Bohemia (Ger. Bohmen), formerly one of the kingdoms of Europe, now forms the most northern province of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. It has an area of 19,980 sq. m., or about two-thirds that of Scotland; pop. (1880) 6,560,819; (1900) 6,318,697. Prague, the capital of the kingdom, and third city of the empire, has over 200,000 inhabitants; Pilsen has about 70,000, Budweis 40,000, and Reichenberg 35,000. The country is surrounded on all sides' by lofty mountain-ranges, the principal of which are the Riesengebirge on the north-east, dividing Bohemia from Silesia, highest peak the Schnee-koppe (5330 feet); on the north-west, the Erzge-birge (4182); on the south-west, the Bohmerwald (4783). The country belongs to the upper basin of the Elbe, and is well watered by its many affluents, the Moldau, Eger, Iser, etc. The climate is mild and pleasant in the valleys, but raw and cold in the mountainous regions. A remnant of volcanic action still continues in the eruptions of carbonic acid gas which have established so many mineral springs of deserved repute, at Carlsbad, Eger, Marienbad, Teplitz, and elsewhere. The mineral wealth is varied and extensive, consisting of silver, tin, copper, lead, iron, cobalt, bismuth, antimony, alum, sulphur, graphite, and porcelain clay, with some precious and ornamental stones. More coal is produced than in all the rest of the Austrian empire.
The soil is generally fertile; more than one-half of the area is arable land, and forests cover nearly a third. Flax and hops are plentiful, and much fruit is exported. Some wine is produced near the Moldau and the Elbe. Bohemia is a great centre of dyeing and calico-printing, of linen and woollen manufactures. Other important branches of industry are the manufacture of paper, ribbons, lace, chemicals, porcelain-ware, and the Turkish fez. The glass-works of Bohemia are celebrated, and afford employment to some 27,000 persons, and there are many ironworks. Beet-root sugar is manufactured extensively, and so are beer and brandy. Its position secures Bohemia a large transit-trade.
The bulk of the people are Czechs, a Slavonic race, speaking their own Czech tongue, which has an old and varied literature. They dwell chiefly in the centre and east of the country, and number 4 1/4 millions. The German population, amounting to over 2 millions, reside mainly in the north-east, and in the cities; their influence on industry, trade, and commerce is great in proportion to their numbers. The distinction between Czech and German is very sharply drawn, and the demand of the Czechs for fuller Home Rule than the provincial diet and administration afford, and for the restoration of the crown-rights of the Bohemian kingdom, has maintained a long standing political controversy with the Austrian government. There are about 100,000 Jews. The vast majority of the population belong to the R. C. Church; of the 120,000 Protestants most are Calvinists. Education is much more widely diffused than in any other Austrian province. Since 1882 the university of Prague is divided into a German and a Czech university. The number of students is over 4000, of whom 1200 attend the German lectures. Bohemia sends 110 members - more than a fourth of the total - to the Lower House of the Austrian Reichsrath.
The country derives its name from the Celtic Boii, who were expelled about the Christian era by the Germanic Marcomanni; and by the 5th century, we find the country peopled by the Slavonic Czechs. In 1086 the dukes of Prague were made kings by the emperor, and Bohemia became a state of the German empire. In the 15th century took place the religious movement of John Huss and Jerome of Prague. In 1458, after a long war, the kingdom became elective, and the Hussite George of Podiebrad was chosen king. His successor, the Polish Ladislaus, became also king of Hungary (1490); and on his son's death at the battle of Mohacz (1526), the crowns of both kingdoms passed to Ferdinand of Austria, and the history of Bohemia merges in that of Austria. The withdrawal of religious liberty in 1608 led to the troubles which ended in the election of the Protestant Frederick V. of the Palatinate to be king of Bohemia, and the Thirty Years' War, in which Bohemia suffered so severely, the Haps-burgs being restored, and Protestantism stamped out in blood. There are histories in German by Pelzel (1817), Palacky (1836), Tomek (1882), and others.