Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a mountainous country. The Dinaric Alps stretch in the north-west-southeast direction and make their mark especially on the westernmost parts of the country. The highest point is Maglić in the southeast with 2,386 m asl. Between the mountain ranges lie vast plateaus, severely affected by soil erosion in the treeless landscape. To the northeast, east of the Bosna River, lies a more wooded area.
The bedrock consists largely of limestone, in which the underground drainage formed a karst landscape with caves, dolphins and gullies. Especially in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, the dolphins have been extended to open and fertile river valleys.
The largest rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Sava and its tributaries Una, Vrbas and Bosna in the north. In the south, Neretva is the largest river.
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Despite its proximity to the Mediterranean, only the area west of the Dinaric Alps has a Mediterranean climate; the average temperature in e.g. Mostar is 6 °C in January and 26 °C in July. The rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a continental climate with severe winters and most of the rainfall during spring and early summer. Sarajevo has an average temperature in January of −1 °C and in July of 19 °C.
The annual rainfall decreases from west to east. In the Dinar Alps more than 1,500 mm falls, in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina 750-1000 mm.
Plant-and animal life
In areas that are not cultivated, at lower levels, high-growth forest dominates, among other things. beech, oaks, Serbian fir (Piʹcea omoriʹca) and silver fir. In the deciduous forests there are heat-demanding species such as dwarf maple, mana box and European hop book (Oʹstrya carpinifoʹlia). The higher mountain areas have a rich alpine vegetation with, among other things. many spring flowering onion plants.
Especially in the mountain areas there are small tribes of wolf, brown bear, European wildcat and red deer. Wild boar and red fox have a large distribution. There are many species of birds of prey. goose bears, king eagle and dwarf eagle; snake eagle, emperor eagle and eagle wail. White stork is common in the cultivation areas, while black stork nests in some forest areas. In the wetlands there are several species of herons. Among turtles are Greek turtle and marsh turtle and among molluscs the cave species olm.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (2012) has three national parks: Kozara (34 km2), Sutjeska (172 km2) and Una (198 km2). Less than 1% of the country’s area is nature protected.
A mosaic of ethnic groups
After undergoing the domination of the Byzantines, Croats, Serbs and Hungarians, Bosnia and Herzegovina remained subject from the 15th to the 18th century to the Turks, who Islamized a substantial part of the population. Occupied by Austria-Hungary in 1878 and annexed in 1908, it became part of the new Kingdom of Yugoslavia after the First World War and from 1946 was one of the six republics that federated into the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. When the latter collapsed, in the early nineties, Bosnia and Herzegovina proclaimed its independence (1992), which was followed by the longest and bloodiest civil war in the former Yugoslavia. The reason for this lay in the complex ethnic-religious composition of its population, made up for more than 40% by Muslims,
While Muslims recognized themselves in the new state, the Serbs – who rejected the prospect of becoming a minority in a Muslim-majority state and who were militarily supported by Belgrade – proclaimed a republic of their own, and soon afterwards the Croats did the same. These three groups fought a merciless war, which the UN intervention (1992) could in no way stop. Indeed, there were repeated episodes of ‘ethnic cleansing’, that is attempts to eliminate from a territory all the members of other ethnic groups, which led to real massacres: atrocious that of Srebrenica, where General R. Mladi´c, military leader of the Bosnian Serbs, once they conquered the city, killed 7,000-8,000 people.
NATO military intervention in 1995 stopped the war and brought the Serbs to the negotiating table. After the devastation of almost all cities, 300,000 dead and nearly three million refugees, one million of whom later returned, an agreement was reached whereby Bosnia and Herzegovina was made up of two autonomous entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Croatian-Muslim) and the Serbian Republic. Currently, Bosnia and Herzegovina is struggling to heal the wounds of the civil war and to rebuild its political and economic life.