The Czech Republic
First state in this territory, inhabited by Slavonic tribes was Samoa’s Empire. Then the Great Moravian Empire followed. It was very famous and the capital was probably situated in southern Moravia near the village of Mikulčice. Even when the Great Moravian Empire still existed, another state formed in the region of Bohemia. It was called the Czech Crown Kingdom. In the 9th century power was taken by Přemyslid dynasty. When the Přemyslid dynasty died out by the sword, the Czech throne went by way of a dynastic wedding to the Luxembourg. Under Charles IV the Czech Kingdom became the centre of the Holy Roman Empire and the city of Prague was the capital town. Charles IV built the second oldest stone bridge in our republic in Prague, established an archbishop there and founded Charles University, the oldest one in middle Europe. The first part of the 15th century was marked by the Hussite Movement. It is named after John Huss, rector of Charles University and a preacher, who tried to reform the Catholic Church. He was burnt at the stake as a heretic. After the reign of Jiří of Poděbrady, who is known for his appeal to other European kings to make a treaty securing peace, the Jagiellonian dynasty was established on the Czech throne. But they reigned only for a short time and the throne was passed to Habsburg dynasty. The centre of culture and politics moved from Prague to Vienna and we became a part of the big Austria Empire. They oppressed the Czech nation for almost 400 years. They tried to re-catholic and germanise; they also tried to liquidate Czech literature. Then WWI began. Austria lost this war and it was split into five states. One of them was newly established Czechoslovak Republic with our first president Tomáš Garigue Masaryk. This state was destroyed by the German occupation and it appeared again after WWII. But power was taken over by the communists directed by the Soviet Union. In 1968 Czechoslovakia was oppressed by the invasion of the Soviet army and the “normalisation” lasted about another 20 years till the “velvet revolution” in 1989. That resulted in the splitting of the republic and in 1993 two new states appeared – the Czech republic and the Slovak Republic. Our president is Václav Havel.
The Czech Republic is situated in the centre of Europe and sometimes it is called the heart of Europe. It has a population of 10 million people and covers an area of about 80,000 sq. km. The Czech borders are the oldest ones in the Europe. We border with Germany on the west with a nature border made by the Ore Mountains, the Czech Forest and Šumava range. The border with Poland is made by the Jizerské Mountains, the Giant Mountains the Eagle Mountains and the Jeseník Mountain range. The border with Austria is made by the Dyje river and the border with Slovakia is made by the Morava river and White Karpat hills. The Czech Republic consists of three lands: Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. A natural border between Moravia and Bohemia is made by the Bohemian-Moravian Highland. The biggest mountain in the Czech Republic is Sněžka (1612m) in the Giant Mountains and the longest river is the Vltava. Other important rivers are the Labe, Jizera, Ohře, Svitava, Svratka, Dyje, Morava and Oder. In southern Moravia fertile lowlands can be found. Our republic lies in the Temperate Zone. We haven’t a sea. The warmest areas are in Southern Moravia and the coldest areas are in the Giant Mountains. The average annual rainfall is about 600cm.
The biggest city is the capital, Prague and it has about one million inhabitants. The other big cities are Brno, Ostrava, Plzeň, České Budějovice, Hradec Králové. The major nationalities living here are Czech and Moravian, but there are also minority groups such as the Silesians, Romes, Poles, Germans, Ukrainians and Russians.
Economy and industry:
The most important part of our economy is engineering (machine tools, locomotives, tractors, and agricultural machines). Other important branches are metallurgical and chemical industries and tourism, textile and glass industries have a long tradition. One of our most significant raw materials is coal. Black coal and anthracite are to be found mainly in the Ostrava Coal Basin, but also in the area of Kladno and elsewhere. Because of intensive mining these regions are the most polluted ones in the Czech Republic. The supplies of brown coal or lignite can be found in the North Bohemia Coal Basin and in Western Bohemia in the Sokolov Basin. We also hove minor supplies of iron ore, uranium and oil. Our rich deposits of kaolin and clay are important for the ceramics and glass industries as well as limestone for the building industry. Also agriculture in our republic is developed enough. The most fertile soil is in South Moravia. The main items grown there are wheat, sugar-beet, maize, grapes, hops and fruits. In animal production the most important are cattle-breeding and pig-breeding. Fish-breeding, especially carp-breeding can be found in South Bohemia, in the region called Třeboňsko. Bohemia and Moravia are quite rich in mineral springs and spas (Karlovy Vary, Mariánské lázně, Františkovy lázně, Poděbrady, Luhačovice,…).
There are many spots of great natural beauty in the Czech Republic, as well as areas totally spoiled by industries. South Bohemia is particularly rich in ponds. The most beautiful natural places are the Czech Paradise, “rock town” in Prachov rocks, the Děčín walls, Czech Switzerland, the Boubín virgin forests, Macocha abyss and so on. We have also some protested areas, some of them are really very nice (for example one of the protected areas is the region near river Dyje) and National parks. There are also many places associated with our history. Among the most beautiful historic towns belong Prague, Kutná Hora, Tábor, Telč, Olomouc, Kroměříž,… Also many castles, ruins and chateaux can be found in our republic. To the most interesting ones belong Karlštejn, Křivoklát, Bezděz, Hluboká, Zvíkov, Loket, Kuks, Lednice and of course the Prague castle.
System of government:
The Czech Republic is a democratic state. Its government is divided into three branches – the legislative, represented by the Parliament, the executive, represented by president and the government, and the judicial, represented by courts. Our Parliament, according to constitution, consists of two chambers – the Chamber of Deputies (200 deputies, served for four years) and the Senate (81 senators, every two years, one third of the Senators is renewed). Elections are public, secret, democratic, equal, direct and universal. Everybody, who is above 18 and who has Czech nationality can take part in them. The parliament makes a bill, but it must be approved by the government and signed by the president, before it becomes a law. The president is elected every five years by Parliament and he can serve only for two terms in a row. Our contemporary president is Václav Havel. He represents the country abroad, he is the commander-in-chief of the army, has right to veto or refuse a bill, can declare amnesty, call general election and makes appointments of all the members of the government. The leader of the winning party becomes the Prime Minister. The government is composed of the premier, the vice-premier and the ministers. There are many ministries, headed by ministers, eg. Interior, Foreign Affairs, Defence, Justice, Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, Finance, Transport, Labour and Social Affairs, Education, Culture and Health. The judicial power is divided into a system of courts. There is Constitutional court and the Supreme Court, which are at the highest level and they go down to region and district courts. In elections the citizens can choose from a variety of political parties from three main groups – the left wing, moderate and right wing. Our contemporary parties are: Civic Democratic Party, the Civic Democratic Union, the Christian Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Liberal Social Union, Left Block, Czech-Moravian Communist Party,… Our national anthem is called Kde domov můj? (Where is my home?). Our flag consists of three colours, red, blue and white. The red is at the bottom, the white is at the top and the blue makes a triangle at the left side.
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