Czechia has an area of 78 866 sq. km and a population of 10 850 620 (as of 31 March 2023). The country is characterized by a high number of usually small municipalities and a relatively even distribution of population. The capital (Prague) has 1 million 365.6 thousand inhabitants (as of 31 March 2023) and there are 5 other cities with a population of over 100 thousand.
Demographic development in the post-war period was uneven. This was largely due to government measures aimed at increasing the birth rate, e.g. by giving preferential treatment in the allocation of flats to families with children, extending the length of the maternity leave period, by offering favorable loans to newly married couples.
After 1989, the demographic processes were brought into line with the West European pattern: life expectancy has increased, the birth rate has fallen, and the ages at marriage and the age of women at the birth of their first child have risen. In 1996 the total fertility rate (average number of children per woman) fell below 1.2, from a level of 1.89 in 1990. It was not until 2004 that fertility exceeded 1.2 children per woman and the number of children born rose to over 100 thousand. This increase in fertility and natality was primarily due to the fact that large 70's women cohorts reached reproductive age. In recent years, the total fertility rate was 1.7 children per woman, but by 2022 this figure had fallen to 1.62. In the same year, 101.3 thousand children were born in Czechia; the average age of mothers at the birth of their first child has been steadily increasing since the 1990s, reaching 28.8 years in 2022. The proportion of births outside marriage has also increased significantly since the 1990s (48 % in 2022 compared to around 10% of children in the early 1990s). The life expectancy at birth has a long-term increasing trend, however, in 2020, for the first time in post-war history, it fell compared to the previous year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2022, life expectancy was 76.1 years for men and 82 years for women.
Impact on education
Irregularity of demographic development results in fluctuations in numbers of pupils/students at different educational levels which may cause capacity problems in schools.
The capacity of schools at the pre-primary level reflects legislative changes in recent years. In addition, the number of war-related children from Ukraine increased in the spring of 2022 and changed continuously over the following months (see below). According to the findings of the Czech School Inspectorate, one-fifth of nursery schools (mateřská škola) had capacity problems when accepting Ukrainian children. With effect from 1 September 2017, the compulsory final year of pre-primary education was introduced. Since 2018, three-year-olds have also been eligible for a place in nursery school). This has led to a lack of places in nursery schools, especially in and around large cities. Although the capacity of nursery schools is continuously expanding, there is still a high number of rejected applications for admission to preschool education, i.e. children who have not been admitted. In 2022, the number of applications for admission increased by 14 218 compared to the previous school year and the proportion of unmet applications was 26.1% of the total, a deterioration of 1.1 percentage points compared to the previous school year. The unfavorable situation of previous years has now been exacerbated by the refugee wave. The capacity of nursery schools is also highly regionally differentiated. According to the Czech School Inspectorate, the lack of places is most noticeable in Prague, Brno, and the Central Bohemian Region (Středočeský kraj), but in some regions, however, places are abundant. According to the law, the responsibility for missing places lies primarily with the organizing bodies of nursery schools, which are most often municipalities and towns or city districts, respectively.
The number of children in basic schools (základní školy) has been rising since 2010, and at present and in the coming years, the segment of the second stage of basic schools will strengthen, to which numerous cohorts of pupils from the first stage have moved. As a result of the military aggression of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, 68,983 children of school age (6-14 years) were granted residence permits in the Czech Republic as of 15 May 2022. As of that date, more than 28,000 of them were enrolled in primary schools (see also below). This has put even more pressure on primary school capacity. This concerns mainly the territory of large cities and their hinterland, especially the Prague agglomeration, which has the highest concentration of Ukrainian refugees.
The number of pupils in upper secondary education is increasing every year since the 2019/2020 school year due to demographic trends. In recent years, Czechia has been facing capacity problems in upper secondary school enrolment due to a strong 15-year-old population corresponding to the last year of basic school, which is likely to continue for several more years. Capacity shortages are particularly pronounced in the case of upper secondary general schools (gymnázia) and are also significantly regionally determined, with over-enrolment being highest in Prague, Central Bohemia, and South Moravia. The total number of applicants to upper secondary schools in 2023 increased by 13% compared to 2022, an increase that was amplified by the arrival of Ukrainian pupils. The largest segment of upper secondary education steadily consists of pupils in vocational upper secondary education with the Maturita examination (approximately 44 %), around one-fifth of pupils then study in programmes without the Maturita examination. Pupils of secondary general schools (gymnázia, including multi-year secondary general schools (víceletá gymnázia)) account for about 30 % of the total number of pupils in upper secondary education.
The total number of students and new entrants in tertiary education has visibly decreased since 2010, also due to the demographic situation, but in recent years there has been a slight increase in the total number of students.
Ensuring a sufficient number of primary and secondary school teachers is a long-term problem related to the aging of the population, as numerous groups of teachers move to higher age categories. In the near future, it is necessary to take into account the need to replace teachers leaving school after reaching retirement age. See Planning Policy in Chapter 9 for more details.
In the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine, which escalated with the Russian attack on 24 February 2022, the Czech Republic has become a destination for Ukrainian refugees, a large number of whom are children, pupils, and students. This emergency situation brings, especially in the field of regional education, a number of new phenomena, which are also changing over time. In this context, the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with other central authorities and directly managed organizations, has reacted both by modifying legislative provisions (currently already Lex Ukraine IV) and by preparing a range of support measures, including targeted allocation of financial resources. Measures consist, for example, of various subsidy calls to support Ukrainian migrants, as well as extensive methodological support, manuals, and guidelines for schools to facilitate as much as possible the inclusion of Ukrainian children, pupils, and students. For more details on support to schools during the war in Ukraine, see https://www.edu.cz/ukrajina/.
In April 2023, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports conducted an ongoing investigation into the situation of Ukrainian children and pupils in the Czech education system. According to this survey, schools reported a total of 51 281 refugee children and pupils from Ukraine as of 31 March 2023. When compared to their numbers as of the previous survey of 30 September 2022, there was an increase of 996 children and pupils from Ukraine. There are currently 2,090 Ukrainian staff with temporary protection visas in schools, of which about half are teachers or other educational staff.
In terms of the type of schools, the largest proportion of Ukrainian pupils are in preparatory classes of basic schools (přípravné třídy základních škol) (7% of all children) and in basic schools, (základní škola) (3.9% of all pupils in basic schools), see table below. Compared to September 2022, the percentage of Ukrainian children in preparatory classes in basic schools (by about 32%) and in nursery schools (mateřská škola) (by about 11%) increased the most, while upper secondary schools showed a slight decrease in Ukrainian students (by 2.6%).
Total children/students and Ukrainian children/students-asylum seekers/refugees educated in nursery schools, basic schools and upper secondary schools as of 31 March 2023:
Total number of children/pupils (as of 30.9 2022)
Number of Ukrainian children/pupils - asylum seekers/refugees (as of 31.3 2023)
Percentage of Ukrainian asylum-seeking/refugee children/students out of total children/students
Preparatory classes (in basic schools)
1 007 778
Upper secondary schools
Note: In the case of upper secondary schools and conservatories, the number of studies is provided in the table because some pupils are educated in more than one field of study.
Source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports
Demographic population aging
Czechia, like most other European countries, is facing demographic population aging. In 2022, the pre-productive population part (0–14 years) represented 16.2 %, the productive part (15–64 years) 63.4 %, and the post-productive (65 years and more) 20.4 % of the total population. According to the development forecast, the population will be aging mainly due to higher age groups, i.e. the number of elderly people will increase while the proportion of the productive part of the population will decrease.
According to the Census 2021, 4.7 % of the population were foreigners. Among them, the highest share of people in the population were citizens of Ukraine (1.4 %), Slovakia (0.9 %) and Vietnam (0.5 %). Residents with foreign citizenship from EU countries made up 1.5 % of the population and outside the EU 3.2 % of the population. (Data include only persons with one nationality.)
In the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine and the granting of temporary protection to Ukrainian refugees, the number of foreigners has increased significantly in the last year. According to preliminary data from the Czech Statistical Office (CSO), as of 31 March 2023 there were 1 010 692 registered persons with foreign nationality in the Czech Republic, more than half of whom were Ukrainians (527 268).
Source: Annual Report of the Czech School Inspectorate, Forecast for the Population Development in Czechia for the Period 2008–2070, Population Census 2021, Websites of the Czech Statistical Office, Websites of the Eurostat
Distribution of the population by age
|Population (in %)||1995||2000||2005||2010||2015||2020||2022|
|65 and more||13.3||13.9||14.2||15.5||18.3||20.2||20.4|
|Total||10 321 344||10 232 027||10 251 079||10 532 770||10 578 820||10 701 777||10 827 529|
Note: As of 31 December of the given year.
Source: Czech Statistical Office
Czech Republic Population Pyramid 2021
Source: Czech Statistical Office
Vital and employment statistics
|Life expectancy of men at birth||71.65||72.88||74.37||75.8||75.3||76.1|
|Life expectancy of women at birth||78.35||79.10||80.60||81.4||81.4||82.0|
|General unemployment rate 1)||8.8||7.9||7.3||5.0||2.6||2.2|
|Employment rate 1)||55.1||54.7||54.2||56.4||58.3||58.8|
1) Population aged 15 +; Source: Labour Force Sample Survey (LFSS), in Czech.
2) Per 1000 inhabitants.
3) Values affected by migration due to the armed conflict in Ukraine
Source: Czech Statistical Office
Official and minority languages
The official language is Czech, which belongs to the Western Slavic family of languages. Regional dialects do not possess the status of a language and as groups of people using dialects are small dialect is not a problem in schools.
According to the Act on Rights of Racial Minorities Members and Amending Some Acts, people have the freedom to declare their membership of a national minority and their enjoyment of the related rights. Traditional national minorities include Slovaks, Poles, and Germans. Moravians and Silesians speak Czech.
In the Census 2021, 83.8 % of those who filled in the question on nationality declared themselves to be Czech, 5.0 % to Moravian nationality and 0.2 % to Silesian nationality. Of the other nationalities, Slovak (1.3 %), Ukrainian (1.1 %), and Vietnamese (0.4 %) were the most frequently declared nationalities. (Completion of the question on nationality was voluntary, 31.6 % of people left it unfinished, while in the 2011 census, it was 25.3). (Data include only persons of one specified nationality.)
Information about the education of minorities is available in Support measures for learners in early childhood and school education in Chapter 12.
The State is denominationally neutral, which means that there is no official religion. Freedom of religion is granted by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and everybody has the right to express their own religion or belief.
The traditionally low number of people practicing religion has decreased further, following a short period of growth after 1989. In the Census 2021, in response to religious belief, 18.7 % of those who completed the question declared that they believed in God and belonged to a church or religious society. The answer “without religious faith” accounted for more than two-thirds (68.3 %) of the answers. Less than a tenth of the population (9 %) said they believed in God but did not belong to any church or religious society. Filling in the question on religious faith was voluntary, 30.1 % of people left it blank (at the 2011 census it was 44.7 %).
Due to historical developments (the reformation movement at the beginning of the 15th century and the strong counter-reformation associated with the arrival of the Habsburg dynasty which resulted in re-catholicisation after 1627), the Roman Catholic Church (54 % of all believers according to the Census 2021) is the biggest church. The Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren and the Czechoslovak Hussite Church are the other two most important churches. As of January 2023, there were 44 churches and religious societies registered in the Register of Churches and Religious Communities (according to the Act on Churches and Religious Communities, the condition for registration is a minimum of 300 adult followers).
Schools only opened up to religious influences after 1989, both in the curriculum (re-introduction of the possibility to teach religion as a subject, and the introduction of information on churches into history and civic education), and in organisation (the establishment of denominational schools, abolishing quantitative restrictions on theological studies). Religious education at public schools is governed by the Education Act.