Bosnia and Herzegovina

Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is gorgeous country of the South-Eastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula, divided into two entities: The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the hidden gems of the former Yugoslavia almost landlocked, except for 26 km of the Adriatic Sea coastline centered on the town of Neum. Illyrian tribes who ruled over the entire Balkans lived to see their final fall in the battle against the Romans in the Vranduk Fortress, near Zenica around 6th century B.C. A French traveller through Bosnia at the beginning of the 19th century recorded more than 40 strongholds and fortifications in various conditions – some of them very strong and well maintained. It is in Bosnia and Herzegovina that eastern and western civilizations met, sometimes clashed, but more often enriched and reinforced each other throughout its long and fascinating history.

Bosnia and Herzegovina covers an area over 50,000 km2 which is often called as the “Heart of the South-Eastern Europe”. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a natural wonderland – blessed with rugged canyons, lush forests rich in wild game /more than 2,5 million hectares of forests/, crystal turbulent rivers and emerald-blue clear lakes, and a precious mixture of the cultures and traditions that have evolved from this mountainous region of the Southern Alps. In Bosnia and Herzegovina have been detected 227 plants belonging to 71 different plant families, which are being used with ethno therapeutic purpose. Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of a kind which provides isolated tracks, steep climbs, epic views, fast descents, cool swims and great company. It is a place that will stun you with its natural beauty, fascinate and inspire you with rich cultural heritage, and touch you with warm and genuine hospitality of its people. The amazing thing about Bosnia and Herzegovina is that in only three hours drive you can ski in the Olympic mountains and swim in the Adriatic Sea.  

National Geographic ranked Bosnia and Herzegovina among the 10 best adventure destinations for 2012. Among the destinations that offer excellent rafting, mountaineering, skiing and other adrenaline sports, Bosnia and Herzegovina was named as offering the best mountain biking trails and trekking routes along the ancient highland caravan roads that linked mountain towns for centuries.

Major Tourist attractions of Bosnia and Herzegovina : Sarajevo – the Capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Olympic City, a Science, Tourist and Cultural City, Banja Luka – the capital of Republic of Srpska, Bihac and Una River with its gorgeous waterfalls and Una National Park, Doboj and its 13th century Fortress, Jajce and its lakes and waterfalls, Prijedor, Kozara National Park and Bosnia’s largest WWII Monument at Mrakovica, Neretva River, Blidinje Nature Park, Buna River and its Vrelo Bune spring with the historical town of Blagaj, Kotromanicevo Royal Residence-settlement, Lower Tara River Canyon, Perucica virgin forest /by the historical town of Foca/ and one of two last remaining primeval forests in Europe, Sutjeska River Canyon within Sutjeska National Park, Pocitelj Historical village, Mostar “City of Sunshine” with its “Stari most” /the Old Bridge, reconstructed after Croats destruction in the recent war/, Medjugorje site of a famous Marian apparition, Hutovo blato Nature Park, Bjelasnica and Jahorina Mountains, Neum coastal resort, Travnik – town of Ivo Andric, Stolac and Radimlja stecaks – tombstones, Trebinje, Visegrad Old Bridge – the UNESCO site, Tvrdos Monastery, Dobrun Monastery, Tajan Nature Park, Bobovac Fortress, Bijeljina, Tuzla, Vjetrenica Cave

Bosnia is also place where in 1943, the most dramatic year of the Second World War some of the greatest battles of WWII have happened. During WWII, five of seven major German anti-Partisan offensives took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On our special tours dedicated to important Tito’s partisan battles of the Second World War we will visit almost all of those places.

Bosnia and Herzegovina interior is mountainous encompassing central Dinaric Mountains – Dinaric Alps to the south, hilly in the northwest, and flatland in the northeast parts reaching the Pannonia Basin while in the south it borders the Adriatic. Dinara is mountainous range that makes the natural border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, after which the entire Dinaric mountain system got its name. Ranges of calcareous Dinaric mountain system spread in northwest – southeast direction in the length of 645 km following the Adriatic Sea. Dinara Mountain je 84 km long and its highest peak is Troglav /1913 meters/.

Central Bosnia is the most mountainous part of Bosnia and Herzegovina featuring predominate mountains of Vlasic, Cvrsnica and Prenj. Prenj Mountain is surely one of the most beautiful and most impressive mountain ranges in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the whole Dinaric mountain system. Prenj Mountain features exciting, sharp and elegant snow-capped peaks throughout the year, impressive ridges, 11 peaks over 2000 meters, beautiful mountain valleys and other amazing alp-likes forms. Konjic, Jablanica and Mostar are situated at the foothills of the Prenj Mountain. The highest peak of Prenj Mountain is Zelena Glava (2,155 m). Eastern Bosnia also features mountains like Trebevic, Jahorina, Igman, Bjelasnica and Treskavica which belong to the Dinarics. Vast tracks of wild and untouched Bosnia’s nature make it an ideal holiday destination for adventurers, trekkers and nature lovers alike. It was here that the 1984 Winter Olympics were held. Now those fantastic ski terrains host a new generation of skiers and snow-lovers, hitting the slopes with Olympic quality skiing without the outlandish prices and long waiting. Come to ski to Bosnia and Herzegovina and discover the southeast Europe’s most exciting ski destination !

Inland of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the larger geographic region with a moderate continental climate, marked by hot summers and cold, snowy winters. The Dinaric Mountain ranges makes the natural boundary of the Mediterranean and continental Alpine climates. The warm Adriatic temperatures clash with the harsher Alpine ones, producing one of the most diverse eco-systems in Europe. Herzegovina, the southern tip of Bosnia and Herzegovina has Mediterranean climate enjoying warm, sunny and dry weather and plane fertile flatland. Herzegovina has a huge comparative advantage when it comes to immortelle, since the scientific analyses say that the immortelle from Herzegovina is one of the best sorts of immortelle in the world.

Herzegovina was named after the last Duke of the ancient Hum, Herceg Stjepan, who was the last ruler from the Bosnian aristocratic Kosaca Family before the Ottomans invasion. The earliest medieval sources, from the beginning of the 10th century, mention Herzegovina by the name of Hum or Zahumlje, that was ruled by local princes and rulers – dux Chulmorum. In the period from the 10th till the 15th century this toponyme spread along the area, and in the mid of the 15th century the borders of Herzegovina were determined, and remained so until the present.

There are about 1000 rivers and streams in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sava is the largest river of Bosnia and Herzegovina and forms its northern natural border with Croatia. Beautiful Una, Sana and Vrbas are right tributaries of Sava River, located in the northwestern region of Bosanska Krajina. Bosna River gave its name to the country and is the longest river fully contained within the country’s border. It stretches throughout central Bosnia, from its source near Sarajevo to Sava River in the north. Drina River flows through the eastern part of Bosnia and for the most part it forms a natural border /some consider it connection/ with Serbia. The border between Serbia and BiH has 383 km in length, 229 km out of which is river border, providing a large number of water-based tourist activities. Neretva River is the major river of Herzegovina and the only major river that flows southwards into the Adriatic Sea. Thermal waters of Bosnia and Herzegovina have an important role in health, and in balneo-therapy tourism and recreational tourism. The tradition of using thermal and mineral waters in Bosnia and Herzegovina dates back ever since the Greek and Roman times. At the springs of the Vrucica spa near Teslic Roman coins used for health purposes were excavated. Thermal waters of the Guber Banja Spa is also known since the ancient Romans, who named its source Domavia, and the whole area Argentaria. The inscription on the ruins of the Roman spas testify on those facts. The first traces of the use of the Ilidza thermal waters near Sarajevo date from the Roman times. Romans had built the first bath-termae in Ilidža, as evidenced by the Roman excavations. Structured use of the Ilidza mineral waters dates back from 1895, while during the Austro-Hungarian rule the significant accommodation and therapeutic facilities had been built. The first analyzes of thermal waters in Fojnica done by E. Ludwig in 1888 gained the scientific confirmation of the folk tradition of the healing properties of the waters there. The first written documents about the healing mineral waters of the Kiseljak springs date back to the 14th century.

There were lots of books and reports written about the War in Bosnia. The relationship of conflict always has “the other side of the medal” in which, we are sure, all aggressors are victims. With due respect to all the casualties and victims who deserve justice, recognition, and human compassion, and our deep wish to rest in peace for eternity, we have decided to encourage visitors to search for serious understanding of the Yugoslavian conflict, inviting them to fully experience with an open heart the beauties of Bosnia and Herzegovina at its present, without burden of manipulation and propaganda. Bosnia was formerly part of SFR Yugoslavia but gained its independence in 1992 after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that came about as a result of the breakup of the multinational socialist federation of Yugoslavia. War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international tragic armed conflict and religious violence among neighbors and historically close nations that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between March 1992 and November 1995 and had involved several sides : Bosnia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia /later Serbia/ and Croatia with the bloody “result” of around 110000 casualties and 1,8 million displaced population. More than 20 years after the end of a bloody war that caused endless suffering and destruction, Bosnia and its people still struggle to find a path for reconstruction and reconciliation. Whenever a conflict has occurred, all criminals must be prosecuted and held responsible for their illegal acts, whichever side they belonged to and irrespective of the political role they took on. Bosnia is nowadays home to three ethnic “constituent peoples” : “Bosniacs” /Bosnian Muslims/, Serbs and Croats. Visiting Bosnia can be moving, but this beautiful country is completely safe now. The wars that plagued the 90’s are just a distant nightmare, there is no residual violence.

Bosnian History in short

In the late 12th and early 13th centuries Bosnia was ruled by powerful bans, including Kulin ban and Matej Ninoslav, and relationship between the Bosnian and Serbian rules were friendly and supported with number of marriages. A Hungarian attack in 1253 may or may not have succeeded in subjugating the country by the northern occupation, but at least the peripheral northern area of Bosnia recognized Hungarian suzerainty under the rule of the Šubići bans. By 1322 Stjepan I Kotromanić had established his control over the entire country and married a Serbian princess. His successor Stjepan Tvrtko I intervened in Croatia and Serbia, and assumed the title of king (kralj) in 1377. After his death in 1391 Bosnia was plagued by frequent competition for the throne. The powerful noble house of Kosača came to the fore in the period after the decline of central power in both Serbia and Bosnia, and practically took control of the land as military governors (vojvodas) for the Bosnian kings. In 1448 Stefan Vukčić declared himself an autonomous duke (herceg) of Hum or of Saint Sava and made the land known as Herzegovina after the title of its rulers. In 1459 Stjepan Tomašević, the heir to the Bosnian throne, married the heiress of Serbia, but was unable to prevent the Ottoman conquest of that country. In 1463 he was captured and executed by the Ottomans and Bosnia became an Ottoman province. The Hungarians established a smaller dependent principality around Jajce in 1481, but it was lost to the Ottomans in 1527. In 1580 a broad area covering modern Bosnia and some surrounding areas of Croatia and Serbia was given the full status of an eyalet, or constituent province of the Ottoman Empire, which Bosnia enjoyed as a distinct entity throughout the rest of the Ottoman period.The Bosnian eyalet was governed by a vizier and administered through a network of junior pashas and local judges. Land was distributed according to the Ottoman feudal system, in which the holder of a timar (estate) had to report for military duty, bringing and supporting other soldiers. A wide range of taxes was imposed, including the harač, a graduated poll tax on non-Muslims. Also introduced was the notorious system called devşirme, under which Christian boys aged 10 and above were taken off for training in the imperial administration and the Janissary corps, an elite army division. In an area where Christianity had been weakened by the often acrimonious divide between Catholics, Orthodox, and members of the Bosnian Church, Islam eventually won a number of converts, and various Muslim Bosnians held important offices in the Ottoman military and administration. The oldest Turkish documents – defters from 1468 and 1469 show that in the first year after the Turkish invasion only a small number converted to Islam – on the territory of East and Central Bosnia where those books were written, there were 37.125 Christian families, and only 332 Muslim families. During next four decades, when the total number of population mostly remained unchanged, there was a significant increase of the Muslim population – in the defters dating from the twenties of the 16th century there were in the Bosnian sanjak 98 095 Christians and 84 675 Muslims. The motives that inclined Bosnians to adopt Islam were partly economic: the prosperous cities of Sarajevo and Mostar were also mainly Muslim, and it was not possible to lead a full civic life there without converting to Islam. Other motives of Islamization of Bosnia included the privileged legal status enjoyed by Muslims and, possibly, a desire to avoid the poll tax on non-Muslims, though Muslims were subject, unlike Christians, both to the alms tax and to the duties of general military service. Ottoman rule continued until 1908, when Austria annexed the area (which it had already occupied since 1878). In 1918 Bosnia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, formally renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. During World War II the country was attached to the independent state of Croatia, and was reintegrated into Yugoslavia in 1945, before becoming an independent republic ripped asunder by ethnic-religious conflict in 1992.

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