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In 1988 and 1989, mass demonstrations took place throughout Czechoslovakia. By November 1989, crowds as large as five hundred thousand were forming in Prague. In December 1989, the Communist government collapsed.
At the end of December, Václav Havel became the new president of Czechoslovakia. He was a writer who had played an important role in bringing down the Communist government. Havel became an eloquent spokesperson for Czech democracy and a new order in Europe.
Within Czechoslovakia, the new government faced ethnic conflicts. The two national groups, Czechs and Slovaks, agreed to a peaceful division of the country. On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Václav Havel was elected the first president of the new Czech Republic. Michal Kovác was elected president of Slovakia.
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