The Czech Republic is one of the most industrialized nations in Central Europe. The Czechs were once renowned for their skills in glassworking and brewing. The Communists, however, focused on heavy industry, such as steel production. People laboured in large factories or on collective farms. Since the end of Communism, many small and medium-sized companies have been created. Fine crystal and beer are still produced, along with chemical products, automobiles and machinery.

 Since forests cover 35% of the land, wood products are important. Conifers are used to build furniture and houses; beech and oak trees are used to make barrels, kegs and vats for beer, wine and brandy. Softer woods are used to make musical instruments, including church organs. Pine resin or sap is used for glue, varnish and some medications.

Czech farmers in Bohemia and Moravia grow corn, rye, wheat, barley and sugar beets. Moravia and Silesia also have fruit orchards. Bohemia and Silesia have large deposits of coal, and mining is an important industry in these regions.

 Tourism is growing in the Czech Republic. Most tourists stay in Prague. The city, which was spared destruction in the Second World War, contains a wealth of beautiful historic buildings.

  Did you know?
In 1995, the Czech Republic became the first post-Communist state in Central Europe to be admitted to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is also a member of NATO.
Women make up 45% of the Czech workforce. Under the Communist regime, women were supposed to receive equal pay for equal work, equal educational opportunities and six months' maternity leave on full pay. Nurseries and kindergartens were provided in local communities and in the workplace. Government institutions set quotas to hire women. The current government, however, tends to emphasize women's roles as mothers and homemakers. Women's political participation decreased during the 1990s. Employed women earn, on average, about 75% of what men earn. Women's groups have formed in the Czech Republic to ensure that women's rights are protected and that women can contribute to decisions about education, childcare, maternity leave and other family issues.

The Roma (Gypsies), who used to live in the countryside before 1993, migrated to the cities in search of work. Many live in poverty and face discrimination in the workplace. In August 1997, the government, forced to address this issue, established an Interministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs and outlined further measures aimed at improving their situation.