October 01, 2013

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnia began holding its first post-war census Tuesday, a sensitive exercise expected to reveal the effects of ethnic expulsions during the 1990s conflict and also impact the country’s power-sharing system.

Over the next two weeks, officials will be knocking on people’s doors and asking them to answer around 70 questions. Preliminary results are expected in January. In the last census in 1991, Bosnia had 4.4 million people, of whom 43.5 percent were Muslims, 31.2 percent Serbs and 17.4 percent Croats and a small percentage of others. After separating from the then-Yugoslavia in 1992, the group known as Muslims were labeled Bosniaks.

The various groups all lived mixed throughout Bosnia but ethnic expulsions and killings during the 1992-95 war created ethnic exclusive territories, divided the country into almost autonomous ethnic regions and sent an estimated million people permanently abroad.

The country’s power-sharing system, imposed by a 1995 peace agreement, gives each of the three main ethnic groups in Bosnia a share of power based on the size of their populations according to the 1991 census.

Changes in the size of the ethnic groups in the past two decades could influence their share of power in the future.