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    The isolated mountains of Bulgaria hide cultural gems around every corner, including this old Turkish bridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Explore Bulgaria!

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Ethnicity, Language, & Religion of Bosnia & Herzegovina

Ethnicity

The Bosniaks (Muslin citizens of Bosnia & Herzegovina) are the largest ethnic group in the country, however they don't make up a majority. The Serbs and the Croats also make up large percentages of the population, making the country very "ethnically" diverse. These three groups are nearly identical on a genetic level so some would argue there is only one ethnicity in the country. None-the-less, each group claims to be a different ethnicity, a claim magnified by religious, cultural, and political differences. Despite the debate on the ethnic differences between the groups, all agree they are each southern Slavs, very closely related to the Slovenes, Bulgarians, and Macedonians.

Language

The people of Bosnia & Herzegovina all speak the same southern Slavic language (in English commonly called Serbo-Croatian), but the Bosniaks call this language to Bosnian, the Serbs call it Serbian, and the Croats call it Croatian. The most significant difference between the three is that Serbian is generally written in the Cyrillic script, while the other two are written in the Latin script. In Bosnia & Herzegovina only Bosnian and Croatian are official languages.

English is a growing second language, but is a long ways from being common in the country. Other popular international languages like French, German, and Spanish are taught in very small numbers, but all are growing in popularity.

Religion

For the most part, ethnicity is defined by religious affiliation in Bosnia & Herzegovina; the Bosniaks are Muslim, the Serbs are Orthodox, and the Croats are Catholic.

Islam (the name of the religion, whose followers are called Muslims) is a monotheistic religion, whose holy book is called the Qur'an. The Qur'an is believed to be the word of God spoken through the prophet Muhammad from 609-632 CE (Common Era is preferred over AD (Anno Domini or "year of the Lord") since the Islamic world doesn't believe Jesus was the messiah). Islam believes Muhammad was the last prophet sent to earth by God, the last in a long line of prophets, which includes Moses, Abraham, and Jesus among others.

Muslims follow five pillars of their faith: testimony, prayer, alms-giving, fasting, and pilgrimage. These pillars, and other tenants of their faith, can give great structure to their lives as some foods, like pork, are forbidden and every Muslim is expected to pray five times a day. However, the level of participation in each of these pillars and to what degree Islam influences an individual's life varies from person to person and community to community.

Catholicism is a Christian religion that is one of the first Christian religions (founded after the death of Jesus in about 30-33 AD). Catholicism believes that there is a single God who created everything, a savior, the son of God, Jesus Christ who is the forgiver of sins, and there is the Holy Spirit, which makes up the last part of the Holy Trinity. Catholics follow the teachings of the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments. Much of the faith is based on the life and teachings of Jesus, which is found in the gospels (in the New Testament).

Continue reading on Safari the Globe to Learn the Catholic Church's doctrines, liturgy, symbolism, traditions, & hierarchy

Orthodoxy is a Christian religion that claims to be the most loyal to the Christian faith and religion as it was described by Jesus and the Gospels in the New Testament. Christianity, including Orthodoxy, was founded after the death of Jesus in about 30-33 AD; various branches of Orthodoxy were officially recognized by governments long before Catholicism was recognized in the Roman Empire.

Orthodoxy and Catholicism have many of the same beliefs; both believe that there is a single God who created everything and a savior, the son of God, Jesus Christ who is the forgiver of sins. However, Orthodoxy is decentralized so each bishop oversees their local country or region, giving each orthodox country a different leader. In this way, no bishop has more power than any other, meaning the tenants and interpretations of the faith remain relatively unchanged. These beliefs are based on the teachings of the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, in particular the life and teachings of Jesus, which is found in the gospels (in the New Testament).

This page was last updated: May, 2014