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1UpTravel - Geography Info and Facts of Countries : . - Czech Republic


Czech Republic Geography and Facts

Location: Central Europe, southeast of Germany

Geographic coordinates: 49 45 N, 15 30 E

Map references: Europe

Area:
total: 78,866 sq km
land: 77,276 sq km
water: 1,590 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than South Carolina

Land boundaries:
total: 1,881 km
border countries: Austria 362 km, Germany 646 km, Poland 658 km, Slovakia 215 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Elbe River 115 m
highest point: Snezka 1,602 m

Natural resources: hard coal, soft coal, kaolin, clay, graphite, timber

Land use:
arable land: 41%
permanent crops: 2%
permanent pastures: 11%
forests and woodland: 34%
other: 12% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 240 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: flooding

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

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

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


Geography

The Czech Republic is situated approximately in the geographical center of Europe and has an area of 78,866 sq. km. It is a landlocked country 326 km from the Baltic and 322 km from the Adriatic. It shares borders with Germany (810 km), Poland (762 km), Austria (466 km) and Slovakia (265 km).

The highest point of elevation is the peak of Mt. Snezka (1,602 m above sea level) and the lowest point of elevation is near Hoensko where the River Labe leaves Czech territory (117 m above sea level).


Climate

The Czech Republic has a humid, continental climate, with cold winters and warm summers. The average temperature range in Prague is -5.3 C (22.5 F) to -0.4 C (32.7 F) in January and 11.8 C (53.2 F) to 23.3 C (73.9 F) in July.

Temperatures generally decrease with increasing altitude. Prague receives an average of about 410 mm (about 16 in) of precipitation annually. Precipitation is generally heaviest during the summer months.


Background: After World War II, Czechoslovakia fell within the Soviet sphere of influence. In 1968, an invasion by Warsaw Pact troops ended the efforts of the country's leaders to liberalize party rule and create "socialism with a human face."


Anti-Soviet demonstrations the following year ushered in a period of harsh repression. With the collapse of Soviet authority in 1989, Czechoslovakia regained its freedom through a peaceful "Velvet Revolution."


On 1 January 1993, the country underwent a "velvet divorce" into its two national components, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Now a member of NATO, the Czech Republic has moved toward integration in world markets, a development that poses both opportunities and risks.


FORMER CZECHOSLOVAKIA

Czechoslovakia

GEOGRAPHY

Size: Approximately 127,905 square kilometers.

Topography: Generally irregular terrain. Western area, including natural basin centered on Prague, part of north-central European uplands. Eastern region made up of northern reaches of Carpathian Mountains and Danube Basin lands.

Climate: Predominantly continental but varies from moderate temperatures of Western Europe to more severe weather systems affecting Eastern Europe and the western Soviet Union.

SOCIETY

Population: Estimated at 15.6 million in July 1987. Population growth rate 0.3 percent in 1987.

Education and Literacy: Education free at all levels and compulsory from age six to sixteen. Vast majority of population literate. Highly developed system of apprenticeship training and vocational schools supplements general secondary schools and institutions of higher education.

Health: Free health care available to all citizens. National health planning emphasizes preventive medicine; factory and local health-care centers supplement hospitals and other inpatient institutions. Substantial improvement in rural health care in 1960s and 1970s.

Language: Czech and Slovak recognized as official languages; they are mutually intelligible.

Ethnic Groups: In 1987 Czechs represented roughly 63 percent of population and Slovaks 31 percent. Hungarians, Ukrainians, Poles, Germans, and Gypsies principal minority groups.

Religion: Religious freedom constitutionally guaranteed but limited in practice. Major religious organizations operate under government restrictions. Reliable information on religious affiliation during post-World War II era lacking, but principal denominations Roman Catholic Church, Czechoslovak National Church, Slovak Evangelical Church, Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, and Uniate Church.

Data as of August 1987


Czechoslovakia

GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT

Topography and Drainage

The country's 127,905 square kilometers divide topographically as well as historically into three major areas: Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia, Bohemia consists of the five western political divisions, or kraje (sing., kraj): Zapadocesky (West Bohemia), Severocesky (North Bohenia), Jihocesky (South Bohenia), Vychodocesky (East Bohenia), and Stredocesky (Central Bohenia). Moravia consists of the two central political divisions: Severomoravsky (North Moravia) and Jihomoravsky (South Moravia). Slovakia consists of the three eastern political divisions: Zapadoslovensky (West Slovakia), Stredoslovensky (Central Slovakia), and Vychodoslovensky (East Slovakia). The three Slovak kraje constitute the Slovak Socialist Republic; the other seven kraje constitute the Czech Socialist Republic. Kraje are further subdivided into okresy (sing., okres), roughly equivalent to countries in the United States.

The areas of western Bohemia and eastern Slovakia belong to different mountain and drainage systems. All but a minute fraction of the Bohemian region drains into the North Sea by way of the Vltava (Moldau) and Labe (Elbe) rivers. The hills and low mountains that encircle this area are part of the north-central European uplands that extend from southern Belgium, through the central German lands, and into Moravia. These uplands, which are distinct from the Alps to the south and the Carpathian Mountains to the east, are known geologically as the Hercynian Massif. Most of Slovakia drains into the Danube (Dunaj) River, and its mountains are part of the Carpathians, which continue eastward and southward into Romania.

The uplands of Moravia are a transition between the Hercynian Massif and the Carpathians and are in contrast with them by having more nearly north-south ridge lines. Most of Moravia drains southward to the Danube, but the Odra (Oder) River rises in the northeast and drains a sizable portion of the northern region .

Data as of August 1987


Czechoslovakia

Bohemia

Bohemia's topography has fostered local solidarity and a common set of economic interests. The area is ringed with low mountains or high hills that effectively serve as a watershed along most of its periphery (although they do not lie along the border to the south and southeast). Streams flow from all directions through the Bohemian Basin toward Prague (Praha).

In the northwest, the Krusne Hory (Ore Mountains) border on the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and are known to the Germans as the Erzgebirge; the Sudeten Mountains in the northeast border on Poland in an area that was part of Germany before World War II. The Cesky Les, bordering on the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), and the Sumava Mountains, bordering on West Germany and Austria, are mountain ranges that form the western and southwestern portions of the ring around the Bohemian Basin. Both are approximately as high as the Krusne Hory. Bohemia's mountainous areas differ greatly in population. The northern regions are densely populated, whereas the less hospitable Cesky Les and Sumava Mountains are among the most sparsely populated areas in the country.

The central lands of the Bohenian Basin are lower in elevation, but their features vary widely. There are small lakes in the central southern region and in the Vltava Basin north of Prague. Some of the western grain lands are gently rolling, while other places have deep gorges cut by streams (such as the Vltava River). A large area southwest of Prague has a broken relief pattern that is typical of several other areas.

Data as of August 1987


Czechoslovakia

Moravia

Moravia is a topographic borderland situated between Bohemia and Slovakia. Its southwest-to-northeast ridge lines and lower elevations made it useful as a route for communications and commerce from Vienna to the north and northeast during the period of Austrian domination of Central Europe.

The central and southern Moravian lowlands are part of the Danube Basin and are similar to the lowlands they adjoin in southern Slovakia. The upland areas are smaller and more broken than those of Bohemia and Slovakia. The northwest hills are soft sandstone and are cut by deep gorges. South of them, but north of Brno, is a karst limestone area with underground streams and caves. These and the other uplands west of the Morava River are associated with the Hercynian Massif. The land to the east of the Morava is called Carpathian Moravia.

Data as of August 1987


Czechoslovakia

Slovakia

Slovakia's landforms do not make it as distinctive a geographic unit as Bohemia. Its mountain ranges generally run east-west and tend to segregate groups of people; population clusters are most dense in river valleys. The highest elevations are rugged, have the most severe weather, and are the most sparsely settled. Some of the flatlands in southwestern Slovakia are poorly drained and support only a few people. The main mountain ranges are the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatras) and the Slovenske Rudohorie (Slovak Ore Mountains), both of which are part of the Carpathians. The Vysoke Tatry extend in a narrow ridge along the Polish border and are attractive as both a summer and a winter resort area. The highest peak in the country, Gerlachovsky Stit (also known as Gerlachovka), with an elevation of about 2,655 meters, is in this ridge. Snow persists at the higher elevations well into the summer months and all year long in some sheltered pockets. The tree line is at about 1,500 meters. An ice cap extended into this area during glacial times, leaving pockets that became mountain lakes.

The Slovak lowlands in the south and southeast, bordering on Hungary, are part of the greater Danube Basin. From a point slightly south of the Slovak capital of Bratislava, the main channel of the Danube River demarcates the border between Czechoslovakia and Hungary for about 175 kilometers. As it leaves Bratislava, the Danube divides into two channels: the main channel is the Danube proper, and the northern channel is the Little Danube (Maly Dunaj). The Little Danube flows eastward into the Vah River, which converges with the main Danube at Komarno. The land between the Little Danube and the Danube is known as the Vel'ky Zitny Ostrov (Great Rye Island), a marshland maintained for centuries as a hunting preserve for the nobility. Dikes and artificial drainage have made it possible to cultivate the land for grain production, but it is still sparsely settled.

Data as of August 1987


Czechoslovakia

Climate

Czechoslovakia's central European location influences its climate. Although the continental weather systems that dominate Eastern Europe prevail throughout the country, western regions are frequently influenced by the maritime weather prevalent in Western Europe. When the systems to the north are weak, Mediterranean weather may occasionally brush southern parts of the country.

Winters are fairly cold, cloudy, and humid, although high humidity and cloud cover tend to be more prevalent in valleys and lower areas. Light rain or snow is frequent. The mountains are covered with snow from early November through April, and accumulations are deep in some places. Lower elevations rarely have more than fifteen centimeters of snow cover at a time.

Summers are usually pleasant. There is heavy rainfall, but it comes in sporadic showers, making for many warm, dry days with scattered cumulus clouds. Prevailing winds are westerly; they are usually light in summer (except during thunderstorms) and somewhat stronger in winter.

Average temperatures in Prague, which is representative of lowland cities in Bohemia and Moravia, range between about 1°C in January and about 19°C in July. Winters are chilly; summers have warm afternoons and cool evenings. In the eastern parts of the country, the temperature extremes are greater. Higher elevations, especially those with western exposures, usually have a narrower temperature range but on the average are considerably cooler. December, January, and February are the coldest months; June, July, and August are the warmest. Spring tends to start late, and autumn may come abruptly in middle or late September. At lower elevations, frosts are rare between the end of April and the beginning of October.

Rainfall varies widely between the plains and the upland areas. Parts of western Bohemia receive only forty centimeters of rainfall per year; some areas in the Vysoke Tatry average two meters. The average rainfall in the vicinity of Prague is fortyeight centimeters. Precipitation varies more than in other areas of Europe, which are often dominated by maritime weather systems; consequently, droughts and floods sometimes occur.

Despite the greater frequency of precipitation during the winter, more than twice as much precipitation, or about 38 percent, falls in the summer. The spring and autumn figures are about equal.

Data as of August 1987



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