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Mostar

From Academic Kids

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Riverside in Mostar

Mostar is a city of 75,613 (1991) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation.

The unofficial capital of Herzegovina, Mostar is situated on the Neretva river. Mostar has an international airport, located in the nearby village of Ortiješ.

Mostar was named after its Old Bridge (Stari most) and the towers on its sides, "the bridge keepers" (mostars in Bosnian/Croatian).

History

Founded in the late 15th century, Mostar was the chief administrative city for the Ottoman Empire in the Herzegovina region. The Austro-Hungarian Empire absorbed Mostar in 1878 and then it became part of Yugoslavia in the aftermath of World War I.

After World War II, Mostar developed a production of tobacco, bauxite, wine and aluminium products. Several dams ("Grabovica", "Salakovac", "Mostar") were built in the region to harness the hydroelectric power of the Neretva.

Bosnian war

Between 1992 and 1993, after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia, the town was subject to a nine month siege.

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Damaged buildings remain prominent throughout the old town

The Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) first bombed Mostar on April 3rd, 1992 and over the following week gradually established control over a large part of the town. On April 8th, the Herzegovina Croats founded the Croatian Defense Council (Hrvatsko Vijeće Obrane, HVO) as their military formation which engaged the JNA forces in combat. The JNA shelling damaged or destroyed a number of civilian objects. Among them were a Franciscan monastery, the Catholic cathedral and the bishop's palace, with a library of 50,000 books, as well as Karadžoz-bey, Roznamed-ij-Ibrahim-efendija and twelve other mosques.

On June 12th, the HVO military force amassed enough weaponry and manpower to force the JNA troops out Mostar, together with several smaller formations made up of Bosniaks. The 4th Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the primary military formation of the Bosniaks, was founded the same year in Mostar. During the siege that ensued, the city was bombarded by the Bosnian Serbs from the mountains to the east.

In 1993, the Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks began a long struggle for control of Mostar. The Bosnian Croats launched an offensive on May 9th where they relentlessly bombarded the Bosniak quarter of the city, reducing much of it to ruin, including numerous other mosques and houses from the Ottoman era, including the Kujundžiluk.

The 16th century stone bridge Stari Most that had been built by Mimar Hayruddin, by order from emperor Suleiman the Magnificent, was destroyed on November 9th by Bosnian Croat mortar fire.

A cease-fire was signed on February 25th, 1994. The city remained divided between the two hostile parties. Some normalization ensued with a redistricting in 1995 and reestablishment of the ability to move between the two parts of the city in 1996.

Reconstruction

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The Old Bridge in Mostar was destroyed in the Bosnian war; this picture shows its reconstruction in June 2003

Since the end of the wider war in 1995, great progress is being made in the reconstruction of the city of Mostar. The city was under direct monitoring from a European Union envoy, several elections were held and each nation was accommodated with regard to political control over the city. Over 15 million dollars has been spent on restoration.

A monumental project to rebuild the Old Bridge to the original design, and restore surrounding structures was initiated in 1999 and mostly completed by Spring 2004. The money for this reconstruction was donated by the United States, Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands, and Croatia. A grand opening was held on July 23, 2004 under heavy security.

The "Old Bridge", or Stari most, which is the town's symbol, was officially reopened for the public on July 23, 2004.
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The "Old Bridge", or Stari most, which is the town's symbol, was officially reopened for the public on July 23, 2004.

The city is nowadays almost exclusively populated by Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks, although before the war Bosnian Serbs made up one-fifth of the population. The city has had a carefully elaborated policy of national equality ever since the end of the war. Each group claims one side of the river and even the football clubs, Zrinjski and Velež, are each supported by its own supporters delineated along national lines.


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