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Bosnia and Herzegovina - Use of Flags

Last modified: 2003-07-05 by
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Observations of Flags in Bosnia and Herzegovina

As you maybe remember, I was for a few days in Sarajevo around Xmas. I was looking for some special flag-news around, but I have not seen much that would surprise me. However, there are much flags to be seen around, and I believe that flag usage is interesting here, so I'll report some examples.

As I came to Sarajevo by bus, I had to cross through Republic of Srpska. Allog the way through it, there was only the RS flag to be seen (RWB tricolour), except on the border crossing where it was flown together with the new B&H flag. To be quite honest, I did not have chance to see much of other official buildings from the bus, so...

However, when you cross into Federation of B&H (i.e. "Croato-Muslim" part) there are much more flags to be seen around. I got notion that the new flag is everywhere, very often hoisted together with the flag of the Federation (RWG tricolour w/arms). Even more often it is hoisted also with third one, either old flag or "Herzeg-Bosna" flag depending in whose "area" you are. But also any other combination of the two out of three above are to be seen.

In Sarajevo itself, on official buildings three flags are allways flown (it seems) - left to right Federation, new B&H and old B&H.

Infornt of the Hollyday Inn hotel there were hoisted four flags - new B&H, Federation, the flag of Hollyday Inn (green with logo consisting of ornamented inscription) and a fourth one I couldn't identify: red with white square in the middle, with red isoscales triangle in it.Possibly it was some corporate flag, but no one that I asked could tell

I noticed also that quite often the Federation flag was hoisted upside down - once also on the Presidency building! However, next day it was hoisted properly. That would mean that they noticed the error, or that they took the flags down by night and hoisted it properly next day without noticing anything strange :-) However, when we are at the topic, I got notion that the flags are there really taken down each evening and hoisted in the mornrning - at many places, much more often then here in Croatia.

Finally, it is good to notice how the B&H flags are produced - they are either printed, or sewed out of four parts - blue trapezoid, a stripe printed blue with white stars, yellow triangle and blue rectangle. If you don't get it, you'll understand it when looking at this image . The efect of this process is that the printed stripe get different shade of blue after exposure to weather and the flags that are made that way look strikingly different.
Zeljko Heimer, 9 January 1999

In the southern part of 'Herzog-Bosna', inland from Dubrovnik, the Herzog-Bosna flag is virtually the only one to be seen and still seems to enjoy official status (it was used at the border between Croatia and Bosnia- Hercegovina, for instance). I didn't see a single B-H flag, except for one as a car sticker.
At least this was the case when I was on holiday last year (1998).
S. Notholt, 10 January 1999

I believe that this has been changed since. At least I am quite sure that international governing forces (whatever they actaully be) are insisting quite strongly on the use of the new flag at border crossings, and that by now there should be at each one of them. For the area "inland" of Herzegovina, I would not wander that what you saw would still be the situation, especially in those parts where there is little mixed population.
The official status of the former Herzeg-Bosnia flag is now the flag of Croats as nation, i.e. ethnic flag. Just as the former B&H flag is now official the flags of Bosniaks. Therefore both of them are used in areas where one or other are living.
BTW, this reminds me - some time ago a bridge over Sava river near Zupanja was rebuild. On the ceremony of reopening, attended by the President of Croatia, and by the highest representatives of all three nations of B&H (it slips my memory exactly who they were). There were four flags displayed at the stage where speaches were made: Croatia, B&H, Federation and "Herzeg-Bosnia" .That last flag obviously showes that the city on the B&H side of Sava is Croat populated. I do not think that if that was not the case the other two representatives would agree to come.
Zeljko Heimer, 11 January 1999

The flag use in Bosnia and Herzegovina is hilarious. Some time ago, I visited a minister in the cantonal govermnent and believe me his office looked like a flag museum. There was the national flag, the federal flag, the cantonal flag, and his personal choices the old lilly flag, and the flag of his nation - croats. In Mostar, the situation gets weirder by the moment : On the Bosniak side you can see the national flag, but also the federal one and some kind of green LOB ,maybe East Mostar city flags,.On the Croat side, you can see the Croat (Herzeg-Bosnia flag), the Federal, and the flag of mostar: a shield with a brown cross or something similar
We have license plates for use by all peoples, but you can still identify who the driver is, by the sticker. Bosniaks stick the normal "BIH" sticker, Serbs don't even stick it, while Croats stick it on a red/white chequee background.
Muhamed Mesic, 12 January 1999

Last August, I traveled through all three(two) entities of B&H. The only places when I saw B&H flag were the border crossings. Both FR Yugoslavia - B&H (serbian part - Republika Srpska) on Drina river and B&H (croato-muslim part mainly populated with croats - "Herzeg Bosnia") - Croatia near Metkovic (Herzegovina) And of course, there was lots of B&H flags in Bosniac-populated parts (Sarajevo, and central Bosnia). So, it seems to me that only one nation fairly accepted this flag - Bosniacs (not the mention the international community)
Ivan Sarajcic, 12 January 1999

There are no more BA official flags on border passes between Croatia and Herzeg-Bosnia , and between Yugoslavia(Serbia) and Republic of Srpska . A Year ago it was not so.
Ivan Sarajcic 3 September 1999


by Jan Oskar Engene and Dov Gutterman, 2 September 2001

Just finish watching the football game between BiH and IL (0:0). In the audience there were more old BiH flags (CoA on white) then the new one. However, the most interesting one was whats looks like the old flag but with the new CoA. I saw just one like that, maybe an homemade.
On the poles there were regular size FIFA and IL flags and a giant hanging BiH flag.
Dov Gutterman, 2 September 2001


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