The tourism sector has shown steady growth in recent years, making it one of the bright spots on the economic radar of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Its development may have a significant, positive impact on poor communities in the country, giving young people an opportunity to stay and make a living.
Although hampered by inadequate infrastructure and a shortage of accommodation capacity and tourism services, adventure tourism in particular has been singled out as a sector with great growth potential.
With a wealth of natural, cultural and historical heritage, a favorable geographic location, internationally known events, and unique gastronomic offers, BiH has all the pre-determinants to make the Via Dinarica a successful tourism industry story.
Much of Bosnia and Herzegovina is covered by mountainous limestone terrain, creating the world’s largest karst field. The long chain of the southern Alps – the Dinaric Alps, stretches from northwest Croatia through the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina and into Montenegro, finishing in the Prokletija Mountains on the Albanian border. Herzegovina and eastern Bosnia host the highest and wildest of this mountain range, which for centuries provided protection for the Illyrians from Roman invaders, slowed the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia, and created a rugged self-reliant culture that still dominates in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Expanding from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s western border with Croatia, the Dinaric chain cuts through the heart of central Herzegovina with Prenj, Cabulja, Cvrsnica and Velež Mountains – all above the 2,000 meter mark. This mountain range is the natural boundary of the Mediterranean and continental Alpine climates. The warm Adriatic temperatures clash with the harsher Alpine ones, producing one of the most diverse and unique eco-systems in all of Europe. Over 32 types of endemic plants, flora and fauna can be found in the central Herzegovina mountains. The Neretva River Valley and the Neretva Delta that flows into the Adriatic Sea has been an area of human settlement since the Paleolithic Age. The Mediterranean climate offers ideal conditions for human settlements. The valley produces figs, mandarins, pomegranates, and has had a winemaking tradition since Roman times. The western valley is more arid and dry and resembles the rocky terrain of the Dalmatian coast. The Neretva Valley is certainly one of the most interesting areas of BiH, and its cultural, historical and natural heritage has produced a wealth of tourist attractions.
From the high central ranges the Dinaric mountains cut east towards Visocica, Bjelašnica, and Treskavica Mountains. Deep canyons characterize this area and many highland settlements can be found dating back to medieval times. Moving even further east, bordering Montenegro, are Bosnia and Herzegovina’s highest peaks. Protected in Sutjeska National Park, Maglic Mountain (2,386 m) towers above the surrounding natural fortresses of Zelengora Mountain, Volujak, Lejlija and the Mezozoic walls of Lebršnik Mountain. Sutjeska National Park hosts one of the two remaining primeval forests in Europe – Perucica. The old wood trees are the last remains of forests dating back 20,000 years.
Through these peaks the Sutjeska, Tara, and Piva Rivers carve their way as three of the main tributaries of the Drina River. Throughout the entire chain are the prized ancient villages that preserve ‘old world’ Europe. In the open valleys between them sprawl the towns and cities of Mostar, Jablanica, Konjic, Sarajevo, Foca and countless smaller settlements.
A rugged and creative mountain culture has emerged from this region, connecting man and nature in ways rarely seen in modern times.