BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
(Bosna i Hercegovina, Босна и Херцеговина)
- Location : Southern Europe
- Capital: Sarajevo
- Language: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian
- Population: 3,842,566
- Total Area: 51,209 km2
- Currency: Convertible Mark
After its independence from Yugoslavia in the early 90s, Bosnia went through an awful civil war that displaced 2 million people- almost half the population of the country at that time. Many people in Bosnia thought of the war as an ethnic cleansing and to understand what they mean you have to understand the demographics of the country. The country is split between the Muslim Bosniaks, the Christian Orthodox Serbs and the Catholic Croatians. After the Daytona Peace Accord at the end of the war, the country divided into two entities- the Bosniak Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzagovina and the Bosnian Serb Republic- both with their own governments. There is also a central government in the capital of Sarajevo, but it has a hard job keeping accord between the rival factions. It is likely to be years before Bosnia can stabilize the country enough to become a member of either NATO or the EU.
Because of the divisions, the country has very different types of people depending on what area you visit. Of course, like any other city, Sarajevo has a variety of people and religions, but the rest of the country has whole towns of only Serbs, Bosniaks or Croats. Each people have a different religion. Bosniaks are Muslim, Serbs are Serb Orthodox and the Croats are Catholics. In this regard, going from one part to the next can seem like going from one country to the next. The Bosniaks for example, are, like most followers of the Islam faith, very friendly to strangers, often inviting them for tea or some food. In fact, they consider it rude to decline their invitations. The Croats and Serbs will be closer to what people regard as Europeans. They will generally keep themselves to themselves and let the tourist get on with what they need to do.
Much of Bosnia’s success in sport came from their years as part of Yugoslavia, and both the Yugoslavian Basketball and soccer teams had their share of Bosnian players. Since then they have had the potential for success, particularly in soccer, but many players for ethnic reasons have decided to play for other countries such as Croatia or Serbia. Today Bosnia achieves most of its sporting success in chess. Since 1994, they won the European chess championships four times and in 2005 hosted the first Bosnian chess championships.
By European standards, Bosnia is a poor country, but one thing poverty allows people to do is hang onto their identities. The medieval village is Lukomir is an example. Here people still people live like their ancestors in the middle ages, living in traditional style huts and wearing traditional style clothes. They also welcome visitors and have recently built accommodation for people not only wanting to experience their way of life, but travelers who want to hike through the Rakitnika Canyon, 800 meters below the village.
Bosnia has produced a surprising number of excellent filmmakers in recent years. Perhaps the most famous of these is Emir Kusturica who directed the award winning Underground, though he does seem as revered in his own country as he is abroad. They have compounded their success by hosting the now influential arajevo Film Festival, easily the biggest film festival in the Balkan region and one of the biggest in Europe, attracting names as big as Bono and Daren Afronsky. Started in 1995 with the war still raging in the background. That year it attracted over 15,000 people. Now, every August, it attracts about four times that amount and is one of only 11 festivals allowed to nominate Europe’s best short film.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2012 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Simon Arms (Berlin, Germany)