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Czech Republic

Basic Information

Area: 78,866 km²

Calling code: +420

Population: 10,403,136

Official Language: Czech

Time zone: CET (UTC+1), Local time: 12:56

Overview

The Czech Republic is located in Central Europe, bordering the countries of Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria. It's territory covers 78,866km2 and it is inhabited by 10.2 million people, 72% of which live in urban areas. The capital city of Prague is situated in the central region of the country, covering 428km2, with a population of 1.2 million. Other large cities include Brno, Ostrava, Plzen and Olomouc.

The country is divided into 13 regions, the largest being Prague, it is also divided into a further 73 districts which are each delegated legal powers, and the authority to oversee the running of local services. In 2004 the Czech Republic became a full member of the European Union, although it has yet to join the eurozone, and uses the Czech koruna (CZK) for its national currency.

Economy

Most of the economical activity is centred around the capital city of Prague, which is home to many high profile corporations such as CEZ (electricity), Unipetrol (petroleum), O2 (communications) and Central European Media Enterprises Ltd (media).The service sector contributes most to the countries total GDP figure of $191billion, with banking and telecommunications being of particular importance. The total GDP per capita (PPP) figure is among the highest in Central Europe, standing at $25,100. The manufacturing sector is strong, with goods such as machinery, electrical equipment, iron, steel and chemicals being exported to Germany, Taiwan, Poland and Slovakia. Agricultural land is mainly used for the growing of sugar beets, potatoes, wheat and hops, although agricultural exports only accounts for 2.8% of the total GDP.
Partly due to the increase in low cost airlines flying to the country, the Czech Republic has become a popular tourist destination receiving 6.6 million visitors annually, 61% of which stay in the capital city of Prague. Most visitors originate from Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Poland and the United States.

Infrastructure

The Czech Republic's Central European location gives it excellent transportation links, which provide easy access to the rest of Europe. There are 122 airports located in the country, the largest being Prague Ruzyně International Airport, which is located 10km west of Prague's city centre. It is home to a large number of airlines who offer flights to international locations, and British Airways, Wizz Air, and Easyjet all offer services to London, with an approximate flight time of 2 hours.

The majority of the railway networks are operated and maintained by České Dráhy. Trains are an integral part of both passenger and cargo transportation, carrying an estimated 180 million passengers annually. The main railway hub is located in Prague, where the Praha Hlavní Nádraží station offers both regional and long distance services. The 128,562km of paved roadways allow for easy access throughout the country, and connect the Czech Republic to all of its neighbouring countries. There are four major ports in the country which are used for cruise ship docking and to transport cargo internationally, they are Decin, Prague, Usti and Labem.
The energy infrastructure is well developed; over 65% of the countries entire energy needs are fulfilled by coal, 30% from nuclear power plants and 4% from renewable energy sources such as hydropower. It has recently signed a pact to reduce the amount of carbon emissions and utilize more environmentally friendly energy sources.

Workforce

The Czech Republic has a total labourforce of 5.38 million, 56% of which work in the service sector, 40% in industry and 4% in agriculture. The countries official language of Czech is spoken as a first language by 96% of the population, but due to the mixture of ethnic minorities residing in the country many other European languages such as Slovak, German, Polish and Romanian are also spoken.

Education in the country is provided by the state free of charge, and it is mandatory for all citizens to attend up until the age of 15 when they can choose to continue onto further education. The Czech Republic has 57 higher education colleges and institutes, including the Charles University in Prague, which was founded in 1347, and ranked by the Academic Ranking of World Universities as the best university in the country. The Charles University offers internationally accredited degree programmes from 17 faculties, and has over 50,000 students currently enrolled in programmes. The Czech Republic invests 4.4% of the GDP back into improving and expanding the education infrastructure, helping to produce an educated and motivated workforce, and a high national literacy rate of 99%.

Business Costs

Labour costs are low, with a minimum wage pact in operation ensuring that all legal workers receive at least 8,000 koruna per month, which is the equivalent of $419 per month. Wages are highest in the capital city of Prague, where the average wage is 26,429 koruna per month which equates to $1387 per month.
Tax rates are favourable for both individuals and for businesses. Corporate rates have reduced dramatically over the past two decades and are now set at 20% of gross annual income - which is one of the lowest rates in Europe. Social security contributions are mandatory and payable by both the employer at 11% and the employee at 34%. Individual taxes are set at a flat rate of 15%, and deductions are available for certain income streams. Value added tax is charged on all goods and services, with a discounted rate of 9% for medications, food, books and heating services, while a standard rate of 19% is applied to most other items.
The Cushman & Wakefield Office Space Around the World report, states the Prague CBD as having average rental costs of $39.47 per square foot per annum, while lease rates in the Brno CBD cost $22.61 per square foot per annum.
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