The Good, The Bad, The Really Weird

A City With More Than Just Pilsner and Old Buildings

By Alex Cass

In the United States, most people do not know where the Czech Republic is. They think it is Czechoslovakia, a place where a war of some type recently took place, or is inhabited by Chechens, who in reality live in the Republic of Chechnya, part of the former Soviet Union. In other words, further east.

To remedy these misconceptions, we present a series of facts that distinguish the Czechs from all other countries in the world, facts that even a few of the 10.2 million residents of this peaceful Central European country might not even be aware of.

What makes the Czech Republic unique?

1. The Czech Republic consumes more beer than any other country in the world.  In fact, Czechs have already consumed almost 1.2 billion liters of beer so far this year. And if that isn’t enough, this country is the first in the world to open a Beer Museum as well as the first to publish a beer brewing textbook!  Na zdravi!

You might want to think twice before challenging a Czech to a drinking competition.  [http://www.originalczechbeers.com/templates/img/ho_piva.jpg]

You might want to think twice before challenging a Czech to a drinking competition.
Photo Courtesy of http://www.originalczechbeers.com

2. The Czech Republic ranks among the top countries for recreational drug use. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Czechs consume more ecstasy than any other European country and ranks third for marijuana use. The Czech Republic is also the top producer of methamphetamines in Europe.

3. Prague maintains the highest quality of life among Eastern European cities, according to a survey the private consulting group Mercer. (We are not sure if this is related to points 1 and 2 above).  The survey evaluates 39 factors grouped into 10 categories: political and social environment, economic environment, socio-cultural environment, medical and health considerations, schools and education, public services and transportation, recreation, consumer goods, housing, and the natural environment.

4. Call the dentist! According to a report done by the Economist in 2006, the Czech Republic ranks number three in the world (behind Poland and Hungary) among nations with the highest number of decayed, missing, or filled teeth in children up to 12 years old.

The stunning St. Vitus Cathedral is at the heart of the Prague Castle.

The stunning St. Vitus Cathedral is at the heart of the Prague Castle.
Photo Courtesy of http://www.katedralasvatehovita.cz

5. Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, with an area of over 750,000 square feet. Construction on the castle began in the late 9th century under the Premyslid Dynasty and underwent its final large-scale reconstruction in the 18th century.  See, just like Americans homeowners, Czechs sometimes have trouble with outside building contractors.

6. Spreading the love. In 2006, the Czech Republic became the first post-communist government to grant legal recognition to same-sex partnerships.

The Czech Republic is proud to be a progressive post-communist nation. [http://sedmicka.tyden.cz/rubriky/koho-jsme-potkali-na-prazskem-pochodu-gayu-a-lesbicek-podivejte-se_243507.html]

Same-sex partnerships received legal recognition in 2006.
Photo Courtesy of sedmicka.tyden.cz

7.  Smarty Pants. Recent data from the European Commission shows that the Czech Republic has the second highest population percentage having completed at least upper secondary education, known in the U.S. as high school, among all 28 European Union member countries.

8. Charles University, established in Prague in 1348, is the oldest university in Eastern-Central Europe and one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the world that is still in operation. Today, there are over 50,000 students studying one of 660 study majors offered at the University.

9. Oh-my-god. According to the 2010 Eurobarometer Report by the European Commission, 37% of Czechs do not believe in any kind of god, the second highest percentage in all of Europe, behind France.

10. Sugarbabes. The sugar cube was invented in the Czech town Dacoce by Jakub Krystof Rad in 1843.

Alex Cass is in the NYU College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2015. Her hometown is Dallas, Texas.

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Categories: Culture, Fall 2013 Issue Number 1, Uncategorized

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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