THE CZECH REPUBLIC
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THE CZECH REPUBLIC AND ITS PLACES OF INTEREST The Czech Republic is situated in the Central Europe. It is said that it lies exactly in the heart of Europe. The capital city of this inland country is Prague. Other major cities are Brno, Ostrava, Zlín, Plzeň, Hradec Králové. In the 4th century BC Celtic tribes settled in the area (the Boii tribe gave the land its name: Bohemia). Later Germanic tribes and Slavic people came to the area. In the 7th century, the Frankish merchant Samo became the ruler of the first known Slavic state in Central Europe, which was partly situated in present-day Moravia. The importance of Moravia grew further, and in 833 Great Moravia was created. While Great Moravia declined at the end of the 9th century, the Czech state was unified by the Přemyslids (who ruled the country until 1306) and prospered. During the Middle Ages, it played an important role in Europe and was part of the Holy Roman Empire during its entire existence. The Czech King Charles IV even became the Holy Roman Emperor. In the 16th century the country came under the Habsburg reign. Twice in its history, the country was devastated by major political-religious conflicts: After the religious leader Jan Hus (1371–1415) was burnt to death, the Hussite Wars started in the 15th century, and two centuries later the Thirty Years War (1618 1648) broke out. The country was strongly germanised. The Czech language was slowly driven away from state administration, business, and schools, and was not spoken by the upper classes. This process was finally stopped by the Czech National Revival, a cultural movement taking place in the 18th and 19th centuries. They managed to revive the Czech language, culture and national identity. After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of WWI, Czechs and Slovaks joined together and formed the independent Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. During WWII, Slovakia broke away and the Czech state was occupied by the Germans (the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia). After the war, Czechoslovakia was restored, but soon it fell under the rule of the communist party and the influence of the Soviet Union. In 1989, it gained freedom through a peaceful revolution and in 1993 it split into two independent states. In 2004, both the Czech Republic and Slovakia joined the European Union. The surface of our country is varied. The Western border is formed by the Krušné Mountains. The Šumava range, where we can find a lot of marshes, is in the south of our republic. Also, two glacial lakes can be found there – Černé and Čertovo. The highest mountains the Czech Republic are Giant mountains here Sněžka, the highest peak, can be found. The Jizerské mountains are situated on the border with Poland right next to the Orlické mountains. Other mountain ranges are Beskydy, Little Carpathians and Jeseník. Besides Beskydy, Bohemian Switzerland is my favourite place for hiking. It is home of the largest sandstone arch in Europe – Pravčická brána. Also, its the national park, everything is clean there and the rocks and sandstones are simply beautiful. I was there, and it was kind of adrenalin experience, because I am not a fan of wandering in hights without being secured. It is full of ladders and chasms. Despite it, I enjoyed it a lot. When it comes to nature, other interesting places are – Sandy Rocks in Český ráj or stalactite caves in Moravský kras (Macocha – the greatest chasm is here – 138m). The longest river is the Labe, other important rivers are Odra, Morava and Vltava for example. The lowlands are important for agriculture – the largest one is Polabská. Czech Republic consists of 14 regions. We can also divide our country into three historical regions – Moravia, Silesia, Bohemia. The head of the state is the President. He is elected for a five-year long term. Real power, however, has mostly parliament and the government. The Czech flag was first adopted in 1918 as the flag of the newly established Czechoslovakia. It consists of a horizontal white band above a red band (traditional colours of Bohemia and Moravia) and a blue triangle. The blue triangle originally represented Slovakia, but it was kept as a part of the Czech flag even after the split of Czechoslovakia. Our republic is traditionally an industrial country – chemical, food, textile but mostly engineering (machine tools, locomotives, tractors, agricultural machines). In animal production, cattle-breeding and pig-breeding are most important. Fish-breeding, especially carp-breeding has a long tradition in South Bohemia ponds. Important inventions include modern contact lens made by Otto Wichterle or the production of Semtex – plastic explosive. The word robot was used for the first time by Czech author Karel Čapek. Typical Czech drink is beer or Kofola. Our country is rich in minerals. Black coal (Ostrava Coal Basin, area of Kladno) and brown coal and lignite (North Bohemia Coal Basin), sand for glass-making, iron ore, uranium, kaolin, etc., are mined in the Czech Republic. Our country is also attracted by many tourists. The Czech rep. has many spas. Spa services have a long tradition. They are visited by healthy and also sick people from our country and from abroad. The most famous are – Carlsbad, Velké Losiny etc. Places of interest Besides Prague, which is in the centre of tourists’ attention –there are many other interesting places which are worth visiting in the Czech Republic. Kutná Hora is a nice historical town with a Gothic Cathedral of St. Barbora. Český Krumlov in southern Bohemia as well as Telč or Slavonice in southern Moravia are towns where we can see fine examples of the Renaissance architecture. There are also many castles in our country, for example Karlštejn – founded by the King Charles IV in 14th century, Hluboká, Konopiště, Křivoklát and so on. In the west there are Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázně – our well-known spas. The Krkonoše mountains are one of our national parks of the country. Here you can g