Boasting their amazing preservation of ancient traditions, and extensive and varied landscapes due to its location by the Southern Alps, Bosnia and Herzegovina are a hidden gem to add to the list for Europe trips for any avid adventurer, trekker and history lover. You will find here a meeting of Eastern and Western European culture coupled with a unique Bosnian touch to discover a culture you didn’t know existed. Bosnia and Herzegovina had been a crossroads of different ancient European civilizations, like the Ottomans and Byzantines. There, you will be able to get a peek into what life had been like in more ancient times, something so unfamiliar to us living in the 21st century.
Important and Interesting Facts about Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Located in the Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina has borders with Croatia in the west and north, Serbia in the east, Montenegro in the southeast, and the Adriatic Sea very close in the southwest, with a small border or Croatia separating the two.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina is nicknamed the “Heart Shaped Land” due to the country’s slight heart shape.
- Majority of the landscape in Bosnia and Herzegovina is mountainous and comprises of areas of karst (limestone).
- Tuzla city in Bosnia derives its name from the word “tuz”, the Turkish work for salt. Tuzla’s salt comes from its salt water springs.
- Sarajevo, the largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted the 1984 Winter Olympic Games.
- The highest peak is Maglic Mountain at 2,386 metres and is found in theSutjeska National Park, the oldest park in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It includes the ancient forest of Perucica and the Sutjeska river canyon.
- There are over 700,000 people that are visitors are travel toBosnia and Herzegovina every year. According to the World Tourism Organization, it will have the third highest tourism growth rate worldwide from 1995 to 2020. Attractions include the city of Sarajevo, historical sites, national parks, or the different landscapes, lakes, and waterfalls.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina is a fertile country and can support growth of wheat, corn, fruits, and vegetables. In the Herzegovina region they grow figs, pomegranates, grapes, kiwis, rose hip, and mandarins. To the Northeast they use more than 50% of the land for agriculture.
- Medjugorjeis located in the mountains near Mostar. The small town is incredibly popular with Catholic pilgrims – millions of pilgrims have visited the site since 1981, when a small group of young people in the village began reporting seeing visions of the Virgin Mary on a nearby hillside.
- One of the longest rivers of the Balkans is river Tara in Bosnia. Canyon of river Tara is a unique phenomenon in its depth of 1000 and 1300 meters in some places. It ranks just behind the Grand Canyon of Colorado River in the United States. River Tara has its average fall of 3.6m/km, and it makes whole bunch of waterfalls – rapids and cascades which give a big compliment to national park Durmitor, which River Tara belongs to.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts about Bosnia and Herzegovina
- It has a currency that can’t be exchanged anywhere else in the world. The Bosnian Convertible Mark (BAM) can’t be bought outside the country. So when you arrive you exchange your existing currency or withdraw from the ATM (the hole in the wall). On leaving, it’s exchanged back again or the only use is as an expensive souvenir when you get “back home”.
- There are three official languages which are all really the same. Before the terrible conflicts of the 1990’s the language here was known as Serbo-Croatian (with dialects). Today that same language is now either Serbian, Croatian or Bosnian (dependant on your ethnic background). It can be a bit of a minefield (excuse the pun) and can cause stress sometimes, but as a foreigner, all you are told if a perceived mistake is made is “don’t worry, it’s the same language, we all understand each other`’. Proof of the pudding is that the same health warning appears three times on the same cigarette pack!
- Bosnia and Herzegovina has the last remaining jungle in Europe at Perućica. It may not be huge being some 6 kilometers long and 1–3 kilometers wide, but with an area of 1,400 hectares, the Perućica forest has many trees that are 300 years old, and the forest’s vintage is stated to be 20,000 years. In some places the forest growth is almost impregnable.
- Births and Weddings are still celebrated with “celebratory gunfire”. Huge convoys of cars with flags everywhere, blocking routes to the church and afterwards to the reception. Sometimes in excess of 500 people attend these. Although diminishing, the firing of AK-47 automatic rifles and other weapons in the air prior to and after the event still is common place especially in rural areas. It seems that the logic of what goes up must come down is lost on everyone.
- Smoking is almost an Olympic sport. Laws are slowly coming into effect regarding smoking in public places but old habits die hard as they say. If smoking were an Olympic sport Bosnia and Herzegovina could hold its own, even winning against competition from Russia!
- The country still has some 200,000 mines to clear. Having said that the country is safe to travel around as long as common sense prevails and local rules obeyed.
- Skier Jure Franko won a silver medal – Yugoslavia’s first Winter Olympics medal. Banja Luka is the capital of Srpska Republika (Serbian Republic) part of Bosnia. Tuzla is a large city in the eastern side of the country while Mostar is in the southwest.
- When traveling around B&H, you may ask yourself, whose part is this one. The easiest way to find out whether the place belongs to Muslim, Srebs or Croats is to look at the church and its bell-tower.
- Danis Tanovićwon in 2002 the Oscar award for the best foreign film, No Man’s Land. This Bosnian writer and director became a celebrity in the international film community practically overnight with the release of his drama about the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. No Man’s Land is one of the most highly awarded films in the history of Bosnian cinematography. Numerous awards, 42 in all, include the Golden Globe and an Oscar.
- Irfan Skiljancreated in 1996 the first version of IrfanView, one of the most popular viewers worldwide.It is a very fast, small, compact and innovative FREEWARE (for non-commercial use) graphic viewer for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003. IrfanView was the first Windows graphic viewer worldwide with Multiple (animated) GIF support, one of the first with Multipage TIF support and the first with Multiple ICO support.
- Grbavica, a movie byJasmila Žbanić, won the most important prize at the 2006 Berlinale, the Golden Bear. This award belongs to the most respected awards in the world of film, given the fact that the Berlin International Film Festival, which hosts more than 16,000 film professionals from about 80 countries every year, is one of the most important dates on the international film industry’s calendar.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Bosnia is believed to have been in inhabitation at least since the Neolithic age.
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the distinction between a Bosnian and a Herzegovinian is maintained as a regional, not an ethnic, distinction.
- Each region had its own local hereditary nobility and customs, and was divided into districts (Župas). The typical Bosnian family of this period had possession of its land without dependence on a feudal relationship to prince or king, as was the case in much of Europe.
- The region of Hum (today’s Herzegovina), on the other hand, was settled by Serbs in the interior, was mixed Orthodox and Catholic in the coastal area and mostly ruled by princes of the Serbian dynasty (Nemanja) until 1326.
- Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984. This was the first Winter Olympics in a communist country. There were 1272 athletes from 49 countries. Most medals were won by athletes of the USSR, and the most gold medals by German competitors. A total of about 250,000 tickets were sold.
- Stecak, a medieval tombstone is a religious monument that can be seen throughout the countryside of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- People drink hard liquor (Rakija) to start the day. Although this is a rather large generalization, the culture, particularly the rural areas, is still one of “Rakija (plum brandy) delivers health benefits”. Rakija is also offered, with no consideration for time of day, to guests and visitors etc. Weird. And people drove afterwards too!Beverages include wines from the Herzegovina region as well a local brandy, Sljivovica or Slivovitz.
- The meat for Cevapi sausages (a recipe will be provided on Monday) can also be used to make Pljeskavice. Just add peppers and onion to the ground mixture! Although difficult to pronounce, they are easy to eat! Simply put the patties in a thick Bosnian Pita with some onion and tomato!
- Sheep-farming is basic activity for the people who live in the mountain regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For many of them it is the only income they can have here. Since the pasture is of excellent quality, no polution at all, the sheep meat from Bosnia is delicious.
- The Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar is a place of memory to its multicultural background. The (Old) Bridge is its major landmark, and the town even was named after the bridge keepers (mostari). The Bridge was built in 1566 upon design of the great Ottoman architect Kodja Mimar Sinan and constructed by his pupil architect Hayruddin.
- The “Bosnian Pyramids” were allegedly found in Visoko. The idea of pyramids in Visoko came from the theory of pseudo-explorer Semir Osmanagic, who claimed that not far from the town of Visoko there were pyramids built by humans in the past. According to the same theory, the largest pyramid, the Pyramid of the Sun (and the first of its kind in Europe), was situated on Visocica Hill, while the Pyramid of the Moon was on the Pljesevica Hill. Researchers have tried to prove this theory since April 2006. The theory has been rejected by both domestic and foreign experts in the field of history and archeology.
- The 2014 World Cup will be historic for Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the first time since achieving independence, the national team will play at a major football tournament. Bosnia and Herzegovina are the only debutant team in Brazil, and their participation comes 19 years on from the end of the conflict in the region. The Dragons won their qualification group almost with ease, scoring 30 goals in 10 matches.