What to see outside of Prague:
The main religion of the Czech Republic is Christianity. Approximately 40 percent of the population are Roman Catholic. Protestant denominations account for about 3 percent of the population. About 5 percent of people in the Czech Republic are atheist. Many of those who identify themselves as members of religious organizations do not practice their religion actively. Prior to World War II (1939-1945), the country had a large Jewish population. Most of the Jews died in the Holocaust, the Nazi campaign to exterminate the Jews of Europe. There are currently between 15,000 and 18,000 Jews living in the Czech Republic.
Land and Resources
The total area of the Czech Republic is 78,864 sq km (30,450 sq mi). The maximum distance from east to west is about 490 km (about 305 mi), and the maximum distance from north to south is about 280 km (about 175 mi). Mountain ranges surround much of the country.
The Czech Republic contains two main regions—Bohemia, located in the west, and Moravia, located in the east. Part of the region of Silesia occupies the north-central section of the country. The central part of the Czech Republic is dominated by the elevated plateaus of the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands and the low plains and rolling hills of the Bohemian Basin. A number of rivers drain these areas, and much of the country’s farmland is located there. Rising along the edges of these central regions and extending outward to form much of the country’s natural border are a number of mountain ranges. The Erzgebirge in the north and the Šumava Mountains in the west, are well known for their spas and ski resorts. The Šumava comprise part of the Böhmerwald (Bohemian Forest), a highland region located in the west and southwest that forms the country’s border with Germany. The Sudety mountains are located in the north and form part of the border with Poland. The Sudety range includes the Krkonoše Mountains, which contain the country’s highest point, Snežka (1,603 m/5,259 ft). One of the country’s largest nature reserves is also located in the Sudety range. Extending along the Czech-Slovak border in the southeastern part of the country is a section of the Carpathian Mountains. Also located in the southeast are the Moravian Lowlands, which contain the fertile valley of the Morava River where a variety of crops are grown.
Rivers and Lakes
The main rivers of the Czech Republic are the Elbe (known locally as the Labe), the Vltava, the Ohre, the Morava, the Lužnice, the Jihlava, and the Svratka. The Sázava, Odra (Oder), and Opava rivers are also important.
Population and Settlement
The Czech people are descended from Slavic tribes who arrived to Bohemia and Moravia in the 5th century a.d. The Czechs are the country’s dominant ethnic group, representing about 94 percent of the population ,followed by Slovaks with about 3 percent; Poles, Germans, Roma (Gypsies), and Hungarians comprise most of the remainder.
Prague (population, 1999 estimate, 1,193,270) is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Other important cities include Brno (384,727), an educational and industrial centre; Ostrava (322,111), a center for metal industries; Plzen (168,422), noted for its breweries; and Olomouc (103,372), a trade and industrial center