After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech portion found itself without a common single-word name in English. In 1993, The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested the name Czechia as an official alternative in all situations other than formal official documents and the full names of government institutions; however, this has not become widely used--though other languages have single-word names, e.g. Tschechien in German, and Czechy in Polish. The official website of the Czech Republic run by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs also uses the name Czechia in some texts.Its Czech equivalent is Č?esko.
Another (unofficial) alternative is name Czechland, which means the land of czechs. As well as Poland is the land of Poles.
A historic jewel hidden away at the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic packs a lot of punch for such a small country. No bigger than Scotland or South Carolina, it's crammed with fairytale castles, medieval towns, elegant spa resorts and scenic national parks. And on top of all that, it's the birthplace of the world's finest beer.
Part of Czechoslovakia until the 'Velvet Divorce' of 1993, the Czech Republic encompasses the ancient lands of Bohemia and Moravia, and boasts a rich cultural heritage represented by the likes of classical composer Antonin Dvorak and writer Franz Kafka.
Archaeologists have found evidence of prehistoric human settlement in the area dating back to the Neolithic era. In the classical era, from the 3rd century BC Celtic migrations, the Boii (see Bohemia) and later in the 1st century Germanic tribes of Marcomann and Quadi settled there. During the Migration Period around the 5th century, many Germanic tribes moved westwards and southwards out of Central Europe. In an equally significant migration, Slavic people from the Black Sea and Carpathian regions settled in the area (a movement that was also stimulated by the onslaught of peoples from Siberia and Eastern Europe: Huns, Avars , Bulgars and Magyars). Following in the Germans' wake, they moved southwards into Bohemia, Moravia, and some of present day Austria. During the 7th century the Frankish merchant Samo, supporting the Slavs fighting their Avar rulers, became the ruler of the first known Slav state in Central Europe. The Moravian principality arose in the 8th century (see Great Moravia). The Bohemian or Czech state emerged in the late 9th century when it was unified by the rP?emyslid dynasty. The kingdom of Bohemia was a significant regional power during the Middle Ages. It was part of the Holy Roman Empire during the entire existence of this confederation.
In 1212 King Permysl Otakar I (1198-1230), bearing the title “king“ already since 1198, extracted a Golden Bull of Sicily (a formal edict) from the emperor confirming the royal title for Otakar and his descendants. The 13th century was also a period of large-scale German immigration. The Germans populated towns and mining districts on the Bohemian periphery and in some cases formed German colonies in the interior of the Czech lands. In 1241 the mighty Mongol army launched an invasion into Europe, and after the Battle of Legnica the Mongols carried their devastating raid into Moravia. The King Permysl OtakarII (1253–1278), earned the nickname of “the King of Gold and Iron” due to his military power and wealth. He met his death at the Battle on the Marchfeld in 1278 in a war with his rival, the Roman king Rudolph I of Habsburg. In 1306, the Př?emyslid line had died out, and, after a series of dynastic wars, a new Luxemburg dynasty captured the Bohemian crown. The 14th century, particularly the reign of Charles IV (1342-1378), is considered the Golden Age of Czech history. Of particular significance was the founding of Charles University in Prague in 1348. The black Death which had raged in Europe from 1347-1352 decimated the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1380.
Charles IV, eleventh king of Bohemia. Charles IV was elected the Greatest Czech of all time.
Religious conflicts such as the 15th century Hussite Wars and the 17th century Thirty Years’ War had a devastating effect on the local population. From the 16th century, Bohemia came increasingly under Habsburg control as the Habsburgs became first the elected and then hereditary rulers of Bohemia. After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire , Bohemia became part of Austrian Empire and later of Austria-Hungary. The Great Famine, which lasted from 1770 until 1771, killed 12% of Czech lands’ population, up to 500,000 inhabitants, and radicalized countrysides leading to peasant uprisings. After the revolutions of 1848, Emperor Franz Joseph attempted to rule as an absolute monarch, keeping all the nationalities in check.
Almost everyone who visits the Czech Republic goes to Prague, with its imposing castle, great museums and galleries, jazz clubs and concerts and other attractions. Many day trips are possible from here, including the spa resort of Karlovy Vary, the historic towns of Mě?lní?k and Kutná? Hora, and castles like Karlš?tejn and Konopiš?tě?.
But the rest of the country has just as much to offer the independent traveller, with no fewer than 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites including the picture-postcard town of Č?eský? Krumlov, the chateaux and landscaped gardens of Lednice-Valtice, and the Renaissance architecture of Telč?.
Among the most beautiful scenic areas are the Š?umava National Park in the southwest, which takes in the forested mountains and lakes around the headwaters of the Vltava River, the wierd and wonderful rock pinnacles and gorges of the Adrš?pach-Teplice Rocks in the northeast, and the spectacular caves and underground rivers of the Moravian Karst in the southeast.
The rich agricultural area of Moravia in the eastern half of the country offers rolling ranges of wooded hills, vineyards, folk art and yet more castles. Here wine is more popular than beer - a speciality of Bohemia - and life moves at an even more relaxed pace.
The Czech landscape is quite varied. Bohemia to the west consists of a basin, drained by the Elbe (Czech: Labe) and the Vltava rivers, and surrounded by mostly low mountains such as the sKrkono?e range of the Sudetes. The highest point in the country, ezSn??ka, at 1,602 m (5,262 ft), is located here. Moravia, the eastern part of the country, is also quite hilly. It is drained mainly by the Morava River, but it also contains the source of the Oder (Czech: Odra) River. Water from the landlocked Czech Republic flows to three different seas: the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea. The Czech Republic also leases the Moldauhafen, a 30,000- square-metre (7.4-acre) lot in the middle of the Hamburg Docks, which was awarded to Czechoslovakia by Article 363 of the Treaty of Versailles to allow the landlocked country a place where goods transported downriver could be transferred to seagoing ships. The territory reverts to Germany in 2028.
Weather and climate
The Czech Republic has a temperate, continental climate with relatively hot summers and cold, cloudy winters, usually with snow. Most rains are during the summer. The temperature difference between summers and winters is relatively high due to its landlocked geographical position.
Even within the Czech Republic, temperatures vary greatly depending on the elevation. In general, at higher altitudes the temperatures decrease and precipitation increases. Another important factor is the distribution of the mountains. Therefore the climate is quite varied.
At the highest peak (ezSn??ka, 1,602 m/5,260 ft) the average temperature is only −?0.4 °C (31 °F), whereas in the lowlands of South Moravia, the average temperature is as high as 10 °C (50 °F). This also applies for the country's capital Prague, but this is due to urban factors.
The coldest month is usually January followed by February and December. During these months there is usually snow in the mountains and sometimes in the major cities and lowlands. During March, April and May, the temperature usually increases rapidly and especially during April the temperature and weather tends to vary widely during the day. Spring is also characterized by high water levels in the rivers due to melting snow followed by floods at times.
The warmest month of the year is July, followed by August and June. On average, the summer temperatures are about 20 °C (68 °F) higher than during winter. Especially in the last decade, temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) are not unusual. Summer is also characterized by rain and storms.
Autumn generally begins in September, which is still relatively warm, but much drier. During October, temperatures usually fall back under 15° or 10°C (59° or 50°F) and deciduous trees begin to shed their leaves. By the end of November, temperatures usually range around the freezing point.
Regions and districts
Since 2000, the Czech Republic is divided into 13 regions and the capital city of Prague. Each region has its own elected Regional Assembly (krajské zastupitelstvo) and hejtman (usually translated as hetman or "president"). In Prague, their powers are executed by the city council and the mayor.
The older seventy-six districts (okresy, singular okres) including three 'statutory cities' (without Prague, which had special status) were disbanded in 1999 in an administrative reform; they remain as territorial division and seats of various branches of state administration.