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Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina, and often known informally as Bosnia, is a heart-shaped country lying in the heart of Southeast Europe. located within the Balkan Peninsula.  Here, Eastern and Western civilizations meet, sometimes conflict, but more often help and enrich one another through a long and fascinating history.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a long name for a country that covers only 50,000 km2. It is bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south; Serbia to the east; and Montenegro to the southeast, sharing a maritime border with Italy. 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, Bosnia, is a geographically larger region and has a moderate continental climate, with hot summers and cold and snowy winters. The southern tip, Herzegovina, has a Mediterranean climate and plain topography.  The northern and central part of the country is called Bosnia, and the name is probably derived from an old Indo-European word “bosana” meaning water that Bosnia does not lack. The southern region around the ancient Hum, ruled by Herceg Stjepan Kosača, was later called Herzegovina when the region was occupied by the Ottoman conquerors.

Country through centuries until today

Bosnia and Herzegovina traces permanent human settlement back to the Neolithic age, during and after which it was populated by several Illyrian and Celtic civilizations. 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. 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 remained 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 and Herzegovina was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after World War II, it was granted full republic status in the newly formed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the republic proclaimed independence in 1992, which was followed by the Bosnian War, lasting until late 1995.

The country is one of the most frequently visited countries in the region, projected to have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world until 2020. Bosnia and Herzegovina is regionally and internationally renowned for its natural environment 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 Croats third. A native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of ethnicity, is usually identified in English as a Bosnian. Minorities, defined under the constitutional nomenclature “Others”, include Jews, Roma, Poles, Ukrainians, and Turks. 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 unit, the Brčko District, governed under local government.

Perhaps what is more important to visitors today is that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a stunningly beautiful country with an unprecedented array of natural landscapes, cultures, traditions and distinctly people. And according to the old cliché “people make a place” – Bosnia and Herzegovina can be proud of its hospitality, and acting towards the guest as a family member. And we know that the family is in the heart.