CZECH REPUBLIC

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

The Czech Republic is located in Central Europe. It is surrounded by Germany to the northwest, Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the southeast, and Austria to the south. The total area is 78,866 square kilometers (49,007 square miles). The terrain is generally composed of rolling hills and some mountainous areas. Its 4 borders total 1,881 kilometers (1,159 miles), and it has no coastline. Its size is comparable to Mississippi (48,434 square miles) and Louisiana (51,843 square miles).

The Czech Republic features 3 primary regions: the Czech Lands to the west, Moravia to the southeast, and Silesia to the northeast. The capital, Prague, is located slightly to the country's northwest. Other important cities include Ostrava to the northeast, Brno to the southeast (in the Moravian region), and Plzen to the west.

POPULATION.

In 2000 the population was estimated at 10,272,179. Approximately 1.19 million inhabitants, or 11.56 percent of the population, resided in Prague. The birth rate stood at 9.1 births per 1,000 people in 2000, while the death rate was 10.87 deaths per 1,000, resulting in a projected growth rate of-0.08 percent. The first time the population growth rate was registered as negative was in 1994. According to the Statistical Office of the Czech Republic, the projected population for 2010 was 10.24 million.

While 81.2 percent of the population is Czech, 13.2 percent is Moravian. In addition, 3.1 percent of the population is made up of ethnic Slovaks. The remainder of the population includes Roma (Gypsies), Poles, Germans, Silesians, and Hungarians. However, the Roma population is often underrepresented politically because they are a nomadic (no fixed residency) people. Approximately 40 percent of the people declare themselves to be Roman Catholic, 40 percent declare themselves to be atheist, and the remainder are primarily Protestant, Orthodox, or other religions.

MANUFACTURING.

Road vehicles are the country's most significant export, bringing in significantly more revenue than other important exports, such as electrical machinery and appliances, and industrial machinery and equipment. Other major export products include iron and steel, non-metallic mineral products, textiles, specialized machinery, transport equipment, furniture, power generation machinery, and rubber goods.

Because many of the manufacturing plants that were privatized after communism featured outdated equipment, foreign direct investment has been extremely important in determining which industries survive the transition to a market economy. The primary foreign investments have been in the area of consumer goods and tobacco, transport and communications (including equipment, commerce, and services), petrochemicals, financial and insurance affairs, mineral products, and electricity, gas, and water supply. By 1999 over 800 foreign companies had set up manufacturing subsidiaries, each employing more than 50 persons in the Czech Republic.

With increasing investments in the automotive sector, the Czech Republic is expected to become the third-largest auto manufacturer in Eastern Europe, after Russia and Poland. Other fast-growing sectors are electronics, precision engineering, environmental technologies, and software development. The government offers incentives for investment in high-tech products or machinery, and has begun a program to support the development of industrial zones throughout the republic.

The traditional Czech industries of glassmaking and beer brewing survived the economic transition in the form of the glassmaking company Bohemia Glass and the brewing companies Pilsner Urquell and Budvar/Budweiser. Companies producing transport equipment, such as Tatra Trucks, Zetor tractors, and Škoda cars, also remain visible in the current Czech economy. Other products that continued to be manufactured after communism include trams, planes, motorcycles, buses, and machines.

The most important products mined in the Czech Republic are coal and uranium. The coal is primarily used for heating purposes, while the uranium is used for the production of weapons, and a significant amount of uranium is exported. While uranium was exported almost exclusively to Soviet bloc countries before 1989, it is now exported more widely.

In the second half of the 1990s prices for commercial construction increased for small and medium enterprises, as well as for domestic non-financial corporations. The largest price increases for commercial construction were from firms employing more than 300 persons (especially for those employing more than 500), and for foreign non-financial corporations. Price increases for these types of structures indicated a higher level of demand relative to supply.

DEPENDENCIES

Czech Republic has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Agency Programs" and "Key Sectors." CzechInvest. <http://www.czechinvest.org/ci/ci_an.nsf/?Open> . Accessed January 2001.

"Agora Elections Around the World." Czech Republic. <http://www.agora.stm.it/elections/election/czech.htm> . Accessed January 2001.

American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic. Czech Republic 2000. Prague: American Chamber of Commerce, 2000.

Andrews, Edmund. "The Yoke of Capitalism." The New York Times. 16 January 2001.

Czech Statistical Universe. <http://www.czso.cz/eng/angl.htm> .Accessed January 2001.

Doing Business in the Czech Republic: Whatever You Need to Know. <http://www.doingbusiness.cz> . Accessed January 2001.

International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook. Washington, DC: The International Monetary Fund, 1999.

Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic, Department of Financial Policies. Czech Republic Macroeconomic Forecast. Prague, October 2000.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Czech Republic. <http://www.czech.cz> . Accessed January 2001.

O'Rourke, Breffini. "Little Hope Amid Gloom in Run-up to Czech Elections ." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, June 18, 1998. <http://www.rferl.org/newsline/1998/06/5-not/not-180698.html> . Accessed January 2001.

Shor, Boris. "Czech Republic." Nations in Transit 1997: Civil Society, Democracy and Markets in East Central Europe and the Newly Independent States, edited by Karatnycky, Motyl, and Shor. New York: Freedom House/Transaction Publishers,1997.

United Nations Development Program. Human Development Report 2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook 2000. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html> . Accessed January 2001.

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of European Affairs. Background Notes: Czech Republic. <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/czech_9903_bgn.html> . Accessed January 2001.

U.S. Department of State, Business Section. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Czech Republic. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2001/europe/index.html> . Accessed January 2001.

World Bank. World Development Indicators, 2000. Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2000.

—Sherrill Stroschein

CAPITAL:

Prague (Praha).

MONETARY UNIT:

The monetary unit is the Czech crown (Éeská koruna), abbreviated as Ké. Each crown is composed of 100 hellers. There are coins of 10, 20, and 50 hellers, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 crowns. Czech banknotes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 crowns. This monetary unit came into being with the division of Czechoslovakia into the Czech and Slovak Republics in 1993, and is now valued at a different rate than the Slovak crown.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Machinery and transport equipment, other manufactured goods, chemicals, raw materials and fuel.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Machinery and transport equipment, other manufactured goods, chemicals, raw materials and fuels, food.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$120.8 billion (1999 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$26.34 billion (1998 est.). Imports: US$30.24 billion (1998 est.).

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