The Czech Republic is almost entirely surrounded by mountains (except to the south, toward Austria and Slovakia). Mountains mark a natural border with Germany and Poland.
90% of Czechs have completed at least secondary education - the highest score in the EU (along with Poles, Slovaks, and Slovenes).
According to the 2001 census, 59% of the Czechs are Agnostic, Atheist, or non-believer, 26.8% Roman Catholic and 2.5% Protestant. Only 19% said that they believed in God, meaning that about 11% of the self-declared Christians were only Christian in name (or by tradition).
The Czech Republic has the most hospital beds per inhabitant in the EU.
Czech people have the second highest death rate for cancer in the EU (after Hungary).
Czech people are the world's heaviest consumers of beer.
Czech and Slovak languages are mutually intelligible to people accustomed to the other language's pronuciation, particularily people who have lived at the time of Czechoslovakia (the country split in 1993) . The Sorbian languages spoken by a minority of people in south-eastern Germany (Saxony and Brandenburg) are also closely related to Czech language. The relation between these West Slavic languages is a similar to that of Castillan Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Portuguese together.
Czech people are mostly of Slavic descent, but many people can also claim partial German ancestry, as a result of the country's 1000 years within the Holy Roman Empire or Austrian Empire.
The country is renowned for its numerous spa towns, especially along the border with Saxony (Germany). The most famous ones are those of Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad), Františkovy Lázně (Franzensbad) and Teplice (Teplitz).
There are over 2,000 castles, keeps, and castle ruins in the Czech Republic, one of the highest density in the world (notably after Belgium and France).
One of the most famous Czech sportswoman is tennis champion Martina Navratilova (born in 1956), statistically the second best female player of the 20th century behind Steffi Graf.
The Czech Republic is the second richest Eastern European country after tiny Slovenia. The GDP per capita (PPP) of Czech people is is similar to that of Portuguese or Greek people.
Prague's GDP per capita (PPP) is twice the Czech national average, and higher than any EU member states' national average except Luxembourg. Prague has the 12th highest GDP per capita (PPP) of the 269 NUTS-2 Region (province level) in the European Union, and the highest outside the UK, the Benelux, France, Germany, Austria and Sweden.
Within the EU, part-timers work the longest hours in the Czech Republic (about 24h/week). However, part-time work is very rare in this country.
Reporters Without Borders ranked the Czech Republic as the 5th best country in the world (out of 168 countries listed) for freedom of press in 2006.
Historically, the Czech Republic was composed of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the March of Moravia, both part of the the Holy Roman Empire (800-1806), then also within the Habsburg Empire (1526-1918).
Bohemia was first a duchy in the 9th century, then was elevated to a kingdom in 1198. Most of the early Kings of Bohemia belonged to the powerful House of Luxembourg (from 1310 to 1437) and combined the title of Holy Roman Emperor. The only daughter of Sigismund of Luxembourg married Albert of Habsburg, and the crown of Bohemia subsequently passed to the House of Habsburg, which kept it until the dissolution of their empire in 1918.
The Charles University in Prague, founded in 1348, is the oldest university in Eastern Europe, and one of the oldest in the world in continuous operation. According to the 2006 Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, it is the leading university in Eastern Europe.
Famous Czech people include the religious reformer Jan Hus (1370-1415), the early proponent of universal education John Amos Comenius (1592-1670), the classical music composers Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884) and Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904), and the German-language author Franz Kafka (1883-1924).
A Czech, the chemist Otto Wichterle, invented the soft contact lenses in 1959.