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There are three 'official' languages spoken in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. For the local people there is a great importance attached to the name of the language. For practical purposes, they are one and the same.

The differences are similar to those between American and British English. The pre-war language of the former Yugoslavia was Serbo-Croat. This term is virtually extinct now. Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian is a Slavic language. Many words are similar in Czech or Slovakian, even Polish and Ukrainian. It is in the same family as Russian but is distinctly different. In the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina many signs will be in Cyrillic, including road signs which may make it difficult to know exactly where you are. In the Federation only the latin alphabet is used.

In the cities it is very common to find English- speaking people. The heavy presence of the international community has almost made it a second language here. Most young people will have at least some knowledge of English almost anywhere you go. Because of the large refugee and immigrant population that lived in Germany during the war there are many German speakers as well. In the rural areas it will be hard to find English-speaking adults, but dont be surprised to find children able to small chat with you in English.

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