Information about the Czech Republic

Information about the Czech Republic. Geography, history, population, map, flag, visa

The Czech Republic en-us-Czech Republic.ogg is a country in Central Europe[4] that is sometimes considered to be Eastern European.[5] The country borders Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west and northwest, Austria to the south and Slovakia to the east. The capital and largest city is Prague (Czech: Praha). The country is composed of the historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as parts of Silesia. The Czech Republic has been a member of NATO since 1999 and of the European Union since 2004. From 1 January 2009 to 1 July 2009, the Czech Republic held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Following the Battle of Moh?cs in 1526, the Czech lands fell under Habsburg rule, becoming part of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and of Austria–Hungary in 1867. The independent Republic of Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War I. After the Munich Agreement, German occupation of Czechoslovakia and the consequent disillusion with the Western response and gratitude for the liberation of the major portion of Czechoslovakia by the Red Army, the Communist party won plurality (38%)[6] in the 1946 elections. In a 1948 coup d'?tat, Czechoslovakia became a communist-ruled state. In 1968, the increasing dissatisfaction culminated in attempts to reform the communist regime. The events, known as the Prague Spring of 1968, ended with an invasion by the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries (with the exception of Romania); the troops remained in the country until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into its constituent states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The Czech Republic is a pluralist multi-party parliamentary representative democracy. President V?clav Klaus is the current head of state. The Prime Minister is the head of government (currently Jan Fischer). The Parliament has two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. It is also a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe and the Visegr?d Group.

The Czech Republic made economic reforms such as fast privatizations. Annual gross domestic product growth has recently been around 6%. The country is the first former member of the Comecon to achieve the status of a developed country (2006), according to the World Bank.[7] The Czech Republic also ranks top among the former Comecon countries in the Human Development Index.[8]

The Czech landscape is quite varied. Bohemia, to the west, consists of a basin drained by the Elbe (Czech: Labe) and the Vltava (or Moldau) rivers, surrounded by mostly low mountains, such as the Krkono?e range of the Sudetes. The highest point in the country, Sn??ka at 1,602 m (5,256 ft), is located here. Moravia, the eastern part of the country, is also quite hilly. It is drained mainly by the Morava River, but it also contains the source of the Oder River (Czech: Odra). Water from the landlocked Czech Republic flows to three different seas: the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea. The Czech Republic also leases the Moldauhafen, a 30,000-square-metre (7.4-acre) lot in the middle of the Hamburg Docks, which was awarded to Czechoslovakia by Article 363 of the Treaty of Versailles, to allow the landlocked country a place where goods transported down river could be transferred to seagoing ships. The territory reverts to Germany in 2028.

Phytogeographically, the Czech Republic belongs to the Central European province of the Circumboreal Region, within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of the Czech Republic can be subdivided into four ecoregions: the Central European mixed forests, Pannonian mixed forests, Western European broadleaf forests and Carpathian montane conifer forests.
[edit] Weather and climate
Rolling hills of Kr?lick? Sn??n?k
?ance Dam, part of the Moravian-Silesian Beskids

The Czech Republic has a temperate continental climate, with relatively hot summers and cold, cloudy and snowy winters. Most rain falls during the summer. The temperature difference between summer and winter is relatively high, due to the landlocked geographical position.

Within the Czech Republic, temperatures vary greatly, depending on the elevation. In general, at higher altitudes, the temperatures decrease and precipitation increases. Another important factor is the distribution of the mountains; therefore, the climate is quite varied.

At the highest peak of Sn??ka (1,602 m/5,256 ft), the average temperature is only ?0.4 °C (31 °F), whereas in the lowlands of the South Moravian Region, the average temperature is as high as 10 °C (50 °F). The country's capital, Prague, has a similar average temperature, although this is influenced by urban factors.

The coldest month is usually January, followed by February and December. During these months, there is usually snow in the mountains and sometimes in the major cities and lowlands. During March, April and May, the temperature usually increases rapidly, especially during April, when the temperature and weather tends to vary widely during the day. Spring is also characterized by high water levels in the rivers, due to melting snow with occasional flooding.

The warmest month of the year is July, followed by August and June. On average, summer temperatures are about 20 degrees higher than during winter. Especially in the last decade,[citation needed] temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) are not unusual. Summer is also characterized by rain and storms.

Autumn generally begins in September, which is still relatively warm and dry. During October, temperatures usually fall below 15 °C (59 °F) or 10 °C (50 °F) and deciduous trees begin to shed their leaves. By the end of November, temperatures usually range around the freezing point.
[edit] Demographics
Main article: Demographics of the Czech Republic
[edit] Population
Population of the Czech lands[22] Year Total Change Year Total Change
1857 7,016,531 — 1930 10,674,386 +6.6%
1869 7,617,230 +8.6% 1950 8,896,133 -16.7%
1880 8,222,013 +7.9% 1961 9,571,531 +7.6%
1890 8,665,421 +5.4% 1970 9,807,697 +2.5%
1900 9,372,214 +8.2% 1980 10,291,927 +4.9%
1910 10,078,637 +7.5% 1991 10,302,215 +0.1%
1921 10,009,587 -0.7% 2001 10,230,060 -0.7%

According to the 2001 census, the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Czech Republic are Czech (94.24%). The most numerous national minorities are: Slovaks (1.89%); Poles (0.51%); Germans (0.38%); Ukrainians (0.22%); Vietnamese (0.17%); Hungarians (0.14%); Russians (0.12%); Romani (0.11%); Bulgarians (0.04%); and Greeks (0.03%).[23] According to some estimates, there are actually more than 200,000 Romani people in the Czech Republic.[24][25]

There were 431,215 foreigners residing in the country in 2008, according to the Czech Interior Ministry,[26] with the largest groups being Ukrainian (131,965), Slovak (76,034), Vietnamese (60,258), Russian (27,178), Polish (21,710), German (15,700), Moldovan (8,038), Mongolian (6,028), Bulgarian (5,046), Chinese (4,986), American (4,452), Belarusan (3,977), British (3,775), Serbian (3,615), Austrian (3,373), Romanian (3,298), Kazakh (3,038), Italian (2,351), Croatian (2,327), Dutch (2,240), French (2,140), Bosnian (2,093), Macedonian (1,787), Armenian (1,624), Japanese (1,494) and Uzbek (1,148).[27]

The Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia, 118,000 according to the 1930 census, was virtually annihilated by the Nazis during the Holocaust.[28] There were approximately 4,000 Jews in the Czech Republic in 2005.[29]

The fertility rate is a low 1.50 children per woman. Immigration increased the population by almost 1% in 2007. Vietnamese immigrants began settling in the Czech Republic during the Communist period, when they were invited as guest workers by the Czechoslovak government.[30] Today, there are an estimated 70,000 Vietnamese in the Czech Republic.[31]

At the turn of the 20th century, Chicago was the city with the third largest Czech population,[32] after Prague and Vienna.[33] According to the 2006 US census, there are 1,637,218 Americans of full or partial Czech descent.[34]

he Czech Republic possesses a developed,[40] high-income[41] economy with a GDP per capita of 82% of the European Union average.[42] One of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, the Czech Republic has seen a growth of over 6% annually in the last three years. Recent growth has been led by exports to the European Union, especially Germany and foreign investment, while domestic demand is reviving.

Most of the economy has been privatised, including the banks and telecommunications. The current right-centre government plans to continue with privatisation, including the energy industry and the Prague airport. It has recently agreed to the sale of a 7% stake in the energy producer, CEZ Group, with the sale of the Bud?jovick? Budvar brewery also mooted.

The country has fully implemented the Schengen Agreement and therefore, has abolished border controls, completely opening its borders with all of its neighbours, Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia, on December 21, 2007.[43] The Czech Republic became a member of the World Trade Organisation.

The last Czech government led by social democrats had expressed a desire to adopt the euro in 2010, but the current centre-right government suspended that plan in 2007.[44] An exact date has not been set up, but the Finance Ministry described adoption by 2012 as realistic,[45] if public finance reform passes. However, the most recent draft of the euro adoption plan omits giving any date. Although the country is economically better positioned than other EU Members to adopt the euro, the change is not expected before 2013, due to political reluctance on the matter.[46] On January 1, 2009, former Czech PM, Mirek Topol?nek, declared that on November 1, 2009, the Czech government will announce a fixed date for euro adoption, since the country "currently fulfills all criteria for adoption of the euro."[47] There are several challenges, however. The rate of corruption remains one of the highest among the other developed OECD countries and the public budgets remain in deficit despite strong growth of the economy in recent years. However, the 2007 deficit has been 1.58% GDP and the 2008 deficit is expected at 1.2% GDP,[48] according to EU accounting rules, far less than original projections.

The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks the Czech education system as the 15th best in the world, higher than the OECD average.[49]
[edit] Infrastructure
Main article: Transport in the Czech Republic
New commuter trains called CityElefant made by ?koda Works operate near larger cities
Czech motorway system

Ruzyn? International Airport is the main international airport in the country. In 2007, it handled 12.4 million passengers, which makes it one of the busiest airports in Central Europe. In total, Czech Republic has 46 airports with paved runways, six of which provide international air services.

?esk? dr?hy is the main railway operator in the Czech Republic, with about 180 million passengers carried yearly. Its cargo division, ?D Cargo, is the fifth largest railway cargo operator in the European Union.

In 2005, according to the Czech Statistical Office, 65.4% of electricity was produced in steam, combined and combustion power plants (mostly coal); 30% in nuclear plants; and 4.6% from renewable sources, including hydropower. Russia, via pipelines through Ukraine and to a lesser extent, Norway, via pipelines through Germany, supply the Czech Republic with liquid and natural gas.

The Czech Republic is reducing its dependence on highly polluting low-grade brown coal as a source of energy. Nuclear energy presently provides about 30% of the total power needs, its share is projected to increase to 40%. Natural gas is procured from Russian Gazprom, roughly three-fourths of domestic consumption and from Norwegian companies, which make up most of the remaining one-fourth. Russian gas is imported via Ukraine (Druzhba pipeline), Norwegian gas is transported through Germany. Gas consumption (approx. 100 TWh in 2003–2005) is almost two times higher than the electricity consumption. South Moravia has small oil and gas deposits.
[edit] Internet
Main article: Internet in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has the most Wi-Fi subscribers in the European Union.[50][51] By the beginning of 2008, there was over 800 mostly local WISPs,[52][53] with about 350,000 subscribers in 2007. Mobile internet is quite popular. Plans based on either GPRS, EDGE, UMTS or CDMA2000 are being offered by all three mobile phone operators (T-Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica O2) and U:fon. Government-owned ?esk? Telecom slowed down broadband penetration. At the beginning of 2004, local-loop unbundling began and alternative operators started to offer ADSL and also SDSL. This and later privatisation of ?esk? Telecom helped drive down prices. On July 1, 2006, ?esk? Telecom was acquired by globalized company (Spain owned) Telefonica group and adopted new name Telef?nica O2 Czech Republic. As of January 2006, ADSL2+ is offered in many variants, both with data limit and without with speeds up to 10 Mbit/s. Cable internet is gaining popularity with its higher download speeds beginning at 2 Mbit/s up to 30 Mbit/s. The largest ISP, UPC (which recently acquired another CATV internet provider Karneval in 2007), provides its service in the cities of Prague, Brno and Ostrava.
[edit] Tourism
Main article: Tourism in the Czech Republic
Since the fall of Iron Curtain in 1989, Prague has become one of the most visited cities in Europe.

The Czech economy gets a substantial income from tourism. In 2001, the total earnings from tourism reached 118.13 billion CZK, making up 5.5% of GNP and 9.3% of overall export earnings. The industry employs more than 110,000 people – over 1% of the population.[54] In 2008, however, there was a slump in tourist numbers in Prague, possibly due to the strong Czech koruna making the country too expensive for visitors, compared to the level of services that were available.[55] The country's reputation has also suffered with guidebooks and tourists reporting overcharging by taxi drivers and pickpocketing problems.[55][56] Since 2005, Prague's mayor, Pavel B?m, has worked to improve this reputation by cracking down on petty crime[56] and, aside from these problems, Prague is a relatively safe city; most areas are safe to walk around even after dark.[57] Also, the Czech Republic as a whole generally has a low crime rate.[58]

There are several centres of tourist activity. The historic city of Prague is the primary tourist attraction, as the city is also the most common point of entry for tourists visiting other parts of the country.[59] Most other cities in the country attract significant numbers of tourists, but the spa towns, such as Karlovy Vary, Mari?nsk? L?zn? and Franti?kovy L?zn?, are particularly popular holiday destinations. Other popular tourist sites are the many castles and chateaux, such as those at Karl?tejn Castle, ?esk? Krumlov and the Lednice–Valtice area. Away from the towns, areas such as ?esk? r?j, ?umava and the Krkono?e Mountains attract visitors seeking outdoor pursuits.

The country is also famous for its love of puppetry and marionettes with a number of puppet festivals throughout the country. The Pilsener style beer originated in western Bohemian city of Plze?, and further south the town of Budweis lent its name to its beer, eventually known as Budweiser Bier B?rgerbr?u thus Budweiser.


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