Archaeologists have found evidence of human settlements in the Czech Republic, dating back to the Stone Age.
As the centuries past, Germanic tribes from central Europe settled in the area, and later, Slavic people from the Black Sea and Carpathian regions arrived.
In the late 9th century, the Bohemian state emerged. It was ruled from 1921 by Wenceslas I, until his death in 935. King Wenceslas (sound familiar?) is the subject of the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas” and he remains the Czech Republic’s patron saint.
In the early 13th century Germans immigrated here in large numbers. They formed colonies and increased the population of existing small towns across the Czech lands.
The Czech throne was taken by John of Luxembourg in 1310. He ruled the country until 1346, and during his reign the Czech lands expanded and Prague continued to grow.
His son, Charles IV, lead his people into the ‘Golden Age’ of their history. He established Prague as the cultural capital of central Europe and made it one of the most prosperous European cities at the time.
When Charles IV was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor in 1355, Prague’s status increased to the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Consequently, many buildings projects began, including the St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague’s New Town, Charles University, Karlstejn Castle and the iconic Charles Bridge.
To this day Charles IV, a highly educated man who spoke five languages, is remembered as the most beloved Czech king and the “father of the Czech nation.”
In the 15th century conflicts between the Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church raged. One of the reform leaders, John Hus, preached rebellious sermons that irritated the Catholic Church, and he was publicly burned at the stake in 1415.
Reactions to the killing were strong, protests followed and then came the Hussite Wars. The followers of John Hus (infantry warriors of the day) defeated heavily armored knights and claimed many victories.
The wars ended in 1434 by an agreement between the Hussites and the Catholic Church, and twenty-five years later the Hussites elected a new ruler, King Jiri. He lead a policy of peace and unification and is beloved to this day.
In 1526, Ferdinand I of Habsburg took up the Czech throne, consequently Bohemia became increasingly under the control of the Habsburgs, one of the most important aristocratic royal houses of Europe, best known for being the origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740.
- Name: Czech Republic
- Capital City: Prague (1,288,696 pop.)
- Czech Republic Population: 10,190,213 (2010 est.)
- World Populations (all countries)
- Currency: Czech Koruna
- Ethnicity: Czech 90.4%, Moravian 3.7%, Slovak 1.9%, other 4%
- GDP total: $262.8 billion (2010 est.)
- GDP per capita: $25,600 (2010 est.)
- Land Sizes
- Language: Czech 94.9%, Slovak 2%, other 2.3%, unidentified 0.8%
- Largest Cities: (by population) Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Plzen, Olomouc
- Name: Most scholars believe the name comes from the word ceta (military unit); however, because the country has evolved significantly over time, the subject remains a source of debate even to this day.
- National Day: October 28
- Religion: Roman Catholic 26.8%, Protestant 2.1%, other 3.3%, unspecified 8.8%, unaffiliated 59%