History

The history of what are now known as the Czech lands (Czech: České země) is very diverse. These lands have changed hands many times, and have been known by a variety of different names. Up until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy after the First World War, the lands were known as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and formed a constituent state of that empire: the Kingdom of Bohemia.

Prior to the Battle of Mohács, the Kingdom was an independent state within the Holy Roman Empire. After that battle the Lands of the Bohemian Crown were incorporated into the Austrian Empire, and later into the aforementioned Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

They came to be known as the Czech lands after the fall of the Empire, and the rise of the First Czechoslovak Republic, when the term Bohemia (Czech: Čechy), which also refers to the core region of the former kingdom, was no longer deemed acceptable by those in Moravia and Czech Silesia. The integral Czech lands now form the boundaries of the Czech Republic.

In November 1989, Czechoslovakia returned to a liberal democracy through the peaceful "Velvet Revolution". However, Slovak national aspirations strengthened and on 1 January 1993, the country peacefully split into the independent Czech Republic and Slovakia. Both countries went through economic reforms and privatisations, with the intention of creating a capitalist economy. This process was largely successful; in 2006 the Czech Republic was recognised by the World Bank as a "developed country", and in 2009 the Human Development Index ranked it as a nation of "Very High Human Development".

From 1991, the Czech Republic, originally as part of Czechoslovakia and since 1993 in its own right, has been a member of the Visegrád Group and from 1995, the OECD. The Czech Republic joined NATO on 12 March 1999 and the European Union on 1 May 2004. On 21 December 2007 the Czech Republic joined the Schengen Area. It held the Presidency of the European Union for the first half of 2009.