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Holidays in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Understanding Bosnia and Herzegovina

Until recently, the idea of a Bosnian nationality was exclusive only to the nation's Muslims or the Bosniaks Bosnia's Croatians and Serbs looked to Serbia and Croatia for guidance and as the mother country and both had aspiratons for political union with either Serbia or Croatia once the Yugoslav state began to fall apart in the early 1990's 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 to a stalemate and all three groups were forced to sue for peace with a heavy handled role of the US Clinton Administration helping seal the deal 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 Mark


National holiday 
National Day, 25 November

Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of sovereignty in October 1991, was followed by a declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia on 3 March 1992 after a referendum boycotted by ethnic Serbs

1 March 1992 from Yugoslavia; referendum for independence was completed 1 March 1992; independence was declared 3 March 1992

The Bosnian Serbs - supported by neighboring Serbia and Montenegro -responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas together to form a "greater Serbia" In March 1994, Bosniaks and Croats reduced the number of warring factions from three to two by signing an agreement creating a joint Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, the warring parties signed a peace agreement that brought to a halt the three bloody years of ethno-religious civil strife the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995

the Dayton Agreement, signed 14 December 1995, included a new constitution now in force; note - each of the entities also has its own constitution

The Dayton Agreement retained Bosnia and Herzegovina's international boundaries and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government This national government was charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy Also recognized was a second tier of government comprised of two entities roughly equal in size: the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska RS The Federation and RS governments were charged with overseeing internal functions

In 1995-96, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force IFOR of 60,000 troops served in Bosnia to implement and monitor the military aspects of the agreement IFOR was succeeded by a smaller, NATO-led Stabilization Force SFOR whose mission is to deter renewed hostilities SFOR remains in place although troop levels were reduced to approximately 12,000 by the close of 2002


Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked next to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the poorest republic in the old Yugoslav federation Although agriculture is almost all in private hands, farms are small and inefficient, and the republic traditionally is a net importer of food Industry has been greatly overstaffed, one reflection of the socialist economic structure of Yugoslavia Tito had pushed the development of military industries in the republic with the result that Bosnia hosted a large share of Yugoslavia's defense plants The bitter interethnic warfare in Bosnia caused production to plummet by 80% from 1990 to 1995, unemployment to soar, and human misery to multiply With an uneasy peace in place, output recovered in 1996-99 at high percentage rates from a low base; but output growth slowed in 2000 and 2001 GDP remains far below the 1990 level Economic data are of limited use because, although both entities issue figures, national-level statistics are limited Moreover, official data do not capture the large share of activity that occurs on the black market The konvertibilna marka - the national currency introduced in 1998 - is now pegged to the euro, and the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina has dramatically increased its reserve holdings Implementation of privatization, however, has been slow, and local entities only reluctantly support national-level institutions Banking reform accelerated in 2001 as all the communist-era payments bureaus were shut down The country receives substantial amounts of reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid from the international community but will have to prepare for an era of declining assistance


Ethnic groups 
Bosniak 48%, Serb 371%, Croat 173%, other 66% 2000
note: Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim - an adherent of Islam Also note however that ethnicity and religion mostly overlap; Serb > Orthodox, Bosniak > Muslim and Croat > Catholic
Muslim 45%, Serbian Orthodox 37%, Roman Catholic 17%, Protestant 4%, other 3%


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


Mountains and valleys; Natural hazards : destructive earthquakes

Highest point: Maglic 2,386 m

Talking in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The official languages in the Bosnia and Herzegovina are Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian, all three known as Serbo-Croatian as they are practically the same language Serbo-Croatian is written in both Latin and in Cyrillic, making it the only Slavic language to officially use both scripts In the Republika Srpska you'll see signs in Cyrillic, so a Serbian-English dictionary would be helpful there

Variants among the Serbo-Croatian language differ only in the most academic of venues and also in traditional homes There are different versions of the language throughout the area and spoken language changes between regions However, the vocabulary differences are only cosmetic and do not hinder communication between Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Bosnian Muslims

A lot of Bosnians, especially the younger generation will speak English A surprising number of young people will also know at least some German, because many people from Bosnia sought refuge in Germany during the war, or visited relatives in Germany during or after the war The older generations tended to have studied English, French or German in school

Many Bosnians speak excellent English, but these are professionals and none of them work in hotels, restaurants, bus stations, or drive taxis Stated positively, every day Bosnians will insist upon buying you coffee and cakes while engaging you in long and deep intellectual discussions, in perfect English You'll need to learn a little Bosnian to buy a snack at a bakery and tell a taxi driver where you're staying, but this is easy enough

What to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina


Rafting on the Neretva river, the Una river and the Tara with the Drina river, with some shorter courses on the Krivaja river, the Vrbas river and the Sana river

2009 World championship in rafting was held in Banja Luka on the Vrbas river

Kayaking and canoing

The Neretva river and its tributary the Trebižat, the Unac river, also the Krivaja river and its tributary Bioštica river are great kayaking destinations with a lot of whitewater on the Krivaja river The Pliva river and its lakes Veliko and Malo are great canoing destinations, also the middle and lower Una river, the Trebižat river


The famous Rakitnica Canyon and the Rakitnica river, tributary of the Neretva river, offer great canyoning adventure, but even extreme canyoning rout can be found in the Bjela river another tributary of the Neretva river The Unac river and its canyon offer great canyoning rout

Buying stuff in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The official currency is the konvertibilna marka convertible Mark, at a fixed rate of 195 towards the Euro 1 EUR = 195 KM Be sure to get small bills, as anything above 20 KM will most likely get you into trouble when you want to pay due to lack of small change You can pay almost everywhere with Euro bills, and will be able to change them almost everywhere shops, taxi - at a rate of 1 EUR = 2 KM; for changing, up to 50 EUR should be fine in most cases; for paying, up to 10 EUR

There are two sets of KM banknotes, with distinct designs for the Federation and the Republic of Srpska However, both sets are valid anywhere in the country

The Croatian kuna is accepted in towns and cities close to the border with Croatia and where Croats are the ethnic majority

Credit cards are not widely accepted - ATMs are available in the bigger cities mostly VISA system, sometimes Maestro, though they will most probably provide you with big bills >=50 KM that you will again have trouble paying with

Most towns and cities will have markets and fares where any number of artisans, sellers, and dealers will offer any kind of stock Different foods are readily available, both fresh and cooked, as well as clothing, jewelry and souvenirs At the markets you are able to negotiate with the seller, although that may take some practice Like in most such venues prices may be inflated for foreigners based on a quick 'means test' made by the seller Often those who look like they can afford more will be asked to pay more

Large shopping centers and stores do exist in most cities and towns

It is not recommended to buy valuable goods

Sarajevo is fine for buying clothes and shoes of good quality and relatively cheap The main shopping streets of Sarajevo are also great for black market products including the latest DVDs, video games and music CDs Most tourists who visit Sarajevo no doubt leave with a few DVDs to take back home

Visoko and the central Bosnia region are very well known for their leather work

Banjaluka has 7 big shopping malls, as well many small businesses, and you will be able to find more variety of goods than you expected

Mostar has an excellent shopping mall on the Croatian side with some typical European-style clothes shops and jewelers

Food and eating in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The most available food in Sarajevo is Cevapi normally 2-4 KM, the ubiquitous Balkan kebab Two prominent variations exist - the "Banja Luka" Cevap, a larger kebab with a square shape, and the Sarajevo Cevap, smaller and round If not had before, every visitor should try an order of Cevapi at least once There are several variations of pita around 2KM, a sometimes-greasy pastry made of filo dough and stuffed with meat Burek, cheese Sirnica, spinach Zeljanica, potatoes Krompirusa or apple Jabukovaca If you get to Mostar, however, try to grab a plate of trout "pastrmka," which sounds like "pastrami", which is the local specialty a particularly fine restaurant serving locally farmed trout lies by the wonderful Blagaj monastery, a short bus ride from Mostar

Local food is heavy on meat and fish, and light on vegetarian alternatives Even traditional so-called vegetarian dishes like beans or Grah are cooked with bacon or smoked meats Stews often contain meat but can be created without Rice and pasta dishes are readily available and a traditional sourdough soup filling called Trahana is hand made in most regions and a staple during the fasting month of Ramadan Fast food, with the exceptions of cevapi and pita or burek consists of, like in other parts of Europe, pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs Pannini sandwiches are served in most coffee shops popular with the youth, and Bosnian coffee, reminiscent of Turkish coffee, is a must-try for any coffee aficionado Oddly, apart from these fast food options, Bosnian restaurants serve few Bosnian specialities - what people eat in their homes is very different from what they will eat if they go to a restaurant

All along Bosnian roads and recreational places, you will notice advertisements for janjetina or "lamb on a spit" This is a very tasty treat, usually reserved for special occasions A whole lamb is cooked on a spit, by rotating over a coal fire for a long time When you order, you pay by the kilogram, which costs around 25KM not bad since this is enough for several people Families, on special occasions, make such roasts at home

No matter what food you order, you are bound to be served bread, commonly consumed throughout some parts of Europe with all savory foods Both soup and salad are commonly served with entrees, chicken & beef soup with noodles or egg dumplings being the most common Salads are typically composed of mixed tomatoes, lettuce, onions and bell peppers, often with feta cheese A Caesar salad is unheard of in Bosnia, and generally most vinaigrettes are of the Italian variety, balsamic vinegar and olive or corn oil You may also come across many condiments Ajvar is a canned or home made if you are lucky spread, something like a bruchetta spread, made of roasted peppers & eggplant, which are ground and seasoned with pepper and salt and slow cooked Many pickled foods are also served as condiments, such as pickled peppers, onions, cucumbers "pickles", and tomatoes Kajmak is a dairy spread, with consistency and taste like cream cheese It is made of milk fat, which is removed, salted and canned It has a smoky, salty cheese taste, with a texture slightly drier than cream cheese Kajmak from Travnik is a local specialty and is exported as far as Australia

Bosnian food generally does not combine sweet & savory foods, and you will never encounter such a thing as a Caesar salad with mandarin oranges On the other hand, many a fine chef will experiment with sweet and savory tastes like the 'Medeno Meso' Honeyed Meat made in pre-war Banja Luka by a well known chef The delineation between fruit and vegetables is strong, with fruit used only for dessert-type dishes You will never encounter any dish where sugar is added unless it's a dessert The food is generally heavy on fresh produce, which needs little or no added spice As such, there are few spicy or hot dishes, and dishes advertised as "spicy", such as stews like paprikas or gulash are usually spiced with paprika and not chillies, and do not carry overt pungency In some regions, and depending on whether it is restaurant or home food, textures and colors can be important also

Smoked meats are a staple of Bosnian cuisine, more so than the stereotypical foods of pita & cevapi Amongst the non-Muslim populations, pork rules, and prosciutto, smoked neck, smoked ribs, bacon and hundreds of varieties of smoked sausage make this a real BBQ country The Muslims, of course, have equally-tasty lamb or beef alternatives The meat is prepared by first curing in salt for several days, which removes water & dehydrates the meat, while the high-concentrations of salt preserve the meat from spoiling After being rubbed with spices a Bosnian dry rub is usually very simple, and includes some combination of high-quality fresh peppercorns, hot paprika, salt, onions & garlic, and a few spoons of Vegeta, a powdered chicken soup mix similar to an Oxo flavor cube, the meat is then hung over a heavy smoke made by a wood fire Fruit trees are well-known by BBQ aficionados around the world to produce the most flavorful smoke, and apple, cherry and walnut trees are the most commonly used in Bosnia Whereas commercially produced deli meats of the sort you may buy at your local deli are most often dry-cured or hung in dehydrating fridges and only then pressure-smoked for a few hours to allow some flavor to permeate the meat, Bosnian smoked meat is painstakingly smoked up to three months The meat hangs in a "smoke house," a tiny wooden shed usually only big enough to light a fire and hang the meat Bosnians will only smoke meat in the fall or winter, because the low temperatures, together with the salt curation, allow the meat to hang for months without spoiling During this time, it is smoked up to 4 times a week, for 8-10 hours at a time, which infuses the meat with the flavor of the smoke and removes any remaining water The finished product has an incredibly strong aroma and flavor of smoke, with the texture of chewy beef jerky Depending on the cut of meat, the most noticeable difference between smoked meat produced this way and the commercially produced meat available in North America, is the color inside the meat Whereas commercial deli meat is usually soft, red, a little wet and fairly raw, Bosnian smoked meat is black throughout with only a slight tinge of pink Larger cuts of meat, like the Dalmatian prosciutto, do tend to be a bit more pink & softer inside, but the difference is still dramatic, since the Balkan-made prosciutto has much less water, is chewier and overall better smoked Such meat is most often consumed at breakfast time, in sandwiches, or as meza, a snack commonly brought out to greet guests For the visitor, smoked meats are a cheap and incredibly flavorful lunch meat, and can be bought at Bosnian marketplaces from people who usually prepare it themselves Have a pork neck sandwich with some Bosnian smoked cheese and a salad of fresh tomatos in a bun of fresh and crisp homemade bread, and you'll never want to leave

When you visit a Bosnian at home, the hospitality offered can be rather overwhelming Coffee is almost always served with some home-made sweet, such as cookies or cakes, together with Meza Meza is a large platter of arranged smoked meats, which usually includes some type of smoked ham in traditional non-Muslim homes and sausage thinly cut and beautifully presented with cheese, ajvar, hard-boiled eggs and freshly cut tomatoes, cucumbers or other salad vegetables Bread is always served Most cookbooks on South Slavonic cooking are packed with hundreds of varieties of breads, this being one of the most bread-crazy regions in the whole world Yet, just about the only type of bread in most Bosnians' homes is the store-bought French variety, which the Bosnians , of course, would never dream of calling "French" To them, it is simply "Hljeb" or "Kruh"

However, more of an effort is made at special occasions to produce traditional Slavonic breads, and each family usually bakes its own variation of a traditional recipe At Christmas & Easter, Orthodox Serb & Croatian Catholic families typically make a butter-bread called Pogaca, which is often braided and brushed with an egg-wash, giving it a glistening finish perfect for impressive holiday tables During the month of Ramadan, the Bosniak Muslim populations bake countless varieties of breads, and the unique and Turkish-inspired varieties are generally more numerous, diverse and dependent on regions and villages than amongst Christian populations, where special-event recipes are more homogeneous and fewer selections exist Lepinja or Somun the bread served with Cevapi is a type of flat bread, probably introduced in some form to Bosnia by the Turks, but has since developed independently and is only vaguely reminiscent of Turkish or Middle Eastern flat pita breads Unlike the Greek or Lebanese pita, the Bosnian Lepinja is chewy and stretchy on the inside and pleasantly textured on the outside, making it a perfect spongy companion to oily meats and barbecue flavors The Turks may have begun this recipe, but the Bosnians have taken it to a whole new high

In every-day cooking, Bosnians eat lots of stew-type meals, like Kupus, a boiled cabbage dish; Grah, beans prepared in a similar fashion, and a fairly-runny variation of Hungarian goulash All are made with garlic, onions, celery and carrots, followed by a vegetable, smoked meat and several cups of water This is then cooked until the vegetables are falling apart A local spice called "Vegeta" is incorporated into almost every dish, and the same spice is used throughout the region, as far as Poland It is the North American equivalent of a chicken Oxo cube, or, in other words, condensed chicken broth mix These type of stew meals will cost you next to nothing, and are very hearty filling meals

As for desserts, you will drool over ice cream sold in most former Yugoslav countries There are several varieties, but regional milk and cream must be a contributing factor to their wonderful taste You can buy ice cream either by the scoop or from an iced-milk swirl machine, packaged in stores or from a sidewalk vendor with a freezer right on the street Recommended is the "Egypt" Ice Creamery in Sarajevo, famous in the region for their caramel ice cream Also try "Ledo," a type of packaged ice cream made in Croatia but sold throughout the region You should also try some local desserts, such as Krempita, a type of a custard/pudding dessert that tastes something like a creamy cheesecake, and Sampita, a similar dessert made with egg whites Traditional Bosnian desserts are also something to try Hurmasice or Hurme, is a small finger-shaped wet sweet with walnuts; Tulumbe are something like a tubular doughnut, crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside And of course, don't forget to try Bosnia's take on the world-famous Baklava, which tends to be somewhat more syrupy than its Turkish counterpart and usually does not contain any rum, like its Greek counterpart Much of the traditional cooking has Turkish undertones, a colorful consequence of six hundred years of Ottoman rule over most of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and desserts are no different

Whatever you eat in Bosnia, you will notice the richness of the flavors you thought you knew The cuisine of the country has not yet been ruined by commercially-grown produce, so most foods are uncertified organically or semi-organically grown, using fewer chemicals and are picked when ripe The vegetable markets sell only seasonal and locally-grown vegetables, and you are bound to have some of the best tasting fruit you've ever tried in the Neretva Valley region of Herzegovina close to the Croatian border, between Mostar and Metkovic The region is famous for peaches, mandarin oranges, peppers & tomatoes, cherries both the sweet and the sour variety, watermelons and most recently Kiwi fruits Cheese is also incredibly flavorful and rich all across Bosnia & Herzegovina, and generally all foods are as fresh as it gets Enjoy!

Drinking in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The legal drinking age in Bosnia and Herzegovina is 18 yearschanged in 2005 Popular beers are Banjalucko Nektar beer , Sarajevsko, Tuzlanski, Karlovacka and Preminger Even in more heavily Islamic areas alcohol is available in abundance to those who choose to drink and almost every bar is fully stocked

Like most Slavs Bosnians make 'Rakija' which comes in many a variety and is made both commercially and at home Red wine is 'Crno vino' Black wine and white wine is 'bijelo vino' Alcohol is not taxed as heavily as in most Western nations and is often very affordable Quality alcohol is sought after and valued

Another popular drinking beverage is Turkish coffee, which can be bought in every bar, coffee shop or fast food place

Accommodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In Bosnia and Herzegovina you can choose from the great number of hotels, hostels, motels and pensions At the seaside town of Neum you can book hotels from 2 to 4 stars In the other cities many hotels are 3 stars, 4 stars and some of them are 5 stars

In Banjaluka the best hotels are: Cezar, Palas, Bosna, Atina, Cubic and Talija Reservation is possible via internet or by contacting Zepter Passport Travel Agency, Banjaluka, for any accommodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or any service; contact: http://wwwzepterpassportcom , phone number +387 51 213 394, +387 51 213 395, Fax +387 51 229 852

In Sarajevo the best hotels are: Hollywood, Holiday Inn, Bosnia, Saraj, Park, Grand and Astra Reservation is possible via the internet or by contacting Centrotrans-Eurolines travel agency in Sarajevo, phone number: +387 33 205 481, languages spoken: English, German, French and Dutch

Campsites are not very common An overview of campsites in Bosnia is available at the national tourism agency Wild camping is often no problem, but be careful for mines

Working in Bosnia and Herzegovina

With one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe in some areas up to 40%, official rate 17%, it will be unlikely you will find legitimate employment in the country unless you are working for a multi-national organisation

Cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

banja luka  banovici  barice  batkovici  bihac  bijela  bijeljina  bila  bileca  blagaj  blatnica  bosanska dubica  bosanska gradiska  bosanska kostajnica  bosanska krupa  bosanski brod  bosanski novi  bosanski samac  bosansko grahovo  bratunac  brcko  breza  bronzani majdan  bugojno  busovaca  buzim  cajnice  capljina  careva cuprija  cazin  cecava  celinac  cim  citluk  coralici  crnici  derventa  divicani  doboj  dobrinje  dobrljin  donja dubica  donja mahala  donja medjidja  donja orahovica  donje dubrave  donje vukovije  donji vakuf  dreznica  drinovci  dubravica  foca  fojnica  gacko  glamoc  gnojnica  gorazde  gornja koprivna  gornja tuzla  gornje dubrave  gornje zivinice  gornji vakuf  gostovici  gracanica  gradacac  gromiljak  grude  hadzici  hotonj  ilici  ilijas  izacic  jablanica  jajce  janja  jelah  jezerski  kacuni  kakanj  karadaglije  kiseljak  kladanj  kljuc  knezica  kobilja glava  kocerin  konjic  koran  laktasi  lamovita  lijesnica  listica  livno  ljubinje  ljubuski  lokvine  lopare  lukavac  lukavica  maglajani  maglaj  mala kladusa  malesici  maricka  maslovare  milici  mionica  modrica  mostar  mostre  mramor  mrkonjic grad  nevesinje  novi seher  novi travnik  obudovac  odzak  olovo  omarska  orasac  orasje  orguz  ostra luka  ostrozac  otoka  pajic polje  pale  pazaric  pecigrad  peci  petkovci  piskavica  pjanici  podbrdo  podhum  podzvizd  polje  posusje  potoci  pribinic  priboj  prijedor  prnjavor  prozor  puracic  radisici  rodoc  rogatica  rumboci  sanica  sanski most  sarajevo  sekovici  serici  sipovo  skender vakuf  skokovi  sladna  sokolac  solina  srbac  srebrenica  srebrenik  stanari  stijena  stolac  stupari  sturlic  sumatac  svodna  svojat  tesanjka  tesanj  teslic  todorovo  tojsici  tolisa  tomislavgrad  travnik  trebinje  trn  trzacka rastela  turbe  tuzla  ugljevik  ustikolina  vares  varoska rijeka  velagici  velika kladusa  velika obarska  vidosi  visegrad  visoko  vitez  vitina  vlasenica  vogosca  voljevac  vozuca  vrnograc  zabrisce  zavidovici  zboriste  zeljezno polje  zenica  zepce  zivinice  zivinice  zvornik  

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