Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, encompasses mountainous terrain, medieval villages and Muslim and Christian landmarks. Its countryside is marked by deep gorges, turquoise rivers and lakes, and the Dinaric Alps’ forests and crags. It’s a popular destination for outdoor sports such as hiking, mountain biking, white-water rafting and skiing.

Capital: Sarajevo
Population: 4.6 million
Total Area: 51,129 square kilometers
Official Language: Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. The Croats and Bosniaks use the Latin alphabet, whereas the Serbs use the Cyrillic.
Religions: 45% Muslim, 36% Orthodox, 15% Roman Catholic, 4% Protestant, Jews and other denominations.
Borders with: Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro

Brief history
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been inhabited since the Neolithic age (around 9500 BC) and has been occupied by the Illyrians, the Romans, the Byzantines and later the Slavs in the medieval period. The Turks dominated during the 400 year-long Ottoman rule of 1463-1868 and recognized society along class and religious lines. During this period of relative peace and prosperity, Islam became the dominant religion with Orthodox and Catholic Christians in large minorities. Many of the country’s most important architectural achievements were made during this time, including the Stari Most (bridge at Mostar) and Gazi Husrev-Beg Mosque in Sarajevo. During the last 100 years of Ottoman rule, the situation deteriorated with plagues, military failures and revolts, and in 1875 a widespread peasant rebellion lead to the Ottomans succeeding power to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1878. The Austro-Hungarian leaders built catholic cathedrals and encouraged a pluralist multi-religious nation, as well as introducing coal mining, railways and other infrastructure. Political unrest rose as Bosnia’s Catholic and Orthodox population started to identify themselves with neighboring Croatia or Serbia respectively. After a Serb nationalist assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo in 1914 sparking the beginning of World War I, Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the South Slav Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which became known as Yugoslavia in 1929. Tensions remained over national identities within the kingdom and the map was redrawn many times in an effort to erase traditional geographical divisions between major ethnic groups and formerly separate nations. Yugoslavia was invaded by Germany in 1941 during World War II and Croatia sided with Germany to persecute Croatia’s and Bosnia’s Jewish and Serbian population. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia on 3 March 1992, which was followed by three years of civil war between Bosnian Serbian forces and Bosnian Muslims as well as between Muslims and Croats. A peace agreement was signed in 1995 and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was created (Muslim & Croat), alongside the Serb republic Republika Srpska. Parliament has since been centralized in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the country has a democratically elected parliament.

Geography and weather
Often referred to as ‘heart shaped’, Bosnia and Herzegovina share borders with Serbia in the east, Montenegro in the southeast, and Croatia to the north and west. It has a short Adriatic coastline of 20km (12 miles) to the south. Two major rivers to the north (Sava) and east (Drina) shape the countries borders.

Much of the terrain is mountainous and hilly. The climate is variable with moderate continental climatic conditions marked by very cold winters and hot summers. Snowfall can often last until April.

Visa
A valid passport is required for entry. You should also have a copy of your return ticket if requested. Most nationalities do not require a visa, however visa regulations change frequently so it is important you consult with the embassy prior to traveling to ensure you have the correct visas. In some cases you will be crossing the borders on overnight trains and if you do not have the correct visa you will not be allowed to enter the country and will be asked to leave the train. It is the responsibility of the traveler to obtain all correct visas needed prior to departure.

Local Currency
The monetary unit in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the Konvertibilna Marka (KM). Notes come in denominations of KM 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 and 50 feninga. Coins are available in denominations of KM2 and 1, and 50, 20 and 10 feninga. Euro notes (but not coins) are also widely accepted, prices can also be found in euros.

Changing money, credit cards & ATMsMost major currencies can be exchanged at banks and bureau de change, however the pound sterling is less popular than the euro and US dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted. Most banks will give cash advances on credit cards with a passport. Cash machines can be found in cities like Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja and Luka. Carrying cash is advisable.