The Czech Republic (i CHEK; Czech: Česká republika, pronounced [ˈt͡ʃɛskaː ˈrɛpuˌblɪka] ( listen), short form Czechia (Czech: Česko [ˈt͡ʃɛsko]), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the north. Its capital and largest city, with 1.3 million inhabitants, is Prague. The Czech Republic includes the historical territories of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as a small part of Silesia.
The Czech state, formerly known as Bohemia (Čechy), was formed in the late 9th century as a small duchy around Prague, at that time under the dominance of the powerful Great Moravian Empire. After the fall of the Empire in 907, the centre of power was transferred from Moravia to Bohemia, under the Přemyslids. Since 1002 it was formally recognized as part of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1212 the duchy was raised to a kingdom and during the rule of Přemyslid dukes/kings and their successors, the Luxembourgs, the country reached its greatest territorial extent (13th–14th century). During the Hussite wars the kingdom faced economic embargoes and crusades from all over Europe. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Kingdom of Bohemia was gradually integrated into the Habsburg monarchy as one of its three principal parts, alongside the Archduchy of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. The Bohemian Revolt (1618–20) lost in the Battle of White Mountain, led to Thirty Years' War and further centralization of the monarchy including forced recatholization and Germanization. With the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Bohemian kingdom became part of the Austrian Empire. In the 19th century the Czech lands became the industrial powerhouse of the monarchy and the core of the Republic of Czechoslovakia which was formed in 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. After 1933, Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in central and eastern Europe.
Following the Munich Agreement and the Polish annexation of Zaolzie, Czechoslovakia fell under German occupation during World War II. By 1945, a major portion of the country was liberated by the Red Army, and the subsequent gratitude towards the Soviets, combined with disillusionment with the West for failing to intervene, led the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia to the majority of seats in the 1946 elections. In the 1948 coup d'état, Czechoslovakia became a communist-ruled state. In 1968, the increasing dissatisfaction culminated in attempts to reform the communist regime. The events, known as the Prague Spring of 1968, ended with an invasion by the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries (with the exception of Romania); the troops remained in the country until the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into its constituent states, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
In 2006, the Czech Republic became first former member of the Comecon to achieve the status of a developed country according to the World Bank. In addition, the country has the highest level of human development in Central and Eastern Europe, ranking among the top 30 nations in the world. The Czech Republic ranks as the ninth-most peaceful country in Europe, while achieving the best performance in democratic governance and infant mortality in the region. It is a pluralist parliamentary representative democracy with membership in the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Visegrád Group.
Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic, however it is the second largest urban agglomeration after Prague. It is also the administrative center of the Moravian-Silesian Region and of the Municipality with Extended Competence. Ostrava is located at the confluence of the Ostravice, Oder and Opava rivers. Its history and growth have been largely affected by exploitation and further usage of the high quality black coal deposits discovered in the locality, giving the town a look of an industrial city and a nickname of the “steel heart of the republic” during the communist era of Czechoslovakia. Many of the heavy industry companies are being closed down or transformed nowadays.
John Amos Comenius (1592–1670)
John Amos Comenius was a Czech teacher, scientist, educator, and writer. He was a Unity of the Brethren/Moravian Protestant bishop, a religious refugee, and one of the earliest champions of universal education, a concept eventually set forth in his book Didactica Magna. Comenius became known as the teacher of nations. He is often considered the father of modern education.
The birthplace of Comenius is not known. There are three possible locations: Komňa, Nivnice, or Uherský Brod in Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic). His parents had fled from Hungary during the 16th Century and his original family name was Szeges according to his will found in 1968 by Milada Blekastad monographer of Comenius.
Comenius, his life and teachings, have become better known since the fall of the Iron Curtain. His book, Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart, is actually a reflection on his life experiences. Other works include Janua Linguarum Reserata and Orbis Sensualium Pictus, probably the most renowned and most widely circulated of school textbooks, and the Protestant Hymn songbooks.