Czechs (Češi ˈt͡ʃɛʃɪ, archaic Čechové [ˈt͡ʃɛxɔvɛː]) are a western Slavic people of Central Europe, living predominantly in the Czech Republic. Small populations of Czechs also live in Slovakia, Austria, U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Russia and other countries. They speak the Czech language, which is closely related to the Slovak and Upper Sorbian language.

Among the ancestors of the Czechs are ancient Slavic tribes who inhabited the regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia from the 6th century onwards.


The Czechs are descended from ancient Slavic tribes, with some Celtic and Germanic admixtures. The Slavic tribes have inhabited the regions of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia since the 6th century. According to a popular myth, the Czechs come from a certain Forefather Čech who settled at Říp Mountain.

The 13th century was period of large-scale German immigration into Czech lands. Number of Czechs who have at least partly German ancestry probably runs into hundreds of thousands.

Czechs call the following period, from 1620/1648 till the late 18th century, the "Dark Age." It is characterized by devastation by foreign troops; Germanization; and economic and political decline. The population of the Czech lands declined by a third due to the Thirty Years' War and the expulsion of Protestant Czechs.

At the turn of the 20th century, Chicago was the third-largest Czech city in the world, after Prague and Vienna. Tens of thousands of Czechs had repatriated from Volhynia and Banat after World War II. Since 1990s, the Czech Republic has been working to repatriate Romania and Kazakhstan's ethnic Czechs.

The Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was followed by a wave of emigration, unseen before and stopped shortly after (estimate: 70,000 immediately, 300,000 in total), typically of highly qualified people.

Following Czech Republic's entry into the European Union in May 2004, Czechs gained the right to work in some other EU countries. Many young Czechs have come to work in UK since then.

Notable figures

Historical figures

The most successful and influential of all Czech kings was Charles IV (Karel IV.), who also became the Holy Roman Emperor. The Luxembourg dynasty represents the heights of Czech (Bohemian) statehood territorial and influence as well as advancement in many areas of human endeavors.

Many people are considered national heroes and cultural icons, many national stories concern their lives. Jan Hus was a religious reformist from the 1400s. The teacher of nations Jan Amos Komenský is also considered a notable figure in Czech history. Josef Jungmann is often credited for expanding the modern Czech language, and preventing its extinction.


There are also ancient folk stories about the Czech people, such as the Forefather Čech, who according to legend brought the tribe of Czechs into its land, or Přemysl, the Ploughman, who started the dynasty that ruled for 400 years until 1306.

Modern politicians

One of the most notable Velvet Revolution figures is Václav Havel, who became the first president of the independent Czech Republic. The current president (2nd) is Václav Klaus. The Czech Republic has had multiple prime ministers the first of which was latter president Klaus, the second under Havel was Josef Tošovský and the last prime minister under Havel was prominent CSSD member Miloš Zeman. So far Klaus has had four prime ministers, the current one being Mirek Topolánek (ODS).


Sports have also been a contributor to famous Czechs especially tennis, soccer, hockey and athletics.

The arts

The Czechs are accomplished in the field of literature, painting and music. Poet Jaroslav Seifert was awarded the Nobel Literature Prize. Božena Němcová has become a cultural icon and gained much fame for her book Babička. Writer Franz Kafka (born in Prague) wrote most of his works in Prague (although in German). Mikoláš Aleš was a painter, known for redesigning the Prague National Theatre. Composers Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák have also been praised and the latter continued his work in New York, USA. Film director Miloš Forman, known best for his movie, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest is of Czech origin and started his career in the Czech Republic. National performers such as Karel Kryl, Helena Vondráčková, Karel Gott (singers), Zdeněk Svěrák (director and actor), Vlastimil Brodský, Vladimír Menšík (actors) or Ivan Mládek (comedian), have also made a mark in modern Czech history.


Many Bohemian saints benefited the Czech culture, most notably St. Wenceslaus (Václav), patron of the Czech nation, St. John of Nepomuk (Jan Nepomucký), St. Adalbert (Vojtěch) or St. Agnes of Bohemia (Anežka Česká).


The Czech Republic is divided into three historical regions: Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, the country is divided into 14 regions. There is a slightly varying culture in each of the divisions. Each part speaks Czech but there are certain local dialects.

Czech language

The Czech language is spoken by approximately 12 million people around the world including most of the people in the Czech Republic. It developed from the Proto-Slavic language in the 10th century and is mutually intelligible with the Slovakian language.

External links

See also

Further reading

  • Hroch, Miroslav (2004). "From ethnic group toward the modern nation: the Czech case". Nations and Nationalism 10 (1/2): 95–107.
  • Berka, Petr and Palan, Ales and Stastny, Petr: Xenophobe´s Guide to the Czechs, Oval Books, London, 2008
  • Holy, Ladislav: The Little and the Great Czech Nation, Cambridge University, 1996


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