Bosnia and Herzegovina


Language: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian

Currency: Convertible Mark (BAM)

Calling Code: 387


Description of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a Southeast European federal state. Geographically, it consists of the region of Bosnia in the north – which occupies about 80 percent of the national territory – and the smaller region of Herzegovina in the south. The political subdivisions of the state are the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republika Srpska and the Brčko District as a special administrative region. The capital and largest city of the state is Sarajevo; other major cities are Banja Luka, Tuzla, Zenica, Bijeljina and Mostar.

The territory of the state is located to the east of the Adriatic Sea on the Balkan Peninsula and is almost completely located in the Dinaric Mountains. Neighboring states are Croatia to the north and west, Serbia and Montenegro to the east and southeast. In addition, the state has an approximately 25-kilometer coastal strip on the Adriatic Sea near Neum in the Neum Corridor. The Bosnian-Herzegovinian population was a good 3.3 million in 2020 (see Bosnians and Herzegovinians).

The state emerged in its current form from the Dayton Agreement (1995) and, according to this, is the legal successor of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was founded immediately after a referendum at the beginning of 1992 and was the only internationally recognized of a total of four state entities on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War. The Treaty of Dayton ended the war in the country and created a unified, but highly decentralized (federalist) state. Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of the two entities Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (majority populated by Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats) and Republika Srpska (majority populated by Bosnian Serbs). The Brčko Special Administrative Region was subsequently created from shares of the pre-war large municipality of Brčko belonging to both entities and today functions as a condominium of both entities, but manages itself independently.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement, the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (observer status), the Council of Europe, a participant of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Cooperation Council for South-Eastern Europe. Furthermore, the state has been an official NATO candidate country since 2010. At the summit of the EU member States in Brussels on December 15, 2022, Bosnia and Herzegovina was officially granted the status of candidate country for accession to the European Union. On 12. In March 2024, the EU Commission recommended the opening of accession negotiations. On 21 March 2024, at the EU Summit in Brussels, the Heads of State and Government of the European Union agreed to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.



Sarajevo is the capital of the country and one of the most unusual cities in Europe. East and west, Islam and Christianity are inextricably intertwined here, and tall minarets and authentic Muslim neighborhoods grow against the backdrop of a luxurious Austrian secession. In addition to the color and wonderful architecture in Sarajevo, you can see numerous evidences of the Bosnian War — now, however, more and more museum, because, despite the almost four-year siege and terrible destruction of the early 1990s, modern Sarajevo is a fully restored and actively visited by tourists city.

Banja Luka is the second largest city in the country, the capital of the Republic of Srpska. Banja Luka is not one of those places where you need to go specifically, but if you are traveling in the north of Bosnia, it is worth spending half a day here, visiting curious monuments of Orthodox architecture, an old Turkish fortress and museums, including a good art collection and the Museum of the history of the Srpska Republic. Banja Luka is also a natural stop halfway between Zagreb and Sarajevo and the best starting point for traveling around the Bosnian Krajina region.

Visegrad is a tiny town in the far eastern corner of the country. Despite the difficult logistics, tourists come here quite often: mainly in order to see the medieval Visegrad Bridge (Mehmed Pasha Bridge), noted not only by UNESCO, but also by the novel "The Bridge on the Drina" by Ivo Andrich, for which the author received the Nobel Prize in Literature. However, it was not these two circumstances that contributed to the true promotion of Visegrad, but the Emir of Kusturica, who decided to build an "old town" here from scratch and was very successful in this. Visegrad stands almost on the Serbian border in close proximity to the Shargan Eight, the best narrow—gauge mountain railway in the Balkans, which is of independent tourist interest.

Mostar is a symbol of Bosnia and its essence; a city where peoples who once fought with each other live on different banks of the river, and an old Turkish bridge restored after the war connects these two worlds. Due to its proximity to the Adriatic coast and UNESCO monument status, Mostar is the most visited city in the country. There is really something to see in it: old Muslim quarters, Moorish architecture of the early 20th century, modern Croatian temples, and all this against the background of mountains near other interesting corners of Herzegovina, including the towns of Blagai and Pochitel.

Travnik is an ideal small town, located, moreover, not far from Sarajevo, so it is convenient to go here for one day. The cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina are by definition multinational, but Travnik is a rare place where the environment is predominantly Bosnian, and the culture is therefore Muslim. For 150 years, from 1699 to 1850, the city was the capital of the Bosnian region of the Ottoman Empire. It is good to wander through the old quarters, looking at mosques, clock towers and medieval tombstones, after which you can admire the beautiful panorama by climbing to the old Turkish fortress, standing against the background of mountains.

Jajce is a small town in the mountains, an hour and a half drive from Banja Luka, one of the ancient capitals of Bosnia. The center of local tourism, where residents of the country go to look at the beautiful 20-meter waterfall, the old fortress and the general flavor of the historical city, complemented by the events of modern history: during the Second World War, the center of the partisan movement was located in the city, to which a good museum is now dedicated. You can also see mosques with wooden minarets typical of rural Bosnia in Yajce, and a medieval Christian monastery is located nearby.



Other destinations

Blidinje Nature Park


Bosnian Pyramids

Fortress of Doboj

Jajce Castle

Maglaj Fortress

Pocitelj Castle

Srebrenik Fortress

Sutjeska National Park


Getting here

Visa and rules of stay
Bosnia is not part of the Schengen area. With a Russian or Ukrainian passport, you can stay in the country for up to 30 days within 2 months, with a passport from any of the EU countries, as well as other European countries — up to 90 days within six months. A Bosnian visa is also not needed for those who have a multiple-entry Schengen visa or a residence permit from EU countries, but in this case the allowed period of stay is no more than 30 days continuously and no more than 90 days for six months. Citizens of Belarus or, for example, Kazakhstan will need a visa to visit Bosnia.

If you are traveling from Split to Dubrovnik, you will cross a short stretch of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina facing the sea in Neum. No one needs a visa to cross it, there is border control only on major roads. If you intend to turn north into Bosnia here, make sure to drive through the border crossing and get the necessary stamps. For example, you can cross the border in the town of Metkovich, where, moreover, there is something to see.

Passport control takes place in a very relaxed mode. Bosnian border guards are known for almost not checking bus passengers and sometimes not putting entry stamps, relying on their Croatian or Serbian colleagues. On buses, drivers collect passports, take them to the booth, and then bring them back — there is no communication with the border guards.

Check-in: within 48 hours upon arrival if you plan to stay in the country for more than three days. All hotels take a copy of your passport or ID card and then arrange registration without any participation on your part. If you are not staying at a hotel, you should, in theory, go to the police and report yourself, but there are no known cases in history when registration from tourists was required or checked.

By plane
There are four passenger airports in Bosnia — Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar and Tuzla. Of these, some reasonable connections happen only in Sarajevo, WizzAir has chosen Tuzla, and the other two airports do not accept flights every day and have no transport significance. You can get to the north of the country through Zagreb, to the east through Belgrade, to the south through Split, but it is better to fly to Sarajevo by plane, since the road from any neighboring airport will take at least 7-8 hours.

By train
As of the end of 2017, there are no international trains in Bosnia. If they appear, it will be only from Croatia, where Bosnia has exits to Zagreb (via Banja Luka) and Ploce (via Mostar). If you are traveling by train, it is most logical to get to Zagreb, from where you can take a bus to Banja Luka, or to Split, where you can take a bus to Mostar. You can also take a Croatian train to Slavonski Brod station, cross the river there (not necessarily wade), and now you are in Bosnia. From Serbia, the nearest railway stations to the border are in Sremska Mitrovica and Užice.

By bus
Like all the countries of the Balkan region, Bosnia is connected by bus with Central Europe — Austria, Germany, Holland, Denmark. These "guest worker buses" will take you from, for example, Munich to any city in the country in about a day. Traveling from neighboring countries is much more pleasant and faster. As a starting point, it is most convenient to choose Belgrade, which has regular bus service to all cities of Bosnia and, in particular, to the Republic of Srpska. Another convenient check—in is from the southwest, through Mostar, from where buses run every 2-3 hours to Croatian Split and, somewhat less frequently, to Croatian Dubrovnik. From Zagreb, you can get to Banja Luka relatively quickly. The eastern border of the country is the most mountainous and therefore the most remote. There are direct buses from many cities in Bosnia to the Montenegrin coast and even to Albania, but they take an unimaginably long time: for example, the journey from Podgorica to Sarajevo takes 8 hours.

Modern buses operate on international lines, usually with air conditioning and Wi-Fi.

By car
There are dozens of roads and border crossings at your service, mostly around the clock, but you need to keep in mind that everything is much slower inside Bosnia than outside, so if you are coming from the north, it is worth driving as much as possible through Croatia, where both autobahns run along the Bosnian border, and only then stop by to Bosnia itself. From Belgrade to the north of Bosnia, they also usually go through Croatia, and to Sarajevo — through Uzhice and Visegrad.


Transport around the country

Moving around Bosnia by public transport requires the same skills as everywhere else in the Balkans. There are no normal schedules, nor route planners, but there is enough transport, and it is more convenient, for example, Russian. There are few trains, they rarely run. However, if you have the opportunity to go by fast train ("Talgo") — do not neglect it, because such a train is much more pleasant than a bus, but it goes about the same amount and costs almost cheaper.

Public transport in Bosnia is inexpensive. You will pay 12-15 marks for 100 km of travel. All roads are very picturesque, try to drive along them during the day. For a better orientation in space, it is useful to know the words redvoznje (schedule), polasci (departure) and dolasci (arrival).

By train
The mountainous nature of the area does not contribute to the development of railways, and the war has severely crippled those that were. In fact, there is only one line in Bosnia, Zagreb-Banja Luka-Sarajevo-Mostar-Ploce, and due to some disagreements between the countries, passenger traffic on it is cut off along the Croatian border. There is also a side branch to Tuzla. All other railways that you can see on the map either do not have passenger service or do not exist in nature.

Strangely enough, even this tiny network in the country managed to split into two parts. Željeznice Federacije Bosne i Hercegovine (ŽFBH) operates in the south of Bosnia and in the Sarajevo area, and Željeznice Republike Srpske (ŽRS) operates in the north. There is no practical difference between them, that is, at any station you will see only one ticket office selling all possible tickets, and even the sites of the two railways are similar: they are well translated into English, but otherwise they are an example of antediluvian web design and contain timetables (ŽFBH, ŽRS), which you can view only a list of the selected station. Each road has its own schedules: for example, if you need a train to Mostar, see the website of the railways of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and if to Tuzla — the Republika Srpska. Some trains meet in both.

Trains in Bosnia can be counted on the fingers. The so-called "express trains" run twice a day: brand new Talgo trains from Sarajevo to Mostar-Chaplina (south) and Zenica-Doboj-Banja Luka (north). They drive three times slower than the manufacturers expected, but inside everything is at the European level: comfortable chairs, sockets and even drinks. You can connect to Wi-Fi, which, however, does not work. On some sections, there are additional commuter trains consisting of a pair of wagons divided into seated compartments: the usual Balkan version is slow and joyless.

Like their Russian colleagues, Bosnian railway workers operate new trains in a very peculiar way: all but one door is blocked, and a conductor stands in the remaining one and checks tickets. Thus, it is impossible to get on a fast train without a ticket. In a slow one, most likely, you can take a ticket on the train. There are ticket offices at all major stations (strictly speaking, ticket offices are the only thing there at all), they open at least an hour before the train departs. All the train stations in Bosnia are completely empty, and few people travel by train either.

By bus
There are no bus schedules in nature. Everything that can be found on the Internet has little relation to reality. The websites of individual carriers may be a relatively reliable source, but they only show their flights, and even then not all of them. At bus stations, it is better to turn to the information window than to understand the schedule hanging on the wall, which, moreover, is not always relevant. The largest bus carrier is Centrotrans. On his website, you can find out the schedules of many buses departing from Sarajevo. If you want to travel within the country, look for the websites of local carriers or rely on intuition.

Schedules usually consist of many sections. In the Bosnian part of the country, routes are local (općinske linije, also gradske and pregradske), cantonal (kantonalne linije — within one canton), federal (federalne linije — within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and international (međunarodne linije). The latter include buses to the Republic of Srpska. In the Serbian part it is simpler, there they are limited to the classification of suburb—intercity. There is an opinion that there is no transport between the Bosnian and Serbian parts of the country, but this is not the case. The internal division of the country creates only one difficulty: in some cities there are two bus stations, each of which serves buses to its part of the country. However, there are also a lot of nuances here, so it is sometimes impossible to guess which bus station you need.

If you still need to plan something, count on the fact that there will be some kind of transport between neighboring cities every 1-2 hours, the same applies to the main highways leading from Sarajevo to different parts of the country. Things are much worse on the periphery. Many Bosnian buses, especially local ones, have a tendency to run several times early in the morning and in the evening, sometimes even in the middle of the day to the end of school, and the rest of the time to take long breaks. If you are waiting for a bus at an intermediate stop where there is no bus station, be patient and believe in the best, because there will be no timetable here, and usually there is no one to even ask. It is better to study the schedule of the nearest bus station in advance to know approximately when the bus will be.

There are bus stations (autobuska stanica, in the Croatian regions autobusni kolodvor) in almost every city. They are open from early morning to late evening, sometimes around the clock, and sell tickets as well as provide information. The waiting rooms are tiny but clean; they almost always have a cafe where you can sit comfortably. Apron control is in effect at larger bus stations. Tickets must always be purchased at the ticket office (biletarnica). Luggage storage is available at almost every bus station under the garderobna sign. The payment is hourly, usually 1 mark per hour, that is, it is unprofitable to leave things for a long time.

Tickets are usually sold without seats, but for a certain departure time. Buses rarely run empty, sometimes they are packed, although a situation where it is impossible to leave at all is unlikely. If you want to make yourself comfortable, come in advance. The baggage fee (1 mark) is charged by the driver upon boarding.

The buses are relatively new and quite comfortable, many have air conditioning and even Wi-Fi. However, they drive slowly, which is facilitated by mountain roads and the habit common to the countries of the former Yugoslavia of making long stops every 1.5-2 hours, during which drivers drink coffee. You can follow their example, since there is at least one cafe at each bus station, and the situation there is no worse than in any other cafe in the same city. Usually, fast food outlets where you can have a snack are clustered around bus stations. If you travel a long distance, the travel time becomes indecently long: for example, the 230 km from Sarajevo to Banja Luka bus covers more than 5 hours. There are no express trains in Bosnia, and even international buses do not deny themselves the pleasure of stopping in every town along the way.

By car
All roads in Bosnia are two-lane and mountainous. Two small sections of the four—lane autobahn are located in the vicinity of Sarajevo, one leads to Zenica (60 km), and the other leads the first 30 km towards Mostar. The autobahn is paid, the fare to Zenica costs 6 marks (2017).

The condition of the main roads is good, there are almost no potholes, and the asphalt in the cities is also quite decent. There are a lot of police on the roads. The traffic is slow, do not count on an average speed above 60 km / h, since the roads are either mountainous and winding, or go through all possible settlements where the speed drops to a minimum.

Gasoline is cheap by European standards, 1.7-1.8 marks per liter (2017).



Serbo-Croatian used to be the common language of the state. In view of the civil war of the 1990s and the establishment of a Bosniak nation that is of Islamic faith and makes up the majority of the population in the state, it was obvious from this point of view to stand out from the Serbo-Croatian.

The main phraseologisms and expressions for a tourist are the same in any language variant: "good morning" (dobro jutro), "good afternoon" (dobar dan), "good evening" (dobra večer), "goodbye" (do viđenja), "please/nothing to thank" (molim/nema na cemu) and "thank you" (hvala).

The South Slavic languages may be difficult to learn due to their complex grammar (7 cases). There may also be a lack of pronunciation for foreigners, since comparatively many sharp consonants have to be pronounced side by side. Fortunately, one speaks exactly as it is written. But you can get by relatively well with English and German practically all over the country. Due to the many war refugees who lived in German-speaking areas, even a surprising number of young people can speak German well.

German studies at the Bosnian universities maintains a high level of language proficiency and has a lively influx. As everywhere in the world, the level of foreign languages in the countryside is much lower than in the cities, but even here you can often find someone who speaks a few chunks of German or English. English is the most important foreign language at school and is often spoken by the younger generation, not least because of the American films, which are hardly dubbed in Serbo-Croatian or even Bosnian. Many older people, former guest workers and war refugees still speak broken German. In the summer, many Bosnians from abroad from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, etc. still come to their home country to spend the holidays there.

From a political point of view, the language is a very complicated matter in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the official language regulation is a major obstacle in the peace process for the preservation of the holistic state. According to the Dayton Peace Agreement (practically the provisional – currently valid constitution), there are three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina and thus also three languages: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian. The differences between these three South Slavic language variants are small and an understanding among each other is easily possible. Most likely, it could be compared with the difference between English and American.

In the Federation, Bosniaks and Croats use the Latin script, while in the Republika Srpska Cyrillic is used.

There are tendencies of the individual population groups to underline their national identity by the respective language variant. For example, the Croats in the west of the country use the variant of the written language used in Croatia. The Bosniaks and Croats use the so-called "Ijekavica", the Serbs also use it until now, although in the Republika Srpska there are efforts to use the Serbian written language, the so-called "Ekavica" (although people used to speak "Ijekavian" until then). That is, a word like, for example, milch means "mleko" in Serbian (resp. mleko in Cyrillic letters) and in Croatian/Bosnian "mlijeko" (in Latin letters).

The Bosnian variant is relatively cumbersome to implement in everyday life, especially since it was standardized relatively late and was only used by the Bosnian upper class at the time of Ottoman rule. On the other hand, many so-called "Turzisms" have become established, such as djezva = coffee kettle, čilim (spr. chilim) = carpet.

Despite the similarity of the languages, the right to use one's own mother tongue is taken very seriously and is of great political significance. All official papers must therefore be translated into all three language variants, textbooks are printed in all languages, etc.




The country's currency, the Bosnian convertible mark, is a legacy of the era when the world did not yet have the euro, and in 1998, immediately after the war, the exchange rate was, without hesitation, tied to the German mark. The Bosnian stamp is designated as BAM or KM, and in oral speech — simply as a mark (eng. marks). After the abolition of German marks, its exchange rate is pegged to the euro, €1 = 1.95583 marks.

Bosnian money comes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 marks, as well as coins in 1, 2, 5 marks and 5, 10, 20, 50 pfennig (another reference to the old German currency!) The price level does not quite correspond to the boundary between coins and banknotes: for example, a 5—mark coin is 2.5 euros: the amount for which you can not only drink coffee with a cake, but also eat. It is better to always have coins with you, because with small purchases, even with a 10-mark bill, there are problems, but bills of 100 and 200 marks cause the owner a lot of problems.

Currency exchange: in each city, usually in the market area, there is at least one exchanger (menjačnica), where euros, dollars, Croatian kuna, Serbian dinars and 5-7 other popular currencies are exchanged. The euro exchange rate is always official, but it is changed with a commission of 0.5-1%. Exchangers operate 7 days a week, usually in the same mode as the markets. The euro is used quite widely in Bosnia. Many things can be paid in euros at the rate of 1:2, in tourist places they sometimes give change in euros when there are not enough cash stamps at the cash desk. However, if you are going outside of Mostar and Sarajevo, be sure to stock up on local currency. However, it is not necessary to accumulate it in large quantities, since the Bosnian mark, even if it is convertible, is one of those currencies that it is almost impossible to exchange outside the country.

Bank cards are used only to a limited extent. There is at least one ATM in any city. Payment terminals are found in shops and hotels, as well as in some restaurants. On the contrary, fast food and pastry shops, as well as ticket offices at stations and bus stations accept payment only in cash.


The shops

Grocery supermarkets are usually open from 7 to 21-22, on Sundays from 8 to 13-14 hours, although in large cities there are always shops open on Sunday until the evening. The most popular network is Konzum. Most often you will come across small shops from the home goods series: they have everything you need, but there is no cooking, for example. Large supermarkets, like shopping malls in Bosnia, are not very popular, and if they are, they are located somewhere on the outskirts. In the center of a small town, you can often find something like a department store with a minimal assortment of clothes, shoes and household goods.

The market is an important part of any Bosnian city. The markets are open every day, from 6-7 am to 15-16 pm. In Mostar and Sarajevo, the markets are heavily tourist-oriented. There are almost no tourists in other cities, so the markets are the real ones. There are always a lot of local vegetables and fruits on them: do not miss the huge bags of sweet peppers, and somewhere in Herzegovina and tangerines. Meat and dairy products are also sold. In addition, there is a huge flea market in any market where you can find some colorful oriental goods: for example, copper Turks are very common in the Bosnian part of the country.



Bosnia is an inexpensive country. If you do not use a taxi, the daily transportation costs will not exceed 20 marks. A hearty snack in fast food — 5-8 marks, lunch or dinner in a restaurant — 15-20 marks, including alcohol. A cup of coffee costs 1-2 marks. You can stay in a hotel for 50-60 marks per person or 70-80 marks for two. Many attractions charge a small entrance fee, usually within 5 marks.



The Bosnian cuisine is very rich and varied. The main ingredients are grilled meat, cevapcici, burek, salads and a variety of Austrian and oriental sweet dishes. However, there are now also – especially in the cities – many international restaurants.

The Bosnian cuisine is very tasty and mostly natural. Fast food almost does not exist at all. People in Bosnia like to eat a lot. As a tourist, you can safely settle in any place, even if the sanitary facilities leave much to be desired in many places. In the old towns you should definitely visit one of the numerous cevabdzinicas. There are original cevapcici made from beef and lamb meat as well as sudzukice - grilled sausages made from lamb meat. There are also excellent pastry shops, which often still bake according to the old Austrian tradition.

The coffee (kava) is Turkish mocha or espresso in many places. But even here you can now get cappuccino. Filter coffee is completely unknown. There are very good Bosnian beers, especially Preminger from Bihać, which has reached the 4th place in a European beer competition.



You can go out well in the larger cities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are countless cafés and discos in Sarajevo and other cities. In the summer, the city population seems to almost double due to the seasonal homecoming. So the places are very lively and young people are frolicking everywhere in the street cafés.



Bosnia-Herzegovina's cities offer many accommodation options, such as Banja Luka, Trebinje, Bihać, Livno and last but not least Sarajevo. Some private homeowners offer rooms and hospitable treatment at affordable prices.

In Bihać there are now some hotels that have opened again. But the private accommodations are also recommended. Hospitality is very important here.

Trebinje has worked its way up to a tourist stronghold in recent years. This is due to the fact that this beautiful town is located in the three-country corner of Croatia (Dubrovnik 25 km) and Montenegro (Herceg Novi 45 km) and is a perfect starting point for holidays and yet is many times cheaper than the coastal resorts of Dubrovnik and Herceg Novi and although the city also has a lot to offer culturally. Trebinje is also called the city of honey, wine and plane trees. It is definitely worth a visit.


Learning and Studying

There are universities in Banja Luka, Mostar, Zenica, Tuzla and Sarajevo, some with a long tradition, for example, the University of Sarajevo was founded in 1531. Although universities also have a focus, for example Tuzla, once the largest industrial city in the Balkans, has a focus on engineering sciences and medicine.



Due to the still existing mine danger, the German Foreign Office advises against leaving the streets. Furthermore, night driving through the country is not without danger. According to UN data, up to 4 million landmines have been laid. In addition, there is a large number of unexploded ordnance, so-called UXO (engl. for unexploded ordnance). Information on this can be found here .

Before hiking or the like, you should definitely seek the advice of locals. However, one should take the advice with caution, as there are always accidents with mines in which locals are involved. However, one has to expect almost everywhere that one is discouraged from hiking. For safety reasons, you should always stay on paved paths.



Although the European Health Insurance Card is valid, it may have to be exchanged for a local treatment certificate on site, which can be difficult in the short term. Some German health insurance companies therefore recommend to apply for a foreign health certificate in advance. Austrians obtain a foreign care certificate.

Medical care is sufficient, but not to the usual standard everywhere. The University hospital in Sarajevo is certainly the first choice. Medicines for personal needs should be carried with you. A foreign health insurance with return protection is recommended.

Vaccinations: as in Germany, protection against tetanus (tetanus), diphtheria (whooping cough), polio (poliomyelitis) and hepatitis A is recommended, for stays of more than four weeks or special exposure (trekking tours, etc.) also against hepatitis B, rabies and TBE (tick-borne encephalitis).


Rules and respect

No special expectations are placed on tourists in this regard. As a foreigner, however, you should not get involved in nationalist discussions at all. Since there are three faiths represented in Bosnia, one should also be very restrained in matters of faith. The wounds of the war have not yet healed and there is hardly anyone who does not have a victim of the war to complain about in the family.

The ideas of morality and decency are very high in Bosnia and Herzegovina. You will hardly see that people kiss in public or exchange other caresses. Even the consumption of alcohol on the open road is not prohibited, but it is absolutely unusual among locals. The inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina are mostly very hospitable, but the danger of fraudsters must also be explicitly pointed out here. Often people beg, although this is not allowed and is punished. It is at the discretion of each individual to give something. If you are invited as a foreigner, it is customary to take off your shoes before entering the apartment.

The larger towns are home to strong minorities of Bosnian-Herzegovinian Sinti and Roma, who often live in miserable conditions. In addition, there are about 500,000 internally displaced persons and war wounded, who are often not kept by the barely existing social network.



There are three mobile operators in Bosnia: BH Telecom, m:tel and HT eronet, despite their obvious ethnicity, they work throughout the country, although they are usually better in their home regions than in others. SIM cards are sold freely without presenting any documents at newsstands, supermarkets, gas stations and other similar places. All operators have gigabyte packages, the prices are about the same as in neighboring countries: a tourist package for 10-14 days costs 20 marks (2023), but you can catch better deals.

Bosnia is not part of the EU free roaming zone, but is part of a similar zone from non-EU Balkan countries (region Zapadnog Balkan): this allows you to use a Serbian or, for example, a Northern Macedonian SIM card in Bosnia, and a Bosnian one in these countries (operators' tariffs usually specify separately which part of the Internet package is available within this region), but in practice this does not always work, in some cases SIM cards may simply not be found the network is in another country.



Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two historical regions, but they have no relation to the current division into entities: Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country name Bosnia is derived from the river Bosna, which originates near the capital Sarajevo. The name Herzegovina goes back to the ruler title Herceg = Duke (Hercegovina = duchy) used by Stjepan Vukčić Kosača.



The region was settled by people very early. Archaeological finds testify to the first advanced civilizations in Bosnia. The Butmir culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture in the region of Ilidža. It had a unique pottery and is one of the most well-studied cultures in Europe from about 5500 to 4500 BC. The best-researched settlement of the Butmir culture is located on the outskirts of the Okolište district of the Visoko municipality. Numerous excavations between 1966 and 2008 have made it possible to completely record and document a settlement of the Butmir culture in its development over 500 years (5200 to 4700 BC). The recovered items are now in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Later, the Illyrians were the formative inhabitants in the territory of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina and the first about whom historical information is available. In ancient times, Bosnia was long part of the Roman Empire in the province of Illyria. The Illyrians settled the western half of the Balkan Peninsula and thus also Bosnia in the Bronze Age (around 1200-1100 BC). Archaeological research has shown that the tribes were mainly engaged in cattle breeding and less arable farming. Also mining (silver) was already carried out in Bosnia by the Illyrians.


Middle ages

In the 7th century the region was settled by Slavic peoples. Already in the 9th century, Bosnia was first mentioned in a document as a region (Banat). A kingdom emerged from the Banat of Bosnia, which can only be understood as a consolidated territory from the 12th century. At the latest in the period shortly before 1250, the princely house Kotromanić prevailed.


Ottoman Empire

In 1463 Bosnia was conquered by the Ottomans. Due to the immigration of the Ottomans to Bosnia, many mosques were built and the Christian population increasingly converted to Islam, which led to Bosnia enjoying a special status in the Ottoman Empire due to the higher proportion of the Muslim population. in 1527, the Eyalet of Bosnia was founded, which included the territory of the present-day state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, parts of Croatia, Montenegro, as well as the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, which ultimately resulted in the Pashalik of Bosnia around 1580. The Ottoman power was broken and shaken off again by the mass uprising of the Bosnian population in 1876/78.


Habsburg Monarchy and World War I

In 1878, after the victory of the Russians over the Ottomans, the Congress of Berlin placed the Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina under Austro-Hungarian administration; in addition, Austria-Hungary received garrison rights in the Sanjak of Novi Pazar. The formal annexation by the Habsburg dual Monarchy in 1908 triggered the Bosnian annexation crisis. Self-employment efforts also had a hard time because of the ethnic and religious mixture. The resulting assassination attempt on the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo in 1914 by the Bosnian Serb student Gavrilo Princip triggered the July crisis that eventually led to the First World War. Therefore, it is considered an essential trigger of the First World War. After the end of the war, the country became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (from 1929: the Kingdom of Yugoslavia).


Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1941)

Immediately after the First World War, Bosnia and Herzegovina became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The newly founded South Slavic multi-ethnic state was ruled by the Serbian king Petar I (Petar Karađorđević). In the entire state itself, the political mood was tense from the mid-1920s onwards, because Slovenes and Croats in particular were striving for their own political independence, while Belgrade wanted the newly founded state to be dominated by Serbs. The situation was similar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but here it was between the Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs.

The state was characterized by centralism; the idea of autonomy with regard to non-Serbian ethnicities and non-Christian religions remained largely suppressed; ethnic and denominational or religious tensions remained and in some cases intensified. The most influential Bosnian politician during this period was the president of the Yugoslav Muslim Organization, Mehmed Spaho (1883-1939).

In 1939, an agreement (sporazum) was reached between Serbian and Croatian representatives, which provided for the establishment of a broad Croatian autonomy, including parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the spring of 1941, during the Second World War, the country was occupied by troops of the German Empire and Italy. Bosnia and Herzegovina became a part of the fascist vassal state called the Independent State of Croatia.

The successful resistance of the Yugoslav partisans led by Josip Broz Tito against the occupiers and their allies culminated in the AVNOJ decisions of November 29, 1943 in Jajce, in which the foundation stone was laid for a new federation of South Slavic peoples under the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia KPJ.


Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1945-1992)

After the Second World War, with the founding of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a federal state was created with the six constituent republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia with the Autonomous Provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. The Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the third largest sub-republic in terms of area. From an economic point of view, Bosnia and Herzegovina in Yugoslavia was behind the republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, as it was mainly designed for the industrial sector and partly for agricultural operations, in contrast to Slovenia and Croatia, which were mainly designed for tourism.


Independence and the Bosnian War

After the 14th Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in 1990, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia was dissolved. This effectively ended the Communist Party's rule in Yugoslavia after 45 years. Slovenian and Croatian politicians proposed a reorganization of the state. They wanted to eliminate socialism and establish a Western-oriented democratic government. Since all the proposals were rejected by the Serbian side and a system was propagated on the principle of "one man – one vote", there were heated disputes during the congress. That is why Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence in 1991, so that Yugoslavia now consisted only of the constituent republics of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 29 February/1 March 1992, in a referendum in Bosnia and Herzegovina that was largely boycotted by the Serbian population, 99.4% of the voters voted for state sovereignty, with a turnout of 63%. Thus the state declared on 3. In March 1992, he resigned from the Yugoslav State Union and gained independence under the official name of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Bosna i Hercegovina) within the borders of the previous constituent republic. International recognition took place on April 17, 1992, but the Serbian representatives did not recognize independence and founded the "Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina" (Srpska republika Bosna i Hercegovina) in the territories under their control, which is the predecessor of today's Republika Srpska. The Bosnian war between the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH), the Army of the Serbian Republic (VRS), the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) and other actors, which is now breaking out and has been going on for more than three years, claimed a total of about 100,000 deaths.



At the end of the Bosnian War, the Dayton Treaty, initialed in 1995 in Dayton (USA) and signed in Paris on December 14, created the now federally organized State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, consisting of the two entities Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. However, the domestic political situation was still determined by the consequences of the war and the ongoing conflicts between the three ethnic groups (see International Conflicts of the successor states of Yugoslavia). Although there are usually no conflicts between ordinary Bosnian citizens, the state is still in a political crisis, as there are different ideas about the future of the state. Bosniak politicians in particular would like to re-centralize the entire state and integrate it into the European Union in the medium term; Croatian representatives are advocating for a new right to vote and partly for the creation of a third (Croatian) entity, and the representatives of the Republika Srpska are calling for further decentralization of the state or even the secession of the Republika Srpska. None of the three models has so far found a political majority in the state as a whole.

In February 2014, violent protests took place first in Tuzla and later in numerous other cities of the state, some of which were directed against the poor economic situation and corruption in politics and administration.

Serbian politicians in Banja Luka and Belgrade are promoting divisive tendencies that could break up the fragile confederation. Four authors wrote in March 2022, this even makes a new war between the ethnic groups seem possible.

On 12 October 2022, the EU Commission recommended that Bosnia and Herzegovina be granted candidate status.



Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula and is characterized in large parts by a wooded low mountain landscape, with the highest mountains reaching heights of almost 2400 meters above sea level. Part of the mountainous country, especially in the western parts of the state and Herzegovina, is karstified. The surface water produced here does not enter the large river systems, but seeps away for the most part. In the south as well as in the northern Sava lowland there are also flatter regions that are used for agriculture. Also in the south is the 20-kilometer-long Adriatic coast near Neum.



Bosnia and Herzegovina has a total of 1538 kilometers long external border with its three neighboring states. This is omitted
932 Kilometers on Croatia, which surrounds the state in an arc to the north and west; this border is part of the EU external border,
357 Kilometers on Serbia in the east and
249 Kilometers on Montenegro in the southeast.

The only access to the sea is the Neum Corridor, a strip of territory that interrupts the Croatian national territory at a width of about 7.5 kilometers. The southern part of Croatia with the city of Dubrovnik was originally accessible by land only via the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina or from the east from Montenegro. Since mid-2022, the Pelješac Bridge has been a road link between the two parts of Croatia, bypassing the Neum corridor.

Due to its central location, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only former Yugoslav sub-republic that is surrounded exclusively by other former sub-republics.



The highest areas of the country are located in the southeast, on the historical border between Bosnia and Herzegovina. The peak of the Maglić Massif, located south of Foča on the Montenegrin border, is the highest point at 2386 meters. The rest of the country is mainly characterized by low mountain landscape.



Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in the transition area between the Mediterranean and continental climate. Winters can get very cold and temperatures up to -20 degrees Celsius are not uncommon. The summers are mostly very hot and dry due to the location of the country.


Landscape zones

The state can be divided into three landscape zones according to climatic zones.

The Pannonian Plain
On the northern border, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a share in the Pannonian Plain, which extends here in the area of the Sava Lowland.

The Dinaric mountain region
The Dinaric mountain region, also called "Bosnian Dinarides", extends from the southeast of the country across the central region to the northwest. This landscape is characterized by numerous mountains, which are less karstified, but covered with forest surfaces. Cities such as Sarajevo, Zenica and Bihać are located in this landscape zone, among others. These areas are usually very warm in summer with up to 35 °C and cold in winter, whereby the temperature can also drop to -15 °C and a lot of snow can fall.

The Adriatic coastal region
Herzegovina is mostly part of the Adriatic coastal region. Herzegovina, which is characterized by Mediterranean influences, consists mainly of karst or karst mountain ranges. The Neretva River, which flows from north-eastern Herzegovina through Mostar towards the Adriatic coast, is the largest and most famous of this region.



The most important rivers of the country are the Sava and Drina, which border Bosnia and Herzegovina in the north and east, as well as the Bosna, which originates inland and flows into the Sava. Almost the entire area of Bosnia belongs to the catchment area of the Sava or the Black Sea, while the rivers of Herzegovina – partly underground – drain into the Adriatic Sea.

The valleys of the larger rivers of Bosnia extend almost exclusively in the north-south direction, which is important for the settlement and transport history of the country. Among the larger rivers are the Una and Sana, the Vrbas and the Neretva. Apart from the Sava River on the border with Croatia, no river in Bosnia and Herzegovina is navigable.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in the Blue Heart of Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has few significant lakes. Most of the large still waters have been artificially impounded. There are large reservoirs at Drina (e.g. Lake Zvornik), Neretva (Jablaničko jezero), Vrbas and Trebišnjica (Bilećko jezero). The Modračko jezero near Lukavac in the canton of Tuzla is also a reservoir.


Land use

Only a small fifth of the national area is suitable for arable farming. These areas are located mainly along the Sava, on the lower reaches of the Neretva and in the Poljen of Herzegovina.


Flora and fauna

The animal and plant world of the country is rich in species and diverse. The flora and fauna of the country benefits from the low population density and uninhabited areas. Around 60 percent of the area of Bosnia and Herzegovina is forested, especially the mountains are very wooded. Due to the difficult accessibility, nature is also under little threat. Thus, it was possible to preserve the habitat of many rare animals and plants.



Many endangered plant species have a habitat in the high mountains of the country. In the Sutjeska National Park on the river of the same name is the Perućica virgin forest - one of the largest still preserved in Europe. In the area of the Dinaric Mountains, an altitude of 500 to 1000 meters is considered a low zone. Oak and beech forests are typical in this area. At an altitude of 1500 meters there is a beech, spruce, fir and pine forest. A tree that is found in almost all the mountains of the country is the Scots pine. A mixture of all these tree species can be found when wooded areas start at a low altitude and continue upwards. In this case we are talking about an Illyrian Florentine province.

You can find mountain plants such as fireweed, thyme and catweed in all areas of the high zone. They are like the classic alpine flora found on the mountains. A special feature are the sinkholes created by cave incursions. Typical plants of a colder mountain landscape can be found on the large areas of the sinkholes, while plants typical of the Mediterranean grow on the edges. A good example of the flora of the country is the Bjelašnica mountain range. At the foot of the mountain, you can meet various deciduous tree species such as oaks, grape or coniferous trees. Winter oaks, hawthorn and black beech trees. In the higher regions there is a mixed forest with beeches and firs.

The walnut tree is native to southeastern Europe and is widespread in the low zone. The high mountains mainly have juniper, which is extremely resistant to cold. In the spring you can find a large number of flowers. Typical representatives are violets, gentians, daffodils, chamomile, wild garlic, fragrant cowslips, vipers and pansies. Many already largely extinct flowers have become naturalized in Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as the orchid plants on Lake Prokoško. Some calcareous soils offer ideal conditions for orchids such as the Red Forest bird or the mountain hyacinth. Because of the warm climate, lily plants also thrive in this region. For example, some rare representatives of the genus Tulipa grow in Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as the Tulipa biflora, which is distributed from Croatia to Albania, or the Tulipa orphanidea, which is a rarity and benefits from the untouched nature.

In addition, the country has a considerable number of endemics. The Lilium carniolicum var. bosniacum is endemic to calcareous soils in central Bosnia. For a long time its classification was unclear, which led to it being counted as a subspecies or variety to the Pyrenean lilies or as a synonym to the Lilia chalcedonica. It was only after molecular genetic studies that it was finally assigned to the Carniolan lily. One plant that has also been without a clear classification for a long time and thrives in Bosnia is Lilium jankae. The occurrence extends to the Rhodopes.



Eels can be found, for example, in Hutovo Blato. Hutovo Blato is a natural park, which includes many small lakes and swamps. A large number of other aquatic animal species, especially numerous cancers, also occur.

Of the many different species of snakes that can be found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, two are poisonous. Among the poisonous ones are the European horned viper and the cross viper. The four-striped snake is one of the non-toxic species. In addition to snakes, a large number of other reptiles such as lizards also live in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The fascinating bird life has been well preserved in the Bosnian mountains. The green woodpecker is native to the deciduous forests, and the black woodpecker is native to the coniferous forests of the country. Griffon vultures are native to some mountains such as the Bjelašnica. Among the most important birds of prey of the country are the golden eagles, as well as the falcon species. The golden eagle is native near the coast and in the many occurring mountains. The kestrel is found throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Lanner falcon occurs in a few breeding pairs in Herzegovina. Countless insect and beetle genera are also represented in the country.

The largest animal in the country is the endangered brown bear, of which about 2800 specimens live in Bosnia and Herzegovina.




A traditional musical style is Sevdalinka - Bosnian folk music, the character of which was strongly influenced by Ottoman influences. In addition, folk music contains features of the music of the Sinti and Roma and other ethnic groups. A well-known representative of the Sevdalinka was Safet Isović until his death. However, the Sevdalinka is generally only well received by the older Bosnian population and partly by the older Bosniaks living in Montenegro and Serbia. On the other hand, the so-called Narodna muzika, which is a mixture of the former Yugoslav folk music, pop and partly techno music, is better received. This has generally been the most popular in the Serbo-Croatian-speaking countries since its inception (around 1980).

In addition to Goran Bregović and his former band Bijelo dugme, the singers Zdravko Čolić, Lepa Brena and Dino Merlin as well as the rappers Edo Maajka and Frenkie are well-known musicians from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the international arena. The rock/pop groups Zabranjeno Pušenje, Plavi orkestar, Indexi, Crvena jabuka and Hari Mata Hari, as well as the heavy metal band Divlje Jagode were among the most famous and popular in Yugoslavia, along with Bijelo dugme. The musical center of this modern Bosnian music was Sarajevo.



Since the end of the war, some Bosnian films have also received international awards. Among them were Ničija Zemlja (German Niemandsland, English No Man's Land) by Danis Tanović from 2001, which received a Golden Globe and an Oscar, as well as the film Grbavica, which received a Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 2006. Furthermore, the film Welcome to Sarajevo with Woody Harrelson received great critical acclaim. The film deals with the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990s. The director Emir Kusturica (Black Cat, White Cat; Life is a miracle) is from Sarajevo. At the Berlinale 2016, the film Smrt u Sarajevu by Danis Tanović received the Silver Bear.

The Sarajevo Film Festival is a cinematic and cultural highlight every year in August and attracts more and more tourists from abroad.


Media outlets

The three most important daily newspapers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Dnevni avaz (German Tagesstimme) and Oslobođenje (German: Befreiung), both of which are published in Bosnian in Sarajevo, and Nezavisne novine (eng. The Independent newspaper), which is published in Banja Luka in Serbian language and Latin script. In addition, there are a number of political weekly newspapers such as Slobodna Bosna (eng. Free Bosnia) or Dani (eng. Day). Also popular are magazines that report on current affairs or stars of folk music, such as Express or Svet (eng. world; a newspaper of the same name and format is also published in Serbia).

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a tripartite public broadcasting and television system, with a national television and radio station of the institution BHRT (BHTV 1 and BH Radio 1) and one entity television and radio station each, the RTVFBiH (FTV and Radio F.) in the Federation and the RTRS (RTRS TV and RTRS RRS) (Cyrillic: PTPC) in the Republika Srpska. Some private channels like BN TV, OBN or NTV Hayat can be received all over the country. Cable television is very popular, which feeds stations from neighboring countries and German-speaking countries. Since 11. In November 2011, the new TV channel Al Jazeera Balkans broadcasts from Sarajevo, initially six hours a day in the national language.

In 2020, 73.2 percent of the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina used the Internet.



The Winter Olympic Games were held in Sarajevo and the surrounding area in 1984. Football and basketball are the most popular sports in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In football, the country was constantly developing and improving. Bosnia and Herzegovina almost qualified for the 2004 European Football Championship, in the last match against Denmark, only one victory was missing against the direct competitor, but the match ultimately ended 1:1, with which Denmark qualified for the 2004 European Championship. The national team then prevailed at the 2014 World Cup qualification and took part in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. However, the team under the then coach Safet Sušić lost two of the three group matches and finished the World Cup in 3rd place in the group. Famous players of the national team are, among others, Edin Džeko, Miralem Pjanić and Vedad Ibišević.

The national basketball team has qualified for six European Championships so far, most recently in 2011. Probably the most famous basketball player in the nation is Mirza Teletović, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA.

The Bosnian-Herzegovinian volleyball team won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Greece.

Special Olympics Bosnia and Herzegovina was founded in 1999 and participated in Special Olympics World Games several times. The association has announced its participation in the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023 in Berlin. The delegation will be supported by the Aachen region as part of the Host Town Program before the games.

The national chess team achieved a success at the international level for Bosnia and Herzegovina with the second place at the Chess Olympiad 1994 in Moscow.


Food and Drink

The national cuisine has many specialties to offer, e.g. Bosanski Lonac, Ćevapi, lokum ("Turkish honey"), pita (pide) in all variations of vegetables. In addition, there are Sogan Dolma, Somun, Japrak, Baklava, Halva, Burek, Sarma and much more. She is strongly influenced by Turkish cuisine. Turkish coffee – which is brewed in a special coffee pot - and homemade plum brandy (Šlivovic) are common drinks.

Holidays and festivals
In addition to religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter (for the Croats and Serbs), and the Islamic festivals Ramazanski Bajram (at the end of Ramadan) and Kurban Bajram (at the time of the pilgrimage to Mecca), the following holidays are valid in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

New Year (Nova Godina): January 1 and 2 are national holidays, New Year's Eve is celebrated magnificently, and January 13 (Serbian New Year according to the Julian calendar).
Labor Day (Prvi maj): May 1 and 2 are national holidays, Labor Day is used as an occasion for large public celebrations.

In addition, the following holidays are celebrated in the Federation:

Independence Day (Dan nezavisnosti): March 1 - commemorates the conclusion of the referendum on independence on February 29 / March 1, 1992.
National Day (Dan državnosti): November 25 - commemorates the proclamation of the People's Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Mrkonjić Grad on November 25, 1943.

In the Republika Srpska, March 1 and November 25 are not celebrated, but January 9 is celebrated as Republic Day (Dan Republike) and November 21 (Dayton Agreement Day).

In addition, there are local holidays in the various communities and villages inhabited mainly by Croats, which are based on the Christian calendar (e.g. name days of saints, "little Easter", etc.). A special holiday is the name day of the patron saint of each locality. In addition to a very well-attended fair and possibly a procession, there are celebrations in most houses and squares, to which the inhabitants of the neighboring towns also come.




Bosnia and Herzegovina had 3.3 million inhabitants in 2020. The annual population growth rate was -0.6%. The population has been declining since the 1990s as a result of the war, emigration and the low birth rate. in 2020, a birth rate of 7.8 per 1000 inhabitants was contrasted with a death rate of 11.1 per 1000 inhabitants. The number of births per woman in 2020 was statistically 1.2. The life expectancy of the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina from birth in 2020 was 77.5 years (women: 80, men: 75). The median age of the population in 2020 was 43.1 years, slightly above the European figure of 42.5.


Name of citizens and ethnic groups

The citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are called Bosnians. This refers to Bosniaks and Croats as well as Serbs who are native to Bosnia and Herzegovina. By contrast, the term Bosniaks refers exclusively to Muslims of Bosnian origin. All of them belong to the "three constituent peoples" of the state and are officially equal in rights.

The 2013 census showed a proportion of 50.1 percent Bosniaks (mostly Muslims), 30.8 percent Serbs (mostly Orthodox) and 15.4 percent Croats (mostly Catholics). The rest of the population either belongs to one of the 17 officially recognized minorities, such as Roma and Jews, or did not indicate an ethnic classification. The ethnic self-classification of Bosnians is mainly based on their religious affiliation and the cultural differences that are partly associated with it. There is no linguistic separation within Bosnia, as all ethnic groups speak Ijekavian-Neuštokavian dialects of Serbo-Croatian. However, since the Yugoslav Wars, they usually refer to their language as Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian by analogy with ethnicity and use the corresponding written language standard.

in 2017, 1.1% of the resident population was born abroad.


Languages spoken

The inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina mostly speak Ijekavian varieties of the Štokavian dialect group, which hardly differ among themselves. In the written form, according to the official division of the population into three constituent peoples – Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs, the closely related standard languages Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian are used. Depending on the point of view, these languages are also collectively referred to as Serbo-Croatian.

The three standard languages can be distinguished in particular with regard to their writing. For example, Serbian is written in Bosnia and Herzegovina mainly in Cyrillic and to a lesser extent also in Latin script, whereas Croatian is written exclusively with the Latin alphabet. Bosnian can be written in both writing systems, but Latin is generally preferred. In the temporal context of the Bosnian War, the Cyrillic script was increasingly used by Bosnian Serbs, which is mainly due to the desired distinction from the other two population groups. In the meantime, the Cyrillic script was used more consistently in the Republika Srpska than in Serbia itself.

Linguistically, the differences between the three variants are very small; they are limited to a small part of the vocabulary and concern certain sounds. For example, the standard Bosnian language (as well as the Serbian language) contains more words of Ottoman or Turkish origin, such as majmun (monkey).

In addition to the Štokavian dialects, the smaller ethnic groups, e.g. the Roma, use their own languages.


Religious traditions

Christianity, Islam
In Bosnia and Herzegovina there has been a coexistence of different religions and faiths for centuries. The majority of the inhabitants are formally attributed to one of the two major monotheistic religious communities (Christianity and Islam): Muslims (about 50.7% according to the 2013 census, mostly ethnic Bosniaks), mostly Serbian Orthodox Christians (about 30.7% in 2013) and mostly Croatian Roman Catholic Christians (about 15.2%). For many inhabitants, however, this classification has been an expression of a cultural, historical or family connection rather than an actual religiosity since the Yugoslav period. According to the 2013 census, 0.3% are agnostics and 0.8% are atheists. 2.3% of the total population of the state belong to other groups, such as Protestantism, did not indicate anything, or did not give an answer.

In 1991, 42.8 percent were still Muslims, 30.1 percent Serbian Orthodox and 17.6 percent Catholics. 5.7 Percent described themselves as atheists; the remaining 3.8 percent belonged to other faiths or were non-denominational.

In 2008, there were about 1000 Jews living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 900 Sephardi and 100 Ashkenazi. The largest community is that of Sarajevo with about 700 members. 1,400 of the 2,000 Jews who fled Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, mainly to Israel, still have Bosnian citizenship. According to a research project that lasted from 2012 to 2014, 600 of them would like to return to Sarajevo. According to the survey, the Jews consider Bosnia and Herzegovina to be the second safest state in the world after Israel and rate the security situation with a school grade of 1.3.


Education and Training

A compulsory education exists until the ninth grade. The graduates can then choose for a three-year vocational training or for a three- to four-year secondary education at high schools, church schools, art schools, technical schools or teacher training institutes. After passing an entrance examination, the graduates of a



Political system

The political system is often called the "most complicated system of government in the world" by scientists and journalists. The state as a whole, the entities and the 10 cantons each have their own legislative and executive structures. To this end, the state is also subject to an international mandate, see the section On the structure of the state.

In fact, part of the state power is exercised by the High Representative – since August 2021 the German Christian Schmidt – as a representative of the international community, which is justified by the fact that as a result of the mutual distrust that arose during the war, a blockade attitude still prevails among the leaders of the ethnic groups. In addition, around 1000 foreign soldiers are still stationed in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the EUFOR operation "Althea".

The full legal, economic and social equality of the sexes and thus the active and passive women's suffrage were guaranteed for the first time in the Constitution of 1946 (according to a different source for the active and passive women's suffrage: January 31, 1949).



The party landscape of Bosnia and Herzegovina is fragmented by the internal division. While the governing parties are relatively manageable, many different parties are in opposition.

Among the Bosniak parties, the SDA is the strongest. On the Serbian side, the SNSD around Milorad Dodik dominates, while the HDZ BiH dominates among the Croats. The strongest multi-ethnic parties are the SDP and the DF.

Elections in 2006 and accession negotiations with the European Union
The elections on October 1, 2006 were considered forward-looking, because in 2007 the international community wanted to remove the High Representative and transfer Bosnia and Herzegovina to full sovereignty. In retrospect, this project was initially postponed for another year. Bosniak Haris Silajdžić from the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH), Serb Nebojša Radmanović from the Federation of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) and Croat Željko Komšić from the multi-ethnic Social Democrats were elected to the State Presidium. Komšić beat his opponent from the nationalist Croatian Democratic Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH) in a head-to-head race. Croatian nationalist groups then protested that Komšić could not represent Croatian interests, as members of other ethnic groups had voted for him in the first place. The Bosnian Serb party SNSD had again called for a referendum for the independence of the Republika Srpska before the elections, if the calls for greater centralization did not stop. Silajdžić campaigned for a constitutional amendment that would allow Bosnia to grow together into a "functioning" state. This is partly interpreted in such a way that he questioned the existence of the entities. In January 2008, the chairman of the SNSD, Milorad Dodik, reaffirmed the belonging of the Republika Srpska to the state as a whole and his will to maintain it. In 2010, however, Dodik had repeatedly spoken of a possible secession of the Serbian half of the state or that he did not give Bosnia's continued existence any chances.

At the end of February 2008, EU representatives, together with envoys from the USA and Russia, decided to leave the High Representative in the country for an indefinite period. On 16 June 2008, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union was concluded, which is considered an important preliminary stage for the intended accession to the EU. The signing was made conditional on a police reform. The police of both parts of the state were called upon to cooperate more intensively with each other, in particular to convict more war criminals. The European Union Police Mission (EUPM) has been operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2003. She is primarily responsible for the fight against organized crime and for advising on police reform.

Elections in 2010 and delayed formation of a government
In the general elections on October 3, 2010, the following were elected as members of the State Presidium: Željko Komšić (Bosnian Croat member), Bakir Izetbegović (Bosnian Bosniak member) and Nebojša Radmanović (Bosnian Serb member). However, in this election, there were doubts whether the victory in two cases did not come about as a result of electoral fraud. The Election Commission had ordered a recount of the unusually large number of invalid votes in the election of the Serbian and Bosniak members of the State Presidium. After a recount, all three elected members of the State Presidium were confirmed and at the constituent meeting on November 10, 2010, Nebojša Radmanović was elected the first chairman of the State Presidium.

In addition to the State Presidium, the General State Parliament, consisting of two chambers, the parliaments of the Bosniak-Croatian Federation and the Republika Srpska, the President of the Serbian sub-state, its two vice-presidents and, in the Federation, the parliaments of the ten cantons were elected.

After the elections in October 2010, conflicts among the leading Bosniak, Serbian and Croatian parties prevented the formation of a government. It was only after almost 15 months, during which the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, among others, had suspended their loan payments, that the six major parties of the three ethnic groups agreed on a new government at the end of December 2011. If the agreement had not been reached before January 1, 2012, all payments from the state budget would have had to be stopped. According to media reports, the political representatives are also said to have agreed on the 2012 budget and some EU-compliant laws. At the beginning of January 2012, Vjekoslav Bevanda of the Croatian Democratic Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH) was elected by the parliament as the new Prime Minister.

Elections in 2014 and the formation of the government in 2015
The elections on 12 October 2014 were contested by 51 political parties, 14 other alliances and 15 independent candidates. The voter turnout was 54.14 percent, about 2 percentage points less than in 2010.

The following were elected to the State Presidium: Bakir Izetbegović as a Bosniak member with 32.87%, Dragan Čović as a Croatian member with 52.2% and Mladen Ivanić as a Serbian member with 48.71%.

In the elections for the state parliament as a whole, the seats from the Federation were won by the following parties: SDA (27.87%, 9 seats), DF (15.33%, 5), SBB (14.44%, 4), HDZ BiH Coalition (12.15%, 4), SDP (9.45%, 3), HDZ 1990 (4.08%, 1), BPS (3.65%, 1) and A-SDA (2.25 %, 1). The seats of the Republika Srpska go to SNSD (38.46%, 6 seats), SDS (33.64%, 5), PDP-NDP (7.76%, 1), DNS (5.72%, 1) and SDA (4.88%, 1).

Formation of the general government 2015
Only almost six months after the election, the new all-state government was formed and confirmed by a five-party coalition of the House of Representatives. Denis Zvizdić of the SDA became the chairman of the Council of Ministers and thus the head of government. The HDZ got three of the nine ministerial posts, although it received only 7.5 percent of the votes in the elections. The multiethnic Demokratska Fronta (DF), despite 9.2 percent, provided only one minister. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was the Serb Igor Crnadak. The Serbian parties that were in the government are considered reform-oriented and not separatist. The leading SNSD in the Republika Srpska was excluded at the state level.

Elections in 2018 and the formation of a government in 2019
In the elections on October 7, 2018, 14 parties or alliances won seats in the House of Representatives. The voter turnout was 54.02%. Šefik Džaferović, a Bosniak candidate, Željko Komšić, a Croatian candidate, and Milorad Dodik, a Serbian candidate, were elected to the three-member State Presidium. Only 14 months later, in December 2019, a new government with the coalition partners SDA, SNSD, SBB, HDZ and DF was confirmed in parliament. The formation of the government had dragged on mainly because political forces in the Republika Srpska opposed the signing of a work program with NATO. The head of government (chairman of the Council of Ministers) became Zoran Tegeltija (SNSD, Alliance of Independent Social Democrats).

Elections in 2022 and the formation of a government in 2023
In the elections on October 2, 2022, as four years earlier, 14 parties or alliances won seats in the House of Representatives. The voter turnout was 50.41%. Denis Bećirović (SDP), the Bosniak candidate, Željko Komšić (DF), the Croatian candidate and Željka Cvijanović (SNSD), the Serbian candidate, were elected to the three-member State Presidium. In January 2023, a new government was formed with the coalition partners HDZ, SNSD and a multi-ethnic alliance led by the SDP ("Osmorka"). As a result, the SDA, the leading party among the Bosniaks, was excluded from participating in the government at the state level. Borjana Krišto (HDZ) was appointed Chairwoman of the Council of Ministers and thus Head of Government. Krišto is the first woman to chair the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Human rights situation

Bosnia and Herzegovina has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Women and the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Women. The death penalty has been abolished. In its 2008 report, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights noted that discrimination takes place in some areas of life, such as employment. The situation of human rights defenders is also alarming. Attacks on journalists have escalated. At the first queer festival on the topic of human rights and sexuality in September 2007, one organizer was threatened with death and eight participants were beaten. Before the festival, politicians, clergy and some media had launched a campaign against the event.

Citing BH Journalists, the report spoke in 2008 of 54 cases in which the rights of journalists or the freedom of the press had been violated. There have been 25 cases recorded in which journalists have been attacked or threatened, including with death.



Until the end of 2005, the defense policy was with the two entities. Since 2006, the Armed Forces have been subordinate to the State Presidency and the Ministry of Defense, created in 2004, at the state level. The joint army consists of up to 10,000 active professional soldiers and an "active reserve" about half as strong. In addition to the formally integrated operational structures, there is a Bosniak, Serbian and Croatian regiment each, which should continue the traditions of the three sub-forces ARBiH, HVO and VRS. The general conscription was abolished on January 1, 2006. The aim is to integrate the armed forces into European and Euro-Atlantic structures and to participate in UN operations. In 2006, Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the NATO "Partnership for Peace". In October 2010, a military contingent consisting of 45 members was deployed to Afghanistan in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The number of troops has increased to 53 soldiers by 2012.


Structure of the state

The political structure of the state is complex. Since the Dayton Treaty (also known as the Dayton Peace Agreement), Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Federacija Bosne i Hercegovine) with 2,371,603 inhabitants (62.55%) and the Republika Srpska with 1,326,991 inhabitants (35%). Both entities each have their own executive and legislative branches. The Brčko district around the northern Bosnian town of the same name with 93,028 inhabitants (2.45%) is directly subordinate to the state as a condominium of both entities. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is made up of ten cantons that have their own responsibilities. For statistical purposes, the Republika Srpska is also divided into regions, which, however, have no administrative significance. The lowest administrative level is occupied by the 142 municipalities (općine and opštine).



General development

In the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the economically weaker regions. After the end of the Bosnian War, there was initially a continuous economic growth. The strict monetary policy, which includes a fixed exchange rate of the convertible mark to the euro, contributed to the stability of the currency. The banking system has been reformed, with foreign banks controlling 85 percent of the banks. The officially declared unemployment rate is 28.2 percent and youth unemployment is even 67.6%, although this rate is reduced by a large gray economic sector. The introduction of a value-added tax in 2006 increased state revenues.

Exports are still poorly diversified; minerals and wood account for 50 percent of all exports. So far, the high current account deficit has been offset by transfers from Bosnians living abroad. The main trading partner of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the European Union with a share of about 50 percent. Austria is the largest foreign investor in terms of value, ahead of Slovenia. The large and inefficient public sector, bureaucratic obstacles for entrepreneurs and the fragmented labor market, reflecting the ethnic division of the state, are considered problematic for economic development. In the Global Competitiveness Index, which measures the competitiveness of a country, Bosnia and Herzegovina ranks 103rd out of 137 countries (as of: 2017-2018). In the index for Economic Freedom, the state ranks 92nd out of 180 states in 2017.

The global financial crisis is having an impact in a severe recession. It initially concerned the decline in exports and then a drastic slump in domestic demand as well. Some large industrial enterprises had to suspend their production for the time being. In the first quarter of 2009, the Federation reported a decrease in industrial production by 10 percent, while in the Republika Srpska an increase of 13 percent was recorded (mainly due to the commissioning of a large oil processing plant). Many significant industrial sectors in both entities reported declines of the order of 20 percent.

The gross domestic product (GDP) of the state in 2015 was about 14.21 billion euros, the gross domestic product per capita was 3,749 euros. Bosnia and Herzegovina has now largely recovered from the financial crisis. In 2014, the economy grew by 1.05%. In 2015, a growth rate of 2.1% was recorded. An annual economic growth of over 3% is expected in the next few years.



The Convertible Mark (abbreviation KM, abbreviation BAM in international payment transactions (according to ISO 4217)) has been a valid means of payment throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina since June 22, 1998. The KM is pegged to the euro in a fixed ratio of 1.95583:1 and thus corresponds to the value of the former D-Mark.

According to the law, all domestic invoices must be shown with the Convertible Mark. Nevertheless, the euro, as well as the Serbian dinar, is widely accepted, although this is not officially desired.


State budget

According to CIA estimates, the 2016 state budget included expenditures of the equivalent of 7.975 billion US dollars, which were offset by revenues of the equivalent of 7.681 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 1.7% of GDP. According to IMF estimates, the national debt amounted to 44.3% of GDP in 2016.

Government spending (as a percentage of GDP):
Health: 10.9% (2009)
Education: k. A.
Military: 1.4% (estimated for 2011)


Tourism, sightseeing

Tourism was also able to develop only slowly due to the war. For several years now, more and more tourists have been coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina – especially to Mostar and Sarajevo.

Important destinations
Stari most (Bridge of Mostar), UNESCO World Heritage
Stari most u Višegradu (Bridge of Višegrad), UNESCO World Heritage
Vrelo Bune (Buna source), one of the strongest and largest sources in Europe
Jajce, with its castle, 17-meter-high waterfall and Pliva lakes
Kravice vodopad (Kravica Waterfalls), under nature protection
Međugorje, world-famous pilgrimage site
Bosanske piramide (Bosnian Pyramids), pyramid-like mountains
Nacionalni park Kozara (Kozara National Park), monument to the victims of the Battle of Kozara in World War II
Nacionalni park Sutjeska (Sutjeska National Park): The park includes one of the two last primeval forests in Europe (Perućica), the highest peak in the country (Maglić), the 75-meter-high Skakavac waterfall and the Sutjeska Gorge.
Hutovo Blato, the largest nature reserve for marsh birds in Europe

Others are the castle and fortress walls of Počitelj, the medieval castle of Travnik, the fortification and the amphitheater of Banja Luka, the lakes Blidinjsko jezero, Prokoško jezero and Šatorsko jezero, numerous medieval tombstones (Stećci) especially in Herzegovina, the rafting offers on the rivers Neretva, Una, Vrbas and Drina, the Adriatic coastal town of Neum with the highest average annual temperature in the country, as well as the memorial dedicated by US President Bill Clinton in Potočari for the victims of the Srebrenica massacre.


Sarajevo information

There are numerous sights in Sarajevo and the surrounding area. The Latin Bridge, for example, was the starting point of the First World War, as it was here that the assassination of Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife was committed. The Bosmal City Center (118 m) and the Avaz Twist Tower (142 m) were completed in 2001 and 2009 respectively and are currently the tallest buildings on the Balkan Peninsula. Also worth seeing are the entire old town Baščaršija with the Turkish water fountain Sebilj and the Vijećnica, the old town hall of the city. Furthermore, there are many magnificent historical mosques in the city (for example, Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque, the largest historical mosque in the country) and church buildings.

In the immediate vicinity there are also the winter sports areas Bjelašnica and Jahorina, where the Olympic Winter Games were held in 1984.

The siege of the city during the Bosnian War is commemorated by the Sarajevski ratni tunel (Sarajevo Tunnel), the Historijski muzej Bosne i Hercegovine (Historical Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina), the "Roses of Sarajevo" and the still numerous destruction and bullet holes on buildings, mainly on the outskirts of the city.

The city also offers other museums dedicated to the historical reappraisal of the city and the entire state. These include, for example, the National Museum and the Museum of Sarajevo.



Energy sector

Both entities have extensive autonomy in energy policy, as in many other areas. For example, there are two energy ministries, each of which issues different laws and regulations. The state-wide electricity regulatory authority DERK has a regulatory commission at the entity level. The market is divided among three power companies. The EP RS supplies the Republika Srpska, the EP BiH and the EP HZHB supply the Federation. There is no separation between electricity generation and distribution. In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the companies EP BiH and EP HZHB are responsible for both, and in the Republika Srpska, companies belonging to the EP RS Group are working on power distribution. For electricity transmission, there is the national independent grid operator NOS BiH and the company responsible for electricity transfer Elektroprenos-Elektroprijenos Bosne i Hercegovine a.d., which also operates nationwide.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, electric power is primarily generated by coal-fired and hydroelectric power plants. The coal reserves amount to about 4 billion tons, the hydropower potential is estimated at 6800 MW, of which only 35% has been exploited so far. The planned investments in the energy sector by 2020 amount to 3.9 billion euros (as of 2009).
In 2007, 9.4% of the primary energy production in Bosnia and Herzegovina was covered by renewable energies. About 50% of the total land area is covered with forest, which indicates a large biomass potential. According to expert estimates, 9,200 GWh could be generated from biomass. in 2009, the use of biomass was limited to about 4.2% and exclusively to the heating of households. In areas without a district heating network, the consumption of biomass in the form of wood and charcoal was up to 60% of the total energy consumption.



The entire road network covered about 22,926 km in 2010, of which 19,426 km are paved.

Since 2001, highway 1 from the Adriatic Sea to Budapest has been under construction, the first of the currently five planned highways in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is to lead from Ploče in Croatia via Mostar, Sarajevo, Zenica and Doboj to Croatian territory and form part of the European transport corridor 5C. In total, this highway will run through Bosnia and Herzegovina for about 360 km. However, the year of its complete completion is unknown. A further four motorway connections are in the planning phase and have not yet been numbered. Political differences between the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including on the number assignment, prevent an agreement.

There are two railway companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina: on the one hand the Railway Company of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the other hand the railway company of the Republika Srpska.

Rail transport takes place mainly on two main axes:
A north-south route runs from the Croatian junction station Strizivojna-Vrpolje on the Zagreb-Belgrade railway line via Šamac, Doboj, Zenica, Sarajevo and Mostar to the Croatian port city of Ploče.
The most important east-west route runs from the Croatian Sisak via Novi Grad and Banja Luka to Doboj, where it joins the aforementioned route.

These main axes are supplemented by the Una railway running from Novi Grad to Knin via Bihać and Martin Brod, as well as a line leading from Doboj to Tuzla, which is connected by a line via Brčko to Croatia and a line via Zvornik to Serbia.

In addition, there are a number of factory and mine railways, some of which are still operated by steam.

The railway network of Bosnia and Herzegovina was severely damaged in the Bosnian War. Since December 2016, the railway connection from Zagreb to Sarajevo has been discontinued. There is also no train service between Belgrade and Sarajevo.

All of the narrow-gauge lines ("Bosnian Narrow Gauge") still built by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy were abandoned and mostly dismantled around 1970. An exception is the factory railway of the Banovići coal mine - steam locomotives were still in occasional use here in 2011.

In 2005, a renewal program was decided. Nine Spanish Talgo express trains were purchased. Currently (2023) two of the nine Talgo sets are required in daily operation.

There are currently four international airports:
Sarajevo Airport
Mostar Airport
Banja Luka Airport
Tuzla Airport

The port of Neum is the only access of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Mediterranean Sea.

Exposure to landmines
When leaving paved roads, there is a risk of landmines in many parts of the country. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the most heavily mined area in Europe, along with Kosovo and Croatia. Even in 2009, around 1,573 square kilometres of the national territory – especially in the forests and mountain areas – were still considered to be at risk of mines, while the settlements and agricultural areas have usually already been cleared. From the end of the war in 1996 to 2017, 605 people were killed in mine accidents (including 74 deminers) and 1131 injured. The Bosnian army and civilian clearing companies are responsible for clearing known minefields.