Banja Luka sits on the banks of the Vrbas River. The city was built in a valley among the mountains Manjaca, Cemernica and Tisovac, all part of the Dinaric Alp mountain range.
The name “Banja Luka” was first mentioned in a document dated 1494 with its name interpreted as “Ban’s meadow” or a royal valley.
As the administrative center of Republika Srpska, the city hosts a number of entity and state institutions.
Financial services gained in importance for the city's economy with the newly established Banja Luka Stock Exchange. The Republika Srpska Securities Commissions and the Banking Agency are both headquartered in Banja Luka.