Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Chicago

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Information about the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic (Czech: Česká republika, short form in Czech: Česko), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country borders Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west, 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 is a member of NATO (since 1999); and the European Union (since 2004). The Czech Republic held the EU Presidency from January 1, 2009 to June 30, 2009.

Location

Central Europe.

 

Time

GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).


Area

78,866 sq km (30,450 sq miles).


Population

10.2 million (2007 estimate).

 

Population Density

129.3 per sq km.

 

Capital

Prague. Population: 1.2 million (2007).

 

Geography

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country situated in central Europe, sharing frontiers with Germany in the west, Poland in the north, the Slovak Republic in the east and Austria in the south. Covering only about one-third of the area of the United Kingdom, the country is hilly and picturesque.

The western two-thirds of the country is known as Bohemia, and consists of a vast river basin fringed by hills and mountains. The Czech Republic's longest river, the Labe, rises in the Krkonoše Mountains in the northeast, on the border with Poland, and flows south, then west, then north into Germany where it becomes the River Elbe. These mountains are also home to the country's highest summit, Sněžka (1,602m/5,262ft).

Prague sits almost in the middle of Bohemia on the River Vltava, which flows into the Labe just to the north of the city. The Vltava rises in the forested Šumava hills that run along the country's southern border with Austria. The plains to the north of Prague are bordered by the Krušné Hory (Ore Mountains, named for the iron ore and other minerals found there).

The eastern third of the Czech Republic is known as Moravia. This region is also based on a river basin, that of the Morava River, which rises in the northern hills near the Polish border and flows south to join the Danube at Bratislava. The main city of Moravia is Brno, the second-largest in the Czech Republic.



EU

Member since 2004.



Government

Republic since 1993.



Head of State

President Václav Klaus since 2003.


Head of Government

Prime Minister Petr Necas since 2010.



Recent History

The Czech Republic is one of Europe's youngest states, having come into existence only in 1993. Before that, it had formed the western part of Czechoslovakia, a country which itself had only been created in 1918, following the collapse of the Hapsburg Empire after WWI.

Czechoslovakia threw out its communist regime, which had been in power since 1948, in the Velvet Revolution of 1989 - so called because it took place without any violence. The dissident playwright Václav Havel became president and served until 2003, but he was unable to hold the country together. Disagreements with politicians in Bratislava led to the 'Velvet Divorce' in 1993, when Czechoslovakia split into two independent republics - the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek's multi-party, centre-right coalition scraped through in a parliamentary vote of confidence in January 2007. This was not his first attempt to form an administration: tricky coalition negotiations also had to take place after the 2006 general elections. Parliament also narrowly re-elected President Václav Klaus - who suceeded Havel in 2003 - in February 2008.



Language

The official language is Czech. English and German are also spoken.



Religion

Mostly Roman Catholic and some Protestant, including churches such as the Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, Unity of Czech Brothers and Baptist. There is a small community of Jews, mainly in Prague. According to the March 2001 national census, 60% of the population profess no religious beliefs.



Electricity

Generally 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Most major hotels have standard international two-pin razor plugs.