Bosnia and Herzegovina
Although the lands of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina are settled since Neolithic times, for the first time the country’s name is mentioned around the year of 948. Over the centuries, its territory was part of the Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman Empires, as well as Austro-Hungary and Yugoslavia (after 1945). After the civil war, the federation takes completely new way of development, and from March 3, 1992 Bosnia and Herzegovina is an independent country consisting of two parts – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republika Srpska.
Tourism. Bosnia and Herzegovina is an excellent opportunity to spend an unforgettable vacation on the Mediterranean coast, but experiencing quite different feelings. Although located in this so popular and visited region, this country is still unknown and exciting.
On the shore of the Adriatic Sea lies the small town of Neum. This is the only coastal city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is really small but charming, radiating Mediterranean resort atmosphere and tranquility.
Although it has only 2-3 small beaches, the town is really sunny and pleasant. It is very attractive to people that love azure sea water and healthy Mediterranean cuisine. While you’re here do not miss the old town of Neum.
Inside the country there are many towns with ancient architecture to visit. One of the greatest treasures in the region is Mostar. It is situated on both banks of the Neretva River in Herzegovina. The city is under the auspices of UNESCO and with good reason.
Enjoy the old town with its cobbled narrow streets, stone bridges, old churches and mosques that will make you feel like in medieval Europe.
Another remarkable place in the federation is Visegrad. It is located in the eastern parts of the country within the Republika Srpska.
The city is associated with the genocide during the civil war. If you are a connoisseur of beauty, it is advisable to admire the bridge Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic, which is part of UNESCO World Herritage List.
With its numerous graceful arches, it crosses the Drina River. The bridge is 180 meters long and is one of the most beautiful monuments of architecture left over from the era of the Ottoman Empire.
Population. Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to about 4 million people. About 95% of them are Bosnians, Serbs and Croats. Today Bosnia’s population consists of three major religious groups – Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims.
If you take a walk along the streets of Bosnia’s major cities, you will hear also three different languages – Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.
Ironically, this impressive ethnic diversity is one of the main causes of conflicts in the region, but is also responsible for the amazing cultural heritage and charm that attract foreign visitors in the country.
In the early 90s the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina decreased by about ¼. The reason was the horrible civil war that led millions of people to seek safety outside their homeland.
Cuisine. Three different cultures are mixed and intertwined in Bosnia. All of them have caused a very strong influence over the customs and traditions in this country.
If you want to feel the great diversity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the best way is to get to know the culinary traditions. Usually most of the dishes in the country are prepared with a wide variety of local herbs and spices.
They add an incredible Balkan flavour and taste in every meal. Mostof the dishes that are typical for Bosnia are traditional also in the other parts of the Balkans (Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria or Greece).
The most amazing in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the great variety of dough products, especially banitsa and different kinds of round loafs.
Unlike the other Balkan countries like Bulgaria, where the banitsa is made almost always with cheese, in Bosnia the most preferred filling is of meat.
Other typical dishes are stuffed peppers (usually with rice and minced meat, but sometimes also with eggs and cheese), sarmi (meat and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves), musaka (very tasty and popular dish in Bosnia and other neighboring countries such as Bulgaria and Greece; musaka is made with chopped potatoes and minced meat) and many others.
Legacy of the Ottoman Empire in these lands is the huge variety of pastries and desserts. One of the most popular desserts in Bosnia is baklava. It derives from Southwest Asia, but is extremely popular in all the Balkan countries.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina are consumed mainly two types of alcohol, wine and rakia. Because of its milder climate, the main wine producing areas are located in Herzegovina.
The rakia producing is not so pretentious, because this beverage is made from various fruits. This typical Balkan drink can be produced in practice throughout the country.
Nature. Bosnia and Herzegovina, like all the other Balkan countries, has very beautiful scenery. Approximately 40% of the territory is occupied by forests.
Most of them are dominated by decidious broad-leaf species, but in the higher mountains they give way to cold-resistent coniferous vegetation.
Near the shore of the Adriatic Sea there is a variety of Mediterranean species, including palms and cypresses. The landscape of Bosnia is diverce, but most of its territory is occupied by the Dinaric Alps.
The mountain chain passes through the central parts of the country from northwest to southeast, reaching an altitude of 2387 m at Mount Maglik, not far from the border with Montenegro.
If you want to see the best of the nature of Bosnia and Herzegovina is better to visit the national parks and reserves in the country.
We recommend you start with probably the most beautiful of all – Sutieska National Park. Here are two of the greatest landmarks of the federation – Lake Trnovacko and Skakavac waterfalls that descend from about 75 meters.
If you are a fan of the beautiful green paths and long hikes into the wilderness then you should visit the Kozara National Park, which is considered to be one of the best places to hunt in the country. The beauty of this area was recognized as early as 1967, when Kozara became a national park.
Una National Park is famous for its magnificent forests and beautiful waterfalls. Founded in 2008, the park is located in the western part of the country, close to the border with Croatia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a rich fauna.
Bears, gray wolves, golden jackals, foxes, wild boars, badgers, deer, mountain goats, rabbits, beavers and many other species live in the forests of Bosnia. The country is very rich in endemic species of plants and animals.
Climate. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country with two different types of climate. Near the Adriatic coast there is a pleasant subtropical Mediterranean climate with long, sunny, warm summers and short, relatively mild and wet winters.
The average high temperatures range between 10°C in January and 31°C in July. The interior of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a temperate-continental climate with very hot summers and cold, snowy winters.
Winter daytime temperatures in Sarajevo are about 2-3 degrees in January, reaching around 26-27°C in July. Most of the precipitation along the coast falls during the autumn and winter season.
The precipitation that falls in Sarajevo is abundant throughout the year and is relatively evenly distributed. However, spring and autumn are a little rainier than the summer or winter season.
Political and economic condition. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a developing country with a relatively low standard of living in comparison with other countries in Europe.
However, it cannot be denied that during the period 1997 – 2011 GDP per capita in Bosnia has increased almost three times!
This is a great achievement, especially bearing in mind the circumstances. Unlike other countries in Eastern Europe, in recent decades Bosnia was in doubly difficult situation.
On the one hand the country had to pass a long way towards a market economy; on the other hand it had to overcome the serious consequences that the civil war left behind.
Before Bosnia there is still a long way to go, but at the cost of currency board and deep, difficult reforms Bosnia‘s economy gradually gets back to its feet.
Today the leading sector in the economy of Bosnia is industry, and second in importance is the service sector, especially banking. Tourism still occupies a very small share of the economy, but the prospects are very good, especially when it comes to cultural tourism.
Like many other Western Balkan countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina is working towards EU membership and closer relations with the community.
However, Bosnia has first to reconcile and overcome its internal differences and political instability. Although the armed conflicts have remained very far in the past, the region still has the image of unstable and this should be changed.
Srebrenica massacre – the biggest tragedy of modern European history. Srebrenica, a small town in the eastern part of Republika Srpska, keeps memories of one of the most horrific periods in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most feared events in Europe after WWII.
In 1995 approximately 8,000 people, Bosnian Muslims, were killed. All the victims were young men and boys. According to the UN this monstrous action can only be described as genocide!
The Bosnian Serbs Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the main culprits of the tragedy, are now standing trial in the Hague to take responsibility for their actions.
How to get there? Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in the Western Balkans, so that the distance to European countries such as Slovenia, Austria, Italy and Hungary is relatively small and easily avoidable.
The country has especially good connection with Budapest, the capital of Hungary. It is linked with cities such as Sarajevo and Mostar by European route E73 (Trans-European Corridor Vc).
If you prefer to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina by air then you should know that the country has several international airports – Banja Luka (Republika Srpska) and the cities of Sarajevo, Mostar and Tuzla (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina).
When to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina? The country is most attractive during the summer months from May to September. The fabulous mountains that cover most of the country offer a pleasant freshness in summer.
If your goal is to ski, then it is best to travel between December and April, especially in January and February, when most of the country is covered with fluffy snow.
Why Bosnia and Herzegovina? The Balkan Peninsula is very beautiful and Bosnia is not an exception. It has some very good ski slopes to offer.
The capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo, hosted the 14th Olympic Winter Games in 1984. This fact speaks volumes about its advantages as a winter destination.
Mostar is also a good reason to visit the country. Bosnia is a rare worth-seeing jewel. Furthermore, selecting Bosnia and Herzegovina you will save a lot of money, because prices in the country are quite acceptable.