Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country borders Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west and northwest, Austria to the south and Slovak Republic to the east. The capital and largest city is Prague). The country is composed of the historic regions 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. From 1 January 2009 to 1 July 2009, the Czech Republic held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Czech lands fell under Habsburg rule, 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%)[4] in the 1946 elections. In a 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 the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries (with the exception of Romania); the troops remained in the country until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into its constituent states, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. 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 Jan Fischer). The Parliament has two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. It is also a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe and the Visegrád Group. The Czech Republic made economic reforms such as fast privatizations. 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.[5] The Czech Republic also ranks top among the former Comecon countries in the Human Development Index.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Prague Castle

Prague Castle is the largest medieval castle complex in Europe and the ancient seat of Czech kings throughout the ages. It is Prague's premier tourist attraction.
Several destructive wars and fires (and the subsequent renovations), along with differing political forces have combined to create an intriguing mix of palaces, churches and fortifications.
The Prague Castle complex consists of Saint Vitus Cathedral (the most recognisable landmark in the city), viewing towers, museums and art galleries, a monastery, Golden Lane, several palaces, including Lobkowicz Palace, and St. George's Basilica; the latter being a popular venue for early evening classical concerts.
The first known building on the site of Prague Castle was erected in the 9th century. In the 12th century it was replaced by a Romanesque palace. In the 14th century it was rebuilt in the Gothic style, under the reign of Charles IV.
A further reconstruction of the Royal Palace then took place under the Jagellons at the end of the 15th century.
Following a fire in 1541, Prague Castle underwent further works. The Spanish Hall was added during the reign of Rudolf II. And final alterations were made by Empress Maria Theresa, under the direction of the celebrated architect M. Pacassi.
After World War I, renovations to the castle buildings and to the Prague Castle Gardens were undertaken by the architect J. Plecnik.
Today, Prague Castle is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic and serves as the historical and political centre for both city and state.
The Changing of the Guard at the front gates takes place every hour. At noon the ceremony includes a fanfare.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sport in Sweden

Stockholm's Olympiastadion
Sport activities are a national movement with half of the population actively participating, much thanks to the heavy government subsidies of sport associations (föreningsstöd). The two main spectator sports are football and ice hockey (several famous Swede ice hockey players include Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg, Henrik Lundqvist, Markus Näslund, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Alfredsson, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidström). Second to football, horse sports have the highest number of practitioners, mostly women. Thereafter follow golf, athletics, and the team sports of handball, floorball, basketball and bandy.
Sweden has been a very successful sport nation throughout the years, and has a row of sportsmen that are considered to be the best in history in their type of sport. Björn Borg is considered not only to be the most successful player in his genre of sport, tennis, but also to be one of the most successful players in the history of sports. Jan-Ove Waldner the table tennis player known as 'the Mozart of table tennis' is a legend in both his native Sweden as well as in China. Gunnar Nordahl (football player) is still the best goalscorer of all time with 225 goals in 291 matches, and remains record holder for the most goals in a season in Italy, with 35 goals 1949–1950. Skier Ingemar Stenmark is considered to be one of the greatest alpine skiers of all time with 86 World Cup Victories. The greatest female Golf player of all time is Annika Sörenstam; her 90 international tournament wins as a professional make her the female golf player with the most wins to her name. She also tops the LPGA's career money list.

Åre ski resort
The Swedish ice hockey team Tre Kronor is regarded as one of the very best in the world and has won the World Championships eight times, which makes them third in the medal count. They won Olympic gold medals in 1994 and 2006. In 2006, as the first nation in history, they won both the Olympic and world championships in the same year. The Swedish national football team has seen some success at the World Cup in the past, finishing second when they hosted the tournament in 1958, and third twice, in 1950 and 1994.

Ullevi is a stadium in Gothenburg. The stadium is also the biggest in Scandinavia.
Athletics has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to several successful athletes in recent years, such as: Carolina Klüft, Stefan Holm, Christian Olsson, Patrik Sjöberg, Johan Wissman, Kajsa Bergqvist.
Sweden is also the eighth most successful country in the Olympic games in history.
In schools, on meadows and in parks, the game brännboll, a sport similar to baseball, is commonly played for fun. Other leisure sports are the historical game of kubb, and boules among the older generation.
Sweden hosted the 1912 Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in 1958. Other big sports events held here include 1992 UEFA European Football Championship, FIFA Women's World Cup 1995, and several championships of ice hockey, curling, athletics, skiing, bandy, figure skating and swimming.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sweden during World War

Sweden remained officially neutral during World War I and World War II, although its neutrality during World War II has been debated.[34][35] Sweden was under German influence for much of the war, as ties to the rest of the world were cut off through blockades.[34] The Swedish government felt that it was in no position to openly contest Germany,[36] and therefore made some concessions.[37] Sweden also supplied steel and machined parts to Germany throughout the war. However, Sweden supported Norwegian resistance, and in 1943 helped rescue Danish Jews from deportation to concentration camps. Toward the end of the war, Sweden began to play a role in humanitarian efforts and many refugees, among them many Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe, were saved partly because of the Swedish involvement in rescue missions at the internment camps and partly because Sweden served as a haven for refugees, primarily from the Nordic countries and the Baltic states.[36] Nevertheless, internal and external critics have argued that Sweden could have done more to resist the Nazi war effort, even if risking occupation.[36]


Thursday, August 20, 2009


Activities and Attractions on Gotland
Gotland has more to offer than limestone stacks safari and lazy days on the beach! Amongst the activities you´ll find everything from diving, cave exploring, golf, wind surfing, shooting and ocean kayak to horseback riding and kite-flying. Other attractions are the steam train railway and the Christmas market in Visby. Gotland offers almost unlimited resources of leisure and recreation for you to discover!
Yearly Events
Every week, there are always events going on on Gotland. From variety shows and the kite festival to big events like Round Gotland Race, organized by The Royal Swedish Yacht Club and the Medieval Week. Gotland Organ Week in the Cathedral St Mary of Visby is a week of organ music with concerts in the Cathedral and in the parish churches in the countryside. Other musical events are the Vadstuck Rock festival, the Gotland Chamber Music Festival with many international artists and the international Gotland Country and Folk Dancing Festival.There are many motor sports and racing events on Gotland. Gotland Grand National dirt bike competition in Tofta is Sweden’s biggest motorcycle competition. Gotland Ring is a multifunctional state-of-the-art motor facility. Many other events are organized every year on the island of Gotland.
Adventure and Sports
Horseback riding, nature trails, boat hire, ocean fishing, hiking areas and trail biking. The list of adventure activities on Gotland is very long! Stångaspelen, Gotland’s very own “Olympic Games”, is a competition in Gotlandic sports with activities including tossing the caber and the Gotland pentathlon. Also, golfers have many courses to choose from.
Beautiful Coastline and Silky Sand Beaches
Beaches lie within cycling distance and the ride along the cliffs is easily worth the negligible cost of renting a bike. If you get really tired, you can even take your bike on the bus. Gotland has many sandy beaches but also stony coastlines. Relax by taking long walks along the beaches. By the way - Gotland has Sweden’s sunshine record.
Arts, Museums and Theatre
During the summer the Roma Theatre ensemble performs Shakespeare’s plays in the monastery ruins of Roma. For more theatrical performances - visit the Gotland County Theatre. Other places to visit are the Gotland Museum of Fine Arts, the Muramaris artist villa and Bottarvegården, a cultural centre in the south of Gotland. Close to Visby are two car museums and in Havdhem there is a museum with vintage Farming vehicles.
Discover Our History
Gotland has many historic monuments, museums and ruins of churches and abbeys. More buried treasures have been found here in modern times than anywhere else in the world. The Historical Museum of Gotland shows treasures from the Viking era. Here you will meet the island´s 8000 years of very rich history with stories of brave medieval knights and Gotland’s last pirate. Another very special museum is the stone quarry museum in Bläse. All museums have guided tours.You can also learn about the history of the Vikings at the Viking Village, one of many exciting historical activities in the Gotlandic countryside. Also, the island has almost one hundred medieval churches, one in every parish. Take a guided walk through enchanting Visby and hear the city's tales and legends. The Visby Tourist Information Center sells tickets to sightseeings.

by Vineeta :))

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Education in Sweden

Sweden has one of the best education systems in the world. Children aged 1–5 years old are guaranteed a place in a public kindergarten (Swedish: förskola or, colloquially, dagis). Between the ages of 6 and 16, children attend compulsory comprehensive school. Swedish 15-year-old pupils have the 22nd highest average score in PISA assessments, being neither significantly higher nor lower than the OECD average. After completing the 9th grade, about 90% of the students continue with a three-year upper secondary school (gymnasium), which can lead to both a job qualification or the entrance exam to university. The school system is largely financed by taxes. The Swedish government treats public and independent schools equally by introducing education vouchers in 1992 as one of the first countries in the world after The Netherlands. Anyone can establish a for-profit school and the municipality must pay new schools the same amount as municipal schools get. School lunch is free for all students in Sweden, which usually includes one or two different kinds of hot meals, a meal for vegetarians, salad bar, fruit, bread, and milk or water for drink. Some schools, especially kindergartens and middle schools, even serve breakfast for free to those who want to eat before school starts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Vasa Museum

The Vasa Museum is Scandinavia's most visited museum, located in Stockholm, capital of Sweden. The Museum was inaugurated in 1990. In the large shiphall stands the warship Vasa - the only remaining, intact 17th century ship in the world. The lower rig has been rebuilt, complete with masts, stays and shrouds.Just like the Vasa would have looked like when set for winter in harbour. The wreck, salvaged in 1961, is now once again a complete ship. Surrounding the ship are several permanent exhibitions, cinemas, a shop and a restaurant.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Alfred Nobel

Alfred Bernhard Nobel (help·info) (Stockholm, Sweden, 21 October 1833 – Sanremo, Italy, 10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite. He owned Bofors, a major armaments manufacturer, which he had redirected from its previous role as an iron and steel mill. In his last will, he used his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes. The synthetic element nobelium was named after him.
Nobel was the third son of Immanuel Nobel (1801-1872) and Andriette Ahlsell Nobel (1805-1889). Born in Stockholm on 21 October 1833, he went with his family in 1842 to Saint Petersburg, where his father (who had invented modern plywood) started a "torpedo" works. Alfred studied chemistry with Professor Nikolay Nikolaevich Zinin. When Alfred was 18, he went to the United States to study chemistry for four years and worked for a short period under John Ericsson.[1] In 1859, the factory was left to the care of the second son, Ludvig Nobel (1831-1888), who greatly enlarged it. Alfred, returning to Sweden with his father after the bankruptcy of their family business, devoted himself to the study of explosives, and especially to the safe manufacture and use of nitroglycerine (discovered in 1847 by Ascanio Sobrero, one of his fellow students under Théophile-Jules Pelouze at the University of Torino). A big explosion occurred on the 3rd September 1864 at their factory in Heleneborg in Stockholm, killing five people, among them Alfred's younger brother Emil.
The foundations of the Nobel Prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth for its establishment. Since 1901, the prize has honored men and women for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace. Cathy

Friday, August 14, 2009


ABBA was a pop music group formed in Sweden in November, 1970. The band consisted of Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida), Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Fältskog. They topped the charts worldwide from 1972 to 1982. The name "ABBA" is an acronym formed from the first letters of each of the group members' given names (Agnetha, Björn, Benny, Anni-Frid), and the group took this name officially in late 1973.[1] The group's name is officially trademarked with the first "B" reversed.
ABBA gained international popularity employing catchy song hooks, simple lyrics, and a Wall of Sound achieved by overdubbing the female singers' voices in multiple harmonies. As their popularity grew, they were sought after to tour Europe, Australia, and North America, drawing crowds of ardent fans, notably in Australia. Touring became a contentious issue, being particularly unpopular with Fältskog, but they continued to release studio albums to great commercial success. At the height of their popularity, however, both marriages of the band members failed, and the relationship changes were reflected in their music, as they produced more thoughtful lyrics with different compositions.
They remain a fixture of radio playlists and are one of the world's best selling bands, having sold near 400 million records world wide;[2][3] they still sell two to four million records a year.[4] ABBA was also the first pop group from mainland Europe to enjoy consistent success in the charts of English-speaking countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Rhodesia, Australia and New Zealand. Their enormous popularity subsequently opened the doors for other Continental European acts.[5]
The music of ABBA has been re-arranged into the successful musical Mamma Mia! that has toured worldwide and had a movie version released in July 2008. All four of the former members of ABBA were present at the Stockholm premieres of both the musical (2005) and the film (2008). The film première took place at the Benny Andersson-owned Rival Theatre at Mariatorget, Stockholm on 4 July 2008. A new museum devoted entirely to the pop supergroup was scheduled to open in Stockholm in 2009, but the project was postponed as of September 2008.


by Becky:)


Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: Konungariket Sverige (help·info)), is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden has land borders with Norway to the west and Finland to the northeast, and it is connected to Denmark by the Öresund Bridge in the south. At 450,000 km2 (173,746 sq mi), Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union in terms of area, and it has a total population of over 9.2 million. Sweden has a low population density of 21 people per km² (53 per square mile), but with a considerably higher density in the southern half of the country. About 85% of the population live in urban areas, and it is expected that these numbers will gradually rise as a part of the ongoing urbanization.[10] Sweden's capital is Stockholm, which is also the largest city in the country (population of 1.3 million in the urban area and with 2 million in the metropolitan area). The second and third largest cities are Gothenburg and Malmö. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government and a highly developed economy. It ranks first in the world in The Economist's Democracy Index and 6th in the United Nation's Human Development Index. Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1 January 1995 and is a member of the OECD. Sweden emerged as an independent and unified country during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century the country expanded its territories to form the Swedish empire. Most of the conquered territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were lost during the 18th and 19th centuries. The eastern half of Sweden, present-day Finland, was lost to Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Sweden by military means forced Norway into a personal union with Sweden, a union which lasted until 1905. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, adopting a non-aligned foreign policy in peacetime and neutrality in wartime.[11] JOEY

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (German pronunciation: [ˈvɔlfɡaŋ amaˈdeus ˈmoːtsart], full baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart[1] (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over six hundred works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers.
Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood in Salzburg. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty; at seventeen he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. Visiting Vienna in 1781 he was dismissed from his Salzburg position and chose to stay in the capital, where over the rest of his life he achieved fame but little financial security. The final years in Vienna yielded many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and the Requiem. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.
Mozart always learned voraciously from others, and developed a brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate—the whole informed by a vision of humanity "redeemed through art, forgiven, and reconciled with nature and the absolute".[2] His influence on all subsequent Western art music is profound. Beethoven wrote his own early compositions in the shadow of Mozart, of whom Joseph Haydn wrote that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years".[3]

Swarovski Crystal

The Swarovski Crystal range includes crystal sculptures and miniatures, jewelry and couture, home decor and chandeliers.
All sculptures are marked with a logo. The original Swarovski logo was an edelweiss flower, which was replaced by a "S.A.L." logo which was finally replaced with the current swan logo in 1988.
In order to create a crystal that allows light to refract in a rainbow spectrum, Swarovski coats some of its crystals with special metallic chemical coatings. Aurora Borealis, or "AB", is one of the most popular coatings, and gives the surface a rainbow oil slick appearance. Other coatings include Crystal Transmission, Volcano, Aurum, and Dorado. Coatings may be applied to only part of an object; others are coated twice, and thus are designated AB 2X, Dorado 2X etc.
In 2004 Swarovski released Xilion, a new copyrighted cut designed to optimise the brilliance of Roses (crystal components with flat backs) and Chatons (diamond cut).
The Swarovski Group also includes Tyrolit (makers of abrasive and cutting tools); Swareflex (reflective and luminous road markings); Signity (synthetic and natural gemstones); and Swarovski Optik (optical instruments such as binoculars and rifle scopes).
The company runs a crystal-themed indoor theme park, Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds) at its original Wattens site (near Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria). The Crystal Worlds centre is fronted by a grass-covered head, the mouth of which is a fountain. The grass-covered Crystal Worlds houses exhibitions related to, or inspired by, the crystals - but not an show of how the famous designs are made, produced or finished. Cathy


The Viennese Opera House is without a doubt one of the leading opera houses of the world and has been through a lot during its “life”. Certainly, lots of the big opera stars have played here. The history has a tragic beginning as the construction of monumental building of the “Ringstraße’” became a calamity for its two architects.

Due to deep foundation, the building resembled a “sunken crate”. Such criticisms finally made Eduard van der Nüll commit suicide and two months after August von Siccardsburge died of a heart attack. Unfortunately they did not live to see the big opening with “Don Giovanni” in 1869. The imposing building is characterized through its “Renaissance elbow style”.

A central tract with a huge loggia leading to the “Ringstraße”, a transversing set of wings, a domed roof over the stairs, an auditorium and a stage. After the war the Opera House was rebuilt with many additions and reopened to “Fidelio”. The new auditorium accommodates 2,200 seats and standing places. Significant details of the building are the loggia, with its allegories in the arcades, the wall paintings, and the imposing staircase with the statues of the seven Free arts, made out of marble. The Schwind Foyer, the Gobelin Hall and the Marble Hall among other things make the Opera House very unique. In addition, the stage area covers a gigantic 1.500 m².

from :

by :Becky:)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.3 million people[2] in Central Europe. It borders both Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,872 square kilometres (32,383 sq mi), and is influenced by a temperate and alpine climate. Austria's terrain is highly mountainous due to the presence of the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 metres (1,600 ft), and its highest point is 3,797 metres (12,460 ft).[5] The majority of the population—about 90%—speaks German,[6] which is also the country's official language. The origins of Austria date back to the time of the Roman Empire when a Celtic kingdom was conquered by the Romans in approximately 15 BC, and later became Noricum, a Roman province, in the mid 1st century AD[7]—an area which mostly encloses today's Austria. In 788 AD, the Frankish king Charlemagne conquered the area, and introduced Christianity. In more recent times, the Austrian Empire formed a monarchic union with the Kingdom of Hungary in 1867—creating Austria–Hungary, also known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire—which ended in 1918 with the closure of World War I. In 1938, Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany, creating a unification known as the Anschluss. This lasted until the end of World War II in 1945, after which Austria was occupied by the Allies. In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the occupation. In the same year, the Austrian Parliament created the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the country would become permanently neutral. The modern name of Austria, Österreich, can be traced back to the name Ostarrîchi, first documented in an official document from 996 AD. Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy, composed of nine federal states.[5][9] It is one of six European countries that have declared permanent neutrality,[10] and one of the few countries that includes the concept of everlasting neutrality in its constitution.[11] The capital—and with a population exceeding 1.6 million, Austria's largest city—is Vienna.[5][12] Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $43,570. The country has developed a high standard of living, and in 2008 was ranked 14th in the world for its Human Development Index. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955,[13] joined the European Union in 1995,[5] and is a founder of the OECD.[14] Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995,[15] and adopted the European currency, the euro, in 1999.

Monday, August 3, 2009

St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna

St. Stephen's Cathedral is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, OP. Its current Romanesque and Gothic form seen today, situated at the heart of Vienna, Austria in the Stephansplatz, was largely initiated by Rudolf IV and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first being a parish church consecrated in 1147. As the most important religious building in Austria's capital, the cathedral has born witness to many important events in that nation's history and has become one of the city's most recognizable symbols.

The Vienna Secession and Gustav Klimt

The Vienna Secession Building was designed by J.M. Olbrich and completed in 1897. It was built to serve as an artist union for the secessionist movement of art in Austria and Germany. These artists felt the art promoted by the Association of Austrian Artists was too conservative, so they started their own organization. The organization helped expose French Impressionist art to central Europe.

Its first president was Gustav Klimt whose Art Nouveau paintings came out of the Symbolists Movement of painters in France. His subjects were usually women and often erotic. He used a flattened sense of space that focused on the decorative aspects of painting. He is very famous for his use of gold leaf in his paintings – a feature that can also been seen in the architecture of the Vienna Secession Building.

-Teacher Karl