History of immigration from Czech Republic

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Map of Czech Republic
Map date: 2013
The earliest known settler in Australia from the former provinces of Bohemia and Moravia – today known as the Czech Republic – was Mark Blycher, a convict who arrived in Sydney in 1830.

The gold rushes of the 1850s saw a small number of Czechs settle in Victoria, but the community remained small. By 1921, three years after Bohemia and Moravia joined with Slovakia to form Czechoslovakia, only 46 Czechoslovakia-born immigrants were recorded in Victoria. The 1930s saw an increase in the community size, coinciding with an economic crisis and the Nazi occupation in Czechoslovakia.

The end of World War II and the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948 saw the largest number of Czechoslovakia-born immigrants arriving in Australia as refugees. Emigration continued in the 1950s, with 4,068 immigrants from Czechoslovakia recorded in Victoria by 1954.

The Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 ended a period of democratic reform and led to another wave of emigration, with the Czechoslovakia-born population in Victoria increasing to 5,256 by 1971.

During the 1970s and 1980s economic immigrants from Czechoslovakia maintained a steady population in Victoria. The fall of the communist government in 1989 and the subsequent split of Czechoslovakia into two independent states, the Czech and Slovak Republics, resulted in a significant number of return immigrants and a decline in the size of the Czech community in Victoria.

In 2011 1,664 Victorians were born in the Czech Republic. 37% now speak English at home, and enjoy the interaction and support of the Narodni dum Sokol Club, which runs a Czech language course and a range of social activities.

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