Bosnia and Herzegovina is a compound multiethnic, multicultural and multi-confessional country composed of two entities – Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, and a single administrative unit of local self-government – District Brčko of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
After dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, where Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of its six Republics, and following a four-year war from 1991 to 1995, pursuant to the Dayton Peace Accords signed in November 1995, actual state of Bosnia and Herzegovina was established.
Territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina is situated in the central part of the Balkans Peninsula, on the crossroads of the Eastern and Western civilizations. Thanks to that, it had been always the object of interest of the superpowers.
These areas used to be settled by the Illyrians, Celts and Romans, and with arrival of the South Slavs in the VI-VII centuries, a new era started in the history of the peoples, descendants of the Slavs, who are living nowadays in these areas as well. The outsets of the Bosnian state date back from the XI century. That state, still unstable, in the XV century was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, and then, after almost 400 years of the Ottoman rule, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The twentieth century entails new sufferings. The trigger of the First World War was the assassination of the Austrian-Hungarian crown prince exactly in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Having been part of the first Yugoslavia between the two wars, then occupied by the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during the Second World War, Bosnia and Herzegovina after that war became a part of the common socialist Yugoslavia.
The peoples living in these areas, the Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and others, different by their cultures and religions (Orthodox, Catholics, Muslims, Jews), notwithstanding their numerous differences, are interconnected by their abundant and turbulent common history, kindred languages with the same roots and family bounds.
Traces of the past centuries’ events can be found at every step throughout this country that had suffered tremendous devastations. Among many of the cultural, historic and architectonic monuments, strongly highlighted are the Old Bridge on the Neretva River in Mostar, from the XVI century and the Bridge on the Drina River in Višegrad, also from the XVI century, belonging to the world heritage and placed under the UNESCO protection. Not less important are the sacral monuments such as medieval tombstones – stećci – dating from the early period of the Bosnian state, the Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque in Sarajevo (XV c.), Orthodox Monastery Žitomislić in Herzegovina (XIV c.), Franciscan Convent in Kraljeva Sutjeska (XIV c.), the Haggadah – a Sephardic Jews’ book of Passover rites brought from Spain in the XVI century, etc. Many of those unique cultural monuments witnessing our common heritage were damaged or even completely devastated during the last war. Still, with the joined forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the international community, extensive efforts are being made toward their restoration and protection.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a hilly country, rich in forests and in countless mountainous limpid rivers and lakes. Only few rivers will be mentioned here, such as Drina, Una, Neretva, Vrbas, known also outside the borders of our country and gathering the athletes from abroad at the rafting competitions. The XIV Winter Olympic Games were not staged by chance in Sarajevo in 1984, since Sarajevo is surrounded with magic mountains: Jahorina, Bjelašnica and Igman that developed thereafter into globally known skiing resorts.
Continental climate with long and snowy winters is a characteristic of Bosnia, while the southern part – Herzegovina, enjoys a mild coastal climate and therefore there are being cultivated widely known Herzegovinian grape varieties, and excellent wines and superior quality honey are made.
Bosnia and Herzegovina exits to the Adriatic Sea and its touristic pearl, town of Neum. In addition to the winter and summer tourism, in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also fostered a religious tourism in Međugorje, the center of gathering of the catholic believers from around the world. National Parks Sutjeska and Kozara, the rare birds nature reserve Hutovo Blato, thermal resorts with medicinal waters, are only few among the places that can be bypassed by no average tourist. Rich national cuisine, generated from influences of the various cultures and traditions, and mineral waters from the springs of Kiseljak, Tešanj and Tuzla, coupled with the specific mentality of its people, can leave indifferent no foreigner.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is proud of its cultural workers, literates and poets, such as Nobel awardee Ivo Andrić, Meša Selimović, Mak Dizdar, Petar Kočić, Jovan Dučić, Aleksa Šantić. Globally famous are also our film directors from the end of the XX century, primarily Emir Kusturica and the Oscar winner Danis Tanović, since their films won the most prestigious international prizes. Nowadays, more than two decades after the last war, the cities like Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar, Trebinje are the centers of the major cultural events, from the Sarajevo Film Festival, Sarajevo cultural days «Sarajevo Winter», to the Folklore Festival in Banja Luka, Poetry Days in Trebinje and Višegrad, International Art Colony Počitelj near Mostar, meeting points of both national and international artists from around the world.