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Social Life in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Behavior

Most of the behavioral rules and restrictions in Bosnia & Herzegovina are based on Islam as a large number of people in the country are Muslim, but more recent cultural history has altered many of these cultural aspects so today how the people of Bosnia & Herzegovina behave is a combination of European and Islamic in origin.

As a visitor to Bosnia & Herzegovina just try to follow the lead of the locals by dressing in alike manner (see below for details), dining in the local etiquette (see our Bosnia & Herzegovina Dining & Food Page), and avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. Also try to avoid being loud, rude, or showing off wealth.

Dress

The traditional dress in Bosnia & Herzegovina is diverse due to the diversity of the people, the mountainous landscape, and the changes throughout history. Generally, this traditional dress is divided to include the traditional dress of the ethnic Bosniaks, the ethnic Serbs, and the ethnic Croats. However, all three groups of people wore common early European clothing, which included dresses for the women and shirts with pants for the men.

For the Bosniaks, who are Muslims, the dress has characteristics of Turkey, but is more European in style. For the Bosniaks, dresses on women with shirts with pants was the norm, however embroidery was often times absent, which is a change from the Serbs and Croats. Bosniak women also never wore aprons, which was a common piece of clothing with the Serbs and Croats. For the Serbs, most outfits included embroidery in red, with many women wearing loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts, a long apron, embroidered socks, and a belt. Men generally wore similar shirts with knickers. Both men and women often wore a jelek, which is similar to a vest. For the Croat women the dress generally consisted of a white blouse, skirt or tunic, an apron, which was usually quite colorful, sometimes a vest, and a hat or cloth for their hair. For men the dress was generally similar as most men wore dark pants, a colorful belt, a white shirt, and a decorated vest, which was again usually on a dark base to match the pants. Red is a very common color among the Croatians, but this is somewhat regional.

Today, the people of Bosnia & Herzegovina, no matter their ethnicity, tend to wear modern western-styled clothing. The designs and styles of these clothes have little variation from ethnicity to ethnicity, although some more conservative Muslim Bosniaks will always cover their legs, arms, and hair (although this is a rarity in the country).

As a visitor to Bosnia & Herzegovina you are welcome to wear just about any clothing. Just try to dress for the occasion, which means long pants and shirts in mosques, churches, and other more formal locations. Wearing obviously foreign clothing in Bosnia & Herzegovina is not a bad thing either; there are some ethnic tensions in the country and in some places being foreign is better than being a member of a different local ethnicity.

This page was last updated: November, 2013