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History of the Czech Republic

Between about the 500s and 700s present-day Czech Republic became a destination for both Germanic people from the west and Slavs from the east, whom later created Bohemia in the late 800s. Bohemia (modern-day western Czech Republic) later emerged as a powerful state within the Holy Roman Empire.

In the 1200s Germans immigrated into the region, particularly the Sudetenland, but settled everywhere throughout the region of modern-day Czech Republic. Also in the 1200s the Mongols invaded and took much of Moravia (modern-day eastern Czech Republic). The 1300s were a reemergence of Bohemia's power, which expanded as much of Prague's famous architecture was built and Charles University was founded.

As the people began to convert to Protestantism in the 1500 and 1600s, they fell under Hapsburg rule and were forced to convert back to Catholicism. The next couple hundred years were not good for the region as they literally fell off the map, were battling the Turks, and rebellions arose between the ruling classes and the serfs. The region did little more than exist until World War I (WWI).

After WWI, in which the Austrian-Hungarian Empire lost, Czechoslovakia (a union of modern-day Czech Republic and Slovakia) was formed in 1918. The country again began falling apart in 1938 as ethnic minority groups began seeking independence and, with Nazi German power rising, the Sudetenland were taken by the Germans without much fight. This caused Czechoslovakia to unite with the Nazis to prevent further violence.

After World War II Czechoslovakia elected the communist party to power with little influence from the Soviet Union, although once elected the communists were closely aligned with and controlled by the Soviets. Under communist rule, Czechoslovakia faced both industrialization and rationing, as they were forced to remain at odds with the world to the west. This pressure built until 1968 when the Czech's protested (Prague Spring), but were quickly put down.

In 1989 Czechoslovakia gained independence and the two regions of the Czech Republic and Slovakia decided to separate, creating a peaceful Velvet Revolution in 1993. Since this time both the Czech Republic and Slovakia have been close allies as each has developed at different paces and in different industries. In 2004 both the Czech Republic and Slovakia joined the European Union (EU).

This page was last updated: March, 2013