Czech Silesia (Czech: České Slezsko; German: Tschechisch-Schlesien; Polish: Śląsk Czeski) is an unofficial name of one of the three Czech lands and a section of the Silesian historical region. It is located in the north-east of the Czech Republic, predominantly in Moravian-Silesian Region, with a section in northern Olomouc Region. Also known as Moravian Silesia (Czech: Moravské Slezsko or Moravskoslezsko), it is almost identical with the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia, also known as Austrian Silesia before 1918; between 1938 and 1945 area was also named Sudeten Silesia, referring to the Sudetenland.
Czech Silesia borders Moravia in the south, Poland (Polish Silesia, actually) in the north (in the northwest County of Kladsko, until 1742/48 integral part of Bohemia) and Slovakia in the southeast. With the city of Ostrava roughly in its geographic center, the area comprises much of the modern region of Moravian-Silesia (save for the its southern edges) and, in its far west, a small part of the Olomouc Region around the city of Jeseník. After Ostrava, the most important cities are Opava and Český Těšín. Historically Český Těšín is the western part of the city of Cieszyn which lies nowadays in Poland.
Situated in the Sudetes, it is cornered by the Carpathians in the east. Its major rivers are the Oder (Polish, Czech: Odra), Opava and Olše (Polish: Olza) (which forms part of the natural border with Poland).
Modern-day Czech Silesia derives primarily from a small part of Silesia that remained within the Bohemian Crown and Habsburg Monarchy at the end of the First Silesian War in 1742, when the rest of Silesia was ceded to Prussia. It was re-organised as the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia, with its capital at Opava (German: Troppau, Polish: Opawa). In 1900, the Duchy occupied an area of 5,140 km² and had a population of 670,000.
In 1918, the former Duchy formed part of newly-created state of Czechoslovakia, except the Cieszyn Silesia, which was split between Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1920, Czechoslovakia gaining its western portion. Hlučín Region (Czech: Hlučínsko, German: Hultschiner Ländchen), formerly part of Prussian Silesia, also became part of Czechoslovakia under the Treaty of Versailles in 1920.
Following the Munich Agreement of 1938, most of Czech Silesia became part of the Reichsgau Sudetenland and Poland took the Zaolzie area on the west bank of the Olza. (The Polish gains being lost when Germany occupied Poland the following year).
With the exception of the areas around Cieszyn, Ostrava and Hlučín, Czech Silesia was predominantly settled by German-speaking populations up until 1945. Following the Second World War, the Czech Silesia and Hlučínsko were returned to Czechoslovakia and the ethnic Germans were expelled. The border with Poland was once again set along the Olza (although not confirmed by treaty until 1958).
The population mainly speaks Czech with altered vowels. Some of the native Slavic population speak Lach, which is classed by Ethnologue as a dialect of Czech, although it also shows some similarities to Polish. In Cieszyn Silesia a unique dialect is also spoken, mostly by members of the Polish minority there.
Notable people from Czech Silesia include:
Czech Silesia is one of the three historical regions of the Czech Republic.
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