One of the most rewarding parts of travel is having the opportunity to learn, understand and appreciate the world from a different perspective. You don’t need to get a textbook on world history from the library or dive into the nitty-gritty details. A few quick facts are usually enough to start you off in the right direction. So, in the spirit of travelling to learn about the world, here are 11 things you didn’t know about Bosnia.
In the late 19th-century, Austro-Hungarians controlled Bosnia. The previous Ottomans liked to sit around all day drinking coffee, and tasks took a long time to complete. This rule changed and Sarajevo and Banja Luka underwent significant renovations and upgrades, including the introduction of trams in 1885. At the time, very few European countries had trams, making Sarajevo a pioneer in public transportation. As you ride a tram around the city, spare a thought to this historic and little-known fact.
Three Languages and Three Presidents
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a very complicated history. A Bosnian can either be a Bosniak, Croat or Serb based on his or her religious affiliations as a Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox Christian respectively. Each group has their own language, which is Slavic based and shares similarities with each other. After conflicts in the 1990s, Bosnia split along ethnic lines. Each group now has their own president. Few countries have three languages and three presidents.
The Oldest and Largest Pyramids may be in Bosnia.
In a small town to the northwest of Sarajevo are a series of hills that could revolutionise the way we view human civilisation. According to Dr. Semir Osmanagic, a Bosnian archaeologist, the five hills in Visoko aren’t hills but are 30,000-year-old pyramids. Few in the scientific world accept Semir’s claims. However, compelling and convincing evidence exists.
Bosnia has a Rainforest.
Bet you didn’t know that Bosnia has a rainforest? Believe it or not, it’s true. Sutjeska National Park’s Perucica in eastern Bosnia towards the Montenegro border covers 1,400 hectares (3,500 acres) of rainforest. A total of 170 species of trees and 1000s of different types of plants, along with an abundance of wildlife call this area home. Estimates suggest the UNESCO-listed forest is more than 20,000 years old. Skakavac Waterfall, one of Bosnia’s highest at 75 meters (246 feet), is near the rainforest too.
The Jerusalem of Europe
Who would have thought Sarajevo, after the conflicts in the 1990s, was one of the only cities in Europe to have a mosque, church (both Catholic and Orthodox) and a synagogue in the same neighbourhood? Any tourist can see and photograph all four structures within less than 10 minutes on foot. Sarajevo’s religious tolerance is refreshing and envious in the modern world.