Czech is a West Slavic language spoken by over 10 million people. It is an official language in the Czech Republic, where most of its speakers reside, and claims minority language status in Slovakia. It is most closely related to Slovak—with which it is mutually intelligible—then to other West Slavic languages like Polish, and then to other Slavic languages like Russian. Most of its vocabulary is based on roots shared with other Slavic and otherwise Indo-European languages, but many loanwords have been adopted in recent years, most of them associated with high culture.
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located in moderate geographical latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. The climate of the Czech Republic is mild but variable locally and throughout the year.The climate differs markedly among the various regions of the Czech Republic, depending on the height above sea level. Generally speaking, the higher you are, average temperatures may drop more and rainfall is more likely. Many other factors also play a role in this – the border mountain ranges, for example, significantly influence ground-level air flow and rainfall. Various height levels of the sun during the year cause the changing of the seasons, differentiated from each other mainly by the development of temperatures and precipitation. Similarly to the whole moderate northern band, the beginning of the year in the Czech Republic is also characterized by a cold winter. After this comes spring, followed by a warm summer and chilly autumn. The alternation of the seasons has a marked effect, above all on vegetation.
With an estimated population of 10,542,080 at 30 June 2011, compared to 9.3 million at the beginning of the twentieth century, the population growth of the Czech Republic was limited and characterized by low fertility rates and loss of population in and around WW I and WW II. Population loss during WW I was approximately 350,000. At the beginning of WW II population the Czech Republic reached its maximum (11.2 million). Due to the expulsion of the German residents after WW II and the persecution of Czech Slavs and Jews, the Czech Republic lost about 3 million inhabitants and in 1947 the population was only 8.8 million. Population growth resumed until 1994 when the population was 10.3 million. From 1994-2005 natural growth was negative and the population decreased to 10.2 million. Since 2006, natural growth has been positive, but the most important factor for the recent population of the Czech Republic has been immigration, approximately 300,000 during the last decade.
Religion in the Czech Republic was dominated by Christianity until at least the first half of the 20th century; since then it has steadily declined and today the Czech Republic has one of the least religious populations in the world. The area of what is today the Czech Republic was a pagan nation until the 9th century. In 863 A.D., two brothers, Cyril and Metodej, arrived as Christian missionaries. Subsequent to their arrival, Christianity quickly spread throughout the region, as in the rest of Europe, and the Catholic Church became very dominant. Today, the Czech Republic enjoys strict freedom of religion. During the 40 years of Communist rule; however, religion was virtually outlawed, and churchgoing was strongly discouraged. Perhaps due to so many years of institutionalized atheism, many Czechs today are either atheist or refuse to affiliate with any one church.
The Czech Republic's central European landscape is dominated by the Bohemian Massif, which rises to heights of 3,000 ft (900 m) above sea level. This ring of mountains encircles a large elevated basin, the Bohemian Plateau. The principal rivers are the Elbe and the Vltava. The most dominant feature of the geography of Czech Republic is the Bohemian Massif which has an elevation of about 3,000 ft above sea level. The geography of Czech Republic comprises of part of Silesia, Bohemia and Moravia. A land locked country, the Republic of Czech is bordered by the Slovak Republic to the east, Austria to the south, Germany to the west, and Poland to the north.
The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech crown (koruna), abbreviated as Kč, with the international abbreviation CZK. 1 crown consists of 100 hellers (haléř), abbreviated as hal. Heller coins have not been in use as of September 1, 2008, but hellers are still incorporated into merchandise prices. The final price is always rounded off to the nearest crown value. As the official currency, the Czech crown is the best and often the only possible currency to use when paying. Although the Czech Republic is part of the European Union, the euro is not widely accepted here yet. Some stores, restaurants and hotels accept payments in Euros but the exchange rate may not be very good
The Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy. In 1989, after overthrowing the one-party government, Czechoslovak citizens found new freedom - the right to freely form political parties and movements according to one's political convictions. Very soon after the fall of the totalitarian regime, a colorful variety of political parties was established and provided the foundations for a more stable political climate. In June 1998 the early elections were held and the Czech Social Democratic Party gained the majority of votes (32,3 %). After few weeks of negotiations among all the parties finally CSSD formed a minority government following a procedural agreement with the ODS (27,74). For the first time after the year 1989 a left oriented party ruled in the Czech Republic. Last elections were held in June 2002 and the Czech Social Democratic Party again won the majority of votes. The winning party formed a coalition government with two other parties - Christian Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People´s Party and Union of Freedom-Democratic Union.
The Czech Republic’s economic freedom score is 72.2, making its economy the 26th freest in the 2014 Index. Its overall score is 1.3 points better than last year, with notable improvements in half of the 10 economic freedoms, including investment freedom, business freedom, and freedom from corruption. The Czech Republic is ranked 15th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is higher than the regional and global average. Over the 20-year history of the Index, the Czech Republic has steadily enhanced its economic freedom to advance to the ranks of “mostly free” economies achieving scores above 70. A series of major reform measures has enabled it to register score improvements of 10 points or more in half of the 10 economic freedoms, including fiscal freedom, labor freedom, and trade freedom. Gains in the area of government size, which measures tax burden and public spending, have also contributed to the Czech Republic’s impressive transition to a market economy.