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Czech Republic
Česká republika  (Czech)
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"Pravda vítězí" (Czech)
"Truth prevails"
AnthemKde domov můj? (Czech)
"Where is my home?"

Location of  Czech Republic  (green)

– on the European continent  (light green & grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]

(and largest city)
Prague (Praha)
50°05′N 14°28′E / 50.083°N 14.467°E / 50.083; 14.467
Official language(s) Czech
Demonym Czech
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  President Václav Klaus
 -  Prime Minister Jan Fischer
 -  Principality of Bohemia c. 870 
 -  Czechoslovakia 28 October 1918 
 -  Czech Republic 1 January 1993 
EU accession 1 May 2004
 -  Total 78,866 km2 (116th)
30,450 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 2
 -  20091 estimate 10,506,813 (78th)
 -  2001 census 10,230,060 
 -  Density 132/km2 (77th)
341/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $261.777 billion[1] (39th²)
 -  Per capita $25,118[1] (33rd)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $216.354 billion[1] (36th)
 -  Per capita $20,759[1] (36th)
Gini (1996) 25.4 (low) (5th)
HDI (2007) 0.903 (very high) (36th)
Currency Czech koruna (CZK)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .cz³
Calling code +4204
1 15 March 2010 (See Population changes).
2 Rank based on 2005 IMF data.
3 Also .eu, shared with other European Union member states.
4 Shared code 42 with Slovakia until 1997.
Karlštejn Castle in the Central Bohemian Region, founded in 1348 by Charles IV.
Tábor, a town in the South Bohemian Region, founded in 1420 by the Hussites.
Charles IV, 1316 – 78, eleventh king of Bohemia. Charles IV was elected the Největší Čech (Greatest Czech) of all time.[2]

The Czech Republic (pronounced /ˈtʃɛk/ ( listen)[3] chek; Czech: Česká republika, pronounced [ˈtʃɛskaː ˈrɛpuˌblɪka]  ( listen), short form Česko [ˈtʃɛskɔ]) is a country in Central Europe.[4] The country borders Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west and northwest, Austria to the south and Slovakia to the east. The capital and largest city is Prague (Czech: Praha). The country is composed of the historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as parts of Silesia. The Czech Republic has been a member of NATO since 1999 and of the European Union since 2004. From 1 January 2009 to 1 July 2009, the Czech Republic held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Czech lands fell under Habsburg rule, becoming part of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and of Austria–Hungary in 1867. The independent Republic of Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War I. After the Munich Agreement, German occupation of Czechoslovakia and the consequent disillusion with the Western response and gratitude for the liberation of the major portion of Czechoslovakia by the Red Army, the Communist party won plurality (38%)[5] in the 1946 elections.

In a 1948 coup d'état, Czechoslovakia became a communist-ruled state. In 1968, the increasing dissatisfaction culminated in attempts to reform the communist regime. The events, known as the Prague Spring of 1968, ended with an invasion by the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries (with the exception of Romania); the troops remained in the country until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into its constituent states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The Czech Republic is a pluralist multi-party parliamentary representative democracy. President Václav Klaus is the current head of state. The Prime Minister is the head of government (currently Jan Fischer). The Parliament has two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. It is also a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe and the Visegrád Group.

The Czech Republic made economic reforms such as fast privatizations. Annual gross domestic product growth has been around 6% until the outbreak of the recent global economic crisis. The country is the first former member of the Comecon to achieve the status of a developed country according to the World Bank (2006)[6] and the Human Development Index (2009)[7], which ranks it as a "Very High Human Development" nation.



The country was for centuries known as Bohemia in English. When the nation regained its independence in 1918, the new name of Czechoslovakia was adopted to reflect the union of the Czech (Bohemian) and Slovak territories that were merged together after the WWI. The word Czech itself came into English later via Polish.[8] The current English spelling is the same as an antiquated Czech spelling, however it is unlike the modern Čechy and Česko. This discrepancy arises from a 15th century reform of Czech orthography.

Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech half of the former nation found itself without a common single-word name in English. In 1993, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested the name Czechia as an official alternative in all situations other than formal official documents and the full names of government institutions; however, this has not become widespread in English, despite the fact that most other languages have single-word names for the country (usually their own variants of "Czechia").


Archaeologists have found evidence of prehistoric human settlements 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 around the 5th century, many Germanic tribes moved westwards and southwards out of Central Europe.

In an equally significant migration, Slavic peoples 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 southwards 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 Great Moravia).

The Bohemian or Czech state emerged in the late 9th century, when it was unified by the Přemyslid dynasty. The kingdom of Bohemia was a significant regional power during the Middle Ages. It was part of the Holy Roman Empire during the entire existence of that confederation.[9]

In 1212, King Přemysl Otakar I (1198–1230), bearing the title “king“ already since 1198, extracted a Golden Bull of Sicily (a formal edict) from the emperor, confirming the royal title for Otakar and his descendants. The 13th century was also a period of large-scale German immigration. The Germans populated towns and mining districts on the Bohemian periphery and, in some cases, formed German colonies in the interior of the Czech lands. In 1235, the mighty Mongol army launched an invasion of Europe and after the Battle of Legnica, the Mongols carried their devastating raid into Moravia.[10]

King Přemysl Otakar II (1253–1278) earned the nickname of "the King of Gold and Iron" due to his military power and wealth. He acquired Austria, Styria and Carinthia 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, the Roman king Rudolph I of Germany.[11] Ottokar's son Wenceslaus II acquired the Polish crown in 1300 for himself and the Hungarian crown for his son. In 1306, however, the Přemyslid line died out and, after a series of dynastic wars, the House of Luxembourg gained the Bohemian crown.

The 14th century, particularly the reign of Charles IV (1342–1378), is considered the Golden Age of Czech history. Of particular significance was the founding of Charles University in Prague in 1348. The Black Death, which had raged in Europe from 1347 to 1352, decimated the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1380,[12] killing about 10% of the population.[13]

In the 15th century the religious and social reformer Jan Hus formed a movement, later named after him. Although Hus was named a heretic and burnt in Constanz in 1415, his followers 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 Czech Hussite Reformation movement.

Habsburg Bohemia as the heart of Europa regina.

During the next two centuries, 90% of the inhabitants converted to the Hussite form of Protestantism. After 1526 Bohemia came increasingly under Habsburg control as the Habsburgs became first the elected and then the hereditary rulers of Bohemia. The Defenestration of Prague and subsequent revolt against the Habsburgs in 1618 marked the start of the Thirty Years' War, which quickly spread throughout Germany. In 1620, the rebellion in Bohemia was crushed at the Battle of White Mountain and the country became a province of the Austrian monarchy. The war had a devastating effect on the local population; the people were given the choice either to convert to Catholicism or leave the country.

Czechs call the following period, from 1620 to the late 18th century, the "Dark Age". The population of the Czech lands declined by a third due to war, disease, famine and the expulsion of the Protestant Czechs.[14] The Habsburgs banned all religions other than Catholicism.[15] Ottoman Turks and Tatars invaded Moravia in 1663, taking 12,000 slaves.[16]

The reigns of Maria Theresa of Austria (1740–80) and her son Joseph II (1780–90), Holy Roman Emperor and co-regent from 1765, were characterized by enlightened absolutism. In 1742, most of Silesia, then the possession of the Bohemian crown, was seized by King Frederick II of Prussia in the War of the Austrian Succession. The Great Famine, which lasted from 1770 until 1771, killed 12% of the Czech population, up to 500,000 inhabitants, and radicalized countrysides leading to peasant uprisings.

After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, Bohemia became part of the Austrian Empire and later of Austria–Hungary. Serfdom was not completely abolished until 1848. After the Revolutions of 1848, Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria attempted to rule as an absolute monarch, keeping all the nationalities in check.



An estimated 150,000 Czech soldiers died in World War I. More than 100,000 Czech volunteers formed the Czechoslovak Legions in Russia, where they fought against the Central Powers and later against Bolshevik troops.[17] Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I, the independent republic of Czechoslovakia was created in 1918. This new country incorporated regions of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia and the Carpathian Ruthenia (known as the Subcarpathian Rus at the time) with significant German, Hungarian, Polish and Ruthenian speaking minorities.[18]

Although Czechoslovakia was a unitary state, it provided what were at the time rather extensive rights to its minorities. However, it did not grant its minorities any territorial political autonomy. The failure to do so resulted in discontent and strong support among some of the minorities for a break from Czechoslovakia. Adolf Hitler took advantage of this opportunity and, supported by Konrad Henlein's Sudeten German Party, gained the largely German speaking Sudetenland (and its substantial Maginot Line like border fortifications), through the 1938 Munich Agreement. 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" (The Second Republic; see German occupation of Czechoslovakia). 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.[19]

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 subordinate to the Nazi Reichsprotektor ("imperial protector"). 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 concentration camps or used as forced labour. A Nazi concentration camp existed at Terezín, to the north of Prague. There was Czech resistance to Nazi occupation, both at home and abroad, most notably with the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in a Prague suburb on 27 May 1942. The Czechoslovak government-in-exile and its army fighting against the Germans were acknowledged by the Allies; Czechoslovak troops fought in the United Kingdom, North Africa, the Middle East and the Soviet Union. The German occupation ended on 9 May 1945, with the arrival of the Soviet and American armies and the Prague uprising. As many as 144,000 Soviet soldiers died in the fighting for the liberation of Czechoslovakia.[20]

In 1945–1946, almost the entire German minority in Czechoslovakia, about 2.7 million people, were expelled to Germany and Austria. 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. The only Germans not expelled were some 250,000, who had been active in the resistance against the Nazis 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, due to the pre-war Munich Agreement, and a favourable popular attitude towards the Soviet Union, due to 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. The decisive step took place in February 1948, during a series of events characterized by Communists as a "revolution" and by anti-Communists as a "takeover", the Communist People's Militias secured control of key locations in Prague, and a new, all-Communist government was formed.

For the next 41 years, Czechoslovakia was a Communist state within the Eastern Bloc (see History of Czechoslovakia (1948–1989)). This period was marked by a variety of social developments. The Communist government completely nationalized the means of production and established a command economy. The economy grew rapidly during the 1950s and 1960s, but slowed down in the 1970s, with increasing problems during the 1980s. The political climate was highly repressive during the 1950s, including numerous show trials, but became more open and tolerant in the 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 the 21 August 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion.

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, though using more "carrot" than "whip" to secure the populace's passivity. Dissidents published Charter 77 in 1977 and the first of a new wave of protests were seen in 1988. Between 1948 and 1989 more than 250,000 Czechs and Slovaks were sent to prison for "anti-state activities", and over 400,000 emigrated.[21]

Velvet revolution and the Czech Republic

In November 1989, Czechoslovakia returned to a liberal democracy through the peaceful "Velvet Revolution". However, Slovak national aspirations strengthened and on January 1, 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 capitalist economy. This process was largely successful, as in 2006, the Czech Republic was recognised by the World Bank as a "developed country"[6] and in 2009 the Human Development Index ranked it as a nation of "Very High Human Development"[7].

From 1991, the Czech Republic, originally as part of Czechoslovakia and now 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. It held the Presidency of the European Union for the first half of 2009.


General map of the Czech Republic
Map of the Czech Republic showing cities and main towns

The Czech landscape is exceedingly varied. Bohemia, to the west, consists of a basin drained by the Elbe (Czech: Labe) and the Vltava (or Moldau) 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 Central European mixed forests, Pannonian mixed forests, Western European broadleaf forests and Carpathian montane conifer forests.

There are four national parks in the Czech Republic. The oldest is Krkonoše National Park (Biosphere Reserve), Šumava National Park (Biosphere Reserve), National Park Podyjí, České Švýcarsko National Park.

Weather and climate

Rolling hills of Králický Sněžník

The Czech Republic has a temperate continental climate, with relatively hot summers and cold, cloudy and snowy winters. Most rain falls during the summer. 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/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 degrees higher than during winter. Especially in the last decade,[citation needed] temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) are not unusual. 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.



Population of the Czech lands[22]
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%

According to the 2001 census, the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Czech Republic are Czech (94.24%). The most numerous national minorities are: Slovaks (1.89%); Poles (0.51%); Germans (0.38%); Ukrainians (0.22%); Vietnamese (0.17%); Hungarians (0.14%); Russians (0.12%); Romani (0.11%); Bulgarians (0.04%); and Greeks (0.03%).[23] According to some estimates, there are actually more than 200,000 Romani people in the Czech Republic.[24][25]

There were 436,116 foreigners residing in the country in October 2009, according to the Czech Interior Ministry,[26] with the largest groups being Ukrainian (132,481), Slovak (75,210), Vietnamese (61,102), Russian (29,976), Polish (19,790), German (14,156), Moldovan (10,315), Bulgarian (6,346), Mongolian (5,924), American (5,803), Chinese (5,314), British (4,461), Belarusian (4,441), Serbian (4,098), Romanian (4,021), Kazakh (3,896), Austrian (3,114), Italian (2,580), Dutch (2,553), French (2,356), Croatian (2,351), Bosnian (2,240), Armenian (2,021), Uzbek (1,969), Macedonian (1,787) and Japanese (1,581).[26]

The Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia, 118,000 according to the 1930 census, was virtually annihilated by the Nazis during the Holocaust.[27] There were approximately 4,000 Jews in the Czech Republic in 2005.[28] The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, is of Jewish origin and faith.[29]

The fertility rate is a low 1.50 children per woman. Immigration increased the population by almost 1% in 2007. About 77,000 new foreigners settle down in the Czech Republic every year.[30] Vietnamese immigrants began settling in the Czech Republic during the Communist period, when they were invited as guest workers by the Czechoslovak government.[31] Today, there are an estimated 70,000 Vietnamese in the Czech Republic.[32] In contrast to Ukrainians, Vietnamese come to the Czech Republic to live permanently.[33]

At the turn of the 20th century, Chicago was the city with the third largest Czech population,[34] after Prague and Vienna.[35] According to the 2006 US census, there are 1,637,218 Americans of full or partial Czech descent.[36]


  city population region        city population region

1   Prague 1 285 995 Prague, the Capital City 11   Havířov 83 180 Moravian-Silesian
2   Brno 405 337 South Moravian 12   Zlín 77 288 Zlín
3   Ostrava 314 666 Moravian-Silesian 13   Kladno 71 654 Central Bohemian
4   Plzeň 173 932 Plzeň 14   Most 67 216 Ústí nad Labem
5   Liberec 105 240 Liberec 15   Karviná 63 193 Moravian-Silesian
6   Olomouc 102 112 Olomouc 16   Frýdek-Místek 59 821 Moravian-Silesian
7   Ústí nad Labem 98 862 Ústí nad Labem 17   Opava 59 793 Moravian-Silesian
8   Hradec Králové 95 890 Hradec Králové 18   Karlovy Vary 53 691 Karlovy Vary
9   České Budějovice 95 709 South Bohemian 19   Teplice 53 193 Ústí nad Labem
10   Pardubice 90 765 Pardubice 20   Děčín 52 589 Ústí nad Labem


Top religious affiliations in the Czech Republic, census 1991–2001[37]
1991 2001 change
number  % number  %
Roman Catholic Church 4,021,385 39.0 2,740,780 26.8 −12.2%
Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren 203,996 2.0 117,212 1.1 −0.8%
Czechoslovak Hussite Church 178,036 1.7 99,103 1.0 −0.8%
no religion 4,112,864 39.9 6,039,991 59.0 +19.1%
not identified 1,665,617 16.2 901,981 8.8 −7.4%
total population 10,302,215 100.0 10,230,060 100.0

The Czech Republic, along with Estonia, has one of the least religious populations in the world. Historically, the Czech people have been characterised as "tolerant and even indifferent towards religion".[38] According to the 2001 census, 59% of the country is agnostic, atheist or non-believer, 26.8% is Roman Catholic and 2.5% is Protestant.[39] According to the census, the fastest growing religions during the intercensal period between 1991 and 2001 was the non religious by 19.1 percent. Christianity showed negative growth, especially the Roman Catholic Church which lost more than 1 million of its members in 10 years. The largest population increase was No-religion which increased by nearly 2 million people.

According to the most recent—5 year old—Eurobarometer Poll in 2005,[40] 19% of Czech citizens responded that "they believe there is a God" (the second lowest rate among European Union countries after Estonia with 16%),[41] whereas 50% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 30% said that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".


Political system

Václav Havel, the first President of the Czech Republic.
Václav Klaus, current President of the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic is a pluralist multi-party parliamentary representative democracy, with the Prime Minister as head of government. The Parliament (Parlament České republiky) is bicameral, with the Chamber of Deputies (Czech: Poslanecká sněmovna) (200 members) and the Senate (Senát)(81 members).

The President of the Czech Republic is elected by a joint session of the parliament for a five-year term, with no more than two consecutive terms. The president is a formal head of state with limited specific powers, most importantly to return bills to the parliament, nominate Constitutional court judges for the Senate's approval and dissolve the parliament under certain special and unusual circumstances. He also appoints the prime minister, as well the other members of the cabinet on a proposal by the prime minister.

The Prime Minister is the head of government and wields considerable powers, including the right to set the agenda for most foreign and domestic policy, mobilize the parliamentary majority and choose government ministers.

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 modelled 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, overall roughly 30% in the first round and 20% in the second.

Foreign policy

Membership in the European Union is central in Czech Republic's foreign policy. The Czech Republic held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first half of 2009.

Czech officials have supported dissenters in Burma, Belarus, Moldova and Cuba.[42]

Armed forces

The Czech armed forces consist of the Army, Air Force and of specialized support units. In 2004, the Czech armed forces completely phased out conscription and transformed into a fully volunteer military army and air force. The country has been a member of NATO, since March 12, 1999. Defence spending is around 1.8% of the GDP (2006).

Regions and districts

Since 2000, the Czech Republic is divided into thirteen regions (Czech: kraje, singular kraj) and the capital city of Prague. Each region has its own elected Regional Assembly (krajské zastupitelstvo) and hejtman (usually translated as hetman or "president"). In Prague, their 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.[43]

Map of the Czech Republic with regions.
Map with districts.
(Lic. plate) Region Capital Population (2004 est.) Population (2008 est.)
A  Prague, the Capital City (Hlavní město Praha) 1,170,571 1,223,368
S  Central Bohemian Region (Středočeský kraj) offices located in Prague (Praha) 1,144,071 1,214,356
C  South Bohemian Region (Jihočeský kraj) České Budějovice 625,712 634,408
P  Plzeň Region (Plzeňský kraj) Plzeň 549,618 565,029
K  Karlovy Vary Region (Karlovarský kraj) Karlovy Vary 304,588 308,450
U  Ústí nad Labem Region (Ústecký kraj) Ústí nad Labem 822,133 835,260
L  Liberec Region (Liberecký kraj) Liberec 427,563 435,755
H  Hradec Králové Region (Královéhradecký kraj) Hradec Králové 547,296 553,503
E  Pardubice Region (Pardubický kraj) Pardubice 505,285 513,949
M  Olomouc Region (Olomoucký kraj) Olomouc 635,126 641,897
T  Moravian-Silesian Region (Moravskoslezský kraj) Ostrava 1,257,554 1,250,066
B  South Moravian Region (Jihomoravský kraj) Brno 1,123,201 1,143,389
Z  Zlín Region (Zlínský kraj) Zlín 590,706 591,026
J  Vysočina Region (Vysočina) Jihlava 517,153 514,470


Škoda Auto is one of the largest car manufacturers in Central Europe. In 2009, 684,226 cars were sold worldwide, a record for the company.

The Czech Republic possesses a developed,[44] high-income[45] economy with a GDP per capita of 82% of the European Union average.[46] One of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, the Czech Republic has seen a growth of over 6% annually in the last three years. Recent 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. The current centre-right government plans to continue with privatisation, including the energy industry and the Prague airport. It has recently agreed to the sale of a 7% stake in the energy producer, CEZ Group, with the sale of the Budějovický Budvar brewery also mooted.

The country has fully implemented the Schengen Agreement and therefore, has abolished border controls, completely opening its borders with all of its neighbours, Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia, on December 21, 2007.[47] The Czech Republic became a member of the World Trade Organisation.

The last Czech government led by social democrats had expressed a desire to adopt the euro in 2010, but the current centre-right government suspended that plan in 2007.[48] An exact date has not been set up, but the Finance Ministry described adoption by 2012 as realistic,[49] if public finance reform passes. However, the most recent draft of the euro adoption plan omits giving any date. Although the country is economically better positioned than other EU Members to adopt the euro, the change is not expected before 2013, due to political reluctance on the matter.[50]

On January 1, 2009, former Czech PM, Mirek Topolánek, declared that on November 1, 2009, the Czech government will announce a fixed date for euro adoption, since the country "currently fulfils all criteria for adoption of the euro", however his subsequent deposition has rendered this deadline moot.[51] There are several challenges, however. The rate of corruption remains one of the highest among the other developed OECD countries and the public budgets remain in deficit despite strong growth of the economy in recent years. However, the 2007 deficit has been 1.58% GDP and the 2008 deficit is expected at 1.2% GDP,[52] according to EU accounting rules, far better than original projections.

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.[53]


New commuter trains called CityElefant made by Škoda Works operate near larger cities
Czech motorway network

Ruzyně International Airport is the main international airport in the country. In 2007, it handled 12.4 million passengers, which makes it one of the busiest airports in Central Europe. In total, Czech Republic has 46 airports with paved runways, six of which provide international air services.

České dráhy is the main railway operator in the Czech Republic, with about 180 million passengers carried yearly. Its cargo division, ČD Cargo, is the fifth largest railway cargo operator in the European Union. With 9,505 km (5,906.13 mi) of tracks, the Czech Republic has one of the densest railway networks in Europe.[54] From 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.[55]

In 2005, according to the Czech Statistical Office, 65.4% of electricity was produced in steam, combined and combustion power plants (mostly coal); 30% in nuclear plants; and 4.6% from renewable sources, including hydropower. 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 Czech Republic is reducing its dependence on highly polluting low-grade brown coal as a source of energy. Nuclear energy presently provides about 30% of the total power needs, its share is projected to increase to 40%. 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 two times higher than the electricity consumption. South Moravia has small oil and gas deposits.

The road network in Czech Republic is 55,653 km (34,581.17 mi) long.[56]


The Czech Republic has the most Wi-Fi subscribers in the European Union.[57][58] By the beginning of 2008, there was over 800 mostly local WISPs,[59][60] with about 350,000 subscribers in 2007. Mobile internet is quite popular. Plans based on either GPRS, EDGE, UMTS or CDMA2000 are being offered by all three mobile phone operators (T-Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica O2) and 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 July 1, 2006, Český Telecom was acquired by globalized company (Spain owned) Telefonica group and adopted new name Telefónica O2 Czech Republic. As of January 2006, ADSL2+ is offered in many variants, both with data limit and without with speeds up to 10 Mbit/s. Cable internet is gaining popularity with its higher download speeds beginning at 2 Mbit/s up to 100 Mbit/s. The largest ISP, UPC (which recently acquired another CATV internet provider Karneval in 2007), provides its service in the cities of Prague, Brno and Ostrava.


Since the fall of Iron Curtain in 1989, Prague has become one of the most visited cities in Europe.

The Czech economy gets a substantial income from tourism. In 2001, 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 people – over 1% of the population.[61] In 2008, however, there was a slump in tourist numbers in Prague, possibly due to the strong Czech koruna (crown) making the country too expensive for visitors, compared to the level of services that were available.[62]

The country's reputation has also suffered with guidebooks and tourists reporting overcharging by taxi drivers and pickpocketing problems.[62][63] Since 2005, Prague's mayor, Pavel Bém, has worked to improve this reputation by cracking down on petty crime[63] and, aside from these problems, Prague is a relatively safe city; most areas are safe to walk around even after dark.[64] Also, the Czech Republic as a whole generally has a low crime rate.[65]

There are several centres of tourist activity. The historic city of Prague is the primary tourist attraction, as the city is also the most common point of entry for tourists visiting other parts of the country.[66] Most other cities in the country attract significant numbers of tourists, but the spa towns, such as Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně, are particularly popular holiday destinations. Other popular tourist sites are the many castles and chateaux, such as those at Karlštejn Castle, Český Krumlov and the Lednice–Valtice area. Away from the towns, areas such as Český ráj, Šumava and the Krkonoše Mountains attract visitors seeking outdoor pursuits.

The country is also famous for its love of puppetry and marionettes with a number of puppet festivals throughout the country. The Pilsener style beer originated in western Bohemian city of Plzeň, and further south the town of Budweis lent its name to its beer, eventually known as Budweiser Bier Bürgerbräu thus Budweiser.



Vepřo-knedlo-zelo (Roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut).
Budweiser Budvar, Czech beer is a very important part of the country's culture.

Czech cuisine is marked by a strong emphasis on meat dishes. Pork is quite common; beef and chicken are also popular. Goose, duck, rabbit and wild game are served. Fish is rare, with the occasional exception of fresh trout and carp, which is served at Christmas.

Aside from Slivovitz, Czech beer and wine, Czechs also produce two uniquely Czech liquors, Fernet Stock and Becherovka. Kofola is a non-alcoholic domestic cola soft drink which competes with Coca Cola and Pepsi in popularity.


Sport plays a part in the life of many Czechs, who are generally loyal supporters of their favourite teams or individuals. The two leading sports in the Czech Republic are football (soccer) and ice hockey, both drawing the largest attention of both the media and supporters. Tennis is also a very big sport in the Czech Republic. The many other sports with professional leagues and structures include basketball, volleyball, team handball, track and field athletics and floorball.

Sport is a source of strong waves of patriotism, usually rising several days or weeks before an event and sinking several days after. The events considered the most important by Czech fans are: the Ice Hockey World Championships, Olympic Ice hockey tournament, UEFA European Football Championship, FIFA World Cup and qualification matches for such events. In general, any international match of the Czech ice hockey or football national team draws attention, especially when played against a traditional rival: Germany and Netherlands in football; Russia, Sweden and Canada in ice hockey; and Slovakia in both.


A diagram illustrating Mendelian inheritance.

The Czech Republic has a rich scientific tradition. From the invention of the modern contact lens and separation of modern blood types, to the production of the Semtex plastic explosive, the world owes much of its scientific insight to prominent Czech scientists, including:

A number of other scientists are also connected in some way with the Czech Lands, including astronomers Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe, the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry Sigmund Freud, physicists Ernst Mach, Albert Einstein and logician Kurt Gödel.


Okoř castle ruin during Okoř Festival in 2004

Music in the Czech Republic has its roots both in high-culture opera and symphony and in the traditional music of Bohemia and Moravia. Cross-pollination and diversity are important aspects of Czech music. Composers were often influenced by traditional music; jazz and bluegrass music have become popular; pop music partially consisted of English language hits sung in Czech (mostly in years 1960–1989). Notable Czech composers include Leoš Janáček, Antonín Dvořák, Bohuslav Martinů, and Bedřich Smetana. Great classical composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are also linked closely to the Czech Republic throughout the period of the Habsburg Empire.


Czech literature is the literature written by Czechs or other inhabitants of the Czech state, mostly in the Czech language, although other languages like Old Church Slavonic, Latin or German have been also used, especially in the past. Modern authors from the Czech territory who wrote in other languages (e.g. German) are however sometimes considered separately, thus Franz Kafka, for example, who wrote in German (though he was also fluent in Czech), is often considered part of Austrian or German literature.

Czech literature is divided into several main time periods: the Middle Ages; the Hussite period; the years of re-Catholicization and the baroque; the Enlightenment and Czech reawakening in the 19th century; the avantgarde of the interwar period; the years under Communism and the Prague Spring; and the literature of the post-Communist Czech Republic. Czech literature and culture played a major role on at least two occasions, when Czech society lived under oppression and no political activity was possible. On both of these occasions, in the early 19th century and then again in the 1960s, the Czechs used their cultural and literary effort to create political freedom, establishing a confident, politically aware nation.


Theatre of the Czech Republic has rich tradition with roots in the Middle Ages. In the 19th century, the theatre played an important role in the national awakening movement and later, in the 20th century it became a part of the modern European theatre art.

International rankings

See also



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  • Some of the material comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

External links

General information


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun

Češka f.

  1. Czechia, short for Češka Republika.


Proper noun

Češka f.

  1. Czechia, short for Češka Republika.



Češka f.

  1. Czech (person)


Proper noun

Češka f.

  1. Czechia, short for Češka Republika.

Cyrillic spelling



Short for Češka Republika.

Proper noun

Češka f.

  1. Czechia, the Czech Republic

Related terms


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