The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina was in many ways the heart of the former Yugoslavia, both geographically and culturally. It was home to 4.36 million people (1991 census figure), 44% of whom declared themselves Bosniak ('Muslim'), 31% Serb and 17% Croat, while there were also significant numbers of Jews, Roma, Albanians, undetermined 'Yugoslavs' and others. The country's ethnic diversity, however, did not entail territorial division, since the different national groups were inextricably intermingled in their geographical distribution and especially in the urban centres there was a high proportion of mixed marriages. Nor did it entail social separateness, since the component parts developed within a common historical, linguistic and cultural space, giving rise to a specifically Bosnian paradigm of unity within diversity.

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