Brcko is the only city in Europe that is not part of a specific country. Because of this, it is often called the only free city on the Old Continent. It is located on the banks of the Sava River, within Bosnia and Herzegovina, but despite its geographical location, it does not belong to Bosnia, at least not entirely. The center is in Brcko district and is subordinated mainly to its self-government. The city is located on the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, near the border with Serbia. Therefore, for hundreds of years, the only free city in Europe has been an extremely important strategic point. At the time of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the struggle for territory was fierce and each seceding state wanted to seize as much land as possible. Interethnic conflicts were also not uncommon, and it was one of them – the Bosnian War – that caused Brcko to become the only free city in Europe.
When the armistice was signed after the end of the 1992-1995 war, the city officially became nobody’s territory due to the fact that neither the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina nor the Republic of Serbia were able to figure out who would become the official owner of the territory. Thus, the city later became part of the district of the same name, which, like it, had its own local self-government administration and its own government and independent education system.
At present, Brcko County belongs to both the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (52% of the territory) and the Republic of Serbia (48% of the territory, plus the city itself, is under the control of the Serbian Republic). However, this does not give any of the two countries the authority to interfere in the domestic and foreign policy affairs of Brcko.
In 2000 the existence of Brcko District and its placing under international supervision became official, which from May 23, 2012 has been suspended. The population of the district is about 87 thousand people (according to the 1991 census), but after the war the population fell to 83.5 thousand people (according to the 2003 census). The population is mixed – Bosniaks (42.2%), Serbs (34.6%), Croats (20.7%) and other ethnic groups (2.4%). Respectively, the official languages in Brcko are three – Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian.
Brcko also has three football teams competing in the Serbian Second League. The largest port in Bosnia is in Brcko, on the banks of the Sava River. The city is an extremely interesting find for tourists who, in addition to the friendly atmosphere and beautiful nature have the opportunity to get acquainted with the culture, traditions and customs of three different ethnic groups simultaneously. This feature is also reflected in the local music – orchestras often perform traditional folk songs from three groups.
Of course, there are also conflicts between ethnic groups. As everywhere, so in Brcko there is a struggle for power and supremacy, although peace and harmonious coexistence prevail over time.