Czech Republic

Driving Directions Czech Republic

The CZECH REPUBLIC was newly constituted on 1 January 1993 with the dissolution of Czechoslovakia’s 74-year-old federal republic. The Czech Republic consists of two ancient former kingdoms and part of a third: Bohemia in the center and west, Moravia in the east, and Silesia in the northeast of the republic. It is a landlocked country at the heart of central Europe, bounded by Slovakia (the Slovak Republic), Germany, Poland, and Austria. Natural boundaries are formed by the Sudeten Mountains in the north, the Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains to the northwest, and the Bohemian Forest in the southwest. Lying east of the country’s center, the Moravian Highlands give way to lower-lying, rolling plains. There are numerous rivers in the country and some freshwater lakes.

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The Czech Republic has a continental climate with warm, moist summers and cold winters with considerable snowfall in the mountains. The republic’s capital is the beautiful, ancient city of Prague (Praha), located on the Vltava riverbank. More than two-thirds of the Czech Republic’s population live in cities or towns.

The country has valuable timber resources, particularly in the Bohemian Forest, although, in some areas, trees have been severely affected by atmospheric pollution. The lower-lying areas and river valleys provide suitable farming land, and agriculture is highly developed and efficient, but it accounts for only a small percentage of the national income. The most important crops are cereals (notably wheat, corn, barley, and rye), sugar beet, vegetables (especially potatoes), and hops for beer and flax. The main farm animals are pigs, poultry, cattle, and sheep.

Lignite is the country’s most abundant mineral resource, but there are also some reserves of hard coal, uranium, tin, antimony and mercury, iron ore, lead, and zinc. Many lignite mines have closed in recent years as they were found to be uneconomic and inefficient and could not comply with tighter environmental controls.

Over a third of the labor force in Czechia is employed in an industry that has to import its raw materials and energy. The most important industries are iron and steel, coal, machinery, cement, paper, and vehicle production. There has been a slow change from state to private ownership of the old industries, and modern, privately owned service and technology companies have formed. Traditional craft products include beautiful crystals from Bohemia, decorated glass, and painted eggs. Tourism has increased, and the country’s many resorts, historic cities, and winter sports facilities attract more and more visitors.

Environmental pollution of the country’s air and water has caused serious damage to its flora and fauna and exposed its people to possible health hazards. The Czech Republic was considered the most polluted country in eastern Europe in the early 1990s, mainly because of industrial developments during the communist years that failed to include environmental safeguards. The problems have begun to address during the last decade with the closure of lignite mines and endeavors to clean up the emissions from coal-fired power stations. The Czech government also plans to increase its production of nuclear power to reduce the environmental pollution caused by the burning of coal.

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The Czech Republic consists of two major regions – Bohemia to the west and Moravia to the east. In addition, its northwestern corner is part of Silesia, a region that lies mostly in southwestern Poland. Bohemia, the larger of the two main regions, consists of highlands bordered by low mountains, while Moravia, although also surrounded by mountains, is composed of lowlands. The Czech Republic is landlocked.

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