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Czech Republic Information - Page 2
The Czech Republic consists of the lands of Bohemia, Moravia and part of Silesia. The Celts were the first to arrive in the area, followed by German tribes, Slavs and Avars.

In the ninth century the Slavic tribes of Moravia, Bohemia and Slovakia (and parts of Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary) formed the Great Moravian Empire. During this time Christianity spread throughout the Empire and Slav culture flourished. At the beginning of the tenth century the Empire was destroyed by Magyars from Hungary.

Czech lands came under the rule of the Premyslid Dynasty in the ninth century. The region passed to John of Luxembourg in 1310 and his son Charles IV in 1346. Charles was also the Holy Roman Emperor and Prague became the Empire's capital city.

George of Podebrady, Europe's first Protestant king, was elected king of Bohemia in 1458. After George's death Bohemia passed to the Polish prince Vladislav II who became king of Bohemia and Hungary.

The Austrian Hapsburg Monarchy gained control of the region in 1526, the family's reign lasting until the early twentieth century. After the First World War (1914-1918), and the dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Czechoslovakia was formed. The country prospered until the eve of the Second World War (1939-1945) when the Munich Agreement between Britain, France, Italy and Germany forced Czechoslovakia to surrender its Sudetenland territory to Adolf Hitler. Within six months of the Agreement the German army occupied all of Czechoslovakia.

Following the Second World War Czechoslovakia became a communist state, part of Eastern Europe under the influence of the USSR. In 1968 Alexander Dubcek's government tried to introduce a more liberal form of communism, known as the "Prague Spring". In August the USSR occupied Czechoslovakia and removed Dubcek and government leaders from office.

The communist system of government collapsed in 1989 (the Velvet Revolution) and Czechoslovakia became independent. Vaclav Havel became Czechoslovakia's President. In 1993 the Czechs and Slovaks decided to separate (the Velvet Divorce) forming the countries of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

At the end of 2002 the Czech Republic took part in EU accession negotiations with nine other countries (Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia). The Accession Treaty was signed in 2003 with the formal entry date on 1 May 2004. EU enlargement meant the unification of twenty-five countries after over half a century of political division and the "Cold War" which followed World War II.

Following the collapse of communism, Czechoslovakia began privatizing businesses owned by the State. In 1993 Czechoslovakia divided into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

The transfer to a market economy, preceding EU membership in 2004, was relatively successful. Exports to other EU members supported economic growth. Privatization of Cesky Telecom, the telecommunications company, took place in 2005.

The agricultural sector earns a relatively small percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The main agricultural produce is wheat, sugar beet, potatoes, fruit and hops. Livestock is reared.

Industries include metallurgy, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, glass, food processing and beverages.

The services sector provides the largest percentage of the GDP. Tourism is a growing industry. (2008)

Well known Czech artists include the early eighteenth century artist Petr Brandl and the Art Nouveau painter and poster artist Alfons Mucha (1860-1944). Toyen (1902-1980) was a famous female Czech surrealist whose name was Marie Cerminova.

Josef Sudek (1896-1976), a Czech photographer, is numbered among the world's best photographers.

Czech composers include Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904), who conducted his own works at the first concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague in 1896, and Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884) who wrote the opera The Bartered Bride.

Franz Kafka is a Czech writer famous for The Metamorphosis (1915) and Jaroslav Hasek (1883-1923) wrote the anti-war comedy Good Soldier Svejk. Karel Capek (1890-1938), another anti-war writer, is known for his play R.U.R (Rossum's Universal Robots).

Vaclav Havel is a playwright whose interest in politics led to his presidency of Czechoslovakia between 1989 and 1992 and the Czech Republic from 1993.

Jan Krizenecky was the first Czech film producer (1898). Today the Czech Republic produces many films and documentaries each year.

Milos Forman is a well known Czech film director (Black Peter and Loves of a Blonde). Controversy over his work led to a move to the USA to continue his successful career (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ragtime and Amadeus).

Football is the most popular team game in the Czech Republic. The national team has achieved success at European and international level. Ice hockey is also very popular with a number of wins in the World Hockey Championships.

In the world of tennis, two of its great stars, Martina Navratilova and Ivan Lendl were both born in Czechoslovakia but moved to the USA.

Other famous Czech sportsmen include the late long-distance runner Emil Zatopek.

The holidays of Christmas, Easter and New Year are celebrated. Other holidays include Labour Day or May Day - 1 May, Liberation Day (the liberation from Fascism, 1945) - 8 May, the Day of Cyril and Methodius (celebrating the arrival of the Christian missionaries) - 5 July, Jan Hus Day (burned at the stake, 1415) - 6 July, Independence Day (founding of Czechoslovakia, 1918) - 28 October and Velvet Revolution Day - 17 November.

News from the Czech Republic is available in Newslink.

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