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Czech Republic


The Czech Republic , short form in Czech, is a landlocked country in Central Europe and a member state of the European Union. The country borders on Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west, Austria to the south, and Slovakia to the east. The capital and largest city is Prague (Czech: Praha). The country is composed of the historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as parts of Silesia. Following the Battle of Mohács, the Czech lands fell under Habsburg rule from 1526, later becoming part of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. The independent Republic of Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War I. After the Munich Agreement, German occupation of Czechoslovakia and the consequent disillusion with the Western response and gratitude for the liberation of the major portion of Czechoslovakia by the Red Army, the Communist party won plurality (38%) in 1946 elections. In an 1948 coup d'état, Czechoslovakia became a communist-ruled state. In 1968, the increasing dissatisfaction culminated in attempts to reform the communist regime. The events, known as the Prague Spring of 1968, ended with an invasion by armies of Warsaw Pact countries, and the troops remained in the country until the overturn in 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed. On January 1, 1993 Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into its constituent states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic is a pluralist multi-party parliamentary representative democracy. President Václav Klaus is the current head of state. The Prime Minister is the head of government (currently Mirek Topolánek). The Parliament has two chambers — the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. It is also a member of the OECD, the Council of Europe and the Visegrád Group. The Czech Republic made economic reforms such as fast privatization and flat tax. Annual gross domestic product growth has recently been around 6%. The country is the first former member of the Comecon to achieve the status of a developed country (2006) according to the World Bank. The Czech Republic also ranks best compared to the former Comecon countries in the Human Development Index.


The Czech Republic possesses a developed, high-income economy with a GDP per capita of 82% of the European Union average. One of the most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, the Czech Republic has seen a growth of over 6% annually in the last three years. Recent growth has been led by exports to the European Union, especially Germany, and foreign investment, while domestic demand is reviving. Most of the economy has been privatized, including banks and telecommunications. The current right-center government plans to continue with privatization, including the energy industry and the Prague airport. It has recently agreed to the sale of a 7% stake of the energy producer ČEZ, with the sale of the Budějovický Budvar brewery also mooted. Since 2004 the Czech Republic is a member state of the European Union and part of its single market. The country has fully implemented the Schengen Agreement and therefore has abolished border controls, completely opening its borders with all of its neighbours (Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia) on December 21, 2007. The Czech Republic is a member of the WTO. The last Czech government had expressed a desire to adopt the euro in 2010, but the current government has postponed it due to budget deficits. An exact date has not been set up, but the Finance Ministry described adoption by 2012 as realistic if public finance reform passes. However, the most recent draft of the euro adoption plan omits giving any date. There are several challenges. The rate of corruption remains one of the highest among the other developed OECD countries. The public budgets remain in deficit despite strong growth of the economy in recent years. However, the 2007 deficit has been 1.58% GDP (according to EU accounting rules), far less than originally expected. The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks the Czech education as the 15th best in the world, being higher than the OECD average.




The Gabonese Republic, or Gabon (IPA: [gabbon]), is a country in west central Africa. It borders on Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo and the Gulf of Guinea. Since its independence from France on August 17, 1960, the Republic has been ruled by only two autocratic Presidents; the incumbent El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba has been in power since 1967 and is currently (2007) Africa's longest-serving head of state. Gabon introduced a multiparty system and a new democratic constitution in the early 1990s that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and for reforms of governmental institutions. A small population, abundant natural resources, and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in the region. Its coat of arms shows two jungle cats, representing the country's pride in its animals.


In March 1991, a new constitution was started. Among its provisions are a bill of rights, the creation of the National Council of Democracy that also oversees the guarantee of those rights and a governmental advisory board which deals with economic and social issues. Multi-party legislative elections were held in 1990-91 even though opposition parties had not been declared formally legal.

President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, in power since 1967 and the longest-serving African head of state, was re-elected to another seven-year term according to poll results returned from elections held on November 27, 2005. According to figures provided by Gabon's Interior Ministry, this was achieved with 79.1% of the votes cast. In 2003 the President amended the Constitution of Gabon to remove any restrictions on the number of terms a president is allowed to serve. The president retains strong powers, such as authority to dissolve the National Assembly, declare a state of siege, delay legislation, conduct referendums, and appoint and dismiss the prime minister and cabinet members.

In provisional results, his ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) won 84 out of 120 parliamentary seats. As with previous Gabonese elections in which the opposition parties have contested, there were several accusations of electoral fraud, bribery, and calls for a boycott. There were also incidences of violence and protest, particularly in the first round of voting held two weeks prior. However, several international observers including the Economic Community of Central African States have reported that the election "met international standards" for democratic voting.
Further information: List of Presidents of Gabon

Gabon has a small, professional military of about 5,000 personnel, divided into army, navy, air force, gendarmerie, and national police. Gabonese forces are oriented to the defense of the country and have not been trained for an offensive role. A 1,800-member guard provides security for the president.






Guinea, officially Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a nation in West Africa, formerly known as French Guinea. Guinea's territory has a curved shape, with its base at the Atlantic Ocean, inland to the east, and turning south. The base borders Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north, and Mali to the north and north-east; the inland part borders Côte d'Ivoire to the south-east, Liberia to the south, and Sierra Leone to the west of the southern tip. It encompasses the water source of the Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers. The name Guinea is used for the region of most of Africa's west coast south of the Sahara desert and north of the Gulf of Guinea. Guinea is sometimes called Guinea-Conakry per its capital, to differentiate it from the neighboring Guinea-Bissau (whose capital is Bissau).


Guinea has had only two presidents since independence was declared on October 2, 1958. Under the first, Ahmed Sékou Touré, the country went into political and economic isolation as a consequence of the withdrawal of French assistance. This lasted until economic necessity called for an opening of the economy in 1978.[3] Retired general Lansana Conté took control of the country in 1984 in a coup d'état after the death of Sékou Touré. Conté was elected to rule as President in 1993, then again in 1998 and 2003 while promising to reform the country. But the validity of these elections is contested, since Conté has guarded his position and has not tolerated potential adversaries.

As of January 10, 2007, a third strike had ensued, one which included workers in the mines and others across the country. Though the government conceded better wages and other main points, the strike continued, as the people were after more than mere promises. On or about January 18, 2007, at least three people were shot by government/military personnel, fueling the revolution. With President Conté's failing health, it begins to look like end times for his regime. Conté's recent pardon of two wealthy Guineans who had been jailed on charges of corruption also fueled this revolt.[citations needed]

During the second week of the strike, during which dozens of people were killed or injured in demonstrations in every region of the country, President Conté met several times with labour leaders, and during one meeting threatened to have them killed. On Monday, January 22, 2007, red beret troops under the command of President Conté's son Ousmane ransacked the strike headquarters, beat up the union leaders (including the recently widowed secretary-general of the CNTG, Hadja Rabiatou Serah Diallo.), arrested and held them for 5 hours. On the same day over tens of thousands of people marched in the streets of Conakry and at least 17 people were killed and 100 injured by police.[citations needed] During the strikes had NGOs and guinean groups and also the european parlament condiment the shots of the police.[4]






Senegal (French: le Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country south of the Sénégal River in western Africa. Senegal is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south. The Republic of Gambia lies almost entirely within Senegal, surrounded on the north, east and south; from its western coast, Gambia's territory follows the Gambia River more than 300 kilometers (186 mi) inland.

The Cape Verde islands lie some 560 kilometers (348 mi) off the Senegalese coast, but Cap Vert is a peninsula near Senegal's capital Dakar, and the western-most point in Africa.


Senegal is a republic with a powerful presidency; the president is elected every seven years, amended in 2001 to every five years, by universal adult suffrage. The current president is Abdoulaye Wade, re-elected in March, 2007.

Senegal has 65 political parties. The unicameral National Assembly has 120 members elected separately from the president. An independent judiciary also exists in Senegal. The nation's highest courts that deal with business issues are the constitutional council and the court of justice, members of which are named by the president.

Today Senegal has a democratic political culture, being one of the more successful post-colonial democratic transitions in Africa.

Local administrators are appointed by, and responsible to, the president.

Marabouts, or Islamic religious leaders of various Senegalese brotherhoods, also exercise a strong political influence in the country.




Ecuatorial Guinea


The first inhabitants of the continental region that is now Equatorial Guinea are believed to have been Pygmies, of whom only isolated pockets remain in northern Río Muni. Bantu migrations between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries brought the coastal tribes and later the Fang. Elements of the latter may have generated the Bubi, who emigrated to Bioko from Cameroon and Rio Muni in several waves and succeeded former Neolithic populations. The Bubi were the very first human inhabitants of Bioko Island. The Annobon population, native to Angola, was introduced by the Portuguese via São Tomé Island (São Tomé and Príncipe).

The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a route to India, is credited with having discovered the island of Bioko in 1472. He called it Formosa ("Beautiful"), but it quickly took on the name of its European discoverer. The islands of Fernando Pó and Annobón were colonized by Portugal in 1474. The Portuguese retained control until 1778, when the island, adjacent islets, and commercial rights to the mainland between the Niger and Ogoue Rivers were ceded to Spain in exchange for territory in the American continent (Treaty of El Pardo, between Queen Maria I of Portugal and King Charles III of Spain). From 1827 to 1843, Britain established a base on the island to combat the slave trade[citation needed]. The mainland portion, Rio Muni, became a protectorate in 1885 and a colony in 1900. Conflicting claims to the mainland were settled in 1900 by the Treaty of Paris, and periodically, the mainland territories were united administratively under Spanish rule. Between 1926 and 1959 they were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea