Czech Republic: Country and Foreign Investment
History, Population, Language and Culture
The lands that form the modern-day Czech Republic (Bohemia and Moravia) have been part of European culture for over 1,000 years, and date back to the first Slavic settlements in central and eastern Europe. Its modern history has been somewhat turbulent. The state of Czechoslovakia was formed at the end of World War I and remained united until 1993, when the republic separated into two independent states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
In 1938, the so-called Sudetenland (comprising the regions of Czechoslovakia bordering Germany) was annexed to Germany and during the following years, Hitler invaded the remainder of the country. Czechoslovakia was overrun by Soviet forces as World War II neared its end. In 1968, the radical and reformist leadership of Alexander Dubcek caused considerable Soviet concern and the joint forces of a number of Soviet-bloc countries invaded the country to quell the regime. The “Velvet” revolution of 1989 brought about the collapse of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia, which coincided with the demise of the Soviet-bloc.
The population was just under 10.2m at July 2012. The Czech capital of Prague (population 1.16m) sits on the River Vltava and is now a major tourist destination for those seeking cultural city breaks. Other major cities are Brno (population 379,000) and Ostrava (population 321,000).
The principal language is Czech, a West Slavic language, and this is spoken by 96% of the population. The language is also spoken in some parts of Austria and Poland and is similar to the Slovak language. The Czech Republic is not a particularly religious country, with around 59% of its inhabitants claiming to be agnostic or atheist in their beliefs. Just over a quarter are Roman Catholics.