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Bosnia 2013 Census

The 2013 census in BiH did not start off well. The Bosnian political parties could not agree for many years whether to call for the census or not. The main issue was the return of refugees to pre-war homes, as foreseen by Annex 7 of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords.

The 2013 Census

© juan35mm / Fotolia

An important issue was how languages and ethnic and religious origins should be defined. Eventually an “open” determination model was adopted allowing the population to define themselves without having to choose between a number of designations. The head methodologist of the Statistics Agency, Nora Selimović, has stated that people did not need to answer questions “about their ethnic and religious affiliation or their mother tongue”.

Ethnically based organisationsgovernments and political parties have been campaigning in order to obtain results supporting their views and positions. Croatia’s State office for Croats outside Croatia has urged Bosnian Croats living in Croatia or in other foreign countries to take part in the census, because it  will be the most important source of population statistics “and as such, will be the basis for a future position and status of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina “

The census was initially scheduled for April 2013 but the International Monitoring Operation, which oversaw Bosnia’s test census in October 2012, advised the authorities to postpone the headcount for at least six months on the grounds that the country is insufficiently prepared.

First official data, though preliminary, (population and households in BiH on entity, canton and municipality level), were published already in November 2013. They show a population of 3.791.662, meaning 585,411 less than in the 1991 census, distributed as follows: 62,55% in the Federation, 35 % in Republika Srpska and 2,45 % in Brčko. Final results, including ethnic data, will be published after mid-2014, when data processing is completed. In the meantime, the Sarajevo newspaper Dnevni Avaz in January 2014 published preliminary but unofficial results on the ethnic composition: 48.4 % Bosniaks, 32.7 % Serbs and 14,6 % Croats.

Earlier Censuses

Before the 2013 census, the last census in Bosnia was conducted in 1991. After the war, no census was held, mainly due to the political sensitivity in questions concerning ethnicity and ethnic relations.  Some estimates were done on a theoretical basis, like “The Distribution of Ethnic Identities in Post-War Bosnia and Herzegovina: A New Estimation Approach”  by Daniel Bochsler &  Basil Schläfer, 2013, with forecasts for most municipalities in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The 1991 census had revealed a composite ethnic map, where Bosniaks [Muslims], Serbs and Croats, though concentrated in certain places, still were mostly living in mixed areas. In 1991 the population was slightly less than 4,4 million, with about 43 % Muslims, 31 % Serbs and 17 % Croats. Around 8 % declared themselves Yugoslavs or as belonging to other minority groups

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