|The origins of the Czech republic go back to the Moravian empire of the ninth century. After being destroyed by the Magyars, Bohemia and Moravia existed as an independent kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire. From 1526 until the first World War, the throne was held by the Habsburgs. Of the entire Austro-Hungarian empire, no where was richer than this region due to a combination of natural resources and well-developed agriculture. Industry was also pursued in urban areas and comfortable middle classes developed, principly Jewish and German. The state of Czechoslovakia was an outgrowth of the end of the Habsburg monarchy. Czechs (less than half the population) were placed in the position of controlling a variety of different ethnicities including Germans, Slovaks, magyars, Poles and Ukrainians. This relatively stable and workable arrangement came to an end with Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938. A year later, he made the Czech areas a protectorate. Slovakia became a 'self-governing' republic. After World War II, Czechoslovakia was restored but it completely changed course when a communist coup brought down the government of Eduard Benes. An array of Stalinist-like activity followed, including purges and repression. It appeared in 1968 as if Czechoslovakia might be emerging from the iron grip of the Soviet Union, but the so-called "Prague Spring" was brought to a sudden and dramatic end when the USSR invaded the country, along with troops from the Warsaw Pact nations. The call for democratic changes began to be heard again in 1989 as such movements began to take hold in Eastern Europe. Eventually, Slovakia and the Czechs separated into two republics. Though the Czech republic initially prospered economically, it began to have difficulties in 1997. Political problems also surfaced with questions arising about campaign finance irregularities.