Currency: Czech koruna (CZK)
Area: 78,866 sq km
The Czech Republic (the short form is Czech) is a landlocked country in Central Europe and a member state of the European Union. The country has borders with Poland to the north, Germany to the northwest and west, Austria to the south, and Slovakia to the east. The capital and largest city is Prague (Czech: Praha), a major tourist destination. The country is composed of two separate historic regions, Bohemia and Moravia, and parts of Silesia.
The Czech regions have been under Habsburg rule since 1526, later becoming part of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. The independent republic of Czechoslovakia was created in 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, disillusionment with the Western response and sympathy toward Soviet Union, the Communist party received a plurality of the vote in 1946 elections. Czechoslovakia was a communist state from 1948 until the 1989 Velvet Revolution. On 1 January 1993 the country was divided into the Czech and Slovak republics.
The Czech Republic, along with Estonia, has one of the least religious populations in the European Union. According to the 2001 census, 59% of the country is agnostic, atheist, non-believer or a believer in non-organized religion, 26.8% are Roman Catholic and 2.5% Protestant.
Weather and climate
The Czech Republic has a temperate, continental climate with relatively hot summers and cold, cloudy winters, usually with snow. Most of the rainfall occurs during the summer. The temperature difference between summers and winters is relatively high due to the country’s landlocked geographical situation.
Even within the Czech Republic, temperatures vary greatly depending on the altitude. In general, at higher altitudes the temperatures decrease and precipitation increases. Another important factor is the distribution of the mountains. The climate therefore is very diverse.
At the highest peak (Snezka – 1602m) the average annual temperature is only -0.4°C, whereas in the lowlands of South Moravia, the average annual temperature is as high as 10°C, and this also applies for the country capital Prague, but this is due to urban factors.
The Czech Republic is a pluralist multi-party parliamentary representative democracy. President Václav Klaus is the current head of state. The Prime Minister is the head of government. The Parliament has two chambers – the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. It is also a member of OECD, the Visegrad group and the Council of Europe.
One of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, the Czech Republic has been recovering from recession since mid-1999. Growth in 2000-2001 was driven by exports to the European Union, especially Germany, as well as foreign investment. At the same time, domestic demand is reviving now.
Moves to complete banking, telecommunications, and energy privatisation will increase foreign investment, while intensified restructuring among large enterprises and banks and improvements in the financial sector should strengthen output growth.
The Czech government has expressed a desire to adopt the euro currency in 2010, but its introduction is only in the early planning stages and there are growing concerns that the budget deficit may necessitate postponement. More likely dates are 2011 or 2012.
There are several centres of tourist activity: The historic city of Prague is the primary tourist attraction, and the city is also the most common point of entry for tourists visiting other parts of the country. Most other cities in the country attract significant numbers of tourists, but the spa towns such as Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázne are particularly popular holiday destinations. Other popular tourist sites are the many castles and chateaux, such as those at Karlštejn, Konopište and Ceský Krumlov. Away from the towns, areas as Ceský Ráj, Šumava and the Krkonoše mountains attract visitors interested in outdoor pursuits.
The country is also famous for its love of puppetry and marionettes. In addition, the famous Pilsner beer style originated in the Western Bohemian city of Plzen.
Things to bear in mind
The Czechs are still influenced by the communist era, since the Communist Party led the country for over 50 years. However, members of the younger generation are more influenced by Western Europe. Young people in the Czech Republic often have experience of studying and working abroad, especially in Western Europe or the USA They speak very good English and German. On the other hand, there is a big difference between the young and old generation. Older people do not usually speak any foreign language except Russian.
Czechs are reserved, frank and very polite when doing business.
At the beginning of the meeting it is normal to shake hands and then exchange business cards.
Czechs treat foreigners as guests. Therefore, it is always a good idea to bring small presents with you from your home country to give to your Czech hosts, as they always prepare something for their business partners. Presents typically given by Czechs include chocolate, beer, wine, and hand-cut glass products. They will expect to be given something by their business partners as well.
At the end of meeting, when leaving the company or the place where the meeting was held, it is customary to shake hands once more when saying goodbye.
The Czechs try to combine contemporary Western European influences with their regional/national customs and traditions. Overall, they try to be open and easily adapt to various situations. Their manners are very similar to those used in Poland and Slovakia.
The Czechs are very proud of their ice hockey and football teams. This topic makes a good icebreaker in any situation. They have won several championships in these sports and the hockey team won at the Olympic games in Nagano. Your Czech hosts will be impressed if you know any famous ice hockey players like Jaromir Jagr, Dominik Hasek, Frantisek Kabrle or Martin Havlat. Famous football players include Jan Koller, Petr Cech, Tomas Rosicky and Jan Nedved. The Czechs are also very proud of their beer (Pilsner Urquel is the most famous brand, and other well-known beers include Budweiser, Staropramen etc). Skoda cars are another very popular Czech product.
|Good morning||Dobré ráno|
|Good evening||Dobrý vecer|
|Nice to meet you||Ráda Vás poznávám|
|My name is XXX||Jmenuji se XXX|
|How much is it?||Kolik to stojí?|
|That is too much||To je moc drahé.|
|How are you?||Jak se máte?|
|I am well||Mám se dobre.|
Prepared in cooperation with ACP Traductera.