Czechoslovakia (Czech: Československo, Slovak: Česko-Slovensko/before 1990 Československo) was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1918 until 1992 (except for the World War II period). On January 1, 1993, it peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in what was known as the Velvet Divorce, by analogy with the Velvet Revolution.
Form of state:
- 1918–1968 (except for 1938–1945): a centralized country;
- 1969–1992: a federal republic consisting of the Czech Socialist Republic (1990–1992: Czech Republic) and the Slovak Socialist Republic (1990–1992: Slovak Republic);
Neighbors: Germany (1945–1990: West Germany and East Germany), Poland, Soviet Union (1992: Ukraine), Romania (till 1939), Hungary, Austria
Topography: Generally irregular terrain. Western area part of north-central European uplands. Eastern region made up of northern reaches of Carpathian Mountains and Danube Basin lands.
Climate: Predominantly continental but varied from moderate temperatures of Western Europe in the west to more severe weather systems affecting Eastern Europe and the western Soviet Union in the east
- 19187–1920: Czecho-Slovak Republic or Czechoslovak Republic (abbreviated RČS); short form Czecho-Slovakia or rarely Czechoslovakia
- 1920–1938 and 1945–1960: Czechoslovak Republic (ČSR [initially abbreviated RČS]); short form Czechoslovakia
- 1938–1939: Czecho-Slovak Republic; Czecho-Slovakia
- 1960–1990: Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (ČSSR); Czechoslovakia
- April 1990: Czechoslovak Federative Republic (Czech version) and Czecho-Slovak Federative Republic (Slovak version),
- afterwards: Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (ČSFR, with the short forms Czechoslovakia (Czech version) and Czecho-Slovakia (Slovak version))
Coat of arms
1920–1945:  small version,  middle version,  big version
Main article: History of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia arose in October 1918 as one of the succession states of Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I. It consisted of the present-day territories of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and (until 1939) Carpatho-Ukraine (Ruthenia). It was the most industrialized part of the former Austria-Hungary, was a democratic republic throughout the pre-World War II period, but was characterized by ethnic problems. The ethnic problems were due to the fact that the second and third largest ethnic groups (Germans and Slovaks, respectively) were not fully satisfied with the dominance of the Czechs, and that the Germans and Hungarians of Czechoslovakia have never really accepted the creation of the new state.
Czechoslovakia was to become Hitler's target. After the Munich Agreement of 1938, Hitler's troops invaded the ethnic-German border regions of Bohemia and Moravia (the Sudetenland), Hungary received southern Slovakia, and Slovakia and Ruthenia received an autonomous status for a while. Finally Czechoslovakia ceased to exist in March 1939, when Hitler occupied whole of the Czech lands and (the remaining) Slovakia was forced to declare independence.
After World War II, the pre-war Czechoslovakia was reestablished, the Germans were expelled from the country and Ruthenia was occupied by (officially "given to") the Soviet Union. Three years later the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia seized power (1948–1989) and the country came under the influence of the Soviet Union. Except for a short period in the late 1960s (the Prague Spring) the country was characterized by the absence of democracy and relative economic backwardness compared to Western Europe. In the religious sphere, atheism was officially promoted and taught. In 1969, Czechoslovakia was turned into a federation of the Czech lands and Slovakia.
In 1989, the country became a democratic country again through the Velvet revolution. In 1992, the federal parliament decided to split the country in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as of January 1, 1993.
Heads of State and Government
International agreements and membership
After WWII, active participant in Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), Warsaw Pact, United Nations and its specialized agencies, and Movement of Nonaligned Nations; signatory of conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe
1918–1923: different systems on former Austrian territory (Bohemia, Moravia, small part of Silesia) and on former Hungarian territory (Slovakia and Ruthenia): 3 lands [země] (also called district units [obvody]) Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia + 21 counties [župy] in today's Slovakia + 2? counties in today's Ruthenia; both lands and counties were divided in districts [okresy]
1923–1927: like above, except that the above counties were replaced by 6 (grand) counties [(veľ)župy] in today's Slovakia and 1 (grand) county in today&'s Ruthenia, and the number and frontiers of the okresy were changed on these two territories
1928–1938: 4 lands [in Czech: země / in Slovak: krajiny] Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia, Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia; divided in districts [okresy]
- late 1938–March 1939: like above, but Slovakia and Ruthenia were promoted to "autonomous lands"
1945–1948: like 1928–1938, except that Ruthenia became part of the Soviet Union
1949–1960: 19 regions [kraje] divided in 270 districts [okresy]
1960–1992 :10 regions [kraje]+ Prague+ (since 1970) Bratislava; divided in 109–114 districts [okresy]; the kraje were abolished temporarily in Slovakia in 1969–1970 and for many functions since 1991 in Czechoslovakia; in addition, the two republics Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic were established in 1969 (without the word Socialist since 1990)
Population and ethnic groups
Main article: Population and Ethnic Groups of Czechoslovakia
Main article: Religion in Communist Czechoslovakia
In 1991: Roman Catholics 46.4%, Evangelic Lutheran 5.3%, Atheist 29.5%, n/a 16.7%, but there were huge differences between the 2 constituent republics – see Czech Republic and Slovakia
Health, social welfare and housing
Main article: Health and Social Welfare in Communist Czechoslovakia
After WWII, free health care available to all citizens. National health planning emphasized preventive medicine; factory and local health-care centers supplement hospitals and other inpatient institutions. Substantial improvement in rural health care in 1960s and 1970s.
Main articles: Czechoslovakia: 1918 - 1938 and Politics of Communist Czechoslovakia
After WWII, monopoly on politics held by Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Gustáv Husák elected first secretary of KSC in 1969 (changed to general secretary in 1971) and president of Czechoslovakia in 1975. Other parties and organizations existed but functioned in subordinate roles to KSC. All political parties, as well as numerous mass organizations, grouped under umbrella of National Front of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Human rights activists and religious activists severely repressed
Main article: Government structure of Communist Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia had the following constitutions throughout its history (1918 – 1992):
- Temporary Constitution of November 14 1918 [democratic], see: Czechoslovakia: 1918 - 1938
- The 1920 Constitution (The Constitutional Document of the Czechoslovak Republic) [democratic, in force till 1948, several amendments], see: Czechoslovakia: 1918 - 1938
- The 1948 Constitution (The Ninth-of-May Constitution) [a Communist one]
- The 1960 Constitution (The Constitution of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic) [a Communist one till 1989] with amendments in 1968 (Czechoslovakia turned into a federation), 1971, 1975, 1978, 1989 (leading role of the KSC abolished) and several times during 1990-1992 (e. g. 1990 change of the name of Czechoslovakia, 1991 incorporation of the human rights charter)
Society and social groups
Main article: Society of Communist Czechoslovakia
Main article: Education in Czechoslovakia
Education free at all levels and compulsory from age six to sixteen. Vast majority of population literate. Highly developed system of apprenticeship training and vocational schools supplemented general secondary schools and institutions of higher education
Main article: Resource base of Communist Czechoslovakia
After WWII, country energy short, relying on imported crude oil and natural gas from Soviet Union, domestic brown coal, and nuclear and hydroelectric energy. Energy constraints a major factor in 1980s.
Economy, foreign trade and financial system
Main articles: Economy of Communist Czechoslovakia and Economic History of Communist Czechoslovakia
After WWII, economy centrally planned with command links controlled by communist party, similar to Soviet Union. Large metallurgical industry but dependent on imports for iron and nonferrous ores.
- Industry: Extractive and manufacturing industries dominated sector. Major branches included machinery, chemicals, food processing, metallurgy, and textiles. Industry wasteful of energy, materials, and labor and slow to upgrade technology, but country source of high-quality machinery and arms for other communist countries.
- Agriculture: Minor sector but supplied bulk of food needs. Dependent on large imports of grains (mainly for livestock feed) in years of adverse weather. Meat production constrained by shortage of feed, but high per capita consumption of meat.
- Foreign Trade: Exports estimated at US$17.8 billion in 1985, of which 55 percent machinery, 14 percent fuels and materials, 16 percent manufactured consumer goods. Imports at estimated US$17.9 billion in 1985, of which 41 percent fuels and materials, 33 percent machinery, 12 percent agricultural and forestry products other. In 1986, about 80 percent of foreign trade with communist countries.
- Exchange Rate: Official, or commercial, rate Kcs 5.4 per US$1 in 1987; tourist, or noncommercial, rate Kcs 10.5 per US$1. Neither rate reflected purchasing power. The exchange rate on the black market was around Kcs 30 per US$1, and this rate became the official one once the currency became convertible in the early 1990s.
- Fiscal Year: Calendar year.
- Fiscal Policy: State almost exclusive owner of means of production. Revenues from state enterprises primary source of revenues followed by turnover tax. Large budget expenditures on social programs, subsidies, and investments. Budget usually balanced or small surplus.
Transportation and communications
Main article: Transportation in Czechoslovakia
Main article: Mass media in Communist Czechoslovakia
The Czechoslovakia national football team was a consistent performer in the international scene, with 8 appearances in the FIFA World Cup Finals, finishing in second-place in 1934 and 1962. The team also won the European Football Championship in 1976.
Czechoslovakia also had a very strong national ice-hockey team that has won many medals from the world championships and olympic games.
The famous tennis players Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova were born in Czechoslovakia.
Elmer Valo played in Major League Baseball between 1940 and 1961.
Last updated: 10-15-2005 18:35:24