The Czech Republic ('''Czech:''' ''Česká republika'') is a country in Central Europe (if you want to enrage Czechs, [[http://czech-republic-not-so-well-known.blogspot.cz/2014/09/some-issues-i-came-across.html call it Eastern 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). With a history of Reformation predating Martin Luther and John Calvin ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utraquism utraquists]] and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moravian_Church Unity of Brethren]]) and subsequent recatholisation, most of the population today is atheist (or agnostic) with a Catholic minority (and even smaller Protestant and other minorities).

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, [[UsefulNotes/{{Poland}} Polish]], which is almost but not quite mutually intelligible. Beware [[Main/InMyLanguageThatSoundsLike false]] [[Main/SeparatedByACommonLanguage friends]] between Slavic languages.[[note]]Especially between Russian and Czech, where usually neutral Eastern Slavic words have taken on negative meanings in Western Slavic languages.[[/note]]) 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. (Czechs are also, possibly, the nation that invented those weird tealeaves above letters, called diacritics, which definitely help Czech in being a phonetically written language.)

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), but there is also a number of small local breweries. However, wine is also grown, particularly in Southern Moravia. The Czech Republic is one of the northernmost wine-growing countries, with the first vines introduced in the 14th century by Charles IV. But foreigners rarely learn this, because Czechs tend to drink all the produce themselves.

When Czechs are mentioned in anglophone fiction, expect an inevitable Czech/Check/Cheque pun.[[note]]For example, a young Czech immigrant is getting picked on by some of the other students and is trying to hide from them, so she asks the teacher, "Could you cache a little Czech?" More obnoxiously, when [[PrivateEye Ian Hislop]] settled a libel case filed by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Maxwell Robert Maxwell]], he famously said, "I've just written a fat cheque to a fat Czech."[[/note]]

It is 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).

The Czech Republic has one of the densest railway networks in use in the world. [[Main/RailEnthusiast Trainspotting]] is a fairly popular hobby, usually involving photography; the other is complaining about the company České dráhy (Czech Railways). The quality of the tracks is, indeed, somewhat lacking behind Western Europe, but compared to e.g. the USA, like most of Europe the Czech Republic is a public transport paradise. A modern Czech train got a role in ''Film/CasinoRoyale2006''. Trains appear quite often in Czech films as well, e.g. in ''Film/CloselyWatchedTrains''.

Czechs are also [[Main/NatureLover very fond of "nature"]], hiking, mushroom picking, cycling, canoeing down rivers and so on. About a third of the country's area is covered in forests, although only a very small part of that is primeval. There is [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIrGMdX9Pxk a large number of nature programs on TV]] (and some of the most popular radio programmes had to do with following the lives of animals and birds), various scientific pursuits are fairly popular, and there is [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mendel_Polar_Station a Czech research station in Antarctica]].


''A word of forewarning: Czech history (like most of history) is full of unrememberable dates. Many of the dates worth remembering involve the number 8. Some Czechs therefore feel superstitious about years that end in 8.''

Before there were Slavs, there were Germanic tribes, and before there were Germanic tribes, there were Celtic tribes, which is where the name Bohemia for the Western part of the country [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemia#Etymology originally comes from]]. Blame the Romans. The first Slavic consollidated state in the approximate area was [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Moravia Great Moravia]], which is where the name for Moravia comes from, more or less.[[note]]Not really, because it's actually the name of a river, ''Morava'', but, well, let's simplify things.[[/note]] It was the Slavs of Great Moravia that Cyril and Methodius created [[Main/CyrillicAlphabet the not-yet-Cyrillic alphabet]] for. (And it hasn't been in use in the area for centuries.)

After the fall of Great Moravia at the beginning of the 10th century, the centre of power in the region shifted to Prague and the Přemyslid dynasty. There was the usual early medieval period of frequent infighting and dynastic disputes, interrupted by power wrangling with the neighbouring countries (especially Germany). The most famous ruler from this early period is St Wenceslas (''Václav'' in Czech), who was immortalised in the anglophone world by the song ''Good King Wenceslas'', but actually wasn't a king.

It was only [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottokar_I_of_Bohemia Premysl Otakar I]] who gained a hereditary royal title in 1198. This, obviously, gave the country and the dynasty some added weight in international dealings. Chivalric lifestyle (the original) flourished. The Přemyslid kings also invited German settlers [[Main/SettlingTheFrontier to help tame the wilder areas of the country]], which lay foundations to the large German minority in the following centuries. Lots of castles were built, providing future filmmakers with a wide choice of shooting locations.

With Václav III's murder in 1306, there were only female Přemyslid heirs left, and with medieval politics being what they were, there was some fighting between their husbands before the reign settled with the Luxembourg dynasty. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_IV,_Holy_Roman_Emperor Charles IV]], Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor, widely considered [[Main/TheGoodKing the greatest ruler]] of the Czech lands, was the second of that dynasty on the Czech throne. He founded the university in Prague and many other medieval monuments present in the country today, and made Prague into the cultural centre of the Holy Roman Empire.

It was also during his reign that the first religious dissenters started working in the country; during the reign of Charles' son Václav, the most famous of them, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Hus Jan Hus]], gained prominency to such an extent that the Catholic church first excommunicated him and later (in 1415) burned him at the stake for [[Main/TheHeretic heresy]]. His Czech followers were not pleased with that turn of events. That displeasure eventually grew into full on [[Main/DestinationDefenestration armed rebellion against the Prague city council]]; Václav apparently had a strike when he heard, his brother the Roman Emperor Sigismund was not welcome in the Czech lands anymore and the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussite_Wars Hussite Wars]] followed.

There was, eventually, a settlement that allowed Czechs to follow some of their beliefs with the rest of the Catholic church ignoring them. [[note]]After the more militant side not satisfied with this solution received [[Main/CurbStompBattle a thorough beating]] in the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lipany Battle of Lipany]] in 1434, Sigismund came back as Czech king (and died a few years later).[[/note]] Later in the 15th century, the Czech nobility elected one of their own, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_of_Pod%C4%9Bbrady Jirí z Podebrad]], as Czech king; he's notable for being the only one to be elected so, being the only non-Catholic on the Czech throne, and trying to start a peaceful union of (Christian) European nations against the Turkish threat.[[note]]Some Czechs now like to claim that idea was a predecessor to the European Union, except that a) it was more like the UN in concept, anyway; b) everyone else ignored him because he was not Catholic. Czech history does tend to come across as "we never get what we want even though we're right," to the point that Czech popular culture frequently pokes fun at it.[[/note]]

After yet another king died prematurely in 1526, the Austrian branch of the Hapsburg dynasty succeeded on the Czech throne, and stayed there until 1918 [[note]]although the last couple of them didn't even bother being crowned Czech Kings specifically[[/note]]. The last time Prague was a cultural centre was during the reign of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_II,_Holy_Roman_Emperor Rudolf II]] (which is also the time when the famous legend of {{Golem}} takes place). After more political (and religious) tensions, Czech people once again resorted to [[Main/DestinationDefenestration defenestration]] against officials in Prague in 1618, starting the Thirty Years War (which, unlike the Hundred Years' War between England and France, did indeed last thirty years). After another [[Main/CurbStompBattle Famous Defeat]] in the Battle of White Mountain, the Hapsburgs consollidated their power by proclaiming Catholicism as the only religion allowed in the country and all the Protestants who could afford to do so emigrated (often to Poland). This left the country without whole generations of intellectual elites and open to recatholisation and influx of foreign nobility. This is the period when chateaus and palaces were built, providing a different kind of wide choice of filming backdrops for future filmmakers.

Another side effect of these events was the fact that at the end of the 18th century, Czech language was largely the language of peasants. Attempts to revitalise it and start a new Czech culture eventually, throughout the 19th century, led to attempts at greater political authonomy as well, which however did not materialise until independent Czechoslovakia was formed after WW1. During the war, many Czechs were forced to fight for Austria against their will, so when Czechoslovak legions were formed on the Allied side, naturally many Czech soldiers surrendered so they could join their national cause.[[note]]This started the 20th century trend of global events landing Czechs on the side they did not necessarily want to be.[[/note]]

A collection of a number of different ethnicities[[note]] (Czechs/Bohemians, Moravians, Slovaks, Germans, Hungarians, and Ukrainians, and several stateless minorities like Jews or Romani)[[/note]], Czechoslovakia was formed after the Treaty of Versailles, but its diversity made it unstable. While it was economically (and culturally!) successful and notably retained a democratic system when many European nation states formed after WW1 fell into various totalitarian practices, 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 in Czechoslovakia but didn't have any political autonomy. This sentiment was hijacked by ThoseWackyNazis and used as an excuse to take control of Germany, then the German-populated Sudetenland in autumn of 1938, then the rest of the Czech lands in March 1939; Slovakia split into a fascist state.

Prague was comparatively untouched by the war. The Czech people were not. Hundreds of thousands went to the death camps, and the [[TearJerker 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, Czechs were considered sub-human and useful only for labour by the Nazis. [[note]]For example, after an incident with students, all universities were closed and young people of certain age were all sent to work for the Reich. The International Students' Day was designated in memory of these events.[[/note]] Like in the rest of Nazi-controlled Europe, the previously numerous Jewish population was nearly exterminated. Czechoslovak pilots fought [[UsefulNotes/TheHomeFront with the RAF]] in WW2, and there was a number of Real Life [[Main/AcePilot Aces]] among them.

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(es), were quickly purged. Czechoslovakia was a founding member of Comecon (Soviet bloc economic organization) and the Warsaw Pact.

''Readers who do not wish to come across as ignorant are strongly advised to remember that Czechoslovakia was never, ever part of the Soviet Union proper, only the so-called "Soviet bloc". Never using the adjective "Soviet" in reference to things Czech(oslovak) is a vital part of remembering.''

In the 1960s, the atmosphere slowly thawed, leading to a surge in culture. 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. Popular protest, at first almost universal, slowly died down; [[Main/SelfImmolation Jan Palach's 1969 attempt]] to rouse people did not have the desired effect.

In 1989, as part of HoleInFlag, the Velvet Revolution took place, the Communists were overthrown, and Czechoslovakia became a democracy. [[note]]In another recall of 20th century history throughout the 20th century, the popular protests that led to the regime's downfall started on November 17th, the International Students' Day, during a student memorial observation of the incidents from WW2.[[/note]] Three years later, the Czech and Slovakian halves separated in the "Velvet Divorce", with much of the national property [[note]]such as the Su-25 ground attack aircraft[[/note]] being split 2:1 for the Czechs because of their larger population.

The Czech Republic joined UsefulNotes/{{NATO}} in 1999, UsefulNotes/TheEuropeanUnion in 2004 and the Schengen Area (open borders inside Europe) in 2007. As of 2015, the currency is still ''koruna česká'' (the Czech Koruna, CZK). [[note]]Do not confuse with Koruna Česká, the small Czech monarchist party you're not very likely to come across.[[/note]]

!Prague and other cities

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 UsefulNotes/{{Berlin}} is more expensive). 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 ''Film/{{xXx}}'', ''Film/BladeII'', ''Film/MissionImpossible'' and ''[[Film/TheBourneSeries 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. And the only city in the country with a metro.

Prague has a population of approximately 1.2 million people, which, of course, means there's a good 9.3 million Czechs [[Main/BritainIsOnlyLondon who live somewhere else]], for example in '''Brno''' (pronounced with two syllables), the second largest city and the capital of Moravia. Brno maintains a rivalry with Prague. It tends to be the more industrial of the two, usually holds the largest trade fairs in the country and has a major racetrack. Its historical centre is smaller than in Prague, but there are some notable examples of Modernist architecture, such as the Villa Tugendhat, to be found in Brno. Thanks to the closeness to the border with Slovakia and a number of Slovak students, you are much more likely to hear the Slovak language in Brno than in other Czech cities like Ostrava, Plzeň, Liberec etc.

!Famous Czechs

* Václav Havel, playwright and the first president of the country after the fall of Communism
* Jan Švankmajer, animator and director
* Creator/FranzKafka, author (wrote mostly in German)
* Karel Čapek, author (e.g. Theatre/{{RUR}})
* Milan Kundera, contemporary author, who effectively renounced his Czech status, not that anyone cares
* [[Creator/MilosForman Miloš Forman]], film director
* Jan Ámos Komenský (Comenius), 17th century author, philosopher, theologian and "father of modern education." Famous for the notion that school should be fun.
* Bedřich Smetana, composer (e.g. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJJfEfP9JVk "Moldau"]])
* Antoní­n Dvořák, world-famous composer (e.g. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVERlJgghOY&feature=related "New World Symphony"]]) and RailEnthusiast Extraordinaire
* Leoš Janáček, composer
* Field Marshal Josef Radetzky, who became famous in Austrian service and is known for the famous march composed by Strauss to most people
* The Plastic People of the Universe, famous dissident rock band from TheSeventies
* Olympic, another famous (pop) band with origins in TheSixties, with members like Peter Janda, Jiří Korn, František Ringo Čech, Pavel Bobek, and many others.
* Madeline Albright, U.S. Secretary of State (1997-2001)
* Eva "HelloBoys" Herzigová, model
* Martina Navratilova, tennis player
* Pavel Nedvěd, football player
* Alphonse Mucha, prominent Art Nouveau artist, patronized by college students everywhere
* Josef Švejk (fictional), from the famous novel [[Literature/TheGoodSoldierSvejk The Good Soldier Švejk]] (pronounced roughly as "shveyk")
* Dr. Radek Zelenka (fictional), from ''Series/StargateAtlantis''. 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.
* Jára Cimrman - Despite being virtually unknown abroad, Cimrman's spirit looms large over Czech culture and popular consciousness. Born in Vienna [[note]]which is in Austria and has always been in Austria[[/note]], he was the quintessential enterpreneurial, creative and hoplessly unsuccessful Czech underdog of the late Hapsburg period. He was an inventor, a writer, a playwright, a composer, a criminologist, and many other things. He also would have won the "Greatest Czech" poll held by the Czech TV in 2005 (following a template from BBC), were it not for the perfectly negligible technicality that he is completely and utterly fictional.

!The Czech Republic and its predecessors in fiction

* All (or nearly all) Czech [[Main/CzechFilms films]] and [[Main/CzechLiterature literature]]. Duh.
* In the ''Series/MacGyver'' episode "For Love and Money'', Mac must rescue someone from a Czech "mental hospital" (yep, they did what the KGB did).
* ''Literature/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy'', the most famous JohnLeCarre novel, is partly set in Brno.
* ''Film/{{Stripes}}''.
* ''Film/XXx''
* ''Film/BladeII''
* ''Film/MissionImpossible''
* ''Film/CasinoRoyale2006'' was filmed there, where it [[CaliforniaDoubling stood in]] for Montenegro.
* The best-known version of the {{Golem}} legend is linked to Prague, as portrayed in the movie ''Film/TheGolem'' and countless other works.
* Two of ''[[VideoGame/NoOneLivesForever Contract J.A.C.K.]]'''s missions take place in Czechoslovakia.
* The first mission of ''VideoGame/SoldierOfFortune II'' takes place in Prague.
* ''VideoGame/ForzaMotorsport 5'' has a racetrack in Prague. (Which would seem to be a typical case of BritainIsOnlyLondon, as the major racetracks in the Czech Republic are actually somewhere else.)
* Roughly the first half of ''Literature/TheAmazingAdventuresOfKavalierAndClay'' takes place in early-WWII Prague. The Czech version of the {{Golem}} legend is featured as a plot point and symbol.
* Several films about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich during the Second World War, including ''Hangmen Also Die!'', ''Attentat'' and ''Operation Daybreak'', with [[HollywoodHistory varying degrees of historical accuracy]].
* Costa-Gavras's ''The Confession,'' depicting the Slánský trial of 1952.

!Czech Popular Culture
The Czechoslovak New Wave is considered the golden age of Czech cinema. Films such as ''Film/TheShopOnMainStreet'' and ''Film/CloselyWatchedTrains'' are associated with this era.

As already mentioned, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%A1ra_Cimrman Jára Cimrman]] is a looming presence over Czech culture. Czechs love to quote idiosyncratic lines and everything Cimrman serves very well for that purpose, as well as other works by Zdeněk Svěrák and Ladislav Smoljak. Other favourites are e.g.
[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohumil_Hrabal Bohumil Hrabal]], Saturnin or "Literature/TheGoodSoldierSvejk".

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 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 ''VideoGame/{{Mafia}}'', Hidden & Dangerous, ''VideoGame/{{Vietcong}}'', ''VideoGame/OperationFlashpoint'', ''VideoGame/{{ARMA}}'', ''VideoGame/EuroTruckSimulator'', ''VideoGame/HeroOfMany'', and ''VideoGame/KingdomComeDeliverance'' (which actually draws on some of the medieval history described above).

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

[[AC: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.