Croatia vs Bosnia: A tale of two former Yugoslav Republics

After visiting Croatia, a couple of times now and spending a few weeks in Bosnia, I have taken note of some stark differences between the two former Yugoslavian nations.  Although I was initially surprised by the level of development in Bosnia, it is clear to me that the country faces some serious issues that its Balkan counterpart has seemingly overcome since the end of the Yugoslav wars.  It is obvious when one crosses the border into Croatia that the infrastructure is more developed: roads are better, buildings are more intact and there are less scars left from the Yugoslav wars that took place a couple of decades ago.  Upon returning to Bosnia after a weekend driving up the Dalmatian coast, (we visited the towns of Orebić and Korčula), there are a few buildings that I noticed alongside the road which were utterly destroyed during the Bosnian conflict and have not yet been restored.  In Bosnia, economic issues persist that are big obstacles standing in the way of progress. There is the seemingly small and annoying issue of needing close to exact change whenever making a purchase anywhere (a café, bar, restaurant, etc) while in Croatia this was rarely a problem for our group.  Even banks in Sarajevo lack enough change to give out, which makes it frustrating to pay for a simple coffee or meal in the country.  Prices for food, beverage and lodging in Croatia, while not outrageous compared to American standards, are much higher than in Bosnia.  Once again, I must acknowledge the skewed perception based off my personal experience, as most of what we drove through and where we stayed were resort towns in Croatia that receive a lot of tourism annually.


While both Bosnia and Croatia experienced conflict during the 1990s in the breakup of Yugoslavia, the former seems to have been hit much harder than the latter, and has struggled ever since to recover from the damage done.  While Croatia is predominantly Catholic, Bosnia is split into 3 major ethnic groups and faces serious gridlock in passing legislation with 3 presidents representing each.  As Croatia successfully joined the European Union in 2013, Bosnia still struggles to achieve accession due to issues including widespread corruption, ethnic tensions, and slow moving progress at the government level.  If Bosnia is to overcome these challenges and join the EU, the country needs to be united in agreement on the policies that will encourage private sector growth, more transparency in government dealings and perhaps integration.  How does this get accomplished?  I can’t say that there is an easy solution…

Dalmation coastDalmation coast2

The Dalmatian Coast of Croatia


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