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Safety Travel Safety: Europe: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Bosnia & Herzegovina
Capital: Sarajevo
Population: 3,964,388
Currency: marka (BAM)
Languages: Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian
Religions: Muslim 40%, Orthodox 31%, Roman Catholic 15%, Protestant 4%, other 10%
Borders: Croatia 932 km, Yugoslavia 527 km

Since the December 1995 signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, there has been significant progress in restoring peace and stability. Although physical infrastructure was devastated by the war, in recent years there has been significant improvement, and reconstruction is progressing. Hotels and travel amenities are available in the capital, Sarajevo, and other major towns, but they are relatively expensive. In the more remote areas of the country, public facilities vary in quality.

Over 500,000 unmarked landmines and other unexploded ordnance remained throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war. Over 300 people have been killed by these devices since 1996. While most urban areas have been largely cleared, special care should be taken when near former lines of conflict, including the suburbs of Sarajevo. The de-mining community recommends staying on hard surface areas and out of abandoned buildings. Families traveling with children in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be especially aware of the danger posed by mines and unexploded ordnance. Localized political difficulties continue and random violence may occur with little or no warning. Bosnian criminals use firearms and explosives to settle personal, business, and political disputes. The foreign community is rarely the target of such violence, but there is always the danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time . While most Bosnian citizens appreciate the assistance of the international community, occasional anti-foreign sentiment is sometimes encountered.

Although street crime is relatively low and violent crimes are rare, pickpocketing and vehicle break-ins are a problem, and are on the rise in the capital city, Sarajevo. Most pickpockets operate in pairs and employ distraction methods to execute their craft. Sarajevo has also seen a recent marked rise in confrontational crimes, such as attempted muggings. Travelers should take normal precautions to protect their property from theft and exercise common sense personal security measures, traveling in groups, and staying in well-lighted areas after dark. Confrontations with local citizens resulting from traffic incidents or public disagreements should be avoided.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Bosnian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the U.S. for U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens, to engage in illicit sexual conduct, sexually exploit children via pornography, the internet or other means, with a person under the age of 18 in a foreign country, regardless of whether there was intent.

Prior to the war 1992-1995, hospitals in Sarajevo were the leading educational, diagnostic, and therapeutic institutions of Bosnia-Herzegovina and throughout much of Eastern Europe. During the war they were targeted and suffered major destruction. Although the medical infrastructure is being rebuilt, many deficits still exist. The lack of adequate medical facilities, especially outside Sarajevo, may cause problems for visitors. Because many medicines are not obtainable, travelers should bring their own supply of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. Private practitioners and dentists are becoming more common; however, quality of care varies and rarely meets U.S. or western European standards. All major surgery is performed in public hospitals.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair

Road travel is possible throughout most of the country. Some roads are still damaged from the war, and roads are sometimes blocked due to landslides, de-mining activity, and traffic accidents. Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the rare countries in Europe that has fewer than ten kilometers of four-lane highway. The existing, two-lane roads between major cities are quite narrow at places, lack guardrails, and are full of curves. Travel by road can be risky due to poorly maintained roads, and morning and evening fog in the mountains. Driving in winter is hazardous due to fog, snow, and ice.

Local driving habits are poor, and many vehicles are in bad condition. Many accidents occur when drivers exceed safe speeds along winding mountain roads. Accidents involving drunk driving are an increasing problem. Driving after dark is especially dangerous, and street lighting is not common outside the major towns. Road construction may be poorly marked, and automobiles share the road with heavy vehicles and agricultural equipment. Travelers are encouraged to convoy with other vehicles, if possible, and to plan their trip to ensure they travel only during daylight hours.

Although the number of service stations outside major cities has increased in recent years, many do not offer mechanical or other services. The emergency number for vehicle assistance and towing service is 1282; ambulances can be called at 124, and police at 122.

Speed limit traffic signs are not always obvious or clear. The speed limit on the majority of roads is 60 km/h, and on straight stretches of road it is generally 80 km/h. Wearing seat belts is mandatory. Talking on a cell phone while driving is prohibited. The tolerated percentage of alcohol in the blood is .05.

In order to drive legally in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you must have an international driving permit in addition to your U.S. license. The national authority responsible for traffic information and safety is the Automobile Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as "BIHAMK." Their web site, which also offers information in English, is

For additional information about road safety, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page road safety overseas feature at

As there are no direct flights between the U.S. and Bosnia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bosnia and Herzegovina's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Bosnia and Herzegovina's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

During winter months, flights into and out of Sarajevo are frequently delayed or cancelled due to heavy fog. Travelers should be prepared for last-minute schedule changes, lengthy delays, and the possibility of alternate routings, or time-consuming overland transportation.

Photographing military installations, including airports, equipment, bridges, government checkpoints, troops and the U.S. Embassy is forbidden. If in doubt, please ask permission before taking photographs.

Please also refer to the separate Travel Warning for Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

June 3, 2004 | Travel Warning

Europe | Safety |

Worldworx Travel> Safety> Europe> Bosnia Herzegovina




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