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Bosnian Americans

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Bosnian Americans
Bosanski Amerikanci
Total population
125,793 (2010
(0.04% of the US population)
Regions with significant populations
New York City Metropolitan Area, Greater St. Louis, Missouri; Chicagoland, Utica, New York, Des Moines, Iowa; Salt Lake County, Utah; San Jose and Silicon Valley, California, Metro Detroit, Phoenix, Tampa, Florida
American English · Bosnian · Croatian · Serbian
Majority: Sunni Islam Minority: Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism[1]
Related ethnic groups
Bosnian Canadians, Bosniak Americans, Serbian Americans, Croatian Americans, European Americans, Yugoslav Americans

Bosnian Americans are Americans whose ancestry can be traced to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The vast majority of Bosnian Americans immigrated to the United States during and after the Bosnian War which lasted from 1992–95. Nevertheless, many Bosnians immigrated to the United States as early as the 19th century. The largest Bosnian-American population can be found in both Greater St. Louis and in Greater Chicago which boast the largest number of Bosnians in the world outside of Europe.[2][3][4]

While official census reports from the 2010 Census indicate that there are 125,793 Bosnian-Americans in U.S., it is estimated that as of 2020 there are some 350,000 Americans of full or partial Bosnian descent living in the country.[5]


According to estimates from the American Community Survey for 2015–2019,[6] there were 103,900 immigrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The top counties of residence were:

County State Population
Cook County Illinois 7,100
Saint Louis County Missouri 6,400
Polk County Iowa 4,000
Maricopa County Arizona 3,200
Duval County Florida 2,800
Oneida County New York 2,500
Macomb County Michigan 2,400
Pinellas County Florida 2,300
Kent County Michigan 2,100
Gwinnett County Georgia 2,100
Hartford County Connecticut 2,000
Black Hawk County Iowa 1,700
Santa Clara County California 1,600
Warren County Kentucky 1,500
Jefferson County Kentucky 1,500


Early period[edit]

The first Bosnians settled in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, joining other immigrants seeking better opportunities and better lives. As the former Yugoslavia continued to find its identity as a nation over the last century, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina sought stability and new beginnings in the city of Chicago, many intending to return to their homeland. Those who were of the Islamic faith were early leaders in the establishment of Chicago's Islamic community. In 1906, they established the Dzemijetul Hajrije (The Benevolent Society) of Illinois to preserve the community's religious and national traditions, as well as to provide mutual assistance for funerals and illnesses. The organization established branches in Gary, Indiana, in 1913, and Butte, Montana, in 1916, and is the oldest existing Islamic organization in the United States.[7]

Post World War II[edit]

Chicago's Bosnian community received a new influx of migrants after World War II who were displaced by the war and the communist takeover of Yugoslavia. This new wave of refugees included many well-educated professionals, some of whom were forced to take low-skilled jobs as taxi cab drivers, factory workers, chauffeurs, and janitors. As the population increased in the early 1950s, the Muslim community invited Shaykh Kamil Avdich (Ćamil Avdić), a prominent Muslim scholar, to become the first permanent imam (religious minister). Under Imam Kamil's leadership, the Bosnian Muslim Religious and Cultural Home was established to raise funds for a mosque, which opened on Halsted Street in 1957. In 1968, the organization's name was changed to the Bosnian American Cultural Association, and in the early 1970s it purchased land in Northbrook to build a larger mosque and cultural center. The Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago has remained an important center for Bosnian Muslim religious activity, serving Bosnians and non-Bosnian Muslims in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Bosnian War (1992–1995)[edit]

The War in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995 brought the largest influx of Bosnians to St Louis, which became the most popular United States destination for Bosnian refugees. It is estimated that 40,000 refugees moved to the St. Louis area in the 1990s and early 2000s, bringing the total St. Louis Bosnian population to some 70,000.[8] In Chicago, the Bosnian community has largely settled in the northern part of the city, between Lawrence and Howard, from Clark to Lake Michigan. Many refugees suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of gruesome experiences in concentration camps and the death of family and friends. The Illinois Department of Human Services founded the Bosnian Refugee Center in 1994 with the help of public and private agencies to assist the newcomers, and in 1997 it became the nonprofit Bosnian & American Community Center. Staffed by Bosnian refugees from all backgrounds, the center serves all refugees by providing community services that include educational and family programs, counseling, and cultural activities.


The largest Bosnian-American communities in the US are found in St. Louis (Bevo Mill's "Little Bosnia"); followed by Chicago, Jacksonville, New York City, Detroit and Houston.[9] Atlanta has Georgia's largest Bosnian-American community with over 10,000 in the metro area, most of whom can be found in Gwinnett County's Lawrenceville.[10] An estimated 10,000 Bosnians live in Phoenix, Arizona.[11] 36.8% of the residents of East Utica, New York, report having Bosnian ancestry.[12] Several small suburban towns in Missouri contain a Bosnian-born population that surpasses 10% of its population (not including those born in the U.S. or born in another country of Bosnian descent). There is a Bosnian community in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with a mosque.[13] There is a Bosnian community in San Jose, California and the surrounding Silicon Valley region; there is a Bosnian restaurant, called Euro Grill, in Santa Clara, California. The area of Campbell, California, near Stevens Creek Blvd., has Bosnian residents as well; there is a store selling Bosnian goods in San Jose: Hamilton Euromarket.


The early Bosnian-American community were generally inactive in domestic American politics. In the 2010s, Bosnian Americans became more active in politics and activism.[14][15] In recent local and national elections, Bosnian Americans have mainly backed the Democratic Party due to the party's outreach efforts towards the community, support for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and support for religious and racial diversity.[14][16] In the 2016 presidential election, the majority of Bosnian Americans expressed support for Hillary Clinton and disapproval of Donald Trump due to his anti-Muslim rhetoric, anti-immigration views, and his popularity with Serbian nationalists.[15][17][18]

Impact of U.S. Anti-Muslim Prejudice on Bosnian Americans[edit]

Initially, Bosnian refugees in America faced many issues like adjusting to American life, struggling mental health, and access to quality healthcare.[19] While Bosnian Americans still face significant social issues, the community is considered to be proactive and have positively impacted their local communities via economic contributions, charity, and outreach.[18][20]

While Muslim Bosnian Americans may not directly encounter Islamophobia due to their European appearance, as non-Muslim Americans often associate Islam with darker-skinned people, they are still often negatively affected by anti-Muslim prejudice, especially if they wear a hijab or mention their religious identity.[20][18]


Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karamehic-Oates, Adna (2020). "Borders and Integration: Becoming a Bosnian-American". Washington University Global Studies Law Review.
  2. ^ "Bosnian Americans of Chicagoland | The Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies". ceeres.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2023-07-01.
  3. ^ "Bosniaks in Chicagoland". UPG North America. Retrieved 2023-07-01.
  4. ^ "ABOUT US". bhacc. Retrieved 2023-07-01.
  5. ^ Karamehic-Oates, Adna (2020). "Borders and Integration: Becoming a Bosnian-American". Washington University Global Studies Law Review.
  6. ^ "US Immigrant Population by State and County 2015–2019". Migration Policy Institute. 4 February 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-08-23.
  7. ^ Puskar, Samira (2007). Bosnian Americans of Chicagoland. Arcadia. ISBN 9780738551265.
  8. ^ "St. Louis Bosnian - Close to 130,000 Bosnians received permanent residency in USA". St. Louis Bosnian.
  9. ^ Feldman, Claudia (December 2, 2007). "Bosnian café offers a taste of home in neutral territory". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  10. ^ "GA: Cultural Center Follows Bosnians". cair.com. Council for American-Islamic Relations. March 11, 2015. Archived from the original on 2014-11-05. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  11. ^ Reid, Betty (July 6, 2011). "Islamic Center of Phoenix helps Bosnians adjust to U.S." Arizona Republic. Phoenix, Ariz. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  12. ^ "East Utica Utica, NY 13501, Neighborhood Profile - NeighborhoodScout". www.neighborhoodscout.com. Retrieved 2023-05-24.
  13. ^ Brent Björkman. "A Culture Carried: Bosnians in Bowling Green, Kentucky". Retrieved 2024-05-30.
  14. ^ a b "The unlikely community that drew inspiration from the Ferguson protests". The Washington Post. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  15. ^ a b Schuessler, Ryan (2016-09-04). "How Missouri's Bosnian vote could cost Donald Trump – and turn the state blue". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2016-09-04. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  16. ^ Bami, Xhorxhina (2020-10-20). "Joe Biden Woos America's Bosnian, Albanian Voters Before Polls". Balkan Insight. Archived from the original on 2020-10-26. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  17. ^ Kimball, Spencer (7 November 2016). "U.S. election: Living the Bosnian-American Dream". Handelsblatt. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  18. ^ a b c Zurcher, Anthony (2016-10-30). "America's 'invisible' Muslims". BBC News. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  19. ^ Bosnian Refugees in San Francisco: A Community Assessment. San Francisco Department of Public Health/International Institute of San Francisco. 2001
  20. ^ a b Parvini, Sarah (2016-07-04). "Bosnian Muslims in Southern California may not fit the stereotype but they feel the prejudice". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2016-07-04. Retrieved 2021-12-05.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hume, Susan E. "Two decades of Bosnian place-making in St. Louis, Missouri." Journal of Cultural Geography 32.1 (2015): 1-22.
  • Miller, Olivia. "Bosnian Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2014), pp. 331–341. online
  • Puskar, Samira. Bosnian Americans of Chicagoland (Arcadia Publishing, 2007).

External links[edit]