Czech Ceská Republika (1995 est. pop. 10,296,000), republic,
29,677 sq mi (78,864 sq km), central Europe. It is bordered by Slovakia
on the east, Austria on the south, Germany on the west, and Poland
on the north. Prague is the capital and largest city. In addition
to the capital, major cities include Brno, Ostrava, and Plzen.
The Czech Republic comprises the former provinces of Bohemia, Moravia,
and Czech Silesia, together often called the Czech Lands. In the
western part of the republic lies the Bohemian plateau, which is
separated by the Bohemian-Moravian heights from the fertile Moravian
lowland in the eastern part of the republic. The Sudetes Mts. in
the north separate Moravia from Czech Silesia along the Polish border.
Agriculture is concentrated in the Moravian lowlands and in the
valleys of the Elbe and Vltava rivers.
Almost 95% of the people are Czech, with small minorities of Slovaks,
Germans, Poles, Gypsies, and Hungarians; the Gypsies have been subjected
to increased discrimination since the fall of Communist rule. Although
many Czechs do not profess a religion, about 40% are Roman Catholic.
There is also a substantial Hussite minority and a smaller group
belonging to the Orthodox Church. Czech is the official language;
Slovak is also spoken.