|Czech Republic||Introduction||Back to Top|
Czech Republic, republic comprising the historic regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and part of Silesia, in central Europe, bordered on the north by Poland, on the east by Slovakia, on the south by Austria, and on the west and north by Germany. Formerly parts of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia emerged as independent republics on January 1, 1993. The Czech Republic has an area of 78,864 sq km (30,450 sq mi). Prague (Czech, Praha) is the capital and largest city.
Population 10,321,344 (1995-1996 official estimate) Population Density 131 people/sq km (339 people/sq mi) Urban/Rural Breakdown 75% Urban 25% Rural Largest Cities Prague1,209,855 Brno388,899 Ostrava324,813 (1996 estimates) Ethnic Groups 81% Czech 13% Moravian 6% Other including Slovaks, Poles, Germans, Gypsies, and Hungarians Languages Official Language Czech Other Languages minority languages, including Slovak, German, Hungarian, and Romany Religions 43% Roman Catholicism 35% Non-religious 22% Other including Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Judaism
|Czech Republic||Provinces||Back to Top|
13 regions (kraje, singular - kraj) and 1 capital city* (hlavni mesto); Brnensky, Budejovicky, Jihlavsky, Karlovarsky, Kralovehradecky, Liberecky, Olomoucky, Ostravsky, Pardubicky, Plzensky, Praha*, Stredocesky, Ustecky, Zlinsky.
|Czech Republic||People||Back to Top|
1991 census, the total population of the Czech Republic was 10,302,215; the 2001 estimate was 10,264,212. The population density, based on the 2001 estimate, was 130 persons per sq km (337 per sq mi). The country is divided informally into seven regions, corresponding to administrative divisions that were abolished after the collapse of Communism. These regions, with their 1991 census populations, are Central Bohemia (1,112,882, excluding Prague), Southern Bohemia (697,503), Western Bohemia (860,292), Northern Bohemia (1,174,034), Eastern Bohemia (1,233,187), Southern Moravia (2,049,386) and Northern Moravia (1,960,757).
Czechs make up roughly 95 percent of the population, although the Moravians consider themselves to be a distinct group within this majority. A significant Slovak minority remains from the federal period. A small Polish population exists in northeastern Moravia, and some Germans still live in northwestern Bohemia. The Gypsies (Roma) constitute a small, distinct minority.
|Czech Republic||History||Back to Top|
The region that became the Czech Republic was inhabited by Celtic and Germanic tribes before Slavic tribes from eastern Europe arrived in the 5th century ad. Soon after their arrival, the Slavic tribes were conquered by a Mongolian people known as the Avars. In about 623 a Frankish merchant named Samo organized the Slavic tribes into a kingdom and led this kingdom to defeat the Avars. Samo ruled over this Slavic kingdom, centered in Bohemia, until his death in 658.
In Moravia, Slavic tribes helped the Frankish king, Charlemagne, destroy the Avar empire in the late 700s and were rewarded by receiving part of it as a fief. In the early part of the next century, a Slavic chief named Mojmír I expanded this Slavic state to include Bohemia, Slovakia, southern Poland, and parts of western Hungary. The expanded state came to be known as the Empire of Great Moravia. In 907 Magyar tribes from Hungary conquered the region, the empire disintegrated, and Slovakia came under Hungarian rule.
In the 15th century, Bohemia was ruled by a Polish prince, Vladislav II, who was also the king of Hungary. In 1526 the death of Vladislav II’s heir left the crowns of both Hungary and Bohemia vacant, and Ferdinand I, a member of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty, became king of Hungary and Bohemia. Much of the next century was characterized by conflict between the Czech nobility and the Habsburg monarchy. In 1618 a revolt by the Czech Protestant nobility began the Thirty Years’ War. In 1620 the Bohemian army was defeated at the Battle of the White Mountain and many Czech nobles and cultural leaders were killed or forced into exile. Those who remained in the Czech lands were forced to convert to Catholicism and to give up their own language and culture in favor of German.
|Czech Republic||Culture||Back to Top|
The territory of the Czech Republic traditionally has been between the German and Slav lands, and Czech cultural traditions derive in part from the extreme western location of this Slavic people. Influences from farther afield also have been strong. Visually the most striking influences are Italian—in Renaissance and Baroque architecture—while literature, music, the visual arts, and popular culture also are indebted to a variety of external influences. Most of the Western cultural influences on the Czech Lands have passed through a German filter, and for this reason Czech cultural traditions are marked by a strong sense of national identity.
Bedrich Smetana, Antonín Dvorák, and Leoš Janácek are the three best-known Czech composers. Smetana, who wrote his major works in the late 19th century, based much of his music on Czech folk songs and dances. His famous opera The Bartered Bride (1866) provided a comic portrayal of Czech national life. Dvorák, a contemporary of Smetana, was a master of the symphony also known for incorporating Czech folk music into his works.
Czech literature can claim a remote ancestry in the vernacular writing connected with the mission sent to Moravia in AD 863 by the Byzantine emperor Michael III. Christianity had reached the Slavs of Moravia from the west under the political aegis of the Frankish empire. In order to counter Frankish influence, Rostislav, prince of Great Moravia, sought help from the Byzantine east. The mission was led by an experienced scholar and diplomat, Constantine (better known as Cyril), and his brother Methodius. The brothers translated the greater part of the Bible and the essential liturgical texts into a Slavonic literary language of Cyril's devising, based on the Slavonic vernacular of his native Salonika (modern Thessaloníki, Greece) but enriched from other sources, notably Greek and the Slavonic of Moravia.
|Czech Republic||Life||Back to Top|
Communist period, living standards in Czechoslovakia were among the highest in the Communist world. The reintroduction of a market economy in the early 1990s led to a decline in living standards. However, the economy has begun to recover, and most people in the Czech Republic live comfortably. Czech households typically have refrigerators, washing machines, automobiles, and televisions. Some families have a summer or weekend cottage.
|Czech Republic||Land||Back to Top|
The Bohemian Massif occupies the major portion of the Czech Republic. It consists of a large, roughly ovoid elevated basin (the Bohemian Plateau) encircled by mountains divided into six major groups. In the southwest are the Šumava Mountains, which include the Bohemian Forest. In the west are the Berounka River highlands. The Ore Mountains (Czech: Krušné hory; German: Erzgebirge) in the northwest form the frontier there with Germany and contain the lowest point in the country (384 feet [117 metres]), where the Elbe (Labe) River breaches this range. The Sudeten Mountains in the northeast form most of the border with Poland west of the city of Ostrava and contain the country's highest elevation—5,256 feet (1,602 metres) at Mount Snezka in the Krkonoše (Giant) Mountains. Farther to the east is the Oder (Odra) River lowland, a small fringe along the Polish border. Finally, south of the Bohemian Plateau is the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, which includes the spectacular Moravian Karst.
|Czech Republic||Plants and Animal||Back to Top|
Most of the forest vegetation in the Czech Republic is evergreen. The main deciduous trees are oaks, beeches, birches, poplars, and willows. Wildlife includes rabbits, pheasants, deer, and boar. Environmental damage has severely reduced the number of wildlife and damaged many of the country’s forests.
|Czech Republic||Economy||Back to Top|
The Czech lands have been traditionally among the most economically developed regions of Europe. When the Communists came to power in Czechoslovakia in 1948, they created a highly centralized economic system. Nearly all aspects of economic planning and management came under the control of the central government. Virtually all of the country’s economic assets were placed in state hands; economic managers and decision-makers were cut off from their counterparts in the West; and foreign trade was conducted almost exclusively with other Communist countries. Although the economy remained strong by Eastern European standards, with one of the highest standards of living in the Communist world, the policies adopted by the Communist government led to long-term economic decline in Czechoslovakia. After the collapse of Communism in 1989, the new leaders of Czechoslovakia had to deal with this legacy.
In many respects, the partition of Czechoslovakia in 1993 represented for the emergent Czech Republic an economizing measure far more effective than any that domestic government policy could hope to accomplish. While the Czech Republic and Slovakia officially shared the status of successors to the federal state, long-standing inequities in economic development gave the Czechs a decided advantage at independence. Rigid compartmentalization under the Czechoslovak planned economy made Slovakia, with its mineral resources and hydroelectric potential, a major producer of armaments for the former communist nations of eastern Europe. The economy of the Czech Republic, on the other hand, was relatively diversified and stable, reflecting both a more amenable geography and the historic predominance of Czechs in the federal administration. Similarly, the transition to a market economy initiated after the so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989 lagged behind in Slovakia. Irrespective of deeper societal factors, these imbalances predisposed Czechs to favour partition, while the Slovaks were divided in their view of the federal partnership as either an obscuring shadow or a sheltering wing.
Basically one of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, the Czech Republic has been recovering from recession since mid-1999. The economy grew about 2.5% in 2000 and should achieve somewhat higher growth in 2001. Growth is led by exports to the EU, especially Germany, and foreign investment, while domestic demand is reviving. Uncomfortably high fiscal and current account deficits could be future problems. Unemployment is down to 8.7% as job creation continues in the rebounding economy; inflation is up to 3.8% but still moderate. The EU put the Czech Republic just behind Poland and Hungary in preparations for accession, which will give further impetus and direction to structural reform. Moves to complete banking, telecommunications and energy privatization will add to foreign investment, while intensified restructuring among large enterprises and banks and improvements in the financial sector should strengthen output growth.
|Czech Republic||Communications||Back to Top|
general assessment: privatization and modernization of the Czech telecommunication system got a late start but is advancing steadily; growth in the use of mobile cellular telephones is particularly vigorous domestic: 86% of exchanges now digital; existing copper subscriber systems now being enhanced with Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) equipment to accommodate Internet and other digital signals; trunk systems include fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intersputnik (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions), 1 Intelsat, 1 Eutelsat, 1 Inmarsat, 1 Globalstar
|Czech Republic||Languages||Back to Top|
The official language of the Czech Republic is Czech, a language of the West Slavic subgroup of Slavic languages. Moravians speak a form of Czech that differs slightly from the form spoken in Bohemia. Slovaks speak Slovak, a language closely related to Czech. Members of other ethnic groups generally speak Czech in addition to their own native languages.
|Czech Republic||Politics||Back to Top|
Christian and Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People's Party or KDU-CSL [Cyril SVOBODA, chairman]; Civic Democratic Alliance or ODA [Michael ZANTOVSKY, chairman]; Civic Democratic Party or ODS [Vaclav KLAUS, chairman]; Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia or KSCM [Miroslav GREBENICEK, chairman]; Communist Party of Czechoslovakia or KSC [Miroslav STEPAN, chairman]; Czech National Social Party of CSNS [Jan SULA, chairman]; Czech Social Democratic Party or CSSD [Milos ZEMAN, chairman]; Democratic Union or DEU [Ratibor MAJZLIK, chairman]; Freedom Union or US [Hana MARVANOVA, chairman]; Quad Coalition [Karel KUHNL, chairman] (includes KDU-CSL, US, ODA, DEU); Republicans of Miroslav SLADEK or RMS [Miroslav SLADEK, chairman]
|Czech Republic||Government||Back to Top|
In the early 1990s economic disagreements between Czechs and Slovaks, combined with conflicting views about the proper role of the federal and republican governments, prevented the adoption of a new constitution. Federal and local elections held in June 1992 brought a center-right government to power in the Czech Republic, while a leftist government won control in Slovakia. Later that year, the leaders of the two republics decided to split the federation into two independent countries. A new constitution of the Czech Republic, adopted in December 1992, went into effect with independence in January 1993. The Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy.
|Czech Republic||Legal||Back to Top|
Legal system: civil law system based on Austro-Hungarian codes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; legal code modified to bring it in line with Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) obligations and to expunge Marxist-Leninist legal theory Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal Executive branch: chief of state: President Vaclav HAVEL (since 2 February 1993) head of government: Prime Minister Milos ZEMAN (since 17 July 1998); Deputy Prime Ministers Vladimir SPIDLA (since 22 July 1998), Pavel RYCHETSKY (since 22 July 1998), Jan KAVAN (since 8 December 1999) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister elections: president elected by Parliament for a five-year term; election last held 20 January 1998 (next to be held NA January 2003); prime minister appointed by the president election results: Vaclav HAVEL reelected president; Vaclav HAVEL received 47 of 81 votes in the Senate and 99 out of 200 votes in the Chamber of Deputies (second round of voting) Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Parlament consists of the Senate or Senat (81 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third elected every two years) and the Chamber of Deputies or Poslanecka snemovna (200 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: Senate - last held 12 and 19 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2002); Chamber of Deputies - last held 19-20 June 1998 (next to be held by NA June 2002) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - KDU-CSL 28, ODS 22, CSSD 15, ODA 7, US 4, KSCM 3, independents 2; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - CSSD 32.3%, ODS 27.7%, KSCM 11%, KDU-CSL 9.0%, US 8.6%; seats by party - CSSD 74, ODS 63, KSCM 24, KDU-CSL 20, US 18, CSNS 1 Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Constitutional Court; chairman and deputy chairmen are appointed by the president for a 10-year term
|Czech Republic||organization||Back to Top|
ACCT (observer), Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MONUC, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNMOT, UNOMIG, UPU, WCL, WEU (associate), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC
|Czech Republic||Education||Back to Top|
Education is compulsory from 6 through 15 years of age, when students attend elementary school. After completion of this stage, most students continue their education at a general secondary school or a vocational secondary school, both of which offer four-year programs. Others enter teacher-training institutes, which require two to four years to complete. Under Communism, all schools were run by the government. In 1990 the establishment of private and religious schools was legalized. Although most schools in the Czech Republic are still state controlled, there are now more than 50 private elementary schools and more than 200 private secondary schools.
|Czech Republic||Defence||Back to Top|
Military branches: Army, Air and Air Defense Forces, Territorial Defense, Railroad Units
Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 2,653,456 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 2,024,070 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 69,393 (2001 est.)
|Czech Republic||International Disputes||Back to Top|
Liechtenstein's royal family claims restitution for 1,600 sq km of land in the Czech Republic confiscated in 1918; individual Sudeten German claims for restitution of property confiscated in connection with their expulsion after World War II; Austria has minor dispute with Czech Republic over nuclear power plants and post-World War II treatment of German-speaking minorities
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