Bosnian History: A Quick Lesson for Travelers

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Bosnia and Herzegovina have come a long way to reach political stability. However, local political difficulties and ethnic tension still exist. Random politically-related violence could occur with little to no warning.


Mostar Bridge, Bosnia and Herzegovina Photo © iStock/Greg Sullavan

It's unlikely you'll get involved, especially if you understand a little more of Bosnia and Herzegovina's history. It'll also make more sense of what you see around town.

Historical Violence in Bosnia

Bosnia has a violent history, and there are numerous examples you can see around the country to remind visitors. Such as the red plastic that fills holes in the sidewalks and streets. These holes are from shell craters that have been filled in with red in memory of the war.

Red plastic filling holes in sidewalks. Photo credit: iStock/Photokanto

Many buildings are still marked with sprays of bullet holes, more than you would think possible.

Bullet holes. Photo credit: iStock/fredrikarnell

Social Unrest in Bosnia

Large-scale demonstrations and protests could still occur, and might turn violent easily. Violence is also somewhat possible at any form of large-scale gathering, such as sporting events (particularly soccer), which have a history of getting out of control. The combination of alcohol, large amounts of people and passion for sports seems to be a good formula for violence.

In June 2010, a police officer was killed and several others injured when an explosive device was detonated outside a police station in Bugojono, a town in central Bosnia.

Though politically motivated violence is in decline, this should serve as a caution to those foreign travellers visiting this country.

Bosnia and Herzegovnia have a legal system that is comparable to most first-world countries. But there are exceptions. One is that photography of military installations, government checkpoints, troops and the U.S. Embassy are forbidden.

Be aware this may include civilian airports, bridges and equipment being used for military purposes, so if you have doubts, just ask. Better safe than sorry. You wouldn't want to cut your holiday short just for taking a quick pic of a bridge.

Some local laws are also different than other countries in Europe. For instance, there are no anti-smoking laws. So expect restaurants, cafes and even public transports to be filled with clouds of smoke.

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1 Comment

  • Ric said

    I recently went Banja Luka people smoke inside restaurants and bars. Unfortunately all the smoking did distract me from my food, as staff smoke right there by the counter.

    The food is good especially, Chevapi as a young black man I can say that the people are friendly. They were amazed by my Afro.

    Today’s date 5th February 2018
    I went in November 2017 for 2 weeks.

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