1. Census-related Issues (after 1945)

Years of censuses

1948, 1953, 1961, 1971, 1981 and 1991

The first census in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the Second World War was carried out in 1948. The Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), at that time, were not able to declare themselves under that name, but rather under the term “uncommitted Muslims”, which meant Muslims without a clear national identification (In Yugoslav censuses, people had to chose from certain given labels when declaring their nationality). In the 1948 census, 788,403 persons declared themselves as uncommitted Muslims, or 30.7 % of the total population of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The 1953 census offered, besides the recognized nations, i.e. narodi (Serbs, Croatians, Slovenes, Macedonians and Montenegrins), two other identifications, i.e. ”Yugoslavs” and “uncommitted Yugoslavs”. This could be seen as manifesting the idea that the Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina were either Yugoslavs, or not committed to any particular nation, hence uncommitted Yugoslavs. In the census, 891,800 people in Bosnia and Herzegovina identified themselves as “uncommitted Yugoslavs”, i.e. 31.3 % of the total population. This indicates that practically all people, who in 1948 had been “uncommitted Muslims”, now declared themselves under this label, because the previous one was not available any more and they did not want to identify as Serbs or Croats.

The third census was carried out in 1961, and now, aside from the recognized nations, the following options were possible: “Yugoslavs”, “uncommitted Yugoslavs” and, for the first time, “Muslims (as ethnic belonging)”. 842,248 persons declared themselves as “Muslims (as ethnic belonging)” or 25.7 % of the total population; 275,833 chose “uncommitted Yugoslavs” (8.4 % of the total population). These two groups, which comprised almost the total Muslim population, amounted to 1,118,131 persons (34.1 % of the total population of Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The next Yugoslav, in 1971, brought another innovation. This time, the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina had the possibility of declaring themselves “Muslim in the sense of nationality“ – with stressed importance of the capital M in Muslim (Musliman), which alluded to the national, and not religious, meaning of Muslim in this case. The census showed 1,482,300 persons who declared themselves as “Muslims in the sense of nationality”, or 39.6 % of the total population. The number of persons declaring themselves as Yugoslavs declined to 43,796 or 1.2 % of the total population. It is reasonable to believe that the increase of 640.182 Muslims in comparison to the 1961 census was not only due to natural population growth but also the fact that most people, who in 1961 had declared themselves “uncommitted Yugoslavs” identified as Muslims in 1971.

The census of 1981 had a column “Muslim” and, aside from the recognized nations, also a column “Yugoslav”. In this census, 1,630,033 people declared themselves Muslims (39.5 % of the total population), while the number of Yugoslavs was 326,316 or 7,9 %. In the census Yugoslav census of 1991, the number of Muslims was 1,902,956 or 43.5 % of the total population, and the number of persons declaring themselves as Yugoslavs was 242.682.

No census has yet been carried out in independent Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In 1993, the Bosnian parliament changed the ethnonym of the Bosnian Muslims into “Bosniaks” (Bošnjaci).

Tabular Summary of Census Results and Categories

Years of census

Ethnic Categories for the Muslim Population

Number

Percentage

1948

Serbs-Muslims

Croatians-Muslims

Uncommitted Muslims

71,991

25,295

788,403

 

 

30.7

1953

Uncommitted Yugoslavs

891,798

31.3

1961

Uncommitted Yugoslavs

Muslims (as ethnic belonging)

275,883

842,248

8.4

25.7

1971

Yugoslavs

Muslims (in the sense of nationality)

43,796

 

1,482,430

1. 2

 

39.6

1981

Muslims

Yugoslavs

1,630,033

326,316

39.5

7.9

1991

Muslims

Yugoslavs

1,902,956

242,682

43.5

5.6

Institution in charge for statistical data and censuses

Institute for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, established in 1945.

First use of the ethnonym

The name Bošnjak (Bošnjanin) is first mentioned in the Middle Ages.

Changes in the name

During the 20th century, Bosniaks were usually called Muslims (if not claimed as Croats or Serbs). Since 1993, their national name is the Bosniaks.