ABOUT THE CZECH REPUBLIC
AND TRAVEL INFORMATION
ABOUT THE CZECH REPUBLICThe Czech Republic is a landlocked country in the middle of Europe. Rather than as a country in the middle of Europe, we should speak of the Czech Republic as a country in the heart of Europe.
Facts and figures:
- Language: Czech
- Area: 78,866 sq km
- Borders with: Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Austria
- Population: 10,4 million
- Political system: parliamentary republic
- EU member state: since 2004
- Currency: Czech crown / CZK
- Capital: Praha (Prague)
- Climate: seasonal variations (warm summers, chilly autumns and cold winters)
- Average temperatures: January -4 °C; July 24 °C
- Practical travel information
- Official website of the Czech Republic
- Places to visit in the Czech Republic
- Czech Republic at Wikipedia
- Czech Republic at Lonely Planet
AreaThe Czech Republic is historically divided into three regions: Bohemia, Moravia, and a part of Silesia. The total area is 78,866 square kilometres and the country’s population is around 10,4 million people. The capital city is Prague, with 1,2 million inhabitants, and there are 5 other metropolitan cities with a population exceeding 100,000: Brno, Plzeň, Olomouc, Ostrava, and Liberec. The Czech Republic shares borders with Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. The country is surrounded by extensive mountain ranges, which form most of the border: the Krkonoše Mountains in the northeast; the Krušné Hory Mountains in the northwest; the Šumava Mountains in the west; the Hrubý Jeseník Mountains in Moravia and the Moravian-Silesian Beskydy Mountains. The highest point of elevation is the peak of Mt. Sněžka (1,602 m above sea level). Many important European rivers (the Labe, Oder, Morava, Vltava etc.) flow through the country.
ClimateThe Czech Republic as a landlocked country has moderate climate with four seasons corresponding to the temperate climate zone. The climate varies among the various regions of the Czech Republic, and throughout year. The average temperature in January, the coldest winter month is -4 °C. Summer weather can be very warm with temperatures around 24 °C in July. A nice time of the year to visit the Czech Republic is spring (mid-May to mid-June) and fall (September to mid-October), when the weather can be quite pleasant, although it can also be unpredictable.
HistoryThe first evidence of a Czech state dates back to the early Middle Ages. A kingdom was established in the Czech Lands in the 13th century and its significance peaked in the 14th century under the rule of Charles IV, the Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor. He established a University in Prague in 1348. After 1620, the Czech Lands became part of Austria and part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after 1867.
Following the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the First World War, the Czechs and Slovaks declared independence in 1918 and Czechoslovakia was established as a sovereign country. During the 1920s and 1930s, Czechoslovakia ranked among the ten most developed countries in the world. After Hitler's occupation of the country in 1938, Czechoslovakia was split into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and the Slovak state. Czechoslovak statehood was restored after the Second World War, which ended in 1945, but with a territorial loss. The most eastern part, Transcarpathian Ukraine, was annexed by the Soviet Union. The Communist Party won the 1946 parliamentary elections in Czechoslovakia. This resulted in a change of regime and brought the country under the international communist movement, led by the Soviet Union.
November 1989 was a turning point in the history of the country. Under pressure from the citizens, the socialist regime handed over power during the so-called Velvet Revolution, initiated by students and intellectuals. Free parliamentary elections in June 1990 confirmed the course of democratic development. The unitary state became a federation and the new name of the country was the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic.
At the end of 1992 Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Both countries went through economic reforms and privatisations, and this process was largely successful. From 1991, the Czech Republic, originally as part of Czechoslovakia and now in its own right, has been a member of the Visegrad Group and from 1995, the OECD. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. It held the Presidency of the European Union for the first half of 2009.
System of GovernmentThe Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy. Every citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote. The highest executive authority is the president, who is the formal head of state and is elected jointly by both houses of parliament for a term of five years. The supreme legislative body is the Parliament, which consists of the House of Deputies, the lower house of the legislature, and the Senate, which is the upper house. The supreme executive body is the government. The prime minister heads the government and is appointed by the president of the republic. The president also appoints other cabinet members based on the prime minister's recommendations.
ReligionThe Czech Republic is a secular state and every citizen enjoys freedom of religion. The number of people practising religion is low. More than 50% of the population describe themselves as agnostic or atheist while in northern Bohemia the proportion rises to about three quarters of the population. The main reasons for this are the suppression of the reformation movement followed by forcible mass re-catholicisation (after 1627), and forty years of the official suppression of religion during the communist period (1948 – 1989).
LanguageThe official language is Czech. Czech belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. The Slavonic languages are divided into the eastern, western and southern branches. Czech belongs to the western Slavonic family, along with Slovak, Polish and Wendish. The Czechs and Slovaks understand each other without major problems. Czech has a difficult grammatical structure but reading and pronunciation are fairly easy.
- January - New Year’s Day,
- Eastern Monday,
- 1 May - May Day,
- 8 May - Liberation Day,
- 5 July - Day of Cyril and Methodius,
- 6 - July Jan Hus,
- 28 September – Saint Wenceslas,
- 28 October – "Independence Day",
- 17 November – Velvet Revolution,
- 24 December - Christmas Eve,
- 25 December - Christmas Day,
- 26 December - Christmas Day
HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEMHigher education is the highest level of the Czech education system. Czech higher education dates back six hundred years. In 1348 Emperor Charles IV founded a university in Prague which is the oldest academic institution in Central Europe. It is now called Charles University.
The central governing body for education is the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The quality of higher education is fostered by the Accreditation Commission. Since 2001 the three cycle structure has strictly been implemented in higher education (i.e. Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral study programmes).
Tuition languageThe main tuition language is Czech, however the range of programmes delivered in foreign languages (mainly in English) is expanding in particular to cater for international students.
Admission RequirementsThe principal requirement for entering a Bachelor´s degree programme or a full Master´s degree programme is the completion of a full secondary general education or vocational education with a “maturitní zkouška” school-leaving examination, for fine arts degrees, applicants who have gained their “absolutorium” from a conservatoire may be admitted. Admission to a follow-up Master´s degree programme depends on the completion of the relevant Bachelor´s degree programme or its equivalent. Admission to Doctoral studies depends on the successful completion of a Master´s degree programme.
Students who want to study full-time should apply directly to the higher education institution of their choice. Students may apply for several study programmes at various institutions and faculties. The deadline for submitting applications is usually the end of February or March. Most higher education institutions offer the option of filing an application in electronic form. The date, content and form (oral or written examination, aptitude test) of the admission procedures are decided upon by the dean of the faculty or the rector of the higher education institution. At most higher education institutions the applicants take entrance examinations, which are usually held between June and September. Examinations at higher education institutions for the arts take place earlier, in January, and the deadline for filing applications is normally the end of November. Student administration departments at various faculties can provide information on applications, admission requirements and studies.´
Organisation of StudiesThe academic year lasts 12 months; the start is fixed by the head of the higher education institution. Courses are divided into semesters, years or blocks, which are composed of a period of teaching, an examination period and holiday. The structure of the academic year is decided by each institution. It usually begins in October and is divided into two semesters: winter and summer, with approx. a five-week examination period after each semester. A semester normally consists of 15 weeks of teaching followed by an examination period, with a week's holiday after the winter semester and a two-month holiday (July, August) after the summer semester.
CurriculumDeciding the content of studies and the design of study programmes is one of the academic freedoms of higher education institutions in the Czech Republic. However, all study programmes are subject to accreditation which is granted by the Ministry of Education on the basis of a decision by the Accreditation Commission.
Student AssessmentThe frequency and methods of assessing students’ achievements differ according to the field of study. In some cases, a system of partial examinations taken after each semester has been introduced, in other cases one comprehensive examination after each completed part of studies is prescribed, mostly at the end of a certain module. Study outcomes at higher education institutions are assessed mainly by a system of credits or points. The credit system (European Credit Transfer System) has been encouraged since it allows completed parts of studies to be recognised, thus contributing to transferability within the system.
Degree structureHigher education institutions form the highest level of Czech education. They offer accredited degree programmes at three levels: Bachelor´s, Master´s, and Doctoral, as well as lifelong learning courses. Higher education institutions can be either university or non-university types. Traditional university-type institutions may offer all types of degree programmes while non-university institutions are characterised by providing mainly Bachelor´s degree programmes. The documents confirming the completion of studies and right to the appropriate academic title are a higher education diploma and a supplement to the diploma.
Bachelor´s degree programmes
Bachelor´s degree programmes are 3 to 4 years in duration and constitute the first level of higher education. The study programme must be completed with a final state examination, which usually includes the presentation and defence of a thesis. Successful graduates may enter the labour market or continue their studies in follow-up master’s programmes in related fields.
Master´s degree programmes
Master´s degree programmes may either follow on from Bachelor programmes as follow-up Master´s programmes (1 to 3 years), or they may be full programmes (4 to 6 years). Programmes focus on the acquisition and application of theoretical knowledge, and on the development of creativity and talent. Graduates in Master´s programmes have to take a final state examination and publicly present and defend a thesis. Studies in medicine, veterinary medicine and hygiene are completed by a demanding state examination, including the presentation and defence of a rigorous thesis.
Doctoral degree programmes
Doctoral programmes (which normally last 3 years) are intended for graduates from Master´s programmes and focus on independent creative work in research, development or the arts. Doctoral studies are completed by way of a state doctoral examination and the public presentation and defence of a doctoral thesis (dissertation) based on original work, which must have been published or admitted for publishing.
Because of growing interest, some institutions provide also study programmes leading to the degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA). This study is oriented on solving real-life case studies and should enhance managerial knowledge and skills of students. See the website of the Association of the Czech MBA Schools.
Tuition feesBy law, higher education at public and state institutions is free of charge for citizens of all nationalities, with the following exceptions: fees for administration of admission proceedings; fees for extending the duration of study beyond a set limit; fees for the study of an additional programme to the original studied; fees for study in a foreign language. Private institutions of higher education can fix their own fees. The tuition fees differ from 2,000-15,000 USD per year and the amount depends on the relevant institution and study programme.
Prague Tourism InformationPrague (Praha in Czech) was the ancient capital of Charles IV's Bohemian Kingdom, and has played a pivotal role in the development of Central Europe since the Middle Ages. Its epic history has produced a vibrant city of stunning buildings and lovely old squares, with the result that today, Prague is one of the world's most beautiful cities.
As visitors have increased to Prague, tourism has become of vital economic importance to the city. The effects of tourism in Prague are mostly positive. Much of the post-communism reconstruction and regeneration of Prague has been driven by tourism, as ancient buildings have been transformed into fine restaurants and stylish hotels.
Key Prague Tourism Fact: In 1992 the historical centre of Prague, all 866 hectares, was listed in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Register.
Layout of Prague's City CentreThe city centre of Prague is divided into five areas, spanning both banks of the Vltava River. Charles Bridge is the main pedestrian connection between the two.
On one side of the Vltava River is the Old Town (Staré Město), with the Old Town Square at its heart; the New Town (Nové Město), with Wenceslas Square at its heart; and the Jewish Quarter (Josefov).
On the other side of the river is the Lesser Town (Malá Strana), and the Castle District (Hradčany), with Prague Castle at its heart. The city centre is denoted by the postal district Prague 1.
Key Prague Tourism Fact: Prague is a compact city. From Prague Castle on one side of the city centre to Wenceslas Square on the other (walking down through the Lesser Town, across Charles Bridge and through the Old Town), is just a 25 minute stroll. Stay in a hotel or apartment in Prague 1 (or close by in Prague 2), on either side of the river, and you can easily walk around the whole city and see all the sights and attractions.
Just outside the city centre lie other areas, which are accessible by tram and the metro: Vinohrady, Holešovice, Smichov, Karlin and Vysehrad.
Prague's Most Beautiful ViewsPrague Castle is the most prominent Prague tourist attraction. Set on a hill, it affords visitors fine views over the whole city.
There are also excellent views to be had from these sights and attractions in Prague: Old Town Hall Tower, Old Town Bridge Tower, Lesser Town Bridge Tower, Klementinum, Jindrisska Tower, Petrin and Vysehrad.
And tourism in Prague has encouraged several top floor restaurants to open, offering diners stunning views over the city. Enjoy a spot of lunch in the sunshine, or watch the city light up at night: restaurants with city views.
Prague Sights and AttractionsPrague tourist guide books often use English names for famous sights. This can be confusing for visitors, as maps and street signs are nearly always in Czech.
The following Czech translations will be useful:
Prague = Praha
Old Town = Staré Město
New Town = Nové Město
Charles Bridge = Karlův most
Prague Castle = Pražský Hrad
Wenceslas Square = Václavské náměstí
Old Town Square = Staroměstské náměstí
Lesser Town/Lesser Quarter = Malá Strana
National Theatre = Národní divadlo
Discover the highlights of PragueThe dramatic history of Prague is reflected in the beauty of its buildings. Once the seat of a mighty medieval empire, Prague is an open air museum best explored on foot. River cruises are also a popular and relaxing way to see the sights, as many Prague attractions border the river.
Opera and classical concerts are another highlight, with performances held in Prague's stunning opera houses, magnificent concert halls and historic churches. Prague also has unique theatre performances. Finally, there is food and drink! Prague restaurants have a reputation for offering good, often excellent cuisine in lovely settings, ranging from candlelit cellars to rooftop eateries with fine views over the city. And of course, there is the world famous Czech beer.
- The capital of the South Moravian Region with a population of almost 400.000 people
- Strategic geographic position within Central Europe with excellent transport accessibility, including an international airport
- Modern, dynamic and fast growing centre of industry, trade, science, information technology, research and innovation with business incubators and centres of excellence in science
- A city of universities with more than 86,000 students at 14 universities and 3 university campuses
- Important centre of international trade fairs and exhibitions
- Good business environment - major global companies and property developers
- Support infrastructure for business in the field of science, research and innovation
- High quality of life - a centre culture and sports, historical sights (Villa Tugendhat, a UNESCO site, functionalist architecture, shopping centres and services for leisure time
- Beautiful natural environment
Brno, lying between the Bohemian-Moravian forested highlands and the fertile South Moravian lowlands with vineyards, offers its residents and visitors a high-quality and attractive natural environment for living, business and recreation.
The city is a unique cultural centre of the whole region. There are permanent theatre ensembles, opera, ballet and musical stages, a philharmonic orchestra, and you can also visit a number of museums, galleries and libraries, a recently modernized observatory and planetarium, a zoo and a botanical garden. More than 20 festivals of culture and theatre take place in the city each year.
Brno is remarkable for its unique functionalist architecture including an icons of functionalism -Villa Tugendhat, which is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Modern architecture in the city is mapped by the project of Brno Architectural Manual.
Dominating historical features of the city are the fortress of Špilberk castle and the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul. The unique medieval Ossuary under the St. James Church is a new tourist attraction, as well as a complex of underground corridors and cellars running underneath the whole downtown.
Brno is also an important centre for team sports, namely hockey, football, basketball, volleyball and others. Brno citizens can use a wide range of cycling trails, sports and fitness centres, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, multipurpose halls and playgrounds, gym halls, ice rinks and the Brno lake. Each year, the Brno Racing Circuit hosts the World Road Bike Championship, MotoGP of the Czech Republic.
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