Throughout the 15th - 19th century there were many demographic changes. Frequent wars, religious persecutions, rebellions, uprisings, taking of children as tribute, high tributes, high taxes, years of bad crops, epidemics, violence, and oppression have caused a high mortality rate and suffering of the whole population and instigated the migration flows that changed the ethnic structure of the population. So, with arrival of Ottoman empire coincided with the process of Christian population emigration from these regions, which has remained the main feature of the demographic development of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina until the present day. At the same time, intense internal shifting of the population together with recurrent migrations and also immigrations changed the distribution of some ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Ottoman period. The later stages saw particularly Moslem migrations from the region.
In the Bosnia proper the population started to move out first from lower regions (Posavina and the river valleys) and then from highlands. The most intensive migration flows originated in the karst Dinaric regions of Herzegovina and western Bosnia. For centuries, the population from these regions, mostly Christian, headed towards sourounding contries):
Throughout the 15th - 19th century, with coming of Ottoman empire on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina first significant demographic change took place as almost all followers of than Bosnian Church converted to Islam as a method of keeping the ownership of the land they owned before the Ottoman conquest. Their conversions were also of a political nature while Orthodox and Catholic portions of the Bosnian population had their base in the Serbian Orthodox Church and Catholic Church, Bosnian church followers had no representation on a larger geopolitical scene. Added motivation were also tax relief's for conversions to Islam. There were also great influx of Ortodox belivers, due to the constant imigrations from Montegro and Serbia, freaquent wars (orthodox population participated as soldiers on both sides), and shortage of catholic preachers.
Preottoman Catholic population had a great share in the emigrations from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The emigration flows were directed towards Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Baranja and north-west Bačka. At the same time, after the victorious wars of Austria against Turkey and the shifting of the border south of the Sava and Danube rivers, a portion of previous Croatian emigrants came back to Bosnia. In this period up to the migrations, the Bosnian Krajina region (western half of modern-day Bosnia) was known as "Turkish Croatia" and had an overwhelming Catholic and Croat majority.
According to the findings of many an author, the Moslem population, in the period of the Ottoman rule, did not emigrate much compared to the migrations of the Orthodox and Catholic population. The Moslem population was characteristic of return migrations as soon as the political and economic situation again became stable or the state borders were shifted. The return movements of the Moslem population from the Seaside, Lika, Slavonia, Hungary, and other places are well known. For example, after the Siege of Vienna (1683-1699), territorial losses of the Ottoman Empire and the conquest of Lika and Krbava by the Austrian Imperial Army, mass movements of the Moslem population from those regions took place; the Moslem population headed towards Bihać, Cazin, and Bosanska Krupa where they created an enclave in the vast region of Bosnian Frontier. More intensified immigrations of the Moslem population were noticed in 1690 when they moved from Hungary and Slavonia to the region around the mountain of Majevica.
In the Ottoman period, the Moslem population increased in number in Bosnia and Herzegovina somewhat due to immigrations of Moslems from the Sanjaks of Smederevo and Novi Pazar, and especially from some regions of Montenegro, Sjenica, and Pester. Immigrations of the Turkish population from Asia Minor also had an impact upon the growth of the Moslem population in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the 15th to 19th century.
However, the increase of the Moslem population was mostly due to their high natality rate given the patriarchic nature of the family structure. In such family structure the duties of the family members were strictly divided where female member of the family almost solely were bearing many children and taking care of the household while male members were engaged in running the land and the politics of the community.
Patriarchal structure was also evident in Orthodox and Catholic families but the statistics do not tend to show as high natality rates. The difference (according to some literary sources of the time) was in the social levels of Moslems relative to their Christian counterparts where the former were landowners and hence upper and upper middle class who could afford to have more offspring and latter were land workers and hence lower middle to lower class. Such social organization corresponded to a feudal system of the time.
During and shortly after the Ottomans' conquest of Bosnia, between 1463 - 1557, it is estimated that the Ottoman forces took around 100,000 of Bosnia's inhabitants into captivity and 30,000 young into the Janissaries as a result of the devshirmeh (also known as blood tax).
The Official population census by religion in Bosnia:
During the year of 1489 the official population census by religion for Bosnian Sandžak was:
Contemporary Byzantine historian Michael Critobulus of Imbros described Bosnia and its endings in the first half of the 15th century. According to him next to the mainstream native population of the Kingdom of Bosnia the Serbs, Romans and Hungarians, there were also some Vlachs and Albanians.
Turkish historian Omer Lutfi Barkan conducted a population census based on religion in the Bosnian Sandžak during 1520 - 1530. At which time there were over 334,325 inhabitants of whom 38,7% were followers of Islam.
Ever since the early 16th century Orthodox Serbs and Vlachs greatly migrated into the country, and in the early 17th century became the most numerous group.
During the Late 16th century and Early 17th century, according to various Austrian and Ottoman sources, Bosnia's entire nobility, the greater part of her citizenry and a part of the serfdom were Muslims, around 75% of the population of the Bosnian pashadom.
The Islamic population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, during Late 18th century to the Early 19th century, started to gradually drop due to frequent wars fought by the Ottoman Empire. Muslims were required by Ottoman law to serve in the military, whereas Christians were not part of the army. With the created of independent states of Serbia and Montenegro, migrations of Serbs to the two states were in massive waves in the 1810s, 1820s and 1870s.
Both Moslem and Christian populations were considerably thinned in the 18th century due to frequent plagues. In particular, a huge plague epidemic reportedly halved the entire population of Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1813 and 1815.
|Greek Orthodox Christians||32.63% - 46.6%|
|Sunni Muslims||32.6% - 51.9%|
|Catholic Christians||14.97% - 20.17%|
Final results of ottoman administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina was rearranging most of its religious and ethnical map. New empire created mostly muslim elites which made up the majority in most of the cities, as in the westernmost and easternmost borderparts of Bosnia (Cazin area, parts of Drina valley and larger area around Tuzla). Prewar catholic majority west of Vrbas (area was part of Croatian Kingdom before the ottomans) had disappeared and was exchanged by orthodox majority , due to constant immigration of Orthodox, sortage of Catholic priesthood and emigrations of catholics from that area. Catholics also mostly disappeared from Eastern Bosnia (Srebrenica region was one of Hungarian banates) and dropped to a minority in northern Bosnia (except for large parts of Bosnian Posavina). In central Bosnia Catholics dropped roughly to about one half of the population, and Herzegovina was basically divided into Catholic and Orthodox parts with a muslim majority in most of the cities.
The Moslem population was mostly urban and comprised the majority in most of Bosnia and Herzegovina towns(Sarajevo, Tuzla, Banja Luka) as in western (Cazin) and estern borderparts (parts of Drina valley) of the country due to religius wars with neighbouring countries. In general, Moslems were the dominant group in most developed urban centers of the country.
Most of western parts of Bosnia, eastern parts of Herzegovina and parts of Drina valley had Ortodox majority. Those were large, but mostly mountainous regions. The re-establishment of the Pec Patriarchate in 1557 and sortage of catholic priesthood contributed greatly to preservation of Serbian presence in these areas.
The Catholic population comprised majority in the most of the Herzegovina, Posavina and Central Bosnia . The preservation of a Catholic presence in these areas was greatly contributed by the establishment of the Franciscian Order, which acted against Catholic emigration.
Due to the frequent migrations and religious wars, a lot of those areas contained few (or more) of small enclaves of peoples of other religions.
Bosnia accepted a wave of immigrants of Jews that were expelled from Spain since the 15th century. They settled in Sarajevo, Travnik, Banja Luka and Bihac. The immigration of the Romanies, Cincars, Cerkez, in small numbers, coincided with the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina. None of these groups considerably influenced the overall population structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During the liberational wars fought by the Serbs between 1875 and 1878, Bosnia and Herzegovina lost 13,64% of its population (150,000 out of total 1,100,000) of whom most were Serbs.
During 1879 the first thorough population census stated that there were 1,158,164 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1879, by religion:
|Greek Orthodox Christians||496,485 (42,88%)|
|Sunni Muslims||448,613 (38.75%)|
|Serb Orthodox Christians||571,250 (42.76%)|
|Sunni Muslims||492,710 (38.88%)|
The year of 1895 was a busy year. An Austro-Hungarian population census conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 22 April 1895 which reported that the area of Bosnia had approximately 1,361,868 inhabitants while Herzegovina had 229,168 inhabitants
The number of persons per square mile was the second lowest in Austro-Hungary: 80 inhabitants per square mile. The number of persons per square mile across districts:
There were 5,388 settlements, 11 of which had more than 5,000 inhabitants. Over 4,689 of those settlements contained less than 500 inhabitants.
The Ethnic structure was:
|Serb Orthodox Christians||673,246 (42.94%)|
|Sunni Muslims||548,632 (34.99%)|
|Ottoman Turkish merchants||none|
The population census by religion:
|Greek Schismatics||674,000 (43%)|
The territorial distribution among the area's didn't changed much. The towns became more multiethnics (thas minorizing muslim minority in many of them).
Country was redivided into 6 areas.
The Muslims formed majority in 3 of them:
The Catholics formed majority in 2 of them:
The Orthodox formed majority in just 1:
Some of the other minor minorities include the Albanians which lived in the southeast. Turkish merchants could be found in trading centres. The Austrian troops could be found in military garrisons, while the Jews that migrated from Spain earlier could be found in the cities. They were all divided according to Occupation, 1,385,291 inhabitants (85%) were farmers or wine-cultivators.
There were a total of 5,833 large estates, chiefly held by the Muslims. 88,970 cultivators serve as kmets. 88,867 free peasants own the land they till. 22,625 peasants own farming-land and also cultivate the land of others
According to the 1910 population census there were 1,898,044 citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina:
|Serb Orthodox Christians||825,918 (43.49%)|
|Sunni Muslims||612,137 (32.25%)|
In war camps and prisons 320,000 Bosnians and Herzegovinians perished, of whom 200,000 were Serbs.
The new planned resettlement plans hit most the Orthodox Serb population, as large masses were moved from passive regions of Herzegovina and Bosnia to Vojvodina, eastern Banat in presice; while some left to Kosovo and Metohia: inhabiting the region from Kačanik to Vučitrn, around Priština, Lipljan, Peć, Istok, Đakovica, and in Drenica. Somealso left to Macedonia.
The earlier emigrational tendency of the Moslim population towards Ottoman-held territories continued.
A great number of the population, among whom the Serbs and Croats from the karst regions of Herzegovina and Western Bosnia were most numerous, moved to the northern regions of Yugoslavia and abroad (North and South America, Canada, France, Belgium, etc.)
Following the Agrarian reforms of 1918 and 1919 , the government confiscated numerous lands owned by Moslem Bosnians. The entire land was split among the people based on territorial distribution. Serbs got the most, while Croats the least.
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia has conducted a population census on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 31 March 1931 which stated that there were 2,323,555 persons. The population was given several nationalities:
|Serbian Orthodox Christians||1,028,139||44.25%|
There were 8 municipalities and their populations were:
The same year the City of Sarajevo had 78,173 inhabitants:
The Moslem population of Bosnia and Herzegovina was also exposed to suffering and intense relocation, mainly to cities and mostly to Sarajevo, to where a portion of the Moslem population from Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Metohia, and Macedonia was relocated thus enlarging the overall muslim percentige in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
That were the consequences of the Ustašas dissisions to promote immigration of Croats and "Moslem Croats" from Macedonia, Kosovo, Vojvodina, and Serbia for the purpose of strengthening their ethnic element in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During the time of percentage of Croats fell Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Croatian percentage in Bosnian municipalities 1971-1991 by more than a quarter.
4,025,476 (July 2005 estimate)
4,552,198 (July 2007 estimate)
|Bosniaks||48% (of whom around 90% are followers of Islam)|
|Serbs||37.1% (of whom around 99% are followers of the Serb Orthodox Church)|
|Croats||14.3% (of whom around 88% are followers of the Catholic Church)|