Colmillos de mamut (Foto:autor)

A newspaper vendor acts as midwife, archeologists uncover mammoth bones in Usti nad Labem and the biggest folding story book in the world takes up three rooms and you'll find it in the Czech Republic. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Tatana Kucharova,  photo: CTK
It is now official. The world's most beautiful woman is Czech! When 18 year old Tatana Kucharova was decorated with a glittering crown and sash as Miss World 2007 Czechs hearts might have swelled with pride. The only problem was - no one was watching. Czechs -who organized every possible kind of beauty contest under the sun after the Velvet revolution and seemed unable to get enough - had finally taken their fill. As a result for the first time this year none of the country's TV channels bothered to transmit the Miss World Contest. And of course -chance would have it - that on this very year the Czech contestant reached for the crown. It was a first in the 56 years of the contest's existence -and is unlikely to be repeated any time soon which is why commercial TV NOVA decided to make up for the omission. It bought the rights and viewers were able to see the two hour show on October 6th with the bonus of a live interview with the winner. Tatana arrived back in the Czech Republic on Thursday and got a boisterous welcome. Even the country's top politicians can't wait to meet Miss World in person - she has scheduled meetings with the mayor of Prague, the prime minister and even the president. Tatana' s come a long way since she became Miss Milk at the age of ten!

The Czech Republic also boasts the biggest folding picture book in the world. It's called The History of the Valiant Czech Nation and Some Inconsequential World Events. The book is two meters tall and an impressive 70 metres wide and takes up three rooms at the Louny Museum where it is currently on show. The book which casts a comic and satirical slant on Czech history has become a huge best-seller - in smaller size of course. The book received the Magnesia Litera Award for children's books in 2003, the Golden Streamer and the Golden Seal award for children's literature.

Illustrative photo
A newspaper vendor in a Prague stall was called upon to act as midwife last week when a heavily pregnant young woman went out for a late night walk and decided to give birth right outside his newspaper stand. "It was a terrible shock," the man said later, "the woman just leaned against the stall and said that her water had broken and that she was going to give birth right away." The vendor called an ambulance but because the woman was really giving birth right there and then he had to take instructions over the phone from a medic and help her as well as he was able. Apparently the baby was born within minutes and when the ambulance arrived the mother walked over to the car with the baby in her arms while the white faced shell-shocked vendor and another man who happened to be nearby were both leaning against the traffic stand for support. Both needed a shot of brandy to get over the night's adventure. The mother and baby are reported to be doing well.

Czech archeologists have uncovered several mammoth bones during excavation work in the town of Usti nad Labem, a unique find in northern Bohemia. Mammoths -who were around three meters tall and weighed some 4,5 tons - are believed to have reached Usti nad Labem along the river Elbe. Previous findings include the remains of a rhinoceros, a wolf and other animals. Scientists also hope to uncover instruments used by Paleolithic people - the mammoths' contemporaries. The find may be connected to the settlement of prehistoric hunters who lived along the Bilina River 20,000 to 30,000 years ago.

The Prague town hall has a plan that should help to provide shelter for more homeless people during the winter months. It wants to buy a huge freight ship and turn it into a winter shelter for the homeless with cabins for 250 people and a canteen for approximately the same number below deck. The ship would be manned by a charity organization and the town hall would arrange for it to dock somewhere on the Vltava embankment. A great deal depends on whether the town hall will get a grant for the project from the ministry of labour and social affairs. The ship would cost around 21 million crowns and the grant should cover approximately two thirds of the costs. Giving homeless people shelter when the cold becomes life-threatening has become a big problem for the Czech capital. Prague has an estimated 6 thousand homeless people and others are drawn to the Czech capital when the weather makes life outdoors insufferable. Yet the city only has some 600 beds for them all. Last year when temperatures dropped to minus twenty long-term the army pitched in to help erecting army tents to serve as makeshift shelters on Letna Plain.

Learning foreign languages later in life is not easy - as many Czechs could tell you. The generations of Czechs who spent their lives behind the Iron Curtain are having a hard time catching up - trying to become fluent in English and other world languages. No matter how hard they study their grammar books or how often they travel abroad their Czech sentence structure and pronounced Czech accent always give them away. Many parents now want something better for their children and although English lessons are now an important part of the school curriculum there is interest in starting much earlier. In Zlin kids are learning English before they can speak their own mother tongue. Helena Zmelikova has set up nursery English classes for babies under the age of one. "I didn't want my children to learn the hard way and I wanted them to grow up bi-lingual, to hear English and get used to it from an early age so it would be as natural to them as Czech," Helena says. She looked around for something appropriate but there was nothing for children under two -so she set up a nursery class herself. Dozens of parents immediately signed up their babies and she's now in business with a class of the youngest language students ever!