In 1988 and 1989 mass demonstrations took place throughout Czechoslovakia. By November 1989, crowds as large as 500,000 were forming in Prague.
Vaclav Havel, a writer who played an important role in bringing down the Communist government, became the new president. He became a spokesperson for Czech democracy and new order in Europe.
The new government soon faced old ethnic conflicts. The 2 ethnic groups, Czechs and Slovaks, agreed to a peaceful division of the country. On January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.