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Culture & Identity of Bosnia & Herzegovina

Introduction

The people of Bosnia & Herzegovina are quite diverse in numerous ways, most notably in terms of religion, identity, and culture. Despite the many differences, the differences in the daily way of life in the country is more heavily dependent on location as there are vast differences in the urban and rural lifestyles as well as on employment. Religion also plays a significant role, but few people in the country today are overtly religious.

Nearly half the population is urbanized and the other half lives in more rural areas. For the people in the more rural areas life is often times dependent on farming and agriculture, which is a sector that employees about 20% of the working population. For these people, no matter their religion, life is based off the land as days run from sun up to sun down and their wellbeing is heavily dependent on the weather and seasons.

Much of the urban population has more steady jobs in terms of hours and pay, but there are few guarantees in employment in Bosnia & Herzegovina as nearly half the population is unemployed today. For those lucky enough to have a steady job most work somewhat regular hours, generally from about 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Schools also tend to have regular hours so greatly contribute to the daily way of life.

However, due to high levels of unemployment and strong family and community ties, most of the people that do work tend to share their income with other family members who are struggle to find work. In this way entertainment and spending money on non-essentials is uncommon, but does exist, particularly in the cities. Since there is little money to be spent on recreation and, more importantly, because of such strong family ties, free time, on both evenings and weekends (Saturday-Sunday) is generally spent with family.

Identity

In Bosnia & Herzegovina, the people primarily identify by their religion, the Croatians are Catholic, the Serbs are Orthodox, and the Bosniaks are Muslim. This identity is so powerful, each group is willing to kill and die for it, despite the declining participation in religious ceremonies by each group. Today cities remain divided between Catholic and Muslim, Muslim and Orthodox, Orthodox, and Catholic and none are willing to cross that line in fear of physical harm. Oddly, the people are very similar, if not identically on both an ethnic and linguistic level, but again claim these ethnicities and languages to be distinct from each other. Despite all the similarities, religion trumps all else, but due to different religions, varying foods and cultural aspects have arisen, giving each of these three groups a number of distinctions, which expand beyond just religion.

This page was last updated: November, 2013