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The Czech Republic is a rather small but charming country situated in the very heart of Europe. Since medieval times it has been a crossroad of intellectual, artistic and culinary influences, but also a centre of discord.
After a long isolation caused by the communist regime, Czech is increasingly becoming a cultural and ethnic melting pot, in line with the growing trend of globalisation. This is also reflected in the available cuisine. From one day to the next locals enjoy both traditional dishes such as goulash or roast duck with dumplings to new hip options such as Vietnamese “Pho” soup, Sushi or Thai curries. Still, the most traditional meeting spot remains the pub where you can have a glass of some of the best and most famous beer in the world.
Despite its small land area, Czech’s landscape is highly diverse – from mountains creating natural borders in all directions to the fertile scenic lowlands in South Moravia. The Czech Republic has a moderate continental climate with warm summers and cold and snowy winters. The temperature between seasons differs substantially due to Czech’s landlocked geographical position.
The official language is Czech. It is very similar to Slovak or Polish. They all belong to the group of West Slavic languages. Czech is a particularly difficult language to learn due to its complicated set of grammatical rules. However English is widely spoken and understood, especially within the main cities.
Bohemia, the official name of the region, is derived from the Celtic tribe Boii, who were the first inhabitants of the area we now call Bohemia. There is also definitive evidence that the area was once occupied by the Slavs in the 6th century A.D. The long and rich history of Bohemia and Moravia can be traced through Samo's Empire, the Great Moravian Empire, the reign of the Premysl's, the Luxemburg and Habsburg dynasties and the Catholic expansion leading up to the Thirty Years War. The decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire led to the birth of the Czechoslovakian Republic. After surviving the German occupation during the 2nd World War and forty years of communism, the totalitarian regime symbolically ended in one day – the Velvet Revolution in November 1989.
After years of being persecuted, the writer and philosopher Vaclav Havel became president with a democratic vision. The Czech Republic and Slovakia parted ways peacefully on the 1st January, 1993. As one of many historical paradoxes, the process of convergence with the European community started soon after and culminated in the Czech Republic joining the European Union on the 1st May, 2004.
Many Czech personalities have become famous throughout the world. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, had a significant role in European history. In the work of John Amos Comenius, who is considered to be the father of modern education, you will find similar thoughts and concepts as Maria Montessori. Masterpieces from composers Bedrich Smetana, Antonin Dvorak and Leos Janacek are still played worldwide. Novels written by the mysterious Franz Kafka and innovating Karel Capek are timeless. To this day the voice of opera singer Emma Destinn is still impressive. The Czech Republic is also a producer of globally famous athletes such as football player Petr Cech, ice hockey star Jaromir Jagr and Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova along with Olympic medallist speed skater Martina Sablikova.
Commercially, the Czech Republic has grown significantly since the Velvet Revolution, and throughout the 90´s it has built its reputation as a sophisticated congress destination. It is also a country where historical monuments and entire towns have been marked as world heritage sites. Of course when discussing tourism in Czech Republic, one cannot overlook the overwhelmingly popular tourist destination of Prague. The city is generally considered to be one of the most beautiful world capitals with an exquisitely preserved historical centre. Prague continues to be voted as one of the top 5–10 tourist destinations worldwide by the likes of Trip Advisor and Conde Nast Traveller.
Many towns and historical monuments are registered as UNESCO world cultural landmarks: Kutna Hora, Cesky Krumlov and Olomouc just to name a few. Terezin is also often explored by tourists, but unfortunately its history is stained by war. Once a fort town from the end of the 18th century, it was transformed by Nazis into a Jewish ghetto during the war. Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad) and Marianske Lazne (Marienbad) are glowing assets of the Czech Republic due to the existence of curative mineral spring spas. Jachymov, another town in the countryside, is also well known for its rare radioactive springs.
Prague is a city with a “mild continental climate”. The average temperature in July/August varies between 18–25 °C. For detailed info about current weather please follow this link.
The official Czech currency is the “Koruna”, often translated as “Crown”. Although the country hasn’t transferred to the Euro yet it is possible to use it as a payment method in most restaurants and shops. Payment by credit card is an equally widely spread option and most hospitality venues offer card payments. ATM machines are widely accessible, however we recommend checking your bank fees beforehand. In case you decide to exchange money in one of the exchange offices in Prague, we suggest checking the rates and commissions carefully, as they may differ by company. The recommended exchange office with reliable rates is one called “Exchange”. Rates suggested by the national bank of Czech Republic are listed on this webpage.
No particular rules apply for tipping and the most common way to tip is to round the amount up. In more expensive restaurants, a 10% tip is suggested, but is not obligatory.
|Currency||Czech Crown (CZK) - "koruna"|
|Area||total: 78,866 km²|
|Population||10,510,000 (Sep 2012 est.)|
|Electricity||230V/50Hz (European plug)|
|Time Zone||UTC + 1 (winter time) UTC+2 (summer time)|