Are you looking for Europe vacation ideas? We have fun facts about Czechia in this post. Since you are a traveler, you might be looking for destinations or vacations. Czechia is somewhere you should explore. Maybe you remember Czechoslovakia before it separated itself into Slovakia and Czechia? We have posts on Slovakia and Czechoslovakia. As a traveler, here are some fun facts to consider about Czechia.
The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is the northern portion of the former Czechoslovakia. The southern portion is now Slovakia. In this post we discuss its history, from the Velvet Revolution to now, along with some tourism facts.
The breakup of Czechoslovakia was preceded by what was called the Velvet Revolution, which started in 1989. In November and December of 1989, there was a bloodless revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the communist regime and brought back democracy to Czechs after fifty years of Nazi or Communist rule.
The Velvet Revolution
It’s called the Velvet Revolution because of the peaceful transition from communism to democracy. Though the beginning was not without struggle.
It started November 17, 1989, as a peaceful officially sanctioned march in Prague to commemorate Czech student Jan Opletal, who died at the hands of the country’s Nazi occupiers 50 years before.
More than 15,000 students joined the demonstration as they walked to Jan Opletal’s grave. The demonstrators then were supposed to march to Wenceslas Square in Prague, where they would call for democratic reforms. They never made it. Police intervened and stopped them. Students offered flowers to the police shouting, “We have bare hands!” and sang songs. But Police beat the demonstrators with nightsticks, injured nearly 200. One student was reported beaten to death. Later, this proved false. But in the interim, it helped build support for the students’ cause.
Eight days later, November 25, a quarter million people gathered to hear Vaclav Havel and Alexander Dubcek speak. In an unforgettable gesture, the crowd jingled their keys, telling the regime, “Your time is up.” You might hear this story when you visit Prague; it was an unforgettable moment to Czechs and Slovaks. They call it the protest of the Jingling Keys. It had a double meaning: It symbolized the unlocking of doors and was the demonstrators’ way of telling the Communists, “Goodbye, it’s time to go home.”
Demonstrations continued through the end of December, and the Communist control eroded. On December 29th, Vaclav Havel, the primary speaker at the rally and a known dissident and a playwright became the president of the Czechoslovakia. In June 1990, Czechoslovakia held its first democratic elections since 1948.
The Velvet Separation
The Velvet Revolution was followed by the Velvet Separation. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two countries: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Czechs and Slovaks have always been quite different cultures with different histories. The peaceful separation was an acknowledgement that they wanted to go in different directions. Like the rest of Europe, the Czech Republic suffered in the recession of 2009. But it has quickly rebounded.
In 2016, Czechia became an official alternative name for the country. The Czech Republic is a prosperous country. It’s noted for making machines, paper, glass, steel and ceramics. It’s also famous for beer. Today, 10.6 million people live in the Czech Republic.
Tourism is a big business for the Czech Republic. In 2018, it welcomed more than 21 million people. That’s roughly twice the population of the country. German tourists represent the largest group, followed by Slovakia and Poland. Chinese tourists are going in increasing numbers because of new direct flights between the two countries. U.S. tourism also is on the rise, with Prague being the main destination.
The Czech Republic is rich in history, including 14 UNESCO sites. All of them are listed as cultural. And one on them it shares with Germany.
We traveled to Prague from Vienna, Austria. Madeline and I loved our time in Prague and would like to return. We also passed by Brno and saw its colorful houses.
If you spend time in eastern Europe, you’ll notice the Communist influence in the architecture. They quickly erected many of the buildings using prefabricated concrete. The buildings look drab in many cases. But they were highly functional and built to last.
When the Czech Republic joined the European Union, access to capital became easier. Many people in Brno decided to insulate their buildings and to color them. Hopefully this trend to update drab Communist-style buildings continues throughout eastern Europe.
We’re looking forward to returning to the Czech Republic. And we think you’ll find it fascinating, too.