Following the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, and the Conference of Vienna in 1815 (which re-established Europe's borders in the wake of Napoleon's defeat) the area of modern-day Czechia was absorbed into the Austrian Empire, and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Throughout the next century, the people of Bohemia (as Czechia was then known) struggled for fair representation within the empire, which was a European melting-pot characterized by ethnic inequality and injustice. The ruling classes were made up of ethnic Germans and Magyars (from Austria and Hungary respectively), and the rulers used politics to control and oppress the other groups within the empire, which included Croats, Czechs, Poles and Serbians. Bohemia was under the Austrian-controlled section of the empire, known as Cisleithania. At the outbreak of the First World War, more than one million Czech soldiers were conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army, with an estimated 150,000 becoming fatalities; coupled with mass displacement and the devastating impact of the Spanish Flu pandemic in the wake of the war, the area of Czechia saw it population fall by almost 400,000 people in this five year period.
A new nation
Following the First World War, the new republic of Czechoslovakia was formed, which included most of present-day Czechia and Slovakia, and smaller parts of their neighboring states. The region inherited a significant portion of its former-empire's industry, and emerged as a formidable and competitive economy in the newly-established Europe. Czechoslovakia was the only democracy in central or Eastern Europe throughout the inter-war years, and its politicians promoted relatively inclusive and progressive policies which contrasted the political attitudes of the former empire; in spite of this, dissent grew among non-Czechoslovak groups, particularly the German population which was supported by Hitler's Nazi Party. The Munich Agreement of 1938 (or "Munich Betrayal" as it is known in Czechia) saw Czechoslovakia's western allies allow Germany to annex the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, in order to prevent Hitler from launching a full-scale military invasion. Other non-Czech regions were also quick to secede or be annexed by neighboring countries, and Germany completely annexed Bohemia (which had lost much of its defensive capabilities with the loss of Sudetenland) less than a year after the Munich Agreement. It is estimated that Czechoslovakia suffered almost 350,000 fatalities during the war, and approximately eighty percent of these were Jews murdered during the Holocaust.
Between 1940 and 1947, the population of present-day Czechia dropped from 11.2 million people to below 8.8 million; while a significant portion of this decline was made up by the fatalities suffered during the war and Holocaust, the largest decline was a result of the mass-expulsion of ethnic Germans in 1945 and 1946. It is estimated that as many as 800,000 Germans were forcefully expelled from the Czech lands in the summer of 1945, and several thousand died during these mass expulsions. Almost 2.5 million Germans were removed from Czechoslovakia in the 18 months after the war, as part of the Beneš decrees, which continue to be a controversial topic in Czechia to this day.
Following the Second World War, Czechoslovakia struggled to keep up economically and industrially with Western Europe, as it had done in the previous two decades. The communist party took control of the country in 1948, and and Czechoslovakia became an undemocratic, communist, satellite-Soviet state until its peaceful dissolution in 1989. During this time, citizens regularly protested against falling living standards and political incompetence, although these were regularly suppressed by the Czechoslovak military and police. The Prague Spring in 1968 was the most notable of these uprisings, which resulted in some progressive and democratic policies being introduced by the newly-elected leader, Alexander Dubček. Eight months after his election, a Soviet-led invasion of up to 650,000 troops from other Warsaw Pact countries entered the country, and within another eight months they suppressed the protests, replaced the leader and restored the previous system of communist government; at the end of the 1960s, an estimated 300,000 had people emigrated from the country amid the political instability and invasion. The population plateaued around 10.3 million people throughout the 1980s and 1990s; communism was peacefully ended with the Velvet Revolution in 1989, and Czechoslovakia split into the states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 01, 1993 (sometimes known as the Velvet Divorce). Since the fall of communism, Czechia has arguably had the most successful transition to democracy of the Eastern Bloc countries; joining the EU in 2004, opening its borders in 2007, and being classified as a high-income and developed country. After decades of stagnation, economic investment, large numbers of returning migrants and an influx of foreign workers has seen Czechia's population grow again since the mid-2000s, and in 2020 the population is over 10.7 million people.
Population of Czechia from 1819 to 2020
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UN DESA, & Gapminder. (August 31, 2019). Population of Czechia from 1819 to 2020 (in 1,000s) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved December 09, 2023, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1008855/total-population-czechia-1950-2020/
UN DESA, und Gapminder. "Population of Czechia from 1819 to 2020 (in 1,000s)." Chart. August 31, 2019. Statista. Accessed December 09, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1008855/total-population-czechia-1950-2020/
UN DESA, Gapminder. (2019). Population of Czechia from 1819 to 2020 (in 1,000s). Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: December 09, 2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1008855/total-population-czechia-1950-2020/
UN DESA, and Gapminder. "Population of Czechia from 1819 to 2020 (in 1,000s)." Statista, Statista Inc., 31 Aug 2019, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1008855/total-population-czechia-1950-2020/
UN DESA & Gapminder, Population of Czechia from 1819 to 2020 (in 1,000s) Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1008855/total-population-czechia-1950-2020/ (last visited December 09, 2023)
Population of Czechia from 1819 to 2020 (in 1,000s) [Graph], UN DESA, & Gapminder, August 31, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1008855/total-population-czechia-1950-2020/