Česká republika (Czech)
Motto: "Pravda vítězí" (Czech)
Location of the Czech Republic (dark green)
– in Europe (green & dark grey)
and largest city
/ 50.083; 14.467
|Officially recognised languages|
|Ethnic groups (2014)||
• Prime Minister
• Upper house
• Lower house
|Chamber of Deputies|
• Duchy of Bohemia
• Kingdom of Bohemia
|28 October 1918|
• Czech Socialist Republic
|1 January 1969|
• Czech Republic
|1 January 1993|
• Joined the European Union
|1 May 2004|
|78,866 km (30,450 sq mi) (116th)|
• Water (%)
• 2015 estimate
• 2011 census
|134/km (347.1/sq mi) (87th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2017 estimate|
|$368.659 billion (50th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2017 estimate|
|$196.068 billion (49th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2015)|| 25.0
low · 5th
|HDI (2015)|| 0.878
very high · 28th
|Currency||Czech koruna (CZK)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
• Summer (DST)
|Drives on the||right|
|Patron saint||St. Wenceslaus|
|ISO 3166 code||CZ|
The Czech Republic (/ / CHEK-rə-PUB-lik; Czech: Česká republika, Czech pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʃɛskaː ˈrɛpuˌblɪka] ( listen)), also known as Czechia (//, CHEK-ee-ə; Czech: Česko, pronounced [ˈt͡ʃɛsko]), is a nation state in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. The Czech Republic covers an area of 78,866 square kilometres (30,450 sq mi) with a mostly temperate continental climate and oceanic climate. It is a unitary parliamentary republic, has 10.5 million inhabitants and the capital and largest city is Prague, with over 1.2 million residents. The Czech Republic includes the historical territories of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia.
The Czech state was formed in the late 9th century as the Duchy of Bohemia under the Great Moravian Empire. After the fall of the Empire in 907, the centre of power transferred from Moravia to Bohemia under the Přemyslid dynasty. In 1002, the duchy was formally recognized as part of the Holy Roman Empire, becoming the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1198 and reaching its greatest territorial extent in the 14th century. Besides Bohemia itself, the king of Bohemia ruled the lands of the Bohemian Crown, he had a vote in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor, and Prague was the imperial seat in periods between the 14th and 17th century. In the Hussite wars of the 15th century driven by the Protestant Bohemian Reformation, the kingdom faced economic embargoes and defeated five consecutive crusades proclaimed by the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.
Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the whole Crown of Bohemia was gradually integrated into the Habsburg Monarchy alongside the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. The Protestant Bohemian Revolt (1618–20) against the Catholic Habsburgs led to the Thirty Years' War. After the Battle of the White Mountain, the Habsburgs consolidated their rule, eradicated Protestantism and reimposed Roman Catholicism, and also adopted a policy of gradual Germanization. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Bohemian Kingdom became part of the Austrian Empire and the Czech language experienced a revival as a consequence of widespread romantic nationalism. In the 19th century, the Czech lands became the industrial powerhouse of the monarchy and were subsequently the core of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, which was formed in 1918 following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I.
The Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany in World War II, and was liberated in 1945 by the armies of the Soviet Union and the United States. The Czech country lost the majority of its German-speaking inhabitants after they were expelled following the war. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the 1946 elections. Following the 1948 coup d'état, Czechoslovakia became a one-party communist state under Soviet influence. In 1968, increasing dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in a reform movement known as the Prague Spring, which ended in a Soviet-led invasion.
The first separate Czech republic was created on 1 January 1969, under the name Czech Socialistic Republic within federalization of Czechoslovakia, however the federalization was implemented only incompletely. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed and a democracy and federalization was deepened. On 6 March 1990, the Czech Socialistic Republic was renamed to the Czech Republic. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved, with its constituent states becoming the independent states of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004; it is a member of the United Nations, the OECD, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe. It is a developed country with an advanced, high income economy and high living standards. The UNDP ranks the country 14th in inequality-adjusted human development. In 2016, Czech citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 167 countries and territories, ranking the Czech passport 10th in the world. The Czech Republic also ranks as the 6th most peaceful country, while achieving strong performance in democratic governance. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union.
The traditional English name "Bohemia" derives from Latin "Boiohaemum", which means "home of the Boii". The current name comes from the endonym Čech, spelled "Cžech" until the orthographic reform in 1842. The name comes from the Slavic tribe (Czechs, Czech: Češi, Čechové) and, according to legend, their leader Čech, who brought them to Bohemia, to settle on Říp Mountain. The etymology of the word Čech can be traced back to the Proto-Slavic root *čel-, meaning "member of the people; kinsman", thus making it cognate to the Czech word člověk (a person).
The country has been traditionally divided into three lands, namely Bohemia (Čechy) in the west, Moravia (Morava) in the southeast, and Czech Silesia (Slezsko; the smaller, south-eastern part of historical Silesia, most of which is located within modern Poland) in the northeast. Known as the lands of the Bohemian Crown since the 14th century, a number of other names for the country have been used, including Czech/Bohemian lands, Bohemian Crown, and the lands of the Crown of Saint Wenceslas. When the country regained its independence after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, the new name of Czechoslovakia was coined to reflect the union of the Czech and Slovak nations within the one country.
Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia at the end of 1992, the Czech part of the former nation found itself without a common single-word geographical name in English. The name Czechia // was recommended by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs (minister Josef Zieleniec). In a memorandum to all Czech embassies and diplomatic missions in 1993, the full name "Czech Republic" was recommended for use only in official documents and titles of official institutions. The geographical name still has not reached general recognition, but its usage is increasing. Czech president Miloš Zeman uses the name Czechia in his official speeches. Czechia was approved by the Czech government on 2 May 2016 as the Czech Republic's official short name and was published in the United Nations UNTERM and UNGEGN country name databases on 5 July 2016. Czechia appears on some U.S. government web pages alongside Czech Republic, and Czechia is included in the ISO 3166 country codes list. In languages such as German (Tschechien), Danish (Tjekkiet), Norwegian (Tsjekkia) and Swedish (Tjeckien), the short-name has been in common use for many years. In January 2017 Czechia replaced Czech Republic on Google Maps.
Many groups within the country do not support the name "Czechia", perceiving the term to have been abruptly adopted by bodies like the United Nations without consultation with the general population.
Archaeologists have found evidence of prehistoric human settlements in the area, dating back to the Paleolithic era. The figurine Venus of Dolní Věstonice, together with a few others from nearby locations, found here is the oldest known ceramic article in the world.
In the classical era, from the 3rd century BC Celtic migrations, the Boii and later in the 1st century, Germanic tribes of Marcomanni and Quadi settled there. Their king Maroboduus is the first documented ruler of Bohemia. During the Migration Period around the 5th century, many Germanic tribes moved westwards and southwards out of Central Europe.
Slavic people from the Black Sea–Carpathian region settled in the area (a movement that was also stimulated by the onslaught of peoples from Siberia and Eastern Europe: Huns, Avars, Bulgars and Magyars). In the sixth century they moved westwards into Bohemia, Moravia and some of present-day Austria and Germany.
During the 7th century, the Frankish merchant Samo, supporting the Slavs fighting against nearby settled Avars, became the ruler of the first known Slav state in Central Europe, the Samo's Empire. The principality Great Moravia, controlled by Moymir dynasty, arose in the 8th century and reached its zenith in the 9th when it held off the influence of the Franks. Great Moravia was Christianized, the crucial role played Byzantine mission of Cyril and Methodius. They created the artificial language Old Church Slavonic, the first literary and liturgic language of the Slavs, and the Glagolitic alphabet.
The Duchy of Bohemia emerged in the late 9th century, when it was unified by the Přemyslid dynasty. In 10th century Boleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia conquered Moravia, Silesia and expanded farther to the east. The Kingdom of Bohemia was, as the only kingdom in the Holy Roman Empire, a significant regional power during the Middle Ages. It was part of the Empire from 1002 till 1806, with the exception of the years 1440–1526.
In 1212, King Přemysl Ottokar I (bearing the title "king" from 1198) extracted the Golden Bull of Sicily (a formal edict) from the emperor, confirming Ottokar and his descendants' royal status; the Duchy of Bohemia was raised to a Kingdom. The bull declared that the King of Bohemia would be exempt from all future obligations to the Holy Roman Empire except for participation in imperial councils. German immigrants settled in the Bohemian periphery in the 13th century. Germans populated towns and mining districts and, in some cases, formed German colonies in the interior of Bohemia. In 1235, the Mongols launched an invasion of Europe. After the Battle of Legnica in Poland, the Mongols carried their raids into Moravia, but were defensively defeated at the fortified town of Olomouc. The Mongols subsequently invaded and defeated Hungary.
King Přemysl Otakar II earned the nickname Iron and Golden King because of his military power and wealth. He acquired Austria, Styria, Carinthia and Carniola, thus spreading the Bohemian territory to the Adriatic Sea. He met his death at the Battle on the Marchfeld in 1278 in a war with his rival, King Rudolph I of Germany. Ottokar's son Wenceslaus II acquired the Polish crown in 1300 for himself and the Hungarian crown for his son. He built a great empire stretching from the Danube river to the Baltic Sea. In 1306, the last king of Přemyslid line Wenceslaus III was murdered in mysterious circumstances in Olomouc while he was resting. After a series of dynastic wars, the House of Luxembourg gained the Bohemian throne.
The 14th century, in particular, the reign of the Bohemian king Charles IV (1316–1378), who in 1346 became King of the Romans and in 1354 both King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor, is considered the Golden Age of Czech history. Of particular significance was the founding of Charles University in Prague in 1348, Charles Bridge, Charles Square. Much of Prague Castle and the cathedral of Saint Vitus in Gothic style were completed during his reign. He unified Brandenburg (until 1415), Lusatia (until 1635), and Silesia (until 1742) under the Bohemian crown. The Black Death, which had raged in Europe from 1347 to 1352, decimated the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1380, killing about 10% of the population.
By the end of the 14th century started the process of the so-called Bohemian (Czech) Reformation. The religious and social reformer Jan Hus formed a reform movement later named after him. Although Hus was named a heretic and burnt in Constance in 1415, his followers (led by warlords Jan Žižka and Prokop the Great) seceded from the Catholic Church and in the Hussite Wars (1419–1434) defeated five crusades organized against them by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. Petr Chelčický continued with the Hussite Reformation movement. During the next two centuries, 90% of the inhabitants became adherents of the Hussite movement. Hussite George of Podebrady was even a king. Hus's thoughts were a major influence on the later emerging Lutheranism. Luther himself said "we are all Hussites, without having been aware of it" and considered himself as Hus' direct successor.
After 1526 Bohemia came increasingly under Habsburg control as the Habsburgs became first the elected and then in 1627 the hereditary rulers of Bohemia. The Austrian Habsburgs of the 16th century, the founders of the central European Habsburg Monarchy, were buried in Prague. Between 1583–1611 Prague was the official seat of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II and his court.
The Defenestration of Prague and subsequent revolt against the Habsburgs in 1618 marked the start of the Thirty Years' War, which quickly spread throughout Central Europe. In 1620, the rebellion in Bohemia was crushed at the Battle of White Mountain, and the ties between Bohemia and the Habsburgs' hereditary lands in Austria were strengthened. The leaders of the Bohemian Revolt were executed in 1621. The nobility and the middle class Protestants had to either convert to Catholicism or leave the country.
The following period, from 1620 to the late 18th century, has often been called colloquially the "Dark Age". The population of the Czech lands declined by a third through the expulsion of Czech Protestants as well as due to the war, disease and famine. The Habsburgs prohibited all Christian confessions other than Catholicism. The flowering of Baroque culture shows the ambiguity of this historical period. Ottoman Turks and Tatars invaded Moravia in 1663. In 1679–1680 the Czech lands faced a devastating plague and an uprising of serfs.
The reigns of Maria Theresa of Austria and her son Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor and co-regent from 1765, were characterized by enlightened absolutism. In 1740, most of Silesia (except the southernmost area) was seized by King Frederick II of Prussia in the Silesian Wars. In 1757 the Prussians invaded Bohemia and after the Battle of Prague (1757) occupied the city. More than one quarter of Prague was destroyed and St. Vitus Cathedral also suffered heavy damage. Frederick was defeated soon after at the Battle of Kolín and had to leave Prague and retreat from Bohemia. In 1770 and 1771 Great Famine killed about one tenth of the Czech population, or 250,000 inhabitants, and radicalised the countryside leading to peasant uprisings. Serfdom was abolished (in two steps) between 1781 and 1848. Several large battles of the Napoleonic Wars – Battle of Austerlitz, Battle of Kulm – took place on the current territory of the Czech Republic. Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, born to a noble Czech family, was a field marshal and chief of the general staff of the Austrian Empire army during these wars.
The end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 led to degradation of the political status of the Kingdom of Bohemia. Bohemia lost its position of an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire as well as its own political representation in the Imperial Diet. Bohemian lands became part of the Austrian Empire and later of Austria–Hungary. During the 18th and 19th century the Czech National Revival began its rise, with the purpose to revive Czech language, culture and national identity. The Revolution of 1848 in Prague, striving for liberal reforms and autonomy of the Bohemian Crown within the Austrian Empire, was suppressed.
In 1866 Austria was defeated by Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War (see also Battle of Königgrätz and Peace of Prague). The Austrian Empire needed to redefine itself to maintain unity in the face of nationalism. At first it seemed that some concessions would be made also to Bohemia, but in the end the Emperor Franz Joseph I effected a compromise with Hungary only. The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and the never realized coronation of Franz Joseph as King of Bohemia led to a huge disappointment of Czech politicians. The Bohemian Crown lands became part of the so-called Cisleithania (officially "The Kingdoms and Lands represented in the Imperial Council").
Prague pacifist Bertha von Suttner was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905. In the same year, the Czech Social Democratic and progressive politicians (including Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk) started the fight for universal suffrage. The first elections under universal male suffrage were held in 1907. The last King of Bohemia was Blessed Charles of Austria who ruled in 1916–1918.
An estimated 1.4 million Czech soldiers fought in World War I, of whom some 150,000 died. Although the majority of Czech soldiers fought for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, more than 90,000 Czech volunteers formed the Czechoslovak Legions in France, Italy and Russia, where they fought against the Central Powers and later against Bolshevik troops. In 1918, during the collapse of the Habsburg Empire at the end of World War I, the independent republic of Czechoslovakia, which joined the winning Allied powers, was created, with Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk in the lead. This new country incorporated the Bohemian Crown (Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia) and parts of the Kingdom of Hungary (Slovakia and the Carpathian Ruthenia) with significant German, Hungarian, Polish and Ruthenian speaking minorities. Czechoslovakia concluded a treaty of alliance with Romania and Yugoslavia (the so-called Little Entente) and particularly with France.
In 1929 compared to 1913, the gross domestic product increased by 52% and industrial production by 41%. In 1938 Czechoslovakia held a 10th place in the world industrial production.
Although First Czechoslovak Republic was a unitary state, it provided what were at the time rather extensive rights to its minorities and remained the only democracy in this part of Europe in the interwar period. The effects of the Great Depression including high unemployment and massive propaganda from Nazi Germany, however, resulted in discontent and strong support among ethnic Germans for a break from Czechoslovakia.
Adolf Hitler took advantage of this opportunity and, using Konrad Henlein's separatist Sudeten German Party, gained the largely German speaking Sudetenland (and its substantial Maginot Line-like border fortifications) through the 1938 Munich Agreement (signed by Nazi Germany, France, Britain, and Italy). Czechoslovakia was not invited to the conference, and Czechs and Slovaks call the Munich Agreement the Munich Betrayal because France (which had an alliance with Czechoslovakia) and Britain gave up Czechoslovakia instead of facing Hitler, which later proved inevitable.
Despite the mobilization of 1.2 million-strong Czechoslovak army and the Franco-Czech military alliance, Poland annexed the Zaolzie area around Český Těšín; Hungary gained parts of Slovakia and the Subcarpathian Rus as a result of the First Vienna Award in November 1938. The remainders of Slovakia and the Subcarpathian Rus gained greater autonomy, with the state renamed to "Czecho-Slovakia". After Nazi Germany threatened to annex part of Slovakia, allowing the remaining regions to be partitioned by Hungary and Poland, Slovakia chose to maintain its national and territorial integrity, seceding from Czecho-Slovakia in March 1939, and allying itself, as demanded by Germany, with Hitler's coalition.
The remaining Czech territory was occupied by Germany, which transformed it into the so-called Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The protectorate was proclaimed part of the Third Reich, and the president and prime minister were subordinated to the Nazi Germany's Reichsprotektor. Subcarpathian Rus declared independence as the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine on 15 March 1939 but was invaded by Hungary the same day and formally annexed the next day. Approximately 345,000 Czechoslovak citizens, including 277,000 Jews, were killed or executed while hundreds of thousands of others were sent to prisons and Nazi concentration camps or used as forced labour. Up to two-thirds of the citizens were in groups targeted by the Nazis for deportation or death. One concentration camp was located within the Czech territory at Terezín, north of Prague. The Nazi Generalplan Ost called for the extermination, expulsion, germanisation or enslavement of most or all Czechs for the purpose of providing more living space for the German people.
There was Czech resistance to Nazi occupation, both at home and abroad, most notably with the assassination of Nazi German leader Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovakian soldiers Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš in a Prague suburb on 27 May 1942. On 9 June 1942 Hitler ordered bloody reprisals against the Czechs as a response to the Czech anti-Nazi resistance. The Edvard Beneš's Czechoslovak government-in-exile and its army fought against the Germans and were acknowledged by the Allies; Czech/Czechoslovak troops fought from the very beginning of the war in Poland, France, the UK, North Africa, the Middle East and the Soviet Union (see I Czechoslovakian Corps). The German occupation ended on 9 May 1945, with the arrival of the Soviet and American armies and the Prague uprising. An estimated 140,000 Soviet soldiers died in liberating Czechoslovakia from German rule.
In 1945–1946, almost the entire German-speaking minority in Czechoslovakia, about 3 million people, were expelled to Germany and Austria (see also Beneš decrees). During this time, thousands of Germans were held in prisons and detention camps or used as forced labour. In the summer of 1945, there were several massacres, such as the Postoloprty massacre. Research by a joint German and Czech commission of historians in 1995 found that the death toll of the expulsions was at least 15,000 persons and that it could range up to a maximum of 30,000 dead. The only Germans not expelled were some 250,000 who had been active in the resistance against the Nazi Germans or were considered economically important, though many of these emigrated later. Following a Soviet-organised referendum, the Subcarpathian Rus never returned under Czechoslovak rule but became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, as the Zakarpattia Oblast in 1946.
Czechoslovakia uneasily tried to play the role of a "bridge" between the West and East. However, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia rapidly increased in popularity, with a general disillusionment with the West, because of the pre-war Munich Agreement, and a favourable popular attitude towards the Soviet Union, because of the Soviets' role in liberating Czechoslovakia from German rule. In the 1946 elections, the Communists gained 38% of the votes and became the largest party in the Czechoslovak parliament. They formed a coalition government with other parties of the National Front and moved quickly to consolidate power. A significant change came in 1948 with coup d'état by the Communist Party. The Communist People's Militias secured control of key locations in Prague, and a single party government was formed.
For the next 41 years, Czechoslovakia was a Communist state within the Eastern Bloc. This period is characterized by lagging behind the West in almost every aspect of social and economic development. The country's GDP per capita fell from the level of neighboring Austria below that of Greece or Portugal in the 1980s. The Communist government completely nationalized the means of production and established a command economy. The economy grew rapidly during the 1950s but slowed down in the 1960s and 1970s and stagnated in the 1980s.
The political climate was highly repressive during the 1950s, including numerous show trials (the most famous victims: Milada Horáková and Rudolf Slánský) and hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, but became more open and tolerant in the late 1960s, culminating in Alexander Dubček's leadership in the 1968 Prague Spring, which tried to create "socialism with a human face" and perhaps even introduce political pluralism. This was forcibly ended by invasion by all Warsaw Pact member countries with the exception of Romania and Albania on 21 August 1968. Student Jan Palach became a symbol of resistance to the occupation, when committed self-immolation as a political protest.
The invasion was followed by a harsh program of "Normalization" in the late 1960s and the 1970s. Until 1989, the political establishment relied on censorship of the opposition. Dissidents published Charter 77 in 1977, and the first of a new wave of protests were seen in 1988. Between 1948 and 1989 about 250,000 Czechs and Slovaks were sent to prison for political reasons, and over 400,000 emigrated.
In November 1989, Czechoslovakia returned to a liberal democracy through the peaceful "Velvet Revolution" (led by Václav Havel and his Civic Forum). However, Slovak national aspirations strengthened (see Hyphen War) and on 1 January 1993, the country peacefully split into the independent Czech Republic and Slovakia. Both countries went through economic reforms and privatisations, with the intention of creating a market economy. This process was largely successful; in 2006 the Czech Republic was recognised by the World Bank as a "developed country", and in 2009 the Human Development Index ranked it as a nation of "Very High Human Development".
From 1991, the Czech Republic, originally as part of Czechoslovakia and since 1993 in its own right, has been a member of the Visegrád Group and from 1995, the OECD. The Czech Republic joined NATO on 12 March 1999 and the European Union on 1 May 2004. On 21 December 2007 the Czech Republic joined the Schengen Area. The Social Democrats (Miloš Zeman, Vladimír Špidla, Stanislav Gross, Jiří Paroubek, Bohuslav Sobotka), or liberal-conservatives (Václav Klaus, Mirek Topolánek, Petr Nečas) led government of the Czech Republic yet.
The Czech Republic lies mostly between latitudes 48° and 51° N (a small area lies north of 51°), and longitudes 12° and 19° E.
The Czech landscape is exceedingly varied. Bohemia, to the west, consists of a basin drained by the Elbe (Czech: Labe) and the Vltava rivers, surrounded by mostly low mountains, such as the Krkonoše range of the Sudetes. The highest point in the country, Sněžka 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 Western European broadleaf forests, Central European mixed forests, Pannonian mixed forests, and Carpathian montane conifer forests.
There are four national parks in the Czech Republic. The oldest is Krkonoše National Park (Biosphere Reserve), and the others are Šumava National Park (Biosphere Reserve), Podyjí National Park, Bohemian Switzerland.
The three historical lands of the Czech Republic (formerly the core countries of the Bohemian Crown) correspond almost perfectly with the river basins of the Elbe (Czech: Labe) and the Vltava basin for Bohemia, the Morava one for Moravia, and the Oder river basin for Czech Silesia (in terms of the Czech territory).
The Czech Republic has a temperate continental climate, with warm summers and cold, cloudy and snowy winters. 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. The wettest area in the Czech Republic is found around Bílý Potok in Jizera Mountains and the driest region is the Louny District to the northwest of Prague. Another important factor is the distribution of the mountains; therefore, the climate is quite varied.
At the highest peak of Sněžka (1,602 m or 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 °C (36 °F) – 30 °C (54 °F) higher than during winter. 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.
The coldest temperature ever measured was in Litvínovice near České Budějovice in 1929, at −42.2 °C (−44.0 °F) and the hottest measured, was at 40.4 °C (104.7 °F) in Dobřichovice in 2012.
Most rain falls during the summer. Sporadic rainfall is relatively constant throughout the year (in Prague, the average number of days per month experiencing at least 0.1 mm of rain varies from 12 in September and October to 16 in November) but concentrated heavy rainfall (days with more than 10 mm per day) are more frequent in the months of May to August (average around two such days per month).
The Czech Republic ranks as 27th most environmentally conscious country in the world in Environmental Performance Index. The Czech Republic has four National Parks (Šumava National Park, Krkonoše National Park, České Švýcarsko National Park, Podyjí National Park) and 25 Protected Landscape Areas.
The Czech Republic is a pluralist multi-party parliamentary representative democracy, with the Prime Minister as the head of government. The Parliament (Parlament České republiky) is bicameral, with the Chamber of Deputies (Czech: Poslanecká sněmovna) (200 members) and the Senate (Czech: Senát) (81 members).
The president is a formal head of state with limited and specific powers, most importantly to return bills to the parliament, appoint members to the board of the Czech National Bank, nominate constitutional court judges for the Senate's approval and dissolve the Chamber of Deputies under certain special and unusual circumstances. The president and vice president of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President of the Republic. He also appoints the prime minister, as well the other members of the cabinet on a proposal by the prime minister. From 1993 until 2012, the President of the Czech Republic was selected by a joint session of the parliament for a five-year term, with no more than two consecutive terms (2x Václav Havel, 2x Václav Klaus). Since 2013 the presidential election is direct. Miloš Zeman was the first directly elected Czech President.
The Government of the Czech Republic's exercise of executive power derives from the Constitution. The members of the government are the Prime Minister, Deputy ministers and other ministers. The Government is responsible to the Chamber of Deputies.
The Prime Minister is the head of government and wields considerable powers, such as the right to set the agenda for most foreign and domestic policy and choose government ministers. The current Prime Minister of the Czech Republic is Bohuslav Sobotka, serving since 17 January 2014 as 11th Prime Minister.
The members of the Chamber of Deputies are elected for a four-year term by proportional representation, with a 5% election threshold. There are 14 voting districts, identical to the country's administrative regions. The Chamber of Deputies, the successor to the Czech National Council, has the powers and responsibilities of the now defunct federal parliament of the former Czechoslovakia.
The members of the Senate are elected in single-seat constituencies by two-round runoff voting for a six-year term, with one-third elected every even year in the autumn. The first election was in 1996, for differing terms. This arrangement is modeled on the U.S. Senate, but each constituency is roughly the same size and the voting system used is a two-round runoff. The Senate is unpopular among the public and suffers from low election turnout.
|President||Miloš Zeman||SPO||8 March 2013|
|Prime Minister||Bohuslav Sobotka||ČSSD||17 January 2014|
|Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies||Jan Hamáček||ČSSD||27 November 2013|
|President of the Senate||Milan Štěch||ČSSD||24 November 2010|
The Czech Republic has a civil law system based on the continental type, rooted in Germanic legal culture. Czech judiciary has triumvirate system of the main courts, the Constitutional Court which oversees violations of the Constitution by either the legislature or by the government consisting of 15 constitutional judges, the Supreme Court is the court of highest appeal for almost all legal cases heard in the Czech Republic formed of 67 judges and the Supreme Administrative Court decides on issues of procedural and administrative propriety. It also has jurisdiction over many political matters, such as the formation and closure of political parties, jurisdictional boundaries between government entities, and the eligibility of persons to stand for public office.
The Czech Republic has an established structure of foreign relations. It is a member of the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Council of Europe and is an observer to the Organization of American States. The embassies of most countries with diplomatic relations with the Czech Republic are located in Prague, while consulates are located across the country.
According to a 2016 World Tourism Organization report, Czech citizens have visa-free entry to 156 countries (ranking tied with New Zealand), which makes them one of the least restricted by visas to travel abroad. The US Visa Waiver Program applies to Czech nationals.
The Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs have primary roles in setting foreign policy. Membership in the European Union is central to the Czech Republic's foreign policy. The Czech Republic held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first half of 2009.
The Czech Republic has strong ties with Slovakia, Poland and Hungary as member of Visegrad Group, as well as with Germany, Israel, United States and European Union and their members.
Czech officials have supported dissenters in Belarus, Moldova, Myanmar and Cuba.
The Czech armed forces consist of the Czech Land Forces, the Czech Air Force and of specialized support units. The armed forces are managed by the Ministry of Defence. The President of the Czech Republic is Commander-in-chief of the armed forces. In 2004 the army transformed itself into a fully professional organization and compulsory military service was abolished. The country has been a member of NATO since 12 March 1999. Defense spending is approximately 1.04% of the GDP (2015). The armed forces are charged with protecting the Czech Republic and its allies, promoting global security interests, and contributing to NATO.
Currently, as a member of NATO, the Czech military are participating in KFOR and ISAF (renamed to Resolute Support) operations and have soldiers in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Israel and Mali. The Czech Air Force also served in the Baltic states and Iceland. Main equipment includes: multi-role fighters JAS 39 Gripen, combat aircraft Aero L-159 Alca, modernized attack helicopters Mi-35, armored vehicles Pandur II, OT-64, OT-90, BVP-2 and Czech modernized tanks T-72 (T-72M4CZ).
Since 2000, the Czech Republic has been divided into thirteen regions (Czech: kraje, singular kraj) and the capital city of Prague. Every region has its own elected regional assembly (krajské zastupitelstvo) and hejtman (a regional governor). In Prague, the assembly and presidential powers are executed by the city council and the mayor.
The older seventy-six districts (okresy, singular okres) including three "statutory cities" (without Prague, which had special status) lost most of their importance in 1999 in an administrative reform; they remain as territorial divisions and seats of various branches of state administration.
|A||Prague||Hlavní město Praha||n/a||1,170,571||1,268,796|
|S||Central Bohemian Region||Středočeský kraj||Prague||1,144,071||1,289,211|
|C||South Bohemian Region||Jihočeský kraj||České Budějovice||625,712||628,336|
|P||Plzeň Region||Plzeňský kraj||Plzeň||549,618||570,401|
|K||Karlovy Vary Region||Karlovarský kraj||Karlovy Vary||304,588||295,595|
|U||Ústí nad Labem Region||Ústecký kraj||Ústí nad Labem||822,133||835,814|
|L||Liberec Region||Liberecký kraj||Liberec||427,563||432,439|
|H||Hradec Králové Region||Královéhradecký kraj||Hradec Králové||547,296||547,916|
|E||Pardubice Region||Pardubický kraj||Pardubice||505,285||511,627|
|M||Olomouc Region||Olomoucký kraj||Olomouc||635,126||628,427|
|T||Moravian-Silesian Region||Moravskoslezský kraj||Ostrava||1,257,554||1,205,834|
|B||South Moravian Region||Jihomoravský kraj||Brno||1,123,201||1,163,508|
|Z||Zlín Region||Zlínský kraj||Zlín||590,706||579,944|
|J||Vysočina Region||Kraj Vysočina||Jihlava||517,153||505,565|
The Czech Republic possesses a developed, high-income economy with a per capita GDP rate that is 87% of the European Union average. The most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, the Czech Republic saw growth of over 6% annually in the three years before the outbreak of the recent global economic crisis. 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. A 2009 survey in cooperation with the Czech Economic Association found that the majority of Czech economists favour continued liberalization in most sectors of the economy. Dividends worth CZK 300 billion were paid to foreign owners in 2013.
The country has been a member of the Schengen Area since 1 May 2004, having abolished border controls, completely opening its borders with all of its neighbours (Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia) on 21 December 2007. The Czech Republic became a member of the World Trade Organisation on 1 January 1995. In 2012, Nearly 80% of Czech exports went to, and more than 65% of Czech imports came from, other European Union member states.
The Czech Republic would become the 49th largest economy in the world by 2050 with a GDP of US$ $342 billion.
Monetary policy is conducted by the Czech National Bank, whose independence is guaranteed by the Constitution. The official currency is the Czech koruna. In November 2013, the Czech National Bank started to intervene to weaken the exchange rate of Czech koruna through a monetary stimulus in order to stop the currency from excessive strengthening and to fight against deflation. In late 2016, the CNB stated that the return to conventional monetary policy was planned for mid-2017. When it joined EU, the Czech Republic obligated itself to adopt the euro, but the date of adoption has not been determined.
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. The Czech Republic is ranked 24th in the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.
In December 2016, Czech GDP growth was 1.9%, giving the Czech economy the average growth in the European Union. The unemployment rate is 3.5%, giving the Czech Republic the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union.
In 2015 largest companies of the Czech Republic by revenue were automobile manufacturer Škoda Auto, utility company ČEZ Group, conglomerate Agrofert, energy trading company RWE Supply & Trading CZ and electronics manufacturer Foxconn CZ. Other Czech transportation companies include: Škoda Transportation (tramways, trolleybuses, metro), Tatra (the third oldest car maker in the world), Karosa (buses), Aero Vodochody (airplanes) and Jawa Moto (motorcycles). Škoda Auto is one of the largest car manufacturers in Central Europe. In 2014, it sold a record number of 1,037,000 cars and said it aimed to double sales by 2018.
Production of Czech electricity exceeds consumption by about 10 TWh per year, which are exported. Nuclear power presently provides about 30 percent of the total power needs, its share is projected to increase to 40 percent. In 2005, 65.4 percent of electricity was produced by steam and combustion power plants (mostly coal); 30 percent by nuclear plants; and 4.6 percent from renewable sources, including hydropower. The largest Czech power resource is Temelín Nuclear Power Station, another nuclear power plant is in Dukovany.
The Czech Republic is reducing its dependence on highly polluting low-grade brown coal as a source of energy. 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 double electricity consumption. South Moravia has small oil and gas deposits.
Václav Havel Airport in Prague is the main international airport in the country. In 2010, it handled 11.6 million passengers, which makes it the second busiest airport in Central Europe. In total, the Czech Republic has 46 airports with paved runways, six of which provide international air services in Brno, Karlovy Vary, Mošnov (near Ostrava), Pardubice, Prague and Kunovice (near Uherské Hradiště).
České dráhy (the Czech Railways) is the main railway operator in the Czech Republic, with about 180 million passengers carried yearly. With 9,505 km (5,906.13 mi) of tracks, the Czech Republic has one of the densest railway networks in Europe. Of that number, 2,926 km (1,818.13 mi) is electrified, 7,617 km (4,732.98 mi) are single-line tracks and 1,866 km (1,159.48 mi) are double and multiple-line tracks. Maximum speed is limited to 160 km/h. In 2006 seven Italian tilting trainsets Pendolino ČD Class 680 entered service.
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 road network in the Czech Republic is 55,653 km (34,581.17 mi) long. There are 1,247 km of motorways. The speed limit is 50 km/h within towns, 90 km/h outside of towns and 130 km/h on motorways.
The Czech Republic ranks in the top 10 countries worldwide with the fastest average internet speed. By the beginning of 2008, there were over 800 mostly local WISPs, with about 350,000 subscribers in 2007. Plans based on either GPRS, EDGE, UMTS or CDMA2000 are being offered by all three mobile phone operators (T-Mobile, Telefónica O2, Vodafone) and internet provider U:fon. Government-owned Český 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 Český Telecom helped drive down prices.
On 1 July 2006, Český Telecom was acquired by globalized company (Spain-owned) Telefónica group and adopted the new name Telefónica O2 Czech Republic. As of June 2014, VDSL and ADSL2+ are offered in many variants, with download speeds of up to 40 Mbit/s and upload speeds of up to 2Mbit/s. Cable internet is gaining popularity with its higher download speeds ranging from 2 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s.
Two major antivirus companies, Avast and AVG, were founded in the Czech Republic. It was announced in July 2016, that Avast is acquiring rival AVG for US$1.3 billion, together these companies have a user base of about 400 million people and 40% of the consumer market outside of China.
The Czech lands have a long and rich scientific tradition. The research based on cooperation between universities, Academy of Sciences and specialised research centers brings new inventions and impulses in this area. Important inventions include the modern contact lens, the separation of modern blood types, and the production of Semtex plastic explosive.
Cyril and Methodius laid the foundations of education and the Czech theological thinking in the 9th century. Original theological and philosophical stream – hussite – originated in the Middle Ages. It was represented by Jan Hus, Jerome of Prague or Petr Chelčický. At the end of the Middle Ages, Jan Amos Comenius substantially contributed to the development of modern pedagogy. Jewish philosophy in the Czech lands was represented mainly by Judah Loew ben Bezalel (known for the legend of the Golem of Prague). Bernard Bolzano was the personality of German-speaking philosophy in the Czech lands. Bohuslav Balbín was a key Czech philosopher and historian of the Baroque era. He also started the struggle for rescuing the Czech language. This culminated in the Czech national revival in the first half of the 19th century. Linguistics (Josef Dobrovský, Pavel Jozef Šafařík, Josef Jungmann), etnography (Karel Jaromír Erben, František Ladislav Čelakovský) and history (František Palacký) played a big role in revival. Palacký was the eminent personality. He wrote the first synthetic history of the Czech nation. He was also the first Czech modern politician and geopolitician (see also Austro-Slavism). He is often called "The Father of the Nation". In the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century there was a huge development of social sciences (personalities speaks Czech but also German). Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk laid the foundations of Czech sociology. Konstantin Jireček founded Byzantology (see also Jireček Line). Alois Musil was a prominent orientalist, Emil Holub ethnographer. Lubor Niederle was a founder of modern Czech archeology. Sigmund Freud established psychoanalysis. Edmund Husserl defined a new philosophical doctrine – phenomenology. Joseph Schumpeter brought genuine economic ideas of "creative destruction" of capitalism. Hans Kelsen was significant legal theorist. Karl Kautsky influenced the history of Marxism. On the contrary, economist Eugen Böhm von Bawerk led a campaign against Marxism. Max Wertheimer was one of the three founders of Gestalt psychology. Musicologists Eduard Hanslick and Guido Adler influenced debates on the development of classical music in Vienna. Art historian Max Dvořák is pushed in Vienna too, anthropologist Aleš Hrdlička in the United States. New Czechoslovak republic (1918–1938) wanted to develop sciences. Significant linguistic school was established in Prague – Prague Linguistic Circle (Vilém Mathesius, Jan Mukařovský, René Wellek), moreover linguist Bedřich Hrozný deciphered the ancient Hittite language and linguist Julius Pokorny deepened knowledge about Celtic languages. Philosopher Herbert Feigl was a member of the Vienna Circle. Ladislav Klíma has developed a special version of Nietzschean philosophy. In the second half of the 20th century can be mentioned philosopher Ernest Gellner who is considered one of the leading theoreticians on the issue of nationalism. Also Czech historian Miroslav Hroch analyzed modern nationalism. Vilém Flusser developed the philosophy of technology and image. Marxist Karel Kosík was a major philosopher in the background of the Prague Spring 1968. Jan Patočka and Václav Havel were the main ideologists of the Charter 77. Egon Bondy was a major philosophical spokesman of the Czech underground in the 1970s and 1980s. Czech Egyptology has scored some successes, its main representative is Miroslav Verner. Czech psychologist Stanislav Grof developed a method of "Holotropic Breathwork". Experimental archaeologist Pavel Pavel made several attempts, they had to answer the question how ancient civilizations transported heavy weights.
Famous scientists who were born on the territory of the current Czech Republic:
A number of other scientists are also connected in some way with the Czech lands. They taught at the University of Prague: astronomers Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe, physicists Christian Doppler, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein or geologist Joachim Barrande.
The Czech economy gets a substantial income from tourism. Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome. In 2001, the total earnings from tourism reached 118 billion CZK, making up 5.5% of GNP and 9% of overall export earnings. The industry employs more than 110,000 people – over 1% of the population. The country's reputation has suffered with guidebooks and tourists reporting overcharging by taxi drivers and pickpocketing problems mainly in Prague, though the situation has improved recently. Since 2005, Prague's mayor, Pavel Bém, has worked to improve this reputation by cracking down on petty crime and, aside from these problems, Prague is a safe city. Also, the Czech Republic as a whole generally has a low crime rate. For tourists, the Czech Republic is considered a safe destination to visit. The low crime rate makes most cities and towns very safe to walk around.
One of the most visited tourist attractions in the Czech Republic is the Nether district Vítkovice in Ostrava, a post-industrial city on the northeast of the country. The territory was formerly the site of steel production, but now it hosts a technical museum with many interactive expositions for tourists.
There are several centres of tourist activity. The spa towns, such as Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně and Jáchymov, are particularly popular relaxing holiday destinations. Architectural heritage is another object of interest to visitors – it includes many castles and châteaux from different historical epoques, namely Karlštejn Castle, Český Krumlov and the Lednice–Valtice area.
There are 12 cathedrals and 15 churches elevated to the rank of basilica by the Pope, calm monasteries, many modern and ancient churches – for example Pilgrimage Church of Saint John of Nepomuk is one of those inscribed on the World Heritage List. Away from the towns, areas such as Český ráj, Šumava and the Krkonoše Mountains attract visitors seeking outdoor pursuits.
The country is also known for its various museums. Puppetry and marionette exhibitions are very popular, with a number of puppet festivals throughout the country. Aquapalace Praha in Čestlice near Prague, is the biggest water park in central Europe.
The Czech Republic has a number of beer festivals, including: Czech Beer Festival (the biggest Czech beer festival, it is usually 17 days long and held every year in May in Prague), Pilsner Fest (every year in August in Plzeň), The Olomoucký pivní festival (in Olomouc) or festival Slavnosti piva v Českých Budějovicích (in České Budějovice).
According to preliminary results of the 2011 census, the majority of the inhabitants of the Czech Republic are Czechs (63.7%), followed by Moravians (4.9%), Slovaks (1.4%), Poles (0.4%), Germans (0.2%) and Silesians (0.1%). As the 'nationality' was an optional item, a substantial number of people left this field blank (26.0%). According to some estimates, there are about 250,000 Romani people in the Czech Republic.
There were 437,581 foreigners residing in the country in September 2013, according to the Czech Statistical Office, with the largest groups being Ukrainian (106,714), Slovak (89,273), Vietnamese (61,102), Russian (32,828), Polish (19,378), German (18,099), Bulgarian (8,837), American (6,695), Romanian (6,425), Moldovan (5,860), Chinese (5,427), British (5,413), Mongolian (5,308), Kazakh (4,850), Belarusian (4,562).
The Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia, 118,000 according to the 1930 census, was virtually annihilated by the Nazi Germans during the Holocaust. There were approximately 4,000 Jews in the Czech Republic in 2005. The former Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, is of Jewish ethnicity and faith.
The total fertility rate (TFR) in 2015 was estimated at 1.44 children born/woman, which is below the replacement rate of 2.1, and one of the lowest in the world. In 2016, 48.6% of births were to unmarried women. The life expectancy in 2013 was estimated at 77.56 years (74.29 years male, 81.01 years female). Immigration increased the population by almost 1% in 2007. About 77,000 people immigrate to the Czech Republic annually. Vietnamese immigrants began settling in the Czech Republic during the Communist period, when they were invited as guest workers by the Czechoslovak government. In 2009, there were about 70,000 Vietnamese in the Czech Republic. Most decide to stay in the country permanently.
At the turn of the 20th century, Chicago was the city with the third largest Czech population, after Prague and Vienna. According to the 2010 US census, there are 1,533,826 Americans of full or partial Czech descent.
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