About Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the heart shaped land that lies in the heart of southeast Europe. It is here that eastern and western civilizations met, sometimes clashed, but more often enriched and reinforced each other throughout its long and fascinating history.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a long name for a country that measures just over 50,000 km2. Bosnia covers the north and centre of the country with its name probably derived from 'bosana', an old Indo-European word meaning water, which Bosnia has no short of.
The southern region of ancient Hum, ruled by Herceg Stjepan (Duke Stjepan),was later named Herzegovina after the region was conquered by the invading Ottomans. Perhaps what is most important for the visitor to know today, though, is that Bosnia and Herzegovinais a stunningly beautiful country with a vast array of landscapes, cultures, traditions and people. And as the old cliche goes 'people make the place' – and BiH prides itself on its hospitality and treating our guests as if they were family members. And family we take to heart. Official languages (entity level): Bosnian; Serbian; Croatian CLIMATES In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the climate is Mediterranean in the small stretch of plain near the sea (see Mostar), it is colder and more continental in the hilly and mountainous west-central area, mainly because of altitude (see Sarajevo), while it is continental, with cold winters and hot summers, in the northern plains (see Bihac, Tuzla). Cold waves from the north and the north-east, typical of the Balkan Peninsula in the winter months, bring snow and frost in most of Bosnia, while they only bring wind and a bit of cold in the plain of Mostar. Precipitation is abundant in most of the country, except in some sheltered valleys and in the northernmost area, near the border with Croatia.
Bosnia is NOT a war zone “Tell your friends that Bosnia isn’t a war zone anymore,” were the final words of Neno, our Sarajevo walking tour guide. More than 20 years after the Yugoslav Wars and the Siege of Sarajevo, it’s surprising how many people think Bosnia is still in conflict. Neno joked with us about how many Western tourists expressed delight at not being shot as they took part in his tour. Bosnia is a safe destination to visit, and you’re not going to be the target of a sniper hiding in the hills!
The Bosnian convertible mark The Bosnian Mark is the official currency, which Republika Srpska uses too. At the time of writing, $1 USD is approximately 1.6KM, and €1 is just under 2KM. Tourists can often pay in USD or Euros with an unfavourable exchange rate, and locals accept the Croatian Kuna in places near the border. But don’t rely on people accepting foreign currency, especially outside of the touristy areas. Exchange rates Compared to neighbouring countries, the exchange rates in Bosnia take up to 5 percent. Rates in Serbia are better and give almost a one-to-one rate, which means it may be a good idea to change money before reaching Bosnia if you’re already in the Balkans. If you do need to change more, several exchange offices are along Ferhadija Street.
Credit cards Bosnia is a cash-based society, perhaps because the country’s only just starting to recover a result of the economic crash after the Bosnian War. ATMs are available where you can expect to pay up to 7 percent in fees, conversions and commissions. Not all places accept credit card. Bring cash. Shopping in Bosnia Bosnia isn’t part of the EU and doesn’t have the same freedom to trade as other countries. Retail prices are higher for imported goods such as shoes and clothes. You may get a Western European price tag in some shops for cheap, lower-quality products. Having a stress-free trip to Bosnia Bosnia and Herzegovina is a little rough around the edges but nowhere is perfect, right? Bring cash, expect laid-back border officials and give donations to the right people.
When you travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina, be sure that you enjoy traditional dishes. Food in Bosnia and Herzegovina puts a spin on Balkan entrees and has a little something for every traveler, whether you love a good steak or you’re strictly veggie.