TRAVEL: 192-PART GUIDE TO THE WORLD: PART 22: BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

OFFICIAL NAME

The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, more commonly referred to as Bosnia. After three years of civil war the former Yugoslav republic was split into two separate entities at the Dayton peace accord accord of 1995. Fifty-one per cent of the country, including Sarajevo, is governed by the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (mainly Muslim and Croat), while the Serb Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina governs 49 per cent.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

The peoples of Bosnia-Herzegovina essentially speak the same language, Serbo-Croat, although Bosnians officially speak "Bosnian", Serbs speak "Serb", and Croats speak "Croat". Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet while Croats and Muslims use the Latin alphabet.

POPULATION

4.35 million in 1998. A religious/ ethnic mix with 44 per cent Muslims, 31 per cent Serbs (Orthodox), 17 per cent Croats (Roman Catholic) and seven per cent "others".

SIZE

19,741 square miles - one-and-a- half the size of Belgium.

BEST MONUMENT

A blue cross marks the spot where six teenagers claim to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary on a hill above Medjugorje on 24 June 1981. Ever since, this mountain town has drawn pilgrims from all over the world, even during the war.

NATIONAL DISH

Turkish and Muslim influence is very noticeable in Bosnian food. Popular dishes include musaka (baked meat and aubergine), kapama (mutton with spinach and green onions) and cevapcici (lamb and beef rolls within a loaf of bread). Lokum (Turkish delight) and alva (nuts in honey) are popular deserts.

CLIMATE

With its mountainous terrain, Bosnia has a variable climate, though moderate continental conditions dominate. Very cold winters mean snow can last until April. After heavy rain in early summer, it can become quite hot.

MOST FAMOUS CITIZEN

On 28 June 1914, a Bosnian Serb called Gavrilo Princip single-handedly rewrote the history of the world. Princip was a member of the Black Hand terrorist group who wanted Serbian independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the streets of Sarajevo caused Austria to declare war on Serbia, igniting a world war which claimed millions of lives.

WORST MOMENT IN HISTORY

In April 1992 Bosnian Serb snipers opened fire on civilians demonstrating for peace. The shelling of Sarajevo began shortly afterwards, and from that moment until the summer of 1995, at least 10,000 civilians were killed and the city was practically destroyed.

BEST MOMENT IN HISTORY

It has yet to happen - but if Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is arrested for war crimes and stands trial in the Hague, that could be it.

WHAT NOT TO DO

With an estimated one million land mines still remaining in Bosnia, don't drive off the hard shoulder or venture into abandoned villages.

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