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Czech Republic
Country Information
flag
Country:
Czech Republic
Capital:
Prague
Currency:
Czech koruna (CZK)

Population: 10,220,911
Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy
Riedel Research Coverage by Region

Background

Following the First World War, the closely related Czechs and Slovaks of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire merged to form Czechoslovakia. During the interwar years, the new country's leaders were frequently preoccupied with meeting the demands of other ethnic minorities within the republic, most notably the Sudeten Germans and the Ruthenians (Ukrainians). After World War II, a truncated 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 Communist 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. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

Economy

The Czech Republic is one of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. Growth in 2000-07 was supported by exports to the EU, primarily to Germany, and a strong recovery of foreign and domestic investment. Domestic demand is playing an ever more important role in underpinning growth as the availability of credit cards and mortgages increases. The current account deficit has declined to around 3.3% of GDP as demand for automotive and other products from the Czech Republic remains strong in the European Union. Rising inflation from higher food and energy prices are a risk to balanced economic growth. Significant increases in social spending in the run-up to June 2006 elections prevented, the government from meeting its goal of reducing its budget deficit to 3% of GDP in 2007. Negotiations on pension and additional healthcare reforms are continuing without clear prospects for agreement and implementation. Intensified restructuring among large enterprises, improvements in the financial sector, and effective use of available EU funds should strengthen output growth. The pro-business Civic Democratic Party-led government approved reforms in 2007 designed to cut spending on some social welfare benefits and reform the tax system with the aim of eventually reducing the budget deficit to 2.3% of GDP by 2010. Parliamentary approval for any additional reforms could prove difficult, however, because of the parliament's even split. The government withdrew a 2010 target date for euro adoption and instead aims to meet the eurozone criteria around 2012.

Links

Source: Central Intelligence Agency
The World Factbook