Situated on the southeast slopes of the Majevica Mountain, the city of Tuzla occupies the central area of northeast Bosnia.
The town is 239m above sea level, and it stretches across an area of approximately 15km2. The city's population is approximately 100,000 but the greater municipal area has over 170,000 inhabitants. Tuzla is the economic, scientific, cultural, educational, health and tourist centre of northeast Bosnia.
The settlement of Tuzla has always been closely tied to its salt resources. The oldest written records, left behind by the Greek, prove that even they were aware of the region's salt. Tuzla received its name much later. The present-day name is derived from the Turkish word Tuz, meaning salt. The first Ottoman document recording the exploitation of Tuzla's saltwater springs dates from 1548.
With the arrival of the Ottomans in 1460, production increased fivefold and the settlement greatly gained in importance. Due to vast reforms in the 17th-century Ottoman administration, a freer development of the town economy occurred. With the introduction of modern crafts, Tuzla developed into the administrative centre of the Zvornik sandzak and became an important communications, military, trade and cultural centre in northeast Bosnia.
Towards the end of Ottoman rule Tuzla had approximately 5,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many buildings from Ottoman times remain in Tuzla. Turalibeg's Mosque, with a typical stone minaret, was built in the 16th century and still stands today. The Austro-Hungarians introduced more modern methods for salt and coal exploitation, and Tuzla became an integral part of the empire's economy. The city continued to play an important economic role in Yugoslavia.