An important fact about the Czech Republic is that is a distinctly different country than Czechoslovakia, the former nation it was once incorporated into along with Slovakia. In spite of this, Czech Republic history is deeply rooted in Czechoslovakia history, and anyone planning to visit the area would be well served with a little knowledge about both.
The area has a rich and eventful past, as a multicultural nation for ethnic Czechs, Slovaks, Germans, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, and French deserters from the Napoleonic Wars. All of these diverse peoples lived and worked the land together for centuries, influencing the unique culture, and producing incredible architecture that has withstood the test of time. Czechoslovakia history dates back to the WWI when the Czech and Slovak peoples of the Austro-Hungarian Emire came together in 1918. In the years immediately following this union, the government struggled to represent all of the many ethnic minorities that had been incorporated into the new nation, and the Sudeten Germans stood out as the group that seemed least satisfied. Because of this, Hitler decided to break up Czechoslovakia and annex the country during WWII. After the war ended, Czechoslovakia reunited and most Germans were forcibly expelled.
Another commonly confused fact about the Czech Republic is that it was never a part of the Russian Empire or the former Soviet Union. The country did belong to the Soviet Bloc, but the Communist regime that ruled following WWII is still a sensitive subject for many people there. In the 1960s Czechoslovakia’s socialist leaders attempted to liberalize the Communist Party until 1968 when Warsaw Pact troops invaded, sparking a series of anti-Soviet demonstrations. In response, the party took a much more conservative stance and a period of harsh repression followed until the Communist government was deposed in 1989 during the Velvet Revolution.
The end of Czechoslovakia history and the beginning of Slovakian and Czech Republic history came in January 1993. The Velvet Divorce, as it is now called, was the peaceful division of the country into the two current nations. Prague became the capital of the Czech Republic, flying the same flag of the former Czechoslovakia. Since the split, both countries have continued to develop economically and the Czech Republic has become a member of NATO and the European Union, increasing its role in global trade and politics.
Although recent Czech Republic history is relatively short compared to most modern European nations, the county has a rich cultural heritage evident in the beautiful architecture and fascinating castles, monasteries, mansions, and museums of centuries-old cities like the beautiful capital. The stunning churches and cathedrals that serve as centerpieces in areas like Old Town Prague are relics of the country’s Christian heritage, though today the country is home to one of the largest percentages of atheists in the world. Prague itself has stood for over ten centuries, serving as home to Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors. The medieval city center escaped the bombs of WWII and today is surrounded by a modern metropolis where visitors can flock for fine dining, world-class shopping, and a vibrant nightlife. The most important fact about the Czech Republic you need to know is that the only way to truly understand the county’s fascinating history, culture, and people is to travel there and see for yourself, so start planning your trip today.