Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 305,242 people in the four municipalities that make up the city proper, and a metro area population of 423,645 people in the Sarajevo Canton as of June 2009. It is also the capital of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity, as well as the center of the Sarajevo Canton. Sarajevo is located in the Sarajevo valley of Bosnia, surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated around the Miljacka river.
The city is famous for its traditional religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting there for centuries. Due to this long and rich history of religious diversity and coexistence Sarajevo has often been called the "Jerusalem of Europe".
Although settlement in the area stretches back to prehistoric times, the modern city arose as an Ottoman stronghold in the 15th century. Sarajevo has attracted international attention several times throughout its history: In 1914 it was the site of the assassination that sparked World War I, while seventy years later it became the host city of the 1984 Winter Olympics. More recently, Sarajevo underwent the longest siege in post WWII military history during the Bosnian War. Today the city is recovering and adjusting to a post-war reality, as a major center of culture and economic development in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo was also the first city in Europe and the second city in the world to have a full-time operational electric tram network running through the city, the first being San Francisco. Lonely Planet has named Sarajevo as the 43rd best city in the world, and in December 2009 listed Sarajevo as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2010.
The Sarajevo Film Festival, established in 1995, has become the premier film festival in the Balkans. The Sarajevo Winter Festival, Sarajevo Jazz Festival and Sarajevo International Music Festival are well-known, as is the Baščaršija Nights festival, a month-long showcase of local culture, music, and dance.
The Sarajevo Film Festival has been hosted at the National Theater, with screenings at the Open-air theater Metalac and the Bosnian Cultural Center, all located in downtown Sarajevo and has hosted such world-renowned actors, directors, and musicians as: Steve Buscemi, Bono, Coolio, John Malkovich, Nick Nolte, Daniel Craig, Willem Dafoe, Anthony Minghella, Katrin Cartlidge, Alexander Payne, Sophie Okonedo, Stephen Frears, Michael Moore, Darren Aronofsky, Mickey Rourke, Gillian Anderson, Kevin Spacey, and many other major cultural figures from the Balkans, Europe, and the Americas.
In the past thirteen years, the festival has entertained people and celebrities alike, elevating it to an international level. The first incarnation of the Sarajevo Film Festival was hosted in still-warring Sarajevo in 1995, and has now progressed into being the biggest and most significant festival in South-Eastern Europe. A talent campus is also held during the duration of the festival, with numerous world-renowned lecturers speaking on behalf of world cinematography and holding workshops for film students from across South-Eastern Europe.
The Sarajevo Jazz Festival has been entertaining Jazz connoisseurs for over ten years and has hosted such artists as Richard Bona, The John Butler Trio, Cristina Branco, Dhafer Youssef, and many more. The festival takes place at the Bosnian Cultural Center (aka "Main Stage"), just down the street from the SFF, at the Sarajevo Youth Stage Theater (aka "Strange Fruits Stage", at the Dom Vojske Federacije (aka "Solo Stage"), and at the CDA (aka "Groove Stage").
The city was the location of the 1984 Winter Olympics. Yugoslavia won one medal, a silver in men's giant slalom awarded to Jure Franko. Many of the Olympic facilities survived the war or were reconstructed, including Olympic Hall Zetra and Asim Ferhatović Stadion. After co-hosting the Southeast Europe Friendship games, Sarajevo was awarded the 2009 Special Olympic winter games, but cancelled these plans.
Football (soccer) is popular in Sarajevo; the city hosts FK Sarajevo and FK Željezničar, which both compete in European and international cups and tournaments and are have a very large trophy cabinet in the former Yugoslavia as well as independent Bosnia and Herzegovina. Other notable soccer clubs are FK Olimpik and SAŠK. Another popular sport is basketball; the basketball club KK Bosna Sarajevo won the European Championship in 1979 as well as many Yugoslav and Bosnian national championships making it one of the greatest basketball clubs in the former Yugoslavia. The chess club, Bosna Sarajevo, has been a championship team since the 1980s and is the third ranked chess club in Europe, having won four consecutive European championships in the nineties. HC Bosna also competes in the European Champions League and is considered one of the most well organised handball clubs in South-Eastern Europe with a very large fan base and excellent national, as well as international results. Sarajevo often holds international events and competitions in sports such as tennis and kickboxing. Rock climbing is popular; rock-climbing events and practices are held at Sarajevo's Dariva area, where there is also an extensive network of biking trails.
Popularity of tennis has been picking up in recent years. Since 2003, BH Telecom Indoors is an annual tennis tournament in Sarajevo.