US DEPARMENT OF STATE 
BACKGROUND NOTE:  CZECH REPUBLIC 
JULY 1994 
 
Official Name:  Czech Republic 

PROFILE 
 
Geography  
Area:  78,864 sq. kilometers; about the size of Virginia.   
Cities:  Capital--Prague (pop. 1.2 million). Other cities--Brno 
(385,000), Ostrava (327,000), Plzen (175,000).  Terrain:  Low mountains 
to the north and south, hills in the west.   
Climate:  Temperate. 
 
People 
Nationality:  Noun and adjective--Czech(s).   
Population (1993 est.):  10.5 million.  Annual growth rate:  0.1%.   
Ethnic groups:  Czech (95%), Germans, Gypsies, Poles, Silesians, 
Slovaks.  

Religions:  Roman Catholic, Protestant.  Language:  Czech.   
Education:  Literacy--99%.  

Health:  Life expectancy--males 68 years, females 75 years.   
Work force:  5.2 million; industry, construction and commerce--47%, 
government and other services--41%, agriculture--11%. 
 
Government  
Type:  Parliamentary republic.  
Independence:  The Czech Republic was established January 1, 1993 
(former Czechoslovak state established 1918).  Constitution:  Signed 
December 16, 1992.   

Branches:  Executive--president (chief of state), prime minister (head 
of government), cabinet.  Legislative--Chamber of Deputies (formerly the 
Czech National Council), Senate (to be elected in 1994). Judicial--
Supreme Court, Constitutional Court. 

Political parties:  Civic Democratic Party-Christian Democratic Party 
(ODS-KDS), 76 seats; Left Bloc (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia 
[KSCM]-Democratic Left [DL]), 35 seats; Czechoslovak Social Democratic 
Party (CSSD), 16 seats; Liberal Social Union (LSU), 16 seats; Christian 
Democratic Union-Czech Peoples Party (KDU-CSL), 15 seats; Association 
for the Republic-Republican Party of the Czech Republic (SPR-RSC), 14 
seats; Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), 14 seats; Movement for 
Autonomous Democracy in Moravia and Silesia (HSDMS), 14 seats.   
Suffrage:  Universal at 18. 

Administrative subdivisions:  Two regions--Bohemia and Moravia; seven 
administrative districts and Prague. 
 
Flag:  Blue triangle on staff side; upper white band, lower red band.  
 
Economy  
GDP (1993 est.):  $30 billion.   
Per capita income (1993 est.):  $3,000. 
Natural resources:  Coal, coke, timber, lignite, uranium, magnesite. 
Agriculture:  Products--wheat, rye, oats, corn, barley, hops, potatoes, 
sugar beets, hogs, cattle, horses. 

Industry:  Types--iron, steel, machinery and equipment, cement, sheet 
glass, motor vehicles, armaments, chemicals, ceramics, wood, paper 
products, and footwear. 

Trade (1993):  Exports--$9 billion:  machinery, iron, steel, chemicals, 
raw materials, consumer goods. Trading partners--Austria, Belgium, 
Commonwealth of Independent States, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, 
Switzerland, United States. 

Exchange rate (July 1994):  30 Czech crowns=$1.  
 

PEOPLE  
 
The majority of the 10.5 million inhabitants of the Czech Republic are 
ethnically and linguistically Czech (95%).  Other ethnic groups include:  
Germans, Gypsies, Poles, and Silesians.  After the division, some 
Slovaks remained in the Czech Republic and comprise roughly 3% of the 
current population.  The border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia 
is open for former citizens of Czechoslovakia.  Laws establishing 
religious freedom were passed shortly after the revolution of 1989 
lifting oppressive regulations enacted by the former communist regime.  
Major denominations and their estimated percentage populations are:  
Roman Catholic (39%), Protestant (4%).  A large percentage of the Czech 
population claim to be atheists (49%), and 16% describe themselves as 
uncertain.  About 10,000 Jews continue to live there of a pre-war 
population of more than 360,000. 
 

HISTORY  
 
The Czech Republic was the western part of the Czech and Slovak Federal 
Republic.   Formed into a common state after World War I (October 18, 
1918), the Czechs, Moravians, and Slovaks remained united for more than 
75 years.  On January 1, 1993, the two republics split to form two 
separate states. 
 
The Czechs lost their national independence to the Austro-Hungarian 
Empire in 1620 at the Battle of White Mountain and, for the next 300 
years, were ruled by the Austrian Monarchy.  With the collapse of the 
monarchy at the end of World War I, the independent country of 
Czechoslovakia was formed, encouraged by, among others, U.S. President 
Woodrow Wilson.   
 
Despite cultural differences, the Slovaks shared with the Czechs similar 
aspirations for independence from the Hapsburg state and voluntarily 
united with the Czechs.  The Slovaks were not at the same level of 
economic and technological development as the Czechs, but the freedom 
and opportunity found in Czechoslovakia enabled them to make strides 
toward overcoming these inequalities.  However, the gap never was fully 
bridged, and the discrepancy played a continuing role throughout the 75 
years of the union. 
 
Although Czechoslovakia was the only East European country to remain a 
parliamentary democracy from 1918 to 1938, it was plagued with minority 
problems, the most important concerning  the country's large German 
population.  Constituting more than 22% of the interwar state's 
population and largely concentrated in the Bohemian and Moravian border 
regions (the Sudetenland), members of this minority supported in large 
part by Nazi Germany undermined the new Czechoslovak state.  Internal 
and external pressures culminated in September 1938, when, at Munich, 
France, and the United Kingdom yielded to Nazi pressures and agreed to 
force Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany.   
 
Fulfilling Hitler's aggressive designs on all of Czechoslovakia, Germany 
invaded what remained of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939, establishing 
a German "protectorate."  By this time, Slovakia had already declared 
independence and had become a puppet state of the Germans. 
 
At the close of World War II, Soviet troops overran all of Slovakia, 
Moravia, and much of Bohemia, including Prague.  In May 1945, U.S. 
forces liberated the city of Plzen and most of western Bohemia.  A 
civilian uprising against the German garrison took place in Prague in 
May 1945.  Following Germany's surrender, some 2.9 million ethnic 
Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia with Allied approval. 
 
Reunited after the war, the Czechs and Slovaks set federal and national 
elections for the spring of 1946.  The democratic elements, led by 
President Eduard Benes, hoped the Soviet Union would allow 
Czechoslovakia the freedom to choose its own form of government and 
aspired to a Czechoslovakia that would act as a bridge between East and 
West.  The Czechoslovak communist party, which won 38% of the vote, held 
most of the key positions in the government and gradually managed to 
neutralize or silence the anti-communist forces.  Although the 
communist-led government initially intended to participate in the 
Marshall Plan, it was forced by Moscow to back out.  Under the cover of 
superficial legality, the communist party seized power in February 1948. 
 
After extensive purges modeled on the Stalinist pattern in other East 
European states, the communist party tried 14 of its former leaders in 
November 1952 and sentenced 11 to death.  For more than a decade 
thereafter, the Czechoslovak communist political structure was 
characterized by the orthodoxy of the leadership of party chief Antonin 
Novotny. 
 
The 1968 Soviet Invasion  
 
The communist leadership allowed token reforms in the early 1960s, but 
discontent arose within the ranks of the communist party central 
committee, stemming from dissatisfaction with the slow pace of the 
economic reforms, resistance to cultural liberalization, and the desire 
of the Slovaks within the leadership for greater autonomy for their 
republic.  This discontent expressed itself with the removal of Novotny 
from party leadership in January 1968 and from the presidency in March.  
He was replaced as party leader by a Slovak, Alexander Dubcek. 
 
After January 1968, the Dubcek leadership took practical steps toward 
political, social, and economic reforms.  In addition, it called for 
politico-military changes in the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact and 
Council for Mutual Economic Assistance.  The leadership affirmed its 
loyalty to socialism and the Warsaw Pact but also expressed the desire 
to improve relations with all countries of the world regardless of their 
social systems. 
 
A program adopted in April 1968 set guidelines for a modern, humanistic 
socialist democracy that would guarantee, among other things, freedom of 
religion, press, assembly, speech, and travel; a program that, in 
Dubcek's words, would give socialism "a human face."  After 20 years of 
little public participation, the population gradually started to take 
interest in the government, and Dubcek became a truly popular national 
figure. 
 
The internal reforms and foreign policy statements of the Dubcek 
leadership created great concern among some other  Warsaw Pact 
governments.  On the night of August 20, 1968, Soviet, Hungarian, 
Bulgarian, East German, and Polish troops invaded and occupied 
Czechoslovakia.  The Czechoslovak Government immediately declared that 
the troops had not been invited into the country and that their invasion 
was a violation of socialist principles, international law, and the UN 
Charter. 
 
The principal Czechoslovak reformers were forcibly and secretly taken to 
the Soviet Union.  Under obvious Soviet duress, they were compelled to 
sign a treaty that provided for the "temporary stationing" of an 
unspecified number of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia. 
 
Dubcek was removed as party First Secretary on April 17, 1969, and 
replaced by another Slovak, Gustav Husak.  Later, Dubcek and many of his 
allies within the party were stripped of their party positions in a 
purge that lasted until 1971 and reduced party membership by almost one-
third. 
 
The 1970s and 1980s became known as the period of "normalization," in 
which the apologists for the 1968 Soviet invasion prevented, as best 
they could, any opposition to their conservative regime.  Political, 
social, and economic life stagnated.  The population, cowed by the 
"normalization," was quiet. 
 
At the time of the communist takeover, Czechoslovakia had a balanced 
economy and one of the higher levels of industrialization on the 
continent.  In 1948, however, the government began to stress heavy 
industry over agricultural and consumer goods and services.  Many basic 
industries and foreign trade, as well as domestic wholesale trade, had 
been nationalized before the Communists took power.  Nationalization of 
most of the retail trade was completed in 1950-51.   
 
Heavy industry received major economic support during the 1950s, but 
waste and inefficient use of industrial resources resulted from central 
planning.  Although the labor force was traditionally skilled and 
efficient, inadequate incentives for labor and management contributed to 
high labor turnover, low productivity, and poor product quality.  
Economic failures reached a critical stage in the 1960s, after which 
various reform measures were sought, with no satisfactory results. 
 
Hope for wide-ranging economic reform came with Alexander Dubcek's rise 
in January 1968.  Despite renewed efforts, however, Czechoslovakia could 
not come to grips with inflationary forces, much less begin the immense 
task of correcting the economy's basic problems. 
 
The economy saw growth during the 1970s but then stagnated between 1978-
82.  Attempts at revitalizing it in the 1980s with management and worker 
incentive programs were largely unsuccessful.  The economy grew after 
1982, achieving an annual average output growth of more than 3% between 
1983-85.  Imports from the West were curtailed, exports boosted,  and 
hard currency debt reduced substantially.  New investment was made in 
the electronic, chemical, and pharmaceutical sectors, which were 
industry leaders in Eastern Europe in the mid 1980s. 
 
The Velvet Revolution 
 
The roots of the 1989 civic Forum movement that came to power during the 
"Velvet Revolution" lie in human rights activism.  On January 1, 1977, 
more than 250 human rights activists signed a manifesto called the 
Charter 77, which criticized the government for failing to implement 
human rights provisions of documents it had signed, including the 
state's own constitution; international covenants on political, civil, 
economic, social, and cultural rights; and the Final Act of the 
Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  Although not 
organized in any real sense, the signatories of Charter 77 constituted a 
citizens' initiative aimed at inducing the Czechoslovak Government to 
observe formal obligations to respect the human rights of their 
citizens.   
 
In the days after November 17, 1989, Charter 77 and other groups united 
to become the Civic Forum, an umbrella group championing bureaucratic 
reform and civil liberties.  Its leader was the dissident playwright 
Vaclav Havel.  Intentionally eschewing the label "party," a word given a 
negative connotation during the previous regime, Civic Forum quickly 
gained the support of millions of Czechs, as did its Slovak counterpart, 
Public Against Violence.   
 
Faced with an overwhelming popular repudiation, the Communist Party all 
but collapsed.  Its leaders, Husak and party chief Milos Jakes, resigned 
in December 1989, and Havel was elected President of Czechoslovakia on 
December 29.   
 
The astonishing quickness of these events was in part due to the 
unpopularity of the communist regime and changes in the policies of its 
Soviet guarantor as well as to the rapid, effective organization of 
these public initiatives into a viable opposition.   
 
A coalition government, in which the communist party had a minority of 
ministerial positions, was formed in December 1989.  The first free 
elections in Czechoslovakia since 1948 took place in June 1990 without 
incident and with more than 95% of the population voting.  As 
anticipated, Civic Forum and Public Against Violence won landslide 
victories  in their respective republics and gained a comfortable 
majority in the federal parliament.  The parliament undertook 
substantial steps toward securing the democratic evolution of 
Czechoslovakia.   It successfully moved toward fair local elections in 
November 1990, ensuring fundamental change on the county and town level. 
 
Civic Forum found, however, that although it had successfully completed 
its primary objective--the overthrow of the communist regime--it was 
ineffectual as a governing party.  The demise of Civic Forum was viewed 
by most as necessary and inevitable.   
 
By the end of 1990, unofficial parliamentary "clubs" had evolved with 
distinct political agendas.  These solidified into the parties that make 
up the Czech political landscape.  Most influential is the Civic 
Democratic Party, headed by Prime Minister and former Federal Minister 
of Finance Vaclav Klaus.  Other notable parties that came into being 
after the split were the Civic Movement and Civic Democratic Alliance. 
 
By 1992, Slovak calls for greater autonomy effectively blocked the daily 
functioning of the federal government.  In the election of June 1992, 
Klaus's Civic Democratic Party won handily in the Czech lands on a 
platform of economic reform.  Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a 
Democratic Slovakia emerged as the leading party in Slovakia, basing its 
appeal on fairness to Slovak demands for autonomy.  Federalists, like 
Havel, were unable to contain the trend toward the split.  In July 1992, 
President Havel resigned.  In the latter half of 1992, Klaus and Meciar 
hammered out an agreement that the two republics would go their separate 
ways by the end of the year. 
 
Members of the federal parliament, divided along national lines, barely 
cooperated enough to pass the law officially separating the two nations.  
The law was passed on December 27, 1992.  On January 1, 1993, the Czech 
Republic and the Republic of Slovakia were simultaneously and peacefully 
founded. 
 
Relationships between the two states, despite occasional disputes about 
the division of federal property and governing of the border have been 
as peaceful as Prime Ministers Klaus and Meciar promised.  Both states 
attained immediate recognition from the U.S. and their European 
neighbors. 
 

POLITICAL CONDITIONS AND GOVERNMENT 
 
The Czech political scene supports a broad spectrum of parties ranging 
from the semi-reformed communist party on the far left to the 
nationalistic Republican Party on the extreme right.  Currently, the 
ruling coalition comprises the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Civic 
Democratic Alliance (ODA), the Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL), and 
the splinter Christian Democratic Party (KDS).  It is generally 
considered right of center.  The ruling coalition includes several 
prominent economists and derives support mainly from the free market 
reforms they advocate.  As Prime Minister, Klaus represents the 
coalition and wields considerable power.  These powers include the right 
to set the agenda for most foreign and domestic policy, mobilize the 
parliamentary majority, override a presidential veto, and choose 
governmental ministers. 
 
Vaclav Havel, now President of the Czech Republic, is not affiliated 
with any party but remains one of the country's most popular 
politicians.  As formal head of state, he is granted specific powers 
such as the right to nominate Constitutional Court judges, dissolve 
parliament under certain conditions, and enact a veto on legislation. 
 
With the split of the former Czechoslovakia, the powers and 
responsibilities of the now defunct federal parliament were transferred 
to the Czech National Council, which renamed itself the Chamber of 
Deputies.  It has become the highest legislative body.  
Constitutionally, it is bicameral, with the Chamber of Deputies and the 
Senate.  
 
The Senate has not yet been elected; elections are slated for later in 
1994.  Chamber delegates are elected from seven districts and the 
capital, Prague, for four-year terms, on the basis of proportional 
representation. 
 
The country's highest court of appeals is the Supreme Court, elected by 
and responsible to the Chamber of Deputies.  The Constitutional Court, 
which rules on constitutional issues, is appointed by the president, and 
its members serve 10-year terms. 
 
National Security Issues 
 
A major overhaul of the Czechoslovak defense forces began in 1990 and 
continues in the Czech Republic.  The military has assumed a more 
national-defense orientation.  The armed forces that numbered up to 
200,000 in 1989 will be cut down to 65,000 by 1995.  Other reforms 
include: 
 
--  Cutting the Czechoslovak Army from 48,000 to 23,000 members.  It is 
now organized into corps with subordinate brigades. 
 
--  Cutting the Czechoslovak Air Force from 55,000 to 27,000.  It is now 
organized into air defense and tactical air corps, each with two air 
divisions. 
 
--  Dropping the compulsory military training requirement for those more 
than 18 from two years to one. 
 
Principal Government Officials 
President--Vaclav Havel (Independent) 
Prime Minister--Vaclav Klaus (ODS) 
Foreign Minister--Josef Zieleniec (ODS) 
Ambassador to the U.S.--Michael Zantovsky 
 
The Czech Republic maintains an embassy at 3900 Spring of Freedom 
Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, (tel. 202-363-6315). 
 

ECONOMY  
 
Of the emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe the Czech 
Republic has one of the most developed industrialized economies.  Its 
strong industrial tradition dates to the 19th century, when Bohemia and 
Moravia were the economic heartland of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  
Today, this heritage is both an asset and a liability.  The Czech 
Republic has a well educated population and a well developed 
infrastructure, but its industrial plants and much of its industrial 
equipment tend to be obsolete. 
 
According to the Stalinist development policy of planned 
interdependence, all the economies of the socialist countries were 
linked tightly with that of the Soviet Union.  With the disintegration 
of the communist economic alliance in 1991, Czech manufacturers lost 
their traditional markets among former communist countries to the East, 
some of whom still owe the former Czechoslovakia sizable debts. 
 
The Czech Republic lacks sufficient energy resources as well as many 
other raw materials.  Its major source of energy is highly polluting 
low-grade brown coal, which is not considered a viable long-term option.  
Nuclear energy is currently considered the country's most plausible 
alternative.  The Czechs are almost entirely dependent on a Russian 
pipeline for petroleum and natural gas.  For this reason, they have 
recently signed an agreement to construct an oil pipeline from Germany 
by 1994. 
 
The principal industries are heavy and general machine-building, iron 
and steel production, metalworking, chemicals, electronics, 
transportation equipment, textiles, glass, brewing, china, ceramics and 
pharmaceuticals.  Its main agricultural products are sugar beets, fodder 
roots, potatoes, wheat, and hops. 
 
The "Velvet Revolution" in 1989 offered a chance for profound and 
sustained economic reform.  Signs of economic resurgence have begun to 
appear in the wake of the shock therapy that the International Monetary 
Fund (IMF) labeled the "big bang" of January 1991.  Since then, astute 
economic management has led to the liberalization of 95% of all price 
controls, annual inflation in the 10%-15% range, modest budgetary 
deficits of 2%-4% of GDP, low unemployment, a positive balance-of-
payments position, a  stable exchange rate, foreign reserves at a post-
World War II high (about $5 billion), a shift of exports from former 
communist economic bloc markets to Western Europe, and a manageable 
foreign debt. 
 
Particularly impressive have been the Republic's strict fiscal policies.  
Following a series of currency devaluations ending in January 1991, the 
crown has remained stable in relation to the U.S.  dollar.  The black 
market exchange rate, which in the past deprived the government of 
valuable western currency, has effectively been eliminated.  The Czech 
crown, now partially convertible, should become fully convertible in 
1995 or 1996. 
 
In addition, the government has revamped the legal and administrative 
structure governing investment in order to stimulate the economy and 
attract foreign partners.  Shifting emphasis from the East to the West 
has necessitated restructuring existing facilities in banking and 
telecommunications as well as adjusting commercial laws and practices to 
fit Western standards.  The republic has made progress toward creating a 
stable investment climate. 
 
This success enabled the Czech Republic to become the first post-
communist country to receive an investment grade credit rating by 
international credit institutions.  For this reason, the country  
attracted $3 billion in foreign investment during the period of 1991 to 
1993, with the U.S. holding 30% of the foreign investment, in second 
place just after Germany.   The Czech Government welcomes U.S. 
investment, in particular, as a counter-balance to the strong economic 
influence of Western Europe, specifically that of their powerful 
neighbor Germany.  Since the Velvet Revolution, the number of U.S. 
companies represented in Prague (where nearly all the foreign investors 
are located) has increased from a handful to more than 500. 
 
The government has an ambitious plan to privatize state industries in 
all sectors of the economy.  It hopes to create a private sector rapidly 
using the following means:  restitution of property confiscated under 
the former communist regime, sale of large and small state-owned 
enterprises through a voucher system, direct sales and rights to 
ownership for foreign investors, and encouraging entrepreneurship. 
 
The republic boasts a flourishing consumer production sector and is 
making marked progress toward privatizing state-owned heavy industries 
through the voucher privatization system.  Under the system, every 
citizen was given the opportunity to buy, for a moderate price, a book 
of vouchers that represents potential shares in any state-owned company.  
The voucher holders could, then, invest their vouchers, infusing the 
chosen company with valuable capital.  State ownership of businesses, 
estimated to be about 97% under communism, will be reduced to about 30% 
by the end of 1994.  When the voucher privatization process is complete, 
Czechs will own shares of each of the Czech companies, making them one 
of the highest per capita share owners in the world.  Privatization 
through restitution of real estate to the former owners was largely 
completed in 1992.  In the words of Prime Minister Klaus, the republic 
has "crossed the Rubicon" in terms of privatization. 
 
The republic's economic transformation is far from complete--the 
government still faces serious challenges in transforming the housing 
sector, privatizing the health care system, solving serious 
environmental problems, and helping newly privatized state-owned 
companies adjust to the rigors of free-market competition. 
 
Full membership in the European Union (EU), which the government hopes 
to achieve by the year 2000, is probably the country's highest foreign 
policy goal.  It became an associate member of the EU in 1993, but it 
may take a decade or more for the economy to reach Western European 
standards.  As of 1993, wage levels, averaging $200 a month, were 10%-
20% of those in the neighboring Germany and Austria.  Productivity also 
is substantially lower due to chronic underinvestment. 
 
The division of Czechoslovakia has not had an appreciable effect on the 
Czech economy.  An agreement was concluded to divide all federal 
property of the former Czechoslovak state according to a 2:1 ratio in 
favor of the Czech Republic.  Firm monetary and fiscal policies are 
likely to be maintained, meeting the objective of a balanced budget.  
Real GDP is likely to remain stable, with unemployment increasing to 
about 5% and inflation to the 20% range. 
 

FOREIGN RELATIONS  
 
The foreign policy of Czechoslovakia had, until 1989, followed that of 
the Soviet Union.  Since independence, the Czechs have made integration 
into Western institutions their chief foreign policy objective. 
 
Fundamental to this objective is Czech membership in the European Union.  
The government has met most EU demands.  Although there have been 
disagreements over some economic issues, such as agricultural tariffs, 
the EU has signed various association agreements with the Czech 
Government designed to facilitate membership. 
 
The Czech Republic is a member of the United Nations and participates in 
its specialized agencies.  It is a member of the General Agreement on 
Trade and Tariffs (GATT).  It maintains diplomatic relations with more 
than 85 countries, of which 63 have permanent representation in Prague. 
 

U.S.-CZECH RELATIONS  
 
Millions of Americans have their roots in Bohemia and Moravia, and a 
large community in the United States has strong cultural and familial 
ties with the Czech Republic.  President Woodrow Wilson and the United 
States played a major role in the establishment of the original 
Czechoslovak state on October 28, 1918.  President Wilson's 14 Points, 
including the right of ethnic groups to form their own states, were the 
basis for the union of the Czechs and Slovaks.  Tomas Masaryk, the 
father of the state and its first President, visited the United States 
during World War I and worked with U.S. officials in developing the 
basis of the new country.  He used the U.S. Constitution as a model for 
the first Czechoslovak Constitution. 
 
After World War II, and the return of the Czechoslovak government in 
exile, normal relations were continued until 1948, when the communists 
seized power.  Relations cooled rapidly.  The Soviet invasion of 
Czechoslovakia in August 1968 further complicated U.S.-Czechoslovak 
relations.  The United States referred the matter to the UN Security 
Council as a violation of the UN Charter, but no action was taken 
against the Soviets. 
 
With the "Velvet Revolution" of 1989, bilateral relations have improved 
immensely.  Dissidents once sustained by U.S. encouragement and human 
rights policies reached high levels in the government.  President Havel, 
in his first official visit as head of the Czechoslovakia, addressed the 
U.S. Congress and was interrupted 21 times by standing ovations.  In 
1990, on the first anniversary of the revolution, President Bush, in 
front of an enthusiastic crowd on Prague's Wenceslas Square, pledged 
U.S. support in building a democratic Czechoslovakia.  Toward this end, 
the U.S. Government has actively encouraged the political and economic 
transformation.  U.S. funding has been in the range of $30-$35 million 
annually, largely regional programs administered by the U.S. Agency for 
International Development. 
 
Although the U.S. Government was originally opposed to the idea of 
Czechoslovakia forming two separate states, concerned that the split 
might aggravate existing regional political tensions, it recognized both 
the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993.  Since then, U.S.-
Czech relations have remained strong economically, politically, and 
culturally. 
 

TRAVEL NOTES 
 
Customs:  A passport is needed but a visa is not required for stays of 
up to 30 days.  For further information concerning entry requirements 
for the Czech Republic, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Czech 
Republic at 3900 Spring of Freedom Street, NW, Washington, DC  20008, 
telephone (202) 363-6315. 
 
Health:  Medical facilities are available.  Some facilities, 
particularly in remote areas, may be limited.  Doctors and hospitals 
often expect cash payment for health services.  U.S. medical insurance 
is not always valid outside the United States.  Travellers have found 
that in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific 
overseas coverage has proved to be useful.  Further information on 
health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control's 
international travellers hotline at (404) 332-4559.  

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Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public 
Affairs -- Office of  Public Communication -- Washington, DC July 1994 -
- Managing Editor:  Peter Knecht -- Editor:  Peter Freeman   
 
Department of State Publication 10190 Background Notes Series -- This 
material is in the public domain and may  be reprinted without 
permission; citation of this source is appreciated. 
 
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing 
Office,Washington, DC 20402. 
 
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