The Czech Republic is a democratic country situated in the geographical centre of Europe and has an area of 78,866 sq. km. It shares borders with Poland in the northeast, Germany in the west and northwest, Austria in the south and Slovakia in the east. The population of the Czech Republic is approximately 10,500,000 and its capital and largest city is Prague. The country is composed of the historic lands of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as parts of Silesia. The Czech Republic has been a member of NATO since 1999 and of the European Union since 2004.
In population (more than 400,000 inhabitants), size and importance Brno is the second city of the Czech Republic, the centre of South Moravia and the seat of the region of South Moravia. The city of Brno was granted city privileges by the Czech king Wenceslas I in 1243. However, people have lived in this territory that lies at the confluence of the Svratka and Svitava river basin since prehistoric times. About the year 1000, a settlement giving the city its present name was built near the ford across the Svratka river. A castle of the ruling Premyslid dynasty was built in the 11th century. Brno has a unique geographical position in Europe. This makes it possible within a few hours (less than 2 hours to Bratislava and Vienna, 2 hours to Prague, approximately 3 hours to Budapest or Krakow, and so on) to visit any major city in the neighbouring countries.
There are dozens of museums, theatres, galleries and clubs in the city of Brno. The most significant historic sites include the royal castle of Špilberk (13th century), or the cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul (14th and 15th centuries) and the UNESCO world cultural heritage Villa Tugendhat (1928-1930) by L. M. van der Rohe. To the north of Brno lies the karst region and the Protected Landscape Area of the Moravian Karst with dozens of caves and the 138-metre deep Macocha Abyss,
the deepest in the Czech Republic.