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Useful Notes: The Czech Republic

The Czech Republic (Czech: Česká republika) is a country in Eastern or Central Europe, established in 1993 after the Velvet Divorce of Czechoslovakia, with a population of 10.5 million people. It currently ranks among the top 40 in the latest Human Development Index, the only former communist country to do so along with Slovenia (and Germany if you want). Historically Catholic, most of the population today is atheist with a Catholic minority.

The official language is Czech, a Western Slavic language. It is mutually intelligible with Slovak, and, as with all Slavic languages, quite easy to learn if you know another Slavic language. (In the case of Czech, this is particularly true of the third major West Slavic language, Polish, which is almost but not quite mutually intelligible.) Czech is one of the few phonetically written languages, which means that words are written pretty much exactly how they sound. The Czech sentence "Strč prst skrz krk" is considered one of the most difficult tongue-twisters on Earth.

Just like the Central African Republic and the Dominican Republic, it is one the few countries that has "Republic" in its colloquial English name. "Czechia" never caught on (except in a very few other languages).

Very famous for its beer, the Czech Republic has the highest beer consuption per capita. The first monastic breweries in the area started operating in the 12th century. The most well known international brands are Pilsner Urquell (Plzeňský Prazdroj) and Budweiser Budvar (Budějovický Budvar).

When Czechs are mentioned in anglophone fiction, expect an inevitable Czech/Check/Cheque pun.note 

It also notable for being one of the most libertarian nations in Europe with very loose gun laws, even looser drug laws (all recreational drugs are decriminalized in personal-use quantities, and possession of smaller commercial quantities is equivalent to a parking ticket), and major movements towards privatization and deregulation (except where that conflicts with EU directives).

History

A collection of a number of different ethnicitiesnote , Czechoslovakia was formed after the Treaty of Versailles, but its diversity made it unstable. The Germans and Hungarians wanted the self-determination doctrines paraded by America but not delivered at Versailles. After the First World War, people in other countries like Britain started to feel sorry for the Germans, who weren't maltreated but didn't have any political autonomy, but this sentiment was hijacked by Those Wacky Nazis and used as an excuse to take control of Germany, then the German-populated Sudetenland, then the Czech lands, and Slovakia split into a fascist state.

Prague was comparatively untouched. The Czech people were not. Hundreds of thousands went to the death camps, and the Lidice massacre, one of the most notorious war crimes of the war, took place as revenge for the assassination of the Nazi lord Heydrich/Heidrich. As Slavs, the Nazis considered the Czechs sub-human and useful only for labour.

After World War II the Germans and Hungarians were expelled en-masse and Subcarpatian Ruthenia was annexed by the Soviet Union. In 1948, the Communists seized power through a coup d'etat, and dissident elements, including the Church, were quickly purged. Czechoslovakia was a founding member of Comecon (Soviet bloc economic organization) and the Warsaw Pact.

In 1968, a Slovak reformist, Alexander Dubček, came to power and started a short period of liberalization, the Prague Spring, which lasted a few months until other Warsaw Pact countries (except Romania) invaded the country. When the Czech army was told they were being invaded, they ran to fortify the Western border, because invasion from their allies was inconceivable.

In 1989, as part of Hole in Flag, the Velvet Revolution took place, the Communists were overthrown, and Czechoslovakia became a democracy. Three years later, the Czech and Slovakian halves separated in the "Velvet Divorce", with much of the national property (such as the Su-25 ground attack aircraft) being split 2:1 for the Czechs because of their larger population.

The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and The European Union in 2004.

Prague

Prague is the capital of the country and a global city. Despite the global status, it's far less expensive than most European cities of its stature (even notoriously cheap Berlin is more expensive) and being—as mentioned above—relatively untouched by the bombs of World War II, Prague is a popular place to film, particularly when an "old Europe" feeling is required. The Barrandov Studios are a particularly popular filming location for Hollywood movies such as xXx, Blade II, Mission: Impossible and The Bourne Identity. The cheapness also attracts tourists; Prague is a popular destination for Americans (and Canadians and Australians...) looking for a good time on a budget while still being able to say they went to Europe, as well as other Europeans (including, to the annoyance of many Praguers, British stag parties) looking for a short trip without expending too much on transportation or things when you get there. It is also a major European cultural centre.

Famous Czechs

  • Václav Havel, playwright and the first president of the country after the fall of Communism
  • Jan Svankmajer, animator and director
  • Eva "Hello Boys" Herzigová, model
  • Franz Kafka, author (wrote mostly in German)
  • Field Marshal Josef Radetzky, who became famous in Austrian service and is known for the famous march composed by Strauss to most people.
  • Karel Čapek, author
  • Milan Kundera, contemporary author
  • Miloš Forman, film director
  • Bedřich Smetana ("Moldau"), composer
  • Antoní­n Dvořák ("New World Symphony"), composer
  • The Plastic People of the Universe, famous dissident rock band from The Seventies.
  • Olympic, another famous band with origins in The Sixties, with members like Peter Janda, Jiří Korn, František Ringo Čech, Pavel Bobek, and many others.
  • Josef Švejk (fictional), from the famous novel The Good Soldier Švejk (pronounced roughly as "shveyk").
  • Dr. Radek Zelenka (fictional), from Stargate Atlantis. His actor, David Nykl, was born in Prague, but moved to Canada with his family when he was one year old after the Soviet invasion in 1968. Nykl nevertheless grew up speaking Czech as well as English, and it was his fluency in the language that convinced the production team to change his character from an unnamed Russian to a Czech.
  • Madeline Albright, U.S. Secretary of State (1997-2001)
  • Martina Navratilova, Tennis Player.
  • Pavel Nedvěd, famous football player.
  • Alphonse Mucha; prominent Art Nouveau painter, patronized by college students everywhere.

The Czech Republic and its predecessors in fiction

Czech Popular Culture

The Czechoslovak New Wave is considered the golden age of Czech cinema. Films such as The Shop On Main Street and Closely Watched Trains are associated with this era.

The vast majority of foreign TV Shows and films are dubbed, and all that are shown on television are subbed. Most theaters have both subtitled and dubbed screenings. The alternative youth channel ČT2 sometimes shows subbed shows and movies meant for a narrow audience.

Some video games have been developed in the Czech Republic, such as Mafia, Hidden & Dangerous, Vietcong, Operation Flashpoint and ARMA.

Music in the Czech Republic is infinite. The saying "Every Czech is a musician" appears to be true.


The Czech Flag
The flag's white and red colors allude to the arms of Bohemia, the dominant region in the nation and home to the national capital of Prague; due to its similarity to the flag of Poland, a blue triangle was added at the hoist side. The flag itself was used in Czechoslovakia, and was retained by the Czechs long after Slovakia's separation.

CyprusImageSource/MapsDemocratic Republic of the Congo
AustriaUsefulNotes/EuropeGermany

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