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Czech Republic (Ceska Republika in Czech), landlocked country in central Europe, comprising the historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia and part of Silesia. For much of the 20th century the Czech Republic was joined with neighboring Slovakia to form Czechoslovakia, but in 1993 the two split to form separate countries. Centrally located Prague (Czech Praha) is the Czech capital and its largest city.

The Czech Republic is surrounded by four countries: Germany to the west, Poland to the north, Slovakia to the east, and Austria to the south. Bohemia, a land of rolling hills and plains surrounded by mountains, makes up the western part of the Czech Republic, while the lowlands of Moravia are in the east. Silesia, also a lowland region, lies to the north and stretches into southern Poland.

The country is rich in history and culture. It is famous for its architecture, including Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque styles as well as more modern influences; its scenic countryside and ancient villages and castles; its luxurious spas; and its arts, including the works of writer Franz Kafka and composer Antonin Dvorak.

From the end of World War II (1939-1945) to 1989, Czechoslovakia was under communist rule and controlled by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Repressive tactics kept political dissent at a minimum, although there were attempts by citizens to reform the communist government. The most notable came in 1968, the so-called Prague Spring, when Soviet troops invaded the Czech capital to quell the reformist movement.

After decades of nationalization under the communists, the Czech economy rapidly privatized in the 1990s. It is one of the most industrialized countries in Europe, with mining, manufacturing, and construction all important parts of the economy. This industrialization has resulted in serious environmental problems in many parts of the country, however.

Traditional Czech products that remain thriving industries include fine crystal and beer. Tourism is also an important source of revenue in the Czech Republic. Visitors are especially attracted to the architectural and historical beauty of Prague, which avoided the heavy bombing damage many European cities suffered during World War II.

Sources

For younger readers

Humphreys, Rob. Czech Republic. Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1998. In the Country Insights series, for readers in grades 4 to 7.

Sioras, Efstathia. Czech Republic. Marshall Cavendish, 1999. For middle school readers.

Czech Republic

Dornberg, John. Central and Eastern Europe. Oryx, 1995. Surveys more than a thousand years of history and discusses trends in 12 countries from the former Soviet bloc.

Havel, Václav.Trans. Paul Wilson. The Art of the Impossible: Politics as Morality in Practice. Knopf, 1997. Collected essays by the president of the Czech Republic.

Holy, Ladislav. The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation: National Identity and the Post-Communist Transformation of Society. Cambridge University Press, 1996. Czech identity and its influence on nation-building after the fall of Communism.

Hojda, Zdenek, and others. Tha Palaces of Prague. Vendome, 1995. A lavishly illustrated tour of Prague's architectural treasures.

Leff, Carol Skalnik. The Czech and Slovak Republics: Nation versus State. Westview, 1997. The politics of Czechoslovakia and its successors, the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Sayer, Derek. The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History. Princeton University Press, 1998. The emergence of Czech nationalism and its influence on Czech culture.

Contributors

Wolchik, Sharon L., B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Director of International Policy and Practice program, The George Washington University. Author of Czechoslovakia: Politics, Economics, and Society.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

 
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