The Czech Republic (IPA: /ˈtʃɛk riˈpʌblɨk/) (Czech: Česká republika (help·info), short form in Czech: Česko, IPA: [ʧɛsko]), is a landlocked country in Central Europe and a member state of the European Union. The country has borders with Poland to the north, Germany to the west, Austria to the south, and Slovakia to the east. The capital and largest city is Prague (Czech: Praha), a major tourist destination. The country is composed of the historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as parts of Silesia.
The Czech lands were under Habsburg rule from 1526, later becoming part of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. The independent republic of Czechoslovakia was created 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 liberation of major part of Czechoslovakia by the Red Army, the Communist party gained the majority in 1946 elections. Following a coup in 1948, Czechoslovakia became a Communist-ruled state. Prague Spring of 1968, an attempt at reformation of the Communist regime, ended by invasion of armies of Warsaw Pact countries which didn't leave until after the 1989 Velvet Revolution. On January 1, 1993 the country peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Czech Republic made economic reforms such as massive 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 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. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. It is also a member of the OECD, the Council of Europe and the Visegrád Group.