The Czech Republic

Basic facts

  • The Czech Republic is located in the centre of Europe.
  • Because of its position, The CR is nicknamed “the heart of Europe”.
  • Our country is bordered by Germany to the west, Poland to the north, Slovakia to the east and Austria to the south.
  • It has a population of about 10 million and the biggest ethnic group is from Slovakia.
  • The capital city is Prague.
  • The local currency is the Czech Crown.

History of the CR

  • The country began to form in the 9th century with the creation of Great Moravia. After its fall, the Czech state was established.
  • The Czech lands became a part of the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th century. King Charles IV was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1355.
  • His rule is known as “the Golden Age” of Czech history. He established Charles University, the first university in Central Europe, in 1348.
  • Under the reign of the Habsburgs, the Czech lands became part of the Austro‑Hungarian Empire. Rudolf II’s rule is associated with Prague being a place of magic and mysticism.
  • In 1618, a revolt by Czech Protestants against Catholic rule started the Thirty Year War, which led to the final defeat of the Czech Protestants in 1620 at the Battle of White Mountain.
  • Much of the Czech aristocracy left the country afterwards. (e.g. Jan Amos Komenský)
  • The 19th century brought the revival of the Czech language and of Czech national consciousness.
  • The country became independent from the Austro‑Hungarian Empire on 28 October, 1918 and Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk became the first President.
  • In 1938 the Munich Agreement between Germany, Italy, France and Great Britain saw the Sudetenland region given to Germany.
  • The next year Germany invaded what remained of Czechoslovakia.
  • In 1948 the Communist Party took power and held it for more than 40 years.
  • In 1989 the ‘Velvet Revolution’ saw the end of communism. Václav Havel became the first president of a newly democratic Czechoslovakia. But not for a long time.
  • In 1993 the ‘Velvet Divorce’ saw the separation of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
  • In 2004 the Czech Republic became a full member of the European Union. In 2007 it became a member of the Schengen Area.
  • The CR is also member of the UN, NATO, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and WTO.

The geography of the CR

  • The Czech Republic has a temperate continental climate, which brings four distinct seasons.
  • The landscape is hilly around the borders and flatter in the centre. The highest mountain is Sněžka, which is 1602 metres tall.
  • A number of rivers such as the Elbe, the Vltava and the Morava flow through the country.  The most important is the Elbe, because it connects the CR with Germany and the North Sea.
  • The disadvantage of a high number of rivers is that the country often suffers from floods.
  • There are many ponds in south Bohemia. Their biggest boom was during the Charles IV’s reign. The biggest one is Rožmberk.
  • The land is quite heavily forested. Šumava in the south has some of the oldest forests in the country. Touristic attraction is Boubín.
  • Another famous destination where to go is Český ráj. It is a popular area for hiking and has many interesting rock formations. And also Moravian Karst is famous for its cave systems.

The Czech political system

  • The Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy.
  • The parliament is two-chambered. The lower house is called the Chamber of Deputies and the upper house is called the Senate.
  • The Chamber of Deputies has 200 members, which are elected for 4 years. They create new laws and rule the country. It has proportional representation.
  • Senate has 81 members, which are elected for six years, every two years one third of them.
  • The government is formed from the lower house and consists from the Ministers of each resorts and the prime minister.
  • The head of the government is the prime minister. The current prime minister of the CR is Petr Nečas.
  • The head of state is the president, who is elected every five years and can only be elected for two terms. His or her competences aren’t so important. The president names new judges, he is a head of the Czech army, he names new government etc.

Administration in the CR

  • Since 2000, the Czech Republic is divided into thirteen regions and the capital city of Prague.
  • Each region has its own elected Regional Assembly and the president of the region.
  • In Prague, their powers are executed by the city council and the mayor.
  • The biggest area has the Central Bohemia region, but the biggest population is in the Europe-Silesia region.

Economy of the CR

  • Traditionally, Bohemia is seen as more industrial and Moravia is seen as religious.
  • Typical Czechs products are beer, cars, coal and other raw materials. The most famous Czech company used to be Baťa, but in these days it’s Škoda Auto or Pilsner Urquell.
  • Brno is the second largest city and unofficial capital of Moravia. Moravia is known for its wines. Brno was once called the “Moravian Manchester” because of its fast industrialization in the 19th century. It is famous for the Tugendhat Villa.
  • Ostrava is known for its mining history. The most important company in Ostrava is Vítkovice Steel.

Famous Czechs

  • Charles IV is famous for being the only Czech to be Holy Roman Emperor. He founded he first Czech university in 1348. During his reign the Czech country became one of the most important centres of Europe.
  • Jan Hus was an important religious leader of the 14th and 15th centuries. He was burned on 6 July 1415 because of a heresy. This date became an important day of the Czech history.
  • Jan Amos Komenský was an important educational theorist and reformer in the 17th century. He is considered the father of modern education.
  • Karel Čapek, Milan Kundera and Jaroslav Hašek are famous Czech writers. But the only Czech writer who was awarded by Nobel Prize in literature is Jaroslav Seifert. He achieved this success in 1984.
  • Another Czech who won the Nobel Prize was the professor Jaroslav Heyrovský for chemistry for his invention of polarography.
  • Also Otto Wichterle was famous Czech scientist. His invention of the contact lenses is one of the greatest successes of 20th century.
  • The CR is very famous in the film industry. E.g. Miloš Forman is an Oscar-winning director. He won two Oscars for direction of Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Zdeněk Svěrák’s film Kolja was also awarded. Kolja won the Oscar for the best foreign language film.
  • In Kolja you can hear music of another famous Czech. Bedřich Smetana is one of the most significant composers of the Czech state. But in world is more famous Antonín Dvořák. His New World Symphony was the first song which sounded on the Moon.
  • The most famous Czech athlete is Jaromír Jágr. He is two times SC winner and one time winner of the Hart Trophy for the most valuable player.

Tourism in the CR

  • Because of the state’s long and eventful history, there are numerous castles, palaces and places of interest presenting different architectural styles. Some of them have been listed as UNESCO sights and are under the protection of this international organisation.

1. The Historical Centre of Prague (listed in 1992)

The top Czech destination, Prague, leads the list with monuments such as Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral and Charles Bridge.

2. The Historical Centre of Český Krumlov (1992)

This popular tourist attraction boasts a castle and chateaux complex and a well-preserved historical centre. The aristocratic families of Vítkovci and Rožmberkové are connected to the town’s history and its Rennaissance look.

3. The Historical Centre of Telč (1992)

The town’s square offers a unique combination of Renaissance and Baroque houses with characteristic arcades and sgrafitti design. There is also a chateux in the town.

4. The Pilgrimage Church of Jan Nepomuk in Zelená Hora, close to Žďár nad Sázavou (1994)

The star shaped pilgrimage church built by Santini-Aichl, a Czech Baroque builder of Italian origin, is characteristic of Baroque‑Gothic style. The building includes a lot of complex symbolism based on the number five.

5. Kutná Hora (1995)

Kutná Hora is medieval mining town, which became rich because of its silver deposits. It is famous for its historical centre and the Church of St. Barbara. This eye-catching piece of Gothic architecture was begun in 1388 but wasn’t completed until 1905. The construction was often interrupted as the town suffered from wars, flood and financial collapse following the closure of the mines.

Ke stažení zde: The Czech Republic