The Czech Republic lies in the heart of Europe. It borders with Poland, Germany, Austria and Slovakia. It occupies a territory of 78.864 square km and has a population of around 10 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Prague, with a population of 1.250.000 people. Other large cities are Brno, with a population of 400.000, Pilsen, with a population of 200.000 and Hradec Kralove, with a population of 100.000.
The official language is the Czech and monetary unit the Czech crown (CZK). It is a wonderful country with rich natural beauty, high mountain ranges covered with dense forests, plenty of lakes and rivers, among which is the “Vltava”, which runs through the capital city.
The Czech nation origins from the Slavic people that came to Bohemia and Moravia during the 5th c. AD. In the 14th century, under the rule of Charles IV, Bohemia showed an increasing development, both political and cultural. Prague becomes a major European educational and cultural centre. In 1348 AD the first University of Central Europe is established, which is no other than the legendary “Charles University”.
From the 17th century until 1918, Bohemia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following its decline, in 1918, after World War I, the independent Republic of Czechoslovakia was created, consisting of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Slovakia. In 1993 Czechoslovakia collapses and is divided in two separate nations, the Czech Republic and Slovakia
The whole country can be considered a museum of architectural legacy, since it depicts all historical periods, back from the Middle Ages to the present times. Among its most significant features are its 2.500 castles, as well as the historical towns that are acknowledged as World Heritage Sites under the protection of the UNESCO.
The Czech Republic became a member of the NATO alliance in 1999 and since May 1st 2004 it is a member of the European Union.