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Country Reports

Bosnia and Herzegovina Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

In 1995, after four long years of conflict, the war that tore apart this small multi-ethnic Balkan state (population 3.9 million) came to an end. Since then, the political situation and relations between communities (Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats, and Eastern Orthodox Serbs) have more or less stabilized.

Several issues need to be considered: first, more than 120,000 unexploded landmines and bombs remain in the country and have been responsible for 600 deaths since the end of the war. Outside of the capital Sarajevo, travelers are advised to stay on paved roads and to not venture off into fields or explore dilapidated houses. This risk is notably higher after floods and landslides, which can result in mines being moved to places thought to have already been cleared.

SOCIAL UNREST

Large and sometimes violent demonstrations in the country are not rare. Many protests occurred after the 2008 declaration of independence in neighboring Kosovo. In 2014, violent protests struck the country (riots, burned buildings, looting) due to the poor socioeconomic situation; hundreds of people were injured.

Relations between different religious and ethnic groups remain relatively tense and can quickly deteriorate, leading to protests. In light of this fragile balance, most Western governments advise those traveling to this young European nation to remain vigilant during their stay, noting that domestic affairs are characterized by the coexistence of three distinct communities - Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats, and Eastern Orthodox Serbs - as well as by lingering resentments stemming from the 1992-95 war. Travelers are thus advised to educate themselves regarding the domestic situation and to remain discreet in conversations concerning the region’s political developments.

POLITICS

The country is often cited for its political deadlock as its current political system, set up by the Dayton Accords, is divided along ethnic lines; the presidency consists of a four-year term that rotates every eight months between three presidents from the different ethnic groups. The latest election occurred in 2014; three presidents, as well as the legislature, were elected. The country has actively been seeking closer ties to the European Union, which has consistently demanded further reforms - particularly with respect to Bosnia’s judicial system - to bring the country up to international standards. Bosnia has made progress toward achieving candidacy status; however, the instability of its political system continues to hinder reform efforts. Bosnia’s actual achievement of EU member status is projected to be at least a decade away. The next elections are scheduled to take place in 2018.

TERRORISM

Like in all European countries, the terrorist threat is non-negligible in Bosnia. It is estimated that several hundred Bosnians have left to fight for the terrorist group Islamic State (IS).

NATURAL RISKS

Travelers should note that this mountainous country is regularly struck by mild earthquakes. Furthermore, flooding is fairly common in the region in the spring and is sometimes severe. Floods in the fall of 2014 left 80 dead in Bosnia and neighboring Serbia.

CRIME

Although crime in the country is generally low, there have been reports of increases in thefts (pickpocketing, purse-snatching) against foreigners, especially in Sarajevo, as well as violence between rival mafia groups.

TRANSPORTATION

The state of roads throughout the country remains mediocre and traffic is often chaotic. Winter weather makes driving conditions in the mountainous regions even more problematic.

HEALTH

Finally, the quality of medical facilities in the country is not yet up to EU standards.

Climate

The climate is semi-continental in the north and Mediterranean in the south. Summer are very hot. Winters are long and harsh in the north of the country but milder in the south.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +387 Police: 122 Fire Dept.: 123 Ambulance: 124

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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