The Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is located in the centre of Europe. It is surrounded by Germany to the west, Poland to the north, Slovakia to the east and Austria to the south. It has a population of about 10 million people. The country can be divided into three historical regions: Bohemia (in the west), Moravia (in the east) and Silesia (in the north-east). The capital is Prague. The currency is the Czech crown. People speak Czech there. It is a member of the European Union.

History

     The country began to form in the 9th century with the creation of Great Moravia. After its fall, the Czech state emerged. The Czech lands became a part of the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th century. King Charles IV was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1355. He established Charles University, the first university in Central Europe, in 1348. The religious leader Jan Hus was executed in 1415. The Hussite wars followed. In the 16th century Czech lands became a part of the Habsburg Empire. An independent Czechoslovakia was formed on October 28, 1918. Masaryk was the first president.  Czechoslovakia became one of the most prosperous and industrialised nations in eastern Europe between the two world wars. In the World War II the Nazis invaded into Czechoslovakia and established a protectorate in Bohemia and Moravia. After the war in 1945 Czechoslovakia fell under the control of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1948 the Communist Party took power. In 1989 the Velvet Revolution saw the end of communism. Václav Havel became the first president of a newly democratic Czechoslovakia. In 1993 Czechoslovakia was divided into two independent republics - the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. In 2004 the Czech Republic became a member of the European Union. In 2007 it became a member of the Schengen Area. 

Czech Geography

   The landscape in the Czech Republic is quite mountainous around the borders and flatter in the centre. A number of rivers such as the Labe, the Vltava and the Morava flow through the country. The land is quite heavily forested. Šumava in the south has some of the oldest forests in the country. Český ráj (Bohemian Paradise) is a popular area for hiking and has many interesting rock formations. Moravian Karst is famous for its cave systems.

Famous Czechs

Karel Čapek, Milan Kundera and Jaroslav Hašek are famous Czech writers. The internationally renowned writer Franz Kafka lived in Prague. Miloš Forman is an Oscar winning director. Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana are significant composers. Two Czechs have won the Nobel Prize: Professor Jaroslav Heyrovský for Chemistry and Jaroslav Seifert for literature.Some famous sportspeople are Jaroslav Jágr for ice-hockey or Martina Navrátilová for tennis.

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