Czech Republic in brief
Czech Studies at SSEES | Czech Language |
More about Czech Republic
The Czech Republic (pop. 10.3 mil.) is, by European standards, a
medium-sized country - slightly larger than Benelux, slightly
smaller than Austria, almost twice the size of Switzerland. It
shares frontiers with four countries: Germany to the West, Poland to
the North, Slovakia to the East and Austria to the South. Its
capital, Prague, lies at the intersection of lines drawn North-South
from Stockholm to Rome and West-East from Penzance to Kiev, which
places it, and the country, in the heart of Europe, a point often
reiterated by Czechs themselves as part of the denial that they are
any part of 'Eastern Europe'.
Some interesting facts and figures
- The word dollar
owes its origin to a small town in West Bohemia, Jáchymov, in German
Sankt Joachimsthal, where the silver for the first
thalers was mined.
- The Czechs' main
contribution to the good life is undoubtedly beer. Besides the two or
three brands commonly to be encountered in UK shops many others are
imported and sold through a small number of outlets. Several UK beers
rely for their quality on Saazer hops, imported from Žatec in Bohemia.
- For all that their
numbers (10 million plus) mean that the Czechs far exceed many other
nations in Europe (Danes, Dutch, Finns, Scots, for example), they
suffer from a 'small-nation complex'. This makes them (a) inordinately
proud of even their slightest achievement, (b) inclined to self-pity
at being prone to abuse by others. Accordingly some feel a stronger
emotional affinity with the Scots, Irish and Welsh than with the
Related to the
above, Czechs always want to be in the forefront, up with the best. At
different times this has meant that the writer of these notes knew far
more Czech than English possessors of digital watches, word-processors
or satellite dishes when these things were new. Now it's broadband.
The national sports
are football and ice hockey, which they call simply hokej. We
specify it as played on ice to distinguish it from the unspecified
(grass) version, which the Czechs in turn specify as pozemní hokej,
played 'on the ground'.
Links relating to the Czech Republic
This page last modified
Thursday 16 December 2010.