Many people know that the Czech Republic used to be in the some state together with Slovakia – in Czechoslovakia. Some people even still did not realize that those states are not the same one any more and the term “Czechoslovakia” still says much more to them then “the Czech Republic”. The truth is, that bigger part of the 20th century spent Czechs and Slovaks in the same country.
Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918, when it declared its independence on Austro-Hungarian monarchy. It was rational to put those states together, because this way the new country was stronger, bigger and of more population so it was easier to get independence this way.
Czech and Slovak languages are very similar, except very few different words (which were often subjects of jokes), it is very easy to understand each other. So it was easy to declare both nations as brothers and to live in one democratic state together, also with a Ruthenia, today the very western part of Ukraine. The capital was in Prague. It worked quite well until 1938 as this period was later often recognized as the “gold times” of Czechoslovakia. But in 1938 Sudetenland was annexed by Nazi Germany and the former democratic republic quickly turned into a state with loose connections between Czech, Slovak and Ruthenian parts. During war years, 1939 – 1945, it was de-facto split into Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the Slovak Republic. But interesting fact is, that de jure Czechoslovakia still existed, with its exile government based in London.
After the war, Czechs and Slovaks lived in one country again, in 1948 the communists took the rule, which was a start of another totalitarian regime in the region, and this one lasted, sadly enough, over 40 years. The country was officially named the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic. In 1969 it became a federation, consisting of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic. In late 1989 came the Velvet revolution, and the long communist was finally over. In the beginning of 1990 the state was declared as a federal democratic republic consisting of Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. But it did not last long.
In the first day of 1993 Czechoslovakia was split in two independent countries. Because Slovakia wanted it, but as there was no referendum about it, it was not really will of its people as of maybe too ambitious politicians. So Slovakia got independence, it got new flag, new money and capital in Bratislava, and most of all – a new government. But the parting was peaceful and not really dramatic. So regardless the parting,
Czechs and Slovaks are still very good friends. There is a lot of Slovakian both students and workers in Prague. And if Czechs and Slovaks meet abroad, they still keep being friends, understanding each other, knowing same books, movies, singers, they still lived in one state for quite long. And recently, there was an interesting investigation, whose authors asked Czechs, which nations they like the most (well, accept themselves…) and who do you think won the first place?