Gavrilo Princip was born in the remote hamlet of Obljaj, near Bosansko Grahovo, on 25 July 1894. He was the second of his parents' nine children, six of whom died in infancy. Princip's mother Marija wanted to name him after her late brother Špiro, but he was named Gavrilo at the insistence of a local Eastern Orthodox priest, who claimed that naming the sickly infant after the Archangel Gabriel would help him survive.
Princip's parents, Petar and Marija (née Mićić), were poor farmers who lived off the little land that they owned. They belonged to a class of Christian peasants known as kmets (serfs), who were often oppressed by their Muslim landlords. Petar, who insisted on "strict correctness", never drank or swore and was ridiculed by his neighbours as a result. In his youth, he fought in the Herzegovina Uprising against the Ottoman Empire. Following the revolt, he returned to being a farmer in the Grahovo valley, where he worked approximately 4 acres of land and was forced to give one-third of his income away to his landlord. As he could not grow enough grain to feed his family, he resorted to transporting mail and passengers across the mountains separating northwestern Bosnia from Dalmatia in order to supplement his income.