Driving Directions Czech Republic
The CZECH REPUBLIC was newly constituted on 1 January 1993 with the dissolution of the 74-year-old federal republic of Czechoslovakia. 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 a part of 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 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 center of the country, the Moravian Highlands give way to lower-lying, rolling plains. There are numerous rivers in the country and some freshwater lakes.
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 bank of the Vltava river. 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 of the 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 employed in an industry which 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 crystal from Bohemia, decorated glass and painted eggs. Tourism has increased, and the country's many resorts, historic cities, and winter sports facilities are attracting 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 to be 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 as a means of reducing the environmental pollution caused by the burning of coal.