The Czech Republic, a landlocked country in Central Europe, covers an area of about 30,450 square miles and has a population of about 10.6 million people. The country experiences an oceanic and temperate continental climate, and it is classified as a developed nation with a relatively advanced high-income export-oriented economy, which is largely based on manufacturing, service, and innovation. The country runs a universal healthcare system, a free university education, and it is ranked 14th in the world regarding human capital index. The country also is ranked as the sixth most peaceful or safest country in the world, and it is among the world’s most non-religious nations and has scored highly in democratic governance. The GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity as of 2017 was $35,223 which was similar to countries such as Italy, Israel, or Slovenia and it had one of the EU’s highest growth rate standing at 4.5% in 2017. In 2018, the unemployment rate in the country was 2.4%, and it was one of the lowest in the European Union. The country is blessed with different types of natural resources source such as arable land, Kaolin, graphite, clay, forests, and coal among many others.
Czech Republic's Natural Resources
The Czech Republic has arable land which is suitable for agriculture and in 1998 about 40% of the total land area was cultivated out of which 0.98% was under permanent crops while 58.14% was for other uses. Agriculture in the Czech Republic is a very small sector but plays a very critical role in the country's economy. However, its role in the overall economy has been declining since 1989 following the velvet revolution. In 2001, agriculture accounted for 3.9% of the country’s GDP. Some of the main crops grown in the country include corn, barley, rye, wheat, and oats. The Czech Republic is the largest producer of hops in Europe, second only to Germany. The country is known worldwide for its tradition of brewing and some of the oldest brands in the world were invented in the Czech Republic. Other important crops cultivated in the Czech Republic include potatoes, sugar, beets, apples, and oilseeds.
The Czech Republic has forest cover which is one of its major natural resources, which cover an area equivalent to 33.8% of the total land area or approximately 2.66 million hectares. The larger part of the forest was naturally regenerated. The Bohemian Forest had a long and complicated history particularly in the 20th century when it was part of the iron curtain. Initially, the populations in the region were sparse, and in some areas, human settlements were removed to create a forest, and this created some of the untouched forest ecosystems which have had little human interference. Most of the forest in the country is part of the protected areas like the Sumava national park and protected area and the UNESCO biosphere reserve. The Bohemian Forest is famous as a holiday destination for tourists, and it is one of the excellent hiking countries. The country produces about 572.1 million cubic feet of round wood, and as of 2011, the forest sector which included pulp paper and wood processing contributed about $3.5 billion or about 1.8% of the country's GDP. However, the forest sector in the Czech Republic is facing numerous challenges including prolonged and frequent droughts which have affected and weakened the trees leaving them prone to infestation of bark beetle. Besides, severe storms which have been experienced in the recent past have affected areas with forest cover and woodlands which forced the foresters to cut more trees than the saw millers could handle. This scenario led to the price of wood in 2018 to fall by almost half compared to the prices in the previous years.
Oil and Gas
The Czech Republic has deposits of oil and gas in small quantities which are located particularly in the south of Moravia. Oil exploration in the country began in the 20th century, and the first commercial exploitation began in 1919. In 2005, the country extracted about 12,028,175 cubic feet of crude oil and about 3,487 million cubic feet natural gas. Another region which is expected to hold some oil deposits include part of the Carpathian foredeep and exploration is still ongoing. The natural gas is found in deposits which contain oil and are mostly found in Moravia part of the Vienna Basin, while the northern section of the basin has oil deposits.
The Czech Republic has deposits of different types of minerals across the country. The country is estimated to have approximately 41.6 million tons of brown coal considered to be of a high grade. It is also assumed that the country has 750 million tons more of coal reserves which are believed to have the highest calorie value in the whole country. The northern part of the bohemian basin is among the richest regions in the European Union with the reserves of brown coal (Lignite), and its extraction has been running from the second half of the 19th century particularly extensive surface mining. Radnice coal basin in the country had large deposits of coal reserves which were developed in the 19th century, and by the 20th century they were already depleted, and mining was halted in the region. The locality was the only place in central Europe where bituminous coal was mined at the surface and was extracted using open pit mining.
Forecast of the Economy of the Czech Republic
According to the forecast by the European Commission, the economy of the Czech Republic is expected to perform well in the future, for instance, the GDP growth rate in 2017 was 4.3%, in 2018 it was 3.0%, and it is forecasted that it will grow at the rate of 2.9% in 2019 and by 2020 the growth rate will reach 2.6%. Similarly, the inflation rate is expected to drop down, because as of 2017 it was 2.5%, while in 2018 it was 2.1%, and it is expected to reach 2.2% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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