A country in central Europe, the Czech Republic shares borders with Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia.
The capital Prague is often called The Heart of Europe as it is located in the middle of the Continent. Prague has in recent years garnered a reputation as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, packed with historic and cultural interest – as well as a lively nightlife.
There are over 10,5 million people in the Czech Republic and about 1,3 million people in Prague. Western part of the Czech Republic is called Bohemia, eastern Moravia, north eastern part Silesia.
Republic of Czechoslovakia
At the beginning of the 20th century Bohemia was still part of the Habsburg Empire (Austrian Empire). After World War I the republic of Czechoslovakia declared its independence in 1918. The new republic had three parts: Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia. The popular Tomas Garigue Masaryk became the first president.
In October 1938 the Nazis occupied the Sudetenland, with the acquiescence of Great Britain and France, after the infamous Munich Agreement. In March 1939 Germany occupied Bohemia and Moravia. Slovakia proclaimed independence as a Nazi puppet state.
After World War II Czechoslovakia was reestablished as an independent state in 1945. The Communists became the largest party with 36% of the popular vote in the 1946 elections and formed coalition government. In 1948 the Communist staged coup d’etat and Czechoslovakia became a communist country. In the 1960s Czechoslovakia enjoyed a gradual liberalization under the reformist general secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, Alexander Dubcek. But this short period was crushed by a Soviet Invasion in 1968 (armies of Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, Hungary and Bulgary invated on August 21 early morning). In 1969 the reformist Dubcek was replaced by the orthodox Gustav Husak and Czechoslovakia stayed a communist country under the Soviet influence for the next two decades.
The communist government resignated in November 1989 after a week of demonstrations known as the Velvet Revolution. The popular Vaclav Havel was elected president of the republic. At the end of 1992 Czechoslovakia split into Czech Republic (Bohemia and Moravia) and Slovak Republic (Slovakia). This peaceful splitting is called the Velvet Divorce.
Czech Republic is member of Nato since March 12, 1999 and part of the European Union since May 1, 2004.