Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. It is the 14th largest city in the European Union. It is also the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.26 million people, while its larger urban zone is estimated to have a population of nearly 2 million. The city has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.
Prague has been a political, cultural, and economic centre of central Europe with waxing and waning fortunes during its history. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras, Prague was the capital of the kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most notably of Charles IV (r. 1346–1378). It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, and in 20th-century history as the capital of Czechoslovakia, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era.
Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe. Main attractions include the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock, the Jewish Quarter, Petřín hill and Vyšehrad. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The city has more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries, cinemas, and other historical exhibits. An extensive modern public transportation system connects the city. Also, it is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including Charles University in Prague, the oldest university in Central Europe.
Prague is classified as an "Alpha-" global city according to GaWC studies. Prague ranked sixth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2016. Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination, and the city receives more than 6.4 million international visitors annually, as of 2014. Prague is the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome.
Prague is situated on the Vltava river, at 50°05"N and 14°27"E. in the centre of the Bohemian Basin. Prague is approximately at the same latitude as Frankfurt, Germany; Paris, France; and Vancouver, Canada.
The city of Prague lies between oceanic climate and humid continental climate (Köppen Cfb/Dfb). The winters are relatively cold with average temperatures at about freezing point, and with very little sunshine. Snow cover can be common between mid-November and late March although snow accumulations of more than 20 cm (8 in) are infrequent. There are also a few periods of mild temperatures in winter. Summers usually bring plenty of sunshine and the average high temperature of 24 °C (75 °F). Nights can be quite cool even in summer, though. Precipitation in Prague (and most of the Bohemian lowland) is rather low (just over 500 mm [20 in] per year) since it is located in the rain shadow of the Sudetes and other mountain ranges. The driest season is usually winter while late spring and summer can bring quite heavy rain, especially in form of thundershowers. Temperature inversions are relatively common between mid-October and mid-March bringing foggy, cold days and sometimes moderate air pollution. Prague is also a windy city with common sustained western winds and an average wind speed of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) that often help break temperature inversions and clear the air in cold months.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Romanesque, to Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, Art Nouveau, Cubist, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.
Prague is classified as an "Alpha-" global city according to GaWC studies, comparable to Vienna, Seoul and Washington, D.C. Prague ranked sixth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2016. Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination, and the city receives more than 6.4 million international visitors annually, as of 2014. Prague is the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome. Prague's low cost of living makes it a popular destination for expats relocating to Europe.
The region city of Prague is an important centre of research. It is the seat of 39 out of 54 institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences, including the largest ones, the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Microbiology and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. It is also a seat of 10 public research institutes, four business incubators and large hospitals performing research and development activities such as the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague or the Motol University Hospital. Universities seated in Prague (see section Colleges and Universities) also represent important centres of science and research activities.
As of 2008, there were 13,000 researchers (out of 30,000 in the Czech Republic, counted in full-time equivalent), representing 3% share of Prague's economically active population. Gross expenditure on research and development accounted for €901.3 million (41.5% of country's total).
Some well-known multinational companies have established research and development facilities in Prague, among them Siemens, Honeywell and Sun Microsystems.
Prague was selected to host administration of the EU satellite navigation system Galileo. It started to provide its first services in December 2016 and full completion is expected by 2020.