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Czech people


Czech people

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Total population
c. 9-12 million
Regions with significant populations
 Czech Republic[note 1]   6,732,104[1]
 United States 1,462,000[2]
(including German Bohemians)
 Canada 98,090 (2006)[3]
 Italy 80,000-90,000
 United Kingdom 30,000–90,000
 Germany 20,000–50,000
 Slovakia 30,367[4]
 Argentina 38,000
 Australia 21,196[5]
 Austria 20,000
  Switzerland 20,000
 Ukraine 11,000
 France 10,731 (1990)
 Croatia 9,641 (2011)
 Chile 8,600
 Israel 8,000
 Sweden 7,175 (2001)
 Ireland 5,451[6]
 Spain 5,622 (2006)
 Russia 5,000–6,000
 Brazil 5,000
 Netherlands 3,500
 Romania 3,339 (2002)
 Poland 3,000
 South Africa 2,300
 Mexico 2,000
 Serbia 1,824 (2011)[7]
 Colombia 1,200
 Kazakhstan 1,000[8]
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 600–1,000[9]
 Bulgaria 436
34.5% Non-religious (agnostic / atheist)
10.3% Roman Catholic
0.8% Protestant
9.4% other religions
44.6% undeclared [10]
Related ethnic groups
Other Slavs, especially other West Slavs[12]

Czechs, or Czech people (Czech: Češi, Czech pronunciation: [ˈtʃɛʃɪ], archaic Czech: Čechové [ˈtʃɛxɔvɛː]) are a West Slavic ethnic group of Central Europe, living predominantly in the Czech Republic. Small populations of Czechs also live in Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Austria, Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom, Chile, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Russia and other countries. They speak the Czech language, which is closely related to the Slovak and Upper Sorbian language.[13]

Among the ancestors of the Czechs are ancient Slavic peoples who inhabited the regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and Upper Silesia from the 6th century onwards. Czech people also descend from Germanic and Celtic tribes who intermingled with Slavic invaders.


West Slavic tribes settled in the regions of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia during the 6th century, and have inhabited the regions since then, eventually absorbing pre-Slavic populations. Within the West Slavs, the Czechs form part of the Czech-Slovak group (together with the Slovaks), alongside the Lechites and the Sorbs.

According to a popular myth, the Czechs come from a certain Forefather Čech who settled at Říp Mountain. In 880, Prague Castle was constructed by Prince Bořivoj and the city of Prague was established. Vratislav II was the first Czech king in 1085.

The second half of the 13th century was a period of large-scale German immigration into Czech lands. The number of Czechs who have at least partly German ancestry probably runs into hundreds of thousands.[14] 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.[15]

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 due to the Thirty Years' War and the expulsion of Protestants.[16]

At the turn of the 20th century, Chicago was the city with the third largest Czech population, after Prague and Vienna.[17][18]

In 1918, independent Czechoslovakia was proclaimed, and Czechs formed the leading class in the new state from the remnants of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. 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 the so-calling "remaining Czechia" (Resttschechei). 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 Roma people in the former lands of the Sudeten Germans, who had been deported to West Germany and Austria according to the Potsdam Conference and Yalta Conference.

Tens of thousands of Czechs had repatriated from Volhynia and Banat after World War II. Since the 1990s, the Czech Republic has been working to repatriate Romania and Kazakhstan's ethnic Czechs.[19][20]

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),[21] typically of highly qualified people.

Following the Czech Republic's entry into the European Union in May 2004, Czechs gained the right to work in some other EU countries.[22]


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. Large frequencies of R1a have been found in Eastern Europe among Slavs and in India.[23] According to a 2000 study by Semino, 35.6% of Czech and Slovak males have haplogroup R1b, which is very common in Western Europe among Germanic and Celtic nations.[24]

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.[25]

About 3% of inhabitants of Moravia have also intermixed with Central Asian nomadic tribes, who migrated into Central and Eastern Europe in the early Middle Ages.[26]

Notable figures


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,[27] or Přemysl, the Ploughman,[28] who started the dynasty that ruled for 400 years until 1306.

Historical figures

The most successful and influential of all Czech kings was Charles IV, who also became the Holy Roman Emperor.[29] The Luxembourg dynasty represents the heights of Czech (Bohemian) statehood territorial and influence as well as advancement in many areas of human endeavors.[30]

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.[31] The teacher of nations Jan Amos Komenský is also considered a notable figure in Czech history.[32] Josef Jungmann is often credited for expanding the modern Czech language, and preventing its extinction.[33]

Modern politicians

One of the most notable Velvet Revolution figures is Václav Havel, who became the first president of the independent Czech Republic.[34] The current president (3rd) is Miloš Zeman.[35]

The Czech Republic has had multiple prime ministers the first of which was latter president Klaus, the second under Havel was Josef Tošovský[36] and the last prime minister under Havel was prominent ČSSD member Miloš Zeman.[37] So far Klaus has had five prime ministers, the current one being Petr Nečas.


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

The arts


Czech music started develop by first significant pieces, created in the 11th century.[41] The great progress of Czech artificial music has begun in the end of Renaissance and 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 played also important role in the development of European music. Jan Václav Antonín Stamic in 18th-century contributed to the creation of Classicism in music[42] by innovations of compositional forms and founding of Mannheim school, similarly Antonín Rejcha's experiments prefigured new compositional techniques in 19th-century.[43] The influence of Czech musicians has been gone later beyond the borders of European continent, when Antonín Dvořák brought into life new American classical music style, using the potential of the richness of ethnic music of that country during his mission in USA. The contribution of Alois Hába to microtonal music in 20th-century must be also mentioned.

Czech music reached as far as Qing China. Karel Slavíček (Chinese: 严嘉乐, December 12, 1678 - September 24, 1735) 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).


Poet Jaroslav Seifert was awarded the Nobel Literature Prize.[38] Božena Němcová has become a cultural icon and gained much fame for her book Babička.[44] Writer Franz Kafka (born in Prague) wrote most of his works in Prague (although in German).[45]


Mikoláš Aleš was a painter, known for redesigning the Prague National Theatre.[46]/

Alphonse Mucha was an influential artist in the Art Nouveau movement of the Edwardian period.


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.[47] The influential surrealist filmmaker and animator Jan Švankmajer was born in Prague and has been resident in the Czech Republic throughout his life.

National performers such as Karel Kryl,[48] Helena Vondráčková,[49] Karel Gott[50] (singers), Zdeněk Svěrák (director and actor), Vlastimil Brodský,[51] Vladimír Menšík[52] (actors) or Ivan Mládek (comedian), have also made a mark in modern Czech history.


Czech culture involves many saints,[53] most notably St. Wenceslaus (Václav), patron of the Czech nation,[54] St. John of Nepomuk (Jan Nepomucký),[55] St. Adalbert (Vojtěch),[56] Saint Procopius or St. Agnes of Bohemia (Anežka Česká).[57]


The Czech Republic is compound from 3 historical lands: Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia;[58] today the country is divided into 14 regions.[59] There is a slightly varying culture in each of the lands.[60] Each part speaks Czech but there are certain local dialects (like Central Bohemian, Moravian, Těšínian, etc.).[61]

Czech language

Main article: Czech Language

The Czech language is spoken by approximately 12 million people around the world including most of the people in the Czech Republic.[62] It developed from the Proto-Slavic language in the 10th century[62][63] and is mutually intelligible with the Slovak language.[64]

See also

Further reading

  • Berka, Petr and Palan, Ales and Stastny, Petr: Xenophobe's Guide to the Czechs, Oval Books, London, 2008
  • Holý, Ladislav: The Little and the Great Czech Nation, Cambridge University, 1996




External links

  • Official Czech website, links to multiple articles regarding the Czech people.

Template:Slavic ethnic groups

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