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Czech Republic - Overview

Population: 10,241,138 (July 2005 est.)

Language: Czech

Capital: Prague

Area: 78,866 sq km

Currency: Czech koruna (CZK)

Timezone: GMT+1

The Czech Republic is located in the very heart of Europe. A relatively small country, the Czech Republic shares its northern border with Poland, its northwestern border with Germany, its southern border with Austria, and its eastern border with Slovakia. Historically, Czechs have regarded their country as the link between East and West. Many foreign visitors are surprised at how central the Czech Republic lies within greater Europe.

Approximately thirty-four percent of the Czech Republic is covered in forest, with an abundance of wildlife including wild boar, deer, roebuck, pheasant and rabbit. A network of well-marked hiking trails has been established in the many protected natural areas. There are numerous lakes, both man-made and natural, as well as the always-popular mineral springs for which the country is renowned.

The Vltava is the longest river in the Republic, at approximately 433 kilometers in length. The Elbe river (which flows at more than 300 cubic meters per second) is the widest river in the country. The Elbe River provides a shipping route to the North Sea through a port in Hamburg, Germany.

Many Czech cities and towns encircle a main square, which often features an ancient church with elaborate spires. Traditional bakeries, butcher shops, vegetable stalls and the like are still the norm, although some large department stores and shopping centers have started to make an appearance.

Prague (Praha) is sometimes referred to as the City of a Hundred Spires because of its countless soaring church towers. Prague is the principal cultural, social, and commercial hub of the Czech Republic.

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