What’s in a name? Understanding the Czech Republic vs. Czechia

This week, Kafkadesk spoke with Petr Pavlínek, member of the Civic Initiative Czechia (Občanská iniciativa Česko), an organization that stands on the frontline of the decades-long debate surrounding the country’s name. So, the moment has come to settle this once and for all: Should you use ‘Czechia’ or ‘the Czech Republic’?

Hello Petr! Can you first tell us a bit about the origins of Civic Initiative Czechia? Why did you decide to launch this project?

The initiative was launched in 1997 by several people in Brno, the capital of Moravia and second biggest city in the country. These people were concerned that the name Bohemia (which translates as Čechy in Czech) was increasingly used for the entire country even though Bohemia only covers the western half of Czechia. Bohemia does not include Moravia nor (Czech) Silesia. Instead, they wanted to promote the use of Czechia (Česko), which was legally standardized as the short name of the Czech Republic back in 1993 because it includes the entire territory of the country (e.g. Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia).

Let’s dive right into it: What’s the correct name for the country: Czechia or the Czech Republic?

Both Czechia and the Czech Republic are correct. Countries usually have two official names: a formal (political) name and short (geographic) name (see here: https://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/geonames/). Formal (political) names include the contemporary political system or state form in the name of a particular country, i.e. whether that country is a republic, kingdom, federation, confederation, state(s), commonwealth, principality or sultanate. For example, the French Republic, the Kingdom of Spain, the Swiss Confederation, the Russian Federation, the United Mexican States, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Sultanate of Oman, etc. The Czech Republic falls into this category.

On the other hand, short (geographic) names refer to a particular territory irrespective of its current political regime or state form. Examples include France, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, Oman and Czechia.

 

To read the full article about the name of the country you can go to our partners website at www.kafkadesk.org