The Czech Republic is located in central Europe. It shares borders with Austria, Slovakia, Germany and Poland. The Czech Republic was unified with Slovakia until 1993 as Czechoslovakia. Since the separatation, the Czech Republic has undergone major economic and social reforms as part of its efforts to achieve EU membership. This became a reality in 2004 when the Czech Republic joined the European Union along with nine other countries.
During the Cold War, Czechoslovakia was under Communist rule and was an ally of the USSR through the Warsaw Pact. Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the people of Czechoslovakia overthrew their Communist government in what was dubbed the 'Velvet Revolution'. Although Czechoslovakia remained a single country, the tensions between the majority Czech and minority Slovak populations made this situation unsustainable. On 1 January 1993, the two countries separated in a peaceful 'Velvet divorce'.
As an independent state, the Czech Republic set about adapting to the democratic liberal economic system. Under the presidency of revolutionary democratic leader Václav Havel, the Czech Republic initially made the most rapid development, leading to NATO membership in 1999. It was also the first former Eastern Bloc state to be given the status of a developed economy. However, following serious economic problems and a government reluctant to reform under President Vladimír Merčiar during the 1990s, its progress slowed.
The Czech Republic is a parliamentary republic. The head of state is the President, currently Václav Klaus of the right-wing Civic Democrat Party (ODS). Originally elected in 2003, he was re-elected at a close election in February 2008. Klaus is only the second President of the Czech Republic after Václav Havel held the position from 1993 to 2003. The President has some limited political powers, and is elected for five-year terms by a joint session of... [continues]
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