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Country profile - Bosnia and Herzegovina


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Information about Bosnia and Herzegovina. The dos and the dont's, business etiquette, general information about the country. The document was created for the project Info4migrants. Project number UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615

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Country profile - Bosnia and Herzegovina

  1. 1. Info4Migrants BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA Country profile Project number: UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615
  2. 2. Area 51,197 km2 3,600 mln POPULATION GDPper capita CURRENCY $4,940 Languages BOSNIAN, CROATIAN, SERBIAN Convertible mark (BAM)
  3. 3. COUNTRY BACKGROUND Official name: Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Location: Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula, between Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Capital: Sarajevo Climate: The climate features hot summers and cold winters. In higher elevations of the country, summers tend to be short and cold while winters tend to be long and severe. Along the coast, winters tend to be short and rainy. Ethnic groups: In 2002, about 48.3% of the people were Bos- niak (Muslim) and 34% were Serbs. Croats made up about 15.4% of the populace. Regardless of ethnicity, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina is often identified in English as a Bos- nian. The terms Herzegovinian and Bosnian are maintained as a regional rather than ethnic distinction, and the region of Herzegovina has no precisely defined borders of its own. National Flag National emblem Bosnia and Herzegovina CROATIA Sarajevo MONTENEGRO SERBIA 3 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  4. 4. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA FACTS Currency The Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark (Bos- nian, Croatian and Serbian: konvertibilna marka, Cyrillic: конвертибилна марка) is thecurrency of Bosnia and Herze- govina. It is divided into 100 fenings (Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian Latin: feninga, Serbian Cyrillic: фенинга). It is local- ly abbreviated KM (Latin) or КМ (Cyrillic). The convertible mark was established by the 1995 Dayton Agreement and replaced the Bosnia and Herzegovina dinar, Croatian kuna and Republika Srpska dinar as the currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1998. Stećak This is the name for the monumental medieval tomb- stones that lie scattered across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the border parts of Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, although almost exclusively following the borders of the medieval Bosnian Kingdom. They are the country’s most legendary symbol. The largest collection of these tomb- stones are outside the city of Radimlja in Herzegovina. Family names Almost all Bosnian family names end in “ic,” which essential- ly means “child of,” much like the English “John-son.” Wom- en’s first names tend to end in “a” and “ica,” pronounced EET-sa. Family names are often an indication of ethnicity. Sulejmanagic, for example, is a Muslim name, as are others containing such Islamic or Turkish roots as “hadj” or “bey,” pronounced “beg.” Children receive their father’s last name. Hence, someone with an Islamic-sounding root in his or her last name may be presumed to be, at least by heritage, a Muslim. 4 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  5. 5. Home Life In the countryside in Bosnia and Herzegovina, families usually live in houses of brick, stone, or wood. Tradition- ally, countryside homes were zadrugas, which were made up of several families living on a common land. Families shared the farming responsibilities to lighten the work- load. Today, you will still find a great community atmo- sphere in small villages and suburban city regions alike. Many Bosnians are Muslims, and if you plan to visit some- one’s home during your travels, keep in mind that remov- ing your shoes is regular practice in Muslim households. Slippers are generally provided by the host when you visit a Bosnian home. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA FACTS Religion Bosnian Croats make up the majority of Roman Catholics in Bosnia. Roman Catholicism is the third most popular reli- gion in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Roughly 15% of the population of Bosnian-Herzegovina are Roman Catholic. The majority of all Serbian Orthodox followers in Bosnia Hercegovina are Bosnian Serbs. The Serbian Orthodox reli- gion makes up 31% of the population in Bosnia-Herzegovi- na. The majority of all Serbian Orthodox followers reside in the Republic of Sprspka, which is one of two republics that make up the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Islam is the largest religion in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Islam was introduced to Bosnia beginning in 1463 when the Otto- man Turks conquered Bosnia. For over 500 years, the Bos- nian Muslim population developed their own ethnic identity within Bosnia. Nearly 40% of all Bosnians are Muslims. The majority of all Bosnian Muslims live in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 5 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  6. 6. Language The primary language of Bosnia-Herzegovina is Bosnian, also called Serbo-Croatian, Serbo-Croat, Serbo-Croat-Bos- nian, or Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian. It is a pluricentric language with four mutually intelligible standard variet- ies. The language goes by different names because of the country’s ethnic differences and rivalries. People in the Muslim-controlled sector call it Bosnian, those in Croat areas call it Croatian, and those in Serb areas refer to it as Serbian. Bosnian belongs to the Slavic branch of the Indo-Euro- pean language family and more specifically to the group of South Slavic languages, which includes Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Slovenian. Bosnian has many borrowed words from other European languages, English, Turkish, Arabic, and Persian. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA FACTS Flag The three points of the triangle are understood to stand for the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. It is also seen to represent the map of Bosnia and Herzegovina which looks like a triangle. The stars, representing Europe, are meant to be infinite in number and thus they continue from top to bottom. The flag features colors often associated with neutrality and peace – white, blue, and yellow. The colors yellow and blue are also seen to be taken from the flag of Europe; the color blue was originally based on the flag of the United Nations. The present scheme is being used by both the Council of Europe which owns the flag, and the European Union which adopted the Council of Europe’s flag in 1985. They are also colors traditionally associated with Bosnia. 6 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  7. 7. ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS Bosnia and Herzegovina is administratively divided into two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska. The Federation of Bosnia and Her- zegovina covers 51% of the area of the country, and the Republic of Srpska 49%. The entities were created in the Dayton Agreement of 1995. Within this division is also the District of Brčko, which does not belong to either of the entities, but it is a special admin- istrative unit over which the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina have sovereignty. These entities have a very high degree of autonomy – they have a president, parliament, government and courts. The entities have jurisdiction in the areas of civil administration, health and education, police department, physical planning and others, while foreign policy, defense, border monitoring, elections, foreign trade, fiscal and monetary politics and other areas are governed on a state level. The Constitution of these entities has guar- anteed equality of all three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In charge of equality are special entity bodies: the House of Peoples of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Council of people of the Republic of Srpska. With the Washington Agreement, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was divid- ed into 10 cantons /counties within this entity: Unsko-sanski, Posavski, Tuzlanski, Ze- ničko-dobojski, Bosansko-podrinjski, Srednjobosanski, Hercegovačko-neretvanski, Zapad- nohercegovački, Canton Sarajevo and Canton 10. The cantons have a high degree of autonomy; they have their own assembly and gov- ernment. The government has jurisdiction in the fields of health, education, culture and sport, home affairs, and other areas related to civil administration. The final level of political division of Bosnia and Herzegovina are the municipalities. The state consists of 137 municipalities, 74 of which are in the Federation of Bosnia and Her- zegovina and 63 in the Republic of Srpska. Each canton consists of several municipalities. Municipalities are divided into communes. Besides entities, cantons, and municipalities, Bosnia and Herzegovina also has seven official cities. Those are: Banja Luka, Bihać, Jajce, Mostar, Zenica, Sarajevo and Eastern Sarajevo. City of Banja Luka and Mostar are located in the municipalities of the same name, while Sarajevo and Eastern Sarajevo consist of several municipalities. Tuzla is in the process of becoming the 8th official city of BIH. 7 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  8. 8. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 1-2 January: New Year's Day Public holiday of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 January: Epiphany Roman Catholic feast 7 January: Orthodox Christmas Orthodox feast 9 January: Republic Day Public holiday of Republic of Srpska 14 January: New Year Orthodox feast 1 March: Independence day Public holiday of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Moveable day during spring: Easter Roman Catholic feast Moveable day during spring: Easter Monday Roman Catholic feast Moveable day during spring: Easter Orthodox feast 1-2 May: Labour Day Public holiday of Bosnia and Herzegovina 60 days post Easter: Corpus Christi Roman Catholic feast 9 May: Victory Day Public holiday of Republic of Srpska 15 August: Assumption of Mary Roman Catholic feast Moveable date during summer (3 days): Eid ul-Fitr Islamic feast 28 August: Assumption of Mary Orthodox feast Moveable date during au- tumn (4 days): Eid ul-Adha Islamic feast 1 November: All Saints Day Roman Catholic feast 2 November: All Souls Day Roman Catholic feast 21 November: Dayton Agreement Day Public holiday of Republic of Srpska 25 November: Statehood Day Public holiday of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Moveable date during autumn or winter: IslamicNew Year Islamic feast 25 December: Catholic Christmas Roman Catholic feast 26 December: St. Stephen's Day Roman Catholic feast Moveable date during win- ter: Prophet's Anniversary Islamic feast 8 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  9. 9. Sarajevo’s Bascarsija (Old Town) The Old Town ‘Bascarsija’ has been a trading and meeting place since the 15th century as caravans from Asia minor, Du- brovnik and the west met here to trade their stock. Mostar’s Stari Most (Old Bridge) The old bridge is perhaps the finest exam- ple of Ottoman ingenuity and Dalmatian masonry in the western Balkans. It also symbolizes the crossroads of eastern and western civilizations. Neum - the sunny Adriatic Although its only a tiny strip of the gor- geous Adriatic, Neum has become a major seaside resort. Medugorje In the early 1980’s, several teenagers saw a vision of the Virgin Mary. Since then this sleepy Herzegovina village has been trans- formed into one of the largest Catholic pilgrimages in the world. Tekija (Blagaj) This 16th century dervish order monas- tery was built at the mouth of the largest source in Herzegovina which gushes from a cave at the base of a 200-meter cliff. Sutjeska National Park This park is home to one of Europe’s last remaining primeval forests in Perucica and to Bosnia’s highest peak (Maglic mountain, 2,386 m). Kravica Waterfalls The Trebizat River creates a wonderful green belt amidst the dry landscape of western Herzegovina. This stunning water- fall runs over 100 meters long and drops an impressive 25 meters. Travnik Famous for its Nobel Laureate writer Ivo Andric, this Ottoman town still best rep- resents what was once called the Europe- an Istanbul. This ancient mosque and for- tress that dot the skyline are as impressive as the original style of Bosnian architecture that gives this town its charm. Not far from Travnik is the mountain ski resort of Vlasic - a paradise for snowboarders and a great nature break spot. Tvrdos Monastery Trvdos is a 14th century Orthodox monas- tery near the beautiful towns of Trebinje and Dubrovnik, where you can see several 5th and 6th century icons. Kraljeva Sutjeska From the medieval fortress and Franciscan monastery to one of the oldest mosques in the country, this is a wonderfully unique rural experience rarely found in Europe today. Bjelasnica Mountain It is ideal for cross country and tour skiing, as well as year round hiking, biking, and village tourism in the ancient highland villages. ATTRACTIONS 9 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  10. 10. The area that is currently the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina was once part of the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the region eventually developed into the kingdom of Bosnia. In 1463, Bosnia was taken over by the Ottoman Turks. The Turks ruled in Bosnia until the late 1800s when it became a part of Austria-Hungary. In 1908, Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia to become a part of their country. In 1908, the area of Bosnia-Herzegovina was formally annexed, and the nationalist move- ment became fervent and urgent. On June 28, 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is considered to have been the trigger of World War I. After Princip assassinated the Archduke, Austria declared war on Serbia. What followed was an increasingly complicated alliance system that eventually ignited conflict. Russia supported Serbia after Austria declared war, and Germany followed suite by supporting Austria against Ser- bia. France supported Serbia, prompting Ger- many to attack France. After Germany attacked France through the Belgium area, England de- clared war on Germany. Remarkably, all of these events took place between July 28 and August 14, 1914. World War I affected the Balkans rather drasti- cally. Croatians chose to fight alongside Germany and Austro-Hungary, as well as most of the Bos- nians. Serbs fought with the allies, and after the war, a substantial number of Bosnian-Serbs were forced to leave Bosnia and resettle in Montene- gro and Serbia. Following World War I, Bosnia and Herzegovina were annexed to Serbia in October of 1918 as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which was later renamed as Yugo- slavia in 1929. Again, nationalism increased amongst Serbians and Croatians alike. During this time, Bosnia and Herzegovina faced a period of great oppression, stimulated by HISTORY IN BRIEF Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria 10 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  11. 11. cultural conflicts, religious struggle, and general tension and intolerance. In 1939, as a result of the Cvetkovic Agreement, one area in Bosnia was connected with the Ban- land of Croatia. Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, and Bosnia and Herzegovina became part of Nazi-controlled Croatia. In November 1943, Bos- nia and Herzegovina became a single state again. One of the six republics under the leader Marshall Tito, Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of the Yu- goslavian Communist nation. After Tito died in 1980, Yugoslavia weakened. In December 1991, Bosnia and Herzegovina left Yugoslavia and requested recognition by the Eu- ropean Union. In March of 1992, the votes were in, and they supported independence. With a rich ethnic diversity of Muslims, Serbs, and Croats (and no true ethnic majority), conflict arose quick- ly between the groups as they attempted to divide the region. With both the Serbs and Croats laying claim to the Bosnian region, complications devel- oped. Ethnic cleansing occurred as Muslims were pushed out of the area and Croatians began developing their own communities in the area. The war continued until NATO intervened in August 1995. Approximately 250,000 people are believed to have died in this wartime period of 1992-1995. The period from 1995 onwards in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s history marked a serious attempt to rebuild the economy and create a government the people could trust. While a scandal erupted in 1999, corruption marred some attempts to build a stronger Bosnia-Herzegovi- na. In 2004, NATO relinquished its peacekeeping mission to the European Union. This under- taking, the largest peacekeeping operation for the EU in history, has contributed largely to the more tolerant and stable climate of the current Bosnia and Herzegovina. Much of the damage of the war has been repaired, and Bosnia and Herzegovina looks forward to a peri- od of prosperity. Josip Broz Tito HISTORY IN BRIEF 11 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  12. 12. CUISINE Bosnian cuisine reflects influences from Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Meat dishes of lamb, pork, and beef, typically small sausages called cevapcici (kabobs) or hamburger patties called pljeskavica are grilled with onions and served on a fresh somun, a thick pita bread. Cevapcici are made from ground meat and spices that are shaped into little cylinders, cooked on an open fire and served on an open platter. Another favorite is a Bosnian stew called bosanski lonac, which is a slow-roasted mixture of layers of meat and vegetables eaten with chunks of brown bread. It is usually served in a vase-like ce- ramic pot. Serbian meat and fish dishes are typically cooked first, then braised with vege- tables such as tomatoes and green peppers. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences are evident in aschinicas (pronounced ash-chee-neetsa-as), restaurants offering various kinds of cooked meat, filled vegetables called dolmas, kabobs, and salads, with Greek baklava for dessert. The filling most often consists of ground meat, rice, spices, and various kinds of chopped vegetables. Containers can be hollowed-out peppers, potatoes, or onions. Some dolmas are made from cabbage leaves, grapevine, kale, or some other leaf large enough and softened enough by cooking that it can be wrapped around the little ball made of the filling. When enough pieces are made, they are stacked in an amphora-shaped tureen that is then covered with its own lid or with a piece of parchment tightly tied around its neck. The dish is then cooked slowly on a low, covered fire. Pita, pastry filled with meat or vegetables, is another distinctive Bosnian dish. In other parts of the former Yugoslavia, meat-filled pitas are called burek. Pita meat pie is often the final course of a meal or is served as a light supper on its own. Orthodox Bosnians include special dishes in their Easter celebrations. In Orthodox tradi- tion, after the midnight service, the congregation walks around the church seven times carrying candles, then goes home to a supper that includes hardboiled eggs that have been dyed and decorated, and Pasca, a round, sweet yeast cake filled with either sour cream or cottage cheese. Homemade brandy, known as rakija in the former Yugoslavia but exported as slivovitz (plum brandy) or loza (grape brandy or grapa ), is the liquor of choice for men on most occasions. Women may prefer fruit juice instead. Popular non-alcoholic beverages, oth- er than fruit juices, include Turkish-style coffee (kahva, kafa or kava), a thin yogurt drink called kefir, and a tea known as salep. 12 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  13. 13. • Bosnia most likely takes its name from the Bosna River that runs through it, Herzegovina from the herceg (duke) who ruled the southern portion of the region until the 15th-centu- ry Turkish conquest. • Located in the Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina has borders with Croatia in the west and north, Serbia in the east, Montenegro in the southeast, and the Adriatic Sea very close in the southwest, with a small border or Croatia separating the two. • Bosnia is home to the second largest Catholic Pilgrimage site in Međugorje. • Majority of the landscape in Bosnia and Herzegovina is mountainous and comprises of areas of karst (limestone). Bosnia has the largest karst field in the world, and reportedly also one of the purest and most abundant sources of groundwater. • The highest peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina is Maglic Mountain (2386 m), in the Sutjes- ka National Park. It is the oldest national park in Bosnia and Herzegovina. • Stecak, a medieval tombstone is a religious monument that can be seen throughout the countryside of Bosnia and Herzegovina. • Tuzla city derives its name from the word “tuz”, the Turkish word for salt. Tuzla’s salt comes from its salt water springs. • An inter-ethnic war erupted in Bosnia and Herzegovina after independence, in 1992, and lasted till 1995. • In March 1994, Muslims and Croats in Bosnia signed an agreement creating the Federa- tion of Bosnia and Herzegovina, narrowing the field of war parties to two. • Along with a national government, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a second tier of govern- ment – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, which man- ages internal affairs. • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the distinction between a Bosnian and a Herzegovinian is maintained as a regional, not an ethnic, distinction. • Bosnia is believed to have been inhabited at least since the Neolithic age. • Sarajevo, the largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted the 1984 Winter Olympic Games. • There are over 700,000 visitors who travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina every year. Ac- cording to the World Tourism Organization, the country will have the third highest tourism growth rate worldwide from 1995 to 2020. Attractions include the city of Sarajevo, histor- ical sites, national parks, different landscapes, lakes, and waterfalls. • Sarajevo was the first city in Europe to have a city-wide tram service when the Aus- tro-Hungarians were using the city as a testing ground for Vienna’s tram system. The same goes for street lights. INTERESTING FACTS 13 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  14. 14. Dining tips If you’re invited into a local’s home, arrive on time with some sweets like baklava or have a gift for the family’s children if they have any. Dining is not extremely formal after sitting down; most people, especially in business settings, eat with the knife in the right hand and fork in the left. However, some foods are eaten with your hands, and pork is not typ- ically served since few Bosniaks consume pork products. If in doubt regarding the proper way to eat a particular food, watch those around you. Before the main course is served, you will most likely be given a number of meats, cheeses, and other small appetizers; these are simple and tasty, but do not overeat, they are just the starter. When visiting someone privately, in a home setting, it is customary to accept coffee, tea, juice, or a meal as offered. Rejection might be seen as lack of respect for the host. If the meal is being accompanied by a beverage, never fill your own glass. Your neighbor will fill your glass and you are expected to return the favor. As you finish all your food, feel free to ask for more, this is a compliment to the host. If you’re completely done eating (be sure to save some room for dessert), finish all the food on your plate. Often dessert will be served and coffee or tea is offered, and you are expected to accept them. If dining out, as the bill comes, the host or inviter should pay for the whole meal. If din- ing without any locals, summon the waiter or waitress by making eye contact; waving or calling a server over can be considered rude. In regards to tipping a waiter or waitress at a sit-down restaurant, round up or tip about 10% of the bill. Small tips to bartenders are also appreciated, but not necessary. Table manners • Wait to be shown where to sit. • Table manners are Continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. • At formal meals, the napkin is unfolded and placed on your lap. • Do not begin eating until the host signals to begin. • Refusing second helpings initially is polite. After the host insists you should take more. • Leaving a small amount of food on your plate indicates that you are finished eating. IMPORTANT TIPS 14 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  15. 15. IMPORTANT TIPS Meeting and greeting • Greetings on initial meetings will tend to be formal and reserved. • A handshake, direct eye contact and the appropriate greeting for the time of day are standard. • “Dobro jutro” (good morning), “dobro dan” (good day), and “dobro veèer” (good evening). • Address people with their honorific titles plus surname. If you are unsure of titles then use “Gospodin” for Mr, “Gospodja” for Mrs and “Gospodice” for Miss. • Only close friends and family members tend to use first names. Never jump to first names terms without being invited to. • Close friends may greet each other with an embrace and a kiss on each cheek. Again, wait until the Croatian initiates this form of greeting. • At social gatherings hosts introduce guests, usually starting with the women and then moving on to the men in a rough approximation of age order, oldest to youngest. Conversation Humour is always welcome, but it will de- pend on the person you meet. When meet- ing someone for the first time, never dis- cuss topics regarding religion or nationality. It may offend other people. Humour about marriage, mother-in-laws or politicians is socially acceptable. Since the country has three official languag- es (Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian) it is best to refer to the language of the country as the “local” language. It is offensive to at- tach the language of another ethnicity to someone who is not of that ethnicity. It is better not to compliment someone on a piece of jewellery, or on a similar type of possession, as the person owning it may choose to give it to the admirer. Direct eye contact is expected and appreci- ated. It is mandatory when toasting. Topics to Discuss: Bosnian landmarks, in- vestment and development opportunities, tourist areas, heritage, cultural differences and customs. Family, work, sports, music, entertainment, children, local cultural events, good restau- rants, and the weather are always good topics when meeting someone on a private basis. Business contacts are more formal. Gift Giving • Gifts are generally opened when received. • If invited to someone’s house, bring flow- ers for the hostess. The host may be given a box of chocolates or a bottle of good wine. • Do not give chrysanthemums as they are used at funerals and for gravestones. • When giving flowers, make sure there are an odd number of stems. • Gifts are generally opened when received. Gifts to avoid: alcohol, anything containing pork or pig skin, chrysanthemums (used at funerals). 15 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  16. 16. Business in Croatia is formal and consequently ini- tially reserved. Once a relationship develops, this will change. Initially: • Shake hands with eye contact and a smile. • Wait for a woman to extend her hand first. • Greet the person with the appropriate salutation for the time of day. • Use professional business titles. • Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual. • Include titles and professional qualifications on business cards. • Although not absolutely necessary, having one side of your business card translated into Croatian shows some thought. Communication Style Direct and straightforward talk is valued in Croatia; however, there is also an emphasis on choosing your words correctly and being diplomatic so as not to upset anyone. The level of the rela- tionship will usually determine how direct someone can be. For newly established rela- tionships, diplomacy is important, so you may find people are not always willing to speak their minds. Business Meetings Meeting schedules are not very rigid in Croatia. There may be an agenda, but it serves more as a guideline for the discussion than anything else. • Be prepared for lengthy meetings. People may go off on tangents, andtime is never a factor in bringing a meeting to a close. • There may be some small talk at the beginning of meetings. This will become more im- portant as the relationship develops. Never jump straight into business as this may come across as rude. • Initially at least, be sure to temper your communication style if you are used to being quite direct. Building the relationship is initially more important and should be focused upon. BUSINESS ETIQUETTE 16 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  17. 17. DOS AND DON’TS • Taking shoes off when inside someone’s home is considered a norm. Having shoes on signifies lack of hygienic manners and disrespect. • Please avoid the issue of the Bosnian Civil War, the dissolution of Yugoslavia and eth- nic/national/religious differences. • Never bring up the Republic of Yugosla- via, Communism, the Tito era, the Kingdom of Serbia years, the Ustashe regime (Cro- atian Nationalism) or Slobodan Milosevic (Serbian Nationalism). Bosnian and Herze- govinians have been in Yugoslavia only a couple of decades, and as such they do not like to be called Yugoslavs, former Yugo- slavs, and especially Eastern Europeans. The country lies in Southern Europe. • Be social and open, Bosnians are, as a rule, very social and love chitchats and meeting up for a cup of coffee. As the rest of the population on the Balkan peninsula, they are considered a complete opposite of Scandinavians when it comes to socializing. • Like the rest of the western Balkans, the local Partizan army resistance brought an end to World War II in the territories. If you are coming from one of the Allied countries or Russia, try not to bring up the subject of “we liberated you”. • Furthermore, do not carelessly display two or three fingers out in public or in front of a crowd. They are incendiary and insulting to a certain group of people, and they also symbolize religious views of the trinity, and the historic animosities be- tween the three groups of people living in the country: Bosnian Serbs (mostly Eastern Orthodoxs), Bosnian Croats (mostly Roman Catholics) and Bosnians/Bosniaks, who are mostly Muslims. • Do not bring up religious subjects that might insult one of the religious groups in the country. Bosnians, although very sec- ular, are quite educated when it comes to all major religions, and holding a religious discussion without having much insight in the matter might turn out tougher than expected. • No matter how large the city you come from, do not forget that they had electric trams and trolleys well before the rest of Europe and a major part of the world. They offer unmatched hospitality, but expect you to be civil and respectful. • Don’t drink without limits, although fermenting local kind of fruit brandy called Rakija is considered a national sport, drink- ing and “fooling around” in public is consid- ered rude and disrespectful. Drink freely, but keep you dignity. • If someone offers to buy you a round of drinks or paying for lunch, don’t decline but take it and be thankful. You are gener- ally not expected to return the round, it is a way for them to show you that they like you as a person or that they respect you. You will never see locals asking for separate bills in restaurants or bars, they take care of the entire bill without caring who paid less or drank more. 17 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  18. 18. People of Bosnia and Herzegovina are very sociable and hospitable. Curiosity often makes them overly straight-forward when encountering newcomers. It is culturally ap- propriate to ask personal questions, such as “Where are you from?”, “Are you married?”, “Do you have children?”, “What do you do for a living?” Body language People of Bosnia and Herzegovina do not pay too much attention to personal space. Too much personal space can be viewed as distrust or an authoritarian way of dealing with people. Facial expressions are very important and it is customary to have a friendly face all the time. Eye contact is important and implies hones- ty and good intentions. It is especially im- portant to make eye contact when raising a drink for a toast. At times, you might find it difficult to main- tain regular eye contact, as “stereo” talking is common (two or three people talking at the same time). Touching is very uncommon when meeting someone for the first time. However, shak- ing hands with both men and women when greeting the person is customary. Men gen- erally do not touch other men unless they know each other very well, or are relatives. Friends are more likely to hug each other and kiss each other on the cheek (Bosniacs and Croats kiss twice, Serbs three times). Taboos “First three fingers erect” should be avoid- ed at all times within Bosniac and Croat Federation territory; it is a sign of victory welcomed only within Serbian territories. In addition, raising he middle finger, waiving a pointed index finger and pointing at some- one is considered extremely rude. PEOPLE IN BIH 18 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  19. 19. SOCIETY Gender It is a man’s world, with full respect for a successful woman. Generally speaking, it is harder for a woman to build a career. Women residing within cities have a better status than ones in villages. Because of the international presence over the last six years, there has been more attention paid to the concept of gender equality. Howev- er, for the most part, it is still the woman who looks after the household. Howeer, there seems to be some tendency to share the task of raising children. Ethnicity Ethnicity was always seen as a religion, and it is linked to the geographical loca- tion and entity you belong to. Nowadays, it is more important than ever, as people are still adjusting to and digesting the outcomes of events during the 1992-1996 period, although it is less important in mixed areas. Ethnicity is the most dominant issue in BiH since the war, and it is an underlying factor in almost all interactions. It is easy to tell from people’s names what ethnicity they are. This can affect whether someone gets a job, whether s/he is accepted in a com- munity, is eligible for benefits, etc. The most relevant factors in the work place are ethnicity, level of education (class), and gender. Religion is tied in with ethnicity, which is the overall determinant of a person’s acceptability in the work- place, and this even in an international organization. Hierarchy and Decision-making Decisions are usually made by the person in charge. This may or may not include consulting the staff for their input, al- though in general people in BiH are not used to being asked what they think about an issue. However, with the large presence of the international community over the last decade, this is changing. Younger peo- ple, and even more so if they have worked with internationals for a while, may now expect to be consulted on matters that concern them. Dress, Punctuality & Formality People tend to judge others based on their dress. It will highly depend on the part of the country you are in. In urban areas, dressing style can be less formal, whereas in the countryside your image will depend on it. Dress code is very casual for staff members, and workplaces are more insis- tent on business attire for management. During summer months, women tend to dress more fashionably and, during winter months, more conservatively and practi- cally. Communication with staff is welcomed on a first-name basis. However, higher man- agement expects to be addressed by using Mr. or Mrs. with the last name on the first occasion, or until told otherwise. The clos- er to staff/management you are, it is more common to use first name in everyday communication. 19 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy
  20. 20. CORPORATE CULTURE Behavior • Avoid holding up the thumb, index and middle finger at the same time, even when ordering three of something. This is a sign of Serbian nationalism. • Pointing a finger directly at someone or waving a finger is considered rude. • Punctuality is expected and appreciated in business settings. • Serbs and Croats will commonly drink strong liquor before meals at various times of day. Muslim Bosniacs, however, do not drink alcohol. Meetings and Negotiations • Greetings will vary depending on the ethnicity of the individual. • More conservative Bosniac women may not shake hands with men. • Generally, a firm handshake is combined with a greeting for the appropriate time of day. “Dobar Dan” is the most formal greet- ing, meaning “good day.” • Muslims may sometimes also use the Persian greeting “Salam” for hello. • Be sure to use appropriate business ti- tles, such as “Gospodin” for Mr. and “Gos- poja” for Mrs. • An arms length of personal space is most common when first meeting. Business Attire • Men will generally wear darker suits with conservative ties. Strong colognes are common. • After suffering years of war and poverty, it is common to see styles that are some- what outdated. • Women will wear conservative, dark-col- ored business suits with few accessories. • More conservative Muslim women may also wear a head scarf; however, this is rare in business settings. Formality is usually very important at initial business meetings, and it will general- ly be thoroughly maintained until a closer relationship and trust is established. 20 Country profile BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINALearnmera Oy