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COUNTRY AND PEOPLE

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).


TOPOGRAPHY

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%.

CLIMATE

The Czech Republic lies in the temperate climate zone of Europe, which makes for pleasantly mild summers and winters with only moderate amounts of precipitation.
Lowland temperatures in July average 20oC, {Prague 19.5oC} and in mountainous areas 8-11oC.
Lowland temperatures in January average -1 to -2oC, -5 to -7oC in the mountains.

POPULATION

According to a 2000 census, the Czech Republic has a population of 10,3 million people, approx. 5 million males and 5.3 million females. Three quarters of the population live in urban areas. The population density is 131 inhabitants per sq. km, while the total growth in population in the Czech Republic is 0.8 persons per 1,000 inhabitants.

Population Growth
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, however, the population has been decreasing and is expected to have fallen to around 10 million by 2020.

Birth rate
After WW II, the number of births fell from over 200,000 a year to less than 150,000 in 1970. In 1974 this figure had increased to 195,000 but by 1996 had fallen gradually to 90,000. The number of new-born babies per 1,000 inhabitants was 8.8 % in 1996.

Death rate
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.

Life expectancy (1994 data) and mortality by cause (1993 data)

Country

Average Life
Expectancy

Cause of death
(% of total deaths)

Male

female

cancers

circulatory
diseases

Injuries
poisoning
accidents

CR

70.4

77.3

23.6

55.8

5.0

Finland

73.6

81.8

19.8

48.2

5.1

Hungary

66.0

74.7

21.5

51.6

5.4

Poland

68.1

76.6

19.4

52.1

5.0

Austria

73.3

79.7

23.7

52.7

3.8

Romania

65.9

73.3

13.0

61.1

5.0

Switzerland

74.7

81.4

26.9

43.4

7.6

Norway

74.9

80.6

21.8

46.3

3.9


Ethnic Groups
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.

- Czech

9.270.615

- Moravian and Silesian

384.542

- Slovak

183.749

- Polish

50.971

- German

38.321

- Romany

11.716

- Other or unidentified

353.019

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.

RELIGION
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.

Percent of population who describe themselves as "religious": 31,7%

Roman Catholic

2.709.953

Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (Protestant)

137.070

Czech Hussite

96.352,2

Other

314.519,8

Without religion / Atheists

58,3 %

EDUCATION
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.

EMPLOYMENT
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.

Employment in the Czech Republic by sector (%):

1990

1993

1997

Primary

16.8

9.17

6.0

Secondary

40.5

42.4

39.4

Tertiary

42.7

48.5

53.0

The economic activity rate of the population (employed and unemployed) over 15 years of age is now 61%. In 1997, 4,941,000 people, or 48% of the population, were in work.

Total number of people employed in the national economy:

1989

5,408,000

1991

5,059,000

1992

4,927,000

1995

5,155,000

1996

4,941,000