When Bosnia and Herzegovina was a republic of Yugoslavia, its economy was federally integrated and responded to the needs of the entire country. During the past regime considerable efforts had been made for its industrialization, both to be able to exploit its abundant raw materials, both to mitigate the distance that separated it from the other economically more advanced republics, and for its strategic position. In fact, Bosnia and Herzegovina, without external borders, could have ensured production even if Yugoslavia had been invaded, and this characteristic made it the most suitable place in the federation to locate weapons factories. However, despite such initiatives, per capita productivity of the country had never exceeded 70% of the Yugoslav average. Its economy, from its birth as a sovereign state until 2005, has been conditioned by the upheavals caused by the war. Fundamental are the economic aid provided by international organizations, such as the EU, the World Bank and the PIC (Peace Implementation Council). Agriculture is generally not very productive, also due to the great fragmentation of landed property.
Cereals are grown in the northern valleys and plains. Pastoral activities and the exploitation of forest resources are relevant. Mineral resources include coal and lignite (Zenica, Kakanj, Banovići), bauxite (Monstar, Jajce, Bosanka Krupa), gold, asbestos, rock salt, iron ores (Ljubija, Vareš), copper (Gornij Vakuf), lead and zinc. The industries are active in the steel (Zenica, Vareš), metallurgical (Travnik), mechanical, electronic, wood (Sarajevo, Banja Luka), paper (Vareš), cement, textile, chemical (Tuzla) and food (Brčko). On February 26, 1998, commercial traffic resumed between the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the neighboring countries, but substantially the economic relations of the Croatian-Muslim entity remain oriented towards Croatia and the Central European countries, while those of the Serbian entity towards the Federation of Serbia and Montenegro. In addition to the emigration problem, the country has a high percentage of unemployment: estimated in 2009 at around 24.1%; the population able to afford it therefore prefers to leave the state looking for better working and living conditions abroad, effectively causing a serious impoverishment of the best human capital in the country, since the younger ones usually manage to leave – generally of high socio-cultural status – who are unable to obtain a job at home suited to their aspirations.
The post-war recovery, which in any case took place considering that in 1995 the GDP per capita it was reduced to almost zero, it underwent a slowdown at the turn of the millennium; in 2009 the change in GDP was -3.4%, with wealth produced per resident. of US $ 4,279. In particular, the agricultural recovery has not given the desired results due to the urbanization of a large part of the rural population, who prefer to move to the cities – where they take over the residences of those who have abandoned the country or moved to the other entity – not managing to get sustenance from the cultivation of the fields alone; in fact, private farms, which are excessively fragmented, are not able to give rise to production carried out with modern methods that can stand up to competition in the free market. Consequently, from a food point of view, the country is not self-sufficient. According to allcountrylist, manufacturing production is also lower than the value of imported goods, so much so that the total foreign debt has exceeded two and a half billion dollars and the state budget remains in deficit. In the immediate post-war period, with the support of international aid, the main aim was to relaunch the light industry producing consumer goods necessary for the population then exhausted by the conflict. Subsequently, by starting the privatizations of state-owned companies, an attempt was made to restore the productive apparatus of heavy industry, even if the resources for suitable investments are scarce, which only foreign economic groups can guarantee. The latter, however, faced with the continuing political instability that does not give certainty for the future, they were reluctant to commit fully. A decisive step forward, however, was made in 1998 when the movement of persons and goods between the two entities of the State was liberalized, simultaneously transferring all powers in tax matters to the central government. Most of the communications take place on the roads (21,846 km of which 14,020 were asphalted in 2001), which were restored and modernized after the war; there are no motorways, except for a few kilometers around the capital, and it should not be forgotten that part of the territory is unusable due to the presence of mines and other remnants of war. On the other hand, rail traffic is almost non-existent, despite the reactivation of many lines damaged during the war. The main airport is located in Sarajevo, while a secondary airport is in Mostar.