Brain Food: Us and them - The Czech Republic

Prague has joined Paris and Rome as a must-visit European city, and it's this boom in tourism that helps explain the country's new-found prosperity, fuelled since the Velvet Revolution of 1989 by a rapid expansion of trade, catering, repair and financial services, and accession to the EU in 2004.

Economic growth has also been supported by exports to other EU countries - in particular, Germany - and a near doubling of direct foreign investment that makes the Czech Republic one of the most stable former Communist states in Europe.

COST OF LIVING

Unlike the UK, the population of the Czech Republic (10.25 million) is fairly evenly spread across the country, and the capital is the only city with more than one million inhabitants. British drivers will envy the Czech's low annual road tax of $30.17, and going out for a good time is considerably cheaper too: it costs just $75 for four of the best seats at a top Prague theatre, compared with $296 for a night out in London's West End.

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