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Geography - note: landlocked; strategically located astride some of oldest and most significant land routes in Europe; Moravian Gate is a traditional military corridor between the North European Plain and the Danube in central Europe.

total: 78,703 sq km
land: 78,645 sq km
water: 58 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than South Carolina.

Climate: temperate; cool summers; cold, cloudy, humid winters.

Terrain: Bohemia in the west consists of rolling plains, hills, and plateaus surrounded by low mountains; Moravia in the east consists of very hilly country.

Environment - current issues: air and water pollution in areas of northwest Bohemia and in northern Moravia around Ostrava present health risks; acid rain damaging forests.

Population: 10,298,324 (July 1997 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 18% (male 930,874; female 886,444)
15-64 years : 69% (male 3,542,900; female 3,539,351)
65 years and over: 13% (male 535,049; female 863,706) (July 1997 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.13% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 8.84 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 11.02 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.86 years
male: 70.49 years
female: 77.42 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.17 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Ethnic groups: Czech 94.4%, Slovak 3%, Polish 0.6%, German 0.5%, Gypsy 0.3%, Hungarian 0.2%, other 1%

Religions: atheist 39.8%, Roman Catholic 39.2%, Protestant 4.6%, Orthodox 3%, other 13.4%

Languages: Czech, Slovak

definition: age NA and over can read and write
total population: 99% (est.)
male: NA%
female : NA%

National capital: Prague

Independence: 1 January 1993 (from Czechoslovakia)

Constitution: ratified 16 December 1992; effective 1 January 1993

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders: governing coalition : Civic Democratic Party or ODS [Vaclav KLAUS, chairman]; Civic Democratic Alliance or ODA [Michael ZANTOVSKY, chairman]; Christian Democratic Union-Czech People's Party or KDU-CSL [Josef LUX, chairman] opposition: Czech Social Democrats or CSSD - left opposition [Milos ZEMAN, chairman]; Communist Party or KSCM - left opposition [Miroslav GREBENICEK, chairman]; Assembly for the Republic or SPR-RSC - extreme right radical [Miroslav SLADEK, chairman]; Democratic Union or DEU [Ratibor MAJZLIK, chairman]


Economy - overview: Western observers view the Czech Republic as one of the most politically and economically stable post-Communist states. Its key macroeconomic indicators are, in the aggregate, the best in the region, and public opinion polls show strong support for reform. The country emerged from recession in 1994 with 2.6% growth and reached about 5% growth in both 1995 and 1996 while keeping a balanced budget and reorienting exports to the EU. Inflation and unemployment of 8.7% and 3.3% respectively in 1996 are among the lowest in the region. Prague's mass privatization program, including its innovative distribution of ownership shares to Czech citizens via "coupon vouchers," has made the most rapid progress in Eastern Europe. About 80% of the economy is in private hands or is partially privatized. The Czech Republic appears to be the East European frontrunner in economic integration with the West; for example, in 1996 it began to strengthen its bankruptcy law and to improve the transparency of stock market operations. It was the first post-Communist member of the OECD and is expected to be in the next group of new EU members. Its solid economic performance has led Standard and Poor's to upgrade the country's sovereign credit rating to "A" and has attracted over $6.7 billion in direct foreign investment to Czech industry between 1990 and September 1996 - one quarter from the US. Prague's biggest macroeconomic concerns now are mounting trade and current account deficits. In addition, the Czech economy still faces transition problems. The government continues to exert too much direct and indirect influence on the privatized economy, and the management of privatized firms sometimes is ineffective. Insufficient regulation and lack of public information in the capital markets and the banking system, combined with a shortage of experienced financial analysts, limit the ability to distribute new credit efficiently. The judicial system also has trouble speedily processing bankruptcy cases. Prague has promised to overhaul its bankruptcy law and improve stock market and bank operations, but it will take years to ensure compliance. Prague forecasts a balanced budget, 4.5% GDP growth, 3.3% unemployment and 7.5% to 8% inflation for 1997.

GDPóreal growth rate: 0.7% (1997 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 43%
services : 53% (1996 est.)

Agriculture - products: grains, potatoes, sugar beets, hops, fruit; pigs, cattle, poultry; forest products

total value: $21.9 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: manufactured goods 32.4%, machinery and transport equipment 26.3%, chemicals 10.4%, raw materials and fuel 11.3% (1995)
partners : EU 55.1%, Eastern Europe, excluding Slovakia, and CIS countries 16.9%, Slovakia 16.2%, developing countries 6.6%, EFTA 1.8% (1995)

total value: $27.8 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment 35.6%, manufactured goods 17.9%, chemicals 13.2%, raw materials and fuels 14.4% (1994)
partners : EU 56.4%, Eastern Europe, excluding Slovakia, and CIS countries 15.7%, Slovakia 13.1%, developing countries 6.0%, EFTA 2.5% (1995)

Debt - external: $17.1 billion (1996 est.)

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 2,715,759 (1997 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 2,068,143 (1997 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $1.22 billion (1996)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.2% (1996)

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