The Czech Republic is not an overly religious country. In the last census, taken in 2001, nearly 60% of the population claimed that they were unaffiliated or non-religious. Roman Catholic is the religion which holds the most followers, with 27%, other religions include Protestant and Jewish.
The Czech language, along with Slovak, Polish, and the High and Low Sorbian, belongs to the western group of Slavic languages. More loosely it is related to the languages forming the east Slavic group (Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Russian) and the southern Slavic group (Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovene, Serbian, and Croatian). Many Czechs are able to communicate in English, older people often speak German.
Area (sq. km):
78,866 square meters
The Czech Republic is 1 hour ahead of GMT. Summer daylight saving time is in effect from the last Saturday in March until the last Saturday in October (GMT + 2 hours).
The Czech Republic has a mild continental climate, with warm summers and cold winters. Maximum temperatures reach 32°C to 35°C (usually in July), the summer average is about 24°C. The lowest temperatures range from -12° to -20°C. January is the coldest month with average temperatures around 2° to - 2°C.
May, June and September are the best visiting months for Czech Republic, with April and October being cooler. Prague will quite crowded all year round, especially from June to August. Many sights are closed from November to March.
Prague Ruzyne Airport is located 20 kilometres (12 miles) northwest of Prague. Registered taxis operated by FIX and minibuses operated by CEDAZ are available in front of the arrivals hall. Both companies have information desks in the arrivals hall. Bus number 119 and bus number 254 run from the airport to Dejvická, the nearest metro station. Two night bus services operate after hours. Services are operated by DP Praha, which has an information desk in the arrivals hall. At the airport, there are bureaux de change and ATMs in the North Terminal, and a 24-hour bureau de change in the transit section.
The Czech Republic’s country code is 420. The telephone system had a huge overhaul in 2002. Blue coin telephones only accept 2Kc, 5Kc, 10Kc and 20Kc coins and can be used to make local, long distance and international calls. These coin phones are slowly being replaced by card phones, which take telecard. You can purchase telecards from newsagents, kiosks, post offices and supermarkets. If you are taking your mobile phone, make sure you get international roaming and check call charges with your network supplier before you leave home. The Czech Republic uses GSM900
Generally 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Most major hotels have standard international two-pin razor plugs.
Czech food is rich and hearty, but if you've never tried it, there are a few things worth knowing. Czech food is not exactly diet food! 'Svickova' (pronounced sveech-kova) is the national dish. And get ready to eat lots of potatoes. The 'knedlik' is the most common side dish. It is a dumpling, made of either wheat or potato flour that is boiled as a roll of dough, then cut into slices and served with gravy. If you want to sample Czech cuisine, start with 'Veprove Knedliky' - your basic pork plus dumplings. Ordering 'Teleci Kyta' will result in a leg of deer. 'Beefsteak na Kyselo' is a steak with sour, creamy gravy. A bowl of garlic soup will satisfy the flavour seeker - it's called 'Cesnekovy Polevka'. The onion soup is good, too, and try a fish soup as well, such as 'Drstkova Polevka'. The national fish is carp, so try 'Kapr Peceny s Kyselou Omackou', which is carp with sour cream sauce. And also try the potato pancake 'Bramborak' and the fried cheese 'Smazeny Syr' - two excellent side dishes. The nation's favourite beverage is beer, but the national liquor is Becherovka, a medicinal aperitif made with many herbs, and said to aid digestion. And after a meal of cream sauces, sauerkraut and dumplings, you might be appreciative of that!
Look out for item such as Bohemian glass and crystal, porcelain, pottery, hand-embroidered clothing, wooden folk carvings, and food items. Other special purchases include pottery (particularly from Kolovec and Straznice); china ornaments and geyserstone carvings from Karlovy Vary; delicate lace and needle embroidery from many Moravian towns; and blood-red garnets and semi-precious stones from Bohemia. There are a number of excellent shops specialising in glass and crystal, while various associations of regional artists and craftspeople run their own retail outlets (pay in local currency).
Visa: Australians and Canadians do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days. New Zealanders and American's do not need a visa for stays up to 30 days. UK nationals can stay for a period of 180 days without a visa. Other nationalities should check with the Czech Embassy or Consulate in their country for up to date visa information.
Culture Shock! Czech Republic – Tim Nollen Czech and Slovak Touches: Recipes, History, Travel, Folk Arts. – Pat Martin