picturesque photo of a mountain valley in Bosnia-Hercegovina

This land has always been a crossroads for different kinds of peoples

In this exhibit we will go back in time to 1992. But you could go back even farther, to more than 2,000 years ago! The first known people in this mountainous part of the world used to trade with the ancient Greeks and the Romans. This land was right in-between the farthest reaches of the Eastern and Western Roman Empire.

diagram of the boundaries of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, highlighting the Balkan region between them

From these Roman times, it would take almost 700 more years before the Slavic people came to settle here — into the area we now call Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina. This was around the year 814. At that time, all these different peoples practiced Christianity under the Catholic Church.

Fast-forward by 500 more years,

...and the Muslim empire of the Ottomans had arrived in the Balkans. Although their religion was Islam, they did not force this religon on their new subjects. By then, many Slavs in the area had already found more in common with Russia, and they were part of the Serbian Orthodox Church. But Croat people, for the most part, remained Catholics.

Now fast-forward to 1945..!

color photo of Josip Tito in 1978 After the Second World War, one of the strongest Slavic leaders from the war, Mr. Josep Tito, unified the entire region under one new country. He called it Yugoslavia, meaning “land of all the Southern Slavs.” Mr. Tito had a strong personality and could control any disputes inside Yugoslavia. But Tito passed away in 1980.

Without him as their leader, the cooperation among all these different peoples started to break down. Things were NOT going peacefully by 1992...