Your trip to Balkans is not complete if you doesn’t take time to visit and explore Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This country has three religions, three languages, three presidents (who are not very inlove in each other) and two alphabets! The three cultural groups are the Serbs who are Eastern Orthodox, the Croats who are Catholic and the Bosniaks who are Muslim (not to be confused with Bosnians who are the inhabitants of Bosnia no matter what their religion is) The Cyrillic alphabet is used by the Serbs, and in deference to them all road signs are written in both, and car license plates only use letters that are common to both alphabets. The country is known as Bosnia i Herzegovina or just BiH.
For travellers BiH is far cheaper than Croatia and the people, like the Slovenians, are warm and hospitable. But unlike Slovenia and Croatia where you know you’re in Europe, in Bosnia you feel like you have one foot in, let’s say, the Middle East, despite the fact that the people look just the same as Slovenians and Croats! It’s peculiar because as soon as you cross the border you know for sure you’re not in EU any more, even though the people all have the same south-Slavic roots.
The most obvious difference is poverty. Bosnia has 43% unemployment and an ineffective system of government to address its economic woes. The next most obvious difference is that 50% of the population is Muslim, so minarets and mosques compete for space with Othodox and Catholic Churches, and the call to prayer may wake you in the morning, unless its Sunday in which case it’s the call to prayer competing with church bells.
The third difference is connected to the first two – Bosnia experienced the worst of the worst in the homeland war, and the legacy is all around you – this still looks like a war-torn country.