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Country

The Czech republic is a developed, democratic country located at the very heart of Central Europe. It is interesting for its 1,000-year-long history, rich culture and diverse nature. The country is open to new influences and opportunities thanks to a high level of industrial infrastructure, safety measures, plural media, increased exports, the interest of foreign investors and the drive of domestic businesspeople. One can comfortably travel to any destination in the Czech Republic by car, bus, train or express train - or by bicycle, air or on foot. Regardless of whether you are focusing on the country�s natural beauties or devoting your energy to a sporting achievement, you will always find something to satisfy yourself. Czech Republic is a treasury of European arts of both the classical past and the dynamic present. The Czech Republic maintains its exquisite culture, which is commemorated by many traditions and public holidays.

Language

Czech is the official language but English and German are also widely spoken.

Climate

Czech Republic lies in the temperate climate zone, which is characterized by cool summers and cold, cloudy and humid winters. A nice time of the year to visit the Czech Republic is late spring (mid-May to mid-June) and early fall (September to mid-October) when the weather can be quite pleasant, although it is still unpredictable. The best chance of warm and dry summer weather is from mid-July to mid-August.

Food

Menus have two sets of entrees, ready-to-serve (hotova jidla) and cooked to order (minutky). The first are generally traditional Czech dishes - meats (pork or beef) in heavy cream sauces served with dumplings (knedliky). Side dishes of rice, potatoes or French fries are the most common and they have to be ordered separately. Every main dish is usually garnished with obloha (cucumber, tomato, lettuce, cabbage or pickles). Meats and yeast-dumplings dominate the national lunch table. The traditional Czech dish is knedlo, zelo, vepro (roast pork served with sauerkraut and dumplings). Other classic dishes are svickova na smetane (sliced beef sirloin served in a cream sauce with a garnish of cranberries and, of course, dumplings) or gulas (goulash served with dumplings and often garnished with onion slices). Fish, that is considered to be a special Christmas meal, is available in any Czech restaurant all year around and pond-bred carp or trout are really worth of trying. Czech menus offer some very tasty appetizers, such as Prague ham filled with horseradish cream, cheese plates and hot soups. For dessert, most places serve palacinky (rolled crepes filled with either fruit or jam and topped with whipped cream and chocolate), ovocne knedliky (dumplings filled with plums or other fruit and topped with sugar, cream cheese and melted butter) or jablecny strudl (apple strudel, sometimes served with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream).

Communications

The Czech Republic has one of the densest networks of public telephone boxes in central Europe. The majority of these take telephone cards or Czech coins. Three mobile phone operators provide mobile services in the Czech Republic, O2, T-Mobile, and Vodafone. All these operators sell pay-as-you-go SIM cards charged with a certain amount of prepaid credit. These are useful on medium length visits. In order to use a Czech SIM card you will need to have a telephone which has not been blocked by your operator. Almost 100% of the country is covered by the mobile signal. The network uses the GSM 900 and 1800 system. This is compatible with the rest of Europe and Australia. Problems can arise with handsets from North America and Japan.

Currency Exchange

The official currency is the Koruna (CZK), which is divided into100 haler. Most credit cards including American Express, Diners Club, Visa and MasterCard are accepted, but it is best to have cash handy when traveling away from Prague and the main tourist centers. Traveler�s checks and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange bureaus and some hotels. ATMs (known as 'bankomats') are becoming more common in Prague and are probably the best way to obtain local currency at a good rate and without commission. The Czech Republic is still cheap compared to the rest of Europe, though the gap is closing.

Visa Requirements

It is required to have a Passport valid for at least three months beyond length of stay by all nationals except EU nationals holding a valid national ID card. EU nationals are only required to produce evidence of their EU nationality and identity in order to be admitted to any EU Member State. This evidence can take the form of a valid national passport or national identity card. Either is acceptable. Minors are allowed to travel on their parents' passport until aged 15 years. Visas not required by all nationals of Britain, Australia, Canada, USA and other EU for stay up to 90 days.

Immunization Requirements

There are no vaccination requirements for international travelers, and no major health risks are associated with travel to the Czech Republic. A reciprocal health agreement with the UK entitles citizens with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to free emergency health care, however medical insurance is still advised. Visitors to forested areas should seek medical advice about immunization against tick borne encephalitis. Outbreaks of bird flu have been reported; the risk to travelers is low, but close contact with live birds should be avoided and all egg and poultry dishes should be well cooked as a precaution.