Country Information Czech Republic
at a glance
destination Czech Republic
civilization and culture
AT A GLANCE
78 866 km˛
10.21 million (July 2009)
Prague (1.2 million inhabitants 2008)
Czech (other languages: Slovak 2%)
Gross national product per capita
US$ 26 100 (2008) (PPP)
Population growth per annum
76,8 years (men 73.5 years, women: 80,3 years) (2009)
3,8 per 1000 live births (2009)
Rate of illiteracy
1 % (2003)
DESTINATION CZECH REPUBLIC
Tourism is very important for the Czech economy. Before the First World War, people came from all over Europe to take the waters in spa towns such as Karlovy Vary or Mariánské Lázne. They were the meeting place of the European high society and the elite from the worlds of art, finance, and politics. There is now a resurgence of interest in the Czech spas. The Czech capital city Prague is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe. Rambling and winter sports in the Sudeten or Bohemian Mountains are also very popular.
According to UNWTO in the year 2005 approximately 4,8 million guests came into the country and paid 3,7 billion Euro. A lot of German tourists doing short-trips.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism
The Czech Republic has become one of the main destinations for paedo-sexual perpetrators and has meanwhile gained a sad notoriety in this respect. The success of counter-measures means that the situation is now much better in many places along the border to Germany than it was a decade ago, but often the problems have only been moved elsewhere.
Since about 1997 there has also been a worrying increase along the border to Germany in the sexual exploitation of children for the production of pornography. The perpetrators are usually from Germany, and most of the boys and girls involved have socially disadvantaged backgrounds, and are frequently from gypsy families. Children can be forced by family members into sexual abuse, which then takes place in a private setting.
It is estimated that 20 000 women and children are involved in prostitution against their will.
Because German tourists pay double rates to have sexual intercourse without a condom, pregnancies are not uncommon, even among young girls. According to a UNICEF report, there is clear evidence that the Czech Republic is a transit land for the organised trafficking of children from Slovakia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarusia as well as from the Czech Republic. They are brought to the German-Czech border region and from there sold on to Germany, where they find themselves in enforced prostitution.
The Czech Republic ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993. All sexual contacts between adults and children below 15 years of age is forbidden. The police have increased their patrols, and in some cases they are enforcing curfews. In a joint project, the German government, with the laender of Bavaria, and Saxonia are working with local non-governmental organisations to raise public awareness for the topic, as well as to scare off potential perpetrators. In addition, there is increasing coordination between German and Czech police forces.
According to estimates from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, at the end of 2007 approximately 1.500 people in Czech Republic were infected with HIV, including less than 500 women. How many children were infected, could not be estimated. In the same year less than 100 Czechs died following infection with HIV.
Defence for Children International - Czech Republic
Senovazne nam. 24
CZ-116 47 Praha 1
Praha, Czech Republic
Phone: +420 234 621 374
Fax: +420 621 374
Nadace Naše díte
181 00 Praha 8, Czech Republic
Phone: +420 266 727 999/945
Fax: +420 266 727 911
CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE
Until 1918, Czech history was the history of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. Once at the heart of European culture and learning, they grew progressively weaker, and came under the control of the House of Habsburg and Austria. Until the end of the First World War in 1918 they were then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The union with Slovakia led to a prosperous period of independence between the wars until occupation by Nazi Germany. After the 2nd World War Czechoslovakia was made part of the Soviet bloc, and in 1968 growing liberalisation was ended by the tanks of the Warsaw Pact. In the process of reorientation after the collapse of communist power 1989-90, the Czechs and Slovaks agreed to separate, and in 1993 the Czech Republic and Slovakia peacefully replaced Czechoslovakia. In 2004 the Czech Republic became a member state of the European Union.
State and society
The Czech Republic is a parliamentary republic with a Senate with 81 members who are elected every 5 years and a Chamber of Deputies with 200 members, elected every four years.
There is no state religion. 40 per cent of Czechs profess to being atheists, a further 40 per cent are Roman Catholic, 5 per cent Protestant, and 2 per cent Hussite. The population consists of 81 per cent Czechs. Ethic minorities are Moravians (13.2 %), Slovaks (3 %), followed by smaller numbers of Poles, Germans, Silesians and Gypsies.
Although there are laws against gender discrimination, women still face disadvantages. They are more likely to work part time than men, and earn about one third less on average.
In the process of accession to the European Union, the position of the gypsies came in for criticism. Although the official statistics only show 12 000 Rom in the Czech Republic, according to some estimates the real figure could be as high as 300 000 - which would represent 3% of the population. In order to avoid discrimination many conceal their origins. Ghetto existences, lack of education and training, high levels of unemployment and language problems mean that even today the gypsies are excluded from much of Czech society.
Between the two world wars Czechoslovakia was one of the ten leading industrialised countries in the world. And today more than 40% of the population still work in industry. Farming plays a less significant role, employing only 4.6% of the working population. Key sectors of the economy are the automotive industry and mechanical engineering (Skoda Works), mining, metal-production, and metal working. Traditional export goods are cut glass, ceramics and beer from Plzen and Budejovice.
The Czech Republic has to rely on imports of oil and natural gas, because the only fuels it produces in any quantity are lignite and coal. Decades of reliance on high-sulphur lignite has contributed to the decimation of the Czech woods, which are among the most damaged in Europe. More than 20% of energy is generated by the country's two nuclear power stations. There are plans to build more.
Safety and security problems at the Temelin nuclear power station have led to trans-boundary disquiet and protests by German and Austrian neighbours in nearby areas. Austria demanded the closure of the power station as a condition for accession to the European Union. In a compromise brokered by the EU Commission, the Czech Republic finally agreed to upgrade the safety standards.
In the late 1990s, the country's economy went into recession, but since 2000 economic growth has picked up again – in 2003 it was 3.1%.