There are various ways how to monitor changes in the functional utilisation of the Vltava banks from the geographical point of view. We can understand the Vltava as a symbol of national identity, as a factor influencing the development of neighbouring areas and regions (namely tourism and recreation), as a communication path or as a barrier. The paper focused on three main sources of geographic information, the data from population census, the data on changes in the utilisation of areas (years 1845, 1948, 1990 and 2000) and briefly also information obtained from pictures (photographs of identical places at various times). The changes were assessed in four typologically different villages situated near the Vltava: the upper reaches (the Sumava Mountains), the Ceske Budejovice basin, the middle reaches (Central-Bohemian Highlands) and the lower reaches (from, and including, Prague to the confluence). As far as the number of inhabitants before the Second World War is concerned, the upper reaches were more densely populated than the middle reaches, in spite of worse natural conditions. The canyon in the middle reaches of the Vltava represented a serious barrier, and therefore, its banks became only an edge of inhabited area, while population centres were situated further away from the river. Another interesting feature is similar development of area utilisation along the upper and middle reaches in spite of very different historical development after 1945 (arrival of new settlers after the departure of Czech Germans versus permanent settlement). The similarity results not only from the construction of waterworks, but also from the reduction of the proportion of agricultural land for the benefit of other activities (mining, special utilisation etc.). A higher proportion of man-made categories in land utilisation (developed and other areas) and their gradual increase is typical of villages in the Ceske Budejovice Basin, of Prague and of villages situated north of it (the lower reaches). In future we can expect increased utilisation of the Vltava banks in both the urban regions as well as in the attractive, recently 're-discovered' Sumava Mountains. On the other hand, the middle reaches will be different, we can expect stagnation of recreational utilisation of this area and further marginalisation of this area which ranks among so called internal peripheries of Bohemia.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.