ABOUT THE CZECH REPUBLIC

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in central Europe. With an area of 78,900 sq km, it shares borders with Germany and Poland to the north, Austria to the south and Slovakia to the east.

The country is not mountainous, with flat plains to the west and extremely hilly terrain to the east. The highest point is Mt. Snezka (1,603 metres). The country does have mountain ranges at its borders (notably the Carpathian Mountains to the south-east). Three major rivers flow through the Czech Republic – the Vltava (the longest river in the Czech Republic), the Elbe and the Oder.

The climate of country differs markedly among the various regions of the Czech Republic, depending on the height above sea level. Generally speaking, the higher you are, average temperatures may drop more and rainfall is more likely. Many other factors also play a role in this – the border mountain ranges, for example, significantly influence ground-level air flow and rainfall.

Various height levels of the sun during the year cause the changing of the seasons, differentiated from each other mainly by the development of temperatures and precipitation. Similarly to the whole moderate northern band, the beginning of the year in the Czech Republic is also characterized by a cold winter. After this comes spring, followed by a warm summer and chilly autumn.

The population was just under 10.2m at July 2012. The Czech capital of Prague (population 1.16m) sits on the River Vltava and is now a major tourist destination for those seeking cultural city breaks. Other major cities are Brno (population 379,000) and Ostrava (population 321,000).

The principal language is Czech, a West Slavic language, and this is spoken by 96% of the population. The language is also spoken in some parts of Austria and Poland and is similar to the Slovak language. The Czech Republic is not a particularly religious country, with around 59% of its inhabitants claiming to be agnostic or atheist in their beliefs. Just over a quarter are Roman Catholics.

The official currency is the Czech Koruna (crown). Export partners are Germany (36.1%), Slovakia (8.4%), Austria (6%), Poland (5.3%), UK (4.7%), France (4.7%), Italy (4.3%), Netherlands (4.3%). Export commodities are machinery and transport equipment (52%), chemicals (5%), raw materials and fuel (9%).

The Czech constitution divides the state into three administrative divisions: a two-tier legislative assembly, an Executive, and the Judiciary. The legislative assembly, or parliament, is formed of the lower Chamber of Deputies and the upper Senate; members of both of these chambers are elected by the public. The Chamber of Deputies has 200 members elected for a term of four years. The Senate has 81 members who are elected for a term of six years. The main political parties are the Civic Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Christian and Democratic Union (or Czechoslovak People’s Party).

The Executive is composed of the Prime Minister and his ministers and is the supreme political entity in the country. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, who also appoints ministers, and these ministers form the government of the Czech Republic. The Judiciary is the third and final tier of power and is administered by independent courts.

Bohuslav Sobotka is the current Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and the current President is Miloš Zeman.

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