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Muslims by nationality (Muslimani, Муслимани) was a term used in Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker as an official designation of nationality of Slavic Muslims. They were one of the constitutive groups of Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker. In connection to the national rebirth and awakening in Yugoslavia during the 1990s they are now officially recognized as Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker by its historical name. A handful of people across Former Yugoslaviamarker still consider themselves to be Muslims by nationality, while other self-identify as Bosniaks, and to a lesser extent Gorani, Torbesh or Pomaks. The two latter names are also used by Slavic Muslims living outside of the former Yugoslavia, mainly in Bulgariamarker where they form a part of the wider Slavic demographic majority, and also where they live as minorities in non-Slavic countries such as Greecemarker and Turkeymarker.


The Constitution of SFRY recognized narodi (nations—native peoples which were explicitly named in the Constitution, giving them special privileges) and narodnosti (nationalities, with status comparable to that of minorities).

The Austro-Hungarian Empire officially introduced the term Bosniaks for Slavic Muslims who lived in Bosnia; prior to it, it was used to describe a resident of Bosnia regardless of nationality or religion. In a debate that went on during the 1960s, many Bosniak communist intellectuals argued that Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker are in fact a native Slavic people that should be recognized as a nation. But the name Muslims was sometimes rejected - to quote Bosniak politician and president Hamdija Pozderac:

As a compromise, the Constitution was amended in 1968 to list Muslims by nationality recognizing a nation, but not the Bosniak name. The Yugoslav "Muslim by nationality" policy was considered by Bosniaks to be neglecting and opposing their Bosnian identity because the term tried to describe Bosniaks as a religious group not an ethnic one.

Sometimes other terms, such as Muslim with capital M were used (that is, "musliman" was a practicing Muslim while "Musliman" was a member of this nation; Serbo-Croatian uses capital letters for names of peoples but small for names of adherents).

After the 1990s, most of these people, around two million, mostly located in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and the region of Sandžak, declare as ethnic Bosniaks (Bošnjaci, sing. Bošnjak).

On the other hand, some still use the old name Muslimani (Muslims), especially outside Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The election law of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognizes the results from 1991 population census as results referring to Bosniaks .


  • In Serbiamarker, the census of 2002 that covered Central Serbia and Vojvodinamarker (but not Kosovomarker) registered 19,503 Muslims by nationality and 136,087 Bosniaks.
  • In Montenegromarker census of 2003, 24,625 (3.97%) of the population have declared as Muslims by nationality, while 48,184 (7.77%) have declared as Bosniaks.
  • In the Republic of Macedoniamarker, the census of 2002 registered 17,018 Bosniaks and 2,553 (0.13%) Muslims by nationality. It is also important to note that most members of Pomaks and Torbesh ethnicities also declared as Muslims by nationality prior to 1990.
  • The Croatianmarker South Slavic Muslim community, is around 50,000, and is divided among three identities. Around 10,000 of them declare themselves as Croats; 20,000 continue to use Muslims by Nationality, whilst the other 20,000 declare Bosniaks.
  • In 2002 Sloveniamarker census, 21,542 persons identified as Bosniaks; 8,062 as Bosnians, while 10,467 chose Muslims by nationality.


  1. Imamović, Mustafa (1996). Historija Bošnjaka. Sarajevo: BZK Preporod. ISBN 9958-815-00-1
  2. The New Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  3. Statistics Office of Republic of Serbia. Population by nationality
  4. Statistics Office of Republic of Macedonia - Државен завод за статистика:Попис на населението, домаќинствата и становите во Република Македонија, 2002: Дефинитивни податоци (PDF)
  5. Statistics Office of Republic of Slovenia - Statistični urad Republike Slovenije: 7. Prebivalstvo po narodni pripadnosti, Slovenija, popisi 1953, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991 in 2002

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