Sunday, May 16, 2021

Czech Republic | Introduction

EuropeCzech RepublicCzech Republic | Introduction

The Czech Republic, sometimes referred to as Czechia, is a country located in Central Europe, bordering with Germany to the west, with Austria to the south, with Slovakia to the east, and with Poland to the northeast. Czech Republic stretches across an area of 78,866 km2 with a mainly temperate continental climate. The country has a population of 10.5 million and the capital and largest city is Prague, with over 1.2 million inhabitants. The Czech Republic comprises the historic territories of Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia.

Czech state was established in the late 9th century when it became the Duchy of Bohemia as part of the Great Moravian Empire. The Duchy became formally recognized as a part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1004. From 1198 it became the Kingdom of Bohemia and achieved its biggest territorial extent during the 14th century. Besides Bohemia itself, the Czech king also governed territories of the Bohemian crown, and had a vote in the elections of the Holy Roman Emperor, while Prague became the imperial residence during periods between the 14th and 17th centuries. The kingdom faced economic embargoes during the Hussite Wars of the 15th century, which were driven by the Bohemian Reformation, and defeated five crusades called by the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1526, after the Battle of Mohács, the entire Crown of Bohemia, together with the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary, was gradually integrated into the Habsburg monarchy. The Protestant Bohemian Revolt (1618-20) against the Catholic Habsburgs led to the Thirty Years’ War, from which the monarchy consolidated its rule, restored Catholicism and pursued a policy of gradual Germanization. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806, Bohemia was incorporated into the Austrian Empire, and the Czech language experienced a renaissance as a result of the growing Romantic nationalism. In the 19th century, the Czech lands became the industrial powerhouse of the monarchy and later formed the core of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, founded in 1918 following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after WWI.

The Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany during World War II and liberated by the armies of the Soviet Union and the United States in 1945. The Czech country then lost the majority of its German-speaking inhabitants due to the expulsion of the German-speaking population after the war. In the 1946 elections, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was victorious. As a result of the 1948 coup, Czechoslovakia was transformed into a one-party State influenced by the Soviet Union. In 1968, increasing unhappiness over the regime culminated with a reform movement known as the Prague Spring, but this ended with an invasion led by the Soviets. Czechoslovakia remained under occupation until the Velvet Revolution of 1989, during which the communist regime collapsed and a multiparty parliamentary republic was established. In 1993 Czechoslovakia peacefully separated, becoming the independent Czech Republic and Slovakia.

It became a member of NATO in 1999 and of the EU in 2004. It is a developed country with an advanced, high-income economy and a high standard of living. The UNDP lists the country 14th in human development adjusted for inequalities. It also ranks 6th most peaceful country, while performing very well in terms of democratic governance. Unemployment in the country is the lowest in the EU.

Geography of Czech Republic

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Most of the territory of the Czech Republic lies between latitudes 48° and 51°N (a very small area lies north of 51°), and longitudes 12° and 19°E.

The landscape of the Czech Republic is extraordinarily diverse. In the west, Bohemia comprises a catchment area that is drained by the Elbe (Czech: Labe) and Vltava rivers, which are surrounded by mostly low mountains, such as the Giant Mountains of the Sudetes. The highest point of the country, Sněžkaat 1,602 m, lies here. The eastern part of the country, Moravia, is also fairly hilly. It is mainly drained by the river Morava, but also contains the source of the river Oder (Czech: Odra).

Waters of the landlocked Czech Republic are flowing in 3 different seas: Baltic Sea, Black Sea, and North Sea. The Czech Republic also leases the port of Vltava, a 30,000 square metre plot in the middle of Hamburg harbour, which was granted to Czechoslovakia by Article 363 of the Versailles Treaty to give the landlocked country a place to transfer goods transported downstream to seagoing vessels. The area will return to Germany in 2028.

Phytogeographically, the Czech Republic belongs to the Central European province of the Circumboreal area, within the Boreal Kingdom. The territory of the Czech Republic can be classified into 4 ecoregions: Central European mixed forests , Western European deciduous forests, Pannonian mixed forests and forests of the Carpathians.

The Czech Republic has 4 national parks. Krkonoše National Park, Podyjí National Park, Šumava National Park, and Bohemian Switzerland.

The three historic countries of the Czech Republic (former core areas of the Bohemian Crown) correspond almost exactly to the catchment areas of the Elbe (Czech: Labe) and the Vltava for Bohemia, the Morava for Moravia and the Oder for Bohemian Silesia (in terms of Czech territory).

Demographics of Czech Republic

Based on the 2011 census, most residents of the Czech Republic are Czechs (63.7%), while Moravians represent the second largest group (4.9%), followed by Slovaks (1.4%), Poles (0.4%), Germans (0.2%), and Silesians (0.1%). Since “nationality” was an optional item, a considerable number of people left this field blank (26.0%). There are approximately 250,000 Romani people in the Czech Republic.

According to the Czech Statistical Office, there were 437,581 foreigners living in the country in September 2013, with the largest groups being Ukrainians (106,714), Slovaks (89,273), Vietnamese (61,102), Russians (32. 828), Poles (19,378), Germans (18,099), Bulgarians (8,837), Americans (6,695), Romanians (6,425), Moldavians (5,860), Chinese (5,427), British (5,413), Mongolians (5,308), Kazakhs (4,850), Belarusians (4,562).

The Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia, 118,000 according to the 1930 census, was virtually wiped out by the Nazi Germans during the Holocaust. There were about 4,000 Jews living in the Czech Republic in 2005. The former premier of the Czech Republic, Jan Fischer, has Jewish origins.

In 2015, the total fertility rate (TFR) has been estimated at 1.44 children born/woman, which is lower than the replacement rate of 2.1 which is one of the lowest in the world. In 2015, 47.8% of births were to unmarried women. Life expectancy in 2013 was estimated at 77.56 years (74.29 years for men, 81.01 years for women). Due to immigration, the population increased by almost 1% in 2007. Approximately 77,000 people are immigrating to the Czech Republic every year. Vietnamese migrants started to settle in the Czech Republic in the Communist period, when the Czechoslovak authorities welcomed them as immigrant workers. There were approximately 70,000 Vietnamese in the Czech Republic in 2009. Most choose to remain in the country permanently.

In the early 20th century, the city of Chicago had the third largest Czech population after Prague and Vienna. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 1,533,826 Americans who are wholly or partly of Czech descent.

Religion in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has one of the least religious populations in the world and is the country with the third largest atheist population in percentage terms, behind only China and Japan. From a historical point of view, the Czech people have been characterized as “tolerant and actually religious indifferent”. Most Czechs (85%) started to follow Jan Hus along with other regional Protestant reformers in the period after the Bohemian Reformation.  When the Habsburgs had regained their control of Bohemia, people were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism. The Catholic Church lost most of its adherents during the communist era and continues to lose in modern, ongoing secularization.

From the 2011 census, the 34% of the population had no religion, 10.3% was Roman Catholic, 0.8% Protestant and 9% followed other forms of religion, both confessional and non-confessional. The question regarding religion was not answered by 45% of the population. From 1991 to 2001 and further to 2011, affiliation with Roman Catholicism decreased from 39% to 27% and then to 10%; Protestantism also decreased from 3.7% to 2% and then to 0.8%.

According to a 2010 Eurobarometer poll, 16% of Czech citizens answered that they “believe there is a God” (the lowest among European Union countries), while 44% answered that they “believe there is some kind of spirit or life force” and 37% said they “do not believe there is any kind of spirit, God or life force.

According to a new Eurobarometer survey on religiosity in the European Union in 2012, the non-believers/agnostics group is the largest group in the Czech Republic, accounting for 39% of Czech citizens. Christianity makes up 34% of Czech citizens, Catholics are the largest Christian group in the Czech Republic, making up 29% of Czech citizens, while Protestants make up 2% and other Christians make up 3%. Atheists make up 20%, and undeclared make up 6%.

Economy of Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has a developed economy with a high income and a GDP per capita that is 87% of the European Union average. As the most stable and prosperous of the post-communist states, the Czech Republic experienced growth of more than 6% per year in the three years before the outbreak of the recent global economic crisis. Growth has been driven by exports to the European Union, especially to Germany, and by foreign investment, while domestic demand is picking up again.

The majority of the country’s economy is now privatized, and this includes banks and telecommunications.

The country has been a member of the Schengen area since May 1, 2004 and abolished border controls, fully opening the borders with all neighboring countries (Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia) on December 21, 2007. On 1 January 1995, the Czech Republic has become a member of the WTO. In 2012, almost 80% of Czech exports went to, and more than 65% of Czech imports came from, other member states of the European Union.

By 2050, the Czech Republic would become the 49th largest economy in the world with a GDP of 342 billion U.S. dollars.

Monetary policy is implemented by the Czech National Bank, which is guaranteed independence through the Constitution. The official currency is the Czech koruna, and it was floating for up to 7 years. 11. 2013, when the central bank temporarily fixed the exchange rate at 27 crowns per euro to combat deflation. When it joined the EU, the Czech Republic was obliged to adopt the euro, but the date of introduction has not yet been set.

The OECD-coordinated Programme for International Student Assessment currently ranks the Czech education system as the 15th best in the world, higher than the OECD average. The Czech Republic ranks 24th in the 2015 economic freedom index.

GDP growth reached 4.5% in November 2015, making the Czech economy one of Europe’s highest growth rates.

Unemployment is 4.1%, making the Czech Republic have the lowest unemployment rate in the entire European Union.