Czech Republic

This week's topics: Martin's last Mailbox. The history of Czech Airlines. Prague Autumn Music Festival. The Academy of Sciences. The size of the Czech Republic. Statistics on crimes. Listeners quoted: Jamy Chan, Peter Barnet, Leno Necker, Sean Banes.

Today's programme is quite special because it's the last time you'll be hosting it with me Martin...

Yes. The time has come for me to go back to Canada and continue with my studies.

So how would you evaluate the nine months you spent at Radio Prague?

Well I have to say it was a blast working here at Radio Prague! Especially working on the mailbox program with you Dita. And I hope all of our listeners enjoyed it as much as I have. I also want to thank all the people here at Radio Prague for all the help and advice they have given me over the past nine months, I really appreciate it. And I can't forget to thank our listeners for their questions and comments. I will truly miss it here.

Well, we'll certainly miss you. But let's get on with the programme and answer our first question, which comes from Jamy Chan who asks:

"I live in the New York area and would like to come to Prague in the fall. Is Czech Airlines any good? Was it founded after the Velvet Revolution or did you have this national carrier during the Communist period too?"

Czech Airlines has enjoyed a good reputation ever since it was founded on October 6, 1923. It was then called Czechoslovak State Airlines. On October 29 of that same year, the first transport flight from Prague to Bratislava took place. On that trip, pilot Karel Brabenec flew 321 km with an Aero A-14 plane. In 1929, the airline became a member of the International Air Transport Association.

Some more interesting dates - On March 15th, 1939 it had to interrupt its activities due to the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Its flights were re-introduced on September 14, 1945 when the war came to an end, as the only Czechoslovakian airline carrier. In 1962, it introduced its first Trans-Atlantic flight, which was from Prague to Havana.

CSA did not use the Boeing 737-400 until 1995.

And Mr Chan had one more question:

"Friends told me that the Prague Fall classical music festival is worth going to. Can you tell me more about this year's programme?"

This year, from September 11 to October 1, will see the 13th Prague Autumn international music festival. Over the 13 years since it was founded, the festival has won international acclaim. Concerts will be held at Prague's Rudolfinum, the Prague State Opera and the Town Theatre in the spa town of Karlovy Vary.

This year's programme includes performances by the Russian Philharmonic, Polish Radio's Symphonic Orchestra, the EU Chamber Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, Czech Radio's Symphony Orchestra, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Ticket prices range from 300 - 1200 Czech crowns, which is roughly about 10 to 45 US dollars.

We have a question from Peter Barnet, a university professor and faithful listener from somewhere in the UK.

"Is the Academy of Sciences a respectable institution?"

Academy of Sciences logo
Yes, it is a respectable institution. In fact, it is the leading basic research public institution that is not a university in the Czech Republic. It conducts both fundamental and strategic applied research to a) create scientific knowledge that contributes to the strengthening of the nation's position in key areas of science and b) to find up-to-date solutions to contemporary problems faced by society. The academy's institutes also provide courses at the graduate level and supervise doctoral programs. The Head Office of the Academy and forty research institutes are located in Prague, the remaining institutes are situated all around the country.

The Academy of Sciences was founded in 1992 by the Czech National Council. It was to act as a successor to the former Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. It has three scientific divisions - the division of mathematics, physics, and earth sciences, the division of chemical and life sciences, and the division of humanities and social sciences. It currently manages a network of sixty research institutions and five supporting units staffed by a total of 6400 employees, of whom slightly over one half are university-trained researchers and PhD. scientists.

Leno Necker tunes into Radio Prague in Chicago, the USA and wants to know:

"How big is the Czech Republic? I tried to look on a map but was not able to compare it to the other countries in Europe."

Well, Mr Necker. According to the Czech Statistics Office, the Czech Republic has an area of 79,000 km2, while neighbouring Poland has 323,000 km2, Germany has 357,000 km2, Austria 84,000 km2, and Slovakia 49,000 km2. Hungary has 93,000 km2, so I guess you can say the Czech Republic is one of the smallest countries in Central Europe.

And we stay with statistics. Sean Banes is also from the United States. He listens to us in Florida and asks:

"How many criminals are found guilty in your country every year. How many of them are women? I would also like to know how many people are killed in the Czech Republic every year."

For the answer to these questions we also checked the Czech Statistics Office's web pages and found that on average, some 60,000 offenders are found guilty by the courts every year. Some six thousand of them are women. The number of people killed, for example in accidents, is around one thousand a year.