|(c. 10–12 million)|
|Regions with significant populations|
Czech Republic |
6,732,104–9 246 784
|Significant Czech diaspora populations in:|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||600–1,000|
|Czech, Moravian dialects|
|Historically Roman Catholicism, Protestantism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Austrians, Germans, Poles, Silesians, Slovaks, West Slavs|
The Czechs or the Czech people (Czech: Češi, pronounced [ˈtʃɛʃɪ]; singular masculine: Čech, singular feminine: Češka) are a nation and an ethnic group native to the Czech Republic in Central Europe, who share a common Czech ancestry, culture, history and are native speakers of Czech, a West Slavic language.
Czechs descend from diverse peoples of West Slavic, Celtic and Germanic origin. Ethnic Czechs were called Bohemians in English until the early 20th century, referring to the late Iron Age tribe of Celtic Boii and their land Bohemia. During the Migration Period, Germanic tribes moved westwards and around the 6th century, West Slavs settled in the area and formed an independent principality in the 9th century in form of Duchy of Bohemia and later Kingdom of Bohemia, the predecessors of the modern republic.
Czechs descend from diverse peoples of West Slavic, Celtic and Germanic origin. Presence of West Slavs in the 6th century during the Migration Period has been documented on the Czech territory. West Slavs settled in Bohemia, Moravia and Austria sometime during the 6th or 7th centuries, and "assimilated the remaining Celtic and Germanic populations".
The Duchy of Bohemia emerged in the late 9th century. In 880, Prague Castle was constructed by Prince Bořivoj, founder of the Přemyslid dynasty and the city of Prague was established. Vratislav II was the first Czech king in 1085 and the Duchy was raised to a hereditary kingdom under Ottokar I in 1198.
The second half of the 13th century was a period of advancing German immigration into Czech lands. The number of Czechs who have at least partly German ancestry today probably runs into hundreds of thousands. The Habsburg Monarchy focused much of its power on religious wars against the Protestants. While these religious wars were taking place, the Czech estates revolted against Habsburg from 1546 to 1547 but were ultimately defeated.
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Defenestrations of Prague in 1618, signaled an open revolt by the Bohemian estates against the Habsburgs and started the Thirty Years' War. After the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, all Czech lands were declared hereditary property of the Habsburg family. The German language was made equal to the Czech language.
Czech patriotic authors tend to call the following period, from 1620 to 1648 until the late 18th century, the "Dark Age". It is characterized by devastation by foreign troops; Germanization; and economic and political decline. It is estimated that the population of the Czech lands declined by a third.
The 18th and 19th century is characterized by the Czech National Revival, focusing to revive Czech culture and national identity.
During World War I, Czechoslovak Legions fought in France, Italy and Russia against the Central Powers and in 1918 was proclaimed independent Czechoslovakia. Czechs formed the leading class in the new state from the remnants of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. After 1933, Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in central and eastern Europe.
In 1938 the Munich Agreement severed the Sudetenland, with a considerable Czech minority, from Czechoslovakia, and in 1939 the German Nazi regime established the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia for Resttschechei (the rump Czech state). Emil Hácha became president of the protectorate under Nazi domination, which only allowed pro-Nazi Czech associations and tended to stress ties of the Czechs with the Bohemian Germans and other parts of the German people, in order to facilitate assimilation by Germanization. In Lidice, Ležáky and Javoříčko the Nazi authorities committed war crimes against the local Czech population. On May 2, 1945, the Prague Uprising reached its peak, supported by the Russian Liberation Army. The post-war expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia and the immediate reprisals against Germans and Nazi collaborators by Czech resistance and the Czechoslovak state authorities, made Czechs—especially in the early 1950s—settle alongside Slovaks and Romani people in the former lands of the Sudeten Germans, who had been deported to East Germany, West Germany and Austria according to the Potsdam Conference and Yalta Conference.
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.
The population of the Czech lands has been influenced by different human migrations that wide-crossed Europe over time. In their Y-DNA haplogroups, which are inherited along the male line, Czechs have shown a mix of Eastern and Western European traits. 34.2% of Czech males belong to R1a, which is particularly common in a large region extending from South Asia and Southern Siberia to Central Europe and Scandinavia. Within the Czech Republic, the proportion of R1a seems to gradually increase from west to east According to a 2000 study, 35.6% of Czech males have haplogroup R1b, which is very common in Western Europe among Germanic and Celtic nations, but rare among Slavic nations.
A high frequency of mutation of the G551D gene CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator), causing cystic fibrosis is found in the Czech Republic, Austria, and among the Celtic nations: Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Ireland and Brittany.
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.
The most successful and influential of all Czech kings was Charles 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 15th century and spiritual father of the Hussite Movement. 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.
One of the most notable figures are founders of Czechoslovakia, modern state of independence of Czech and Slovak nations, Presidents Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Beneš, who was also leader of exile government in World War II.
Another notable politician after the fall of the communist regime is Václav Havel, last President of Czechoslovakia and first President of the Czech Republic. The current first directly elected president is Miloš Zeman.
The Czech Republic has had multiple Prime Ministers the first of which was latter Presidents Václav Klaus and Miloš Zeman. Another Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic were conservative politicians such as Mirek Topolánek, Petr Nečas and social democratic such as Vladimír Špidla, Jiří Paroubek, Bohuslav Sobotka.
- Tennis – Ivan Lendl, Martina Navratilova, Petra Kvitová, Tomáš Berdych, Radek Štěpánek, Lukáš Rosol
- Football – Pavel Nedvěd, Antonín Panenka, Tomáš Rosický, Karel Poborský, Josef Masopust, Patrik Berger, Petr Čech
- Hockey – Jaromír Jágr, Dominik Hašek, Jakub Voráček, Petr Nedvěd, Patrik Eliáš, Tomáš Plekanec
- Athletics – Emil Zátopek, Roman Šebrle, Jan Železný, Barbora Špotáková
Czech music had its first significant pieces created in the 11th century. The great progress of Czech artificial music began with the end of the Renaissance and the early Baroque era, concretely in works of Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic, where the specific character of Czech music was rising up by using the influence of genuine folk music. This tradition determined the development of Czech music and has remained the main sign in the works of great Czech composers of almost all eras – Jan Dismas Zelenka and Bohuslav Matěj Černohorský in Baroque, Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák in Romanticism, Leoš Janáček and Bohuslav Martinů in modern classical or Miloslav Kabeláč in contemporary classical music.
Czech musicians also played an important role in the development of European music. Jan Václav Antonín Stamic in 18th-century contributed to the creation of Classicism in music by innovations of compositional forms and the founding of the Mannheim school. Similarly, Antonín Rejcha's experiments prefigured new compositional techniques in the 19th century. The influence of Czech musicians expanded beyond the borders of the European continent, when Antonín Dvořák created a new American classical music style, using the richness of ethnic music of that country during his mission in the US. The contribution of Alois Hába to microtonal music in the 20th century must be also mentioned.
Czech music reached as far as Qing China. Karel Slavíček was a Jesuit missionary, scientist and sinologist who was introduced to the Kangxi Emperor on February 3, 1717, in Beijing. The emperor favored him and employed him as court musician. (Slavíček was a Spinet player).
Some notable modern Czech musicians are US-based composer and guitarist Ivan Král, musician and composer Jan Hammer and the rock band The Plastic People of the Universe which played an important part in the underground movement during the communist regime.
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 Czechoslovakia. The influential surrealist filmmaker and animator Jan Švankmajer was born in Prague and has resided in the Czech Republic throughout his life.
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.
Czech culture involves many saints, most notably St. Wenceslaus (Václav), patron of the Czech nation, St. John of Nepomuk (Jan Nepomucký), St. Adalbert (Vojtěch), Saint Procopius or St. Agnes of Bohemia (Anežka Česká).
The Czechs live in three historical lands: Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia; these regions make up the modern Czech Republic. However, the country is now divided into 14 administrative regions. The local culture varies somewhat in each of the historical regions. Moravians are usually more nationalistic regional patriots of Moravia, but they also speak Czech. Local dialects (such as Central Bohemian, the Chod dialect, Moravian, Cieszyn Silesian, etc.) are found in various parts of the country.
The Czech language is spoken by approximately 12 million people around the world, but the vast majority are in the Czech Republic. It developed from the Proto-Slavic language in the 10th century and is mutually intelligible with the Slovak language.
- Czech American
- Czech Argentinean
- Czech Australian
- Czech Brazilian
- Czech British
- Czech Canadian
- Demographics of the Czech Republic
- List of Czechs
- The Greatest Czech
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