R2.1 is a multi-media and publishing company for the 21st century specialising in urban resilience industry,
knowledge transfer, the art and science of influence, content curation – mapping - case-study methodology.
Suada Kapic

© FAMA Authors (1996)
/ © R2.1

English and Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian

Survival Map The Siege of Sarajevo 1992-1996

… is a 2-sided Poster / Map-Infographic that includes both textual and graphic elements for the purpose of informing, educating and visually communicating a particular event.


The uniqueness of this map among attempts to visualize the history is also due to the uniqueness of the Sarajevo experience: at the end of the twentieth century, a European city came under the longest siege in the history of warfare. For four years people could not get out of the city on which the entire world's media was focused 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There are events in our life that elicit our hidden talents which under different circumstances would be quite unnecessary. It so happened that we, as observers and participants of the phenomenon of the besieged city, realized that we could identify the specific needs of the time by carefully observing events. That is how the map of the besieged city was created. While choosing our daily route, we suddenly realized that an accurate map would be an invaluable asset for moving around the city besieged by hundreds of pieces of heavy and light weaponry, where in place of road signs there were warnings like Watch sniper, or If you see a piece of the hill, the hill can see you as well (snipers were placed on the hills, and Sarajevo is situated in the valley). And so we began to 'scan' the city, gardens, parks, hazardous areas, crossroads, buildings, protection from sniper fire, streets ... and later included these pieces of information into a hand drawn map of the besieged city. We copied the weaponry positions around Sarajevo from the original JNA map, soon realizing that the map format does not allow for all the weaponry that terrorized the city for four years – the weaponry is therefore symbolically represented on the map. As a unique historical document, the map found its way into the map collections around the world. One red line around the city once and for all explained what 'a town under siege' meant.

The Survival map was created on the basis of documents and photographs taken during the siege, in order to produce an image of altered geography of a city isolated from the rest of the world although under the eye of the world media. The map is a testimony to the city's survival thanks to a whole new civilization created on the ruins of the old one, a testimony to the city's recycling, usage of the solar energy, water purification pills, and satellite communications. The map contains all the details of survival, describing also how facilities essential for every city managed to function. The map shows secret passages and tunnels, special corridors invented to enable personal movement around the town given its exposure to sniper fire all day-long. The map shows the city which replaced its parks with vegetable gardens, its rose gardens with corn fields, electricity with medieval lamps and central heating with hand-made stoves, and tap water with water from canisters filled only at a few places in town; personal recreation was replaced with running under sniper fire, caloric food with plants from window gardens, television with the art of conversation, and art was turned into a resistance to terrorism. When future generations start to research this phenomenon and the period of disintegration of Yugoslavia, this map will make it easy to understand the city's geography and its limitations during the siege.

From the Survival Map editorial published in 1996: "The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, was attacked on the 5th April 1992. The city in the Miljacka River valley is surrounded by mountains where 260 tanks, 120 mortars and a great number of smaller calibre weapons were placed pointed towards the city. The Yugoslav National Army, backed by local terrorists, encircled the city and began to tighten the noose around its 500,000 inhabitants. On the 2nd May 1992, the city was completely closed off. A part of it was occupied, while the part that could not be conquered was exposed to gunfire and artillery shells. Every day the city was hit with 4,000 rounds whose targets included hospitals, museums, mosques, churches, schools, synagogues, libraries, the city maternity hospital, and queues for bread and water. The aggressor destroyed the main post office, the water, electricity and gas lines were cut off. The food was soon gone. Cemeteries begun to spread. On the 26th February 1996 the northern entrance to the city opened, releasing Vogosca and Ilijas, and Sarajevo was officially declared an open city. After the Dayton Agreement and the arrival of IFOR, the aggressor started leaving the occupied areas of the city. They looted, burned and destroyed everything behind. On the 19th March 1996, the aggressor left Grbavica – the last city area to be returned to the B&H Government by the Dayton Peace Agreement. The siege lasted from the 2nd May 1992 to the 26th February 1996, or 1395 days – it was the longest siege in modern history."

Survival Map 1992-1996 is an educational and informative project intended for an eclectic international audience: schools; academia; journalists; analysts/researchers; international organisations and NGOs; libraries & archives; educational-cultural sectors; visitors to Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina & Southeast Europe; and the general public.