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6)The Czech Republic The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located in central Europe, which gives our country the nickname „the heart of Europe“. It borders with Germany on the west, with Poland on the north, with Slovakia on the east and with Austria on the south. The Czech Republic isn‘t a very large country, the surface is about 79 000 square kilometres. The current area is formed by three historical regions - Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. Nowadays, the CR is divided into 13 regions plus the region of the capital Prague. Other important cities are for example Brno, Plzeň or Ostrava. The Czech borders are created by the mountains. Some of the well-known mountain ranges are the Šumava, the Krkonoše, the Beskydy or the Krušné hory. The Bohemia is surrounded all around by the mountains, except on the east where it’s divided from Moravia by the Bohemian-Moravian plateau. There are also some lowlands such as the Elbe Valley, which is the largest one, or the lowland along the Morava river in Moravia. The highest mountain of the CR, which is situated exactly on the border with Poland, is 1602 metres high Sněžka. Among the most important rivers in the CR belong the Elbe, the Vltava, which is the longest one, the Morava or the Ohře. I also can’t forget to mention Czech reservoirs of water and ponds. The reservoirs are an important source of fresh water. The famous one is the cascade on the Vltava river, which includes Slapy, Orlík or Lipno. The creation of the ponds has a long tradition in our country, it dates back to the Middle Ages. The ponds can be found in the southern region, for example around the town of Třeboň. Two largest lakes, Černé and Čertovo, are situated in the Šumava and their origin is glacial. There are also the sources of mineral water and the thermal spas that attract the tourists from other countries, for example Carlsbad and Mariánské Lázně. The climate in the CR is continental, which means quite warm and sunny summers and cool, cloudy and snowy winters. There is also quite big differences between summers and winters. And now I would like to tell a brief history of the Czech Republic. In the 5th century the first Slavonic tribes lived in the Czech territory. Then, in the 7th century the first Slavonic state – Sáma’s Empire was formed. Next state was the Great Moravian Empire created in the 9th century. The Bohemian Principality was united in the 10th century under the rule of the Přemyslid dynasty. In 1306 they died out and were replaced by the Luxembourgs. The most important monarch from the House of Luxembourg was surely Charles IV, who was the King of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperor. He is famous for making Prague the imperial capital, founding the Charles University, and building the Charles Bridge or the Karlštejn castle. During his reign all state flourished. The other important period is the age of Hussite wars in the 15th century, which started after the execution of Master Jan Hus. In 1526, the Hapsburg dynasty reign began. In 1620, the Battle of the White Mountain took place and after the oppression of the Czech nation began. In the 19th century, Czech people wanted to renew their language and culture during the National Revival and fortunately they were succesful. The Hapsburgs reigned until the year 1918. In this period, we were under the power of Austria-Hungary. In 1918, after the end of the WWI the Czechoslavak Republic was established as an independent state. First Czechoslovakian president was Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. During the World War II, we were under the control of Nazi Germany as the Bohemian and Moravian Protectorate. Then we were set free by the Soviet and American forces in 1945, after the end of the war. In 1948, the communist regime took over power and the communists ruled our country, until 1989, when the „Velvet Revolution“ happened and they were replaced by the democratic government. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia and the first Czech president became Václav Havel. In 1999, the Czech Republic joined NATO and in 2004 the European Union. The Czech Republic is a pluralist parliamentary democracy with a liberal constitution. The head of state is the president, the current one is Miloš Zeman. The Parliament is bicameral and consists of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Prime Minister is the head of government, currently it is Petr Nečas. The main political parties are the democrats, the socialists or the communists. Our national flag is composed of blue triangle and white and red horizontal bands and it’s often called the tricolour. The national anthem isKde domov můj written by Josef Kajetán Tyl and František Škroup. The total population of the Czech Republic counts over 10 million people. 95% are Czechs and the rest are minorities, such as the Slovaks, Poles or Vietnamese. The important minority are also the Romanies, but they mostly consider themselves as Czechs. Czech population is also one of the less religious in Europe - 60% are atheists, so they don’t believe in God. Our official language is Czech and the currency is Czech crowns. Czech industry has developed a lot during the last years, but we have also a lot of products and marks with long tradition, and I would like to mention some of them. Very popular products are for example glass, porcelain or the jewellery made of Czech garnets. The trademark of the automobiles Škoda or the Baťa’s shoes is known all around the world. We also have several worldwide popular drinks, like beer, plum vodka, wine and traditional Czech liquors like Becherovka or Fernet. Now, I’d like to talk about tourism in the Czech Republic. Our country became a very popular destination for tourists in Europe. It’s thanks to the historical monuments and also to the beautiful countryside. We have twelve places which are on list of the UNESCO heritage sites, for example Prague, Český Krumlov, Telč or Kutná Hora. And we have also a lot of castles and chateaux that are