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25-9-2017, 19:00 UTC
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Minorities in the Czech Republic

 By
PEOPLE IN NEED, the widely respected Czech humanitarian organisation attached to Czech Television has launched a campaign against racism and intolerance in the Czech Republic. The stated aim is: "to improve the situation of ethnic minorities living in the Czech Republic, to support their integration as full members of society and to reduce racism and xenophobia".

One of the main focuses of the campaign is the media, and Czech Radio has expressed its full support for the initiative. Radio Prague is broadcasting a series of programmes to offer a broader picture of the various minorities in the Czech Republic and their contribution to the life of the country.

A few facts and figures:

(provisional figures from the census conducted on 1st March 2001)


Czech: 9270615
Moravian: 373294
Silesian: 11248
Slovak: 183749
German: 38321
Polish: 50971
Roma: 11716
Other : 353019
Total population nationality: 10 292 933

The figures show that the great majority of Czech citizens consider their nationality to be Czech. Moravia and Silesia are areas in the east and north-east of the country, where the majority also count themselves as Czechs, but where a significant minority prefer to define their nationality on the basis of regional patriotism. The large Slovak minority comes as no surprise, given that the Czech Republic and Slovakia were one country until 1st January 1993. There are many Czech-Slovak marriages and many Slovaks work, study and live in the Czech Republic. The German minority is a tiny fraction of the figure before 1945, when there were over three million native German speakers in Czechoslovakia. Most were expelled between 1945 and 1948. Some remained because they were married to Czechs, others because they were working in jobs essential to the economy and some were allowed to stay because they had actively resisted fascism during the German occupation. The Polish minority lives almost exclusively in the region in the far north-east of the Czech Republic, near the town of Tesin. This is a border region that is historically ethnically mixed. With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy after the First World War the region was divided between Czechoslovakia and Poland, including the town of Tesin itself, and many Poles found themselves living on Czechoslovak territory. The figure for the Roma minority is deceptively low. Informal estimates suggest that the number of Roma in the Czech Republic is between fifteen and thirty times the figure that emerged from the census. Many prefer not to define their nationality as Romany and this is without doubt partly for fear of discrimination.

Smaller minorities in the Czech Republic include Ukrainians and Hungarians, who, along with the other minorities mentioned above, are represented in the Czech Government's Council for Nationalities (www.vlada.cz). There are also small Croatian and Greek minorities. The history of the Greek minority is interesting. Most came to communist Czechoslovakia after the defeat of the left in the Greek civil war that followed WWII. In the 1991 census 218 people described their nationality as Jewish. This figure refers specifically to nationality and not religion. The number of members of Jewish communities in the Czech Republic is a good deal higher, but is a tiny fraction of the figure before the Second World War, when it is estimated that over 70 000 Jews from the territory of today's Czech Republic were murdered.

There are sizable Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese communities in the Czech Republic, although as national minorities these groups are small, because the great majority are only temporary residents in the Czech Republic. In Prague there are also many expatriates from various English-speaking countries. Another group worth mentioning are students from developing countries who studied in large numbers in Czechoslovakia during the 1970s and 1980s, and some of whom stayed, often settling in the country with a Czech partner.

Nationality figures from the 1991 census:

Total population: 10 302 215

Czech: 8 363 768
Moravian: 1 362 313
Silesian: 4 446
Slovak: 314 877
Polish: 59 383
German: 48 556
Roma: 32 903
Hungarian: 19 932
Ukrainian: 8 220
Russian: 5 062
Bulgarian: 3 487
Greek: 3 379
Ruthenian: 1 926
Rumanian: 1 034
Vietnamese: 421
Austrian: 413
Jewish: 218
Other: 9 860
Without national identification: 22 017

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