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Sarajevo

Sarajevo (sârˌəyāˈvō) [key], city (1991 est. pop. 529,000), capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the Miljacka River. An important industrial and railway center, its industries include food and tobacco processing and furniture manufacturing. Lignite and iron ore are mined nearby. The city is the seat of an Orthodox Eastern metropolitan, a Roman Catholic archbishop, and the chief ulema of Bosnia's Muslims, who constituted about 50% of the population before the city was torn apart by war in 1992. Sarajevo has a university (founded in 1946), several Muslim seminaries, and various institutes of higher education. It is noted for its Muslim architecture, including its Turkish marketplace and more than 100 mosques, the most important one dating from 1450.

Founded in 1263, Sarajevo, then a citadel known as Vrh-Bosna, fell to the Turks in 1429 and was renamed Bosna-Saraj, or Bosna-Seraj. The town established around the citadel became an important Turkish military and commercial center and reached the peak of its prosperity in the 16th cent. The Congress of Berlin (1878) gave Sarajevo and the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria-Hungary, where it remained until its incorporation in 1918 into Yugoslavia. The city was a center of the Serbian nationalist movement. The assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife on June 28, 1914, was an immediate cause of World War I. Sarajevo was the scene of several important battles between Allied resistance fighters and the Germans in World War II, during which the city sustained considerable damage. In 1984 the city was host to the Winter Olympics.

Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia in Oct., 1991. Immediately following the international recognition of the republic's independence in Apr., 1992, the country's Serbs and Croats, backed respectively by Serbia and Croatia, began to claim large chunks of the country's territory. Sarajevo, though remaining largely under Bosnian government control, was under siege from Serbs in the surrounding hills and suburbs until 1996. The city sustained considerable damage to its infrastructure due to shelling, and many residents were killed. As the fighting ended and government control was reestablished (1996) over the city and suburbs, large numbers of Serbs fled. The damaged Oslobodenje newspaper tower is preserved as a memorial to the civil war.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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