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The Czech Republic

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21 – THE CZECH REPUBLIC The Czech Republic is situated in the middle of Europe. It is also called „the heart of Europe“. It is an inland country, it covers the area of 78,800 sq km and the number of inhabitants is about 10.3 million people. The country consists of three historical territories:Bohemia, MoraviaandSilesia and is divided into 14 regions. In the East it borders on Slovakia, in the North on Poland, in the West on German and in the South on Austria. The Czech borders are the oldest ones in Europe. The capital of the Czech Republic is Prague (it has about one million inhabitants). Other big cities are Brno, Ostrava, Pilsen, Budweis, and Hradec Králové. There are also minority groups such as the Romes, the Poles, the Germans, the Ukrainians and the Russians. The state flag consists of two horizontal stripes (white on the top and red in the bottom) and a blue wedge. The state anthem is the song Where is my homeland? by František Škroup. The head of the state is the President. The surface of our country is rather hilly. The highest mountains in the Czech Republic are the Giant Mountains with the highest peak Sněžka (1602m). The Czech Republic is surrounded by a ring of mountains - the Šumava range, the Czech Forest, the Ore Mountains, the Jizera Mountains, the Giant Mountains, the Eagle Mountains, the Jeseník Range, the Beskids, the White Carpathians and the New Castles Mountains. A natural border between Moravia and Bohemia is made by the Bohemian-Moravian Highland. The longest river is the Vltava River. Other important rivers are the Elbe, the Morava, the Thaya and the Oder. Two glacial lakes can be found in the Czech Republic - Černé and Čertovo in theŠumava. The climate is continental, mild; the warmest area is in South Moravia. Natural beauties: mountains, Czech Paradise, Czech Switzerland, rocks in Prachov or Adršpach, Boubín Forest, Macocha Abbys etc., old castles (Karlštejn, Kost, Křivoklát, Trosky, Prague Castle) historical towns (Český Krumlov, Prague), spas with its healing springs: Carlsbad, Mariánské (Marienbad), Františkovy spas. Some of these sights are under the protection of UNESCO. One of our most important raw materials is coal. Black coal is to be found mainly in Ostrava Coal Basin and in the area of Kladno, although brown coal is to be found in North Bohemia Coal Basin and in Western Bohemia in the Sokolov Basin. There are also miner deposits of iron ore, uranium, oil etc. The rich deposits of kaolin and clay are important for the ceramics and glass industries. The Czech Republic is traditionally an industrial country. The most important industries are: engineering, chemical industry, food industry, textile industry, metallurgy etc. Fertile lowlands can be found in the valleys of big rivers. The main agricultural products are wheat, maize, sugar beet, grapes, hops and fruit. In animal production the most important are cattle-breeding and pig-breeding. South Bohemia is particularly rich in ponds and known for carp-breeding. The Czech Republic is a democratic state. Its government is divided into three branches – the legislative, represented by the Parliament, the executive, represented by the president and the government, and the judicial, represented by courts at various levels. The parliament consists of two chambers – the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The head of state is the President, elected every five years. The Czech Republic is member of many important world organizations such as OSN and NATO. Our territory has been inhabited by Slavonic tribes since the 5th century AD. The first Slavonic state was Sámo’s Empire. The Great Moravian Empire was formed in the 9th century. After the fall of the Empire in 907, the centre of power was transferred from Moravia to Bohemia, under the Přemyslids. Since 1002 it was formally recognized as part of Holy Roman Empire. In 1212 the duchy was raised to a kingdom and during the rule of Přemyslid dukes/kings and their successors, the Luxembourgs, the country reached its greatest territorial extent (13th –14th century). The first part of 15th century is marked by the Hussite Movement. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Kingdom of Bohemia was gradually integrated into the Habsburg monarchy as one of its three principal parts, alongside the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. The Bohemian Revolt (1618–20) defeated in the Battle of White Mountain, led to the further centralization of the monarchy including forced recatholization and Germanization. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Bohemian kingdom became part of the Austrian Empire. In the 19th century the Czech lands became the industrial powerhouse of the monarchy and the core of the Republic of Czechoslovakia which was formed in 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after WWI. After the Munich Agreement and German occupation of Czechoslovakia during WWII, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the majority in the 1946 elections. In the 1948 coup d'état, Czechoslovakia became a communist-ruled state. In 1968, the increasing dissatisfaction culminated in attempts to reform the communist regime. The events, known as the Prague Spring of 1968, ended with an invasion by the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries; the troops remained in the country until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into its constituent states, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. Because of the state’s long and eventful history, there are numerous castles, palaces and places of interest presenting different architectural styles. Some of them have been listed as UNESCO sights and are under the protection of this international organisation. The Historical centre of Český Krumlov (1992). This popular tourist attraction boasts a castle and chateauxcomplex and a well‑preserved historical centre. The aristocratic families of Vítkovci and Rožmberko

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