THE CZECH REPUBLIC


First state in this territory, inhabited by Slavonic tribes was Samoa’s Empire. Then
the Great Moravian Empire followed. It was very famous and the capital was probably
situated in southern Moravia near the village of Mikulčice. Even when the Great
Moravian Empire still existed, another state formed in the region of Bohemia. It was
called the Czech Crown Kingdom. In the 9th century power was taken by Přemyslid
dynasty. When the Přemyslid dynasty died out by the sword, the Czech throne went
by way of a dynastic wedding to the Luxembourg. Under Charles IV the Czech
Kingdom became the centre of the Holy Roman Empire and the city of Prague was
the capital town. Charles IV built the second oldest stone bridge in our republic in
Prague, established an archbishop there and founded Charles University, the oldest
one in middle Europe. The first part of the 15th century was marked by the Hussite
Movement. It is named after John Huss, rector of Charles University and a preacher,
who tried to reform the Catholic Church. He was burnt at the stake as a heretic. After
the reign of Jiří of Poděbrady, who is known for his appeal to other European kings to
make a treaty securing peace, the Jagiellonian dynasty was established on the Czech
throne. But they reigned only for a short time and the throne was passed to Habsburg
dynasty. The centre of culture and politics moved from Prague to Vienna and we
became a part of the big Austria Empire. They oppressed the Czech nation for almost
400 years. They tried to re-catholic and germanise; they also tried to liquidate Czech
literature. Then WWI began. Austria lost this war and it was split into five states. One
of them was newly established Czechoslovak Republic with our first president Tomáš
Garigue Masaryk. This state was destroyed by the German occupation and it
appeared again after WWII. But power was taken over by the communists directed by
the Soviet Union. In 1968 Czechoslovakia was oppressed by the invasion of the Soviet
army and the “normalisation” lasted about another 20 years till the “velvet
revolution” in 1989. That resulted in the splitting of the republic and in 1993 two new
states appeared – the Czech republic and the Slovak Republic. Our president is
Václav Havel.


The Czech Republic is situated in the centre of Europe and sometimes it is called the
heart of Europe. It has a population of 10 million people and covers an area of about
80,000 sq. km. The Czech borders are the oldest ones in the Europe. We border with
Germany on the west with a nature border made by the Ore Mountains, the Czech
Forest and Šumava range. The border with Poland is made by the Jizerské
Mountains, the Giant Mountains the Eagle Mountains and the Jeseník Mountain
range. The border with Austria is made by the Dyje river and the border with Slovakia
is made by the Morava river and White Karpat hills. The Czech Republic consists of
three lands: Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. A natural border between Moravia and
Bohemia is made by the Bohemian-Moravian Highland. The biggest mountain in the
Czech Republic is Sněžka (1612m) in the Giant Mountains and the longest river is the
Vltava. Other important rivers are the Labe, Jizera, Ohře, Svitava, Svratka, Dyje,
Morava and Oder. In southern Moravia fertile lowlands can be found. Our republic
lies in the Temperate Zone. We haven’t a sea. The warmest areas are in Southern
Moravia and the coldest areas are in the Giant Mountains. The average annual
rainfall is about 600cm.


The biggest city is the capital, Prague and it has about one million inhabitants. The
other big cities are Brno, Ostrava, Plzeň, České Budějovice, Hradec Králové. The
major nationalities living here are Czech and Moravian, but there are also minority
groups such as the Silesians, Romes, Poles, Germans, Ukrainians and Russians.


The most important part of our economy is engineering (machine tools, locomotives,
tractors, and agricultural machines). Other important branches are metallurgical and
chemical industries and tourism, textile and glass industries have a long tradition.
One of our most significant raw materials is coal. Black coal and anthracite are to be
found mainly in the Ostrava Coal Basin, but also in the area of Kladno and elsewhere.
Because of intensive mining these regions are the most polluted ones in the Czech
Republic. The supplies of brown coal or lignite can be found in the North Bohemia
Coal Basin and in Western Bohemia in the Sokolov Basin. We also hove minor
supplies of iron ore, uranium and oil. Our rich deposits of kaolin and clay are
important for the ceramics and glass industries as well as limestone for the building
industry. Also agriculture in our republic is developed enough. The most fertile soil is
in South Moravia. The main items grown there are wheat, sugar-beet, maize, grapes,
hops and fruits. In animal production the most important are cattle-breeding and
pig-breeding. Fish-breeding, especially carp-breeding can be found in South
Bohemia, in the region called Třeboňsko. Bohemia and Moravia are quite rich in
mineral springs and spas (Karlovy Vary, Mariánské lázně, Františkovy lázně,
Poděbrady, Luhačovice,…).


There are many spots of great natural beauty in the Czech Republic, as well as areas
totally spoiled by industries. South Bohemia is particularly rich in ponds. The most
beautiful natural places are the Czech Paradise, “rock town” in Prachov rocks, the
Děčín walls, Czech Switzerland, the Boubín virgin forests, Macocha abyss and so on.
We have also some protested areas, some of them are really very nice (for example
one of the protected areas is the region near river Dyje) and National parks. There are
also many places associated with our history. Among the most beautiful historic
towns belong Prague, Kutná Hora, Tábor, Telč, Olomouc, Kroměříž,… Also many
castles, ruins and chateaux can be found in our
republic. To the most interesting ones belong Karlštejn, Křivoklát, Bezděz, Hluboká,
Zvíkov, Loket, Kuks, Lednice and of course the Prague castle.


The Czech Republic is a democratic state. Its government is divided into three
branches – the legislative, represented by the Parliament, the executive, represented
by president and the government, and the judicial, represented by courts. Our
Parliament, according to constitution, consists of two chambers – the Chamber of
Deputies (200 deputies, served for four years) and the Senate (81 senators, every two
years, one third of the Senators is renewed). Elections are public, secret, democratic,
equal, direct and universal. Everybody, who is above 18 and who has Czech
nationality can take part in them. The parliament makes a bill, but it must be
approved by the government and signed by the president, before it becomes a law.
The president is elected every five years by Parliament and he can serve only for two
terms in a row. Our contemporary president is Václav Havel. He represents the
country abroad, he is the commander-in-chief of the army, has right to veto or refuse
a bill, can declare amnesty, call general election and makes appointments of all the
members of the government. The leader of the winning party becomes the Prime
Minister. The government is composed of the premier, the vice-premier and the
ministers. There are many ministries, headed by ministers, eg. Interior, Foreign
Affairs, Defence, Justice, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, Finance, Transport,
Labour and Social Affairs, Education, Culture and Health. The judicial power is
divided into a system of courts. There is Constitutional court and the Supreme Court,
which are at the highest level and they go down to region and district courts. In
elections the citizens can choose from a variety of political parties from three main
groups – the left wing, moderate and right wing. Our contemporary parties are: Civic
Democratic Party, the Civic Democratic Union, the Christian Party, the Social
Democratic Party, the Liberal Social Union, Left Block, Czech-Moravian Communist
Party,… Our national anthem is called Kde domov můj? (Where is my home?). Our
flag consists of three colours, red, blue and white. The red is at the bottom, the white
is at the top and the blue makes a triangle at the left side.

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