Facts and figures
Area: 78 866 sq km
Borders with: Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Austria
Population: 10, 4 million
Political system: parliamentary republic
EU member state: since 2004
Currency: Czech crown / CZK
Capital: Praha (Prague)
Climate: seasonal variations (warm summers, chilly autumns and cold winters)
Average temperatures: January -3,7 °C; July 24,7 °C
Official website: www.czech.cz
Places to visit: www.czechtourism.com
The Czech Republic is historically divided into Three regions: Bohemia, Moravia, and a part of Silesia. The total area is 78 866 square kilometres and the country’s population is around 10.4 million people. The capital city is Prague, with 1.2 million inhabitants, and there are 5 other metropolitan cities with a population exceeding 100 000: Brno, Plzen, Olomouc, Ostrava, and Liberec. The Czech Republic shares borders with Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. The country is surrounded by extensive mountain ranges, which form most of the border: the Krkonoše Mountains in the northeast; the Krušné Hory Mountains in the northwest; the Šumava Mountains in the west; the Hrubý Jeseník Mountains in Moravia and the Moravian-Silesian Beskydy Mountains. The highest point of elevation is the peak of Mt. Snežka (1,602 m above sea level). Many important European rivers (the Labe/Elbe, Oder, Morava, Vltava/Moldau, etc.) flow through the country.
The first evidence of a Czech state dates back to the early Middle Ages. A kingdom was established in the Czech Lands in the 13th century and its significance peaked in the 14th century under the rule of Charles IV, the Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor. He established a University in Prague in 1348. After 1620, the Czech Lands became part of Austria and part of The Austro-Hungarian Empire after 1867. Following the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the First World War, the Czechs and Slovaks declared independence in 1918 and Czechoslovakia was established as a sovereign country. During the 1920s and 1930s, Czechoslovakia ranked among the ten most developed countries in the world. After Hitler's occupation of the country in 1938, Czechoslovakia was split into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and the Slovak state. Czechoslovak statehood was restored after the Second World War, which ended in 1945, but with a territorial loss. The most eastern part, Transcarpathian Ukraine, was annexed by the Soviet Union. The Communist Party won the 1946 parliamentary elections in Czechoslovakia. This resulted in a change of regime and brought the country under the international communist movement, led by the Soviet Union. November 1989 was a turning point in the history of the country. Under pressure from the citizens, the socialist regime handed over power during the so-called “Velvet Revolution”, initiated by students and intellectuals. Free parliamentary elections in June 1990 confirmed the course of democratic development. The unitary state became a federation and the new name of the country was the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. At the end of 1992 Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
System of Government
The Czech Republic is a Parliamentary democracy. Every citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote. The highest executive authority is the President, who is the formal head of state and is elected jointly by both houses of parliament for a term of five years. The supreme legislative body is the parliament, which consists of the House of Deputies, the lower house of the legislature, and the Senate, which is the upper house. The supreme executive body is the government. The prime minister heads the government and is appointed by the president of the republic. The president also appoints other cabinet members based on the prime minister's recommendations.
The Czech Republic respects Equal rights for all its citizens. Human and civil rights including freedom of speech and the freedom of the press are guaranteed by the constitution. Many organizations have been established to promote, protect and monitor abuse of human rights within the Czech Republic, including the Czech Helsinki Committee and the Czech office of Amnesty International.
The Czech Republic is a secular state and every citizen enjoys Freedom of religion. The number of people practising religion is low. More than 50% of the population describe themselves as agnostic or atheist while in northern Bohemia the proportion rises to about three quarters of the population. The main reasons for this are the suppression of the reformation movement followed by forcible mass re-catholicisation (after 1627), and forty years of the official suppression of religion during the communist period (1948 – 1989).
The official language is Czech. Czech belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. The Slavonic languages are divided into the eastern, western and southern branches. Czech belongs to the western Slavonic family, along with Slovak, Polish and Wendish. The Czechs and Slovaks understand each other without major problems. Czech has a difficult grammatical structure but reading and pronunciation are fairly easy.
Living in the Czech Republic
You can find basic information about living in the Czech Republic at t his website. For more detailed information you can download our Student´s Guide or the Information Booklet for Foreign Nationals in the Czech Republic.
Expenses covering the stay are substantially lower than in any west European country. Expenses covering food, accomodation, and public transportation come altogether to about 350-750 USD/month. Naturally, it all depends on the student's lifestyle and on how much he/she really wants to spend. The prices can also vary considerably depending on where you stay.
The majority of higher education institutions own its dormitories. If you are interested in, look for “koleje” or “dormitories” on web pages of the institutions. If you prefer to live on your own, you will rent a flat or only room in a shared flat. In that case you can visit e.g. www.spolubydlici.cz/en or www.expats.cz..
- Student dormitory/month: around 150 USD
- Private room in a flat/month: from 200 USD
- Private flat/month: around 500 USD
Food and drinks
Lunch at a canteen: around 50 CZK
Pizza in a pizzeria: from 100 CZK
Restaurant meal: from 110 CZK
Beer at a pub: around 30 CZK
Dairy products: 10 - 30 CZK
A loaf of bread: from 20 CZK
1 kg of meat (chicken): from 100 CZK
1 kg of apples: 25 - 30 CZK
1.5 l of mineral water: around 15 CZK
Cinema ticket: 70 - 200 CZK
Theatre ticket: 70 - 500 CZK
Museum admission: from 40 CZK
Fitness centre admission: from 100 CZK
Swimming pool/hour: from 60 CZK
Bike rental/day: 200 - 500 CZK
Ski/snowboard rental/day: 250 - 500 CZK
The ISIC (International Student Identity Card) card is the best card for all students. It allows cardholders to get student discounts for transport, restaurants, cinemas, museums, exhibitions and concerts. In principal, students coming to the Czech Republic should obtain an ISIC card at their home university or in their home country. It is also possible to apply for the ISIC card at GTS centers: www.gtsint.cz.
As a result of the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union, students from EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are entitled to the provision of necessary and urgent health care free-of-charge. It is only necessary that they have a certified E 128 form from their home country or a European Health Insurance Card, which replaces the paper forms needed. It is recommended, however, that students have supplementary travel insurance from their own country.
Students from non-EU countries
Should check whether their insurance company is accredited for insurance abroad based on the reciprocal provision of necessary and urgent healthcare free-of-charge. Insurance has to be arranged for a sum of at least 30,000 EUR. A list of these insurance companies is available at Czech consulates.Please note that only care that is “necessary and urgent” is provided. This does not include routine dentistry work, for example. The standard of medical and dental care is good in the Czech Republic, and charges for “non-urgent” care are very reasonable.
Banks and Currency
The Czech unit of currency is the Czech crown (koruna, abbreviated as Kc, or as CZK in English) = 100 h (Hellers). The Czech crown is a convertible currency and therefore it is not necessary to exchange foreign currency with unauthorised people in the streets. Street currency traders are fraudsters. Do not use them. Most banks remain open from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on working days. Bureau de Change offices have even longer opening hours and are usually open on weekends. Money can also be changed by foreign exchange dealers in hotels, petrol stations, travel agencies, shopping centres and information centres authorised for this purpose. You will get the best exchange rate from a bank or from an ATM. MasterCard, Visa and American Express are widely accepted and there is a dense network of ATMs throughout the country. Students with travellers' cheques may redeem them either in banks or in places authorised to exchange foreign currencies.
Transport and Travelling
The Czech Republic’s main international airport is Prague Ruzyne International Airport (PRG), which has daily connections to/from major European cities. Passengers going to/from other destinations will have to change planes in Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam or Paris. Ruzyne airport is located on the northwest edge of Prague, about 15 km from the city centre. There are other airports in Brno and Ostrava. People flying into Moravia usually use the airports inVienna or Bratislava.
Bus travel is the cheapest mode of transport inside Europe. There are ample bus connections between the major cities of the Czech Republic and other European cities. Most international buses arrive at Florenc Bus Station, the main bus station in Prague, where there are schedules, ticket offices and some travel agencies. Cerný most, Zlicín and Želivského metro stations are the final stops for some bus routes. In other Czech towns, buses connecting with European cities usually arrive at the main bus station.
It is easy to travel to the Czech Republic from all major European cities by train. In summer, the international trains tend to be full and one should book seats at least a week in advance. Most trains arrive at and depart from Praha Hlavní nádraží (Prague’s Main Railway Station, abbreviated as Praha Hl. n.). A few of them arrive at other railway stations: Praha-Holešovice, Praha-Smíchov or Praha-Masarykovo nádraží. Each of these stations has its own easily accessible underground metro station. In other Czech towns, international trains usually stop at the main station. For the best transport connections go to www.idos.cz.
The Czech Republic has a network of motorways and roads that are moderately well sign-posted. It is necessary to buy and display a mandatory motorway vignette when driving on Czech highways. Vignettes can be purchased at post offices, border crossings and selected petrol stations. Czech traffic regulations are similar to those in effect in other EU member states. A few basic rules are:
- The maximum permissible speed in towns and villages is 50 km/h.
- The maximum permissible speed for cars and buses weighing up to 3,500 kg is 90 km/h on roads and 130 km/h on highways.
- The maximum permissible speed for motorcycles is 90 km/h.
- No consumption of alcohol at all is allowed before driving or while driving.
- Seat belts must be fastened during the entire journey .
- Motorcyclists and their pillion passengers must wear a helmet.
Trams, buses and trolley buses are used for public transportation in Czech towns. Three underground (metro) lines operate in Prague only. Each town has its own tariff. Tickets can be obtained at vending machines, at newsagents and tobacconists. It is always cheaper to buy a monthly or seasonal ticket. Passengers should buy a ticket before getting on to a bus, trolley bus or tram. The ticket must be validated (franked) as soon as you get on to the vehicle. A ticket inspector may check the validity of tickets at any time during the journey, and is authorised to ask the passenger to present a valid ticket. Inspectors will confiscate invalid tickets and collect a fine if they find anyone travelling without a valid ticket.
For more information about Prague public transport go to www.dpp.cz/en.
Unfortunately, Czech taxi drivers, especially Prague taxi drivers, have a very bad reputation. Taxi fares differ from place to place. The rate per kilometre must be displayed inside and outside of the taxi. Every taxi driver is obliged to issue a receipt for the fare paid. Passengers should require information on fares in advance. If one wants to hire a taxi in Prague, it is highly advisable to call one of the reliable telephone taxi services. You can speak English, but must explain where you want to be picked up.
Shops and Services
The opening hours of Czech shops vary, but they are generally open from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. on working days and from 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. on Saturday. Increasing numbers of shops are now open seven days a week. Hypermarkets and large shopping centres are open daily, usually from around 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
There are a lot of student organizations operating mainly by public higher education institutions. Let’s mention the most important ones:ESN CR connects and supports international student clubs in the Czech Republic which help international students coming to study at Czech universities. ESN CR is non-for-profit and non-political association. All together sections of ESN CR help roughly 2000 international students every academic year. So far there are 9 members of ESN CR (and of ESN):
AIESEC Czech Republic is one of the world's largest student-run organizations. It provides over 5,000 leadership positions and delivering over 350 conferences globally. AIESEC also runs an exchange program that enables over 3,500 students and recent graduates the opportunity to live and work in another country
Student Visa Requirements
The following documents must be submitted with VISA application and must be in Czech Language:
- Passport the period of its validity must exceed the expected duration stay by at least 90 days.
- Visa Application Form filled.
- 2 x photographs.
- Letter of Admission with the confirmation of accommodation in the Czech Republic.
- Certificate of clean criminal record issued by relevant police authority / Police Clearance Certificate.
- Document confirming sufficient financial resources to cover the cost of educational and living expanses during the period of stay in the Czech Republic territory.
- Application for the Criminal History Record issued by the Police in the Czech Republic.