The Czech Republic - Geography, Climate, Economy, Prague

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Autor: kaprik
Typ práce: Referát
Dátum: 06.07.2009
Jazyk: Angličtina
Rozsah: 4 204 slov
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Praktické!
It covers an area of 78 864 sq km and the population is 10 432 774 inhabitants. The capital city is Prague (1 217 315) and in the CR there live mainly the Czechs (94 %), the Slovaks, the Poles, the Germans, the Roms etc.

Geography
The CR is quite a small state lies in the real heart of Europe. It’s neighbours are Germany on the west, Poland on the north, Slovakia on the east and Austria on the south. The CR consists of three parts: Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia [1]. It’s borders are composed naturally, by a belt of the mountains: the Lužické [2] and the Jizerské Mountains and the Krkonoše [3] (Sněžka, 1 603 m) on the north, the Orlické Mountains [4] and the Jeseníky on the north-east, the Moravian-Silesian Beskids and the Bílé Karpaty on the south-east, the Šumava and the Czech Forest on the south and south-west and finally the Krušné Mountains [5] on the north-west. Bohemia and Moravia is separated by the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands. Other - it means central - parts of the CR are composed by many hills, plains, flats etc.

The biggest river is the Elbe, which springs in Krkonoše and flows through Germany to the North Sea but the longest only Czech rivers are the Vltava River or the Ohře River in Bohemia and the Morava River or the Dyje River in Moravia. There isn’t many lakes in our republic (e.g. the Black Lake or the Devil Lake in the Šumava) but there are plenty of ponds, especially in the southern Bohemia near Třeboň (e.g. the Rožmberk or the Dehtář). On the big rivers (e.g. the Vltava River or the Dyje River) there are cascade system of dams [6] - e.g. Lipno, Orlík, Slapy etc.
 
Not only because of the threaten [7] and the devastation of nature (see Climate) there are three National Parks in the CR - Šumava, Krkonoše and Podyjí - and many Nature Reservations where grow the rare flowers and live the rare animals. The biggest and the most important cities are Prague, Brno, Hradec Králové, Ostrava and Plzeň.

Climate
Because of its position in central Europe, the Czech Republic has both continental and oceanic climate. It means quite warm - but not hot - summers and mild - but rainy - winters. Big parts of the CR - mainly in border belt and around the big cities - are devastated by an air pollution and the acid rains from the chemical factories and heating plants or spoiled by industry (e.g. the Most area). Ecology policy is one of the biggest problem in the CR.

Political system
The Czech system of government is based on the constitution - our country is a democratic parliamentary republic. The President (since January 1998 Václav Havel) is the head of state, his official residence is the Prague Castle. He is elected every five years and he cannot be elected more than twice.
The Cabinet with the Prime Minister (since January 1998 Josef Tošovský) as the head is designed every four years. The Parliament is composed of two houses - the Senate and the House of Representatives. It seats in the former noblemen’s palaces at the Lesser Quarter in Sněmovní Street (the House of R.) and in the Wallenstein Palace (the Senate). The Senate has 81 members, the House of Representatives has 200 members.
The main political parties are: Socialist-Democratic Party (ČSSD), Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Union of Liberty (US) and Christian-Democratic Party (KDU-ČSL).
  The Czech flag consist of white and red strip and a blue bosom [8]. The Czech national anthem is called ‘Kde domov můj’.
 
There is quite a difficult political situation since November 1997 because of many corruption and authority affairs almost in each political parties. Because of this, there will be an early elections in June and all predictions show that the Social-Democratic Party will be the winner.
 
Important events in history
  The Czech Republic is not only small but also new state. It was established on January 1, 1993 as the following state of the Czechoslovakia. 
  Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia existed from the Middle Ages in the one state or confederation of states.
  The first historical tribes on nowadays CR area were the Celtic tribes in the 4th century.
According to one of the oldest Czech legends the Primal Father Czech [9] came with his group to Bohemia, climbed up the hill Říp, observe the country and gave order to settle in this fertile and  picturesque [10] country. From archaeological finds we can affirm with certainly [11] that the first Slavs came to Bohemia form the north during the 6th century. The strongest tribe of these Slavs were the Czechs, who settled in the region of nowadays central Bohemia.
  The most glorious period of the old history of this country is the time of the Grate Moravian Empire in the 9th century. At this time Bohemia was a loyal ally of Moravia. The Moravian sovereign Rastislav requested from the Byzantium the Christian mission led by brothers Constantine and Methodius, originally the Greeks from Salonica. They arrived in Moravia in 863 and promoted the Slavonic liturgy. For it’s propose Constantine formed the Old Slavonic language and separate script. Methodius baptised the Czech duke Bořivoj - the first historical documented member of Přemyslid dynasty - and his wife Ludmila in 874. At the first years of the 10th century the Great Moravian Empire was destroyed by Magyar invasion from its southern part.
  The importance of the Czech state grown. One of the most important peak of the Czech history was the time of the Charles IV, the Czech king and Roman Emperor. His residence was Prague and he created the Bohemian Kingdom as the centre of his power.
  After the death of Jan Hus, the sharp critic of the growing riches of the Catholic Church, who was buried to death in 1415, the Hussite [12] movement started in 1419. In the 2nd half of the 15th century, the ’Hussite King’ Jiří z Poděbrad worked out a project for a League of European states - the idea of the ‘United Nations’ - but it wasn’t too much successful.
  The short rule of Jagellon dynasty between 1471 and 1520 continues by a hard period of 400 hundred dominance of the Habsburg House.
Czech king Rudolf II, who is the world-known sovereign because of his extravagance but also because of famous art collections, created the Bohemian Kingdom as the centre of his empire and the centre of whole Europe and Prague became the capitol of the monarchy. But unfortunately, after the Battle of the Bílá Hora in 1620 and during the Thirty Year’s War, which took place throughout Europe, Prague became only the provincial city.
  Another important sovereigns of Habsburg dynasty were Queen Maria Teresia and her son, Roman Emperor Joseph II, who prefer the rule of ‘the Enlightenment’ [13]. In this time the country was strongly germanised.
During the 2nd half of the 19th century the Czech language became important again and the modern Czech nation grew up.
At the end of the WW I, the Australian-Hungarian Empire fell and in October 28, 1918 the Czechoslovakia Republic was established under the leadership of the first Czech President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. New chapter in the history of our country began. Our republic was a democratic capitalistic state and one of the strongest economic power in the world. Unfortunately, Hitler’s fascism and W W II put the end to this promising development.
The Munich Treaty in 1938 attributed the border of Bohemian territory to Germany and in March 1939 the rest of our state was occupied by the Germans. The Czechoslovakia was liberated by the Russian Red and US Armies in May 1945.
  The new post-war period in Europe, which was one of the results of the WW II, was also unfavourable for Czechoslovakia. In February 1948 the Communist Party sized the power and together with other states of central and eastern Europe, Czechoslovakia became a satellite of the USSR. The 1950s are known as the period of ‘red terror’ with many political trials and the ‘Personality Cult’.
On August 21, 1968 the whole country was occupied by the Warsaw Pact Troops in order to stop democratic reforms in our country. The 1970s are known as the period of ‘normalisation’ when many non-conformists had to leave the country.
After 40 years of totalitarian depression, on November 17, 1989 ‘the Velvet Revolution’ started in Prague and huge demonstrations of hundreds thousand Praguers woke up the whole nation. For several years now, the Czech nation have had their freedom again. The Czechs can take part in private business, they can go as tourist abroad to the West, they are no longer slaves of a foreign power. But for the time being nobody knows when the Czech economy will be able to compete with the West, when air and water will be pure, when border mountains will be covered with new forests, when criminality will fall etc. Now the country is trying to follow democratic principles, but it isn’t always easy. Our state still suffers from a lack [14] of political and moral culture.

Places of interest
  There are really plenty of interesting places in our republic. In my opinion the most spectacular and famous for visited are those places, which belong to special UNICEF fond. There are the worth seeing, often very old and - in its category - quite extraordinary places and objects such as: the historical centre of Prague, the historical centre of Moravian towns Telč and Slavonice, the Chapel of St.John Nepomucký on Zelená Hora near Žďár-upon-Sázava and the natural reservation Pálava in southern Moravia.
  Tourists can walk around preserved old castles or ruins such as Karlštejn, Křivoklát, Konopiště, Zvíkov, Lednice, Hluboká and many others. Worth seeing are also the old Czech monasteries and sacred buildings - e.g. the Monastery in Zlatá Koruna or the Monastery in Vyšší Brod in the southern Bohemia.
  In the Czech Republic there are many famous and world-known spas too - e.g. Carlsbad, Marienbad in Western Bohemia or Luhačovice in Moravia.
Almost every city and town has its own historical centre and every Czech village in the countryside has its church or chapel built mainly in baroque style.

Economy
The Czech economy, after more than 40 years under a state monopoly system, is trying to reconstruct into prosperous free market system. The country tries to follow the principles of democracy and hopes that by the year 2000 it will became a partner state of Europe. The most important part of our economy is engineering (cars, trams, locomotives, agriculture machines etc.). Other important branches are metallurgical and chemical industries and of course tourism.
The CR is an industrial county with big reserves mainly in brown (but also in black) coal, but it haven’t’t got reserves of petroleum and natural gas as well as ore resources. Textile and glass industries have a long traditions as do cut glass, china and food productions.
The main items of our agriculture are wheat, maize, sugar-beat, grapes, hops and fruit. In animal production cattle-breeding and pig-beading are the most important but also fish-breading, especially capr-breeding, has a long tradition in Southern Bohemian in many ponds. The CR is world known in beer brewing. 
 
Prague
Prague is the biggest and capital city of the Czech Republic. It is situated almost in the middle of our republic, covers an area of nearly 500 sq km and has about 1 200 000 inhabitants. This city is the seat of the Parliament, the Government and the President too.
It is not known when the site of today’s Prague was first populated, but the Slav settlement started in the 2nd half of the 6th century. A legend connects the founding of Prague with Princess Libuše of the Přemyslid dynasty who prophesied [15] the future glory of Prague, which ‘would touch the stars’.
Prague’s history is nearly connected with the history of Přemyslid dynasty and the Prague Castle. It was the residence of Czech dukes form the 9th century when the Prince Palace was built there and in the early 10th century the Basilica of St. George and the Rotunda o St.Vitus were founded there. In 973 there was established the Prague Bishopric.
  Another princely castle - Vyšehrad - is situated on the other bank of the Vltava River and was built in the 1st  half of the 11th century. It was the seat of dukes of the Přemyslid dynasty for some times and at the end of the 11th century the early Romanesque Basilica of St. Peter and Paul were founded there by first Czech King Vratislav II. Since 19th century this church has a neo-gothic appearance. The Czech King and German Emperor Charles IV gave the world-famous gothic feature to mediaeval Prague. He ordered to built the Charles Bridge, founded the New Town with important Horse and Cattle markets (today’s Wenceslas Square and Charles Square), as well as one of the oldest university in Europe (1348). He also ordered to build the new Gothic church - St.Vitus Cathedral. After John Hus’s death in 1415 and the beginning of the Hussite movement, Jan Žižka z Trocnova defeated the first anti-Hussite crusade on the Vítkov Hill in 1420. Czech king Rudolf II, who is the world-known sovereign because of his extravagance but also because of famous art collections, created Prague the centre of his empire and the centre of whole Europe. Prague was the city of science (e.g. Tycho de Brahe, Johannes Kepler) and art (Spranger, Arcimboldo, de Vries) in this time. The art collections belonged to one of the most spectacular and biggest in the world but unfortunately, they were brought out from Prague in 1648 by Swedish army. After the Battle of the Bílá Hora in 1620 and during the Thirty Year’s War, which took place throughout Europe, Prague became only the provincial city.

Between 16th to 18th century Prague’s beauty was much enriched during the period of Renaissance and mainly the period of Baroque. One of the most attractive Renaissance buildings are the Royal Summer Palace, Wallenstein Palace and Villa (?) Hvězda. Both Churches of St. Nicholas (in the Lesser Town and in the Old Town) and Loreta were built in baroque style and are also worth seeing. Many important buildings, which are connected with the efforts of independence of the Czech nation, were built during the 2nd half of the 19th century in the period of art nouveau [16] and neo-renaissance. There are e.g. the National Theatre, the National Museum or the House of Artists (Rudolfinum). In 1918 Prague became the capital city of Czechoslovakia and during the 1920s and 1930s there were built many buildings in style of the cubism, modernism or functionalism - e.g. the House ‘U černé matky Boží’.
From 1939 Prague, as well as the rest of the Czechoslovakia, was occupied by German troops and was really strongly persecuted by the Nazi despotism. In May 1945 the Prague Uprising against the fascism culminated, barricades were built in the streets and the Praguers resisted the attacks until 9th May when Prague was liberated by the Russian Red Army. On August 21, 1968 Prague - and of course the rest of the country - was occupied by the Warsaw Pact Troops in order to stop democratic reforms - called ‘the Prague Spring’- in our country. There were built some structures during the 1970s and 1980s. There are e.g. the Congress Centre (opened in 1981), which is the biggest complex in its category in the CR. The Congress Hall has 2000 seats and this complex has 4 770 seats altogether. The Barrandov Bridge is 352 m long modern motorway bridge and was opened in 1989. After 40 years of totalitarian depression, on November 17, 1989 ‘the Velvet Revolution’ started in Prague in Národní Avenue and huge demonstrations of hundreds thousand Praguers woke up the whole nation. There were of course built some very- or supermodern buildings and structures in 1990s such as the ‘Dancing House’ (opened in 1996) at Rašín’s Embankment, Žižkov Spire (opened in 1992), which is 219 meters high and is the highest tower in Prague. Sixty-three meters above the ground, there is a restaurant and in 93 meters there is an outlook too. Hotel Hilton-Atrium is an atrium hotel from 1990s. With 1 560 beds it belongs to one of the biggest hotels in Europe. 
 
Since 10th century Prague was also one of the most important European centres of Jewish community.  The former centre of the community was in a quarter today’s called Josefov. There are the world unique  Jewish Museum, synagogues (the most important is the Old-New Synagogue from year 1280) and the Jewish Cemetery. This part of Prague still have a mysterious and exciting mediaeval atmosphere and in my opinion, this Jewish Quarter belongs to the most worth seeing monuments in the world.
 
Because Prague is really one of the most famous European city, hundred thousands tourists visited this city every year. In my opinion, the most spectacular and interesting monuments are situated over the ‘Royal Route’ which is also the most visited tourist sight. It begins at the Náměstí republiky - we can see there the Powder Tower built in the later gothic style during the 14th century or the round Municipal House, the most important building of Prague’s secession period. Royal Route follows the Celetná street as far as the Old Town Square where is situated one of the most popular Prague’s tourist attractions - the big astronomical clock - called ‘Orloj’ - on the Old Town’s Hall Tower. Groups of tourists observe there and wait in front of the building for the figures of twelve moving Apostles which are appeared every hour. Another important historical buildings here are the monumental gothic Church of Our Lady Before Týn with the grave of Danish astronomist Tycho de Brahe, the white Church of St.Nicholas built by Kilian Ignác Dienzenhofer in the 18th century and we can’t forget a gothic tower house called At the Bell.
Across the Little Square we continue into Charles Street which is full of old memorable buildings as far as Křížovnické Square and the Charles Bridge. It was founded by Charles IV in 1357 and built by Petr Parléř on the place of the former Judith’s bridge from the 12th century. We can find there 30 baroque sculptures made by Matthias Braun or Ferdinand Maxmilian Brokoff.
We follow Mostecká Street into the Lesser Town Square where we pass the second Church of St. Nicholas with a high and round baroque dome tower. It was also built by K.I.Dienzenhofer in the 18th century and it belongs to one of the most beautiful and spectacular baroque structure in Europe. Than we walk up hill by Nerudova Street as far as the Prague Castle.

The Prague Castle - absolutely the biggest, the most favourite and most important Prague’s monument - was founded during the 9th century and became the duke’s, king’s, emperor’s and presidential residence for next thousand years. In 1344 the construction of the monumental gothic dome - St.Vitus Cathedral - started according to plans of the prominent European architects Petr Parléř and Matthias from Arras - but because of many problems, the cathedral was finally built more than 500 years later, in 1929, by Joseph Mocker according the former plans. It belongs to one of the biggest and world-famous cathedrals. Other worth seeing places there are the Royal Palaces with the gothic Vladislav Hall or the Spanish Hall from the period of Renaissance, we can’t forget to have a look at the Golden Lane, which is connects with the legends of alchemists, and the beautiful and calm Royal Gardens.
 
One of the most attractive Renaissance buildings in Prague are the Royal Summer Palace (called incorrectly Belveder) with the Singing Fountain, Wallenstein Palace and its garden with a beautiful salla terrena and with many statues made by Adrien de Vries (all sculptures here are castings because the originals were taken away by Swedish Army in 1648). Also some monasteries and converts with the thousand year’s history belong to historical jewels of Prague. There are e.g. the Strahov Monastery, the Monastery and Church in Břevnov or the Convert of St.Agnes from the 13th century. There are the collections of the National Gallery now.  We can find there the big and famous theatres in Prague. The most important is the National Theatre, built in neo-renaissance style from the public money collection of the people between 1881. It was opened twice because of big damages caused by a big fire - the second opening ceremonial took place here in 1883. The Stavovské Theatre - is the second most important theatre in Prague. It was opened in 1783 and there was played the premiere of the opera Don Giovanni by W.A.Mozart. Rudolfinum is another building which were built in neo-renaissance style in the 2nd half of the 19th century.  It was completely reconstructed in 1990s and there take place the Prague Spring International Music Festival in May to June each year. The Clementinum is the second largest complex of historical buildings in Prague. It was built at the end of the 17th century and there are the collections of the National and the University Library now.
The Loreta is the other spectacular building built in baroque style by K.I.Dienzenhofer. It is famous for its carillon [17] (?), which can be heard every hour, and also for the Loreta’s Jewellery with its precious ostensories [18].  The best views of Prague are from the Prague Castle and from the Petřín Hill. There is 60 meters high watchtower - a free and smaller copy of the Eiffel Tower - from 1891 and the ground cableway.The National Cemetery in Vyšehrad with a monumental memorial called ‘Slavín’ is the buried ground of outstanding personalities in the sphere of culture, science and politics (e.g. B.Smetana, A.Dvořák, K.H.Mácha, K.Čapek, B.Němcová etc.)
The statue of Jan Žižka is the biggest riding sculpture in the world and is situated above the Prague, on the Vítkov Hill, in front of the National Monument Building. Prague’s ZOO is the biggest ZOO in our republic. It is situated in Troja and is world-known and world important because of the numbers of its exemplars - there live about 2 500 of all kind of animals.
The real centre of Prague is the Wenceslas Square which is about 750 m long and 60 wide. The statue of the Czech patron - St.Wenceslas - (made by J.V.Myslbek) is a symbol of a free and independent nation. People usually gather here in some famous moments of the Czech history.
 
Prague is also an important machine, food, chemical industrial or business centre and the important transport crossroad - there is an airport in Ruzyně, many railway-stations and many international European bus lines go through the Prague. Many people travel and commite [19] by tube (Metro), buses, trams and taxis which are unfortunately world-known for its expensive. 
There is also the biggest air open stadium in the world in Strahov. There take place big sport events and the famous music concerts too.

·  Charles University
This university, which was in 1348 by Charles IV founded, is one of the oldest university in Europe (and the oldest in central, eastern and northern Europe).
  The idea of the Czech university followed from the royal court of Czech king Wenceslav II but it could be done almost hundred years after under Roman Emperor and Czech king Charles IV.
  The Prague’s university follows the model of Paris University and in the beginning, there were four faculties - art, theology, law and medical. After the foundation the university had no its own buildings - the classes were in some private houses and in monastery libraries. In about 1366 Charles IV established a new college near St.Nichols Church in the Old Town and few years later, students from this college moved into the Carolinum.
  At this university there were mainly the Czechs, the Germans and the Polish students as well as teachers. In the first quarter of the 14th century, there became some conflicts between the teachers of all these nationalities. In 1409 the Czech professor and church reformator Jan Huss created the Edict of Kutná Hora, which shared the university ‘votes’ - 1 for all of the Germans and 3 for the Czechs.
After the battle of Bílá hora in 1620, Charles university was hardly germanised and in 1654 it was jointed with the Jesuit college as Charles-Ferdinand University (till 1918).

[1] [sai’li:zja, -žja, -šja]
[2] the Luž Mts.
[3] the Giant Mts.
[4] the Eagel Mts.
[5] the Ore
[6] systém přehradních nádrží
[7] ohrožení
[8] modrého klínu
[9] Praotec Čech
[10] úrodnou a malebnou
[11] můžeme s jistotou prohlásit, potvrdit
[12] [hasait]
[13] osvícenství
[14] trpí nedostatkem
[15] věštila, prorokovala
[16] secese
[17] zvonkohru
[18] skvostnými monstrancemi
[19] jezdí za prací
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