Bosnia and Herzegovina

Introduction

Introduction

Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or Bosnia & Herzegovina, abbreviated BiH or B&H, and, in short, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southeastern Europe located on the Balkan Peninsula. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west, and south; Serbia to the east; Montenegro to the southeast; and the Adriatic Sea to the south, with a coastline about 20 kilometres (12 miles) long surrounding the city of Neum. In the central and eastern interior of the country the geography is mountainous, in the northwest it is moderately hilly, and the northeast is predominantly flatland. The inland is a geographically larger region and has a moderate continental climate, with hot summers and cold and snowy winters. The southern tip of the country has a Mediterranean climate and plain topography.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a region that traces permanent human settlement back to the Neolithic age, during and after which it was populated by several Illyrian and Celticcivilizations. Culturally, politically, and socially, the country has a rich history, having been first settled by the Slavic peoples that populate the area today from the 6th through to the 9th centuries AD. In the 12th century the Banate of Bosnia was established, which evolved into the Kingdom of Bosnia in the 14th century, after which it was annexed into the Ottoman Empire, under whose rule it would remain from the mid-15th to the late 19th centuries. The Ottomans brought Islam to the region, and altered much of the cultural and social outlook of the country. This was followed by annexation into the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which lasted up until World War I. In the interwar period, Bosnia was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after World War II, the country was granted full republic status in the newly formed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the country proclaimed independence in 1992, which was followed by the Bosnian War, lasting until late 1995.

Today, the country maintains high literacy, life expectancy and education levels and is one of the most frequently visited countries in the region,projected to have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world between 1995 and 2020. Bosnia and Herzegovina is regionally and internationally renowned for its natural beauty and cultural heritage inherited from six historical civilizations, its cuisine, winter sports, its eclectic and unique music, architecture and its festivals, some of which are the largest and most prominent of their kind in Southeastern Europe. The country is home to three main ethnic groups or, officially, constituent peoples, as specified in the constitution. Bosniaks are the largest group of the three, with Serbs second and Croatsthird. A native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of ethnicity, is identified in English as a Bosnian. The terms Herzegovinian and Bosnian are maintained as a regional rather than ethnic distinction, and the region of Herzegovina has no precisely defined borders of its own. Moreover, the country was simply called "Bosnia" until the Austro-Hungarian occupation at the end of the 19th century.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a bicameral legislature and a three-member Presidency composed of a member of each major ethnic group. However, the central government's power is highly limited, as the country is largely decentralized and comprises two autonomous entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, with a third region, the Brčko District, governed under local government. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is itself complex and consists of 10 federal units – cantons. The country is a potential candidate for membership to the European Union and has been a candidate for North Atlantic Treaty Organisationmembership since April 2010, when it received a Membership Action Plan at a summit in Tallinn. Additionally, the country has been a member of the Council of Europe since April 2002 and a founding member of the Mediterranean Union upon its establishment in July 2008.


Tourism

According to an estimation of the World Tourism Organization, Bosnia and Herzegovina will have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world between 1995 and 2020.

In 2012, Bosnia-Herzegovina had 747,827 tourists an increase of 9% and 1,645,521 overnight stays which is a 9.4% increase from 2012. 58.6% of the tourists came from foreign countries.

 Tourism in Sarajevo is chiefly focused on historical, religious, and cultural aspects. In 2010, Lonely Planet's "Best In Travel" nominated it as one of the top ten cities to visit that year. Sarajevo also won travel blog Foxnomad's "Best City to Visit" competition in 2012, beating more than one hundred other cities around the entire world.

Međugorje has become one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Christians in the world and has turned into Europe's third most important religious place, where each year more than 1 million people visit. It has been estimated that 30 million pilgrims have come to Međugorje since the reputed apparitions began in 1981.

Bosnia has also become an increasingly popular skiing and Ecotourism destination. Bosnia and Herzegovina remains one of the last undiscovered natural regions of the southern area of the Alps, with vast tracts of wild and untouched nature attracting adventurers and nature lovers. National Geographic magazine named Bosnia and Herzegovina as the best mountain biking adventure destination for 2012. The central Bosnian Dinaric Alps are favored by hikers and mountaineers, containing both Mediterranean and Alpine climates. Whitewater rafting is somewhat of a national pastime, with three rivers, including the deepest river canyon in Europe, the Tara River Canyon.

Most recently, The Huffington Post named Bosnia and Herzegovina the "9th Greatest Adventure in the World for 2013", adding that the country boasts "the cleanest water and air in Europe; the greatest untouched forests; and the most wildlife. The best way to experience is the three rivers trip, which purls through the best the Balkans have to offer."

Tourist attractions

Some of the tourist attractions in Bosnia and Herzegovina include:

  • Sarajevo, the "Olympic City" or "European Jerusalem"; the scientific, cultural, tourist and commercial center of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Vratnik old town and Bijela Tabija fortress in Sarajevo
  • Shrine of Our Lady of Međugorje, with Annual Youth Festival; the site of a Marian apparition and subsequent Catholic pilgrimage destination
  • Mostar, the "City on Neretva" or "City of Sunshine"; the location of the UNESCOWorld Heritage Sites of Stari most and old-town Mostar
  • Višegrad, location of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge
  • Banja Luka, the "Green City", with sights such as the Kastel fortress and Ferhadija mosque
  • Bihać and the waterfalls of the river Una within Una National Park
  • Jajce, city of the Bosnian kings and the place where Yugoslavia was founded, Pliva lakes and waterfall
  • Prijedor, featuring its Old City Mosque, Kozara National Park and, at Mrakovica, Bosnia's largest World War II monument
  • The salt-lakes of Tuzla, birthplace of Meša Selimović
  • The Neretva river and the Rakitnica river canyons in Upper Neretva
  • The Trebižat river and its waterfalls at Kravice and Kočuša
  • The Buna with its spring and historic town of Blagaj
  • The Lower Tara river canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe
  • Sutjeska National Park, featuring the ancient forest of Perućica (one of the last two remaining primeval forests in Europe) and the Sutjeska river canyon
  • Počitelj historical village
  • Mount Bjelašnica and Jahorina, sites used during XIV Olympic Winter Games in 1984
  • The coastal city of Neum
  • Doboj and its 13th-century fortress
  • Stolac, featuring the Begovina neighborhood and Radimlja tombstones
  • Visoko, city of the Bosnian nobility and monarchy, historical capital of the Kingdom of Bosnia and the site of the alleged Bosnian pyramids
  • Prokoško Lake in Fojnica
  • Tešanj, one of Bosnia's oldest known cities
  • Bijeljina, known for its agriculture and ethnic village Stanišić
  • Lukavac, featuring Modrac Lake, the largest artificial lake in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Travnik, the birthplace of Ivo Andrić and once the capital city of the Bosnia Eyalet
  • Jablanica, Museum of Battle of Neretva and Old bridge destroyed by Yugoslav army in Second World War
  • Ostrožac Castle, a 16th-century castle built by the Ottoman Empire and later expanded by the House of Habsburg
  • Gornji Vakuf
  • Konjic, featuring Tito's underground nuclear bunker

Understand

Two entities, two tourism agencies

As the Federation politically aspires to unite the whole of Bosnia, and abolish the entities, the tourism agency of the Federation gives information about all of BiH, including the RS.
On the other hand, the tourism organisation of the Republika Srpska, the entity which politically strives to uphold the inter-entity borders which were agreed in the 1995 Dayton-agreement, only gives information about Republika Srpska, and no information about the Federation of BiH.

Until recently, the idea of a Bosnian nationality mainly applied to the nation's Muslims, also referred to as Bosniaks. Bosnia's Croatians and Serbs looked to Serbia and Croatia for guidance and as the mother country and both had aspirations for political union with either Serbia or Croatia once the Yugoslav state began to fall apart in the early 1990s. This of course spelled disaster for the state of Bosnia and as a result a bloody civil war was fought between all three groups. In the end the Croatian-Muslim alliance fought the Serbian forces on the ground whilst NATO attacked the Bosnian Serbs from the air, causing a military defeat for the Serbs. A peace treaty followed, with the detailed scrutiny of the US Clinton Administration helping seal the deal. The result was that Bosnia would be a federation comprising a Croat-Muslim unit alongside a Serb autonomous entity. Things have rapidly improved since then but the two regions of Bosnia still have a long way to go towards complete political and social union. As of now, it could be said Bosnia functions as one country with two or even three different parts. However, the central government lies in Sarajevo and there is one common currency, the convertible mark, sometimes denoted locally as KM. The international notation is BAM.


Geography

Bosnia is located in the western Balkans, bordering Croatia (932 km or 579 mi) to the north and west, Serbia (302 km or 188 mi) to the east, and Montenegro (225 km or 140 mi) to the southeast. It has a coastline about 20 kilometres (12 miles) long surrounding the city of Neum. It lies between latitudes 42° and 46° N, and longitudes 15° and 20° E.

The country's name comes from the two regions Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have a very vaguely defined border between them. Bosnia occupies the northern areas which are roughly four-fifths of the entire country, while Herzegovina occupies the rest in the southern part of the country.

The country is mostly mountainous, encompassing the central Dinaric Alps. The northeastern parts reach into the Pannonian Plain, while in the south it borders the Adriatic. The Dinaric Alps generally run in a southeast-northwest direction, and get higher towards the south. The highest point of the country is the peak of Maglić at 2,386 metres (7,828.1 feet), on the Montenegrin border. Major mountains include Kozara, Grmeč, Vlašić, Čvrsnica, Prenj, Romanija, Jahorina, Bjelašnica and Treskavica.

Overall, close to 50% of Bosnia and Herzegovina is forested. Most forest areas are in the centre, east and west parts of Bosnia. Herzegovina has drier Mediterranean climate, with dominant karst topography. Northern Bosnia (Posavina) contains very fertile agricultural land along the River Sava and the corresponding area is heavily farmed. This farmland is a part of the Pannonian Plain stretching into neighboring Croatia and Serbia. The country has only 20 kilometres (12 miles) of coastline, around the town of Neum in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. Although the city is surrounded by Croatian peninsulas, by international law, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a right of passage to the outer sea.

Sarajevo is the capital and largest city. Other major cities are Banja Luka in the northwest region known as Bosanska Krajina, Bijeljina and Tuzla in the northeast, Zenicaand Doboj in the central part of Bosnia and Mostar, the largest city in Herzegovina.

There are seven major rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  • The Sava is the largest river of the country, and forms its northern natural border with Croatia. It drains 76% of the country's territory into the Danube and then the Black Sea. Bosnia and Herzegovina is therefore also a member of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR).
  • The Una, Sana and Vrbas are right tributaries of Sava river. They are located in the northwestern region of Bosanska Krajina.
  • The Bosna river gave its name to the country, and is the longest river fully contained within it. It stretches through central Bosnia, from its source near Sarajevo to Sava in the north.
  • The Drina flows through the eastern part of Bosnia, and for the most part it forms a natural border with Serbia.
  • The Neretva is the major river of Herzegovina and the only major river that flows south, into the Adriatic Sea.

Phytogeographically, Bosnia and Herzegovina belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region and Adriatic province of the Mediterranean Region. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina can be subdivided into three ecoregions: the Pannonian mixed forests, Dinaric Mountains mixed forests and Illyrian deciduous forests.

Climate

Hot summers and cold winters; areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters; mild, rainy winters along coast


Demographics

According to the 1991 census, Bosnia and Herzegovina had a population of 4,377,000, while the 1996 UNHCR unofficial census showed a decrease to 3,920,000. Large population migrations during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s have caused demographic shifts in the country. Between 1991 and 2013, political disagreements made it impossible to organize a census. A census had been planned for 2011, and then for 2012, but was delayed until October 2013. The 2013 census found a total population of 3,791,622 people in 1.16 million households; 585,411 fewer people than the 1991 census.

Ethnic groups

Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to three ethnic "constituent peoples", who are Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, plus a number of smaller groups including Jews and Roma. According to data from 2013 census published by the Agency for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosniaks constitute 50.11% of the population, Serbs 30.78%, Croats 15.43%, and others form 2.73%, with the remaining respondents not declaring their ethnicity or not answering. The census results are contested by the Republika Srpska statistical office and by Bosnian Serb politicians. The dispute over the census concerns the inclusion of non-permanent Bosnian residents in the figures, which Republika Srpska officials oppose. The European Union's statistics office, Eurostat, concluded in May 2016 that the census methodology used by the Bosnian statistical agency is in line with international recommendations.

Religion

 
Religion in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2013)
religion  percent 
Islam 51%
Serbian Orthodoxy 31%
Catholicism 15%
Others/none/not stated 3%

According to the 2013 census, Islam is the majority faith in Bosnia and Herzegovina, making up 51% of the population, and the vast majority belong to Sunni Islam, 46% of the population identify as Christian; of these, Serbian Orthodox Church make up the largest group, accounting for 31% of the population (of whom most identify as Serbs), after which follows Roman Catholic Church 15% (of whom most identify as Croats), Agnosticism 0.3%, Atheism 0.8% and other 1.15%, with the remainder not declaring their religion or not answering 1.1%. A 2012 survey found that 54% of Bosnia's Muslims are non-denominational Muslims, while 38% follow Sunnism.


Economy

Bosnia faces the dual-problem of rebuilding a war-torn country and introducing transitional liberal market reforms to its formerly mixed economy. One legacy of the previous era is a strong industry; under former republic president Džemal Bijedić and SFRY President Josip Broz Tito, metal industries were promoted in the republic, resulting in the development of a large share of Yugoslavia's plants; S.R. Bosnia and Herzegovina had a very strong industrial export oriented economy in the 1970s and 1980s, with large scale exports worth millions of US$.

For most of Bosnia's history, agriculture has been conducted on privately owned farms; Fresh food has traditionally been exported from the republic.

The war in the 1990s, caused a dramatic change in the Bosnian economy. GDP fell by 60% and the destruction of physical infrastructure devastated the economy. With much of the production capacity unrestored, the Bosnian economy still faces considerable difficulties. Figures show GDP and per capita income increased 10% from 2003 to 2004; this and Bosnia's shrinking national debt being negative trends, and high unemployment 38.7% and a large trade deficit remain cause for concern.

The national currency is the (Euro-pegged) Convertible Mark (KM), controlled by the currency board. Annual inflation is the lowest relative to other countries in the region at 1.9% in 2004. The international debt was $5.1 billion (as on 31 December 2014) . Real GDP growth rate was 5% for 2004 according to the Bosnian Central Bank of BiH and Statistical Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has displayed positive progress in the previous years, which decisively moved its place from the lowest income equality rank of income equality rankings fourteen out of 193 nations.

According to Eurostat data, Bosnia and Herzegovina's PPS GDP per capita stood at 29 per cent of the EU average in 2010.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced a loan to Bosnia worth US$500 million to be delivered by Stand-By Arrangement. This was scheduled to be approved in September 2012.

Overall value of foreign direct investment (1999–2014)
  • 1999: €166 million
  • 2000: €159 million
  • 2001: €133 million
  • 2002: €282 million
  • 2003: €338 million
  • 2004: €534 million
  • 2005: €421 million
  • 2006: €556 million
  • 2007: €1.329 billion
  • 2008: €684 million
  • 2009: €180 million
  • 2010: €307 million
  • 2011: €357 million
  • 2012: €273 million
  • 2013: €214 million
  • 2014: €419 million
The top investor countries (May 1994 – December 2013)
  • Austria (€1.329 billion)
  • Serbia (€1.002 billion)
  • Croatia (€733 million)
  • Slovenia (€499 million)
  • Russia (€343 million)
  • Germany (€333 million)
  • Switzerland (€273 million)
  • Netherlands (€206 million)
Foreign investments by sector for (May 1994 – December 2013)
  • 32% manufacturing
  • 22% banking
  • 15% telecommunication
  • 11% trade
  • 5% estate
  • 4% services
  • 11% other

The United States Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina produces the Country Commercial Guide – an annual report that delivers a comprehensive look at Bosnia and Herzegovina’s commercial and economic environment, using economic, political, and market analysis. It can be viewed on Embassy Sarajevo’s website.

Leave a Reply

Bosnia and Herzegovina - Travel guide

TOP

Pin It on Pinterest