Bosnia is an exceptionally beautiful country. I visited with my wife and daughter in the summer of 2018. It was an eye-opening journey to say the least. It was sad to see the crumbling infrastructure and the poverty. The war damage from 1992-99 is still visible, even two decades after the bombing and shooting have ceased. Most of the Croats, Serbs, and Jews are gone from what was once a vibrant, multi-cultural gem in the Balkans. Arab and Turkish investment, such as it is, is focused on Islamic Centers and mosques. Meanwhile the bridges are rickety, the tunnels iffy, and the roads are full of potholes. But I clearly see and understand how Sarajevo was once known as the pearl of the Balkans.
Mostar, the other city we visited is famous for its spectacular bridge over the Neretva River. This single arch, stone bridge was originally built in 1566 by a noted architect of the Ottoman Empire. The arch of the Stari Most (which means ‘Old Bridge’) is a perfect semi-circle. Sadly, the original bridge was destroyed by Croatian forces during the civil war in 1995. The good news is that it was rebuilt, mainly by Spanish (Spain had a sizeable peacekeeping contingent in the region during the post-conflict years), U.S., Turkish, and Croatian funds in 2004. The architecture across Bosnia has a distinct Mideastern feel, given its place as a province of the Turkish Ottoman Empire for over six hundred years. The souk, or marketplace, in Sarajevo harkens back to this era.
I wish only the best for the people of Bosnia. They live in a difficult region (an assassination in Sarajevo was the catalyst for World War I, and the mountains of Bosnia were the focus of the brutal partisan war against the Nazis).
Hopefully with an uptick in tourism (people need to see this rugged, beautiful country) and an increase in hydro-power projects (the country is uniquely situated on watersheds for this purpose), the nation can one day stand on its own two feet and will no longer require the foreign aid on which it is so dependent today.