About the Region of South Bohemia
For some time now South Bohemia has been perceived primarily as an agricultural region with well-developed forestry and pond management. It was as late as the previous century, however, that the region experienced the development of industry focused on processing activities.
A substantial part of the regions perimeter is lined by the State Border with Austria and Germany (the overall length is 323 km); the other neighboring regions include the Pilsen Region, Central Bohemia Region, Highland Region and the South Moravian Region. Thanks to its borderline character South Bohemia offers good conditions for effective cross-border cooperation in both manufacturing and services, particularly in tourism made attractive by the better preserved nature and a wealth of cultural heritage monuments.
With the area of 10,057 km2, the region stretches over 12.8% of the entire Czech Republic; one third of the area is covered by forests and 4% by water bodies. The altitude of the greater part of the region ranges between 400 and 600 meters above sea level, which explains its rather harsh climatic conditions. The highest spot within the South Bohemian Region is the hill of Plechý (1,378 m a.s.l) at the Šumava range, while the lowest place (330 m a.s.l) is the surface of waters held by the Orlická přehrada dam in the Písek District.
As of 1 January 2003 the Region of South Bohemia was divided into 17 administrative units of municipalities with extended powers and 37 administrative units of municipalities with designated local authorities. Since 1 January 2007 the designated local authorities have administered municipalities within an area fully covered by Districts and by the administrative units of municipalities with extended powers.
South Bohemia is a region with the lowest population density in the whole Czech Republic. Late in 2008 the region was a home to more than 636 thousand inhabitants, which set the density figure at 63.3 persons per 1 km2. Out of the 7 districts of the region the one most densely populated is the České Budějovice District, residential place of almost 30% of the regions inhabitants. This fact can be attributed particularly to the high concentration of people in the town of České Budějovice proper, specifically 94.9 thousand. Other big cities are Tábor (35.6 thousand inhabitants), Písek (30.0 thousand inhabitants), Strakonice (23.3 thousand inhabitants), and Jindřichův Hradec (22.5 thousand inhabitants). Taken altogether, these five towns provide home for one third of the regions population. The overall number of self-governing municipalities within the region has currently risen to 623 units (out of which 53 enjoy the status of a town) consisting of almost 2 thousand of municipality sections. As of 31 December 2008 the share of population living in cities thus reached 64.8%.
Census carried out as of 1 March 2001 put the share of university educated people at 7.8% of persons over 15 years of age (in 1991 the figure was 6.3%) and the proportion of people with secondary education (including college graduates) was 28.4% (23.2 % in 1991). A higher share of the university graduates can only be encountered in the Capital City of Prague, in South Moravian Region and the Olomouc Region. Higher proportions of secondary-educated persons were found only in Prague and the Region of Hradec Králové. The number of persons declaring themselves to be believers was 34.7%, a figure slightly above the all-country average.
The region contributed to the Gross Domestic Product of the Czech Republic by modest 5.4%; with the contribution recalculated to one person, the region achieves 87.6% of the all-country average, and thus occupies the 5th place among regions (behind the Capital City of Prague, the Pilsen Region, South Moravian Region and the Central Bohemia Region). The Gross Fixed Capital generated in South Bohemia in 2007 was worth 40.5 billion CZK (4.7% of GFC generated in CR).
Agriculture. Plant production concentrates mainly on cereals, oily and feeder plants, but potato growing is also important. In animal production prevails the breeding of beef cattle and pigs. All in all, the region takes care of about 11% of the aggregate agricultural production of the country. An activity of long tradition in the region is pond management. The overall area of ponds where fish is farmed is approx. 25 thousand hectares, and the ponds yield over one half of all fish produced in the Czech Republic. Fairly large is also the regions share in the production of water fowl (ducks and geese). Industrial production has its focal point mainly in the České Budějovice area, with a larger concentration of industry also in the districts of Tábor and Strakonice. Assessed in the context of the entire Czech Republic, the region does not belong among major hubs of industry - in 2008 its share in the revenue generated by CR industrial plants was 4.6%. Split into the different industrial branches, the region is characteristic of the processing industry (foodstuffs and beverages) and the manufacture of vehicles and other items of rolling stock. Construction companies based in the region are engaged largely in new building projects, reconstructions and renovations made within South Bohemia (their share in the CR building production was 4.4%).
Selective surveys aimed to map the structure of workforce showed that the regional economy employs about 300 thousand persons out of which nearly one third works in industry, 13% in trade and repairs of consumer goods, and 10% in building industry. In 2008 the average gross income reached 20,389 CZK a month (per one natural person - covering employees of businesses headquartered in the region, but without employees of businesses with less than 20-strong staff); this figure is by 3,153 CZK short of the countrywide average (a fact partially attributable to the structure of the regions economy).
Late in 2008 the number of jobseekers on the records was 17,505 people. At the end of December the registered unemployment rate was at 4.83%, which put the South Bohemian Region at the fourth lowest place, just behind the Capital City of Prague, Central Bohemia Region and Hradec Králové Region.
At the end of 2008 the Statistical Register of Business Entities kept on files 151,989 businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs. The greater part was created by the entrepreneurs, i.e. natural persons doing business according to the Trades Licensing Act (over 106.6 thousand persons), self-employed farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs (8.3 thousand persons).
Traffic volume witnessed in the region tends to grow, which is true particularly of the road transportation. Though the region is not crossed by the arterial railroad corridors, it still contains several nodes of importance. An interesting feature of South Bohemia are the fragments of horse-drawn railway (the first in Europe) running between České Budějovice and the town of Linz in the Upper Austria. The region also boasts a railroad station at the highest altitude in the Czech Republic (Kubova Huť) and two narrow-gauge tracks from Jindřichův Hradec to Nová Bystřice and to Obrataň. Road network is dense enough to make the communities and municipalities reasonably accessible, but the region still waits to be connected to the country highways. Postal services are offered at about 230 post offices, which means that each third municipality has a local post office.
Network of educational facilities encompasses 294 kindergartens, 255 elementary schools, 27 grammar schools, 64 secondary vocational schools, 37 secondary apprentice schools and 17 higher vocational schools. University education is offered by 7 faculties of the University of South Bohemia based in České Budějovice (namely the faculties of agriculture, philosophy, theology, economics, science, health & social studies, and the pedagogical faculty) and by the University of Technology & Economics in České Budějovice. Jindřichův Hradec is a home to the Management Faculty of the University of Economics, Prague. Moreover, there are three private colleges, namely the College of European and Regional Studies, the newly opened College of Applied Economic Studies in České Budějovice and Film Academy of Miroslav Ondříček in Písek. The number of full-time university and college students attending schools in the region is almost 10 thousand.
Health care services are concentrated in 9 hospitals with 3.5 thousand beds, in 7 specialized medical institutes and 4 facilities for the terminally ill patients. Outpatient care is offered to adults in over 400 offices of general practitioners (including their off-site offices), to children in about 230 offices of pediatricians, and the dentistry services are provided in nearly 380 offices of dentists. The places available in social care facilities exceed 4.5 thousand.
The region still has several, now retired, border crossings. After 20 December 2007, when the Czech Republic was included in the Schengen Area, the crossings were left unattended and the same is true of the entire CR land border. Borders with neighboring countries can be crossed at any place, day and night. The busiest crossings are now Strážný (to Germany) and Studánky, Dolní Dvořiště, České Velenice and Nová Bystřice (to Austria). Austria can also be entered by rail in Horní Dvořiště and České Velenice.
In 2008 the 984 accommodation facilities statistically monitored in the region rendered their services to more than 936 thousand visitors out of which almost one third arrived from foreign countries, mainly from the Federal Republic of Germany, Netherlands and Austria. The average time that the foreigners spent here was 3.4 days. There are also a good number of foreign tourists who come for just a single day, visiting larger places close to the border - these visitors still cannot be statistically monitored.
All year round the České Budějovice Exhibition Ground organizes a range of events out of which the major one is the "Země živitelka" International Agricultural Exhibition and the "HOBBY" show. These events boast the annual attendance of approximately 300 thousand visitors.
Historical centers of České Budějovice, Český Krumlov, Jindřichův Hradec, Prachatice, Slavonice, Tábor and Třeboň have been granted the status of municipal preservation areas, with the Český Krumlov UNESCO listed as a world heritage site. The region is proud to offer also many historical sights such as the castles and mansions in Český Krumlov, Jindřichův Hradec, Hluboká nad Vltavou, Orlík, Blatná, Červená Lhota and the fortified castle at Zvíkov. One of the best-known heritage sites is the village of Holašovice (in the České Budějovice District), whose common was in 1998 proclaimed to be another UNESCO protected heritage.
The region lies within the catchment areas of the upper and middle sections of the Vltava river, with the rivers of Malše, Lužnice, Otava and quite a few other streams tributary to it. More than 7 thousand ponds built in the past cover over 30 thousand hectares of the region.
Recently, many forms of cross-border cooperation have been developing. As just one example can be mentioned the Šumava/ Bayerischer Wald/Mühlviertel Euroregion covering the total area of 16 thousand square kilometers with the population of 1.3 million people. The Euroregion associates 111 Upper Austrian, 107 Bavarian and 128 Bohemian municipalities (out of which 89 belong to the Region of South Bohemia). Benefits of the Euroregion can be seen in the implementation of joint projects, particularly projects aimed to address the issues of transportation, services, tourism and experience sharing. The month of May 2002 witnessed the act of signing a Foundation Deed of another Euroregion, this time named "Silva Nortica", comprising, on the Bohemian side, the districts of Jindřichův Hradec, České Budějovice and Tábor, and on the Austrian side the districts of Zwettl, Krems, Gmünd, Waidhofen an der Thaya and Horn. The Euroregion covers 10,639 km2 and is a home to almost 700 thousand people.
Czech Statistical Office, 2009