|Comenius • Jan Hus • František Palacký
Jan Evangelista Purkyně • Charles IV • Alfons Mucha
Vratislaus II • Bedřich Smetana
|over 12 million estimated|
|Regions with significant populations|
| Czech Republic: 9,246,000 (July 2007 est.)
United States: 1,462,000 
|Related ethnic groups|
Czechs (Czech: Češi, Czech pronunciation: [ˈtʃɛʃɪ], archaic Czech: Čechové [ˈtʃɛxɔvɛː]) are a western Slavic people of Central Europe, living predominantly in the Czech Republic. Small populations of Czechs also live in Slovakia, Austria, the United States, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Russia and other countries. They speak the Czech language, which is closely related to the Slovak and Upper Sorbian language.
The Czechs are descended from ancient Slavic tribes, with significant Celtic and Germanic admixtures. The Slavic tribes have inhabited the regions of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia since the 6th century. According to a popular myth, the Czechs come from a certain Forefather Čech who settled at Říp Mountain. In 880, Prague Castle was constructed by Prince Bořivoj and the city of Prague was established. Vratislav II was the first Czech king in 1085.
The second half of the 13th century was a period of large-scale German immigration into Czech lands. The number of Czechs who have at least partly German ancestry probably runs into hundreds of thousands. The Habsburg Monarchy focused much of its power on religious wars against the Protestants. While these religious wars were taking place, the Czech estates revolted against Habsburg from 1546 to 1547 but were ultimately defeated by the Duke of Saxony. The wars between the Catholics and the Protestants finally ended in 1555 with the legalization of the Protestant faith which exists to this day in small numbers.
Czech patriotic authors tend to call the following period, from 1620 to 1648 until the late 18th century, the "Dark Age". It is characterized by devastation by foreign troops; Germanization; and economic and political decline. It is estimated that the population of the Czech lands declined by a third due to the Thirty Years' War and the expulsion of Protestants.
In 1918, independent Czechoslovakia was proclaimed, and Czechs formed the leading class in the new state from the remnants of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. In 1938 the Munich Agreement severed the Sudetenland, with a considerable Czech minority, from Czechoslovakia, and in 1939 the German Nazi regime established the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia for the so-calling "remaining Czechia" (Rest-Tschechei). Emil Hácha became president of the protectorate under Nazi domination, which only allowed pro-Nazi Czech associations and tended to stress ties of the Czechs with the Bohemian Germans and other parts of the German people, in order to facilitate assimilation by Germanization. In Lidice the Nazi authorities committed a war crime against the local Czech population. On May 2, 1945 the Prague Uprising reached its peak, supported by the Russian Liberation Army. The post-war expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia and the immediate reprisals against Germans and Nazi collaborators by Czech resistance and the Czechoslovak state authorities, made Czechs - especially in the early 1950s - settle alongside Slovaks and Roma people in the former lands of the Sudeten Germans, who had been deported to West Germany and Austria according to the Potsdam Conference and Yalta Conference.
The Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was followed by a wave of emigration, unseen before and stopped shortly after (estimate: 70,000 immediately, 300,000 in total), typically of highly qualified people.
The most successful and influential of all Czech kings was Charles IV (Karel IV.), who also became the Holy Roman Emperor. The Luxembourg dynasty represents the heights of Czech (Bohemian) statehood territorial and influence as well as advancement in many areas of human endeavors.
Many people are considered national heroes and cultural icons, many national stories concern their lives. Jan Hus was a religious reformist from the 1400s. The teacher of nations Jan Amos Komenský is also considered a notable figure in Czech history. Josef Jungmann is often credited for expanding the modern Czech language, and preventing its extinction.
There are also ancient folk stories about the Czech people, such as the Forefather Čech, who according to legend brought the tribe of Czechs into its land, or Přemysl, the Ploughman, who started the dynasty that ruled for 400 years until 1306.
The Czech Republic has had multiple prime ministers the first of which was latter president Klaus, the second under Havel was Josef Tošovský and the last prime minister under Havel was prominent ČSSD member Miloš Zeman. So far Klaus has had five prime ministers, the current one being Jan Fischer.
Sports have also been a contributor to famous Czechs especially tennis, soccer, hockey and athletics:
Tennis – Ivan Lendl, Martina Navrátilová
Football – Pavel Nedvěd, Antonín Panenka, Petr Čech
Hockey – Jaromír Jágr, Dominik Hašek, Tomáš Plekanec
Athletics – Emil Zátopek, Roman Šebrle, Jan Železný
The Czechs are accomplished in the field of literature, painting and music. Poet Jaroslav Seifert was awarded the Nobel Literature Prize. Božena Němcová has become a cultural icon and gained much fame for her book Babička. Writer Franz Kafka (born in Prague) wrote most of his works in Prague (although in German).Mikoláš Aleš was a painter, known for redesigning the Prague National Theatre. Composers Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák have also been praised and the latter continued his work in New York, USA. Film director Miloš Forman, known best for his movie, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest is of Czech origin and started his career in Czechoslovakia. National performers such as Karel Kryl, Helena Vondráčková, Karel Gott (singers), Zdeněk Svěrák (director and actor), Vlastimil Brodský, Vladimír Menšík (actors) or Ivan Mládek (comedian), have also made a mark in modern Czech history.
Czech culture boasts many saints, most notably St. Wenceslaus (Václav), patron of the Czech nation, St. John of Nepomuk (Jan Nepomucký), St. Adalbert (Vojtěch), Saint Procopius or St. Agnes of Bohemia (Anežka Česká).
The Czech Republic is compound from 3 historical lands: Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia; today the country is divided into 14 regions. There is a slightly varying culture in each of the lands. Each part speaks Czech but there are certain local dialects.
The Czech language is spoken by approximately 12 million people around the world including most of the people in the Czech Republic. It developed from the Proto-Slavic language in the 10th century and is mutually intelligible with the Slovak language.