Bosna i Hercegovina

Communication Top

The international dialling code for Bosnia-Herzegovina is 387. To dial internationally when in the country, you need to dial 011 plus the relevant country code and number.

Emergency numbers in the country are 112 for all GSM phones, as well as 124 for hospital, 122 for police, and 123 for fire.

Communication via mobile phones and internet is very much on. The mobile operators have roaming agreements with other international operators; however, the coverage is just average due to the non-uniformity in terrain. Internet cafes are there in few towns and now some hotels have begun to provide net connectivity as well.

As with many other less developed countries, internet connectivity can be scarce in some parts, but not hard to find in all the major towns and tourist destinations. The country is rebuilding well from the recent war, so decent coverage should be too far down the track.

Postal service is slow compared to the West, with normal post taking about one week to reach its destination. Heavier packages take up to 10 days. Coins, bank notes, narcotics, alcohol, precious metals and stones, firearms and ammunition are strictly not allowed via mail.

History Top

Bosnia has been the play field for many empires over the years. It was ruled by different groups till in 1463 after which the Ottoman or Turkish army conquered it. At this time many Bosnians converted to Islam and became Muslims. The Ottoman Empire ruled till 1878, after which Austria-Hungary gained control.

World War I was sparked when a young Serbian student assassinated the Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo. From here on it was a steep downhill journey for Bosnia. After the war, the region of Bosnia-Herzegovina became a part of the country that was renamed Yugoslavia.

Soon World War II broke out and Germany and Italy invaded Yugoslavia. Bosnian patriots led by a young communist, Josip Broz Tito, fought heroically. The end of the war saw Bosnia-Herzegovina become one of six republics in the new communist state led by Tito.

Communism and Tito held the different ethnic groups together, but when Tito died in 1980, the country fell apart and old conflicts re-emerged. In 1990, the communist party lost control and Croats and Muslims in Bosnia voted for independence. Most Serbs opposed this move and wished to remain a part of Yugoslavia. Due to the clash in political interests a fierce civil war broke out in April 1992. The war ended with about two thirds of Bosnia falling under the control of the Bosnian Serbs.

The civil war and the ethnic cleansing that followed killed more than 200,000 people and rendered more than 2 million people homeless. Needless to say, the atrocities committed in the name of ‘ethnic cleansing' were inhumane.

In 1995, Bosnia was divided into two - a Muslim-Croat federation and a Bosnian Serb republic. The Muslim-Croat controlled 51 per cent of the country and the Bosnian Serb controlled the balance 49 per cent. A peace agreement was signed which allowed refugees to return home.

Since then Bosnian refugees have been returning, but to destroyed homes and sometimes no home at all. The country is slowly limping back to normalcy but it will be a while for wounds to heal and trust to set in.

In the meanwhile the government is doing its bit by promoting the country as a tourist destination. Efforts are being made to revive its past glory and give the country a face lift. This is indeed filling the coffers right now and will in future if the new found peace continues.

Religion Top

There are a variety of ethnic groups and religions in the country.

The population is made up of Bosniaks 48%, Serbs 37.1%, Croats 14.3%, and other 0.6% (2000). However the term Bosniak has replaced Muslim as an ethnic term in part to avoid confusion with the religious term Muslim - an adherent of Islam.

The religious breakdowns are: Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, and other 14%.