Bihać (Cyrillic: Бихаћ; pronounced [bǐxaːt͡ɕ]) is a city on the River Una in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Bosanska Krajina region. It’s located in the Una-Sana Canton (Canton I) of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Border crossings with Croatia are located nearby at Izačić to the west of the city (with the Croatian border post at Ličko Petrovo Selo), and Ripač to the south of Bihać (with the Croatian border post at Užljebić). Bihać is located on the shortest route between Zagreb and the southern part of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast.
The area of Bihać was populated by the tribe of Iapydes (Japodes) as early as the 8th century B.C. The Iapydes left many remains that testify about their presence in this area.
During the 2nd century B.C. this area was populated by Romans. It’s in this period that the river Una was given its name by a Roman soldier (Latin: una- one, unique). The only important remains left behind the Romans are roads. In the 6th century this area is populated by Slavs, an Indo-European group of people.
The name of Bihać was first mentioned as early as 1260 as property of a church in Topusko, Croatia in a document by the Hungarian-Croatian king Béla IV, and became a free city in 1262. Bihać was the temporary capital of the Croatian Kingdom. It lost its civic status in the 14th century following dynastic struggles in the kingdom, and became a property of the Frankopan nobles. In the 16th century it passed under direct royal rule, when battles with the Ottoman Empire had begun. The town of Bihać, in the region of the same name, withstood the Ottoman attacks until it fell with the Bosnia sanjak (in 1592).
The Bihać fort would become the westernmost fort taken by the Ottoman army over a hundred years later, in 1592 under the Bosnian vizier Hasan-pasha Predojević. The city was initially made the center of the Bihaćsanjak, part of the Bosnian pashaluk. It was demoted in 1699 to become part of the sanjak of Bosnia, during the period of intense border wars between the Habsburg monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. In 1865 it became the center of its own sanjak, but this lasted only until 1878, when all of Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary.
A period of peace followed, marked by the 1888 bringing down of the fortress walls that separated the inner city from the outskirts. The new government had several schools and civic facilities built, which boosted the city’s growth. It remained prosperous after the establishment of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918, the center of the western Bosnian region, though its growth was impaired by the Great Depression in the 1930s. From 1929 to 1941, Bihać was part of the Vrbas Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
During World War II, Bihać, along with the rest of Bosnia, was a part of the Independent State of Croatia. During July 1941, the Croatian Ustaša regime murdered more than 12,000 Serbian, Jewish and Roma children, women and men from Bihać at Garavice. In 1942, partisans liberated Bihać. The city served as headquarters for the partisan army of Josip Broz Tito, the seat of the first AVNOJ session in 1942 and the center of the anti-fascist resistance. As such, it became a target of the occupying powers and the Germans retook it in 1943 and held it until 1945 and their final defeat.
Bihać suffered the destruction of many buildings during the Bosnian War for Independence, when the area around the city was under siege by joint forces composing of Bosnian Serb, Croatian Serb, and Serbian-backed Bosniaks for over three years, until the summer of 1995 when the siege was broken.
On 24 July 2014, Bihać officially became a city, together with Zenica, Široki Brijeg and Tuzla.