Geography of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Geography of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is situated in the southeast of Europe and in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula. Bosnia and Herzegovina encompasses both Mediterranean and Alpine climates, landscapes and henceforth some of the richest flora and fauna found in Europe.

It borders with Croatia in the north, west and southwest and with Serbia and Montenegro in the east and south. The Ivan Sedlo saddle (959 meters long) found between the mountains Bitovnje and Bjelašnica connects the two major wholes of the country, the more populated and abundant in forests and land – Bosnia in the north and the smaller, rocky Herzegovina in the south.

The natural border between Bosnia and Herzegovina is the mountain range – Vran – Raduša – Vranica – Bitovnja – Bjelašnica – Treskavica – Zelengora – Maglić. Herzegovina takes up 20% of the land and only 10% of the population of the whole country. Near the mouth of the river Neretva, beneath the Malostonski canal, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a small entry into sea (a 21, 2 km long coastal line at Neum).

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the 3rd biggest and most populated country among the former Yugoslavian republics behind Serbia and Croatia and with its population density it is behind Serbia and Slovenia.

Much of Bosnia and Herzegovina is mountainous. The long chain of the Southern Alps – the Dinaric Alps – stretches from northwest Slovenia through the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina and into Montenegro, and finishes in the Prokletija Mountains on the Albanian border. Herzegovina hosts the highest and wildest part of this mountain range, which for centuries provided the population protection from Roman invaders, and which slowed the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia. The central belt of Bosnia has both rocky mountains and green, rolling hills covered with conifer forests and lined with countless freshwater streams and rivers.

Some northern area share part of the long and agriculturally rich plains that extend from Hungary, through Slavonia and Croatia into the fertile fields of the Sava and Drina River valleys that flow into the Black Sea basin. Parts of the northwest of the country are all karst topography, with deep limestone caves and underground rivers. These limestone fields are connected to the low limestone valleys of the south. Together, they form the single largest karst field in the world.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is made out of four major geographical wholes. Central Bosnia (12 920 km2, 1 249 000 inhabitants) extends across the mountainous central plains, the most developed parts of the country, the hotbed of the neighbour peripannonian, Karst and sub Mediterranean meetings from the olden times. At the end of the 19th century the pattern of population changed resulting in most of its citizens living in Pannonia Bosnia (21 622 km2, 2 253 000 inhabitants) which is agriculturally the worthiest part of the country but also the most overpopulated. The highland Karst valley (11 842 km2, 325 000 inhabitants) spans the mountainous Karst area of western Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a sparsely populated and poorest part of the country – only 9% of the land can be cultivated, and the cities are inhabited by less than 30% of the population. The Mediterranean region i.e. the lower Herzegovina (5 399 km2, 296 000 inhabitants) is the smallest geographical whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the tramontane region of the central coastal line.

The relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina is mainly hilly and mountainous with only 8% of the land situated beneath 150 meters above sea level. The biggest part of Bosnia and Herzegovina hydrographically pertains to the Montenegro junction i.e. the basin of the river Sava. Sava’s main tributaries are from Bosnia (Una 214 km, Vrbas 240 km, Bosna 271 km, Drina 346 km). The smaller, Herzegovinian part gradually drains into the Adriatic Sea, its longest river being Neretva (218 km) which is also the longest tributary of the Adriatic Sea from the territory of former Yugoslavia (SFRJ).

The biggest gulf of former SFRJ, Trebišnjica, is also situated in Herzegovina and it acquires most of its waters from the areas belonging to Europe which are said to be the richest in rainfall.

Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have larger natural lakes, some of its most famous ones are – Plivsko Lake near Jajce, Blidinje and Boračko Lake. More value is found in the artificial accumulations, mostly for hydro energetic use (Jablaničko, Perućaćko and Bilećko lake), as well as supplying industries with water (Modračko lake). With the building of dams, the former Buško blato at the foot of Dinara was turned from a Karst lake into an artificial accumulation of water.

West Bosnian and Herzegovinian rocky fields were periodically flooded, while some are to this day dried and made into artificial accumulations which serve for hydro energetic use or for the irrigation of cultivated fields. Especially notable is Hutovo blato near lower Neretva, a marshland area which in times of high waters is covered by 1-1.5 meters of deep water. It is abundant in fish and rare birds, in the winter flocks of wild ducks and geese can be seen and it also has an ornithological station.