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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 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.
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.
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. Almost 95 percent of the population speaks Bosnian, also called Serbo-Croatian.
The neighboring Ottoman Turks were becoming increasingly aggressive, and they conquered Bosnia in 1463.
Clashes between peasants and landowners were frequent, and there was tension between Christians and Muslims. 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.
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.
The Austro-Hungarian government formally annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908.