The Plzeňský Region lies in the southeast of the Czech Republic, bordering the Federal Republic of Germany (Bavaria) in the west, the Karlovarský Region in the northwest, the Středočeský Region in the northeast and the Jihočeský Region in the southeast.
The area of 7,649 km2 ranks the Region third largest, while the population places the Region ninth in the CR. The Region comprises seven Districts: Domažlice, Klatovy, Plzeň-město, Plzeň-jih, Plzeň-sever, Rokycany, and Tachov. Their characteristics vary significantly from one District to another in terms of landscape chart, population and its distribution, economic potential, as well as the number and density of settlements.
It is the landscape relief that accounts for the variability of natural conditions, in particular. Geographically, the Region breaks up into several areas: Plzeňská pahorkatina (the Pilsen Uplands), a part of Brdská vrchovina (the Brdy Highlands), Český les and Šumava (the Bohemian Forest and the Šumava Mountains); climatic, geological and hydrological conditions of the respective areas differ to a great degree.
Raw material resources, which represent the basic potential for the development of manufacturing, are located particularly in the central parts surrounding the town of Plzeň. It is resources of coal, heat-resistant and ceramic clays, and building stone – moreover, there are resources of limestone in the Šumava foothill area. As for agriculture, there are quite favourable conditions for farming in the Region. Agricultural land covers about 50.0 % of the total area, of which arable land makes up 67.2 %. Forestry is characterised by enough natural resources of wood, as forest land covers 40.3 % of the total area of the Region (large forests are particularly in Šumava, Český les, and Brdská vrchovina). The volume of timber removal ranks the Region fourth in the CR with prevalent coniferous felling.
The quality of the environment may be regarded as good with respect to the whole CR. Specific emissions according to REZZO 1-4 in the Region are lower than the national average. In 2015, specific emissions of sulphur dioxide were 0.86 t/km2, which is 55.2 % of specific emissions in the CR; specific emissions of nitrogen oxides were 1.04 t/km2 (i.e. 50.0 % of the national level); specific emissions of carbon monoxide were 3.66 t/km2 (i.e. 57.3 % of the national level); and of comprise solids 0.39 t/km2 (i.e. 70.2 % of the national level).
The least damaged areas comprise the mountainous parts of Šumava, Český les, western parts of Brdská vrchovina, and the areas surrounding the municipalities of Manětín and Nečtiny. Theprotection of the environment in Šumava is ensured by the organisations the National park Šumava and the Landscape Protected Area Šumava. There are four protected landscape areas (Šumava, Český les, Slavkovský les and Křivoklátsko) and 196 small protected areas in the Region.
The town of Plzeň where the environment is damaged severely is an exception. Specific emissions reported for the Plzeň-město District rise above the national average several times. The town of Plzeň and its surroundings suffer from heavy road traffic and high concentration of industrial activities. The overloaded road network much worsens quality of the environment by emissions (nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons) and noise. Moreover, mining or quarrying activities most devastated the areas surrounding the following municipalities: Nýřany, Tlučná and Vejprnice; Břasy and Radnice; Stříbro; and Ejpovice.
Road network in Plzeň consists of 5,132.0 km of roads and motorways of which 418.6 km are first class roads, 1,493.6 km second class roads and 3,110.5 third class roads. The Plzeňský Region has 109.2 km of motorways most of which are in the Tachov District (44.7 km), the Rokycany District (25.9 km) and the Plzeň-sever District (18.9 km). Length of railways in the Region was 706.5 km as at 31 December 2016.
A high number of unevenly distributed small settlements is characteristic of the Plzeňský Region, as well as the lack of medium-sized towns – therefore, when compared with the whole CR, the distribution of settlement appears atypical. The town of Plzeň with its 170,548 population contrasts with small municipalities, as it is the second most important centre in Bohemia, after the city of Prague. The Plzeňský Region comprises 57 towns accounting for the population of 388,843 (67.2 % of the Region’s total population).
Based on Act No. 314/2002 Sb. on determination of municipalities with commissioned local authorities and municipalities with extended competence, the Czech Republic has from 1 January 2003 a new administrative arrangement: it is divided into 205 administrative districts of municipalities with extended competence. The decree of the Ministry of Interior No. 388/2002 Sb. determines administrative districts of municipalities with commissioned local authorities and administrative districts of municipalities with extended competence. After the end of activity of district authorities (as at 31 December 2002) an important part of their competence was thus shifted to municipalities with extended competence. The Plzeňský Region was divided into 15 administrative districts of municipalities with extended competence under which 35 administrative districts of municipalities with commissioned local authority come. The following belong to the municipalities with extended competence: Blovice, Domažlice, Horažďovice, Horšovský Týn, Klatovy, Kralovice, Nepomuk, Nýřany, Plzeň, Přeštice, Rokycany, Stod, Stříbro, Sušice and Tachov.
Main settlements in the region lie on development hubs of regional importance and on the western radial hub that connects Plzeň and Praha and is directing through a corridor on the border with Germany. Out of these hubs there are sparsely inhabited territories with prevailing residential and agricultural function with insufficiently developed social and technical infrastructure and limited transport services. The following will contribute to revitalization of these settlements: establishment of small businesses, revival of crafts and development of services related to tourism. Municipalities associate to form microregions in order to enable at least partial realisation of some activities.
In the period of 1990-2016 the housing construction intensity was the highest in the year 2008. The number of completed dwellings per 1,000 mid-year population was 4.70. In the year 2016 the value of the housing construction intensity amounted to 2.70.
The Population 578,629 ranks the Region sixth smallest in the country (31 December 2016), making up 5.5 % of the CR’s total population. However, the population is distributed very unevenly. Almost 30 % of the population live in the town of Plzeň and next 22.5 % is concentrated into 15 towns of 5,000 inhabitants and over. 15.2 % of the population live in smaller towns under 5,000 inhabitants.
The Plzeňský Region has the third lowest density of population, which amounts to 75.6 inhabitants per km2 (the national density is 134.1 inhabitants per km2). Within the Region, the lowest density is reported for the Tachov and the Klatovy Districts (38.5 and 44.4 inhabitants per km2, respectively).
Regarding age distribution of population, the Region ranks among the oldest ones in the CR – the 2016 average age amounted to 42.5. In addition, the Klatovy District reported an average age of 43.2. On the other hand, the lowest value 41.3 years of age is reported for the Tachov District. A high share of senior population manifests itself also in the ageing index (i.e. the ratio of the 65+ population to the 0-14 population). In 2016, the value of the index amounted to 126.7 which is thethird highest figure after the Královéhradecký Region, the Zlínský Region (the ageing index in the CR is 120.7). The highest values of the index were reported for the following districts: the Klatovy (138.1) the Plzeň-město (135.7), and the Rokycany (130.1) Districts. On the contrary, the lowest value was reported for the Tachov District (108.2).
Population of the Czech Republic increased by 24,977 inhabitants in 2016 (when compared to 2015). The number of live-born children in the CR increased year-on-year by 1,899 children, i.e. an increase of 1.7 %. In 2016 population of the CR increased due to net migration (20,064 persons) and the natural population change which amounted to (4,913 persons).
Population of the Plzeňský Region increased by 1,994 inhabitants in 2016 (when compared to 2015). The number of live-born children increased by 79 children year-on-year, i.e. an increase of 1.3 %. Population of the Plzeňský Region increased due to net migration, which amounted to 2,207 persons. The natural population change amounted to (-213 persons).
As for the number of live births 10.3 per 1,000 mid-year population, the value of the Plzeňský Region was lower in compared to the national average in 2016. Relatively, the biggest number of live births children was born in the Plzeň-město (10.6). As for abortions 31.0 per 100 births, the Plzeňský Region ranks the sixth lowest place in the country. Abortion per 100 births in the Plzeňský Region was lower than in the ČR in 2016. Abortion rate was lower about 0.8 abortions per 100 births in comparison to the CR. Much higher abortion rate in comparison to the regional average was achieved in the Tachov (42.3) and the Domažlice (34.6) Districts.
In 2016 the number of marriages per 1,000 mid-year population (4.9) the Plzeňský Region was comparable to the national average. Relatively, most marriages were concluded in the the Tachov (5.5), the Domažlice (5.3) and the Plzeň-město (5.2) Districts. Number of divorces per 1,000 mid-year population in the Plzeňský Region (2.4), in comparison to the CR, reached the national average. Relatively, most marriages were divorced in the Plzeň-sever (3.0) and in the Plzeň-město (2.5), while the least (2.1) in the Klatovy, the Plzeň- jih and the Tachov Districts.
In 2016 the share of the Plzeňský Region in total gross domestic product in current prices of the Czech Republic was 5.1 %. In GDP per capita (422,251 CZK) compared with the other regions placed in the third place.
Important food enterprises in the Plzeňský Region are: Plzeňský Prazdroj a.s. (founded in 1842) – the biggest Czech beer exporter (which is a part of Asahi Group Holdings LTD-Japanese Beer Brewing Company); Stock Plzeň a.s., traditional producer of spirits (nowadays the biggest producer of spirits in the Czech Republic) and Bohemia Sekt Českomoravská vinařská a.s. in Starý Plzenec – an important wine producer.
Engineering belongs to important industrial branches in the Region; it is related especially to the name Škoda. To key assortment produced by Škoda belong: facilities for both classical and nuclear power engineering and petrochemistry, products of ironworks and forges, heavy machine tools, facilities for rolling mills and sugar plants, hydraulic and curing presses, gear units, rail vehicles, trolleybuses, drive motors, steam turbines etc. Research and trading company are also developing here. Other important industrial enterprises, which have an influence on the Region’s economy are: DIOSS Nýřany a.s., producing products from sheet metals and tubing, Okula Nýrsko a.s., producer of traditional optical frames for glasses and processor of plastics, LASSELSBERGER s.r.o., which represents ceramics manufacturing.
The Plzeňský Region is very attractive for foreign investors thanks to its location. A dominant position among foreign investors belongs to Japanese plant Panasonic AVC Networks Czech s.r.o. producing flat panel display screen. Other important foreign companies are: YAZAKI Wiring Technologies Czech s.r.o. producing components for automotive industry, company VISHAY ELECTRONIC s.r.o., which deals with production of electronic parts, BORGERS CS spol. s r.o. producing textiles and textile floor coverings for the automotive industry, MD ELECTRONIC spol. s r.o. producing cable jumpers, Daikin Industries Czech Republic s.r.o. with production of heat pumps, air conditioning, and ventilation systems.
Cross-border co-operation with Bavaria on the Euroregional basis helps to moderate social-economic differences – it is the Domažlice and Klatovy Districts (Euroregion Šumava), and the Tachov District (Euroregion Egrensis) participating in the European Cross-border Co-operation Program.
The 2015 number of employees in the Region amounted to 215.8 thousands headcount persons (by the so-called workplace method incl. enterprises with less than 20 employees, by preliminary data), it is 37.3 % of the Region’s total population. The 2015 average wage of CZK (headcount persons) amounted to 24,664 CZK (by the so-called workplace method, by the preliminary data). The Plzeňský Region ranks the fourth place after the Capital City of Prague, the Středočeský and the Jihomoravský Regions. The wage, however, does not amount to the national average, but is lower by 4.1 %.
According to the Business Register, there were registered 144,545 businesses in the Plzeňský Region as at 31 December 2016, the most part of which accounted for natural persons (79.1 %). The most of businesses (37.7 %) have their seats in the Plzeň-město District. In terms of employment, a major role is played by 58 businesses with 500 and more employees and 20 businesses employ more than 1,000 employees.
Organisations and companies of the highest number of employees include: Fakultní nemocnice Plzeň (Teaching hospital), Psychiatrická léčebna Dobřany (Asylum), Plzeňský Prazdroj, a.s., Západočeská univerzita v Plzni (West Bohemia university in Plzeň), Panasonic AVC Networks Czech s.r.o., Daikin Industries Czech Republic s.r.o., IDEAL AUTOMOTIVE Bor, s.r.o, ČEZ Zákaznické služby, s.r.o. (Customer service), PRESENTE Plus, s.r.o., VISHAY ELECTRONIC, s.r.o., MD ELEKTRONIK spol. s.r.o., HP Pelzer ŠKODA TRANSPORTATION a.s., Doosan ŠKODA POWER s.r.o., ŠKODA JS a.s., MD ELEKTRONIK spol. s r.o., LASSELSBERGER a.s., City Council of Plzeň, Regional Directorate of the Police of the CR inthePlzeňský Region, GRAMMER CZ, s.r.o., BORGERS CS spol. s r.o., International Automotive Components Group s.r.o., HOFMANN WIZARD s.r.o.
The Plzeňský Region ranks among regions of rather low share of unemployment. There were 14,655 job applicants kept in the labour office register as at 31 December 2016 in the Region. Compared to other regions, the Plzeňský Region reports the second lowest share of unemployment 3.56 %. The highest share of unemployment reported for the Tachov and the Domažlice Districts (4.92 % and 3.94 %), while the least in the the Plzeň-město (3.00 %), the Plzeň-jih (3.22 %) and the Rokycany (3.33 %) Districts.
There were 10,210 vacancies kept in the labour office register in the Plzeňský Region (as at 31 December 2016), i.e. approximately 1.4 job applicants per vacancy. The most favourable ratio was achieved by the Plzeň-město District (1.2 job applicants per vacancy), while the worst ratio was left for the Plzeň-sever District (2.0 job applicants per vacancy). Graduate and juvenile job applicants accounted for 4.8 % of the Region’s total number of unemployed job applicants.
As for labour force structure, the most difficult to find a job it is for employees with low qualification, persons with some limitations due to their health, school graduates and administrative workers with secondary education. On the contrary, lack of workers is reported from technical professions.
There are 11 hospitals with a total 3,485 beds (in all departments). Some of the therapeutic institutions for long-term patients became parts of hospitals and are no longer registered separately.The network of pre-school and school facilities comprises 272 nursery schools, 221 basic schools, 15 grammar schools, 44 vocational training excl. follow up. University education in the Region is provided at the Západočeská university in its 9 faculties (Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Pedagogical, Faculty of Philosophy, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Applied Science, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Health Studies and Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Art and Design). Students can also study at the Faculty of Medicine in Plzeň (which belongs to the Charles University), futher at a university center in Pilsen (which belongs to the Metropolitan University Prague), and in Klatovy at the Faculty of Economics and Management (which is a part of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague).
The Region has favourable conditions for tourism. Plzeň offers many historic landmarks; also its historic underground is interesting (it has 20 km and belongs to the largest in Central Europe) Among the natural points of interest is the Bolevec Lakes System, which is from technical as well as landscape point of view an unique late Gothic work from the 15th century. There is a dense network of recreation and hiking trails. Other often-visited places are the zoological and botanical gardens of the town of Plzeň and hills in its surroundings: Krkavec, Chlum and Sylván with outlook towers.
As for other monuments of cultural heritage, there is Manětín baroque chateau, the Plasy Monastery (a historical site preserve), the remains of Radyně and Buben Gothic castles, Kaceřov Renaissance chateau, remains of Rabštejn nad Střelou castle, Horšovský Týn Renaissance chateau, water castle at Švihov, Kozel chateau, Nebílovy baroque chateau, Lužany chateau, Kladruby monastery, Kašperk castle, remains of Libštejn Gothic castle and many others. Also the town of Domažlice and its traditional summer Chod Festival (in August) attract attention of many visitors.
Excellent conditions for summer and winter recreation are in the Šumava Mountains thanks to hiking trails and cycling tracks. For downhill and cross-country skiing there are many ski slopes that are taken care of as well as tracks for cross-country skiing. For recreation and improvement of health condition one can stay at Konstantinovy Lázně spa that focuses on health precaution, treatment and rehabilitation of cardiovascular illnesses, locomotive system and respiratory system. As for other places suitable for recreation there is the Hracholusky Reservoir and the Berounka River often visited by water sportsmen.