In the area of Banja Luka and its surroundings, one can follow a continuous development of human settlements from the prehistoric period until the present time. The area was first settled thanks to its rich natural resources and later due to its suitable geographic, traffic and strategic position.
The name of Banja Luka was first mentioned in the chart signed by the Hungarian King Ladislaus II Jagiellon in 1494, written in Latin and issued in Buda (present Budapest), although the city had existed even earlier. Prehistoric archaeological sites and the objects found prove that there were human settlements in this area in the period of Mousterian back to 50.000 – 35.000 B.C. In the antique period, the wider area of Banja Luka and western Bosnia was inhabited by the ancient tribes of Illyrians, known as Maezaei and Oseriates, that left numerous forts in the area. During The Great Illyrian Revolt (6-9 A.C) the Romans conquered the Illyrians and founded the Illyricum province. A part of their administrative and military structure was the development of the network of roads along which many military camps (castra) and civilian settlements (municipia) were established.
After the fall of Roman Empire the area was settled by the Slavs who left their early Slavic forts. In the medieval period Banja Luka and its surroundings flourished again, the respective findings can be seen in many written documents as well in the remnants of many fortified cities from XII to XV century.
After the fall of medieval Bosnian state and the arrival of the Turks in this area in 1525, Banja Luka gained the importance as the strategic stronghold under the interests of both Turkish and Hungarian Empire. Banja Luka became particularly important during the reign of Ferhad-pasha Sokolović (1574-1588) when it became the seat of the Turkish administration unit (Bosnian Pashaluk).
After 350 years of the Turkish occupation the town became a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that ruled in this area for 40 years. After the World War I, the area became a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, and In 1929 Banja Luka became the capital of the Vrbas Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, when the town reached its apogee.
The first ban of the Vrbas Banovina, Svetislav Tisa Milosavljević (1929-1934) built many buildings in the city during his reign. The most significant are: Administration building and Banski dvor, the National Theatre, Palace Hotel, Sokolski Dom, City Park, Ethnographic Museum, schools, hospitals, etc. After the World WarII, Banja Luka flourished again but its development was stopped during the great earthquake in 1969 and the war 1992-1995.
Today, Banja Luka is the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a centre of the economy, education, administration and politics in the Republic of Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina entity).