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Under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, a further period of liberalization began in the 1980s that led to the downfall of Communism in 1989, when largely peaceful strikes and demonstrations in Prague swept aside the old regime and elevated dissident playwright Vaclav Havel to the presidency.
After a brief coexistence in a federation with Slovakia, the Czech Republic became fully independent in 1992.
Chicago, tied to the West by rail and more readily accessible to the immigrants, became the most populous Czech settlement.
Located in central Europe and occupying a territory of 78,864 square kilometers, it is bordered on the northwest and southwest by the Federal Republic of Germany, on the south by Austria, on the southeast by Slovakia, and on the north by Poland. Of that number, 81.3 percent claim to be of Czech ethnic origin; 13.2 percent are Moravian; and the remaining 4.5 percent belong to other groups, notably Slovak, Polish, German, Silesian, Romany (Gypsy), Hungarian, or Ukrainian. The flag of the Czech Republic, designed and first flown in New York to honor the visit of the World War I patriot Tomaš G.By the turn of the century, a widening gap between the first and second generations was already in evidence.In 1900 there were 199,939 American-born Czechs as opposed to 156,640 Czechs who had been born in Europe.The term "Czech" denotes the inhabitants of historic Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, while "Slovak" is reserved for those people who settled on the southern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains and who historically were dominated by the Hungarians.
Between the fifth and seventh centuries, the Slavic ancestors of the Czechs swept across the region that subsequently became known as Bohemia.
The number of Czechs entering the country was further reduced by the temporary Emergency Quota Act, legislated by Congress in 1921, and the National Origins Act of 1924. Perhaps as a reflection of the growing trend toward urbanization in the United States, two-thirds of Czech Americans now lived in urban areas.