The Eurasia Center/EBC
4927 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
The Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a proud country with a long history of oppression and occupation. Not until January 1, 1993 did the Czechs, after splitting with Slovakia, have an individual nation state. Now, the citizens of this young country of 22 years old are searching for their identity.
Culturally, Czechs throughout the country take pride in the music of famous composers Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák, surviving centuries of political struggle, and Czech beer, which has a long, illustrious history. It is not hard to feel the magic while walking through Old Town Square in Prague with centuries-old castles and rolling hills of Bohemia.
After the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved at the end of World War I, the Czechoslovakian state was formed. This perceived freedom was short-lived; Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938. Ten years later, after World War II, Czechoslovakia became part of the Soviet Bloc and spent decades under the Czechoslovak Communist rule. 1968 marked the beginning of the Prague Spring, led by the reformer Alexander Dubček; however, this effort was brought to a halt by Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. New efforts were brought forward to promote human rights in Eastern Europe through the Helsinki Accords. As Perestroika began in the Soviet Union, citizens in countries in Eastern Europe began to protest for their freedom. The student protests of 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the Communist regime and the rebirth of democracy in Czechoslovakia. Vaclav Havel, leader of underground dissident group became first president of post-communist Czechoslovakia and one of the most salient figures of the Czech Republic. Havel died on December 18th, 2011. Since becoming independent of Slovakia in 1993, the Czech Republic has become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999 and the European Union (EU) in 2004.1
The Czech Republic maintains a GDP of about $205.7 billion (2014 est.) and a per capita GDP of $29,900 (2014 est.).
In 2014, the economy grew by roughly 2% compared to a -0.7% growth rate in 2013.
The inflation rate in 2014 was approximately 0.4% as opposed to 1.4% in 2013.
For economic indicators for the Czech Republic visit: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ez.html
GDP per sector: 60% services, 37.4% industry, 2.6% agriculture (2014 est.).
The Czech Republic exported about $147.3 billion in 2014, notably machinery and transport equipment, raw materials, fuel, and chemicals.
The Czech Republic’s main export partners are Germany 32.4%, Slovakia 8.4%, Poland 6%, France 5.1%, UK 5.1%, and Austria 4.4%,(2014).
The Czech Republic imported $135.1 billion in 2014. Primary import partners: Germany 30.2%, Poland 8.5%, Slovakia 6.8%, China 6.2%, Netherlands 5.7%, Austria 4.2%.
For information about the economic structure of the Czech Republic visit:
In part due to a history of oppression, the Czech Republic is going through a wave of human rights activism. On January 1, 1977, 250 human rights activists, including Vaclav Havel, signed Charter 77, a manifesto that criticized the human rights violations of the government. This movement would gradually grow as dissent throughout the Soviet Bloc intensified. After “a wave of protests against communist rule erupted in eastern Europe,” the opposition’s efforts culminated in the Velvet Revolution, or the bloodless transition from communism to democracy in 1989. This non-violent revolution eventually evolved into the Velvet Divorce, or the separation of Czechoslovakia into Slovakia and the Czech Republic.2
The Czech Republic signed its constitution into law on December 16, 1992 and officially became independent of Slovakia on January 1, 1993. The nation currently operates under a parliamentary republic system with three branches: the executive branch (including the president as chief of state, the prime minister as head of government, and the cabinet), the legislative branch (Chamber of Deputies and Senate), and the judicial branch (Supreme Court and Constitutional Court).3
The Czech Republic has five major political parties holding significant roles in the current administration. As of the October 2013 elections, the most recent, for the Chamber of Deputies, the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) holds 20.45% of seats. The party ANO 2011, which translates to YES 2011, holds 18.65% of seats, and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) has 14.91%. The TOP 09 party, whose name translates to “Tradition Responsibility Prosperity 09,” has 11.99% of seats. The Czech Republic is divided into a number of regions which include (Bohemia in the west and Moravia in the east) and 13 administrative districts and Prague.4
For statistical election information visit:
Miloš Zeman is the president of the Czech Republic, and Bohuslav Sobotka is the Prime Minister. Jan Kahout is the Foreign Minister, and Petr Gandalovič is the ambassador to the United States.
In January 2014, Andrej Babis, the recently elected finance minister, “raised the possibility that the country might adopt the euro.”5
The Czech Republic boasts the oldest academic institution north of the Alps. Charles University in Prague was founded by Emperor Charles IV in 1348 and is now renowned for its academic rigor and competition. But regardless of which university a Czech student chooses, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has a state educational policy which covers most of the costs of education for Czech students.6 Tuition and fees in the Czech Republic is also affordable for EU citizens.7
Since the expiration of the 2012 Action Plan, the Czech Republic has implemented a new set of state environmental policies up to the year 2020. A primary aim of this plan is to ensure Czech compliance with EU environmental policies while encouraging sustainable development initiatives.
For more information about the State Environmental Policy, visit:
Accusations of corruption during the previous administration contribute to the hesitation of investors to come to the Czech Republic. Their neighbor Germany admitted in the summer of 2011 that the country’s business and investment environment is tainted and becoming increasingly unattractive to investors. As air pollution is a global problem, and the entire European continent is concerned with the Czech Republic’s high level of emissions. Western nations have offered $1 billion to contribute toward implementing better environmental policies.8
There are 10.64 million people living in the Czech Republic, and 73% of the population lives in urban areas, with annual increases in urbanization estimated at 0.35% (2015 est.). 1.314 million of the country’s population live in Prague alone (2015). The life expectancy is 75.5 years for males and 81.6 years for females; women outnumber men by thousands in the Czech Republic’s geriatric population (2015 est.).
According to the 2011 census, 64.3% of Czech citizens declared themselves to be of Czech origin. The next highest category was Other/Undeclared with 27.5%. During the 2011 census, a large segment of the population boycotted the nationality question, which accounts for this high percentage.9 The 2001 census lists 90.5% of citizens as Czech, followed by Moravian at 3.7%, Other/Undeclared at 2.6%, and Slovak at 1.9%. As of 2013, the Czech Republic officially recognizes fourteen minorities.
After such a long communist history, a majority of citizens have no religious affiliation at 34.5%, and 54% did not specify. The largest faith is Roman Catholicism at 10.4%.10 A 2005 poll found that 19% of Czech citizens believe in a god, 50% believe in “some sort of spirit or life force,” and 30% do not believe in “any sort of god, spirit, or life force.” 11
Czech is the official language and is spoken by 95.4% of the population, followed by Slovak at 1.6%, other 3%.12 However, most Czech citizens speak one or two languages other than Czech, such as German, Russian, or English. Czech and Slovak are mutually intelligible, meaning that a Czech speaker and a Slovak speaker can usually understand each other.
Research provided by Courtney Newcomb and Rachael Rosenberg, Research Assistant, under the Supervision and Coordination of Dr. Gerard Janco, President, The Eurasia Center/EBC.