People shaped by the heavenly nature
Eastern Bosnia is the hidden heaven where nature runs the main word, even nowadays. The landscape is shapely made out of canyons, mountains, hills and tablelands. The biggest pearls of Eastern Bosnia are the mountains like Jahorina, Ravna Planina, Romanija and the river Drina as well. The Drina river was the demarcation line between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire. Therefore people like to say that Drina is the meeting point of civilisations.
Eastern Bosnia is rural and most economic activities were based on agriculture and cattle breeding. Cities are pretty small and most of them have about 10000 inhabitants in the urban areas. Eastern Bosnia is divided into three parts that are named after the Drina river. Those are Upper Drina Valley (Bos. Gornje Podrinje), Middle Drina Valley (Bos. Srednje Podrinje) and Lower Drina Valley (Bos. Donje Podrinje). Only city with more than 10000 inhabitants in the urban area is Bijeljina (Lower Drina Valley) with 45000 inhabitants. Easternbosnian cities historically gravitate to two bigger cities and those are Sarajevo (450000 inhabitants) and Tuzla (110000 inhabitants). Upper and and the southern part of Middle Drina river Valley gravitates to Sarajevo. The northern part of Middle Drina Valley, like the Lower Drina Valley, gravitates to Tuzla. Most of the people from Eastern Bosnia that went to university to Sarajevo or Tuzla stayed there. That is not all, because lots of inhabitants of Eastern Bosnia during the industrialisation went to Sarajevo and Tuzla for work. Those are actually two reasons, except the harsh terrain, why Eastern Bosnia is not so populated.
To sum up, Eastern Bosnia stayed uninhabited because of the harsh terrain and due to the proximity to Sarajevo and Tuzla. That is also the reason why the major part of the population is oriented to the primary economic branch.
Eastern Bosnia takes up more space than three mentioned parts of Drina Valley. Eastern Bosnia is also the inner part to the western direction, from the Drina river. The main features of the relief are river valleys, mountains and plateaus. It is the most wild part of the country and therefore we can say naturally the most preserved part.
It is very important to say that the cities of Eastern Bosnia were mainly “varoš” (small trading cities). Driving from north (e.g. Banja Luka) to Belgrade you would pass northeastern Bosnia and driving from south (e.g. Dubrovnik) to Belgrade again you would pass Eastern Bosnia. To sum up, Eastern Bosnia had and still has important traffic connections.
Nature is striking with the one and only Drina river, with her other river tributaries like Drinjača, Janja, Sutjeska, Lim and many others. The Drina canyon is the third deepest in the world after the Grand Canyon in the USA and the canyon of river Tara in Montenegro. Eastern Bosnia also is proud of the “National Park Sutjeska”, where Perućica is situated. Perućica is one of few breathing rainforests of Europe. The “National Park Sutjeska” is also known for the Partisan battle, where they managed to brake the Nazi hoop. Therefore, the “National Park Sutjeska” is also well known for the “Battle of Sutjeska” monument. Eastern Bosnia is also famous for two more mountains and those are Jahorina and Ravna Planina. The Jahorina mountain is one of four Sarajevo Olympic mountains. The mountain is just 40 minutes drive from Sarajevo and it is fully equipped with hotels, apartments, ski amusement, roller coaster adrenaline and many others. Ravna Planina is as well fully equipped and only 30 minutes from Sarajevo, but it is less crowded and less expensive.
With so much forest, rivers and a non polluted environment Eastern Bosnia proudly got the title “The lungs of Bosnia & Herzegovina.”
Eastern Bosnia was 100 % rural, directed to cattle breeding and agriculture. It was like that until the socialist Yugoslavia period came. The Yugoslavian government industrialized the whole country, which was followed by the rural depopulation. Citizens of Eastern Bosnia started to migrate to Sarajevo and Tuzla. But there was a little miracle city when it comes to economic development. Srebrenica was the third economic development municipality of Bosnia % Herzegovina during the socialist times. Companies from Sarajevo and Tuzla were opening factories and lots of people used to live out of healing tourism. To sum up, Srebrenica was a famous European place where people all around Europe would come to the healing spas. Unfortunately, in the post war Bosnia & Herzegovina the industry manley just collapsed.
The harsh nature also brings positive economic development. The best examples are the mines and hydro plants of Eastern Bosnia. Unfortunately nowadays most of the mines are closed, because they are not profitable. There was one in Foča (Miljevina), Srebrenica (Sase), Bratunac and Šekovići and Milići. From these mines people were mining bauxite, marble, kaolin and brown coal. The fan fact is that the mine in Srebrenica, village Sase, got the name from the old German tribe Saxons (Bos. Sasi). They were mining during the medieval times in the city of Srebrenica. On the Drina river the Yugoslavian government made three hydro plants, two of them now belonging to Serbia and one to Bosnia & Herzegovina. Actually still, by the European law the two sides don’t have any agreements on how to use and sell the electricity from the plants. The three bigger hydro plants are based near Višegrad, Zvornik and Bajina Bašta.
Nowadays, people are going back to agriculture and cattle breeding. The generations that went to Sarajevo and Tuzla mostly stayed there. Depopulated region is now paying more and more attention to the development through tourism.
Not so developed industry of Eastern Bosnia, in the post war time, pretty much collapsed. Therefore, citizens decided to develop cattle breeding and agriculture, while in the last 10 years tourism is more and more developed. The people of Eastern Bosnia are hardworking people that like to stand together while helping each other. The best example for that are Sarajevo and Tuzla and in one way Belgrade. You ask yourself why Sarajevo and Tuzla? To sum up, lots of inhabitants of Eastern Bosnia migrated to those two cities for work during the time of socialist Yugoslavia. Nowadays, lots of them are successful politicians, doctors, lawyers and many others. The Bosniaks of Eastern Bosnia were migrating to Sarajevo i Tuzla, while also one part of the Bosnian Serbs was doing the same. A big part of the Bosnian Serbs from Eastern Bosnia was migrating to Belgrade. The positive thing is that still they have connections with their homes in Eastern Bosnia. Some of them travel during weekends from the bigger cities to their homes in Eastern Bosnia. Main reason is to relax, enjoy nature and visit cousins and parents. There are many examples of how the Bosniak returnees are making successful business in Eastern Bosnia. Some of them are Halil Gegić with his “Panorama Resort”, Rizalija Hasanspahić with his agricultural holding “Okusi Prirode”, Alen Džindo with his donkey farm, Muhamed Tabaković with his trout fish farm and many others.
All of them were expelled during the war and most of them found their job and happiness in the USA or Europe. Today this region is developing tourism and it is proudly presenting all the beautiful places like the “National Park Sutjeska”, Drina river, Jahorina Olympic mountain, Ravna Planina mountain, Eco Regata Goražde and many others.
To sum up, you already have a lot of information about Eastern Bosnia. If you come to Sarajevo, this region is very convenient to visit. You can try adrenaline sports like mountain biking, regatta on Drina river, try the local homemade products, listen to local stories, visit the gorgeous mountains and the city of Srebrenica.