Any foreigner who has lived in the Czech Republic can tell you stories of how difficult it is to truly assimilate with the local population. No matter how well you learn the language or how many dumplings you can eat or beers you can drink, you will never be what Czechs call "nasinec" or "one of us."
Around a month ago I was sitting in a café on Manesova Street, near the centre of Prague, when in walked a small blonde woman of about 40 and sat down at the table beside me. One doesn't like to stare of course, but she appeared to have two black eyes covered with slender strips of plaster. Minutes later another woman, a brunette, walked in wearing big, dark sunglasses and with a bandage on her nose. They both spoke with broad Geordie accents and I couldn't help but wonder about them. Were they friends united in misery who had escaped violent partners
According to the European Union's Statistical Office Eurostat Czechs are at the top end of the European divorce ladder - second only to Belgians and Estonians. At the same time a change of lifestyle after 1989 has resulted in fewer young people tying the knot. So - with the number of divorces on the rise and the number of marriages on the decline - does the institution of marriage have a future in this country?
In Business News this week: days before the introduction of a new electronic truck tolling system on Czech motorways, many haulage companies are unprepared; Czechs sent a record number of SMS and MMS messages on Christmas Eve; an estimated 100,000 Czechs are going on sun holidays this winter; as rent deregulation fast approaches, not all residents know how much more they are going to have to pay; and electricity prices are going up while gas prices are falling - at least for now.
The Czech Statistical Office has just released a new report on the number of foreign citizens living in the Czech Republic. Its most recent figures show there are over 300,000 foreign nationals with permanent residence in this country. At the end of last year, they accounted for some 2.5 percent of the overall population. Although compared to other EU countries the share is relatively small, it keeps growing steadily.
This Saturday, leading artists gathered at Prague's State Opera to receive and present the Cesky Slavik - Czech Nightingale - music awards. The event was hosted by celebrity radio presenters Milos Pokorny and Roman Ondracek. Among the winners: thirteen year old Ewa Farna from Ostrava, who was voted best newcomer of the year. Dita Asiedu has more on who got what:
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Gunman kills six patients in Ostrava hospital, two more fighting for their lives
Czech teenager builds second-largest ever Millennium Falcon LEGO model
Press: Era of 100-crown lunch special is over, as food prices rocket
Misha Glenny: Organised crime is an important part of Czech economy – and corruption is its twin sibling