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.
The Polish minority in the Czech Republic is a Polish national minority living mainly in the Zaolzie region of western Cieszyn Silesia. The Polish community is the only national (or ethnic) minority in the Czech Republic that is linked to a specific geographical area. Zaolzie is located in the north-eastern part of the country. It comprises Karviná District and the eastern part of Frýdek-Místek District. Many Poles living in other regions of the Czech Republic have roots in Zaolzie as well.
Poles formed the largest ethnic group in Cieszyn Silesia in the 19th century, but at the beginning of the 20th century the Czech population grew. The Czechs and Poles collaborated on resisting Germanization movements, but this collaboration ceased after World War I. In 1920 the region of Zaolzie was incorporated into Czechoslovakia after an armed conflict between Poland and Czechoslovakia. Since then the Polish population demographically decreased. In 1938 it was annexed by Poland and in 1939 by Nazi Germany. The region was then given back to Czechoslovakia after World War II. Polish organizations were re-created, but were banned by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. After the Velvet Revolution Polish organizations were re-created again and Zaolzie had adopted bilingual signs.
Dominik Hašek is a retired Czech ice hockey goaltender. In his 16-season National Hockey League (NHL) career, he played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators. During his years in Buffalo, he became one of the league's finest goaltenders, earning him the nickname "The Dominator". His strong play has been credited with establishing European goaltenders in a league previously dominated by North Americans.
Hašek was one of the league's most successful goaltenders of the 1990s and early 2000s. From 1993 to 2001, he won six Vezina Trophies. In 1998 he won his second consecutive Hart Memorial Trophy, becoming the first goaltender to win the award multiple times. During the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, he led the Czech national ice hockey team to its first and only Olympic gold medal. The feat made him a popular figure in his home country and prompted hockey legend Wayne Gretzky to call him "the best player in the game". While with the Red Wings in 2002, Hašek became the first European starting goaltender to win the Stanley Cup. In the process, he set a record for shutouts in a postseason year.
Hašek is considered an unorthodox goaltender, with a distinct style that has labeled him a "flopper". He is best known for his concentration, foot speed, flexibility, and unconventional saves, such as covering the puck with his blocker rather than his trapper. Hašek holds the highest career save percentage of all time (0.9223) and is seventh in goals against average (first in the modern era) (2.202), and the third-highest single-season save percentage (0.9366 in 1998–99). The record was broken by Tim Thomas in the 2010-11 season and again by Brian Elliot in the 2011-12 season who now holds the record at .940. Hašek is the only goalie to face the most shots per 60 minutes and have the highest save percentage in one season. He did it twice, while with the Buffalo Sabres (1996 and 1998).
Hašek is regarded as a future Hall of Famer by those in the hockey world. At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest active goalie in the NHL at 43, and the second-oldest active player in the league after Red Wings teammate Chris Chelios, who was 46. Hašek announced his retirement on June 9, 2008, but on April 21, 2009, he announced a comeback to professional hockey and signed a contract with HC Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga. On June 7, 2010, he signed with Spartak Moscow of the KHL and played the last season of his career with this team. Hašek announced his retirement on October 9, 2012.