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 INFORMATION STATION
Facts at a GlanceEnvironmentEconomic Profile
Facts for the TravelerMoney & CostsWhen to Go

Facts at a Glance
 Full country name: Czech Republic

Area: 78,864 sq km

Population: 10.27 million (growth rate 0.5%)

Capital city: Prague (pop 1.15 million )

People: Czech with minorities of Slovaks, Poles, Germans, Romanies (also known as Gypsies)and Hungarians

Language: Czech

Religion: 40% Roman Catholic, 10% Protestant

Government: Parliamentary democracy

President: Not determined


Environment
 

Adjoining Austria, Germany, Poland and the Slovak Republic, the Czech Republic consists of Bohemia in the west and Moravia in the east. Within Moravia is a small southern part of the historical region called Silesia, the rest of which is in present-day Poland. Prague, the capital of both the Czech Republic and Bohemia, sits astride the Vltava River about 30km above its junction with the Labe River. The Czech Republic has a beautiful and diverse landscape with plenty of mountains, gentle highlands, lowlands, caves, canyons, broad fields, bogs, lakes, ponds and dams. Unfortunately, the further north you go, the worse the appalling air pollution and high-altitude acid-rain damage gets, the belated pay-back for unregulated industrialisation since the 19th century.

Despite centuries of clear-cutting for cultivation, forests still cover about one-third of the Czech Republic. Most remaining virgin forest is in uncultivatable mountain areas. Above the tree line (about 1400m) there is little but grasses, shrubs and lichens. The richest wildlife are lynxes and other wildcats, marmots, otters, marten and mink. Pheasants, partridges, ducks, wild geese and other game birds are common in woods and marshes, and commonly hunted. Eagles, vultures, osprey, storks, bustards and grouse are rarer.

The damp continental climate over most of the Czech Republic is responsible for warm, showery summers; cold, snowy winters; and generally changeable conditions. July is the hottest month everywhere, January the coldest. From December through February, temperatures push below freezing even in the lowlands, and are bitter in the mountains. There is no real 'dry season', and the long, sunny hot spells of summer tend to be broken by sudden, heavy thunderstorms. Winter brings 40 to 100 days of snow on the ground (about 130 in the mountains), plus fog in the lowlands.




Economic Profile
 GDP: US$132.4 billion

GDP per head: US$12,900

Annual growth: -2.3%

Inflation: 4.2%

Major industries: Machinery, transport, steel, armaments, vehicles, cement, ceramics, cotton, beer

Major trading partners: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Russia, Italy

Member of EU: no


Facts for the Traveler
 Visas: Nationals of all Western European countries, Japan and New Zealand can visit the Czech Republic for up to 90 days, and UK citizens for up to 180 days, without a visa. US passport holders can stay for 90 days without a visa. Nationals of Australia, Canada, South Africa and many other countries must obtain a visa, which is good for a stay of between 90 and 30 days depending on your nationality.

Health risks: encephalitis, Lyme disease

Time: GMT/UTC +1

Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz

Weights & measures: Metric

Tourism: 17 million visitors


Money & Costs
 Currency:Czech koruna (Kc)
Relative Costs:
Meals

  • Budget: US$2-5
  • Mid-range: US$5-10
  • Top-end: US$10 and upwards




  • Lodging

  • Budget: US$10-15
  • Mid-range: US$15-80
  • Top-end: US$80 and upwards
  • Costs in the biggest tourist centres - Prague especially, but also the Bohemian spas, are higher than elsewhere, though things are still fairly cheap for Western visitors. The big exception is accommodation in Prague, for which tourist prices are in line with those across Western Europe. By staying at cheap hostels and campsites, sticking to self-catering, pub grub and stand-up cafeterias, you might get away with US$15 per person per day in summer. In a private home or better hostel, with meals at cheap restaurants and using public transport, you can get by on US$20-25. To share a clean double room with bath in a mid-range hotel or pension, and enjoy good local or Western meals, plan on at least US$30-40. In Prague, figure a third to half again as much, and even more if you want to be close to the centre. On the other hand, except for Easter and Christmas-New Year, many bottom and mid-range hotels drop their prices by a third or more outside the summer season.

    Travellers' cheques are easily cashed throughout the Czech Republic. Eurocheques are cashed free of charge at Komercní banks, and there are American Express and Thomas Cook offices in Prague which will change their cheques at bank rates free of charge. Upper end hotels and restaurants in major tourist centres accept some credit cards, usually American Express, Visa or MasterCard (Access) and sometimes Eurocard, Diners Club or JCB. Most travel agencies and some tourist shops in Prague accept credit cards, but most shops prefer crowns. Don't bother exchanging money on the black market: the usual rate is barely above the bank rate and there are plenty of scammers ripping off tourists with discontinued old crown notes or worthless Polish zlotys.

    A tip of 5-10% is appreciated in any tourist restaurant with table service. The usual protocol is for them to tell you the total food bill and for you, as you hand over the money, to say how much you are paying with the tip included.




    When to Go
     

    May, June and September are the prime visiting months, with April and October as chillier and sometimes cheaper alternatives. Most Czechs take their holidays in July and August when hotels and tourist sights are more than usually crowded, and hostels are chock-a-block with students, expecially in Prague and the Krkonose and Tatras mountain resort areas. Luckily, the supply of bottom end accommodation increases in large towns during this time, as student hostels are thrown open to visitors. Centres like Prague, Brno and the mountain resorts cater to visitors all year round. Elsewhere, from October or November until March or April, most castles, museums and other tourist attractions, and some associated accommodation and transport, close down.


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