The journey to Bosnia was quite complicated from Dubrovnik. We had to cross into Bosnia (Neum) and after 9 km of driving along the coastline went back into Croatia. After driving for an hour or so, we crossed the border again into Bosnia. This complicated border crossing was because the tiny part of Bosnia with access to Adriatic Sea does not have a connection to major highway to Sarajevo.
Anyway, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the official name for the country because the name combines two regions. But in reality, Bosnia is commonly used since Herzegovina represents only 20% of the country. The country's name is also indicated as BiH or B&H.
Bosnia is also a small country in the Balkan Peninsula with a land size of 35,000 sq. km and a population of 3.5 million. Bosnia was another country that used to be part of Yugoslavia. It gained independence in 1992. Bosnia's independence was achieved at a cost. The Yugoslavia Civil War, as commonly referred to as, was complex. It was basically war for territory but under the pretext of religion.
Bosnia is a historically rich nation. On the other hand, it went through several external rulings, such as Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia until it gained independence in 1995.
We visited Mostar, a Herzegovinian town and Sarajevo, the capital of B & H and a Bosnian city.
Mostar was at the center of the civil war and also the peace treaty. The conflict among three nations was most severe in Mostar, historically influenced by both Islam through Ottoman Empire and Christianity through Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. The Old Town of Mostar and the Bridge over the River Neretva have been restored since the peace treaty.
Although Mostar is now in peace, there are scars of the previous conflicts: ruins and bullet holes.
Also, some artifacts that are for sale are war toys made of bullets and remainder of weapons:
This ares has been named a UNESCO heritage site due to its perfect example of multicultural mix of Islamic and Christianity co-existing in peace and their reconciliation. You can experience both cultures just by strolling in the town, comprising Christian part and Islamic part separated by the bridge. The Islamic part of the Old Town is called Little Turkey.
Young boys are prepared to jump from the bridge into the river for 25 Euros. They patiently wait until the target money is raised from all spectators.
In this town of reconciliation, however, pick-pocketing was still active. Kristin got her coin purse picked out of her backpack. We were relieved and happy that her cell phone was not stolen, which was in the same pocket.
Sarajevo: The route from Mostar to Sarajevo was very scenic with a lot of greens along the rivers in the valleys. Houses were perfectly harmonized with the green, blue and white colors.
Sarajevo is well known to the world for two things. One is the Winter Olympic that took place in 1984 while it was still part of Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, most of the Olympic sites have turned to ruins.
The other is that the Austro-Hungarian Archduke heir-apparent (Franz Ferdinand) and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914. The assassin was Gavrilo Princip who was believed to have been inspired and conspired by Serbia. His assassination led to the World War I.
Bosnia was under the Ottoman Empire rule for more than 400 years. So Bosnia is an Islamic nation although accepting other religions. Pope John Paul II visited the city and a statue was established in front of a cathedral.
Sarajevo is also known as the place where the East and the West meet. Both eastern and western cultures are mixed and co-existing.
Despite several symptoms of progress, Sarajevo appeared to me still a city that carries a lot of leftovers of the old communism era, no matter how strongly they argue that Yugoslavian communism was quite liberal compared to the Soviet Union. - Jeffrey