Bosnia and Herzegovina Mark - BAM
Bosnia and Herzegovina now has the mark as its official currency. The proper term for this currency is the convertible mark, or alternatively the konvertibilna marka locally.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The convertible mark is split into 100 fenings. You will see plurals for both the mark and the fenings in local language – the first one is the maraka and the second is the feninga.
There are four feninga coins available, and these are the 5, 10, 20 and 50 feninga coins. In addition you can get 1, 2 and 5 maraka coins. The banknotes are available in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 maraka.
From past to present – the history of the Bosnia and Herzegovina mark
The previous currency disappeared when the Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark came into existence. This happened back in 1995 when the Dayton Agreement came into effect. Up until that point Bosnia and Herzegovina used the Bosnia and Herzegovina dinar. The country had also been using the Croatian kuna and the dinar used in Republika Srpska.
How to get hold of the Bosnia and Herzegovina mark
As far as cash machines go you shouldn’t have any major problems finding any. There are one or two tricks to be aware of when you withdraw money though, namely the fact that it is a good idea just to take out a small amount. Large amounts tend to be issued in large notes, and that can lead to problems when it comes to paying for things. While a 200 mark note is legal tender a lot of places (especially smaller shops) may not be too keen on changing it.
Since the country is in Europe the best currency to take in with you is the euro. Try and make sure all the notes you have are in very good condition. Bosnia and Herzegovina is not the only country to be picky when it comes to accepting banknotes from other countries – many others are too. There is nothing worse than arriving in one of these countries only to find you can’t use many of the notes you have brought with you.
The good news is you shouldn’t have too many problems paying for things with your credit card. It’s worth alerting your card provider to the fact that it will be you using the card in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This might just prevent it from being blocked when you first try to use it. It is always a good idea to check in advance to make sure the outlet you are shopping or eating at will take your card though. It shouldn’t be an issue in big cities or major tourist places but some smaller towns might present a problem.
Traveller’s cheques can be used but if you do take them make sure you get them in euros to begin with, as these will be the most straightforward ones to change.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Bosnia and Herzegovina mark
The mark is pegged to the euro but it is not an easy rate to remember, so if you are used to the euro you might want to get a conversion for this to begin with. Whichever currency you want to get a conversion for, simply find an online currency converter to do the hard work for you. Ideally it should be one that is regularly updated so you can get the latest information (although of course it won’t matter if you are interested in how much you will get per euro). Remember you will be charged a varying rate for exchanging your own currency once you get there, depending on where you go.
There is an embassy for Bosnia and Herzegovina in London, but you don’t actually have to make the trip to find out more about it. They have a website at http://bhembassy.co.uk/en/ that reveals more about many areas, including tourism. As such it can be a good place to begin when you are looking into visiting the country.
Travelling safely with the Bosnia and Herzegovina mark
Bosnia will be synonymous for many people with the war that took place in the early part of the Nineties. The Dayton Agreement mentioned earlier came about to end the war and this was the point at which the new mark came into being.
However things are very different in the country now, and tourism is more than just a possibility. The biggest danger you will come across is that of unexploded mines left over from the war. However these areas are typically well-marked so it should be fairly easy to stay away from them. You should be particularly careful when venturing out into the countryside however.
Crime isn’t much of a problem here but you should be aware that pickpockets do exist and can be more widespread in cities. This isn’t to say there are lots of them, although you should take the usual precautions wherever you go. The people who are most likely to be targeted are those who don’t worry too much about concealing their valuables. If you can do this you should be just fine.
Where to spend your marks in Bosnia and Herzegovina – and what to spend them on
Bosnia and Herzegovina is of course in Europe and it has borders with three other countries – Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. If you look at the country on a map you may assume it is completely surrounded by land on all sides. However upon closer inspection you will see there is a tiny stretch of land in the south-eastern corner of the country that faces the Adriatic Sea.
It is here we will begin our exploration of the country, in a small town called Neum. This has a unique standing in the country as the only town situated on the coast. It is very attractive too and caters for tourists who come for the nice beaches and the pleasant surroundings. It also benefits from nice summer weather for the most part.
Elsewhere in Bosnia you will find a natural sight called Vrelo Bune, which can be found in a town called Blagaj. This is a stunning place and a true marriage of the way humans have tastefully and carefully developed the area over time, with deference to the natural sights in the area. For example one of the finest sights here is Blagaj Tekke, a monastery which sits on the Buna River.
Bosnia may not come to mind as a country where there are many beautiful natural sights, but this is where you’d be wrong. The country has many charming areas worth visiting, not least of which is Sutjeska National Park. It is the oldest park of its kind in the country and sits very close to the border where the country meets Montenegro. One of the most famous sights in the park is the Skakavac Waterfall, which is around 75 metres high. The waterfall itself is not that big when compared to others, but the height makes it rather special, not to mention the sight of it falling through the scenery around it.
You will doubtless have heard of Sarajevo, which is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was damaged greatly during the war but has bounced back and been regenerated and developed into a city with much to commend it. A great example of the vibrancy of the city can be seen in Bascarsija. This is a bazaar and it dates back to the 1400s. It is a must-see place if you ever go to Sarajevo.
Finally another city that is worth exploring in more detail is Mostar. This is famous for Stari Most, which is a bridge that was designed to replace the original that stood in the same spot. The original was destroyed in the war in 1993, and it was a further 11 years before its replacement was unveiled to the public. There are many other sights to see while you are in the neighbourhood, including many buildings dating from various times and revealing much about the history of the city. For example the Karagoz Bey Mosque dates back to the mid-1500s.
The Bosnian war is fading in the memories of many people around the world, although this is sadly probably still the first thing we think of when the name of this country comes up. However as you can see Bosnia and Herzegovina has made a remarkable comeback and now has some excellent arguments to convince anyone that a holiday there would be very well-spent indeed.
With many stunning buildings and destinations to visit, from towns and cities to the peace and quiet of places like Sutjeska National Park, it is clear that there are many reasons why a trip here would be one to remember. Whether you head for the one and only beach town or stay inland, you will enjoy all the perks involved with a long weekend – or a longer holiday – to Bosnia and Herzegovina.