The Czech Republic was the western part of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic. Formed into a common state after World War I (October 28, 1918), the Czechs, Moravians, and Slovaks remained united for almost 75 years. On January 1, 1993, the two republics split to form two separate states. The first important empire on Czech territory was the Great Moravian Empire, established by Slav tribes between the 9th and 10th centuries, midway through this period, the Czechs seceded from the empire and set up their own state- Bohemia.

The 1968 Soviet Invasion

The communist leadership allowed token reforms in the early 1960s, but discontent arose within the ranks of the Communist Party central committee, stemming from dissatisfaction with the slow pace of the economic reforms, resistance to cultural liberalization, and the desire of the Slovaks within the leadership for greater autonomy for their republic. After January 1968, the Dubcek leadership took practical steps toward political, social, and economic reforms. In addition, it called for politico-military changes in the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact and Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. The leadership affirmed its loyalty to socialism and the Warsaw Pact but also expressed the desire to improve relations with all countries of the world regardless of their social systems.

The Velvet Revolution

The roots of the 1989 Civic Forum movement that came to power during the "Velvet Revolution" lie in human rights activism. On January 1, 1977, more than 250 human rights activists signed a manifesto called the Charter 77, which criticized the government for failing to implement human rights provisions of documents it had signed, including the state's own constitution; international covenants on political, civil, economic, social, and cultural rights; and the Final Act of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Although not organized in any real sense, the signatories of Charter 77 constituted a citizens' initiative aimed at inducing the Czechoslovak Government to observe formal obligations to respect the human rights of its citizens. By 1989, with the fall of the USSR, Czechoslovakia’s political scenario too changed. Under explaywright Vaclav Havel, a democratic state was formed. Four years later, thanks to relentless demands for autonomy by the Slovaks, the country split into two: the Czech and Slovak Republics. Since than, the Czech Republic has made considerable progress: the economy is developing, the country’s opening up, and tourism is on the upswing despite problems, of which the most severe are pollution, crime and housing problems.

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