Ten things you definitely didn’t know about Prague and Czech Republic (or so we hope)

Czech - Karlštejn

A glass cannon

You may have heard about the Czech-made glass. But did you know, that the tradition of glassmaking dates back all the way to the 1250s? The oldest known glassworks in the country is located in Northern Bohemia, in a town called Kamenický Šenov. The area remains a major glass producer to this day.

The first Czecho(Germanic)Slovakian president

Although there are still arguments about the ancestry of the first Czechoslovakian president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the common consensus today is that while his father was Slovakian, his mother came from a Czecho-German family, which coincidentally represents the three most numerous ethnicities of the First Czechoslovak Republic. Masaryk’s wife (they got married in 1878 – long before he became the president) was from the USA, which helped him establish connections overseas, that ultimately helped him secure the future of the independent Czechoslovakia after the WWI.

Pucks Bohemiana

The Czech company GUFEX belongs to only six puck manufacturers in the world. They supply official pucks for many important international games, such as the 2019 World Hockey Championship.

Pity on wheels

There are only four car manufacturers in the world, that can take pride in having a more than 100-year-old history. The Czech company Škoda is one of them. Originally founded in 1895 by Václav Klement and Václav Laurin (at first, the company was called Laurin-Klement), it ran into financial problems in 1920s, after a fire destroyed one of the factories, which ultimately led to merging with a company Škodovy závody v Plzni (founded by Emil Škoda in 1859), and the brand was renamed to Škoda automobiles. The meaning of the word Škoda in Czech is pity, damage or harm.

Nation at work

Following the trend of 2017 and 2018, the unemployment rate of the Czech Republic in the first quarter of 2019 was around the absurdly low number of 2%. It was in fact the lowest number in the EU. Germany came in second, and the Netherlands were third. The average unemployment rate in the EU was 6,5% (already a respectable number).

Complicated heritage

Although the language is undoubtedly slavic, the genetic make-up of the Czech population is a little more complicated. The area was originally (from around 1st century AD) occupied by the German tribe Marcomanni and the Celtic tribe of the Boii. The original idea, that the Slavic tribes that came in the 5th century wiped out the original population doesn’t stand up in the light of todays‘ evidence. More likely, they were assimilated by the newcomers. Also, there is the fact, that the Czech lands had undergone a sort of „colonization“ by the stronger and more influental German Holy Roman Empire – German settlers, clerics and merchants were moving into the Bohemian kingdoms, and more or less merging with the population.

So what does the latest research suggest? Well, it would seem Slavic influences make up “only“ 30-40% of the populations‘ ancestry. The number seems to rise the more east you go within the country. The rest is a mixture of mainly Celtic and Germanic, but also Mediterranean or Nordic influences.

You’re safe with us

The crime rate in the Czech Republic, although already comparably small, has been steadily decreasing in the past two decades. It is now in fact less than half of what it was in 1999. The total amount of registred crimes in 1999 in the whole country was 426 000, while only 203 000 in 2017. This is despite the fact, that the number of policemen in the Czech Republic has remained virtually the same, and the ratio of resolved crimes has also improved. This is one of the reasons why the Czech Republic has placed 6th on the global index ranking countries by safety.

Interestingly, about 9% of the crimes are commited by people with a foreign citizenship, but before you get offended, the number is vastly overrepresented by people with work visas – especially those from less economically developed Eastern European countries.

The coat of arms

The Czech Republic is divided into threre regions – Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia – two of those have a very distinct feel. Apart from a very different dialect and accent, the Moravian region is well known for wineries and wine consumption, while the Czechs (or Bohemians) brew and drink beer. There are also small differences in culture, music and clothing (which are however becoming less and less significant in the modern age). There still remains quite a rivalry between those regions, and especially Moravians tend to be a little bit sensitive, should you call them Czechs. The coat of arms of the Czech Republic reflects this triality, as it represents the symbol of all of these regions – the black eagle in yellow field belongs to Silesia, Moravia is represented by the checkered eagle in blue field, and the two white lions in red field are the symbol of Czechia (or Bohemia).

Klementinum

Chances are you’ve seen the pictures of Pragues‘ Baroque library. If so, you’ve probably also heard of Klementinum. But you may not know, that Klementinum is one of Europes‘ largest building complexes by area. First mentioned in writing as the church of St. Kliment in 1227, it was gradually expanded throughout history, and served for example as a Jesuit college, a Dominican monastery or Philosophical fakulty. Today, other than the Baroque library, it also houses an astronomical tower, a Meridian Hall and the Mirror chapel, that often serves as a stage for classical concerts.

Czech alcohol consumption – a legendary myth?

There is a reocurring information throughout various websites on the internet, about the famed Czech alcohol consumption – which is, allegedly, the biggest in the world. Well, the reality is a little more difficult.

The data, which were cited in most of those sensational articles, were from only one of three different studies conducted on the issue in the last decade. For example, the 2013 OECD statistics placed Czech republic 5th in alcohol consumption in OECD states, behind such countries like France or Ireland. The only study that actually reported Czech Republic as the biggest consumer was done by the World Health Organization in 2015, using self-reported data. The interesting thing about that fact is, that the number they came up with was about 35% higher, than the actual sales of alcohol in the Czech Republic that year as noted by the Czech Statistical Office.

The last important notion to consider – Czech Republic is very well known for cheap alcohol, and alcohol tourism is a big part of the industry – tourists from Nordic countries, Great Britain or even Russia come here to enjoy the cheap beer, causing massive spikes in sales when the season comes. Considering that compared to the population, the tourism in Czech Republic has an ovewhelming statistical significance, we can safely assume, that the alcohol situation is not as dire as journalists would like you to believe. This is in accordance with other statistical data, such as alcohol related injuries or illnesses, in which the Czech Republic actually scored surprisingly well.

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