Bosnia and Herzegovina
Description of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is sometimes abbreviated to BiH and in short is often just called Bosnia. The country is located in the southeastern part of Europe on the Balkan Peninsula. The largest city is Sarajevo. This is also the capital of the country. Croatia borders the country in the south, west, and north. It shares an eastern border with Serbia and a southeastern border with Montenegro. The country is mostly landlocked, except for about 12 miles located on the Adriatic Sea. The eastern and central areas of the country are mountainous. The northwest part of the country is quite hilly and the northeast part of the country is mostly flat land. The inland offers a moderate continental climate. The summers are hot and the winters are very cold and snowy. The very southern tip of the country offers a plain topography and a Mediterranean climate.
The land that is now Bosnia has had human inhabitants since the Neolithic age. During the 4th century BC there are notable migrations from the Celtics. There is not much historical evidence available for this time period, but it seems that the region was populated by several types of people that spoke distinct languages.
It is where the country lies now that Rome fought an extremely difficult battle that was described by Romans as Suetonius. The Roman campaign was against the revolting indigenous communities. This is called the Great Illyrian Revolt.
This revolt was a rising of the Illyrians against Rome. They put up a great resistance against the Roman Army, which was the most powerful army of the time. The Illyrians resisted for 4 years, but were finally defeated by AD 9.
During the Roman era, settlers that spoke Latin settled in among the Illyrians. Soldiers from Rome were encouraged to retire in this area.
Knowledge about the history of the area during the middle ages is a bit scarce. During this time Christianity was brought into the area as well as mythology from the Slavic tribes. Bosnia, because of where it is located was likely one of the last areas so go through the process of becoming Christians. For this reason, many of the Slavic Bosnian tribes were pagans for a lot longer period of time.
During the 9th and the 10th centuries, Croatia and Serbia split control over the land that is now Bosnia. During the high middle ages there were arguments over the land and a shift of power occurred once again. Another power shift that occurred during the 12th century left Bosnia as an independent state.
Ban Boric was the first monarch of the country. The second monarch was Ban Kulin. It was during his rule that a controversy arose over the Bosnian church because Kulin allowed an indigenous Bogomilism sector. From this time in until the early part of the 14th century the history of the country was marked by a power struggle between the Kotromanic and Subic families.
Bosnia was captured by the Ottomans in 1463 and the Ottoman empire ruled the area until 1878. The Ottomans introduced several key changes in the socio-political administration. This included administrative units being reorganized and a new landholding system being introduced. There was also a complex system basing classes on social differentiation and religious affiliations.
The country became a part of Yugoslavia for several years during and after the World Wars. In 1990, Bosnia held parliamentary elections for the first time. The first round occurred on the 18th of November and the second round was taken on the 25 of November. These elections resulted in the creation of a national assembly. Communist power was replaced by coalition of the 3 parties based on ethnicities. Slovenia and Croatia’s declaration for independence and the war that ensued placed Bosnia in a tough position. There was a large split that occurred with many people wanting to stay with the Yugoslav federation and the other group wanting independence. The Serbs wanted to go with Yugoslav and the Croats and Bosniaks favored independence.
In October of 1991, a declaration for sovereignty was issued and this was followed by an independence referendum. The turnout for the election on the referendum was 63.4%. Of the people who voted 99.7% were in favor of independence for the country.
There is still a bit of unrest in the country regarding the government and jobs. Several factories were privatized and are now bankrupt. The workers are demanding action for jobs, pensions, and unpaid salaries. There are protests taking place throughout the country. If you are visiting Bosnia you will want to avoid the anti-government protests as these can become quite dangerous.
About Bosnia and Herzegovina
It was only in recent years that the idea of nationality for the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina applied mostly to the Muslims in the nation. The Serbs and Croatians of the country looked towards Croatia and Serbia for guidance as the mother country had aspirations of joining politically with either Croatia or Serbia when the Yugoslav state started to fall apart during the early part of the 1990s. This was actually disastrous for the country as all 3 of the groups ended up fighting in a civil war. A Croation/Muslim alliance was formed and they fought against Serbian forces on the ground. NATO attacked the Serbs from the air. There was a peace treaty signed, with the Clinton administration from the United States playing an important role in ending the civil war. The result of the treaty stated that Bosnia would be a federation made up of a Serb autonomous entity and a Croat/Muslim unit. Since this time, things in the area have improved dramatically.
Bosnia and Herzegovina have ranked as one of the poorest countries from the old Yugoslav federation. Agriculture is mostly in private hands, but the farms are small and not efficient and the net importer for food is typically the republic. Most industries are very overstaffed, which is a reflection of the socialist economic structure that was found in Yugoslavia. There had been a push for developing military industries in the area and as a result there are many defense plants located in the country. The bitter civil war in the country lowered production of these plants by almost 80%. This caused an increase in unemployment. Output grew after the treaty, but the GDP remains much lower than it was before the ethnic warfare.
The economic data for the countries is somewhat limited as both entities provide figures, but the national level statistics are somewhat limited. In addition, official data does not take into account all of the activity that occurs on the black market.
The culture consists of Croats, who make up about 14.6% of the population, the Serbs, who make up around 37.9% of the population, and Bosniaks, who make up 46.1% of the population. Since Yugoslavia broke up, the term Bosniak has replaced Muslim as the ethnic term so it is not confused with the religious term of Muslim. Ethnicity and religion overlap with most of the Bosniaks being Muslim, the majority of the Orthodox Christians are Serbs, and the Croats are catholic Christians. In addition, there are some Jews and protestants present in the country as well.
Traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina
There are several things that should be seen when visiting Bosnia. The old bridge, Mostar, should be on your list of things to see. The fortress of Jajce and the waterfall, the Ivo Andrics birth home is located in Travnik and the Tito bunker is located near Konjic. Just 20 kilometers from Jajce you will find the Eco village of Selenkovac.
Rafting is quite popular in the country. Visitors can raft down the Una river or the Neretva river. There are shorter courses available on the Vrbas River, the Sana River, and the Krivaja river. In 2009, the world championship for rafting was held on the Vrbas River and the Banja Luka.
There are also many canoeing and kayaking options available. Some of the best destinations for kayaking include the Trebizat, the Neretva river, the Unac river, and the Krivaja rivers. The Pliva river and lakes Malo and Veliko are great for canoeing. You may also canoe down the lower and middle Una river and the Trebizat river.
Rakitnica canyon is located on the river of the same name and is a tributary to the Neretva river. This offers a wonderful canyoning adventure. One of the more extreme canyoning options is found on the Bjela river. You may also consider the Unac river for a great route for this type of adventure.
The country is quite proud of its winter sports and you will find many great venues in the area. It was the host for the 1984 winter Olympics and many of the venues are still around. Skiers will find many great options when visiting Bosnia. Bjelasnica is located close to Sarajevo and offers more than 8 kilometers of ski trails. Vlasic Mountain has 14 kilometers of trails to enjoy. Other ski resorts include Vlasenica, Blidinje in the east and Kupres, which is located in the western part of the country.
The unspoiled nature of BiH offers great places to hike. For those who want to get out on the water, there are fly fishing adventures available. There are many different hot spots for trout located in the country.
If you are traveling to Bosnia and plan on going in areas that are a bit off the beaten path you will want to take care as the country is still cleaning up many of the 5 million land mines that were left throughout the country during the war that took place there from 1992 through 1995. If you are traveling in rural areas make sure to stay on areas that are paved if at all possible. Do not touch any explosive devices. Private property and homes were often rigged with mines when their owners left during the war. Stay away from any property that looks abandoned. There is very little violent crime in the country, but if you are in Sarajevo make sure to be leery of pickpockets.
All employees in Bosnia undergo health checks on a regular basis to make sure that they are capable of doing their job and that they are not going to transmit any type of disease or injure another person while performing their duties.
Tap water from Sarajevo is pure, clean, and safe to drink. However, if you are in any other area of the country you will want to make sure to drink only bottled water. The tap water in certain areas of the country including Eastern Bosnia, and the Posavina Region should not be drunk, even if it has been boiled. Most of the cities located in these areas have tap areas that have labels that read the water is for drinking.
There is a thick and harmful smog that blankets several of the cities in the country including Visoko, Brcko, Tuzla, Zenica, and Sarajevo. If you have sensitive lungs or are asthmatic make sure that you wear a medical mask when traveling in these areas. The air pollution is caused by industry emissions, burning trash, and from motor vehicles. The air is much worse during the winter months when you will find soot covering the basin near Sarajevo. On particularly bad days you may want to escape to the mountains so that you can get above the smog bank into air that is clean.
More than half of the population uses tobacco and smoking is allowed everywhere. Be prepared to endure bars, restaurants, shopping centers, and other public areas that are very smoky.
Remember the people of the country are still trying to move past the war in Yugoslav. You should respect the religious differences that are found in the country and make sure that you are careful in areas where there is still a bit of tension. Additionally, respect the environment. Much of the country has been saved from pollution.
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