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Bosnia and Herzegovina, Land and Resources

Maglic, World Conservation Congress, Beech forests, Dinaric Alps, Vrbas

Bosnia has an area of 51,129 sq km (19,741 sq mi). It is a mountainous country. In particular, extensions of the Dinaric Alps, which form Bosnia’s western border with Croatia, traverse the western and southern parts of the republic. The highest peak is Mount Maglic, measuring 2,387 m (7,831 ft), on the border with the FRY. Much of the republic also lies within the Karst, a barren limestone plateau broken by depressions and ridges. The northern part of the republic is heavily forested, while the south has flatter areas of fertile soil. Those flatter areas are used primarily as farmland.

Bosnia’s principal rivers include the Bosna, the Sava, which flows along the northern frontier, and the Sava’s tributaries, the Una, Drina, and Vrbas. These rivers all flow north; only a few other rivers, notably the Neretva, flow toward the Adriatic Sea. The valleys of the northern rivers widen into the fertile Sava plain, which stretches across the northern third of Bosnia.

A Mediterranean climate prevails in the south, with sunny, warm summers and mild, rainy winters. A modified continental climate of warm summers and cold winters dominates the northern inland territory. At higher elevations, short, cool summers and long, severe winters with snow are common. The average temperature for Sarajevo, in the continental zone, is -1°C (30°F) in January and 20°C (68°F) in July.

Bosnia’s soils are predominantly brown earths. Beech forests constitute the primary natural vegetation. Among the wildlife found in the country are hares, lynxes, weasels, otters, foxes, wildcats, wolves, gray bears, chamois, deer, eagles, vultures, mouflon (wild sheep), and hawks. Lynxes, weasels, and otters have the status of endangered species.

Bosnia is rich in natural resources. These resources include large tracts of arable land, extensive forests, and valuable deposits of minerals such as salt, manganese, silver, lead, copper, iron ore, chromium, and coal.

Air pollution from metallurgical plants, water shortages, and poor or failing sanitation services are a few of the problems facing the country, but the destruction of its infrastructure because of the civil war that took place from 1991 to 1995 is the most pressing current issue. Most activity since the war’s end has been concentrated on restoring basic needs and services, rather than addressing environmental problems directly. However, despite their preoccupation with rebuilding a war-torn infrastructure, leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina have not lost sight of environmental issues—the country was an observer at the World Conservation Congress in Montreal in 1996.



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