The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been buffeted by changes throughout their political history. They have seen periods of independence alternating with occupation and annexation. Each of these changes was accompanied by a new flag.
In 1878, Bosnia was an independent nation for only a couple of months between breaking free of the Ottoman Empire and being occupied by Austro-Hungary. During this period the nation’s flag was a green field with a bright yellow crescent in the center. A yellow star rested between the points of the crescent.
Bosnia and Herzegovina were provinces under Austro-Hungarian occupation. Bosnia’s provincial flag was evenly divided by a red stripe on top and a yellow stripe below. Herzegovina’s flag had the same colors but the opposite configuration.
During the Soviet era of 1945 through 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina were considered part of Yugoslavia. They were represented by a red flag, symbolizing communism, with a small flag of Yugoslavia in the upper corner.
In 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina emerged as an independent republic. The flag that was adopted was a white field with the blue, gold and white shield of a traditional Bosnian dynasty in the center. Because the Serb and Croat citizens felt this flag was exclusionary, the country changed to the current flag in 1998.
The flag flown today by Bosnia and Herzegovina is a bright blue field divided by a golden-yellow right triangle. The base of the triangle is at the top of the flag, with the top point at the bottom and the hypotenuse facing left. Along the hypotenuse are nine white stars. Seven of the stars are complete, while the star at each end of the row is cut off by the edge of the flag.
The blue field of the Bosnia flag and the white stars represent the European continent and its people, and those are also the colors of peace. The way the stars seem to run off the edges of the flag is meant to symbolize the limitlessness of the future of the people. The golden-yellow of the triangle symbolizes the hopefulness of the sun. Its three corners stand for the three peoples of the nation: the Bosnians, Serbs and Croats.
As Bosnia and Herzegovina moves forward into a future of peace, independence and productive association with its European neighbors, its bright and distinctive flag will fly as a proud symbol of the nation and its people.