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Czech Republic

The Czech Republic or Czechia 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. Historic Prague, a major tourist attraction, is its capital and largest city. It is made up of two older regions, Bohemia and Moravia, and part of the third one, Silesia.

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993 announced that the name Czechia 1 (http://www.p.lodz.pl/I35/personal/jw37/EUROPE/cesko1.htm), 2 (http://www.p.lodz.pl/I35/personal/jw37/EUROPE/cesko2.htm) is to be used in all situations other than formal official documents and the full names of government institutions.

Česká republika
(In Detail[?])
National motto: None
Official language Czech
Capital Praha (Prague)
President Václav Klaus[?]
Prime minister Vladimír Špidla[?]
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 114th
78,866 km²
2%
Population
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 76th
10,264,212
130/km²
Independence
 - Date
Division of Czechoslovakia
January 1, 1993
Currency Czech koruna
Time zone UTC +1
National anthem Kde domov můj
Internet TLD.CZ
Calling Code420
Table of contents

History Main article: History of the Czech Republic

Czechia emerged from the ruins of Great Moravia in the late 9th century. 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 of Austria-Hungary.

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 Nazi Germany successfully annexed the minority through the Munich Agreement in 1938, and Slovakia split off as well. The remaining Czech state was occupied by the Nazis in 1939.

After World War II, 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 Czechia and Slovakia. Czechia joined NATO in 1999 and is hoping to join the European Union in 2004.

Politics Main article: Politics of the Czech Republic

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, 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.

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.

Regions Main article: Regions of the Czech Republic[?]

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

Geography Main article: Geography of the Czech Republic

The Czech landscape is quite varied; Bohemia to the west consists of a basin, drained by the Labe (Elbe) 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 m. Moravia, the eastern part, is also quite hilly and is drained predominantly by the Morava, but also contains the source of the Odra river. Water from the landlocked Czechia 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.

Economy Main article: Economy of the Czech Republic

Basically one of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, Czechia 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. Uncomfortably high fiscal and current account deficits could be future problems. Unemployment is gradually declining as job creation continues in the rebounding economy; inflation is up to 4.7% but still moderate.

The EU put Czechia just behind Poland and Hungary in preparations for accession in 2004, which will give further impetus and direction to structural reform. 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.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of the Czech Republic

The majority of the inhabitants of Czechia (95%) are ethnically Czech and speak Czech, a member of the Slavic languages. Other ethnic groups include Germans (the remainder of a once larger minority), Roma, Hungarians, Ukrainians and Poles. After the 1993 division, some Slovaks remained in Czechia and comprise roughly 2% of the current population. The border between Czechia and Slovakia is open for citizens of the former Czechoslovakia.

Major denominations and their estimated percentage populations are Roman Catholic (27%), Protestant (1%), Hussites (1%), as well as a small Jewish community. A large percentage of the Czech population claim to be atheists (59%), and the remainder describe themselves as uncertain.

Culture Main article: Culture of the Czech Republic[?]

Holidays
DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
1 JanuaryRestoration of the Czech independence Day; New Year's DayDen obnovy samostatného českého státu; Nový rokThe Czech Republic was created in 1993, after dismemberment of Czechoslovakia.
March, AprilEaster MondayVelikonoční pondělíEaster is celebrated for two days (Sunday and Monday) in Czechia
1 MayLabor DaySvátek práce 
8 MayLiberation DayDen osvobození1945, the end of the World War II
5 JulyCyril and Metoděj DayDen slovanských věrozvěstů Cyrila a MetodějeIn 863, Slavic missionaries Cyril (Constantine) and Metoděj (Methodius) brought Christianity into the Moravian Realm (roughly the area of today's Moravia, the eastern part of the Czech Republic).
6 JulyJan Hus DayDen upálení mistra Jana HusaThe religious reformer Jan Hus was burned at the stake in 1415.
28 SeptemberSt. Wenceslas Day (Czech Statehood Day)Den české státnostiCelebrating svatý Václav (St. Wenceslas), the patron of the Czech State.
28 OctoberIndependent Czechoslovak state DayDen vzniku samostatného československého státuCreation of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
17 NovemberStruggle for Freedom and Democracy DayDen boje za svobodu a demokraciiCommemorating the student demonstration against Nazi occupation in 1939, and the demonstration in 1989 that started the Velvet Revolution.
24 DecemberChristmas EveŠtědrý denChristmas is celebrated in the evening on Christmas Eve in Czechia.
25 DecemberChristmas Day1. svátek vánoční 
26 DecemberSt. Stephen[?]'s Day (Czech: "The Second Christmas Day")2. svátek vánoční 

Miscellaneous topics

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

  • Czech.cz (http://www.czech.cz) - Official Czech portal
  • Úřad vlády (http://www.vlada.cz/1250/eng/aktuality.htm) - Official governmental site
  • Prague Castle (http://www.hrad.cz/cz/) - Official presidential site
  • Poslanecká sněmovna (http://www.psp.cz/cgi-bin/eng) - Official site of the Chamber of Deputies
  • Senát (http://www.senat.cz/index-eng.php) - Official site of the Senate
  • An article on the word Czechia (http://www.p.lodz.pl/I35/personal/jw37/EUROPE/cesko1.htm)


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