Czech Republic

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Česká republika{{#if:{{{conventional_long_name|}}}|
{{{conventional_long_name|}}}}}
Image:Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Image:Coat of arms of the Czech Republic.svg
Flag [[{{{symbol_type_article|{{{symbol_type|Coat of arms}}}}}} of Czech Republic|{{{symbol_type|Coat of arms}}}]]
Motto: Czech: Pravda vítězí
(English: "Truth prevails")
Anthem: Kde domov můj
Image:LocationCzechRepublic.png
Capital Prague
Template:Coor dm
{{{largest_settlement_type|Largest city}}} Prague}}}
Official language(s) Czech
Government Republic
Václav Klaus
Jiří Paroubek
Formation
Independence

 • Regained
 • Dismemberment
9th century

October 28, 1918
January 1, 1993
Area
 - Total
 
 - Water (%)
 
78,866 km² (114th)
30,450 sq mi 
2.0%
Population
 - 2005 est.{{#if:{{{population_census|}}}|
 - 2001 census}}
 - Density
}}}|
10,230,060|}}
130/km² (58th)
337/sq mi 
GDP (PPP)
 - Total
 - Per capita
2005 estimate
$198,976 million (41st)
$19,488 (39th)
HDI (2003) 0.874 (31st) – high
Currency Czech koruna (CZK)
Time zone
 - Summer (DST)
CEST (UTC+2)}}}
Internet TLD .cz
Calling code +4201 {{#if:{{{footnotes|}}}|<tr><td colspan="2">{{{footnotes|}}}

Coordinates: Template:Coor dm

The Czech Republic (Czech: Česká republika or Česko) is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country has borders with Poland to the north, Germany to the northwest and west, Austria to the south, and Slovakia to the east. Historic Prague (Czech: Praha), a major tourist attraction, is its capital and largest city. Other major cities include Brno, Ostrava, Zlín, Plzeň, Pardubice, Hradec Králové, České Budějovice, Liberec, Olomouc, and Ústí nad Labem.

The country is composed of two entire historic regions, Bohemia and Moravia, parts of Silesia and small sections of historic Lower Austria.

Contents

Name

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993 announced that the name Czechia is recommended to be used in all situations other than formal official documents and the full names of government institutions [1], [2], but this has not caught on in English usage. Its Czech equivalent Česko faced opposition of the Czech people as well, but now it seems to be quite settled down in the language. See Names of the Czech Republic and Czech lands.

History

Main article: History of the Czech lands

Archaeologists have found evidence of prehistoric human settlement in the area dating back to the Neolithic era. In the classical era, from the 3rd century BC Celtic migrations, the Boii (see Bohemia) and later in the 1st century Germanic tribes of Marcomanni and Quadi settled there. During the Migration Period of ca. the 5th century, many Germanic tribes moved westward and southward out of Central Europe. In an equally significant migration, Slavic people from the Black Sea and Carpathian regions 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). Following in the Germans' wake, they moved southward into Bohemia, Moravia, and some of present day Austria.

During the 7th century the Frankish merchant Samo, supporting the Slavs fighting their Avar rulers, became the ruler of the first known Slav state in Central Europe. The Moravian principality arose in the 8th century (see under Great Moravia).

The Bohemian or Czech state emerged in the late 9th century when it was unified by the Přemyslids. The kingdom of Bohemia was a significant local power during the Middle Ages. It was part of the Holy Roman Empire during the entire existence of this confederation.

Religious conflicts such as the 15th century Hussite Wars and the 17th century Thirty Years' War had a devastating effect on the local population. Bohemia later came under Habsburg influence and became part of Austria-Hungary.

Following the collapse of this empire after World War I, the independent republic of Czechoslovakia was created in 1918. This new country contained large German, Hungarian and Polish minorities. Although Czechoslovakia was a democratic and liberal state guaranteeing and also implementing cultural and language rights to its minorities (schools in German language areas were entirely German), the centralistic state did not grant its minorities territorial political autonomy, which resulted in discontent and strong support among the minorities to break away from Czechoslovakia. Hitler used the opportunity and, supported by Konrad Henlein's Sudeten German Party, gained the majority German speaking Sudetenland through the Munich Agreement. Poland occupied majority Polish speaking areas around Cesky Tesin, while Slovakia gained greater autonomy, with the state being renamed to "Czecho-Slovakia". Eventually Slovakia broke away further in 1939 and the remaining Czech territory was occupied by Hitler who installed the so-called Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which was proclaimed part of the Reich and where the Protectorate President and Prime Minister were subordinate to the Nazi Reichsprotektor ('imperial protector'). Approximately 125,000 citizens, including 83,000 Jews, were killed, and hundreds of thousand of others were sent to prisons and concentration camps or forced labour. Czechoslovak government-in-exile and its army fighting against Nazis were acknowledged by Allies.

From 1945 to 1948 the Sudetenland was cleansed of ethnic Germans (under the so-called Beneš decrees and the Treaty of Potsdam). About 3 million Germans, almost the entire German minority of pre-War Czechoslovakia, were expelled to Germany and Austria. As a consequence, 15,000–30,000 (according to the official German-Czech Committee of Historians) Germans were killed or otherwise died. Only a few who had been active in the resistance or were required for economic reasons were allowed to stay, though many of them emigrated later due to the anti-German sentiment prevalent in post War Czechoslovakia.

In 1948, 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 liberalize party rule and create "socialism with a human face" during the Prague Spring. In 1989, Czechoslovakia regained its political independence through a peaceful "Velvet Revolution". On January 1, 1993, the country peacefully split in two, creating the independent Czech and Slovak republics.

The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Geography

Image:Ez-map.png

Main article: Geography of the Czech Republic

The Czech landscape is quite varied; Bohemia to the west consists of a basin, drained by the Elbe (Czech: Labe) and Vltava rivers, surrounded by mostly low mountains such as the Sudeten with its part Krkonoše, where one also finds the highest point in the country, the Sněžka at 1,602 metres (5,256 ft). Moravia, the eastern part, is also quite hilly and is drained predominantly by the Morava river, but also contains the source of the Oder (Czech: Odra) 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.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of the Czech Republic

Population of the Czech lands (CSU, Prague)
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%

The majority of the inhabitants of the Czech Republic (95%) are ethnically Czech and speak Czech, a member of the Slavic languages. Other ethnic groups include Slovaks, 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.

Politics

Main article: Politics of the Czech Republic

According to its constitution, the Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy whose head of state is a president, indirectly elected every five years by the parliament. The president is also granted specific powers such as the right to nominate Constitutional Court judges, dissolve parliament under certain conditions, complete immunity, and enact a veto on legislation. He also appoints the prime minister, who sets the agenda for most foreign and domestic policy, as well the other members of the cabinet on a proposal by the prime minister.

The Czech parliament (Parlament) is bicameral, with a Chamber of Deputies (Poslanecká sněmovna) and a Senate (Senát). The 200 Chamber delegates are elected for 4-year terms, on the basis of proportional representation. The 81 members of the Czech Senate serve for 6-year terms with one-third being elected every 2 years on the basis of two-round majority voting.

The country's highest court of appeals is the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court, which rules on constitutional issues, is appointed by the president, and its members serve 10-year terms.

Military

See main article Military of the Czech Republic.

The Czech Armed Forces (Czech: Armáda České republiky) consists of Land and Air Forces and of specialized support units. The country has been a member of NATO since 1999. Military spending is around 1.8% of GDP (2005).

Regions

Main article: Regions of the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic consists of 13 regions (kraje, singular - kraj) and one capital city (hlavní město), marked by a *:

Image:Regions of Czech Republic.png

RegionCapital
Prague* (Praha) 
Central Bohemian Region (Středočeský kraj)its offices are located in Prague (Praha)
South Bohemian Region (Jihočeský kraj)České Budějovice
Plzeň Region (Plzeňský kraj)Plzeň
Carlsbad Region (Karlovarský kraj)Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad)
Ústí nad Labem Region (Ústecký kraj)Ústí nad Labem
Liberec Region (Liberecký kraj)Liberec
Hradec Králové Region (Královéhradecký kraj)Hradec Králové
Pardubice Region (Pardubický kraj)Pardubice
Olomouc Region (Olomoucký kraj)Olomouc
Moravian-Silesian Region (Moravskoslezský kraj)Ostrava
South Moravian Region (Jihomoravský kraj)Brno
Zlín Region (Zlínský kraj)Zlín
Vysočina Region (Vysočina)Jihlava

Economy

Main article: Economy of the Czech Republic

One of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, the Czech Republic has been recovering from recession since mid-1999. Growth in 2000-2001 was led by exports to the EU, especially Germany, and foreign investment, while domestic demand is reviving. The rate of corruption remains one of the highest among OECD countries.

Uncomfortably high fiscal and current account deficits could be future problems.

Moves to complete banking, telecommunications, and energy privatisation will add to foreign investment, while intensified restructuring among large enterprises and banks and improvements in the financial sector should strengthen output growth.

The Czech government has expressed a desire to adopt the euro currency in 2010, but the introduction of the currency is currently only in the early planning stages.

Tourism

The Czech economy gets a substantial amount of its income from tourism, and there are several centres of tourist activity.

The historic city of Prague is the primary tourist attraction, and the city is also the most common point of entry for tourists visitng other parts of the country. Most other cities in the country attract significant numbers of tourists, but the spa towns such as Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázně are particularly popular holiday destinations. Other popular tourist sites are the many castles and chateaux, such as those at Karlštejn, Pernštejn and Český Krumlov. Away from the towns, areas such Český Ráj, Šumava and the Krkonoše mountains attract visitors seeking outdoor pursuits.

The significance of the tourism industry on the country's economy cannot be underestimated; figures from 2001 revealed that 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 persons - over 2% of the population. [3]

Culture

Religion

Despite the very visible presence of cathedrals and church buildings all over the country, the majority of Czechs (59%) are agnostics or atheists or without any dogmatic organization of belief, mostly as a consequence of the anti-religious policy during the communist era. Significant religious groups include Roman Catholics (27%), Protestants (1.2%), and Czechoslovak Hussites (1%).

According to the most recent Eurostat "Eurobarometer" poll, in 2005 <ref name="Eurostat poll on the social and religious beliefs of Europeans"> Eurobarometer, http://europa.eu.int/comm/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf</ref>, only 19% of Czech citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 50% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 30% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force". This, according to the survey, would make Czechs second only to Estonians, as the least religious people in the 25-member European Union.

International rankings

Miscellaneous topics

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Reference

  • Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

External links

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