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Country and Language

Czechs Abroad

Emigration (from Latin ex-migrare, emigrate) is leaving the country of origin and moving to another country. Similarly, immigration is coming into the country, which means the same, but from the perspective of the destination country. (http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emigrace)

The reasons why people choose to leave their country and start a new life in another country may be different. From a historical perspective, we distinguish religious reasons (typically after the Estates uprising in 1620 and after the introduction of Renewed Land Ordinance in 1627, when 150,000-200,000 Czech Protestants left the country), economic (emigration "for the better" took place especially in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, especially during the Great Depression until 1938) and political (especially during World War II and the period of the communist regime (1948-1987) when 170,938 citizens fled abroad).

As seen, the decision to emigrate may thus be either voluntary (economic migration) or involuntary, when the migrant does not abandon his or her country voluntarily, but under threat of persecution (religious or political migration).

As a result of emigration a large group of people lives abroad who are called a compatriot. A compatriot is a person of Czech (or Slovak) origin who belongs to the second and subsequent generations of immigrants born in transit or the destination country of emigration. While the number of Czech compatriots abroad is relatively high, it does not reach, for example, the level of Ireland (more people of Irish origin live abroad then in Ireland itself) - according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about 1.7 million of Czech people live abroad.

The largest number of compatriots lives in the USA (about 1.3 million), representing the most popular destination of Czech emigration, both economic (19th century - 1938) and political (from 1938 to 1989). The second largest group of compatriots – as expected - lives in Slovakia, which was until 1993 part of the same country. Surprisingly, the number of compatriots in Slovakia is relatively small - only 59 000. Germany is in third place with about 50,000 compatriots (Germany was the aim of emigration almost exclusively in the postwar era). Canada follows (46,000), then Australia (20,000), Austria (20, 000), Switzerland (20, 000) and further the numbers drop significantly (Zimbabwe, 100).

Detailed and fascination information about the history of compatriots in different countries can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Worldwide, there are several thousand organizations of compatriots, i.e. people of Czech origin living abroad and claiming to belong to Czech roots. It is very likely that such an organization operates in your country. You can check here:

It is possible to learn about these problems in the publication Czech Minority in Europe and in the World by Jaroslav Vaculik, which was published in 2009 by Libri publisher.

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