The Czech Republic is situated approximately in the geographical center of Europe and has an area of 78,866 sq. km. It is a landlocked country 326 km from the Baltic and 322 km from the Adriatic. It shares borders with Germany (810 km), Poland (762 km), Austria (466 km) and Slovakia (265
The Czech Republic is an inland country in the middle of Europe. When looking at a map you might find the centre of our continent within its territory, though this however - with a view to the extent of Europe right up to the Ural mountain range - lies many hundreds of kilometres to the northeast. Rather than a country in the middle of Europe, we should speak of the Czech Republic as a country in the heart of Europe - after all, the heart is not to be found precisely in the centre of the human body either. Our neighbours are Germany (to the west), Poland (to the north), Slovakia (to the east) and Austria (to the south).
2002 The Czech Republic is historically composed of two main areas: Bohemia to the west and Moravia to the east. These are supplemented in the northeast part of the territory by another historical region, Silesia, the majority of which is located within the territory of the Polish Republic. At the current time, the Czech Republic is divided into 14 regions, one of which is the capital city of Prague. Descriptions of the individual regions can be found at www.czech.cz.
With a surface area of almost 79,000 km², the Czech Republic is one of the relatively smaller countries, but we can say without a doubt that its natural conditions are most varied. The country offers its inhabitants and visitors a wide range of varied types of countryside from the point of view of geological composition, relief, climate, water and animated nature.
The Czech Republic is situated approximately in the geographical center of Europe and has an area of 78,866 sq. km. It is a landlocked country 326 km from the Baltic and 322 km from the Adriatic. It shares borders with Germany (810 km), Poland (762 km), Austria (466 km) and Slovakia (265 km). The highest point of elevation is the peak of Mt. Snezka (1,602 m above sea level) and the lowest point of elevation is near Hoensko where the River Labe leaves Czech territory (117 m above sea level).
The divide between the two principal mountain systems in Europe - the Hercynian and Alpine-Himalayan - runs through Czech territory. The country's topography is therefore quite varied: plains (4.5% of the country), hills (50.1%) highlands (33.9%) and mountains (11,6%). Altitude levels: lowland regions under 200 m above sea level make up 4.95% of the country, regions 200 - 500 m above sea level make up 74.1%, regions 600 - 1,000m above sea level 19.3% and regions over 1,000 m above sea level 1.6%.
WATER - "THE ROOF OF EUROPE"
Experts speak of the territory of the Czech Republic as the roof of Europe. Despite the fact that the height above sea level here (in comparison with the nearby Alps) does not go very far in confirming this, the description is not without justification. The main European watershed extends through the Czech Republic, dividing the drainage areas of the north and south seas, which make Europe into a gigantic peninsula. Here we can even find the massif, Králický Sněžník (1,423 m), from which water runs into three different seas according to which slope it rains on. The North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea meet here.
Another interesting fact is that the area of the three
historical territories of the Czech Republic - Bohemia, Moravia and
Silesia - are approximately equivalent with the most important
catch basins. Bohemia holds the Elbe catch basin ü, Moravia is the
catch basin for the Morava and Silesia is the catch basin for the
Because of its location on "the roof of Europe", no major river flows into the Czech Republic, the source of all Czech rivers being located in the Czech Republic or not far from its borders. Even the largest Czech rivers are thus incomparably smaller than the larger European ones. Only the very largest of these can be used for river transportation although problems are caused by the seasonally unsteady flow of Czech rivers. This is governed by the Central European Discharge Regime, which means that the main source of the water is represented by rainfall, supplemented in the spring by melting snow. The largest average monthly flows are thus recorded in spring. River levels at the end of the summer are however usually significantly lower.
Reservoirs are of great importance from the point of view of water management in the Czech Republic. At the current time, the most important of these are the artificial lakes, mostly built in enclosed river valleys. There are 150 of these in the Czech Republic. There are of course many more (approximately 21,000) fishponds, which form an inherent part of the Czech countryside. One of the reasons for the frequent establishment of these was the lack of natural lakes. All bodies of water in the Czech Republic are of course insignificant in comparison with the largest reservoirs for drinking water in the world.
f we speak of the water in the Czech Republic, we must not forget to mention the mineral springs and the spas connected with it. There is such a large number of these in the Czech Lands that the standard for the definition of a spring as a mineral spring is much stricter in the Czech Republic than in other European countries. Here, we can find springs with various mineral ingredients, acidulous spring water containing carbon dioxide, hot and even radioactive springs. It is above all the West Bohemian spas that have been visited for centuries by guests from all over Europe and even other continents.
The Elbe catch basin
The present form of the Czech Republic in the shape of an
elongated basin defines the shape of the river network here. It is
not very usual for practically all water in the whole of a country
to drain off in one profile. This is the case in the Czech
Republic: the source of the River Elbe is in the highest Czech
mountain range, the Krkonoše and during its travels, it takes on
almost all the rivers in Bohemia. The Vltava is the most important
of these tributaries and drains the whole southern half of the
Czech Republic. In addition, the capital city, Prague, is situated
on the Vltava so it is rightly regarded as the Czech national
After the confluence with the Vltava, the Elbe heads to the northwest where the volcanic massif of the Bohemian Middle Mountains stands in its path. The Elbe runs through this in a closed valley known as Porta Bohemica - The Bohemian Gate. Similarly, over its last few kilometres within the territory of the Czech Republic, the Elbe runs through a narrow valley between sandstone rocks know as Bohemian-Saxonian Switzerland. It then flows hundreds of kilometres more through Germany up to the mouth of the river into the North Sea.
The Morava catch basin
The most important river in Moravia is the Morava, the names of the historical land and the river are the same in Czech. The source of the River Morava is in Kralický Sněžník, the point of contact of three sea drainage areas in the Czech Republic. From here, it heads south through the lowlands of the Moravian depression and only at the southernmost tip of Moravia does it join up with the Dyje, the source of which is found in Austria and drains the southwest part of Moravia. After the Austrian-Slovakian border, the River Morava then continues on towards the Danube, which ends in the Black Sea after a long trek across Southeast Europe.
The Oder catch basin
Silesia is the smallest historical land in the Czech Republic as most of it is situated within the territory of the Republic of Poland. Similarly, the catch basin of the River Oder, which is the backbone of Silesia only encroaches into the territory of the Czech Republic to a small extent. The source of the Oder itself is in the relatively low Oderské vrchy highlands, although it is mainly in the Ostrava basin that the river is augmented by others flowing from the border mountain ranges of Hrubý Jeseník and the Moravian-Silesian Beskydy. Lysá hora, the location with the most rainfall in the Czech Republic also lies within this catch basin. The Oder, similarly to the Elbe, then heads towards the border of the Czech Republic to the northwest to flow into the Baltic Sea at the Polish port of Szczecin.
In order to stop all the water from swiftly flowing out of the territory of the Czech Republic, several dozens of artificial lakes have been constructed over the past hundred years and more. Their job is to influence the flow of Czech rivers - as support in times of drought and as flood protection. At the present time, they are used for energy purposes, for recreation and some are drinking water reservoirs. The oldest Czech artificial lakes were created at the turn of the 19th and 20th century, mostly in the mountainous and industrially developed northern border areas of today's Czech Republic. Then in the second half of the 20th century the largest set of artificial lakes in the Czech Republic was built, the Vltava Cascade. The enclosed valley of the Vltava from Šumava at the southern border of Bohemia right up to Prague was used for its construction.
The tradition of establishing artificial water basins dates back in the Czech Lands to the Middle Ages, when a large group of fishponds was created here, of which roughly a quarter have been preserved to this day. An undeniably spectacular work of this kind is the set of fishponds in the Třeboň basin in South Bohemia, mostly established in the 16th century on the estate of the Rožmberk family here. A large area of South Bohemia was then changed from marshland into an enchanting region where bodies of water alternate with the untouched magic of the countryside. It is from here that the Christmas Carp most often comes - the traditional food for Christmas Dinner in the Czech Republic.
Czech lakes can literally be counted on the fingers of both
hands. We will need one hand for the Šumava mountain range in South
Bohemia. On the Czech side of these mountains, a mountain glacier
has created five mountain tarns. The largest of these is known as
the Black Lake.
We can find only a few smaller lakes outside of Šumava. They may not be especially large but their origin is worth our attention. In Northern Moravia, at the municipality of Rejvíz, this concerns two peat lakes and in West Bohemia the Odlezelské (Mladotické) Lake, created by the blocking of the valley after a landslide in 1872. This was an unusual occurrence in such a geologically ancient territory as the Bohemia Massif.
Maybe even more remarkable is the story of Kamencový Lake near the city of Chomutov in North Bohemia. A small lake existed here as far back as the Middle Ages and the local rock - alum - was mined nearby until the water extended over the mined area. Today, the lake is many times more extensive than the original one. Its renown however can be attributed to something completely different. As a result of the chemical composition of the water here, it contains no animal life whatsoever. On the other hand it is excellent for bathing and as such, is a favoured destination for visitors; why not, when apparently there is only one other such place in the whole world to be found - in California.
The Czech Republic is located in moderate geographical latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. Even though the Czech Republic is an inland country, thanks to the fact that it is not very far from the Atlantic Ocean and the prevailing western currents, we can label the climate here as more of a costal one with elements of a continental climate. The result of this is that we cannot expect climatic extremes on a global scale.
The climate in various regions of the Czech Republic does however differ markedly, the main source of these differences being the height above sea level. Generally speaking, the higher you get, the more the average temperatures drop and the more likely rainfall is. Many other factors also have a role to play in this - the border mountain ranges, for example significantly influence the ground-level flow of air and distribution of rainfall.
The average values of meteorological elements only characterise the climate of the Czech Republic in a very approximate manner. Various height levels of the sun during the year cause alternation of the seasons, differentiated from each other mainly by the development of temperatures and rainfall. Similarly to the whole moderate northern band, the beginning of the year in the Czech Republic is also characterised by a cold winter. After this comes spring, followed by a warm summer. After this, it is the turn of autumn, which once again hands over its rule to winter before the year is out. The alternation of the seasons has a marked effect, above all on vegetation.
Some of the main climatological factors are the geographical latitude, height above sea level and distance from the ocean. Differences in geographical latitude are negligible in the Czech Republic, the northernmost point is only 2.5 degrees further north than the southernmost. Distance from the ocean increases as one heads east into the Czech Republic and so we notice a greater continental influence in Moravia than in Bohemia - the difference is not however very significant. The most important factor in the diversity of the Czech climate remains the varied height topography, thanks to which the climate in individual regions of the country varies.
The average air temperature is strongly dependent on the height
above sea level. When the temperature on the highest mountain in
the Czech Republic, Sněžka (1,602 m), is only 0.4 °C, the lowlands
of southeast Moravia can experience temperatures of almost 10 °C.
The highest average air temperatures have also been recorded in
Prague, where the effect of the city climate has a warming effect -
the "heat island" phenomenon.
The annual rainfall amounts are also markedly dependent on the height above sea level and the influence of atmospheric wind is also significant. If we wanted to look for the rainiest area in Bohemia, we would have to look in the highest mountain range with steep slopes facing to the northwest. The average total rainfall there is in excess of 1,200 mm. On the other hand, the driest region of the Czech Republic, apart from the lowest situated southeast Moravia, is northwest Bohemia, which is shaded in this direction by the Krušný Mountains.
Average annual total rainfall within the territory of the Czech Republic for the period 1961 -1990 The dry Žatec area in the North West Bohemia is famed for growing hops, one of the basic ingredients for the production of quality Czech beer.
December, January and February are counted as the winter months.
The coldest of these is January when even in the lowlands, the
average monthly temperature falls below 0 °C. If there is any
precipitation in winter, it is usually snowfall in the mountains.
In the lowlands it sometimes rains and sometimes snows. The
covering of snow usually remains for several months at higher
altitudes above sea level, which is then used by lovers of winter
sport. Snow can remain for several days, even in the lowlands
although most winters it is rather "slushy" here.
During March, April and May, there is a sharp increase in temperatures. We can get an idea of the character of the individual months from the following rhyme: "March - we get behind the stove -, April - we'll still be there -, May - off we go to the garden". The covering of snow usually disappears in the middle of spring even in the highest mountains of the Czech Republic, so even there, the swift growth of vegetation so typical for spring can occur. Czech rivers are at their fullest in spring as a result of the thaw. There are many Czech folk traditions connected with this period.
If you love heat, the best time to visit the Czech Republic is July when the average temperature here is 20 °C warmer than in January. The hottest daily temperatures can be in excess of 30 °C. Days such as these can be pleasantly spent near the water, which truly heats to a suitable temperature for swimming in the second half of summer. Another way to escape the sultry summer heat is to take a trip to the mountains where the average daily temperatures are only just over 10 °C. The hottest months are also those with the most rainfall as the hot air brings the highest level of moisture to the Czech Republic.
The first of the autumn months is August, which is still relatively hot and also markedly drier than the preceding month. The period of good weather, which usually comes in August, is known as "Indian Summer". Most frequently at the start of October, the average daily temperatures once again fall below 10 °C, so the leaves on the trees begin to change into a multitude of colours and fall to the ground - besides, the Czech word for November is derived from the words for falling leaves. The first light frosts can also occur at this time, announcing the nearness of the next winter.
Variability of the weather
Central Europe really is not an area where it is possible to determine the weather according to the calendar. This can be seen, for example, from the differences between the highest and lowest air temperatures measured in Prague since 1775. By the way, the temperature scale here is one of the longest in the world. Of course, visibly contradictory extremes did not occur on the same day, e.g. on 27 July 1983 the mercury in the thermometer shot up to 37.8 °C, whereas on 27 July 1890 it dropped during the night to 9.5 °C. However, from these figures, it can be seen that the weather in individual years truly can be diverse.
The territory of the Czech Republic is not one of the first
civilised areas of Europe but despite this, the strong influence of
man has been exerting itself here for more than a thousand years.
During this period the countryside here has changed beyond all
recognition, so the original associations have remained preserved
in only smaller parts of the territory.
The original countryside of the Czech Republic was completely covered with vegetation in relation to the climate in the place in question, mainly according to the distribution of temperatures and rainfall during the year. And because in this country, both of these are related above all to the height above sea level of the region, plants have also been ranked into vegetation levels according to height. The climate also directly determines the vegetation cycle: plants grow swiftly in spring and summer here but winter, on the other hand is a time of vegetative calm.
Over most of the territory of the Czech Republic with an average height above sea level of approximately 450 m, the natural assemblages seen are deciduous leafy forests. It is only small and dry locations that are home to steppe assemblages. In order to thrive, leafy forests require at least four months in a year with average temperatures in excess of 10 °C. For this reason, conifers begin to mix in with deciduous forests as the height above sea level increases. The highest levels of forest (up to 1,200-1,350 m above sea level) are naturally coniferous forests. Only the highest areas of the border mountains reach over the tree line into the band of mountain vegetation.
The natural arrangement of vegetation levels was disturbed after the prehistoric inhabitants of the territory of what is now the Czech Republic began to use the soil for agricultural purposes. The most fundamental impact on the countryside was the gradual felling of the forests, which changed most of the territory into a cultural steppe. Forests are only preserved in some areas these days, mountain areas on the other hand are predominantly covered with woodland.
It is above all over the past centuries that the species composition of Czech forests has altered. In place of natural forests with a great variation of species, the fast-growing pine began to be planted in great numbers. In recent times however, attempts to return the forests in the Czech Republic to their former species diversity have been gaining strength as it is clear that the pine monoculture is less able to resist pests and the disposition of the weather than the natural vegetation.
Around one third of the Czech Republic is covered with woodland vegetation. The remaining two thirds are most often used as arable land. Grassy vegetation is seen to a lesser extent in the Czech Republic although at higher altitudes above sea level with less fertile soil, we have recently seen the gradual appearance of more grassy fields.
From the point of view of animal species which live in the natural habitat of the Czech Republic, the territory is part of the Eurosiberian region, which stretches from Western Europe up to the easternmost parts of Asia. The species composition of Central European forests really is very similar to the Siberian taiga. Most large mammals, above all beasts of prey, have however become extinct in Czech lands. Thus rodents (the rabbit, the squirrel and such) and cloven-hoofed animals (the roe deer, the pig or in rare cases the red deer) have become the typical groups seen in the Czech Republic.
The natural world is always significantly influenced by the people who live in it. The influence of man can be both a danger to nature and of benefit to it. One example of beneficial influence on the countryside in the Czech Lands is the range of beautiful parks which have been created.
The species composition of deciduous forests in the Czech Republic is relatively varied. The most widespread broadleaved tree is the oak, examples of which once dominated in locations with a lower height above sea level. Hydrophilic wood such as alder, willow and others can be found near rivers and in waterlogged areas. The original wood at higher altitudes above sea level is beech. Examples of these beautiful trees with silvery bark have been best preserved in the Western Carpathians in Moravia.
Nowadays, coniferous forests constitute more than three quarters of the woodland vegetation in the Czech Republic. The majority of this concerns pine monocultures. The original home of the pine is however higher locations in the border mountains. The second most widespread conifer in the Czech Republic is the fir. Thanks to its deep root system, it thrives even in drier locations. For this reason, it is widespread in areas with permeable subsoil, above all on the sandstone of the Bohemian chalk slab. By the way, even the Czech national anthem brings to mind the beauty of fir forests.
Countryside in the mountain peaks
The height achieved by the ridges of the border mountains
extends into the band where dwarf pines give way to scrub woodland
related to the fir tree. Headwater areas in upland plateaux are
often covered with marshland rich in water. The highest areas of
the mountainsides are covered with meadows offering a glimpse of
many rare flower types.
GEOGRAPHICAL COMPOSITION AND TOPOGRAPHY
Let us take a look at the territory of the Czech Republic from
the point of view of bedrock and topographical shapes, which are
closely related to the geological composition. For specialised
information about the geology of the Czech Republic, you can visit
the pages of the Czech Geological Survey ü.
The key to understanding the diversity of the countryside of the Czech Republic lies below its surface. That is to say, most of the territory of the Czech Republic is part of the Hercynian Central Europe, a geological system that - with a view to its age - still bears traces of many physical-geographical processes from the Palaeozoic to the Quaternary period. On the other hand, the eastern part of Moravia is part of the younger system of the Carpathians. Both main territorial units in the Czech Republic are thus quite different from the point of view of natural conditions.
Bohemia, occupying the larger, western part of the Czech Republic is in fact a sort of huge basin. There are not many places in the world where you can find such a markedly physically-geographically defined region. It is surrounded by a wreath of border mountains with peaks in excess of 1,000 m. Heights above sea level and the height articulation inside the Bohemian basin are markedly lower. It is mostly filled with uplands of various geological composition and origin, which causes its diversity. A significant part of the surface here consists in Palaeozoic sea sediment, above all shale and limestone, modelled in several places in Bohemia and Moravia into impressive karst relief.
Early Cretaceous (late Mesozoic) sediments cover Bohemia mainly with the Bohemian chalk slab in the northern half of Bohemia made from layers of rock clay and sandstone up to 600 metres thick. The river Elbe and tributaries changed part into the fertile Polabi lowlands. Elsewhere the original sandstone creates ridges and water erosion has modelled them into a range of rock cities.
Number of inhabitants in the Czech Republic
The number of inhabitants in the Czech Republic saw a tendency
for growth after World War Two. This began to stagnate from the
eighties onward. This was then followed by a moderate decline that
persists today, caused by a lower birth rate that is a common
characteristic for all post-communist countries, above all in the
1990s. On 1 June 2004, the Czech Statistical Office stated that
there were 10,213,480 inhabitants in the Czech Republic, which is
comparable to the population in, for example, Portugal, Hungary or
According to the prognosis by the UN, the number of inhabitants will continue to decrease in the future to a level of 9.2 million in 2050. Actual future development is dependent above all on the number of immigrants accepted into the Czech Republic.
Age structure of the Czech Republic
The age structure of every population is the result of
development in the level of the birth rate, the death rate and
immigration over the past one hundred years. Irregularities and
fluctuations in age structures form a belated illustration of
historical, political and economic events, which especially help to
influence the number of children born and are also influenced by
the number of deaths and number of immigrants in individual
calendar years. On the basis of these events, graphs for the age
pyramid in the 20th century are markedly irregular in most European
Dents in the age pyramids for the Czech Republic were caused, similarly to other European countries, by the effect of both world wars and the economic crisis in the 1930s.
Age structure according to marital status
As of 1/1/2004, 37.9 % of the people in the Czech Republic were
single, 45.8% were married, 8.7% were divorced and 7.6% were
Since the first half of the 90s, we have seen a noticeable tendency on the part of the Czech population to get married at a later age, which is evident from the increase in the average age when doing so and a decrease in the share of married people, especially in the age groups up to the age of 30.
At the end of 2003, only 5.7% of men and 14.5% of women in the age group of 20 to 24 years of age were married - this group is one of those that saw the most frequent number of marriages before 1990. Representation by single men and women also increased in the age group of 25 to 29 years of age in which 43.4% of women and 64.7% of men were not married as of the above-mentioned date. The age pyramid graph shows a clear difference between the numbers of single men and women up to 65 years of age, which is mainly given by the fact that men often get married at a later age than women.
The greatest representation of divorced people in the Czech Republic as of 31/12/2003 was seen in the group of 40 to 49 years of age where the shares of divorcees from the population as a whole were 17% in the case of men and 19% in the case of women. In general, there are more divorced women in the Czech Republic (9.6%) than divorced men (7.9%).
Differences between the sexes in the population structure according to marital status are greater in higher age categories. In the case of men, they remain married until they are older and in the case of women, the number of married individuals is swiftly decreasing with an increase in the number of widows and divorcees. This is given above all by higher mortality rates among men and the fact that men are getting married at a later age as well as a higher intensity of remarriage among men.
Relative representation in the main age groups of the population (children: 0 to 14 years of age, adults: 15 to 64 and pensioners: 65 and above) is becoming an ever more important indicator in developed countries because of the process of demographic aging (increase in the average age of the population). The shares and numbers of children and economically active people are decreasing. Thus the only age group where the number is growing absolutely and relatively is the group of older people. This phenomenon now looms as a result of the low level of the birth rate and extension of life expectancy. In the Czech Republic, the process of population aging is not taking place at the same rate as in the countries of Western and Northern Europe. This is mainly because of the overall holding back of economic and social development during the totalitarian period. Thus, from the point of view of demographic aging, the development of the age structure in the post-war period until the beginning of the nineties was favourable as the share of children up to the age of 15 always exceeded 20% of the total population and the older age group did not grow to any significant extent. In the nineties, population aging was especially caused by a swift drop in the birth rate. The share of children under the age of 15 decreased from 21.5% in 1990 to 16.8% in 1999. Growth in the number of people older than 65 was not significant, especially in the first half of the '90s (growth from 12.5% in 1990 to 13.8% in 1999).
The age index puts the number of people older than 65 into proportion with the number of children under the age of 15. From the table shown above, it is evident that there was fluent growth here and for 2003, we are able to state that there were 90 people above the age of 65 per 100 children in the Czech Republic.
On average, there are 129 inhabitants in the Czech Republic per
square kilometre. Denmark, for example, has a similar population
density. This concerns a lower density than the average in the
European Union, which is 175 inhabitants per km². Greater
population density in rural areas is generally seen in the eastern
parts of the country, which is given by the historical type of
settlement - for example, villages are more numerous here.
The distribution of population density according to region is markedly influenced by the presence and size of urban conurbations.
A total of 77% of the inhabitants of the Czech Republic live in cities.
Every tenth inhabitant lives in the capital, Prague. This Czech metropolis has no competition from any other city in the Czech Republic in terms of importance or number of inhabitants. Most cities of regional importance have around 100,000 inhabitants. The structure of urban settlement is a very old one, most towns having been founded as far back as the Middle Ages.
In comparison with the average seen in the European Union, 5% more inhabitants live in Czech cities.
For a long time, the Czech Republic has been one of the
countries where the population has grown through immigration. Under
the government of the communist regime, this was partly because no
records were kept of illegal immigration so the balance was kept in
positive figures. After 1989 this problem fell away to a great
extent. Thanks to the opening of the borders, those who had
emigrated during the communist period began to return.
Compared to the average seen in the European Union, where there is an influx of 2.6 immigrants a year per thousand inhabitants, fewer immigrants come to the Czech Republic - 1.2 immigrants per thousand inhabitants. This is, however the largest number in all of the Eastern European countries.
Fluctuation in 2001 was caused by a change to the laws in the field of records made concerning the population (above all, a change of the definition of an immigrant). Growth in later years is also the result of this.
Immigration to the Czech Republic
A greater number of immigrants started to come to the Czech Republic after 1989. With a view to the common past and mutual international agreements allowing for easy movement of inhabitants to the Czech Republic, a large number of immigrants came to this country from Slovakia. This concerns both work migration and migration for the purpose of starting a family. This also often concerned study by Slovak students at Czech universities.
Immigration to the Czech Republic
A greater number of immigrants started to come to the Czech
Republic after 1989. With a view to the common past and mutual
international agreements allowing for easy movement of inhabitants
to the Czech Republic, a large number of immigrants came to this
country from Slovakia. This concerns both work migration and
migration for the purpose of starting a family. This also often
concerned study by Slovak students at Czech universities.
The second largest group of immigrants is represented by people from the Ukraine. This case concerns temporary work migration. The largest employer of these immigrants is the construction industry. Vietnamese immigrants show the lowest level of assimilation. They do, however also settle in the Czech Republic permanently but always create their own community.
Russian immigrants represent a special group as their economic standing is on a different level. This often concerns affluent businessmen. Their immigration is very regionally differentiated. A large number of them come to Karlovy Vary.
Immigration according to age
The structure of immigrants according to age is no exception to
the global average. The greatest number is comprised of
economically active childless people between the ages of 20 and 30.
If whole families immigrate, this usually concerns families with
young children up to the age of 5.
The structure viewed from the point of view of sex shows a significant predominance of men. In 2003 a total of 39,557 men came to our country and only 20,458 women, i.e. approximately only 33%.
The situation is similar in the case of emigrants. In 2003, compared to 23,774 men, there were only 10,452 women. The reason for this is a high share of work immigrants among which - above all among Ukrainians - men clearly dominate.
Number of foreigners within the territory of the Czech Republic
The number of foreigners living within the territory of the
Czech Republic increased over the course of the 1990s. This
development was influenced by the fall of the communist regime in
1989 and the opportunity for a freer movement of people. These
days, there is only a gradual increase in the number of foreigners.
The vast majority of foreigners move to cities. The largest number of foreigners is recorded in Prague.
Number of applications for asylum
With the opening of the borders after 1989, refugees began to
flow into the Czech Republic. Initially, the Czech Republic only
represented a transit country for them, their goal being mostly the
Federal Republic of Germany as well as other Western European
At the end of the 1990s the view of the Czech Republic held by these refugees changed and partly due to the entrance of the Czech Republic into NATO, the Czech Republic has now become a target country for them. For this reason, the number of applications for asylum has increased.
Despite this, the level of asylum granted is low. Each refugee must fulfil strict criteria for asylum to be issued. The largest number of asylum applications accepted (776) was in 1991 and the average annual level has fluctuated around the level of 100 for a long time now.
The volume of internal migration is not very high in the Czech Republic. A total of 211,487 cases of migration were declared in 2003. The causes for this are the fact that the housing market is still not very highly developed and the population habits dating back to the former regime, when migration was not very frequent.
Another reason is the institution of a "permanent residency address", according to which migration is judged. Migrants often keep their permanent residency address and are registered at the new address as temporary residents. Migration over short distances is dominant.
Until 1994, an outstanding feature of the Czech Republic was its stable population growth, with the exception of the period of the two world wars. Since 1994 till 2003, however, the population has been decreasing, from 2004 slowly growing again and the Czech Republic has now approx. 10,23 million people.
Number of births in the Czech Republic
Fluctuation in the number of children born has been generally quite high in the past. After World War Two and in the seventies, there were periods of higher birth rates in the Czech Republic - the "baby boom". These days, because of women putting off motherhood until they are older, the Czech Republic is one of the countries with the lowest birth rates in the world. Above all, it is women up to the age of 25, who used to give birth to the greatest number of children, who are putting off motherhood to the greatest extent. On the other hand, pregnancy among women over the age of 30 is on the increase. Fluctuation in the number of children born is also given by the fluctuating number of women of childbearing age within the age structure of the Czech Republic. There is a great likelihood that there will be an increase in pregnancy in the future to the level of Western European countries.
Total pregnancies in the Czech Republic
The total number of pregnancies shows the number of children born to women during their childbearing years. These days, this indicator in the Czech Republic is fluctuating at such a low level as a result of women putting off motherhood that we (along with Bulgaria, Byelorussia, Slovakia and Romania) are numbered among the countries with the lowest level of pregnancies in Europe and even in the world. We can, however expect renewed growth in the number of pregnancies in the future up to the level of the European average of 1.5 children born per woman. A slow reversal in this direction has become evident over the past few years.
Age of mothers when giving birth
The best indication of the fact that women are putting off
giving birth is shown by the age of mothers when giving birth. In
the second half of the twentieth century, the Czech Republic had
one of the lowest ages for women giving birth in Europe. This was
characteristic for all communist countries in the Eastern Block.
The low childbearing age of women was given by the limited
possibilities for self-fulfilment under the communist regime. These
days, thanks to the world opening up to the Czech Republic and
opportunities for women to assert themselves in other spheres of
society, the average age of mothers giving birth has markedly
increased. Women are putting off getting married, but even those
who do so, are putting off having children, a matter which was
basically the rule after marriage in former times. Whereas
nowadays, only a third of firstborn children come into the world
within eight months of the parents getting married, this number was
more than half in the past.
The average age of mothers giving birth in the most developed European countries fluctuates around a figure somewhere in excess of 30 years of age. According to the latest trends, even the Czech Republic will soon reach this level.
Number of extramarital children
With the shift in age of mothers giving birth, other
characteristics of the demographic behaviour of the population in
the Czech Republic are also being asserted, which are usual in the
most developed of European countries. One of the most important is
the shift away from the traditional concept of the family
accompanied by the occurrence of a smaller number of marriages.
With a view to the lower level of marriages, more and more women are giving birth outside of marriage. This concerns both women who support themselves and women living in a state of unmarried cohabitation. This trend is copying the shift started in the 1990s in Western European countries. In some countries (e.g. in Sweden) the share of children born outside of marriage is in excess of 50%.
The number of deaths per 1,000 inhabitants gradually increased from World War II until 1983 (13.0 %). Since then it has decreased and in 1996 it was only 10.9 %, thus corresponding to western European levels.
Number of deaths in the Czech Republic
After World War Two, the number of deaths was very low with a
view to the young age group within the population. With a view to
gradual aging (more numerous groups of older citizens) of the
population, the number of deaths has, however started to increase.
The decrease seen in the 1990s is given by the increasing standard of health and social care, greater emphasis on more careful treatment of the environment and above all, a healthier lifestyle.
Life expectancy in 2002
Life expectancy bears witness to the quality level of living conditions in any given country and how healthily the population lives there. Thanks to the improving mortality rate, life expectancy has significantly increased in the Czech Republic over the past fifteen years. In the case of men, this is four years and in the case of women, three. Before 1989, the Czech Republic, along with other countries in the Eastern Block, was one of the countries with higher mortality rates among men and thus also a lower life expectancy for them. The cause was mainly an unhealthy lifestyle. In contrast to Western European countries, this difference began to decrease in the 1990s. Today, the population of the Czech Republic is one of the longest living in Eastern Europe.
Life expectancy for those born between 1996 and 2000
Regional differences in the mortality rates show a difference
between life expectancy levels. The best conditions are found in
large cities, with the exception of Ostrava, where the natural
environment has been greatly disrupted by the number of industrial
plants and coal mining. We can find higher levels of life
expectancy outside cities in the traditional agricultural regions
in the centre of the Czech Republic. The worst living conditions in
the brown-coal basins of the north-west Czech Republic are also
responsible for the low life expectancy and high mortality levels
in this region.
The Czech Republic has always been one of the countries with the
lowest levels of infant mortality in the world thanks to the high
quality of health services provided. At the moment, infant
mortality is on the same level as most Western European countries.
In this way, the Czech Republic differs markedly from other Eastern
European countries where we often see double this number of infant
deaths per thousand babies born.
Composition of deaths
Since 1989, there has been a gradual change in the composition
of deaths according to cause. A marked decline has been seen in the
number of deaths from diseases of the circulatory system, the share
of which has dropped by 5%. On the other hand, there has been a
slight increase in death caused by malignant tumours (caused by
In comparison with surrounding countries, suicide in the Czech Republic has remained on a low level for a long time.
The majority of the Czech Republic's inhabitants are of Czech nationality. The situation in individual regions differs however, according to whether these regions are considered Czech or Moravian. The only region where people claim Moravian nationality is in southern areas of Moravia.
- Moravian and Silesian
- Other or unidentified
The long-term development of the population's ethnic structure indicates that between 1950 and 1991 no significant changes occurred, except for a relatively high number of Romany new-arrivals from Slovakia. Although just 11,716 people declared themselves as Romany in the 2000 census, there are estimated to be approximately 200,000 Romanies in the Czech Republic, i.e. nearly 2% of the population. Many said they were Czech, but most described themselves as Slovak.
After forty years of official suppression, a question concerning religious faith was again included in the most recent census in 2000. The results show that more than 50% of the population describe themselves as agnostic or atheist; in Northern Bohemia this group makes up some three quarters of the population.
Percentage of population who describe themselves as
Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (Protestant)
Without religion / Atheists
The degree of education completion at elementary, secondary and university levels is very high in the Czech Republic compared to world standards. All children in the Czech Republic must attend elementary school up to the age of 15. Upon finishing elementary school, 52% of children continue their education in vocational schools and 48% move on to secondary schools. 7.2% of Czechs complete a university education.
Over the period 1980-1991, there was an increase in the number of people completing each level of education. The proportion of people who only completed primary education dropped sharply (index 76.8%), while the number of people with higher education grew. The highest increase could be observed for university education (index 148.1%), and for postgraduate education (index 139.0%).
According to the population census in 1991, 33% of the population over 15 years of age had received a basic education, while 30% had finished secondary professional education, 28% had finished secondary universal or professional education and 7.2% had finished university education with a minimum of four years' study. 1.8% of the population did not state any education in the census or said they had not received any education.
Between 1991 and 1996, 93,531 persons finished university education, i.e. an average of under 19,000 persons per year. In 1997, 23.9 % of the population over 15 years of age had received a primary (elementary) education, 34.1% had finished secondary professional education, 29.2 % had graduated from secondary universal or professional schools and 7.8% of the population over 15 had completed university. 1.8% of the population over 15 had not received any education.
Central planning biased the structure of employment by placing a grossly disproportionate emphasis on industry, to the detriment of the service sector. Economic transformation is correcting this imbalance, however, with employment rising in services and declining in industry. In 1989 a relatively small percentage of the population worked in agriculture and the number is still dropping. The expectancy in unemployment in 2006 is about 8 - 9 % in average.
Employment in the Czech Republic (%; a) old methodology, b) new methodology):