Before the fall of communism, the Czech Republic had a centrally controlled, socialist economy. The country was one of the most industrialized and economically developed countries within the Comecon block. The war years and the expulsion of Sudetis led to a sharp decline in production. Following the takeover of the Communists, the first five-year plan was adopted in 1948. It placed the main emphasis on collectivizing agriculture, expanding the nationalized heavy industry and adapting the country’s economy to trade with the Soviet Union. After the fall of communism, there has been a gradual transition to a market economy with the abandonment of state control of business.
In 1991, the privatization of a number of state-owned enterprises began, and after a few years of difficulties, the Czech Republic had increased production and relatively low unemployment at the end of the 1990s. This development was strengthened after the EU membership in 2004 and increased foreign investment. The three countries that had the largest foreign investment in the Czech Republic as of 2015 were: The Netherlands 24.1 percent of the total foreign investment in the Czech Republic, Austria 13.4 percent and Germany 12.9 percent.
Since 2014, gross domestic product (GDP) has increased as follows: 5.5 percent in 2015, 3.6 percent in 2016 and 3.5 percent in 2017. Unemployment in 2017 was 2.8 percent and inflation in 2017 was 2.3 percent. Per capita GDP in 2017 amounted to USD 35,200.
The country is rich in minerals and mining has long traditions. Most important is coal mining. Most are mainly mined in the Ostrava area and along the foot of the Krušné Hory (Ore Mountains), in large open quarries, and mainly goes to thermal power plants. The Czech Republic is the EU’s fourth largest coal producer after Germany and Poland. Otherwise, some kaolin is extracted for the porcelain industry.
In 2016, primary energy consumption was 1,737 EJ (exajoule), with an import share of about 30 percent. Per capita this amounts to 165 GJ/year.
Fossil energy sources, such as coal, oil and natural gas, account for around 75 percent of consumption. Most of the coal consumption is covered with self-produced lignite, while most of the oil and gas is imported from Russia. Biomass accounts for around 10 percent.
The proportion of fossil energy used for the production of electrical energy is around 55 percent, dominated by coal which alone accounts for almost 50 percent. In Dukovany and Temelin, there are two nuclear power plants that cover just over 30 percent of annual production. Renewable energy, mainly hydropower and thermal power, is 13 percent (figures from 2017).
Agriculture and forestry
From 1949 to 1989, Czech agriculture and forestry were characterized by collectivization, socialist planning economics and state governance. 95 percent of the arable land belonged to large collective and state farms, with low efficiency and poor utilization of the machinery. In 1991, a large-scale privatization was initiated, which has led to approximately 80 percent of the arable land and 25 percent of the forest being returned to the former owners or privatized in some other way.
The most important strawberry products are wheat, sugar beets and potatoes. In addition, barley, rye, corn, oats, vegetables, fruits and, not least, hops, which are used in beer production, are grown. In particular, pigs, cattle, sheep, horses and poultry are kept. The country is self-sufficient with all important, traditional agricultural products. In 2017, agriculture’s contribution to GDP was 2.5 percent. The share of the working population employed in agriculture was 2.8 percent.
According to Eurostat’s latest survey from 2010, the cultivated agricultural area constitutes 44 percent of the country’s territory. This was three percent lower than in 2003. The number of farms in 2010 was 22,860 compared to 23,840 in 2003. In 2010, the average size of Czech farms was 152 ha, which was higher than in any other EU country.
The forest area was 2,606 million hectares in 2016, of which 57.42 percent was state owned and 17.06 percent owned by municipalities. The area has been roughly stable since 2010. Finished timber, which is the basis for the country’s paper industry, amounted to 17.6 million m 3 in 2016. At that time, the Czech Republic had a net export of timber to Austria and Germany, but a net import from Slovakia and Poland.
The Czech Republic is an important industrial country. In 2017, the industry’s contribution to GDP was 37.8 percent, and 38 percent of the employed were employed in the industry.
The industry has had its weight in iron and steel production and in chemical and electrical engineering products. Growth has been uneven, especially because the state planning system was not adapted to the more advanced industry. After the introduction of economic reforms, production slowed sharply in 1992 and 1993. Subsequently, the industry was again growing, and it was developing in a more versatile direction. Important sectors are automotive, mechanical engineering and electronics, as well as the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The largest heavy industry centers are around Prague and Ostrava. The production of foodstuffs, glassware, rubber products and the workshop industry are newer growth industries. The Czech Republic has a well-known beer production. The beer production in Plzeň has given the name to beer beer.
The largest steelworks are located at Ostrava, then in Vítkovice, Kladno, Plzeň and Chomutov. The production of pig iron and steel goes substantially to the large machinery and transport industry. Of the machine factories are the Škoda plants in Plzeň and a number of large companies in Prague, Brno and Ostrava, with the production of agricultural and workshop machinery, turbines, railway materials and cars. The chemical industry includes synthetic substances, artificial fertilizers and plastics. Petrochemical plants can be found in Litvínov, among others.
The textile industry has strong traditions, but has declined relatively. This also applies to the famous glass and porcelain industry in the former Sudanese areas. In the footwear industry, the Zlín factories are well known. In the food and beverage industry, the sugar industry and large breweries, including Plzeň, are noticeable.
Czech foreign trade in the 1980s and for some years in the 1990s targeted the other Eastern European countries (Comecon). Since the Czech Republic joined the EU and part of the EEA in 2004, the country’s economy has become very open and foreign trade increasingly important for economic growth.
- COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Czech Republic, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.
In 2017, total exports amounted to USD 175.4 billion. Imports totaled $ 145.4 billion. The Czech Republic had a trade surplus of USD 30 billion. The main export goods are machinery and transport equipment, including passenger cars, industrial products and consumables, steel, iron, footwear, glass and beer. The most important import goods are machinery, transport equipment, oil and other petroleum products, foodstuffs, chemicals, iron and steel.
In 2016, the Czech Republic’s five main export markets were as follows: Germany 32.4 percent, Slovakia 8.4 per cent, Poland 5.8 percent, the United Kingdom 5.2 percent and France 5.2 percent. The five most important markets for Czech imports were: Germany 30.6 percent, Poland 9.6 per cent, China 7.5 percent, Slovakia 6.3 percent and the Netherlands 5.3 percent.
Transport and Communications
The Czech Republic is a transit area between the Danube countries and northern Central Europe. The old north-south transport lines have recently been supplemented by railways and main roads between west and east. Until the 1950s, the country was hampered by an outdated communications network based in Vienna. The road and rail networks now leave Prague.
The road network is a total of 130 661 km. Of these, 1250 km are highways. The railway network is at 9621 km. The Czech Republic has a total of 664 km of waterways. Most important is the Vltava River, which has access to the Elbe and the Elbe itself, which connects important industrial areas in the Czech Republic with the North Sea via Hamburg and the River Oder, which connects the industrial areas of the country with the Baltic Sea via Szczecin.
There are 91 civilian airports in the Czech Republic, of which 24 have international status. The most important airport is Václav Havel International Airport in Prague.
The country has beautiful scenery with good opportunities for tourism, hunting and fishing, honeymoon and cultural experiences. Hundreds of castles, churches, cathedrals, old town centers and other historical monuments have been restored and made available to tourists in recent years. Among the most important tourist destinations are Prague, Karlovy Vary, Marianské Lázně, Olomouc, Český Krumlov, Kutná Hora, Karlštejn and Telč. A number of festivals and sports events are held in both winter and summer sports each year, and the country receives a not insignificant number of visitors in this regard.
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Czech Republic is Prague with a population of 1,200,000 (2011 census). Other major cities include Brno 379,000, Ostrava 300,000, Plzen (Pilsen) with a population of 167,000, (2011 census).
In 2016, 18.45 million tourists came to the Czech Republic compared to 12.7 million in 2006. In 2016, 12.6 and 5.4 percent of tourists came from Germany and Russia respectively.