Czech Repblic flag 10 x 15 cm
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country borders Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west, Austria to the south, and Slovakia to the east. The capital and largest city is Prague (Czech: Praha). The country is composed of the historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as parts of Silesia. The Czech Republic is a member of NATO (since 1999); and the European Union (since 2004). As of January 1, 2009, the Czech Republic holds the EU Presidency.
Following the Battle of Mohács, the Czech lands fell under Habsburg rule from 1526, later becoming part of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. The independent Republic of Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War I. After the Munich Agreement, German occupation of Czechoslovakia and the consequent disillusion with the Western response and gratitude for the liberation of the major portion of Czechoslovakia by the Red Army, the Communist party won plurality (38%) in 1946 elections. In a 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 armies of Warsaw Pact countries, and the troops remained in the country until the overturn in 1989 by the Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed. On January 1, 1993 Czechoslovakia peacefully dissolved into its constituent states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Czech Republic is a pluralist multi-party parliamentary representative democracy. President Václav Klaus is the current head of state. The Prime Minister is the head of government (currently Mirek Topolánek). The Parliament has two chambers — the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. It is also a member of the OECD, the Council of Europe and the Visegrád Group.
The Czech Republic made economic reforms such as fast privatization and flat tax. Annual gross domestic product growth has recently been around 6%. The country is the first former member of the Comecon to achieve the status of a developed country (2006) according to the World Bank. The Czech Republic also ranks best compared to the former Comecon countries in the Human Development Index.
The national flag of the Czech Republic (Czech: státní vlajka Ceské republiky) is the same as the flag of the former Czechoslovakia. Upon the dissolution of Czechoslovakia the Czech Republic kept the Czechoslovak flag while the Slovak Republic adopted its own flag. The first flag of Czechoslovakia was based on the arms, and was white over red. This was identical to the Flag of Poland, so a blue triangle was added at the hoist. The flag was banned by the Nazis in 1938, and a horizontal tricolor of white, red, and blue was enforced. The original flag was restored in 1945.
When the Czech and Slovak Republics separated in 1993, the Czechs adopted a flag identical to the former flag of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, in direct violation of the constitutional act that explicitly forbids former federal symbols to be used by the two successor states.