Czech Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The
republic borders Poland to the north, Germany to the northwest and west, Austria
to the south, and Slovakia to the east. The country is composed of two older regions,
Bohemia and Moravia, and part of a third one, Silesia. As of May 1, 2004, it is
a member state of the European Union.
Capital and largest city is Prague
with its castle, its old town and its waterfront along the Vltava river. Historic
Prague, a major tourist attraction.
Official language - Czech,
a member of the Slavic languages.
The Czech lands emerged in the late 9th century when it was unified by the
Premyslids. The kingdom of Bohemia was a significant local power, but religious
conflicts such as the 15th century Hussite Wars and the 17th century Thirty Years
War were devastating. It later came under the Habsburg influence and became part
Following the collapse of this state after World War I,
the Czechs and neighbouring Slovaks joined together and formed the independent
republic of Czechoslovakia in 1918. This new country contained a large German
minority, which would lead to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia when Germany successfully
annexed the minority through the Munich Agreement in 1938, and Slovakia gained
greater autonomy, with the state renamed "Czecho-Slovakia". Slovakia
broke away further in 1939 and the remaining Czech state was occupied by the Germans.
After World War II, a reconstituted Czechoslovakia fell within the Soviet sphere
of influence. In 1968, an invasion by Warsaw Pact troops ended the efforts of
the country's leaders to liberalise party rule and create "socialism with
a human face" during the Prague Spring. In 1989, Czechoslovakia regained
its freedom through a peaceful "Velvet Revolution". On January 1, 1993,
the country peacefully split in two, creating independent Czech and Slovak republics.
The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.
The Czech landscape is quite varied; Bohemia to the west consists of a basin,
drained by the Elbe (Labe) and Vltava rivers, surrounded by mostly low mountains
such as the Sudeten with its part Krkonose, where one also finds the highest point
in the country, the Snezka at 1,602 m. Moravia, the eastern part, is also quite
hilly and is drained predominantly by the Morava river, but also contains the
source of the Oder river. Water from the landlocked Czech Republic flows to three
different seas: the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea.
The local climate
is temperate with warm summers and cold, cloudy, humid winters, typified by a
mixture of maritime and continental influences.
The majority of the inhabitants of the Czech Republic (95%) are ethnically
Czech. Other ethnic groups include Germans, Roma, Hungarians, Ukrainians
and Poles. After the 1993 division, some Slovaks remained in the Czech Republic
and comprise roughly 2% of the current population. The border between the Czech
Republic and Slovakia is open for citizens of the former Czechoslovakia.
and their estimated percentage populations are Roman Catholic (27%),
Protestant (1%), Czechoslovak Hussites (1%), as well as a small Jewish community.
A large percentage of the Czech population claim to be atheists (59%).
most visitors to the Czech Republic all roads lead no farther than Prague,
the most westernized, cosmopolitan city, known for its wondrous charm and stunning
beauty. Fewer than 10% of tourists explore the country outside of the capital.
If you really wish to discover the richness of this immensely cultured nation,
however, venturing beyond Prague will be very rewarding. The magnificent, undulating
landscape consists of mountains and upland plains, forests and farmland. Thanks
to the fact that the country was spared widespread destruction during World War
II, many of its cities and towns are a visual feast of medieval, baroque and art
nouveau architecture and sculpture.
Bohemian spa towns and sleepy
Moravian wine villages alike have a historical integrity and welcoming
atmosphere that gives you the feeling of being immersed in an open-air museum.
The country also boasts over 100 castles -- from craggy fortresses to more refined,
aristocratic chateaus -- that are open to the public. Especially in Southern Moravia
they grow great white wines (Moravia is famous for its wine).
Today, venturing off
the beaten path no longer means leaving comfort and service behind. The number
and quality of restaurants and hotels in large and small towns alike has soared
over the past five years, attracting more visitors while remaining relaxed and
uncrowded. And with the help of local tourist offices, the once-daunting task
of arranging accommodation or gathering information about local sites is a lot
Other famous old cities are Brno, Plzen, Karlovy
Vary and the cities of Ceske Budejovice and Cesky
Krumlov located in Southern Bohemia with their romantic medieval city
centres. Other attractions include the magnificient gothic cathedral at Kutna
Hora, the catacombs at Klatovy, or Sedlec ossuary.
Prague attracts large amounts
of foreign, mostly British and German tourists, due to the exceptionally low costs
associated with nightlife, especially beer. The availability of Absinthe, the
leniency of law enforcement on drug use and prostitution, and the large number
of bars and clubs, located close together and often open late, serve as additional
incentive for tourists from Western Europe.
(voltage) - 220 V, 50 Hz, plug type -
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