Economics and business
The Czech Republic now has a stable market economy where the driving force lies in an export-oriented industrial production, including large car production. The industry accounts for 37 percent of GDP. Economic development is unevenly distributed within the country, and it is mainly areas around Prague and close to the German and Austrian borders that have an expansionary economy. The northern parts still have poor economic development.
After the beginning of the 1990s a bit shaky, the Czech economy showed strong growth until 2008–09 when the international financial crisis hit the country; In 2009, GDP fell by about 5 percent. Subsequently, some recovery has taken place.
The country reached a high industrial level already during the interwar period, for example in the engineering industry. The communist holdings of power led to the same restructuring of business as in most other eastern states, ie. a transition to plan management and investment in heavy industry, and a reckless utilization of natural resources. In addition, there was also a transformation of agriculture to above all cooperatives.
Following the fall of communism, a rapid return to market management was implemented. In 1990, state control of the business sector disappeared, and in 1991 a sale of the smaller state-owned enterprises began, which in 1992 and 1993 was followed in two stages by privatization and transformation into public companies by the large state-owned companies. The public was given the opportunity to obtain shares in these companies via coupons.
The Czech Republic is Europe’s largest producer of poppy seeds, canary seeds and hops. Other important crops are wheat, sugar beets, barley, rapeseed, corn and potatoes. Animal production is specialized in dairy products, chicken meat, pork and beef.
More than half of the Czech Republic’s land area is agricultural land. Agriculture employs about 4 percent of the labor force.
During the 20th century, Czech agriculture underwent several major changes. After the First World War, a land reform was carried out which meant the fragmentation of the major goods. After World War II, land belonging to the Germans was confiscated and distributed, and after 1948 agriculture was almost completely collectivized (upper limit for private land was 0.5 ha). As a result of the 1991 privatization law, there has been a return to the interwar ownership conditions and most state farms have returned to private ownership. However, some cooperatives remain.
About 1/3 of the area of the Czech Republic is forested and forestry is of great importance. During the 00s, approximately 13 million m 3 of forest were harvested per year; In 2010, felling was 15.6 million. As a result of increasing environmental damage, extensive forestry has taken place in recent years.
Raw material resources and energy supply
The production of coal, coke and steel is of great domestic and regional importance. Only imported iron ore is used for steel production. The Czech Republic’s most important natural resources are lignite (with extensive deposits in northern Bohemia) and coal, which is mined in the Ostrava area of eastern Moravia. The latter area is a Czech offshoot of Górny Śląsk’s large mining district in Poland. Other assets are of no major importance. Field minerals and dolomite are extensively mined among industrial minerals. Mining contributes financially with about 1 percent of GDP (2009).
For the fossil-fueled heat power plants, the extensive lignite resources in northern Bohemia have largely been utilized. The large use of coal energy has meant severe environmental pressures. Therefore, in recent years, the country has increasingly sought out other energy sources. In 2010, coal covered about 45 percent of the country’s total energy needs, while gas and oil covered almost as much. Import of crude oil and natural gas, mostly from the Russian Federation, accounted for about 25 percent of energy production.
The country has two nuclear power plants that contribute just over 15 percent to energy production. The newest nuclear power plant was commissioned in 2000, despite protests from neighboring Austria. In 2010, renewable energy sources, mainly biofuels, accounted for approximately 7 percent of the energy supply.
The engineering industry, with the automotive industry as the main export industry, has for a long time been a leading industrial industry. During the 1990s, the industry had a steady increase in production until 2008, when the international financial crisis hit the industry. The decline was mainly due to Germany’s main export market experiencing an economic downturn. Since then, industry has recovered and the country has tried to broaden its industrial base so as not to be so dependent on international developments in the automotive market. Other important industries are the brewery industry, the electronics, glass, optical and textile industries.
The Czech Republic was an important industry at an early stage and the successful and highly specialized engineering industry during the communist era transitioned during the communist era to large-scale and heavy industry (in Prague and the Ostrava area, for example) and chemical industry (in northern Bohemia, among others). During this time, the industry accounted for 70 percent of GDP. Due to incorrect investment and lack of investment, the industry became inefficient and the products were not attractive in the open world market.
After the fall of communism, the Czech industry has been transformed, price controls have been removed, companies have been privatized and foreign investment is pouring into the country.
Thanks to growing vehicle exports, the Czech Republic has had a positive trade balance since 2007. According to Countryaah, both exports and imports are dominated by the commodity groups machinery, vehicles and raw materials. The most important trading partners are Germany, Poland and Slovakia.
Tourism and gastronomy
The Czech Republic is a popular tourist destination and the number of visitors has steadily increased. During the 00s, the country has been visited annually by 6-6.5 million tourists. Primarily, Germans visit the Czech Republic, but in recent times the number of Russians and Spaniards has increased.
The country’s main tourist destination is the capital Prague, which is located on both sides of the river Vltava (Moldova). The old town center on the right beach, with alleys, detached houses, towers, churches and bridges (ties including the medieval Charles Bridge), invites you to explore. On the left is the castle cliff Hradčany and the Sankt Veitsdomen. In addition to Prague, there are a variety of cities of different sizes with medieval cityscapes, including the two beer towns of Plzeň and České Budějovice.
To the west of Prague are several famous health resorts: Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad) and Františkovy-Lázně (Franzensbad). The country also offers exciting nature experiences, for example in the mountains Krušné hory (Erzgebirge), Děčínské stěny (Elbsandsteingebirge) and České středohoři.
Czech food is largely Central European, influenced by German, Hungarian and Polish cuisine. The portions usually consist of a lot of meat (usually pork), potatoes, rice or dumplings (dough balls of potatoes and flour or just flour) and plenty of sauce and cooked vegetables or sauerkraut. The national dish is knedlo-vepřo-zelo, dumpling, pork and sauerkraut. The seasoning is characterized by salt, poppy seeds, cumin and smoked pork.
The meal is usually started with soup, e.g. bramborová polévka on potatoes, drštková polévka with inner food or hovězí polévka, beef in broth. Prag ham, often served with cucumber (Pražská šunka s okurkou), belongs to the specialties, as well as svíčková na smetaně, roast beef with dumpling and sour cream. Game like deer, hare and pheasant are not uncommon. Among the fish dishes are carp (capr), trout (pstruh), pike (ětika) and eel (úhoř). Sausages (klobásy, buřty or párky) are often very tasty, as is the ubiquitous guláš, goulash. The desserts show the rich presence of fruits and berries, which are often served pickled or in pies and puddings.