What is the official and correct name of the country in the very heart of Europe? Do we call it just Czechia or should we talk about the Czech republic?
We’ll tell you rightaway – both names are correct. However, there are situations in which you should use one or the other and we will explain to you not only when to use which but also why many Czech people refuse to use the word Czechia.
Czech Republic – Česká republika
The name Czech Republic is in use since January 1, 1993 when Czechoslovakia split and Czech Republic became an independent country. The Czech people are very sensitive to be called Czechoslovakia because it has been almost 27 years. So, when you call them that you point out the lack of your knowledge of geography (Czechs learn about all the 50 US-states and to name all the African countries and their capitals at highschool so their standard are pretty high).
Czechia – Česko
The efforts to establish a short name for the Czech Republic pre-dates the splitting of Czechoslovakia. As the international pressure on “how shall we call you for short?” grew stronger, the question became more and more relevant and resulted in the official registration of the English version of the name Česko – Czechia at the UN in 2016.
Many people don’t like it…
A lot of people refuse the Czech name Česko as demeaning especially towards the people of Moravia and Silesia. Historically, Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia were independent lands and there was even an empire called Grand Moravia. The Bohemian and Moravian culture is actually quite different, as is the character of the people. Many still feel like the country consists of two nations (Silesians considering themselves partly Polish, partly North Moravian).
Although the English words Bohemia and Czechia don’t have much in common, in Czech they do – Bohemia is Čechy and Czechia is Česko. So here we have two (or three) nations in one country that only bears the name of one of them. Moreover, the Moravian culture and heritage has constantly been stumped over by politicians and people in charge. Some people finally accepted the fact that Czech Republic is a mouthful enough. However, they hoped for a change in the future which ended with the fact that another official name bearing only the word “Bohemian” was registered.
Many people also point out that the word Czechia could be confusing to some foreigners as was very apparent after the Boston attacks (Boston, USA) by the Chechnyan terrorists. A number of US-citizens confused Chechnya with Czechia and started blaming Czech Republic.
So when do we use Czech Republic and when Czechia?
It’s actually quite easy. In usual conversation, it doesn’t really matter if you say Czech Republic or Czechia. If you want to be absolutelly correct, you should remember that the name Czech Republic is used when your discourse or text is political. You can use the word Czechia in any other type of text or discourse, even if highly formal. For example, a scientific article about nature or a tourist guide can say “Czechia”, while an official State Agency would use the term “Czech Republic”.
So now you know it. It basically doesn’t matter whether you say Czechia or Czech Republic but remember, it’s not Czechoslovakia, Czech or Chechnya!
How to avoid faux pas? Read about these Czech habits that might surprise you!