live with extended family members, though this is likely to end as Bosnians acclimate to American culture and become more financially successful. Bosnian Muslims tend to have fewer relative connections already living in the United States, since prior to 1992 there were few Muslim immigrants. Polygamy as a Muslim custom last existed in Bosnia in the early 1950s, and then only in one isolated region of the country, Cazinska Krajina. Most Bosnian marriages follow the modern custom of love matches, and arranged marriage between families having largely disappeared. About a third of all urban marriages in Bosnia in recent decades have been between partners from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Family size has been decreasing as education and prosperity have increased.


The literacy rate in Bosnia prior to the civil war of 1992 was 92 percent. Education through the eighth grade was compulsory for both boys and girls, after which a student could opt for either a vocational trade school or a more academically oriented route. There were university faculties in the larger cities, along with a community college-type option called "workers' universities."


Serbian Bosnian Americans choose a Kum or Kuma (female godparent) shortly after the birth of a child. The godparents name the child. Bosnian Americans celebrate birthdays with gifts and parties.


Many Bosnian American women refugees have lost everything and have become the heads of house-holds for the first time. They face the challenge of rebuilding their lives in a new country, adapting to a culture and language, while providing food, shelter, and education for themselves and their surviving relatives. Many were financially dependent on their spouses before the war, and they consequently have no marketable skills or entrepreneurial experience.

Traditionally, women played subservient roles in Yugoslavia's patriarchal families, especially in the country's remote mountainous regions. In the interwar period, laws codified women's subservient status. Industrialization and urbanization in the communist era changed traditional family patterns. This trend was most pronounced in the more developed northern and western urban areas. The number of women employed outside the home rose from 396,463 in 1948 to 2.4 million in 1985. As women began working away from home, they became more independent. In the 1980s, the percentage of women in low-level political and management positions was equal to that of men, but this was not the case for upper management positions.

Women accounted for 38 percent of Yugoslavia's nonagricultural labor force in 1987, up from 26 percent 30 years earlier. The participation of women in the Yugoslav work force varied dramatically according to region. In 1989 Yugoslav women worked primarily in cultural and social welfare, public services and public administration, and trade and catering. Almost all of Yugoslavia's elementary school teachers were women. A few women's groups have formed in the major cities of Bosnia, but the modern women's movement did not achieve significant power in the former Yugoslavia or its successor states.


In 1992, when the war started in Bosnia, approximately 40 percent of the registered marriages in urban centers were between ethnically mixed Bosnians. Ceremonies reflect this mix, often including traditions from both ethnic groups involved. The bride usually wears white and is attended by bridesmaids. Men wear capes. There are many flowers, and there is much drinking and dancing. The food includes Bosnian biscuits, a coffee cake-like bread with walnuts, raisins, and chocolate.

An Islamic tradition of giving hand-woven carpets ( kilims ) and knotted rugs lasted for centuries. The custom of giving a personally woven dowry rug, with the couple's initials and date of marriage, disappeared only in the 1990s.


It is important to understand that the contributing basis of hostility among twentieth-century Bosnians has largely been due to economic reasons, not religious ones. As all three groups became more secular, religious-based conflict actually diminished. But economically and politically, Bosnian Muslim landowners were resented by Catholic Croats and Orthodox Christian Serbs. American Bosnians do not face the same political pressures, so the different ethnic communities coexist peacefully in American cities. Bosnian Americans often marry across ethnic lines, which gives them a powerful reason to stay in the United States. If people in a mixed marriage return to Bosnia, they are not accepted by either person's ethnic group.


Many Bosnians treat their religion the same way many Americans do theirs, as something restricted to one day of church attendance and major religious holidays. The Yugoslav government discouraged religious fundamentalism, as did the religious community itself, reflecting years of accommodation between the religion and the Communist state. Religious affiliation in Yugoslavia, however, was closely linked with the politics of nationality. Centuries-old animosities among the Eastern Orthodox Serbs, the Roman Catholic Croats, and the Bosnian Muslims remained a divisive factor in the 1990s, though the basis was more economic power that religious fervor. There also was lingering resentment over forced conversions of Orthodox Serbs to Roman Catholicism by ultranationalist Croatian priests during World War II.

According to the 1990 U.S. census, there were 68 Serbian Orthodox churches in the United States and Canada with a membership of 67,000. Serbian Orthodox churches serve as a social center as well as a place of worship. Serbian Bosnian Americans celebrate a family's religious anniversary, the krsna slava, each year. Slava commemorates the conversion of the family's ancestors to Christianity in the ninth century, and on this day families feast and receive the visit of a priest. Bosnian Serbs also celebrate Easter with feasting and special ceremonies. Many Serbian Orthodox Bosnians continue the practice of using amulets against the "evil eye," a generalized concept of evil. Precautions against the evil eye include wearing garlic and wearing the mati, a blue amulet with an eye in the center.

Employment and Economic Traditions

Bosnian immigrants are very willing to work diligently at low-status jobs while they seek additional language skills and education. Most find work in their communities immediately, as bakers, factory workers, hotel housekeepers, and other types of service workers. Of the 6,499 Bosnian Americans who immigrated in 1996, 2,794 had occupations. Of employed Bosnian Americans, four percent had professional specialties, 26 percent were employed in service industries, and 51 percent were unskilled laborers. Many Bosnian American refugees are unable to pursue their former occupations in the United States because they do not speak English. Bosnian American doctors, lawyers, and other professionals often work for as little as five dollars an hour while they learn English in order to apply for their licenses. Some have improvised other solutions. The New York Daily News ran a story on a Bosnian refugee and former soccer star who now runs a cafe and has launched a weekly Bosnian newspaper, Sabah, published in Serbo-Croatian.

Politics and Government

Croatian and Serbian Americans organized labor unions and strikes for better working conditions as early as 1913. The oldest Croatian fraternal associations, Slavonian Illyrian Mutual Benevolent Society, founded in 1857 in San Francisco, and the United Slavonian Benevolent Association of New Orleans, provided financial help to families of injured immigrants. Croatian and Serbian Americans formed many groups dedicated to influencing policies of their homeland. In the United States, Croatian Americans have traditionally been strong supporters of the Democratic Party.

Bosnian Americans speak out about conditions in their former homeland. For example, in an interview on CNN's Larry King Live, professional basketball player Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings said Americans have been misled about the situation in Yugoslavia. Divac reported that his relations with some NBA players had been affected by his Serbian heritage.


The United States supported Yugoslavia under Tito's rule because Tito had broken with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The United States provided economic and military assistance to prevent Soviet aggression in the area. But with the fall of communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia lost its strategic importance to the United States. When the war broke out in 1992, James Baker, secretary of state under President George Bush, was quoted as saying, "We don't have a dog in that fight." Eventually, however, the United States became involved in finding a peaceful solution to the civil strife in Bosnia. On November 21, 1995, the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Dayton-Paris Agreement) was concluded as a result of a United States-led peace initiative after three years of peacemaking efforts by the international community. When the Dayton Peace Accord was signed the following month. U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali thanked U.S. President Bill Clinton for his role. The United States remains involved militarily and diplomatically in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia.

Individual and Group Contributions

Who's Who listings are rich with contributions from Serbian and Croatian Americans, encompassing all fields of endeavor. Most of these citations list Yugoslavia as a place of birth.


Aleksandar Hemon was born in Sarajevo and currently lives in Chicago. He is primarily a writer of short fiction. His work has been published in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and Houghton Mifflin's Best American Short Stories.


Amerikanski Srbobran (The American Serb Defender). Published by the Serb National Foundation since 1906, this is the oldest Serbian bilingual weekly newspaper in the United States, and it has the largest circulation. It covers cultural, political and sporting events of interest to Serbian Americans.

Organizations and Associations

American Bosnian Association, Salt Lake City.

Address: 1102 West 400 North, Salt Lake City, Utah 84116.

Telephone: (801) 359-3378.

Bosnian-American Cultural Association .

Works to preserve Bosnian culture and teach Americans about Bosnia.

Contact: Dr. Hasim Kosovic.

Address: 1810 North Pfingsten Road, Northbrook, Illinois 60062.

Telephone: (312) 334-2323.

Bosnian-American Islamic Center.

Contact: Ramiz Aljovic.

Address: 3101 Roosevelt, Hamtramck, Michigan 48212-3745.

Community of Bosnia Foundation.

Works for a culturally pluralistic, multireligious Bosnia. Formed by volunteers in Haverford, Pennsylvania, in late 1993 to bring students to the United States.

Address: c/o Department of Religion, Haverford College, 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, Pennsylvania 19041-1392.

Telephone: (610) 896-1027.

Friends of Bosnia.

Grassroots organization supporting a long-term and just peace. Organizes speaker series, interviews, conferences, rallies and humanitarian aid drives. Originally focused on serving western Massachusetts; now provides resources to organizations and individuals all across the United States.

Address: 85 Worcester Street, Suite 1, Boston, Massachusetts 02118.

Telephone: (617) 424-6906.

Fax: (617) 424-6752.


Online: .

Jerrahi Order of America.

Bosnian cultural, educational, and social relief organization made up of Muslims from diverse backgrounds. The Jerrahi Order has branches in New York, California, Indiana, Seattle, and Bosnia. Works to obtain scholarships for Muslim students.

Address: 884 Chestnut Ridge Road, Chestnut Ridge, New York 10977.

Telephone: (914) 356-0588.


New England Bosnian Relief Committee.

Nonprofit provides donations to Bosnians and support and assistance to Boston-area Bosnian refugees.

Address: 54 Ellery Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02127.

Telephone: (617) 269-5555.


Women for Women.

Raises money and offers support for Bosnian women.

Address: Suite 611, 1725 K Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20006.

Sources for Additional Study

Clark, Arthur L. Bosnia: What Every American Should Know. New York; Berkley Books, 1996.

Kisslinger, Jerome. The Serbian Americans. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1990.

Malcolm, Noel. Bosnia: A Short History. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

Shapiro, E. The Croatian Americans. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989.

Silber, Laura, and Allan Little. Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation. New York: Penguin, 1995 and 1996.

Tekavec, Valerie. Teenage Refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina Speak Out. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 1995.

User Contributions:

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Dec 6, 2006 @ 11:23 pm
Do bosnians read their language from right to left?
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May 27, 2007 @ 10:22 pm
Why do Bosnians despise Asians? The hostility is incredible. For instance, if you're within their eye sight (even if you did nothing to insult them), they'll start teasing or cussing at you in Serb-Croatian, even the children. I feel wronged by Bosnians.
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Jul 26, 2007 @ 6:18 pm
Just to answer your question, No we do not read from right to left, we read left to right just like english.
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Sep 1, 2007 @ 8:20 pm
I am Bosnian and I love my Asian friends so perhaps the Bosnians that you have encountered are just mean period. I am sorry if they had wronged you but I hope that you will not place all Bosnians on your list of people to "watch out for". Unfortunately there are prejudiced people among all nationalities, races and ethnic groups.
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Oct 21, 2007 @ 12:12 pm
hi everyone my name is nihad and i have cam across this webside by just looking favorite food dish from bisbia for my english paper if any of you know any dish that can be described please write.
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Oct 27, 2007 @ 5:05 am
I'm American. I've gone with a Bosnian guy for 4 years (almost 7 years younger 33 & 27), and I love him. He is a village boy. But now we are having roblems. He wants lots of children. He wants mw to work and take care of the family. He doesn't want me to be an entertainer. So now what. I give up on all I have achieved? And if I am not with him, I will be unhappy. American guys just don't float my boat.
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Nov 5, 2007 @ 11:23 pm
wow all of you are awesome people and i love you all very very muchhhhh!
Amra Halilovic
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Nov 5, 2007 @ 11:23 pm
Don't make assumtions about someone because of their ethnic background or race. Each human being is different and you should'nt be branding anyone under categories!!

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Nov 16, 2007 @ 2:14 pm
When i read teh comments aobut you wanting to marry a should not be based o religion or seems odd to just blatenyl say "i want to marry a muslim".
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Apr 2, 2008 @ 2:02 am
Nice article, much info for all. I am a man, born in the U.S. of Polish decent, and have lived with a Bosnian woman for 9 years now as husband & wife. She is the finest woman I have ever known, and her friends and family are the salt of the earth ! I have much respect for most Bosnians I have ever known.
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Jun 7, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
I have fallen in love with Bosnian culture because of being so deeply in love with a Bosnian guy! His birthday is coming up soon, and I would like to put a nice birthday wish for him in a Bosnian newspaper, but I cannot seem to locate one (Seattle area), and do not know how to go about placing an "ad" even if I do locate one. Any suggestions? (I do know he reads Bosnian news online, so even on there could possibly work, if I could figure out how to do it). Any help is appreciated!
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Jun 11, 2008 @ 5:05 am
It's amazing how far Bosnians have progressed. I am a Bosnian male and immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. I love it here (Seattle). But I will never forget what the war did to me and how i still look at Serbs. I can forgive but not forget. If someone who seriously put time and effort in a biography of the Bosnian war. Preferably a big time director, like Micheal Moore. This would show the world what we went through and how strong of a people we are.
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Nov 18, 2008 @ 8:20 pm
I am so proud that most Bosnians are tolareting people. Coming from a country of one race and our culture isn't much different from the surrounding cultures, we are actually adjusting pretty well. I live in the Bay Area, California, a place that is very culturally diverse. As far as the stereotypes go, in every culture there are ethnocentric people, meaning that they think their culture/race/ethnicity is superior to others. My brother is ethnocentric, I'm working on him!

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Jan 14, 2009 @ 2:14 pm
my parents were born in bosnia.i would love to show this article to all my american friends.i had never known that the flag was adopted on the same year that i was born, i just love going to bosnia because i get to see all of the life and beauty that is there.i always get depressed seeing some of the buildings with gigantic holes in them.
Betty Williams
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Mar 6, 2009 @ 9:21 pm
I am interested in knowing what route Yougaslavins took during the 30's to get to America. When I look at a world map it almost seems impossible. With the Alps to the north and the Adriatic Sea, With a fear of both Hitler's Germany and Italy. Did they travel mostly by land or by sea? What kinds of transportation was used? I knew people from Yougaslavia who worked in the coal mines where I grew up. I wish to write about them but can't find information about how they arrived there. I am especially interested in Yougaslavians who worked in mines, copper or lead, in their native country. These people would be most likely to become coal miners in this country. Where in Yougaslovia did they live? Thank you for any information you are able to give me. Betty Williams
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Mar 21, 2009 @ 10:22 pm
I just want to say that I am raised Christian, and Every Bosnian man/woman I have met in the US, they are friendly as hell. I am sorry what happened there in their Mother land but that is human nature and it will continue to happen until the last Day Humans exist on Earth.

America has it's Good Side and Good Side, one which alows Different Religion's interact with one another.

There are those who want continue the Hate... They will Fail as long as there are people like me that just want to live in peace.

I also, will not post anything else here, Once in a life time message for you Bosniacs...
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Jun 17, 2009 @ 3:03 am
I love being Bosnian. I am 18 years old, I came here at the age of 8 and just finished High School. I was born in Velika Kladusa (ZIVIO BABO!) But don't get me wrong... I still am a proud Bosnian and Muslim despite my side of the city joining the Serb forces.

I have Bosnian and Serbian friends who are really close to me. I love my Bosnian culture and will never let it away from my life.

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Jun 28, 2009 @ 3:15 pm
Hi, this article was awesome. I am a Bosnian from Velika Kladusa. My family came to America in 1997. We moved to Chicago. We had many Bosnian relatives and friends here. I love it here. Then we moved to Mount Prospect. A town north West of Chicago. Its still great and I am very proud to be a Bosnian Muslim. Thank you!
Druze Tito Ja Ti Se Kunem
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Jul 1, 2009 @ 10:22 pm
I came to the US in '95. Father Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak), Mother Serbian Christian. I feel like I am an opened minded person today because of being raised in multi-ethnicity home. I dont believe in anything my self, religion was never pushed on me, I was always told to be a good person first, and treat everyone equally. When Serbian forces came into my town and forced us out of our house (9yrs old then) I was really confused, I could not understand why this was happening to my dad and his side of the family, they were also talking shit to my mom because she married a muslim. We were taken to a camp, men separated from women and children... anyways, now I am in a better place called USA (only country that took me and what was left of my family in) and I cant be thankful enough, right now I am dating an American girl, 3years+ and have a son with her. I dont usually hang out with bosnians, all they do is talk about other people, like bunch of old ladies.
Its past mid 2009 and I still have not went back to visit, I dont know if I ever will... all I think about is revenge and I know that its wrong, but I just cant let go, I still dont know where my uncles and my grandfathers bones are.
I am glad I learned some new things about my culture from this website, thank yoU!
Only if TITO had lived another 50 years...
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Jul 7, 2009 @ 1:13 pm
Hi My name is Irma and I am Bosnian,I am here for 9months now as an Au Pair,I like America because it is open minded towards everything and everybody(at least here in New York is like that), what is the subject? I think is wrong that the rest of the world see's us as ignorante and violente people,we are not ignorente we mostly speak at least two lenguages each(we can read russian letter,and yes maybe we are little bit violente but only because we had to see our family die in front of us and because we had to live every day to survive to not know if we will have food day after.......WE HAVE SURVIVE A HELL A AND THEY KILLED HALF OF THE COUTRY,DISTROIED US AND WE STILL CAN'T DEVOLEP BECAUSE OF THE WAR THAT TOOK EVERYTHING FROM US.

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Jul 19, 2009 @ 4:16 pm
I am an American Serb. I was at a Serbian function the other day and met a couple and their two children who are refugees from the Bosnian war. They arrived to the US 11 years ago.
Meeting this family reminded me of my mother, father and sister
who were refugees from WW 2 and arrived to northwest Indiana in
I don't know what the precidure is for the immigration of Bosnian Serbs (or any Serbs) is to come and settle in the country. I would
like in some way to help the family's that come to this country.
Is there an organization? I live in northwest Indiana.
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Jul 20, 2009 @ 10:10 am
Born in U.S.A - Went to Bosnia to support peace effort in 96'. I ended up staying because of the wonderful people, culture, and way of life. I fell in love with the country and its people. Yes, it has its problems concerning (Nationalism), but I do not wear those glasses and the majority of the people there do not either. For any American considering a trip to Bosnia, you will find a beautiful country awaits you and where its people openly welcome strangers with the greatest hospitatlity I have ever seen! Read & write Bosnian fluently; therefore I have been given a special insight into both U.S and Bosnian cultures. I absolutely think that if Bosnia can overcome it's political tensions which are currently choking the country, it will the hottest tourist spot in Eastern Europe. Svaka Cast Bosnjaci! Zivio Bosna i Hercegovina! Cao.
emina z
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Jul 27, 2009 @ 1:01 am
Hi, im emina. I live in Australila but i am bosnian. My parents came hear to flee the war. i would just like to say that serbs, croations and BOSNIANS have not got the same culture or sometimes we even speak differently, and in that case to some bosnians or even serbs they may get offended by the idea that you consider bosnians same as serbs and serbs same as bosnians. we are not the same, different culture, different religion (most bosnians are muslim), different clothes, different customs, diferent food, drinks, music and different ways. especially since the war.

bye (good site by the way, loads of info) ;D

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Aug 2, 2009 @ 8:08 am


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Aug 17, 2009 @ 4:16 pm
I'm a bosnian living in Sweden. A bit surprised how mutch bosnian there are out in the world. After the war now there seems to be one balkanian in every corner of the world. thats cool. Love the article
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Oct 25, 2009 @ 8:20 pm
bosnians don't hate asians, and i know because i am bosnian. In fact some of my best friends are asian. It just depends on the type of person they are. If an asian walked up to me and started cussing. i wouldn't say that all asians hate bosnians. there are always people like that in every ethnicity.
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Dec 9, 2009 @ 9:21 pm
oo ljudi moji :) I am so happy to hear all your storieS. I came to Australia when i was 3, few years before the war actually. It's great to be in a country which gives you every opportunity in the world to succeed and develop an independant life, though, home will always be home. Even though I was 3 when i left, i love bosnia.. and my home town PRIBOJ :) (between bosnia and serbia).. It is so sad to see the evergoing effects of the war, psychiologically; it is something that no researcher could possible articulate into words. But, i want to say, in a good ending note, da TE VOLIM BOSNO MOJA.

:) thanks, i am glad that we can participate in some discussions about our forgotten little section of the world we call Home!
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Jan 10, 2010 @ 1:13 pm
I am a Human Services (a.k.a social services) major. I found this article while doing research for my Human Services Communications class. I consider myself well read on many world issues (Sudan conflict, hidden landmine issues, crisis in Iraq and surrounding countries in the middle east, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc). I knew little to nothing about the 1990's war in Bosnia and the resulting suffering and loss of the Bosnian people prior to reading this article. Thank you for posting this! It was extremely informative and I was fascinated while learning. My heart goes out to those of you who have lost your homes and family members during the war, and those of you who are still trying to assimilate in your countries of asylum. It is unbelievable how common it is for this sort of tragedy to place in all parts of the world, and a cruel reality that these tragedies often go unrecognized or recognized by very few. The reason that I am studying Human Services and getting my certificate to teach English as a second language is because I hope to work with refugees and help them assimilate quicker so they can restore their lives to some sort of normalcy. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to experience life this way, and if I am fortunate enough to have avoided such a life, then I intend to use my freedom and abilities to help those who need it. Thank you again for posting this article!

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Feb 12, 2010 @ 3:03 am
This article has made me, in some weird way, extremely proud... As I am from Bosnia, survived the war (I wish it will never happen again to no one) stayed in my city (Bihac) all that long, and still here... To be honest, the time right now is not that good for ordinary people, I mean for those that don't part people to bosnians - croats - serbs (and about that, later I will explain!), for young generations there is a hard way to find some peace and gain normal life... We can't travel to other countries beside Croatia without Visa-s, we are almost generally pointed as terrorists in most European countries... But we are still proud!!!
As someone earlier have pointed that "we" despise Asians, You really can't judge the book by the covers right?! One, or couple of persons can't represent the whole culture, country, religion etc... As for the naming (croats, serbs...) most people don't, or don't want to understand that those names are literally "nationality" personification... I don't think that someone who is from Argentina and living in New York for example, will say that he is Argentinian?! No he is not, he is American, but his ancestors are from Argentina, no matter what religion he is!
As for me, I am Bosnian, muslim over religion, same as someone could be Bosnian catholic - he is not a Croat! Croat is someone living and working in Croatia... I think that is a problem facing this poor people in this country, they just don't want to understand and tell the right true!

As for me, I really admire all of You living and building Your life in America, or any other country, because You are hidden from all this disaster that is building in this country, politicians are ruing this country from the first day of independence, and I really don't see the ending soon... All of my life I was fascinated by the culture and way of life in USA, I just want that in my country I can see one block in the city that has 5-6 different stores with different cultures in it, different people, but they all are working and living the life together, don't mind if someone is this or that religion, has that car or other car...

You are all saved I can tell You that! I hope I will make my dream come true one day in my life and visit USA, New York exactly, and see in my eyes all of that difference but still everything connected and similar!

Take care all of You, best regards, and don't judge the book by its covers!

ps. for the prove of my proud, please type "Bihac" in google and take a closer look by pictures and info about my city, the most beautiful city in the whole world :)
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Apr 5, 2010 @ 9:09 am
Hi, My name is Senad and i live in Connecticut. My parents are both Bosnian and my mom and brother moved here in lat 95 and my dad mid 96. i was born in 97 named after my uncle that sadly died during the war. Even do i never meet him in person i still am sad for him. I also lost my other uncle same side of the family. I love it here even do my parents want to go back to Bosnia. I consider America a land of hope. Even do it can be though at times. Think about it my parents cam here with 50 dollars in their pockets now, thank god we have a nice home 3 cars. This shows that if you give Bosnian people chances we will make the best of it. I understand that not all Serbs are bad but its still hard to forgive. All we wanted was freedom and they killed 250k plus people. It hurts me when people do not know about Bosnia some people thought of it as world war 3. Its also hard to tell people of my religion, don't get me wrong i love being Muslim, But when ever i tell some 1 i am Muslim they think that i am a terrorist which is not true Bosnian people are awsome I thank you for writing this and i hope more and more people write about this i think every one should know about it.
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Apr 5, 2010 @ 11:11 am
Hello everyone. My name is Maida. I was 6 years old when the war (1992) statred. My family and I immigrated (unwillingly) to Germany, stayed there on a Visa for 8 years and then moved to America. I was 14 years old when we moved. So imagine how I feel now, I am a Bosnian Muslim who has many memories of her childhood in her counrty, moved to Germany, adapted the culture and started feeling confortable, and then moving to America, where I had to start all over again. I live my life being confused and irritated. I am very sad what happend to my country and its people and I also feel sad that my whole family is scattered around the world.
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May 7, 2010 @ 1:01 am
I recently wrote two papers on Bosnia. One was about Bosnia and its delay in joining the EU and the second was about BOsnia during Communist rule. I learned quite a lot while researching info, but I wasn't surprised to hear just how frustrated everyone is with Bosnia's slow progress in any and every field. I think what keeps the nation from prospering is that ethnic identity still greatly seperates the Bosnian people. Unfortunately for us, the younger generation is more divided than our parents during the time of Yugoslavia. I think the younger generation of Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims must come together and stop the nationalism that is digging a grave for this intriguing nation.
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Sep 11, 2010 @ 12:00 am
there's this girl at school who is Bosnian and we really like each other and want to go out, but her mom down right refuses which doesn't make sense to me because she has never met me and i have not given her a reason not to. At first i was thinking that it's because I'm not Bosnian, but after reading this article I'm not sure. I'm am also not sure as to her family's religious beliefs, but i do know that she attends a Lutheran high school, and believes in at least the basic Christian beliefs, so i thought ethnicity shouldn't be the problem could someone please give me some incite as to why her mom might despise me so much.
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Sep 15, 2010 @ 2:14 pm
do you have any ideas on how to make a child immigrant feel welcomed in an american classroom? (for example a particular symbol: flag, craft, paper doll dressed a particular way)
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Oct 26, 2010 @ 1:13 pm
Hi my name is Ernad i am from Bosnia a town called Zepa. i moved to United states when i was 8 years old (1998) I Love being a Bosnian and a Muslim. I have been through the war in bosnia i remeber in 1995 when i was siting on a bus wiht my mom trying to go to sarajevo from zepa with other women and children a CETNIK (serbian fighter) came on the bus and said if there were any male children here i duck down and told my mom please don let them take me... and my mom started ctying... as for the question do i forgive what they did the awnser is NO and i dont think i ever will that is how my heart feels... My dad was a prisoner of war in serbia hands for 9 months my uncle was shot in the back lost 2 uncles and a bunch of close cousins... That is why i cant forgive... and I will return to my country one day and stay there.. I LOVE BEING A BOSBIAN AND A MUSLIM... I like USA but it is not the same as i feel for Bosnia... and one more thing Bosnain are not terrorist nor are they racist or anything like that... My best freind is a from Laos.. and My girlfreind is from Pakistan...
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Oct 30, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
@future teacher, comment 34,

As an immigrant child growing up in a small town in the Netherlands, I never liked the special treatment for being an immigrant. The best thing I can remember was treating me as a normal kid and just letting me be and not having to explain what happend and where Im from and stuff like that as a 6yo. What made me feel good was being the best in Dutch and other courses, but especially the Dutch language, as almost the only foreign kid in my class.
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Oct 31, 2010 @ 4:16 pm
Hello guys,

I am Semir a bosnian muslim who lives in Holland, originally from Sarajevo. I live here now for 17 years, I came here when i was 4. Some terrible things happened in bosnia and people tend to forget that. I just wanted to post something on this site.
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Nov 9, 2010 @ 1:01 am
Thank you, all, for sharing your stories here! I am fascinated by the history and culture of Bosnia, as well as the general region of the Balkans. I hope to learn more about Bosnia, and the Bosnian experience in North America, Australia, and other lands of the Bosnian diaspora. I would enjoy hearing from you, so please write to me if you feel inclined!

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Dec 24, 2010 @ 8:08 am
A Bosnian muslim woman here in the USA is badly harassing and cyberstalking some of my friends in Serbia. She is doing this on YouTube, making fake channels about them, etc.
What can be done? YouTube does nothing. If I gave a fellow Bosnian her address, would they write to her and tell her to knock it off? Maybe she would listen to a Bosnian.
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Mar 13, 2011 @ 9:21 pm
Thank you so much for writing this article the way that you did. I felt like it was unbiased, informative, and interesting. I learned a lot even though I am Bosnian myself. You really did your research!
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Apr 1, 2011 @ 5:05 am
hi everyone ( Merhaba)
Its nice seeing all these comment's glad there is no insults. As for me i left Sarajevo when i was 4 years old, just barely got out of that city in 1993. I lived in Germany for 8 years until i was 12 years old then came to (NEW YORK) which was kinda hard adapting to this American life style, and Germany and America are different in almost everything.
Now about to get my Masters in (Computer Science) got a job lined up with (AMD Advance Micro Devices) which is a computer company. I love America for all it has done to me and my family, my parents came here for a better future and I am living the American Dream :) NYC is beautiful city and I thank GOD for this.
As for the war well, i will NEVER NEVER NEVER FORGIVE OR FORGET..but i will move on as for now. I will never turn away from my people, country or culture. I went to Bosnia few years back, and I must say its beautiful Sarajevo a beautiful city with beautiful people.. One day insallah i will go back to it.
By the way this is a nice page, Bosnia was always inhabited even before the 1st wave of slaves that settled it in 7th-8th century. Even thou today a lot of Bosnians don't have slavic blood. just an thought.. I did some hardcore research on Bosnian history, and people :)
dont get it
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Apr 30, 2011 @ 12:12 pm
Why did hitler hate croats? Why do bosnians seem to hate each other? THere is one group of bosnians and I dont know if they are muslim, serbian or croat that seems to hate the other groups of bosnians and seems to are always to be rumored to not like various cultures in general. Why do you hear that that muslims are hated by all bosnians. WHy is there so much fighting in that country? It seems those three ethnic groups have real issues with each other and there is one within the group that people rumor to that they seem to have issues with everyone? At least that is what everyone is saying on here.
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Aug 20, 2011 @ 8:20 pm
I am needing to translate some documents at work for some employees. When I ask them what language to translate into they told me Bosnian. My problem is I can't find a translator with that as an option. The translator software shows Serbian and Croation. Which one do I use, or neither? Please help.
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Sep 10, 2011 @ 9:09 am
Hello Everybody!

Thank you so much for sharing this amazing article. God bless America!!!
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Oct 23, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
this is an amazing article. i immigrated here in 2000 i was about 4 years old. and i hated the fact that i would be moving to a place that noone knows about and were i know noone. but now i am glad i moved here, i miss my family very much i went from living with my grandparents to just me my sister and parents. my family is very close and i went back just a couple months ago for the first time ever. its beautiful but i still can't believe everything that has happened i came and my house was down nothing to look at, my cousins starve and don't go to school, and i live in america taking everything for granted i wear designer clothes and throw food away like its nothing everything that comes out of mouth i get,im greatful to be living here. whoever wrote this you did an AMAZING job.
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Oct 28, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
Hi I am an American who is interested in the needs of Bosnian children here in the USA. Is there a organization I can contact. I am just beginning to learn about the war there in the 1990s and want to get involved with children and help in some way. I currently live in Florida. Any information would be appreciated . I enjoy reading the comments here.
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Nov 15, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
My name is Mirzad i was born in Albany New York my mom and dad and sister are from Bosnia im 6 years old i love Bosnia very very very very very much.
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Nov 18, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
I don't know of any organizations in FL., but there are many in GA, specifically Atlanta. Let me know if you are interested in doing work in GA I can probably direct you to a few people that bring talented students on a scholarship at Georgia Tech every year.
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Nov 21, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
Hi I am from Bosnia and would just like to say that this article has some amazing true facts and despite the fact we Bosnians have that little motto ''Voli svoju domovinu i zivi u njoj'' that means love you own country and live in it,I would still love to get the US citizenship and be the USA citizen I hope soon.
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Dec 26, 2011 @ 11:11 am
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Jan 20, 2012 @ 4:04 am
My name is Nenad and I am from Goradze in Bosnia. Although I was very young when the war went in, I still remember it. Being an Orthodox in a Muslim city was very hard. I love Muslim very much though and remember my mother telling me about how friendly and fun it used to be Orthodoxs living in a Muslim town because we could learn so much from them, things we didnt know from other Orthodoxs. The war though ruined everything. I remember that it first started when there was a "U" painted above our door. The "U" stood for Ustasha, Nazis which killed a lot of Serbs during WWII. The Muslim children started calling me a Chetnik and telling me that I didn't belong in their country, but, I loved the country very much, and so did my family. We were forced to leave maybe one year after the "U's" started appearing on our houses. I only had one cousin and his family living in the town, but on April 6 him and his family was killed. They had six of them. I remember seeing him only a month earlier. After the raid me and some other families that lived were shipped to another town. I have not seen Goradze since...
I don't understand why war makes such bad people of us. Only years before I remember people thinking how fun it was that I was Orthodox, like my mom thought of them as Muslim. I love Bosnia very much (I call myself Bosnian, not Serbian) but I don't know if it loves me back. This webpage makes me feel closer to the country that I am from and that I love. Now, I live in Italy, but Italy is not the same. I want very much to move back, but I hear that it is hard to do so. Anyways, I thank you for this page as it makes me feel closer to home. I do not blame anyone for what happened or for why I was made to move. I just hope that me and my homeland can improve, and can love another again, seeing those different as fun, as we used to be...
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Feb 1, 2012 @ 4:04 am
Hi name is Maida ( Maja) .I'm from Mostar ,most beautiful place in world .My family had to relocate cuz we simply lost everything during the war .Coming in US was the best thing ever happend to us ,it's the "best " country in the world .I have made up my mind long time ago that America is my new home .I'm a mother of 4 beautiful boys ( I delivered my twin boys in middle of war '93) .As a parent ,I felt that I have obligation to provide my sons safe & stable place to be raised in .To me Mostar was not an answer(Bosnia&Herzegovina in general).I didn't wanted to raise my children in any kind of hate & racism .Personally,I'll never go back to live in Mostar.Don't take me wrong ,I love my Mostar I love my beautiful country ,but amount of hate and racism that is still there unfortunately always gonna be there war or no war .
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Jun 25, 2012 @ 12:12 pm
There was a recent discussion regarding Bosnian emigration, assimilation, and success for Bosnians in St. Louis, MO on the PBS Donnybrook show. I was taught in an Anthropology Class that the success in assimilation was in part due to the similar weather, architect, and existing Yugoslovian culture in St. Louis. Can someone who has emigrated to St. Louis please comment on the reasons why the St. Louis, MO area is a popular and supporting choice of location for the Bosnian refugees.
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Jan 22, 2013 @ 9:21 pm
Hello everyone. I'm a graphic novel illustrator who recently had the pleasure of meeting a man from Bosnia. Emir told me a little of Bosnia before the war, and of his escape through Turkey. He taught me some of the language, and generally was there for me when I was between jobs and at the end of my rope. I've never met a more uplifting person. However, I had to relocate for a job and miss him greatly. But I still want to know more about Bosnian Americans and the culture of Bosniaks. I hope that someday I may be able to write and illustrate a novel based on the real life stories of people during those tumultuous days of war. If anyone would like to contact me with a story, please do so.
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Jan 27, 2013 @ 12:12 pm
Bosnia and Hercegovina was cool when was part of Yugoslavia..Now it is divided and sad country..
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Jan 27, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
Bosnia And Hercegovina is Christian and Muslim country...It is extremely difficult historically ,culturally and religiously to understand for anyone who is not from Tito's Yugoslavia...
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Feb 2, 2013 @ 12:12 pm
Are there any birthing customs observed by Bosnian persons? I understand they may not be observed by all but was wondering if anyone knew of any. Thanks so much.
If we would all do unto others as we would have done unto us - starting NOW - what a different world we would find. But alas, only on the other side with Creator God will this be completely true!
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Apr 26, 2013 @ 8:20 pm
Hi all !
I am Bosnian/Muslim and I have been there during the war. I am from Gornji Vakuf now called Uskoplje since croats won't let the town keep its own name. I have been in the Usa for 5 years now , and I am married to an American. He is a wonderful man, and I am glad I married him and not Bosnian. Bosnian men tend to be sometimes agressive and they don't treat women with respect.I was around 6 years old when the war happened in my country, I remember seeing houses burning down, womens cry and my uncle being shot, the blood was everywhere..
I am happy here in the Usa, and the war is a awful thing. People love eachother and I hope the war never happens again!
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Apr 28, 2013 @ 11:23 pm
I'm a bosnian 15 year old girl and i came to America when I was about 3 and Im so glad I did. I love it here (st. Paul) Don't get me wrong, I love Bosnia I'm just glad im here because there is more to live for here.
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May 6, 2013 @ 12:00 am
I am surprised to read how many refuges from Bosnia do not like USA...It is a shame...God bless USA..
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Jul 29, 2013 @ 8:20 pm
Leona, I just read every single comment, and I don't think one single person said they don't like USA. However, you have to understand that a lot of Bosnian people did not choose to emigrate, they were forced. So they are missing their culture, their country, their music, and their people. These people had to leave everything they knew, most of them were with young children, they didn't know the language, and they needed to feed their kids. My parents were lucky and they assimilated fairly quickly, however the same is not true for everyone.

Imagine having to move to Tokyo right now, with about $100, no job and no place to live... Maybe that will help you understand if you do hear some negativity or bitterness. It has nothing to do with USA, it has to do with being severed from everything they know.

I was 14 when we moved to Salt Lake City in 1998. I had to start High School, the most awkward time period for any teenager, with no friends, no knowledge of English language, and completely different customs. It was a nightmare. It took me 5 years before I could say that I liked it here. I'm also happy to report that I LOVE it here now. But it does take time.

As to all the hate and negativity, this won't change for a while. I mean it's been over 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement here, and there is still hate between the races. It's gonna take a couple of generations to get over the hate in Bosnia. No matter what side you were on during the war, there is going to be resentment. Bosnians are still resentful because of what the war did to our country, Serbs are resentful because they got all the blame... This is gonna take a while to heal.

I am proud of being Hercegovinian (I am from Mostar) however I wouldn't be able to go and live there. I am too "Americanized" which is ok I think.

Oh, and I also wanted to comment on one of the comments above... I don't think Bosnian men are "aggressive" as someone stated. I would TOTALLY disagree with that. However, they are a little "old fashioned" for my taste as most of them are still of the mentality that a woman does all the cooking, cleaning, and raising children. Although some of them are not even that. My sister is married to a Bosnian man and he helps her out with everything.

This article was great and it actually thought me something.

God bless.
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Dec 6, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
I am trying to learn as much as I can about Bosnians in St. Louis, and this article and all the comments provided me with a much better understanding of the bigger picture than I've found anywhere else so far. Thank you. The Bosnia Memory Project here in St. Louis and several musicians from the St. Louis Symphony are collaborating to tell the stories of our Bosnian neighbors through music and personal stories at Powell Symphony Hall on March 19, 2014 at 7pm. There is too much to tell in a single, hour-long concert, but we will try our best to at least start the story with those who are unfamiliar, and celebrate the 21 years that we have enjoyed the added richness of Bosnians to St. Louis culture. If anyone would like to attend this concert, it is free and open to the public -- no tickets or reservations are needed. You are all most welcome.
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Jan 28, 2014 @ 6:18 pm
The best article ive ever found in non-Bosnian language about Bosnia. Very good job. i'd say, some mistakes in expalanations , but all in all a good one..
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Feb 3, 2015 @ 3:15 pm
I want to say hi to everyone who read this. I live in Travnik (beautiful place in B&H) and no, I don't live anywhere out of Bosnia. I've been here during the war (I was 13 when war was started) and now I have a daughter in age of 13, and YES I regret that I have no opportunity to leave Bosnia and go somewhere else.. I regret because of my doughter, because of her future in corupted country, in the country where you can not find a job and you can not live as a normal person..Pity..Bosnia and Herzegovina was a great country with all natural treasures, great people united in diversity..but it was not anymore :-(
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Feb 7, 2020 @ 3:15 pm
Hello Everyone,
I came across this while doing research about Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and it is so heart warming to see this communication. I am writing about a culture and it's identity and I thought what would be better than to let more people know about this war that happened. I have been dating a man for 3 years and when he was 16, he was taken to a POW camp in Bosnia and did not make it out until he was 19. His story of a survivor inspires me and I wish more people were aware of what happened between 1992-1995. I am embarrassed to say this... I did not know much about the war until I met him and I had to research. It made me cry and still does. I just don't understand how something so horrific could happen to so many people. I wish all the surviving Bosniaks the best and I hope your have a fulfilled life with family and friends here or back in your home land. I hope the ones that have passed live on in memory.

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