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Summary: In southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Croatia, lays Bosnia - Herzegovina, with a terrain that is mostly mountains and valleys and an economy based primarily upon the land, with agriculture the mainstay for many. The area remains highly vulnerable to money laundering activity given a primarily cash-based and unregulated economy, with weak law enforcement and instances of corruption, although the government is working to reform the banking system and privatize more institutions.
Time Zone: DST +0200 UTC
Languages: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian
Power: 220 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Marka - Currently 1 BAM = 0.7476 USD $
Climate: In short, hot summers and cold winters. Areas of high elevation have short, cool summers and long, severe winters, with maritime rainy winters along the coast.
Sarajevo: Mountains serve as the backdrop for a city with oriental, Turkish and European influences, and a more recent memory as the host of the 1984 winter Olympics. Its baroque buildings and tree-lined boulevards are awakening and the cafes and theaters are spouting conversation again, with the National Museum, and the Bascarsija neighborhood, the old quarter with mosques and Arabic souqs, or suks, attracting visitors, worshippers and shoppers.
Mostar: Mostar is a good sized town nestled among vineyards, and is the main city of Herzegovina, with a history as a simple watershed crossing used by the Turks in the 15th century. The famous Turkish Bridge was built in 1566, and its destruction and rebirth is symbolic of the rebuilding of the country, as the mosques, cobbled streets, medieval buildings and shops try to forget the scars of war.
Security Warning: Unexploded mines and snipers make travel extremely risky, especially outside Sarajevo. In addition, the lack of a police force, along with economic turmoil and the rapid demobilization of the army, have led to a rising crime rate, including violent crime.
Shoes: Out of politeness, it is customary to remove your shoes when entering someone's home, or when entering a mosque, so watch out for "holy" socks.
Conversation: Locals love to chat and are generally very friendly. Despite this, avoid discussing the war unless it is brought up, as even locals are still pained by and split on the issues.
When To Visit: Overall, Bosnia-Herzegovina is pleasant to visit year-round, with spring and fall likely the best. May Day, on May 1st, is a nice festival to see.
Food: Among the traditional foods are bosanski nonac, a savory stew of meat and vegetables, and alva, a sweet concoction of honey and crushed nuts. Burek can also be found fairly cheaply and is a pie with layers of meat and cheese.
Tipping: Gratuities are appreciated by the local service industry. Standard tipping would apply, around 10-15 percent is customary.