When was the first state established on the current territory of the Czech Republic? And what were some other key milestones in the Czech history?
The first evidence of a Czech state dates back to the early Middle Ages. A kingdom was established in the Czech Lands in the 13th century and its significance peaked in the 14th century under the rule of Charles IV, the Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor. He established a University in Prague in 1348. After 1620, the Czech Lands became part of Austria and then, after 1867, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after 1867.
Following the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the First World War, the Czechs and Slovaks declared independence in 1918 and Czechoslovakia was established as a sovereign country. During the 1920s and 1930s, Czechoslovakia ranked among the ten most developed countries in the world. After Hitler's occupation of the country in 1938, Czechoslovakia was split into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and the Slovak state. Czechoslovak statehood was restored after the Second World War, which ended in 1945, but with a territorial loss. The most eastern part, Transcarpathian Ukraine, was annexed by the Soviet Union. The Communist Party won the 1946 parliamentary elections in Czechoslovakia. This resulted in a change of regime and brought the country under the international communist movement, led by the Soviet Union.
November 1989 was a turning point in the history of the country. Under pressure from the citizens, the socialist regime handed over power during the so-called Velvet Revolution, initiated by students and intellectuals. Free parliamentary elections in June 1990 confirmed the course of democratic development. The unitary state became a federation and the new name of the country was the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic.
At the end of 1992 Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Both countries went through economic reforms and privatisations, and this process was largely successful. From 1991, the Czech Republic, originally as part of Czechoslovakia and now in its own right, has been a member of the Visegrad Group and from 1995, the OECD. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. It held the Presidency of the European Union for the first half of 2009.