Coordinates : 52°N 20°E / 52°N 20°E / 52; 20
Republic of Poland
Rzeczpospolita Polska (Polish )
Flag Coat of arms
ANTHEM: Mazurek Dąbrowskiego
Poland Is Not Yet Lost
Poland (dark green)
Europe (green "> (green) –
and largest city
52°13′N 21°02′E / 52.217°N 21.033°E / 52.217; 21.033
Kashubian , German , Belarusian , Ukrainian , Russian , Rusyn ,
Czech , Slovak , Yiddish
ETHNIC GROUPS (2011 )
* 94.61% Polish
* 0.28% German
* 0.12% Belarusian
* 0.12% Ukrainian
* 0.04% Kashubian
* 0.03% Romani
* 0.02% Lemko
* 4.78% other
Unitary parliamentary republic
• PRIME MINISTER
• UPPER HOUSE
• LOWER HOUSE
14 April 966
• KINGDOM OF POLAND
18 April 1025
• POLISH–LITHUANIAN COMMONWEALTH
1 July 1569
• PARTITION OF POLAND
24 October 1795
• DUCHY OF WARSAW
22 July 1807
• CONGRESS POLAND
9 June 1815
• SECOND POLISH REPUBLIC
11 November 1918
• INVASION OF POLAND , WORLD WAR II
1 September 1939
• COMMUNIST POLAND
8 April 1945
• REPUBLIC OF POLAND
13 September 1989
• MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
1 May 2004
312,679 km2 (120,726 sq mi) (69th )
• WATER (%)
• 2017 ESTIMATE
38,634,007 (34th )
123/km2 (318.6/sq mi) (83rd )
GDP (PPP )
$1.114 trillion (21st )
• PER CAPITA
$482.920 billion (23rd )
• PER CAPITA
very high · 36th
Polish złoty (PLN )
CET (UTC +1)
• SUMMER (DST )
CEST (UTC +2)
DRIVES ON THE
ISO 3166 CODE
* ^A The area of Poland, as given by the Central Statistical
Office, is 312,679 km2 (120,726 sq mi), of which 311,888 km2 (120,421
sq mi) is land and 791 km2 (305 sq mi) is internal water surface area.
* ^B The adoption of Christianity in
Poland is seen by many Poles,
regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof, as one of
the most significant events in their country's history, as it was used
to unify the tribes in the region.
POLAND (Polish : Polska ( listen )), officially the REPUBLIC OF
Rzeczpospolita Polska, listen (help ·info )), is a
parliamentary republic in Central
Poland is a unitary state
divided into 16 administrative subdivisions , covering an area of
312,679 square kilometres (120,726 sq mi) with a mostly temperate
climate. With a population of over 38.5 million people,
Poland is the
sixth most populous member state of the
European Union . Poland's
capital and largest city is
Warsaw . Other cities include
Szczecin and the
Silesian Metropolis .
The establishment of a Polish state can be traced back to 966, when
Mieszko I , ruler of a territory roughly coextensive with that of
present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland
was founded in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a longstanding political
association with the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of
Lublin . This union formed the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth , one
of the largest (about 1 million km²) and most populous countries of
16th and 17th century
Europe with a uniquely liberal political system
which declared Europe\'s first constitution .
Following the partitions of
Poland at the end of the 18th century,
Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles
. In September 1939,
World War II
World War II started with the invasion of Poland
Nazi Germany , followed by the
Soviet Union invading
accordance with the
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact . More than six million
of Poland's citizens died in the war. After
World War II
World War II , the
Polish People\'s Republic was established as a satellite state under
Soviet influence . In the aftermath of the
Revolutions of 1989 , most
notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement , Poland
established itself as a democratic republic.
Poland is a regional power in Central Europe. It has the eighth
largest and one of the most dynamic economies in the
European Union ,
simultaneously achieving a very high rank on the Human Development
Index . Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in
Warsaw is the
largest and most important in Central and Eastern
a developed and democratic country, which maintains a high-income
economy along with very high standards of living , life quality ,
safety, education and economic freedom . According to the World Bank
Poland has a leading school educational system in Europe. The
country provides free university education , state-funded social
security and a universal health care system for all citizens.
Situated between Eastern and Western European cultures and coined by a
Poland developed a rich cultural heritage ,
including numerous historical monuments and 16
UNESCO World Heritage
Sites. It is visited by approximately 16 million tourists every year
(2014), making it the 16th most visited country in the world. Poland
is a member state of the
European Union , the
Schengen Area , the
United Nations ,
NATO and the
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 Prehistory and protohistory
* 2.5 Partitions
* 2.6 Era of insurrections
* 2.7 Reconstruction
World War II
World War II
* 2.9 Post-war communism
* 2.10 Present-day
* 3 Geography
* 3.1 Geology
* 3.2 Waters
* 3.3 Land use
* 3.4 Biodiversity
* 3.5 Climate
* 4 Politics
* 4.1 Law
* 4.2 Foreign relations
* 4.3 Administrative divisions
* 4.4 Military
* 4.5 Law enforcement and emergency services
* 5 Economy
* 5.1 Corporations
* 5.2 Tourism
* 5.3 Energy
* 5.4 Transport
* 5.5 Science and technology
* 5.6 Communications
* 6 Demographics
* 6.1 Urbanization
* 6.2 Languages
* 6.3 Religion
* 6.4 Health
* 6.5 Education
* 7 Culture
* 7.1 Famous people
* 7.2 Society
* 7.3 Music
* 7.4 Visual arts
* 7.5 Architecture
* 7.6 Literature
* 7.7 Media
* 7.8 Cuisine
* 7.9 Sports
Fashion and design
* 8 See also
* 9 Notes
* 10 References
* 11 External links
Name of Poland
The origin of the name
Poland derives from a West Slavic tribe of
Polans (Polanie) that inhabited the
Warta River basin of the historic
Greater Poland region in the 8th century. The origin of the name
Polanie itself derives from the western Slavic word pole (field). In
some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian, Persian and Turkish,
the exonym for
Lechites (Lechici), which derives from the
name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I .
History of Poland
PREHISTORY AND PROTOHISTORY
Bronze- and Iron-Age Poland ,
Poland in Antiquity ,
Poland in the Early Middle Ages Reconstruction of a Bronze
Lusatian culture settlement in
Biskupin , c. 700 BC
Historians have postulated that throughout
Late Antiquity , many
distinct ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland.
The ethnicity and linguistic affiliation of these groups have been
hotly debated; the time and route of the original settlement of Slavic
peoples in these regions lacks written records and can only be defined
The most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and
Poland is the
Biskupin fortified settlement (now
reconstructed as an open-air museum), dating from the Lusatian culture
of the early
Iron Age , around 700 BC. The Slavic groups who would
Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th
century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko\'s state and his
subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of
Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day
Poland was Slavic paganism . With the
Baptism of Poland
Baptism of Poland the Polish
rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman
Church . However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and
instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from
the pagan reaction of the 1030s .
History of Poland during the
Piast dynasty , Civitas
Schinesghe , and
Gesta principum Polonorum Map of
the rule of
Mieszko I who is considered the de facto creator of the
Polish state, c. 960–992
Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial
entity around the middle of the 10th century under the
Piast dynasty .
Poland's first historically documented ruler,
Mieszko I , accepted
Christianity with the
Baptism of Poland
Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official
religion of his subjects. The bulk of the population converted in the
course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave ,
continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of
Gniezno and created the metropolis of
Gniezno and the dioceses of
Kołobrzeg , and
Wrocław . However, the pagan unrest led to
the transfer of the capital to
Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the
Restorer . Earliest known contemporary depiction of a Polish
Mieszko II Lambert of Poland, who ruled between 1025 and
1031, being presented with a
Liturgical book by
Matilda of Swabia .
In 1109, Prince
Bolesław III Wrymouth
Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany
Henry V at the
Battle of Hundsfeld , stopping the German march into
Poland. The significance of the event was documented by Gallus
Anonymus in his 1118 chronicle . In 1138,
Poland fragmented into
several smaller duchies when Bolesław divided his lands among his
sons. In 1226,
Konrad I of Masovia , one of the regional
Teutonic Knights to help him fight the Baltic Prussian
pagans; a decision that led to centuries of warfare with the Knights.
In 1264, the
Statute of Kalisz or the General Charter of Jewish
Liberties introduced numerous right for the
Jews in Poland, leading to
a nearly autonomous "nation within a nation".
In the middle of the 13th century, the Silesian branch of the Piast
Henry I the Bearded and
Henry II the Pious , ruled 1238–41)
nearly succeeded in uniting the Polish lands, but the Mongols invaded
the country from the east and defeated the combined Polish forces at
Battle of Legnica where Duke
Henry II the Pious died. In 1320,
after a number of earlier unsuccessful attempts by regional rulers at
uniting the Polish dukedoms, Władysław I consolidated his power,
took the throne and became the first king of a reunified
Poland . His
son, Casimir III (reigned 1333–70), has a reputation as one of the
greatest Polish kings, and gained wide recognition for improving the
country's infrastructure. He also extended royal protection to Jews
, and encouraged their immigration to Poland. Casimir III realized
that the nation needed a class of educated people, especially lawyers,
who could codify the country's laws and administer the courts and
offices. His efforts to create an institution of higher learning in
Poland were finally rewarded when
Pope Urban V
Pope Urban V granted him permission
to open the University of
Casimir III the Great is the
only Polish king to receive the title of Great. He built extensively
during his reign, and reformed the Polish army along with the
country's civil and criminal laws, 1333–70.
Golden Liberty of the nobles began to develop under Casimir's
rule, when in return for their military support , the king made a
series of concessions to the nobility, and establishing their legal
status as superior to that of the townsmen. When Casimir the Great
died in 1370, leaving no legitimate male heir, the
Piast dynasty came
to an end.
During the 12th and 13th centuries,
Poland became a destination for
German, Flemish and to a lesser extent Scottish, Danish and Walloon
migrants. Also, the
Jews and Armenians began to settle and flourish in
Poland during this era (see History of the
Armenians in Poland ).
Black Death , a plague that ravaged
Europe from 1347 to 1351 did
not significantly affect Poland, and the country was spared from a
major outbreak of the disease. The reason for this was the decision
of Casimir the Great to quarantine the nation's borders.
History of Poland during the
Jagiellon dynasty and
Renaissance in Poland
Battle of Grunwald
Battle of Grunwald was fought against the
German Order of
Teutonic Knights , and resulted in a decisive victory
for the Kingdom of
Poland , 15 July 1410
Jagiellon dynasty spanned the late
Middle Ages and early Modern
Era of Polish history. Beginning with the Lithuanian Grand Duke
Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiełło), the Jagiellon dynasty
(1386–1572) formed the
Polish–Lithuanian union . The partnership
Lithuania -controlled Rus\' areas into Poland's sphere of
influence and proved beneficial for the
Poles and Lithuanians, who
coexisted and cooperated in one of the largest political entities in
Europe for the next four centuries. In the
Baltic Sea region Poland's
struggle with the
Teutonic Knights continued and culminated in the
Battle of Grunwald
Battle of Grunwald (1410), where a combined Polish-Lithuanian army
inflicted a decisive victory against the Teutonic Knights, allowing
for territorial expansion of both nations into the far north region of
Livonia . In 1466, after the Thirteen Years\' War , King Casimir IV
Jagiellon gave royal consent to the Peace of Thorn , which created the
Duchy of Prussia , a Polish vassal. The
Jagiellon dynasty at
one point also established dynastic control over the kingdoms of
Bohemia (1471 onwards) and
Hungary . In the south,
Ottoman Empire and the Crimean
Tatars (by whom they were attacked
on 75 separate occasions between 1474 and 1569), and in the east
Lithuania fight the
Grand Duchy of Moscow . Some historians
estimate that Crimean Tatar slave-raiding cost Poland-
million of its population between the years of 1494 and 1694.
Wawel Castle in
Kraków , seat of Polish kings from 1038 until the
capital was moved to
Warsaw in 1596. The royal residence is an example
Renaissance architecture in Poland.
Poland was developing as a feudal state, with a predominantly
agricultural economy and an increasingly powerful landed nobility .
Nihil novi act adopted by the Polish
Sejm (parliament) in 1505,
transferred most of the legislative power from the monarch to the
Sejm, an event which marked the beginning of the period known as
"Golden Liberty", when the state was ruled by the "free and equal"
Polish nobility .
Protestant Reformation movements made deep inroads
into Polish Christianity, which resulted in the establishment of
policies promoting religious tolerance, unique in
Europe at that time.
This tolerance allowed the country to avoid most of the religious
turmoil that spread over
Europe during the 16th century.
Renaissance evoked in late Jagiellon
Sigismund I the Old and
Sigismund II Augustus
Sigismund II Augustus ) a sense of urgency in
the need to promote a cultural awakening , and during this period
Polish culture and the nation's economy flourished. In 1543, Nicolaus
Copernicus a Polish astronomer from
Toruń , published his epochal
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the
Celestial Spheres), and thereby became the first proponent of a
predictive mathematical model confirming the heliocentric theory ,
which became the accepted basic model for the practice of modern
astronomy. Another major figure associated with the era is the
Jan Kochanowski .
History of Poland in the Early Modern era
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth , and
Warsaw Confederation was an important development in the history
Poland that extended religious freedoms and tolerance, and produced
a first of its kind document in Europe, which codified these rights,
28 January 1573
Union of Lublin
Union of Lublin established the Polish–Lithuanian
Commonwealth , a more closely unified federal state with an elective
monarchy , but which was governed largely by the nobility, through a
system of local assemblies with a central parliament. The Warsaw
Confederation (1573) confirmed the religious freedom of all residents
of Poland, which was extremely important for the stability of the
multiethnic Polish society of the time.
Serfdom was banned in 1588.
The establishment of the Commonwealth coincided with a period of
stability and prosperity in Poland, with the union thereafter becoming
a European power and a major cultural entity, occupying approximately
one million square kilometers of Central and Eastern Europe, as well
as an agent for the dissemination of
Western culture through
Polonization into areas of modern-day Lithuania, Ukraine,
In the 16th and 17th centuries,
Poland suffered from a number of
dynastic crises during the reigns of the Vasa kings Sigismund III and
Władysław IV and found itself engaged in major conflicts with Russia
Sweden and the Ottoman Empire, as well as a series of minor Cossack
uprisings. In 1610 Polish army under command
Żółkiewski seized Moscow after winning the
Battle of Klushino . In
Russia paid homage to the King of Poland. The
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent after the
Truce of Deulino . During the first half of the 17th century, Poland
covered an area of about 1,000,000 kilometres (620,000 mi).
After the signing of
Truce of Deulino ,
Poland had in the years
1618-1621 an area of about 1 million km².
From the middle of the 17th century, the nobles' democracy, suffering
from internal disorder, gradually declined, thereby leaving the once
powerful Commonwealth vulnerable to foreign intervention. Starting in
Khmelnytsky Uprising engulfed the south and east,
Ukraine divided, with the eastern part, lost by the
Commonwealth, becoming a dependency of the Tsardom of Russia. This was
followed by the \'Deluge\' , a Swedish invasion of Poland, which
marched through the Polish heartlands and ruined the country's
population, culture and infrastructure. Around four million of
Poland's eleven million inhabitants died in famines and epidemics.
John III Sobieski
John III Sobieski the Commonwealth's military prowess
was re-established, and in 1683 Polish forces played a major role in
Battle of Vienna
Battle of Vienna against the Ottoman Army , commanded by Kara
Mustafa , the grand vizier of the
Ottoman Empire . King John III
Sobieski defeated the Ottoman Turks at the
Battle of Vienna
Battle of Vienna on 12
Sobieski's reign marked the end of the nation's golden era. Finding
itself subjected to almost constant warfare and suffering enormous
population losses as well as massive damage to its economy, the
Commonwealth fell into decline. The government became ineffective as a
result of large-scale internal conflicts (e.g. Lubomirski Rebellion
against John II Casimir and rebellious confederations ) and corrupted
legislative processes. The nobility fell under the control of a
handful of magnats , and this, compounded with two relatively weak
kings of the Saxon Wettin dynasty , Augustus II and Augustus III , as
well as the rise of
Prussia after the Great Northern War
only served to worsen the Commonwealth's plight. Despite this The
Commonwealth-Saxony personal union gave rise to the emergence of the
Commonwealth's first reform movement, and laid the foundations for the
Polish Enlightenment .
During the later part of the 18th century, the Commonwealth made
attempts to implement fundamental internal reforms; with the second
half of the century bringing a much improved economy, significant
population growth and far-reaching progress in the areas of education,
intellectual life, art, and especially toward the end of the period,
evolution of the social and political system. The most populous
capital city of
Gdańsk (Danzig) as the leading centre
of commerce, and the role of the more prosperous townsmen increased.
Stanisław II Augustus , the last
King of Poland , ascended to
the throne in 1764 and reigned until his abdication on 25 November
1795 Main articles:
History of Poland (1795–1918) and Partitions
The royal election of 1764 resulted in the elevation of Stanisław II
August (a Polish aristocrat connected to the Czartoryski family
faction of magnates ) to the monarchy. However, as a one-time personal
admirer of Empress
Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II of Russia , the new king spent much of
his reign torn between his desire to implement reforms necessary to
save his nation, and his perceived necessity to remain in a political
relationship with his Russian sponsor. This led to the formation of
Bar Confederation , a szlachta rebellion directed against the
Polish king and his Russian sponsors, which aimed to preserve Poland's
independence and the szlachta's traditional privileges. Attempts at
reform provoked the union's neighbours, and in 1772 the First
Partition of the Commonwealth by Prussia,
place; an act which the "Partition
Sejm ", under considerable duress,
eventually "ratified" fait accompli. Disregarding this loss, in 1773
the king established the
Commission of National Education
Commission of National Education , the first
government education authority in Europe. Corporal punishment of
children was officially prohibited in 1783. Constitution of 3 May
, enactment ceremony inside the Senate Chamber at the
Castle , 1791
Sejm convened by Stanisław II August in 1788 successfully
adopted the 3 May Constitution , the first set of modern supreme
national laws in Europe. However, this document, accused by detractors
of harbouring revolutionary sympathies, generated strong opposition
from the Commonwealth's nobles and conservatives as well as from
Catherine II, who, determined to prevent the rebirth of a strong
Commonwealth set about planning the final dismemberment of the
Russia was aided in achieving its goal when
Targowica Confederation , an organisation of Polish nobles,
appealed to the Empress for help. In May 1792, Russian forces crossed
the Commonwealth's frontier, thus beginning the Polish-Russian War .
The defensive war fought by the
Poles ended prematurely when the
King, convinced of the futility of resistance, capitulated and joined
the Targowica Confederation. The Confederation then took over the
Russia and Prussia, fearing the mere existence of a Polish
state, arranged for, and in 1793 executed, the Second Partition of the
Commonwealth , which left the country deprived of so much territory
that it was practically incapable of independent existence.
Eventually, in 1795, following the failed
Kościuszko Uprising , the
Commonwealth was partitioned one last time by all three of its more
powerful neighbours, and with this, effectively ceased to exist.
ERA OF INSURRECTIONS
Main articles: Duchy of
Grand Duchy of Posen
Grand Duchy of Posen , Kingdom of
Galicia and Lodomeria , and
Congress Poland Partitions of Poland
, carried out by
Austria in 1772 , 1793 and 1795
Poles rebelled several times against the partitioners , particularly
near the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th
century. An unsuccessful attempt at defending Poland's sovereignty
took place in 1794 during the
Kościuszko Uprising , where a popular
and distinguished general
Tadeusz Kosciuszko , who had several years
earlier served under Washington in the
American Revolutionary War ,
led Polish insurrectionists against numerically superior Russian
forces. Despite the victory at the
Battle of Racławice , his ultimate
defeat ended Poland's independent existence for 123 years .
Tadeusz Kościuszko takes the oath of loyalty to the Polish nation in
Kraków , vowing to fight against military interventions of the
partitioning powers, 1794
Napoleon I of France temporarily recreated a Polish state as
the satellite Duchy of
Warsaw , after a successful Greater Poland
Uprising of 1806 against Prussian rule. But, after the failed
Napoleonic Wars ,
Poland was again split between the victorious powers
Congress of Vienna of 1815. The eastern part was ruled by the
Russian tsar as
Congress Poland , which had a very liberal
constitution . However, over time the Russian monarch reduced Polish
Russia annexed the country in virtually all but name.
Meanwhile, the Prussian controlled territory of
Poland came under
increased Germanization. Thus, in the 19th century, only
Austrian-ruled Galicia , and particularly the Free City of
allowed free Polish culture to flourish.
Throughout the period of the partitions, political and cultural
repression of the Polish nation led to the organisation of a number of
uprisings against the authorities of the occupying Russian, Prussian
and Austrian governments.
In 1830, the
November Uprising began in
Warsaw when, led by
Piotr Wysocki , young non-commissioned officers at the
Officer Cadet School in
Warsaw revolted. They were joined by large
segments of Polish society, and together forced Warsaw's Russian
garrison to withdraw north of the city. Capture of the Warsaw
Arsenal by the Polish army during the
November Uprising against
Tsarist autocracy , 29 November 1830
Over the course of the next seven months, Polish forces successfully
defeated the Russian armies of Field Marshal Hans Karl von Diebitsch
and a number of other Russian commanders; however, finding themselves
in a position unsupported by any other foreign powers, save distant
France and the newborn United States, and with
Prussia and Austria
refusing to allow the import of military supplies through their
Poles accepted that the uprising was doomed to
failure. Upon the surrender of
Warsaw to General
Ivan Paskievich ,
many Polish troops, feeling they could not go on, withdrew into
Prussia and there laid down their arms. After the defeat, the
Congress Poland lost its constitution, army and
legislative assembly, and was integrated more closely with the Russian
Spring of Nations
Spring of Nations (a series of revolutions which swept
Poles took up arms in the
Greater Poland Uprising of
1848 to resist Prussian rule. Initially, the uprising manifested
itself in the form of civil disobedience, but eventually turned into
an armed struggle when the Prussian military was sent in to pacify the
region. Eventually, after several battles the uprising was suppressed
by the Prussians, and the
Grand Duchy of Posen
Grand Duchy of Posen was stripped of its
autonomy and completely incorporated into the
German Confederation .
In 1863, a new Polish uprising against Russian rule began. The
January Uprising started out as a spontaneous protest by young Poles
against conscription into the Imperial Russian Army. However, the
insurrectionists, despite being joined by high-ranking
Polish-Lithuanian officers and numerous politicians, were still
severely outnumbered and lacking in foreign support. They were forced
to resort to guerrilla warfare tactics and failed to win any major
military victories. Afterwards no major uprising was witnessed in the
Russian-controlled Congress Poland, and
Poles resorted instead to
fostering economic and cultural self-improvement.
Despite the political unrest experienced during the partitions,
Poland did benefit from large-scale industrialisation and
modernisation programs, instituted by the occupying powers, which
helped it develop into a more economically coherent and viable entity.
This was particularly true in Greater Poland,
Silesia and Eastern
Pomerania controlled by
Prussia (later becoming a part of the German
Empire ); areas which eventually, thanks largely to the Greater Poland
Uprising of 1918 and
Silesian Uprisings , were reconstituted as a part
Second Polish Republic , becoming the country's most prosperous
History of Poland (1918–39)
History of Poland (1918–39) , Kingdom of Poland
Second Polish Republic , and Battle of
Chief of State Marshal
Józef Piłsudski was the nation's premiere
statesman between 1918 until his death on 12 May 1935
World War I
World War I , all the Allies agreed on the reconstitution of
United States President
Woodrow Wilson proclaimed in Point
13 of his
Fourteen Points . A total of 2 million Polish troops fought
with the armies of the three occupying powers, and 450,000 died.
Shortly after the armistice with
Germany in November 1918 , Poland
regained its independence as the
Second Polish Republic (II
Rzeczpospolita Polska). It reaffirmed its independence after a series
of military conflicts , the most notable being the Polish–Soviet War
Poland inflicted a crushing defeat on the
Red Army at
the Battle of
Warsaw , an event which is considered to have halted the
advance of Communism into
Europe and forced
Vladimir Lenin to rethink
his objective of achieving global socialism. The event is often
referred to as the "Miracle at the Vistula". Map of Poland
Interwar period , 1918–39
During this period,
Poland successfully managed to fuse the
territories of the three former partitioning powers into a cohesive
nation state. Railways were restructured to direct traffic towards
Warsaw instead of the former imperial capitals, a new network of
national roads was gradually built up and a major seaport was opened
on the Baltic Coast, so as to allow Polish exports and imports to
bypass the politically charged
Free City of Danzig .
The inter-war period heralded in a new era of Polish politics. Whilst
Polish political activists had faced heavy censorship in the decades
up until the First World War, the country now found itself trying to
establish a new political tradition. For this reason, many exiled
Polish activists, such as Ignacy Paderewski (who would later become
prime minister) returned home to help; a significant number of them
then went on to take key positions in the newly formed political and
governmental structures. Tragedy struck in 1922 when Gabriel
Narutowicz , inaugural holder of the presidency, was assassinated at
Zachęta Gallery in
Warsaw by painter and right-wing nationalist
Eligiusz Niewiadomski .
In 1926, a May coup , led by the hero of the Polish independence
Józef Piłsudski , turned rule of the Second Polish
Republic over to the nonpartisan
Sanacja (Healing) movement in an
effort to prevent radical political organizations on both the left and
the right from destabilizing the country. The movement functioned
integrally until Piłsudski's death in 1935. Following Marshall
Piłsudski's death, Sanation split into several competing factions.
By the late 1930s, Poland's government had become increasingly rigid;
with a number of 'undesirable' political parties, which threatened the
stability of the country such as the Polish Communists, banned.
As result of the
Munich Agreement in 1938, major European powers
(Germany, France, Britain and Italy) awarded
Poland the small 350 sq
Zaolzie Region of Czechoslovakia. The area was a point of
contention between the Polish and Czechoslovak governments in the past
and the two countries fought a brief seven-day war over it in 1919 .
WORLD WAR II
History of Poland (1939–45) ,
Invasion of Poland ,
Polish contribution to
World War II
World War II , and War crimes in occupied
World War II
World War II Polish army's
7TP tanks during
military maneuvers shortly before the
Invasion of Poland , 1939
The formal beginning of
World War II
World War II was marked by the Nazi German
Poland on 1 September 1939, followed by the Soviet
Poland on 17 September. On 28 September 1939 Warsaw
capitulated . As agreed earlier in the
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact ,
Poland was split into two zones, one occupied by
Nazi Germany , the
other, including all of
Kresy , fell under the control of the Soviet
Union . In 1939–41, the Soviets deported hundreds of thousands of
Poles to distant parts of the Soviet Union. The Soviet
executed thousands of Polish prisoners of war (inter alia Katyn
massacre ) ahead of the
Operation Barbarossa . German planners had in
November 1939 called for "the complete destruction" of all
their fate, as well as many other
Slavs , was outlined in genocidal
Generalplan Ost . Pilots of the 303 "Kościuszko" Polish Fighter
Squadron during the
Battle of Britain , October 1940
Poland made the fourth-largest troop contribution in
Europe and its
troops served both the
Polish Government in Exile
Polish Government in Exile in the west and
Soviet leadership in the east . In the west, the Polish expeditionary
corps played an important role in the Italian and North African
Campaigns and are particularly remembered for the Battle of Monte
Cassino . In the east, the Soviet-backed Polish 1st Army
distinguished itself in the battles for
Warsaw and Berlin .
Polish servicemen were also active in the theatres of naval and air
warfare; during the
Battle of Britain Polish squadrons such as the No.
303 "Kościuszko" fighter squadron achieved considerable success,
and by the end of the war the exiled Polish Air Forces could claim 769
confirmed kills. Meanwhile, the
Polish Navy was active in the
protection of convoys in the
North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The domestic underground resistance movement, the
Armia Krajowa (Home
Army), fought against German occupation. The wartime resistance
Poland was one of the three largest resistance movements
of the entire war, and encompassed an unusually broad range of
clandestine activities, which functioned as an underground state
complete with degree-awarding universities and a court system . The
resistance was loyal to the exiled government and generally resented
the idea of a communist Poland; for this reason, in the summer of 1944
Operation Tempest , of which the
Warsaw Uprising that
begun on 1 August 1944 was the best known operation. The objective
of the uprising was to drive the German occupiers from the city and
help with the larger fight against
Germany and the
Axis powers .
Secondary motives were to see
Warsaw liberated before the Soviets
could reach the capital, so as to underscore Polish sovereignty by
Polish Underground State before the Soviet-backed
Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control. A lack
of Allied support and Stalin's reluctance to allow the 1st Army to
help their fellow countrymen take the city led to the uprising's
failure and subsequent planned destruction of the city . Map of
Holocaust in German occupied
Poland with deportation routes and
massacre sites. Major ghettos marked with yellow stars. Germany's Nazi
extermination camps marked with white skulls in black squares. The
border in 1941 between
Nazi Germany and the
Soviet Union marked in
German forces under direct order from
Adolf Hitler set up six
extermination camps , all of which operated in the heart of Poland.
They included Treblinka , Majdanek and Auschwitz . The Germans to
transported the condemned
Jews from the Third Reich and across
Europe to murder them in the death camps set up in the Polish
areas annexed by
Nazi Germany . Grave of a Polish Home Army
resistance fighter killed during the
Warsaw Uprising . The battle
lasted 63 days and resulted in the deaths of 200,000 civilians in
Germany killed 2.9 million Polish Jews, and 2.8 million ethnic
Poles, including Polish academics, doctors, lawyers, nobility,
priests and numerous others. It is estimated that, of pre-war Poland's
Jewry, approximately 90% were killed. Throughout the occupation , many
members of the Armia Krajowa, supported by the Polish government in
exile , and millions of ordinary
Poles – at great risk to themselves
and their families – engaged in rescuing
Jews from the Nazi Germans
. Grouped by nationality,
Poles represent the largest number of people
Jews during the Holocaust. To date, 6,620
Poles have been
awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of
Israel–more than any other nation. Some estimates put the number of
Poles involved in rescue efforts at up to 3 million, and credit Poles
with sheltering up to 450,000 Jews.
Around 150,000 Polish civilians were killed by Soviet Communists
between 1939 and 1941 during the Soviet Union's occupation of eastern
Kresy ), and another estimated 100,000
Poles were killed by
Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in the regions of Wołyń and
Eastern Galicia between 1943 and 1944 in what became known as the
Wołyń Massacres . The massacres were part of a vicious ethnic
clensing campaign waged by Ukrainian nationalists against the local
Polish population in the German-occupied territories of eastern
At the war's conclusion in 1945, Poland's borders were shifted
westwards , resulting in considerable territorial losses. Most of the
Polish inhabitants of
Kresy were expelled along the
Curzon Line in
accordance with Stalin's agreements. The western border was moved to
Oder-Neisse line . As a result, Poland's territory was reduced by
20%, or 77,500 square kilometres (29,900 sq mi). The shift forced the
migration of millions of other people , most of whom were Poles,
Germans, Ukrainians, and Jews. Of all the countries involved in the
Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens : over 6
million perished – nearly one-fifth of Poland's population – half
of them Polish Jews. Over 90% of deaths were non-military in
nature. Population numbers did not recover until the 1970s.
History of Poland (1945–1989) , Polish People\'s
History of Solidarity , and
Polish Round Table Agreement
High Noon , 4 June 1989—political poster featuring Gary Cooper
to encourage votes for the Solidarity party in the 1989 elections
At the insistence of
Joseph Stalin , the
Yalta Conference sanctioned
the formation of a new provisional pro-Communist coalition government
in Moscow, which ignored the
Polish government-in-exile based in
London; a move which angered many
Poles who considered it a betrayal
by the Allies. In 1944, Stalin had made guarantees to Churchill and
Roosevelt that he would maintain Poland's sovereignty and allow
democratic elections to take place. However, upon achieving victory in
1945, the elections organized by the occupying Soviet authorities were
falsified and were used to provide a veneer of 'legitimacy' for Soviet
hegemony over Polish affairs. The
Soviet Union instituted a new
communist government in Poland, analogous to much of the rest of the
Eastern Bloc . As elsewhere in Communist
Europe the Soviet occupation
Poland met with armed resistance from the outset which continued
into the fifties.
Despite widespread objections, the new Polish government accepted the
Soviet annexation of the pre-war eastern regions of
particular the cities of
Lwów ) and agreed to the permanent
Red Army units on Poland's territory. Military
alignment within the
Warsaw Pact throughout the
Cold War came about as
a direct result of this change in Poland's political culture and in
the European scene came to characterise the full-fledged integration
Poland into the brotherhood of communist nations.
The People\'s Republic of
Rzeczpospolita Ludowa) was
officially proclaimed in 1952 . In 1956 after the death of Bolesław
Bierut , the régime of
Władysław Gomułka became temporarily more
liberal, freeing many people from prison and expanding some personal
freedoms. Collectivization in the Polish People\'s Republic failed. A
similar situation repeated itself in the 1970s under
Edward Gierek ,
but most of the time persecution of anti-communist opposition groups
persisted. Despite this,
Poland was at the time considered to be one
of the least oppressive states of the
Soviet Bloc .
Labour turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade
union "Solidarity " ("Solidarność"), which over time became a
political force. Despite persecution and imposition of martial law in
1981 , it eroded the dominance of the Polish United Workers\' Party
and by 1989 had triumphed in Poland's first partially free and
democratic parliamentary elections since the end of the Second World
Lech Wałęsa , a Solidarity candidate, eventually won the
presidency in 1990 . The Solidarity movement heralded the collapse of
communist regimes and parties across
History of Poland (1989–present) and 2004
enlargement of the
European Union Flags of
Poland and the
European Union . The country became a member of the European community
of nations on 1 May 2004.
A shock therapy programme, initiated by
Leszek Balcerowicz in the
early 1990s enabled the country to transform its socialist-style
planned economy into a market economy . As with other post-communist
Poland suffered slumps in social and economic standards,
but it became the first post-communist country to reach its pre-1989
GDP levels, which it achieved by 1995 largely thanks to its booming
Most visibly, there were numerous improvements in human rights, such
as freedom of speech , internet freedom (no censorship), civil
liberties (1st class) and political rights (1st class), as ranked by
Freedom House non-governmental organization. In 1991,
Poland became a
member of the
Visegrád Group and joined the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) alliance in 1999 along with the
Czech Republic ,
Poles then voted to join the
European Union in
a referendum in June 2003, with
Poland becoming a full member on 1 May
Poland joined the
Schengen Area in 2007, as a result of which,
the country\'s borders with other member states of the European Union
have been dismantled, allowing for full freedom of movement within
most of the EU. In contrast to this, a section of Poland's eastern
border now comprises the external EU border with
Ukraine. That border has become increasingly well protected, and has
led in part to the coining of the phrase \'Fortress Europe\' , in
reference to the seeming 'impossibility' of gaining entry to the EU
for citizens of the former
Soviet Union . Candles and flowers on
the Royal Route,
Warsaw following the death of Poland\'s top
government officials including President in a plane crash over
Smolensk in Russia, 10 April 2010
In an effort to strengthen military cooperation with its neighbors,
Poland set up the
Visegrád Battlegroup with Hungary, Czech Republic
and Slovakia, with a total of 3,000 troops ready for deployment. Also,
in the east
Poland created the LITPOLUKRBRIG battle groups with
Lithuania and Ukraine. These battle groups will operate outside of
NATO and within the European defense initiative framework.
On 10 April 2010, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech
Kaczyński , along with 89 other high-ranking Polish officials died in
a plane crash near
Smolensk , Russia. The president's party was on
their way to attend an annual service of commemoration for the victims
of the Katyń massacre when the tragedy took place.
In 2011, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union
responsible for the functioning of the Council was awarded to Poland.
The same year parliamentary elections took place in both the Senate
and the Sejm. They were won by the ruling
Civic Platform . Poland
European Space Agency
European Space Agency in 2012, as well as organised the UEFA
Euro 2012 (along with Ukraine). In 2013,
Poland also became a member
Development Assistance Committee
Development Assistance Committee . In 2014, the Prime Minister
Donald Tusk , was chosen to be President of the European
Council , and resigned as prime minister. The 2015 elections were won
by the opposion
Law and Justice Party (PiS).
Geography of Poland Topographic map of
Poland's territory extends across several geographical regions,
between latitudes 49° and 55° N , and longitudes 14° and 25° E .
In the north-west is the Baltic seacoast, which extends from the Bay
Pomerania to the Gulf of
Gdańsk . This coast is marked by several
spits , coastal lakes (former bays that have been cut off from the
sea), and dunes. The largely straight coastline is indented by the
Szczecin Lagoon , the
Bay of Puck
Bay of Puck , and the
Vistula Lagoon .
The centre and parts of the north of the country lie within the North
European Plain . Rising above these lowlands is a geographical region
comprising four hilly districts of moraines and moraine-dammed lakes
formed during and after the Pleistocene ice age . These lake districts
are the Pomeranian Lake District, the Greater Polish Lake District,
the Kashubian Lake District, and the
Masurian Lake District . The
Masurian Lake District is the largest of the four and covers much of
north-eastern Poland. The lake districts form part of the Baltic
Ridge, a series of moraine belts along the southern shore of the
Baltic Sea .
South of the Northern European Plain are the regions of
Masovia , which are marked by broad ice-age river valleys.
Farther south is a mountainous region, including the
Sudetes , the
Kraków-Częstochowa Upland , the
Świętokrzyskie Mountains , and the
Carpathian Mountains , including the
Beskids . The highest part of the
Carpathians is the
Tatra Mountains , along Poland's southern border.
Częstochowa Uplands in
The geological structure of
Poland has been shaped by the continental
Europe and Africa over the past 60 million years and,
more recently, by the
Quaternary glaciations of northern Europe. Both
processes shaped the
Sudetes and the
Carpathian Mountains . The
moraine landscape of northern
Poland contains soils made up mostly of
sand or loam , while the ice age river valleys of the south often
contain loess . The
Kraków-Częstochowa Upland , the
Pieniny , and
Western Tatras consist of limestone , while the
High Tatras , the
Beskids , and the
Karkonosze are made up mainly of granite and basalts
Polish Jura Chain has some of the oldest rock formation on the
continent of Europe.
Tatra Mountains in southern
2,000 metres (6,600 ft) in elevation
Poland has 70 mountains over 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) in elevation,
all in the
Tatras . The Polish Tatras, which consist of the High
Tatras and the Western Tatras, is the highest mountain group of Poland
and of the entire Carpathian range. In the
High Tatras lies Poland's
highest point, the north-western summit of
Rysy , 2,499 metres (8,199
ft) in elevation. At its foot lies the mountain lakes of Czarny Staw
pod Rysami (Black Lake below Mount Rysy), and
Morskie Oko (the Marine
The second highest mountain group in
Poland is the
Beskids , whose
highest peak is
Babia Góra , at 1,725 metres (5,659 ft). The next
highest mountain groups are the
Karkonosze in the
Sudetes , the
highest point of which is Śnieżka at 1,603 metres (5,259 ft), and
Śnieżnik Mountains , the highest point of which is Śnieżnik at
1,425 metres (4,675 ft).
Other notable uplands include the
Table Mountains , which are noted
for their interesting rock formations, the
Bieszczady Mountains in the
far southeast of the country, in which the highest Polish peak is
Tarnica at 1,346 metres (4,416 ft), the
Gorce Mountains in Gorce
National Park , whose highest point is
Turbacz at 1,310 metres (4,298
Pieniny National Park , the highest point of which
is Wysokie Skałki (Wysoka) at 1,050 metres (3,445 ft), and the
Świętokrzyskie Mountains in
Świętokrzyski National Park , which
have two similarly high peaks:
Łysica at 612 metres (2,008 ft) and
Łysa Góra at 593 metres (1,946 ft).
Table Mountains located in
The lowest point in
Poland – at 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) below sea level
– is at Raczki Elbląskie, near
Elbląg in the
Zagłębie Dąbrowskie (the
Coal Fields of Dąbrowa ) region
Silesian Voivodeship in southern
Poland is an area of sparsely
vegetated sand known as the
Błędów Desert . It covers an area of 32
square kilometres (12 sq mi). It is not a natural desert but results
from human activity from the
Middle Ages onwards.
Baltic Sea activity in
Słowiński National Park created sand
dunes which in the course of time separated the bay from the sea
creating two lakes. As waves and wind carry sand inland the dunes
slowly move, at a rate of 3 to 10 metres (9.8 to 32.8 ft) meters per
year. Some dunes reach the height of up to 30 metres (98 ft). The
highest peak of the park is Rowokol (115 metres or 377 feet above sea
Rivers of Poland
Vistula River near the Royal
Sandomierz . The river is the longest in Poland, flowing the
entire length of the country for 1,047 kilometres (651 mi).
The longest rivers are the
Vistula (Polish : Wisła), 1,047
kilometres (651 mi) long; the Oder (Polish : Odra) which forms part of
Poland's western border, 854 kilometres (531 mi) long; its tributary,
Warta , 808 kilometres (502 mi) long; and the Bug , a tributary of
the Vistula, 772 kilometres (480 mi) long. The
Vistula and the Oder
flow into the Baltic Sea, as do numerous smaller rivers in Pomerania.
The Łyna and the Angrapa flow by way of the
Pregolya to the Baltic,
Czarna Hańcza flows into the Baltic through the Neman . While
the great majority of Poland's rivers drain into the Baltic Sea,
Beskids are the source of some of the upper tributaries of
the Orava , which flows via the
Váh and the
Danube to the
Black Sea .
Beskids are also the source of some streams that drain
Dniester to the Black Sea.
Oder River , which forms
part of Poland's western border, is the second longest in the country,
flowing for 854 kilometres (531 mi)
Poland's rivers have been used since early times for navigation. The
Vikings , for example, traveled up the
Vistula and the Oder in their
longships . In the
Middle Ages and in early modern times, when the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was the breadbasket of Europe; the
shipment of grain and other agricultural products down the Vistula
Gdańsk and onward to other parts of
Europe took on great
In the valley of Pilica river in
Tomaszów Mazowiecki there is a
unique natural karst spring of water containing calcium salts, that is
an object of protection in
Niebieskie Źródła Nature Reserve in
Sulejów Landscape Park . The origin of the name of the reserve
Niebieskie Źródła, that means Blue Springs, comes from the fact
that red waves are absorbed by water and only blue and green are
reflected from the bottom of the spring, giving that atypical colour.
With almost ten thousand closed bodies of water covering more than 1
hectare (2.47 acres) each,
Poland has one of the highest numbers of
lakes in the world. In Europe, only
Finland has a greater density of
lakes. The largest lakes, covering more than 100 square kilometres
(39 sq mi), are Lake
Lake Mamry in
Masuria , and Lake
Łebsko and Lake Drawsko in
Pomerania . Masurian Lake District
located in the
Masuria region of
Poland contains more than 2,000 lakes
In addition to the lake districts in the north (in Masuria,
Kashubia , Lubuskie, and
Greater Poland ), there is also a
large number of mountain lakes in the Tatras, of which the Morskie Oko
is the largest in area. The lake with the greatest depth—of more
than 100 metres (328 ft)—is Lake
Hańcza in the Wigry Lake District,
Podlaskie Voivodeship .
Among the first lakes whose shores were settled are those in the
Greater Polish Lake District. The stilt house settlement of
occupied by more than one thousand residents, was founded before the
7th century BC by people of the
Lusatian culture .
Lakes have always played an important role in Polish history and
continue to be of great importance to today's modern Polish society.
The ancestors of today's Poles, the Polanie , built their first
fortresses on islands in these lakes. The legendary Prince Popiel
Kruszwica tower erected on the Lake
Gopło . The first
historically documented ruler of Poland, Duke
Mieszko I , had his
palace on an island in the
Warta River in
Poznań . Nowadays the
Polish lakes provide a location for the pursuit of water sports such
as yachting and wind-surfing . Polish
Baltic Sea coast is
approximately 528 kilometres (328 mi) long and extends from Usedom
island in the west to
Krynica Morska in the east
The Polish Baltic coast is approximately 528 kilometres (328 mi) long
and extends from
Świnoujście on the islands of
the west to
Krynica Morska on the
Vistula Spit in the east. For the
Poland has a smooth coastline, which has been shaped by the
continual movement of sand by currents and winds. This continual
erosion and deposition has formed cliffs, dunes, and spits, many of
which have migrated landwards to close off former lagoons, such as
Łebsko Lake in Słowiński National Park.
Prior to the end of the Second World War and subsequent change in
national borders ,
Poland had only a very small coastline; this was
situated at the end of the '
Polish Corridor ', the only
internationally recognised Polish territory which afforded the country
access to the sea. However, after World War II, the redrawing of
Poland's borders and resulting 'shift' of the country's borders left
it with an expanded coastline, thus allowing for far greater access to
the sea than was ever previously possible. The significance of this
event, and importance of it to Poland's future as a major
industrialised nation, was alluded to by the 1945 Wedding to the Sea .
The largest spits are
Hel Peninsula and the
Vistula Spit . The
largest Polish Baltic island is called
Wolin . The largest sea
Gdynia , Police and
Kołobrzeg and the main coastal resorts –
Władysławowo and the
Wheat fields in
Poland is the fourth most forested country in Europe. Forests cover
about 30.5% of Poland's land area based on international standards.
Its overall percentage is still increasing.
Forests of Poland are
managed by the national program of reforestation (KPZL), aiming at an
increase of forest-cover to 33% in 2050. The richness of Polish forest
(per SoEF 2011 statistics) is more than twice as high as European
France at the top), containing 2.304 billion
cubic metres of trees. The largest forest complex in
Poland is Lower
Silesian Wilderness .
More than 1% of Poland's territory, 3,145 square kilometres (1,214 sq
mi), is protected within 23 Polish national parks . Three more
national parks are projected for
Masuria , the Kraków-Częstochowa
Upland, and the eastern
Beskids . In addition, wetlands along lakes
and rivers in central
Poland are legally protected, as are coastal
areas in the north. There are over 120 areas designated as landscape
parks , along with numerous nature reserves and other protected areas
Natura 2000 ).
Since Poland's accession to the
European Union in 2004, Polish
agriculture has performed extremely well and the country has over two
million private farms. It is the leading producer in
potatoes and rye (world's second largest in 1989) the world's largest
producer of triticale , and one of the more important producers of
barley, oats, sugar beets , flax, and fruits.
Poland is the European
Union's fourth largest supplier of pork after Germany,
Białowieża Forest , an ancient woodland in eastern Poland, is
now home to 800 wild wisent
Poland belongs to the Central European province
Circumboreal Region within the
Boreal Kingdom . According to
World Wide Fund for Nature , the territory of
Poland belongs to
three Palearctic Ecoregions of the continental forest spanning Central
and Northern European temperate broadleaf and mixed forest ecoregions
as well as the Carpathian montane conifer forest.
Many animals that have since died out in other parts of
survive in Poland, such as the wisent in the ancient woodland of the
Białowieża Forest and in
Podlaskie . Other such species include the
brown bear in
Białowieża , in the Tatras, and in the Beskids, the
gray wolf and the
Eurasian lynx in various forests, the moose in
northern Poland, and the beaver in Masuria, Pomerania, and Podlaskie.
In the forests, one also encounters game animals, such as red deer ,
roe deer and wild boars . In eastern
Poland there are a number of
ancient woodlands, like
Białowieża forest , that have never been
cleared or have been disturbed much by people. There are also large
forested areas in the mountains, Masuria, Pomerania,
Lubusz Land and
Poland is host to the largest white stork
Poland is the most important breeding ground for a variety of
European migratory birds . Out of all of the migratory birds who come
Europe for the summer, one quarter of the global population of
white storks (40,000 breeding pairs) live in Poland, particularly in
the lake districts and the wetlands along the
Biebrza , the
Warta , which are part of nature reserves or national parks.
The climate is mostly temperate throughout the country. The climate
is oceanic in the north and west and becomes gradually warmer and
continental towards the south and east. Summers are generally warm,
with average temperatures between 18 and 30 °C (64.4 and 86.0 °F)
depending on a region. Winters are rather cold, with average
temperatures around 3 °C (37.4 °F) in the northwest and −6 °C (21
°F) in the northeast. Precipitation falls throughout the year,
although, especially in the east; winter is drier than summer.
The warmest region in
Poland is Lower
Silesia located in
Poland where temperatures in the summer average between
24 and 32 °C (75 and 90 °F) but can go as high as 34 to 39 °C (93.2
to 102.2 °F) on some days in the warmest month of July and August.
The warmest cities in
Tarnów , which is situated in Lesser
Wrocław , which is located in Lower Silesia. The average
Wrocław are 20 °C (68 °F) in the summer and 0 °C
(32.0 °F) in the winter, but
Tarnów has the longest summer in all of
Poland, which lasts for 115 days, from mid-May to mid-September. The
coldest region of
Poland is in the northeast in the Podlaskie
Voivodeship near the border of
Lithuania . Usually the
coldest city is
Suwałki . The climate is affected by cold fronts
which come from
Siberia . The average temperature in
the winter in
Podlaskie ranges from −6 to −4 °C (21 to 25 °F).
The biggest impact of the oceanic climate is observed in Świnoujście
Baltic Sea seashore area from Police to
Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for the largest cities
Politics of Poland
Poland is a representative democracy , with a president as a head of
state , whose current constitution dates from 1997.
Poland ranks in
the top 20 percent of the most peaceful countries in the world,
according to the
Global Peace Index . The government structure centers
on the Council of Ministers , led by a prime minister . The president
appoints the cabinet according to the proposals of the prime minister,
typically from the majority coalition in the
Sejm . The president is
elected by popular vote every five years. The current president is
Andrzej Duda and the prime minister is
Beata Szydło .
Polish voters elect a bicameral parliament consisting of a 460-member
lower house (Sejm) and a 100-member Senate (Senat ). The
elected under proportional representation according to the d\'Hondt
method , a method similar to that used in many parliamentary political
systems. The Senat, on the other hand, is elected under the
first-past-the-post voting method, with one senator being returned
from each of the 100 constituencies.
Sejm is the lower house of
the Polish parliament
With the exception of ethnic minority parties, only candidates of
political parties receiving at least 5% of the total national vote can
enter the Sejm. When sitting in joint session, members of the
Senat form the National Assembly (the Zgromadzenie Narodowe). The
National Assembly is formed on three occasions: when a new president
takes the oath of office ; when an indictment against the President of
the Republic is brought to the State Tribunal (Trybunał Stanu); and
when a president's permanent incapacity to exercise his duties due to
the state of his health is declared. To date only the first instance
The judicial branch plays an important role in decision-making. Its
major institutions include the Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland
(Sąd Najwyższy); the Supreme Administrative Court of the Republic of
Poland (Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny); the Constitutional Tribunal of
the Republic of
Poland (Trybunał Konstytucyjny); and the State
Tribunal of the Republic of
Poland (Trybunał Stanu). On the approval
of the Senat, the
Sejm also appoints the ombudsman or the Commissioner
for Civil Rights Protection (Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich) for a
five-year term. The ombudsman has the duty of guarding the observance
and implementation of the rights and liberties of Polish citizens and
residents, of the law and of principles of community life and social
Law of Poland The Supreme Court building in
Constitution of Poland is the supreme law in contemporary Poland,
and the Polish legal system is based on the principle of civil rights,
governed by the code of Civil Law. Historically, the most famous
Polish legal act is the
Constitution of 3 May 1791 . Historian Norman
Davies describes it as the first of its kind in Europe. The
Constitution was instituted as a
Government Act (Polish : Ustawa
rządowa) and then adopted on 3 May 1791 by the
Sejm of the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth . Primarily, it was designed to
redress long-standing political defects of the federative
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and its
Golden Liberty . Previously
Henrican articles signed by each of Poland's elected kings
could perform the function of a set of basic laws. The
Constitution of 3 May adopted in 1791 was the first modern
The new Constitution introduced political equality between
townspeople and the nobility (szlachta ), and placed the peasants
under the protection of the government. The Constitution abolished
pernicious parliamentary institutions such as the liberum veto , which
at one time had placed the sejm at the mercy of any deputy who might
choose, or be bribed by an interest or foreign power, to have
rescinded all the legislation that had been passed by that sejm. The 3
May Constitution sought to supplant the existing anarchy fostered by
some of the country's reactionary magnates , with a more egalitarian
and democratic constitutional monarchy . The adoption of the
constitution was treated as a threat by Poland's neighbours. In
Russia formed an anti-Polish alliance
and over the next decade collaborated with one another to partition
their weaker neighbour and destroyed the Polish state. In the words of
two of its co-authors,
Ignacy Potocki and
Hugo Kołłątaj , the
constitution represented "the last will and testament of the expiring
Fatherland." Despite this, its text influenced many later democratic
movements across the globe. In Poland, freedom of expression is
guaranteed by the Article 25 (section I. The Republic) and Article 54
(section II. The Freedoms, Rights and Obligations of Persons and
Citizens) of the
Constitution of Poland .
Narcyza Żmichowska was
a proponent of early feminism in
Feminism in Poland started in the 1800s in the age of the foreign
Partitions. Poland's precursor of feminism,
Narcyza Żmichowska ,
founded a group of
Suffragettes in 1842. Prior to the last Partition
in 1795, tax-paying females were allowed to take part in political
life. Since 1918, following the return to independence, all women
Poland was the 15th (12th sovereign) country to introduce
universal women's suffrage. Currently, in
Poland abortion is allowed
only in special circumstances, such as when the woman's life or health
is endangered by the continuation of pregnancy, when the pregnancy is
a result of a criminal act, or when the fetus is seriously malformed.
Poland was confirmed as legal in 1932. Also, Poland
recognises gender change. Trafficking women is 'illegal and rare'
(top results worldwide).
March for Life and Family organized in
support of traditional social values
Poland's current constitution was adopted by the National Assembly of
Poland on 2 April 1997, approved by a national referendum on 25 May
1997, and came into effect on 17 October 1997. It guarantees a
multi-party state, the freedoms of religion, speech and assembly, and
specifically casts off many Communist ideals to create a 'free market
economic system '. It requires public officials to pursue ecologically
sound public policy and acknowledges the inviolability of the home,
the right to form trade unions, and to strike, whilst at the same time
prohibiting the practices of forced medical experimentation, torture
and corporal punishment.
Foreign relations of Poland
In recent years,
Poland has extended its responsibilities and
position in European and international affairs, supporting and
establishing friendly relations with other European nations and a
large number of 'developing' countries.
Poland is a member of the
European Union ,
NATO , the UN , the World
Trade Organization , the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
European Economic Area , International Energy
Agency , Council of
Europe , Organization for Security and
International Atomic Energy Agency , European
Space Agency , G6 , Council of the
Baltic Sea States , Visegrád Group
Weimar Triangle and
Schengen Agreement .
Poland became an associate member of the
European Union (EU)
and its defensive arm, the Western
European Union (WEU), having
submitted preliminary documentation for full membership in 1996, it
formally joined the
European Union in May 2004, along with the other
members of the
Visegrád group . In 1996,
Poland achieved full OECD
membership, and at the 1997 Madrid Summit was invited to join the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in the first wave of policy
enlargement finally becoming a full member of
NATO in March 1999.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs located in
As changes since the fall of Communism in 1989 have redrawn the map
Poland has tried to forge strong and mutually beneficial
relationships with its seven new neighbours, this has notably included
signing 'friendship treaties' to replace links severed by the collapse
Warsaw Pact .
Poland has forged a special relationships with
Ukraine , with whom it co-hosted the
UEFA Euro 2012 football
tournament, in an effort to firmly anchor the country within the
Western world and provide it with an alternative to aligning itself
with the Russian
Federation . Despite many positive developments in
Poland has found itself in a position where it must seek
to defend the rights of ethnic
Poles living in the former Soviet Union
; this is particularly true of
Belarus , where in 2005 the Lukashenko
regime launched a campaign against the Polish ethnic minority.
Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union
and has a grand total of 51 representatives in the European Parliament
. Ever since joining the union in 2004, successive Polish governments
have pursued policies to increase the country's role in European and
Administrative divisions of Poland
Administrative divisions of Poland
Poland's current voivodeships (provinces) are largely based on the
country's historic regions, whereas those of the past two decades (to
1998) had been centred on and named for individual cities. The new
units range in area from less than 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 sq
Opole Voivodeship to more than 35,000 square kilometres
(14,000 sq mi) for Masovian Voivodeship. Administrative authority at
voivodeship level is shared between a government-appointed voivode
(governor), an elected regional assembly (sejmik ) and an executive
elected by that assembly.
The voivodeships are subdivided into powiats (often referred to in
English as counties), and these are further divided into gminas (also
known as communes or municipalities). Major cities normally have the
status of both gmina and powiat.
Poland has 16 voivodeships, 379
powiats (including 65 cities with powiat status), and 2,478 gminas.
Pomeranian Pomeranian Warmian-Masurian
Greater Poland Kuyavian-
Pomeranian Lower Silesian
Opole Silesian Świętokrzyskie
Lesser Poland Subcarpathian
CAPITAL CITY OR CITIES
Gorzów Wielkopolski /
(Holy Cross) Świętokrzyskie
Polish Armed Forces
Polish Armed Forces and Territorial Defence Force
Polish Air Force
Polish Air Force F-16s , a single-engine multirole
The Polish armed forces are composed of four branches: Land Forces
(Wojska Lądowe), Navy (Marynarka Wojenna), Air Force (Siły
Special Forces (Wojska Specjalne) and Territorial Defence
Force - a military component of the Polish armed forces created of
2016. Plans call for the force, once fully active, to consist of
53,000 people who will be trained and equipped to counter potential
hybrid warfare threats. The military is subordinate to the Minister
for National Defence . However, its commander-in-chief is the
President of the Republic.
The Polish army's size is estimated at around 101,500 soldiers
Polish Navy primarily operates in the
Baltic Sea and
conducts operations such as maritime patrol, search and rescue for the
section of the Baltic under Polish sovereignty, as well as
hydrographic measurements and research. Also, the
Polish Navy played a
more international role as part of the
2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq ,
providing logistical support for the
United States Navy
United States Navy . The current
position of the
Polish Air Force
Polish Air Force is much the same; it has routinely
taken part in
Baltic Air Policing
Baltic Air Policing assignments, but otherwise, with the
exception of a number of units serving in
Afghanistan , has seen no
active combat since the end of the Second World War. In 2003, the
F-16C Block 52 was chosen as the new general multi-role fighter for
the air force, the first deliveries taking place in November 2006.
Crew of a
KTO Rosomak armored personnel carrier during a NATO
exercise at the Military Training Area near
The most important mission of the armed forces is the defence of
Polish territorial integrity and Polish interests abroad. Poland's
national security goal is to further integrate with
NATO and European
defence, economic, and political institutions through the
modernisation and reorganisation of its military. The armed forces
are being re-organised according to
NATO standards, and since 2010,
the transition to an entirely contract-based military has been
completed. Compulsory military service for men was discontinued in
2008. From 2007, until conscription ended in 2008, the mandatory
service was nine months. Super Seasprite ship-based helicopter
flying by the frigate
ORP Generał Kazimierz Pułaski during an
exercise in the
Polish military doctrine reflects the same defensive nature as that
NATO partners. From 1953 to 2009
Poland was a large contributor
United Nations peacekeeping missions. The Polish Armed
Forces took part in the
2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq , deploying 2,500
soldiers in the south of that country and commanding the 17-nation
Multinational force in Iraq .
The military was temporarily, but severely, affected by the 2010
Polish Air Force
Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash , which killed the Chief of the Army's
Franciszek Gągor and Air Force commanding general
Andrzej Błasik , among others.
Currently, Poland's military is going through a significant
modernization phase, which will be completed in 2022. The government
plans to spend up to 130 billion złoty (US $34 billion), however the
final total may reach 235 billion złoty (US $62 billion) to replace
dated equipment and purchase new weapons systems. Under the program,
the military plans to purchase new tracked armoured personnel carriers
, self-propelled howitzers , utility and attack helicopters, a
mid-range surface-to-air missile system, attack submarines ,
minehunters , and coastal anti-ship missiles . Also, the army plans to
modernize its existing inventory of main battle tanks , and update its
stock of small arms .
Poland is currently spending 2% of its GDP on
defense, and is expected to grow to 2.5% of GDP by 2030. In May 2017
the Ministry of National Defence has assured that the Polish army will
be increased to 250,000 active personnel.
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
Law enforcement in Poland and Emergency medical
Policja officers in the Silesian Park
Poland has a highly developed system of law enforcement with a long
history of effective policing by the State Police Service . The
structure of law enforcement agencies within
Poland is a multi-tier
one, with the State Police providing criminal-investigative services,
Municipal Police serving to maintain public order and a number of
other specialised agencies, such as the
Polish Border Guard
Polish Border Guard , acting
to fulfil their assigned missions. In addition to these state
services, private security companies are also common, although they
possess no powers assigned to state agencies, such as, for example,
the power to make an arrest or detain a suspect.
Emergency services in
Poland consist of the emergency medical
services , search and rescue units of the
Polish Armed Forces
Polish Armed Forces and
State Fire Service
State Fire Service .
Emergency medical services in Poland are, unlike
other services, provided for by local and regional government.
Since joining the
European Union all of Poland's emergency services
have been undergoing major restructuring and have, in the process,
acquired large amounts of new equipment and staff. All emergency
services personnel are now uniformed and can be easily recognised. In
addition, the police and other agencies have been steadily replacing
and modernising their fleets of vehicles.
Economy of Poland
Warsaw is the financial and
economic hub of
Poland's economy is considered to be one of the more resilient of the
post-Communist countries and is one of the fastest growing within the
EU. Having a strong domestic market, low private debt, flexible
currency, and not being dependent on a single export sector,
the only European economy to have avoided the late-2000s recession .
Since the fall of the communist government ,
Poland has pursued a
policy of liberalising the economy. It is an example of the transition
from a centrally planned to a primarily market-based economy . The
country's most successful exports include machinery, furniture, food
products, clothing, shoes and cosmetics. Poland's largest trading
partner is Germany.
Poland is a member of the
Schengen Area and
the EU single market
The privatization of small and medium state-owned companies and a
liberal law on establishing new firms have allowed the development of
the private sector. Also, several consumer rights organizations have
become active in the country. Restructuring and privatisation of
"sensitive sectors" such as coal, steel, rail transport and energy has
been continuing since 1990. The biggest privatisations have been the
sale of the national telecoms firm Telekomunikacja Polska to France
Télécom in 2000, and an issue of 30% of the shares in Poland's
PKO Bank Polski , on the Polish stockmarket in 2004.
The Polish banking sector is the largest in East Central/Eastern
European region, with 32.3 branches per 100,000 adults. The banks
are the largest and most developed sector of the country's financial
markets . They are regulated by the Polish Financial Supervision
Authority . During the transformation to a market-oriented economy,
the government privatized several banks, recapitalized the rest, and
introduced legal reforms that made the sector more competitive. This
has attracted a significant number of strategic foreign investors
(ICFI). Poland's banking sector has approximately 5 national banks, a
network of nearly 600 cooperative banks and 18 branches of
foreign-owned banks. In addition, foreign investors have controlling
stakes in nearly 40 commercial banks, which make up 68% of the banking
Poland has a large number of private farms in its agricultural
sector, with the potential to become a leading producer of food in the
European Union. The biggest money-makers abroad include smoked and
fresh fish, fine chocolate, and dairy products, meats and specialty
breads, with the exchange rate conducive to export growth. Food
exports amounted to 62 billion zloty in 2011, increasing by 17% from
2010. Structural reforms in health care, education, the pension
system, and state administration have resulted in larger-than-expected
Warsaw leads Central
Europe in foreign investment.
Eurostat data, Polish PPS GDP per capita stood at 67% of
the EU average in 2012. Solaris Bus ">
Warsaw Stock Exchange
is the largest exchange by market capitalization in East-Central
Poland is recognised as a regional economic leader within Central and
Eastern Europe, with nearly 40 percent of the 500 biggest companies in
the region (by revenues) as well as a high globalisation rate . The
country's largest firms comprise the
WIG30 index, which is traded on
Warsaw Stock Exchange .
The economic transition in 1989 has resulted in a dynamic increase in
the number and value of investments conducted by Polish corporations
abroad. Over a quarter of these companies have participated in a
foreign project or joint venture , and 72 percent decided to continue
foreign expansion. According to reports made by the National Bank of
Poland , the value of Polish foreign direct investments reached almost
300 billion PLN at the end of 2014. The Central Statistical Office
estimated that in 2014 there were around 1,437 Polish corporations
with interests in 3,194 foreign entities.
Well known Polish brands include, among others
PKO Bank Polski , PKN
Orlen , PGE Energy , PZU ,
Tauron Group , Lotos Group , KGHM
Polska Miedź ,
Asseco , Plus , Play ,
LOT Polish Airlines , Poczta
Polish State Railways (PKP) ,
Biedronka , and TVP .
The list includes the largest companies by turnover in 2011
(excluding banks and insurance companies):
PKN Orlen SA
oil and gas
79 037 121
2 396 447
Lotos Group SA
oil and gas
29 258 539
28 111 354
6 165 394
25 285 407
oil and gas
23 003 534
1 711 787
Tauron Group SA
20 755 222
1 565 936
KGHM Polska Miedź SA
20 097 392
13 653 597
17 200 000
16 513 651
14 922 000
1 785 000
Tourism in Poland , List of World Heritage Sites of
List of Historic Monuments (Poland) , Seven Wonders of Poland
Crown of Polish Mountains Aquarium in the Zoological
Poland experienced an increase in the number of tourists after
European Union in 2004. Tourism contributes significantly
to Poland's overall economy and makes up a relatively large proportion
of the country's service market. The Old City of
Zamość is a
World Heritage Site
Malbork Castle is the world's
largest medieval brick gothic complex and a
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Tourist attractions in
Poland vary, from the mountains in the south
to the sandy beaches in the north, with a trail of nearly every
architectural style. The most visited city is
Kraków , which was the
former capital of
Poland and serves as a relic of Polish Golden Age of
Kraków also held royal coronations of most Polish kings
. Among other notable sites in the country is
Wrocław , one of the
oldest cities in Poland.
Wrocław possesses a huge market square with
two town halls, as well as the oldest Zoological Gardens with one of
the world's largest number of animal species and is famous for its
dwarfs . The Polish capital
Warsaw and its historical Old Town were
entirely reconstructed after wartime destruction . Other cities
attracting tourists include
Toruń and the historic site of the German Auschwitz concentration
Poland is the 16th most visited country in the world by foreign
tourists, as ranked by World Tourism Organization (
Poland's main tourist offerings include outdoor activities such as
skiing, sailing, mountain hiking and climbing, as well as agrotourism,
sightseeing historical monuments . Tourist destinations include the
Baltic Sea coast in the north; the
Masurian Lake District and
Białowieża Forest in the east; on the south
Karkonosze , the Table
Mountains and the
Tatra Mountains , where
Rysy , the highest peak of
Poland, and the famous
Orla Perć mountain trail are located. The
Bieszczady Mountains lie in the extreme south-east. There
are over 100 castles in the country, many in the Lower Silesian
Voivodeship and along the popular Trail of the Eagles\' Nests .
Energy in Poland and
Coal mining in
Bełchatów Power Station is a lignite-fired power station that
produces 27–28 TWh of electricity per year, or twenty percent of the
total power generation in
The electricity generation sector in
Poland is largely fossil-fuel
–based. Many power plants nationwide use Poland's position as a
major European exporter of coal to their advantage by continuing to
use coal as the primary raw material in production of their energy. In
Poland scored 48 out of 129 states in the Energy Sustainability
Index. The three largest Polish coal mining firms (
Kompania Węglowa and JSW ) extract around 100 million tonnes of coal
annually. All three of these companies are key constituents of the
Warsaw Stock Exchange 's lead economic indexes.
Renewable forms of energy account for a smaller proportion of
Poland's full energy generation capacity. However, the national
government has set targets for the development of renewable energy
Poland which should see the portion of power produced by
renewable resources climb to 7.5% by 2010 and 15% by 2020. This is to
be achieved mainly through the construction of wind farms and a number
of hydroelectric stations.
Poland has around 164,800,000,000 m3 of proven natural gas reserves
and around 96,380,000 barrels of proven oil reserves. These reserves
are exploited by energy supply companies such as
PKN Orlen ("the only
Polish company listed in the
Fortune Global 500 "). However, the small
amounts of fossil fuels naturally occurring in
Poland is insufficient
to satisfy the full energy consumption needs of the population.
Therefore, the country is a net importer of oil and natural gas.
Transport in Poland A1 , A4 motorways and
national road 44 junction near
Transport in Poland is provided by means of rail , road , marine
shipping and air travel . Positioned in Central
Europe with its
eastern and part of its northeastern border constituting the longest
land border of the
Schengen Area with the rest of Northern and Central
Since joining the EU in May 2004,
Poland has invested large amounts
of public funds into modernization projects of its transport networks.
The country now has a developing highways network composed of
motorways such as the A1 , A2 , A4 , A8 , A18 and express roads such
as the S1 , S3 , S5 , S7 , S8 . At the end of 2016,
Poland had 3163.4
km of highways (1631.7 km of motorways and 1531.7 km of expressways).
In addition to these newly built roads, many local and regional roads
are being fixed as part of a national programme to rebuild all roads
PKP Intercity Pendolino at the
In 2015, the nation had 19,000 kilometres (11,800 mi) of railway
track. Trains can operate up to 160 km/h (99 mph) on 7.5% of the
track. Most trains operate between 80 and 120 km/h (50 and 75 mph).
Part of the system operates at 40 km/h (25 mph). Polish authorities
maintain a program of improving operating speeds across the entire
Polish rail network. To that end,
Polish State Railways (PKP) is
adopting new rolling stock such as the
Siemens Taurus ES64U4 , which
is in principle capable of speeds up to 200 km/h (124 mph).
Additionally, in December 2014,
Poland began to implement high–speed
rail routes connecting major Polish cities. The Polish government has
revealed that it intends to connect all major cities to a future
high-speed rail network by 2020. The new PKP Pendolino ETR 610 test
train set the record for the fastest train in the history of Poland,
reaching 293 km/h (182 mph) on 24 November 2013. Previously, the speed
record had been 160 km/h (99 mph) since 1985. Most intercity rail
Poland are operated by
PKP Intercity , whilst regional
trains are run by a number of operators, the largest of which is
Przewozy Regionalne .
LOT Polish Airlines is one of the world's
oldest air carriers still in operation, originally established on 1
On 14 December 2014,
Polish State Railways started passenger service
using the PKP Pendolino ED250, operating at 200 km/h speed on 80 km of
line between Olszamowice and Zawiercie (part of the Central Rail Line
Warsaw to Kraków). Currently, it is the line with highest
railway speed in Poland.
The air and maritime transport markets in
Poland are largely well
Poland has a number of international airports, the largest
of which is
Warsaw Chopin Airport , the primary global hub for LOT
Polish Airlines . LOT is the 28th largest European airline and the
world's 12th oldest still in operation , established in 1929 from a
Aerolloyd (1922) and Aero (1925). Other major airports with
international connections include
John Paul II
John Paul II International Airport
Wrocław–Copernicus Airport ,
Wałęsa Airport and
Poznań–Ławica Airport .
Seaports exist all along Poland's Baltic coast, with most freight
Gdańsk as well
as Police ,
Elbląg as their base. Passenger ferries
Scandinavia all year round; these services are
Polferries , Stena Line
Unity Line from the Port of
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Polish science and technology Physicist and
chemist Maria Skłodowska-
Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes . She also
established Poland's Radium Institute in 1925.
Poland's tertiary education institutions; traditional universities ,
as well as technical, medical, and economic institutions, employ
around 61,000 researchers and members of staff. There are around 300
research and development institutes, with about 10,000 researchers. In
total, there are around 91,000 scientists in
Poland today. However, in
the 19th and 20th centuries many Polish scientists worked abroad; one
of the most important of these exiles was
Maria Skłodowska-Curie , a
physicist and chemist who lived much of her life in France. In the
first half of the 20th century,
Poland was a flourishing centre of
mathematics. Outstanding Polish mathematicians formed the
of Mathematics (with
Stefan Banach ,
Stanisław Mazur , Hugo Steinhaus
Stanisław Ulam ) and
Warsaw School of Mathematics (with Alfred
Kazimierz Kuratowski ,
Wacław Sierpiński ). The events of
World War II
World War II pushed many of them into exile. Such was the case of
Benoît Mandelbrot , whose family left
Poland when he was still a
child. An alumnus of the
Warsaw School of Mathematics was Antoni
Zygmund , one of the shapers of 20th century mathematical analysis .
Over 40 research and development centers and 4,500 researchers make
Poland the biggest research and development hub in Central and Eastern
Europe. Multinational companies such as: ABB, Delphi ,
Intel , LG
Samsung all have set
up research and development centres in Poland. Companies chose Poland
because of the availability of highly qualified labour force, presence
of universities, support of authorities, and the largest market in
East-Central Europe. According to a KPMG report in 2011 80% of
Poland's current investors are content with their choice and willing
Telecommunications in Poland Headquarters of
Poczta Polska in
Warsaw . Poland's postal service can trace its roots
to the year 1558.
The public postal service in
Poland is operated by
Poczta Polska (the
Polish Post). It was created on 18 October 1558, when King Sigismund
II Augustus established a permanent postal route from
Venice . The service was dissolved during the foreign partitions in
the 18th century. After regaining independence in 1918,
Poland saw the
rapid development of the postal system as new services were introduced
including money transfers , payment of pensions, delivery of
magazines, and air mail . The government-owned enterprise of Polish
Post, Telegraph and Telephone (Polska Poczta, Telegraf i Telefon) was
established in 1928.
During wars and national uprisings communication was provided mainly
through the military authorities. Many important events in the history
Poland involved the postal service, like the defence of the Polish
Post Office in
Gdańsk in 1939, and the participation of the Polish
Scouts' Postal Service in the
Warsaw Uprising .
At present, the service is a modern state-owned company that provides
a number of standard and express delivery as well as home-delivery
services. With an estimated number of around 83,000 employees (2013),
Poczta Polska also has a personal tracking system for parcels. In 2017
the company adopted a strategy that assumes increasing revenues to 6.9
billion PLN by 2021; the aim is to double revenues from courier and
parcel services and a five-fold growth in logistics services.
Demographics of Poland and Demographic history of
Poland Population of
Poland 1900–2010 in millions of
Poland, with 38,544,513 inhabitants, has the eighth-largest
Europe and the sixth-largest in the
European Union . It
has a population density of 122 inhabitants per square kilometer (328
per square mile).
Poland historically contained many languages, cultures and religions
on its soil. The country had a particularly large
World War II
World War II , when the Nazi Germany\'s regime led to the
Holocaust . There were an estimated 3 million
Jews living in Poland
before the war—less than 300,000 survived. The outcome of the war,
particularly the shift of Poland\'s borders to the area between the
Curzon Line and the
Oder-Neisse line , coupled with post-war expulsion
of minorities , significantly reduced the country's ethnic diversity.
Over 7 million Germans fled or were expelled from the Polish side of
the Oder-Neisse boundary, after the country's borders were re-drawn by
the big three Allied powers (United States, Britain and the Soviet
Union) after the war. Post-
World War II
World War II deportations were ordered by
the Soviet authorities, who wished to remove the sizeable Polish
minorities from Lithuania,
Ukraine and repatriation of
Poland to the
Soviet Union (see territorial changes of
Poland and historical demography of
Poland for details).
According to the 2002 census , 36,983,700 people, or 96.74% of the
population, consider themselves Polish, while 471,500 (1.23%) declared
another nationality, and 774,900 (2.03%) did not declare any
nationality. The largest minority nationalities and ethnic groups in
Poland are Germans (152,897 according to the census, 92% of whom live
Opole Voivodeship and
Silesian Voivodeship ),
49,000), Ukrainians (c. 30,000), Lithuanians, Russians, Roma , Jews,
Lemkos , Slovaks, Czechs, and
Lipka Tatars . Among foreign citizens,
the Vietnamese are the largest ethnic group, followed by Armenians and
The Polish language, part of the West Slavic branch of the Slavic
languages , functions as the official language of Poland. Until recent
decades Russian was commonly learned as a second language, but has
been replaced by English as the most common second language studied
and spoken. In 2015, more than 50% of
Poles declared to speak English
– Russian came second and German came third, other commonly spoken
languages include French, Italian and Spanish.
In recent years, Poland's population has decreased due to an increase
in emigration and a decline in the birth rate. Since Poland's
accession to the European Union, a significant number of
emigrated , primarily to the
United Kingdom ,
Germany and Ireland in
search of better work opportunities abroad. With better economic
conditions and Polish salaries at 70% of the EU average in 2016, this
trend started to decrease in the 2010s and workforce became needed in
the country. As a result, the Polish Minister of Development Mateusz
Morawiecki suggested that
Poles abroad should return to Poland.
Polish minorities are still present in the neighboring countries of
Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, as well as in other countries (see
Poles for population numbers). Altogether, the number of ethnic Poles
living abroad is estimated to be around 20 million. The largest
Poles outside of
Poland can be found in the United States
Germany . The total fertility rate (TFR) in
Poland was estimated
in 2013 at 1.33 children born to a woman.
Largest cities or towns in Poland
Central Statistical Office population report for 2016
Polish language and
Languages of Poland
Languages of Poland Dolina
Jadwigi—a bilingual (Polish-Kashubian) road sign with the village
POLISH (język polski, polszczyzna) is a
Slavic language spoken
Poland and the native language of Poles. It belongs to
the Lechitic subgroup of West
Slavic languages . Polish is the
official language of Poland, but it is also used throughout the world
by Polish minorities in other countries. It is one of the official
languages of the
European Union . Its written standard is the Polish
alphabet , which has 9 additions to the letters of the basic Latin
script (ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż). The deaf communities use
Polish Sign Language belonging to the German family of Sign Languages
According to the Act of 6 January 2005 on national and ethnic
minorities and on the regional languages, 16 other languages have
officially recognized status of minority languages: 1 regional
language, 10 languages of 9 national minorities (minority groups that
have their own independent state elsewhere) and 5 languages of 4
ethnic minorities spoken by the members of minorities not having a
separate state elsewhere).
Jewish and Romani minorities each have 2
minority languages recognized.
Languages having the status of national minority's language are
Armenian, Belarusian, Czech, German, Yiddish, Hebrew, Lithuanian,
Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian. Languages having the status of ethnic
minority's language are Karaim , Kashubian , Rusyn (called Lemko in
Poland) and Tatar . Also, official recognition is granted to two
Romani languages :
Polska Roma and
Bergitka Roma .
Official recognition of a language provides certain rights (under
conditions prescribed by the law): of education in that language, of
having the language established as the secondary administrative
language or help language in bilingual municipalities and of financial
support from the state for the promotion of that language.
Religion in Poland
RELIGIONS IN POLAND
Numbers from the Central Statistical Office:
Jasna Góra Monastery is a holy shrine of the
Black Madonna and
a major pilgrimage site for Catholics
Since the country adopted Christianity in 966,
Poland has contributed
significantly to the development of ideals, which upheld and
guaranteed religious freedoms. In 1264, the
Statute of Kalisz also
known as a "Charter of
Jewish Liberties" granted
Jews living in the
Polish lands unprecedented legal rights not found anywhere in Europe.
In 1424, a setback occurred when the Polish king was pressed by the
Bishops to issue the
Edict of Wieluń , outlawing early Protestant
Hussitism . However, in 1573, the
Warsaw Confederation marked the
formal beginning of extensive religious freedoms granted to all faiths
in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The act was not imposed by a
king or consequence of war, but rather resulted from the actions of
members of the Polish-Lithuanian society. It was also influenced by
the events of the 1572 French St. Bartholomew\'s Day Massacre , which
prompted the Polish-Lithuanian nobility to see that no monarch would
ever be able to carry out such reprehensible atrocities in Poland. The
act is also credited with keeping the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
out of the Thirty Years\' War , fought between German Protestants and
Religious tolerance in
Poland spurred many theological movements such
Polish Brethren and a number of other
as well as atheists, such as ex-Jesuit philosopher Kazimierz
Łyszczyński , one of the first atheist thinkers in Europe. Also, in
the 16th century, Anabaptists from the
in Poland—after being persecuted in Western Europe—and became
known as the
Vistula delta Mennonites .
Until World War II,
Poland was a religiously diverse society, in
Jewish , Christian Orthodox ,
Protestant , Armenian
Christian and Roman Catholic groups coexisted. In the Second Polish
Republic , according to the
Polish census of 1931
Polish census of 1931 , Roman Catholicism
was the dominant religion, declared by about 65% of Polish citizens,
followed by other Christian denominations, and about 10% of Jewish
believers. As a result of the
Holocaust and the post–World War II
flight and expulsion of German and Ukrainian populations,
become overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. In 2014, an estimated 87% of the
population belonged to the Catholic Church. Though rates of religious
observance are lower, at 52% or 51% of the Polish Catholics, Poland
remains one of the most devoutly religious countries in Europe.
The 800-year old
Vang stave church in
Karpacz . The original wooden
structure was transferred from
Norway in 1842 to what was then Prussia
. It now serves as a Polish Evangelical church.
From 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, Karol Józef
Wojtyła reigned as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He
is the only Polish
Pope to date. Additionally he is credited with
having played a significant role in hastening the downfall of
Poland and throughout Central and Eastern
The Old Synagogue of
Kraków is the oldest standing synagogue in
Poland and a historic
Jewish landmark . Prior to
World War II
World War II , Jews
accounted for around ten percent of the total Polish population .
Hasidic Judaism also originated in Poland.
Religious minorities include Polish Orthodox (about 506,800),
various Protestants (about 150,000), Jehovah\'s Witnesses (126,827),
Eastern Catholics , Mariavites , Polish Catholics ,
Jews , and Muslims
Białystok ). Members of
include about 77,500
Lutherans in the Evangelical-Augsburg Church ,
23,000 Pentecostals in the
Pentecostal Church in Poland
Pentecostal Church in Poland , 10,000
Adventists in the
Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church , and others in smaller
Christian churches. There are also a several thousand neopagans, some
of whom are members of officially registered churches such as the
Native Polish Church .
Freedom of religion is now guaranteed by the 1989 statute of the
Polish Constitution, enabling the emergence of additional
Concordat between the
Holy See and Poland
guarantees the teaching of religion in state schools. According to a
2007 survey, 72% of respondents were not opposed to religious
instruction in public schools; alternative courses in ethics are
available only in one percent of the entire public educational system.
Famous sites of Roman Catholic pilgrimage in
Poland include the
Monastery of Jasna Góra in the southern Polish city of
Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń , Divine Mercy Sanctuary,
Many tourists also visit the Family home of
John Paul II
John Paul II in Wadowice
Kraków . Orthodox pilgrims visit Mountain Grabarka near
Health in Poland University Medical Centre in
Poland's healthcare system is based on an all-inclusive insurance
system. State subsidised healthcare is available to all Polish
citizens who are covered by this general health insurance program.
However, it is not compulsory to be treated in a state-run hospital as
a number of private medical complexes exist nationwide.
All medical service providers and hospitals in
Poland are subordinate
to the Polish Ministry of Health , which provides oversight and
scrutiny of general medical practice as well as being responsible for
the day-to-day administration of the healthcare system. In addition to
these roles, the ministry is tasked with the maintenance of standards
of hygiene and patient-care.
Poland are organised according to the regional
administrative structure, resultantly most towns have their own
hospital (Szpital Miejski). Larger and more specialised medical
complexes tend only to be found in larger cities, with some even more
specialised units located only in the capital, Warsaw. However, all
voivodeships have their own general hospital (most have more than
one), all of which are obliged to have a trauma centre; these types of
hospital, which are able to deal with almost all medical problems are
called 'regional hospitals' (Szpital Wojewódzki). The last category
of hospital in
Poland is that of specialised medical centres, an
example of which would be the Skłodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology
, Poland's leading, and most highly specialised centre for the
research and treatment of cancer.
In 2012, the Polish health-care industry experienced further
transformation. Hospitals were given priority for refurbishment where
necessary. As a result of this process, many hospitals were updated
with the latest medical equipment.
In 2016, the average life expectancy at birth was 77.6 years (73.7
years for infant male and 81.7 years for infant female).
Education in Poland ,
Universities in Poland , and
List of schools in Poland Wearing of traditional academic
regalia is a common feature of Polish university ceremonies
Density of collegiate-level institutions of higher education
Commission of National Education
Commission of National Education (Komisja Edukacji Narodowej)
established in 1773, was the world's first state ministry of
education. The education of Polish society was a goal of the
nation's rulers as early as the 12th century. The library catalogue of
the Cathedral Chapter of
Kraków dating back to 1110 shows that in the
early 12th-century Polish academia had access to European and
Classical literature. The
Jagiellonian University was founded in 1364
by King Casimir III in Kraków—the school is the world\'s 19th
oldest university .
Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment ,
coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development , ranks Poland's educational system in its
PISA 2012 as
the 10th best in the world, scoring higher than the
Education in Poland starts at the age of five or six (with the
particular age chosen by the parents) for the '0' class (Kindergarten)
and six or seven years in the 1st class of primary school (Polish
szkoła podstawowa). It is compulsory that children participate in one
year of formal education before entering the 1st class at no later
than 7 years of age. Corporal punishment of children in schools is
officially prohibited since 1783 (before the partitions) and
criminalised since 2010 (in schools as well as at home).
At the end of the 6th class when students are 13, students take a
compulsory exam that will determine their acceptance and transition
into a specific lower secondary school (gimnazjum, pronounced
gheem-nah-sium) (Middle School/Junior High). They will attend this
school for three years during classes 7, 8, and 9. Students then take
another compulsory exam to determine the upper secondary level school
they will attend. There are several alternatives, the most common
being the three years in a liceum or four years in a technikum . Both
end with a maturity examination (matura —similar to French
baccalauréat ), and may be followed by several forms of higher
education, leading to licencjat or inżynier (the Polish Bologna
Process first cycle qualification), magister (second cycle
qualification) and eventually doktor (third cycle qualification).
In Poland, there are 500 university-level institutions for the
pursuit of higher education. There are 18 fully accredited
traditional universities, 20 technical universities, 9 independent
medical universities, 5 universities for the study of economics, 9
agricultural academies, 3 pedagogical universities, a theological
academy, 3 maritime service universities and 4 national military
academies. Also, there are a number of higher educational institutions
dedicated to the teaching of the arts—amongst these are the 7
academies of music.
UNIVERSITY OF WARSAW
POZNAń MICKIEWICZ UNIVERSITY
KRAKóW JAGIELLONIAN UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF WROCłAW
Culture of Poland
Tadeusz Kościuszko was a
veteran and hero of both Polish and American wars of independence
between 1765 and 1794
The culture of
Poland is closely connected with its intricate
1,000-year history Its unique character developed as a result of its
geography at the confluence of European cultures. With origins in the
culture of the Proto-
Slavs , over time Polish culture has been
profoundly influenced by its interweaving ties with the Germanic ,
Latinate and Byzantine worlds as well as in continual dialog with the
many other ethnic groups and minorities living in Poland. The people
Poland have traditionally been seen as hospitable to artists from
abroad and eager to follow cultural and artistic trends popular in
other countries. In the 19th and 20th centuries the Polish focus on
cultural advancement often took precedence over political and economic
activity. These factors have contributed to the versatile nature of
Polish art, with all its complex nuances.
Nicolaus Copernicus , the 16th century Polish astronomer who
formulated the heliocentric model of the solar system that placed the
Sun rather than the Earth at its center. The work was first published
The list of famous
Poles begins in earnest with the polymath Mikołaj
Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus), who studied at the Jagiellonian
University founded in 1364 by Casimir the Great from proceeds of his
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka Salt Mine .
Poland is the birthplace of many distinguished
personalities among whom are:
Fryderyk Chopin , Maria Skłodowska
Tadeusz Kościuszko ,
Kazimierz Pułaski , Józef Piłsudski
Lech Wałęsa and
John Paul II
John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła). Great Polish
Jan Matejko devoted his monumental art to the most significant
historical events on Polish lands, along with the playwright, painter
Stanisław Wyspiański . Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz
(Witkacy) was an example of a Polish avant-garde philosopher and
author of aesthetic theories.
Joseph Conrad was a notable author of
works in English. Many world-famous Polish movie directors include
Academy Awards winners Roman Polański ,
Andrzej Wajda , Zbigniew
Janusz Kamiński ,
Krzysztof Kieślowski , and Agnieszka
Holland . Actresses known outside of Poland, include Helena Modjeska
Pola Negri .
John Paul II
John Paul II was the first Pole and Slav to become a Roman
Catholic Pope. He held the papacy between 1978 and 2005.
Poland has maintained a high level of gender equality , an
established disability rights movement and promotes peaceful equality.
Unlike in many other countries, ethnic minority rights in
guaranteed directly by the
Constitution of Poland (art. 35).
Throughout most of its history,
Poland has experienced only very
limited immigration from abroad; this trend can be largely attributed
to Poland's rejection of slavery and to a lack of overseas colonies as
well as occupation of its territories during much of the 19th and
early 20th centuries. Despite this, the country has for a long time
been regarded as having a very tolerant society, which affords equal
rights to all people no matter what their ethnic background. This can
be said to stem largely from the reign of King Casimir III the Great
and his acceptance of Poland's
Jewish community , in a time when most
Europe recessed into antisemitic moods and actions. The history of
Poland exemplifies peaceful co-existence of a nation with a
particular ethnic group.
In 2013, the Polish parliament rejected proposed legislation for
civil partnerships, which the majority of Polish society is against,
but for the first time it gave an asylum to a gay person from Uganda
on the basis of the sexual orientation. In a 2013 opinion poll
conducted by CBOS , 60% of
Poles were against homosexual civil
partnerships, 72% were against same-sex marriage , 88% were against
adoption by same-sex couples, and 68% were against gays and lesbians
publicly showing their way of life. Article 18 of the Constitution of
Poland bans same-sex marriage.
A 2010 article in
Rzeczpospolita reported that in a 2008 study
Poles were against gay marriage and the adoption of
children by gay couples. The same study revealed that 66% of
respondents were opposed to
Pride parade as the demonstration of a way
of life, and 69% believed that gay people should not show their sexual
orientation in public.
Poland belongs to the group of 'Tier 1'
(countries whose governments fully comply with the TVPA's minimum
Trafficking in Persons Report .
Music of Poland
Fryderyk Chopin was a renowned
classical composer and virtuoso pianist
Mazurka no. 4 in a minor, op. 17 Mazurka
(Polish : mazurek), stylized folk dance in triple meter (1832),
Artists from Poland, including famous musicians like Chopin ,
Rubinstein or Penderecki and traditional, regionalized folk composers
, create a lively and diverse music scene, which even recognizes its
own music genres, such as sung poetry and disco polo . As of 2006 ,
Poland is one of the few countries in
Europe where rock and hip hop
dominate over pop music, while all kinds of alternative music genres
The origins of Polish music can be traced as far back as the 13th
century; manuscripts have been found in
Stary Sącz , containing
polyphonic compositions related to the Parisian
Notre Dame School .
Other early compositions, such as the melody of
Bogurodzica and God Is
Born (a coronation polonaise for Polish kings by an unknown composer),
may also date back to this period, however, the first known notable
composer, Nicholas of
Radom , was born and lived in the 15th century.
During the 16th century, two main musical groups – both based in
Kraków and belonging to the King and Archbishop of
Wawel – led to
the rapid development of Polish music. Composers writing during this
Venceslaus Samotulinus , Nicholas Zelenscius , and
Mikołaj Gomółka .
Diomedes Cato , a native-born Italian who lived
Kraków from about the age of five, became a renowned lutenist at
the court of Sigismund III, and not only imported some of the musical
styles from southern Europe, but blended them with native folk music.
Artur Rubinstein was one of the greatest concert pianists of the
At the end of the 18th century, Polish classical music evolved into
national forms like the polonaise . In the 19th century the most
popular composers were:
Józef Elsner and his pupils Fryderyk Chopin
Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński . Important opera composers of the era
Karol Kurpiński and
Stanisław Moniuszko whilst the list of
famous soloists and composers included
Henryk Wieniawski , Juliusz
Zarębski . At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries the most
prominent composers or musicians could said to have been Władysław
Mieczysław Karłowicz , with
Karol Szymanowski and
Artur Rubinstein gaining prominence prior to World War II. Alexandre
Tansman lived in Paris but had strong connections with Poland. Witold
Henryk Górecki , and
Krzysztof Penderecki composed in
Andrzej Panufnik emigrated.
BALLADE FORM INVENTED BY CHOPIN . Ballade no. 3 in a-flat major,
op. 47 Inspired by poems of
Traditional Polish folk music has had a major effect on the works of
many well-known Polish composers, and no more so than on Fryderyk
Chopin, a widely recognised national hero of the arts. All of Chopin's
works involve the piano and are technically demanding, emphasising
nuance and expressive depth. As a great composer, Chopin invented the
musical form known as the instrumental ballade and made major
innovations to the piano sonata , mazurka , waltz , nocturne ,
polonaise , étude , impromptu and prélude , he was also the composer
of a number of polonaises which borrowed heavily from traditional
Polish folk music. It is largely thanks to him that such pieces gained
great popularity throughout
Europe during the 19th century. Nowadays
the most distinctive folk music can be heard in the towns and villages
of the mountainous south, particularly in the region surrounding the
winter resort town of
Poland has a very active music scene, with the jazz and metal
genres being particularly popular among the contemporary populace.
Polish jazz musicians such as
Krzysztof Komeda created a unique style,
which was most famous in the 1960s and 1970s and continues to be
popular to this day. Since the fall of communism throughout Europe,
Poland has become a major venue for large-scale music festivals, chief
among which are the Open\'er Festival ,
Opole Festival and Sopot
List of Polish artists Prussian Homage (Hołd
pruski), painted by
Polish art has always reflected European trends while maintaining its
unique character. The
Kraków school of Historicist painting developed
Jan Matejko produced monumental portrayals of customs and
significant events in Polish history.
Stanisław Witkiewicz was an
ardent supporter of realism in Polish art, its main representative
being Jozef Chełmoński . The Młoda Polska (
Young Poland ) movement
witnessed the birth of modern Polish art, and engaged in a great deal
of formal experimentation led by
Jacek Malczewski (Symbolism ),
Stanisław Wyspiański ,
Józef Mehoffer , and a group of Polish
Impressionists . Artists of the twentieth-century Avant-Garde
represented various schools and trends. The art of Tadeusz Makowski
was influenced by
Cubism ; while
Władysław Strzemiński and Henryk
Stażewski worked within the Constructivist idiom.
Distinguished contemporary artists include
Roman Opałka , Leon
Jerzy Nowosielski ,
Wojciech Siudmak ,
Mirosław Bałka ,
Katarzyna Kozyra and Zbigniew Wąsiel in the younger generation.
The most celebrated Polish sculptors include
Xawery Dunikowski ,
Katarzyna Kobro ,
Alina Szapocznikow and
Magdalena Abakanowicz . Since
the inter-war years, Polish art and documentary photography has
enjoyed worldwide recognition. In the sixties the Polish Poster School
was formed, with Henryk Tomaszewski and
Waldemar Świerzy at its head.
Top fine Art schools in
Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts ,
Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design , Academy of Fine Arts in
Warsaw , Art Academy of
Szczecin , University of Fine Arts in Poznań
Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts .
Further information: Category:Polish architecture St. Mary\'s
Basilica on the Main Market Square in
Kraków is an example of Brick
Polish cities and towns reflect a whole spectrum of European
Romanesque architecture is represented by St.
Kraków , and St. Mary\'s Church,
Gdańsk , is
characteristic for the
Brick Gothic style found in Poland. Richly
decorated attics and arcade loggias are the common elements of the
Renaissance architecture, as evident in the City Hall in
Poznań. For some time the late renaissance style known as mannerism ,
most notably in the Bishop\'s Palace in
Kielce , coexisted with the
early baroque style, typified in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul
Ratusz , the
Renaissance City Hall in
History has not been kind to Poland's architectural monuments.
Nonetheless, a number of ancient structures has survived: castles,
churches, and stately homes, often unique in the regional or European
context. Some of them have been painstakingly restored, like Wawel
Castle , or completely reconstructed after being destroyed in the
Second World War, including the Old Town and Royal Castle of Warsaw
and the Old Town of
The architecture of
Gdańsk is mostly of the Hanseatic variety, a
Gothic style common among the former trading cities along the Baltic
sea and in the northern part of Central Europe. The architectural
Wrocław is mainly representative of German architecture,
since it was for centuries located within the German states. The
Kazimierz Dolny on the
Vistula is a good example of a
well-preserved medieval town. Poland's ancient capital,
ranks among the best-preserved Gothic and
Renaissance urban complexes
in Europe. Meanwhile, the legacy of the
Kresy Marchlands of Poland's
eastern regions, where
Lwów (now Vilnius and Lviv) were
recognised as two major centres for the arts, played a special role in
the development of Polish architecture, with Catholic church
architecture deserving special note.
The second half of the 17th century is marked by baroque
architecture. Side towers, such as those of Branicki Palace in
Białystok, are typical for the Polish baroque. The classical Silesian
baroque is represented by the University in Wrocław. The profuse
decorations of the Branicki Palace in
Warsaw are characteristic of the
rococo style. The centre of Polish classicism was
Warsaw under the
rule of the last Polish king
Stanisław II Augustus . The Palace on
the Water is the most notable example of Polish neoclassical
Lublin Castle represents the Gothic Revival style in
architecture, while the
Izrael Poznański Palace in
Łódź is an
example of eclecticism .
Polish literature and
History of philosophy in Poland
Adam Mickiewicz was an untiring promoter of Poland's culture and
heritage. His national epic poem
Pan Tadeusz is considered a
Polish literature .
Polish literature dates back to the 12th century, when
Poland's official language was
Latin . Within Polish literary customs,
it is appropriate to highlight the published works concerning Poland
not written by ethnic Poles. The most vivid example is Gallus Anonymus
, a foreign monk and the first chronicler who described
Poland and its
The first documented phrase in the
Polish language reads "Day ut ia
pobrusa, a ti poziwai" ("Let me grind, and you take a rest"),
reflecting the culture of early Poland. It was composed by an abbot
named Piotr (Peter) within the
Latin language chronicle Liber
fundationis from between 1269 and 1273, which described the history of
Cistercian monastery in Henryków ,
Silesia . The sentence was
allegedly uttered almost a hundred years earlier by a Bohemian
settler, who expressed pity for his spouse's duty of grinding by the
quern-stone . The sentence has been included in the
UNESCO Memory of
World Register .
Joseph Conrad is often regarded as one of the
greatest novelists of all time. He was the author of popular books
Heart of Darkness .
Most medieval records in
Latin and the Old
Polish language contain
the oldest extant manuscript of fine Polish prose entitled the Holy
Cross Sermons , as well as the earliest Polish-language bible, the
Bible of Queen Sophia . One of the first printing houses
was established by
Kasper Straube in the 1470s, while
Jan Haller was
considered the pioneer of commercial print in Poland. Haller's
Calendarium cracoviense , an astronomical wall calendar from 1474, is
Poland's oldest surviving print.
The tradition of extending Polish historiography in
subsequently inherited by
Vincent Kadłubek , Bishop of
Kraków in the
13th century, and
Jan Długosz in the 15th century. This practice,
however, was abandoned by
Jan Kochanowski , who became one of the
Renaissance authors to write most of his works in Polish,
Mikołaj Rej .
Poland also hosted a large number of famed
poets and writers from abroad like Filippo "Kallimach" Buonaccorsi ,
Conrad Celtes and
Laurentius Corvinus . A Polish writer who utilized
Latin as his principal tool of expression was Klemens "Ianicius"
Janicki , one of the most renowned
Latin poets of his time, who was
laureled by the
Pope . Other writers of the Polish
Johannes Dantiscus ,
Andreus Fricius Modrevius , Matthias Sarbievius
Piotr Skarga . Throughout this period
Poland also experienced the
early stages of
Protestant Reformation . The main figure of Polish
John Laski , who, with the permission of King Edward
VI of England , created the European
Protestant Congregation of London
During the Polish
Baroque era, the
Jesuits greatly influenced Polish
literature and literary techniques, often relying on God and religious
matters. The leading baroque poet was
Jan Andrzej Morsztyn , who
Marinism into his publications.
Jan Chryzostom Pasek ,
also a respected baroque writer, is mostly remembered for his tales
and memoirs reflecting sarmatian culture in the Polish-Lithuanian
Commonwealth . Subsequently, the
Polish Enlightenment was dominated
Samuel Linde ,
Hugo Kołłątaj ,
Izabela Czartoryska , Julian
Ursyn Niemcewicz and two Polish monarchs,
Stanisław I and Stanisław
II Augustus . In 1776
Ignacy Krasicki composed the first proper novel
The Adventures of Mr. Nicholas Wisdom , which was a milestone
for Polish literature. Banquet in
Nero 's Palace, a scene from
Quo Vadis written by
Nobel Prize laureate
Among the best known Polish Romantics are the "
Three Bards "–the
three national poets active in the age of foreign partitions –Adam
Juliusz Słowacki and
Zygmunt Krasiński . Adam
Mickiewicz is widely regarded as one of the greatest Polish, Slavic
and European poets. He is known primarily for the national epic poem
Pan Tadeusz , a masterpiece of Polish literature.
A Polish prose poet of the highest order,
Joseph Conrad , the son of
Apollo Korzeniowski , won worldwide fame with his
English-language novels and stories that are informed with elements of
the Polish national experience . Conrad's books and published novels
Heart of Darkness ,
Nostromo and Victory are believed to be one
of the finest works ever written, placing Conrad among the greatest
novelists of all time.
In the 20th century, five Polish novelists and poets were awarded the
Nobel Prize in Literature –
Henryk Sienkiewicz for Quo Vadis ,
Władysław Reymont for
The Peasants ,
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer ,
Czesław Miłosz and
Wisława Szymborska .
Television in Poland
Television in Poland ,
Media of Poland
Media of Poland , Theatre of
Poland , and
Cinema of Poland Further information: Category:Video
Poland Headquarters of the publicly funded national
television network TVP in
Poland has instituted freedom of press since the fall of communism, a
system under which the media was heavily politically controlled and
censored. However, public TV and radio are still regulated by the
government, this is exercised through an agency called Krajowa Rada
Radiofonii i Telewizji (The National Radio and Television Committee),
which is similar to television regulatory commissions in other
Poland has a number of major media outlets, chief among which are the
national television channels. TVP is Poland's public broadcasting
corporation; about a third of its income comes from a broadcast
receiver licence , while the rest is made through revenue from
commercials and sponsorships . State television operates two
mainstream channels, TVP 1 and TVP 2, as well as regional programs for
each of the country's 16 voivodeships . In addition to these general
channels, TVP runs a number of genre-specific programmes such as TVP
TVP Historia ,
TVP Kultura ,
TVP Seriale and
TV Polonia , the
latter is a state-run channel dedicated to the transmission of Polish
language television for the
Polish diaspora abroad.
Masters , an eSports video game tournament in
Poland has several 24-hour news channels:
Polsat News ,
TVP Info and
TVN 24 . The two largest private television networks are
In Poland, daily newspapers like
Gazeta Wyborcza ("Electoral
Rzeczpospolita ("The Republic") and Gazeta Polska
Codziennie ("Polish Daily Newspaper") provide traditional opinion and
news, while tabloids such as
Fakt provide more sensationalist
journalism. Rzeczpospolita, founded in 1920 is one of the oldest
newspapers still in operation. In 2006, it won a prestigious award for
being, along with the Guardian (a British daily), the best designed
newspaper in the world. The most popular weeklies are Tygodnik Angora
, W Sieci,
Newsweek Polska ,
Gość Niedzielny ,
Gazeta Polska .
Poland also has emerged as a major hub for video game developers in
Europe, with the country now being home to hundreds of studios. One of
the most popular video game series developed in
Poland includes The
Intel Extreme Masters , one of the biggest
eSports events in the world.
Polish cuisine Selection of hearty traditional
comfort food from
Poland including bigos , cabbage rolls , żurek ,
pierogi and specialty breads
Polish cuisine has evolved over the centuries to become very eclectic
due to Poland's history.
Polish cuisine shares many similarities with
other Central European cuisines , especially German and Austrian as
Jewish , Belarusian , Ukrainian , Russian , French and
Italian culinary traditions. It is rich in meat, especially pork,
chicken and beef (depending on the region) and winter vegetables
(cabbage in the dish bigos ), and spices. It is also characteristic
in its use of various kinds of noodles the most notable of which are
kluski as well as cereals such as kasha (from the Polish word kasza ).
Polish cuisine is hearty and uses a lot of cream and eggs. Festive
meals such as the meatless Christmas Eve dinner (
Wigilia ) or Easter
breakfast could take days to prepare in their entirety. Oscypek
is a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk exclusively in the Polish
Tatra Mountains Bagels , made from yeasted wheat dough,
The main course usually includes a serving of meat, such as roast,
chicken, or kotlet schabowy (breaded pork cutlet), vegetables, side
dishes and salads, including surówka – shredded root vegetables
with lemon and sugar (carrot, celeriac, seared beetroot) or sauerkraut
(Polish : kapusta kiszona, pronounced ). The side dishes are usually
potatoes, rice or kasza (cereals). Meals conclude with a dessert such
as sernik , makowiec (a poppy seed pastry), or drożdżówka yeast
pastry , and tea.
The Polish national dishes are bigos ; pierogi ; kielbasa ; kotlet
schabowy breaded cutlet ; gołąbki cabbage rolls ; zrazy
roulade ; pieczeń roast ; sour cucumber soup (zupa ogórkowa,
pronounced ); mushroom soup, (zupa grzybowa, quite different from
the North American cream of mushroom ); zupa pomidorowa tomato soup
pronounced ; rosół variety of meat broth; żurek sour rye
soup; flaki tripe soup ; barszcz and chłodnik among others.
Traditional alcoholic beverages include honey mead , widespread since
the 13th century, beer, wine and vodka (old Polish names include
okowita and gorzałka). The world's first written mention of vodka
originates from Poland. The most popular alcoholic drinks at present
are beer and wine which took over from vodka more popular in the years
1980–98. Tea remains common in Polish society since the 19th
century, whilst coffee is drunk widely since the 18th century. Other
frequently consumed beverages include various mineral waters and
juices, soft drinks popularized by the fast-food chains since the late
20th century, as well as buttermilk , soured milk and kefir .
Sport in Poland The National Stadium in Warsaw,
home of national football team , and one of the host stadiums of Euro
Association football and volleyball are among the country's most
popular sports, with a rich history of international competitions.
Track and field , basketball, handball , boxing, MMA , motorcycle
speedway , ski jumping , cross-country skiing , ice hockey , tennis,
fencing, swimming and weightlifting are other popular sports. The most
significant sportspeople from
Robert Lewandowski ,
Lukas Podolski ,
Marcin Gortat ,
Robert Kubica , Agnieszka Radwańska
Irena Szewińska .
The golden era of football in
Poland occurred throughout the 1970s
and went on until the early 1980s when the Polish national football
team achieved their best results in any FIFA World Cup competitions
finishing 3rd place in the 1974 and the 1982 tournaments. The team won
a gold medal in football at the
1972 Summer Olympics and two silver
medals, in 1976 and in 1992 . Poland, along with Ukraine, hosted the
UEFA European Football Championship in 2012 . Motorcycle
speedway (Żużel) race in the
The Polish men\'s national volleyball team is ranked as 3rd in the
Volleyball team won a gold medal in Olympic 1976 Montreal and
two gold medals in FIVB World Championship 1974 , 2014 and hosted.
Mariusz Pudzianowski is a highly successful strongman competitor and
has won more World\'s Strongest Man titles than any other competitor
in the world, winning the event in 2008 for the fifth time. The first
Formula One driver,
Robert Kubica , has brought awareness of
Formula One racing to Poland. He won the
2008 Canadian Grand Prix and
now does rallying following a crash in 2011 that left him unable to
drive F1 cars.
Poland has made a distinctive mark in motorcycle speedway racing
Tomasz Gollob , a highly successful Polish rider. The top
Ekstraliga division has one of the highest average attendances for any
sport in Poland. The national speedway team of
Poland , one of the
major teams in international speedway, has won the Speedway World
Team Cup championships three times consecutively, in 2009, 2010, and
2011. No team has ever managed such feat.
Poles made significant achievements in mountaineering, in particular,
Himalayas and the winter ascending of the eight-thousanders .
The most famous Polish climbers are
Jerzy Kukuczka , Krzysztof
Piotr Pustelnik ,
Andrzej Zawada ,
Maciej Berbeka , Artur
Andrzej Czok ,
Wojciech Kurtyka , and women Wanda Rutkiewicz
Kinga Baranowska . Polish mountains are one of the tourist
attractions of the country. Hiking, climbing, skiing and mountain
biking and attract numerous tourists every year from all over the
world. Water sports are the most popular summer recreation
activities, with ample locations for fishing, canoeing, kayaking,
sailing and windsurfing especially in the northern regions of the
FASHION AND DESIGN
Main page: Category:Polish fashion Reserved is Poland's most
successful clothing retailer, operating over 1,600 stores across the
Fashion was always an important aspect of
Poland and its national
Poland belongs to one of the most fashionable and
best-dressed countries in the world. Although the Polish fashion
industry is not as famed in comparison to the industries of
Italy , it still contributed to global trends and clothing habits.
Moreover, several Polish designers and stylists left a lifelong legacy
of beauty inventions and cosmetics , which are still in use nowadays.
Throughout history, the clothing styles in
Poland often varied due to
foreign influence, especially from the neighbouring countries and the
Middle East . Because of its geographical position,
metaphorically referred to as a trade route that linked Western Europe
Ottoman Empire ,
Crimean Khanate and
Persia . This allowed
Poles to absorb several habits, which were present in the Middle
East at the time. The high-class nobility and magnates wore attire
that somewhat resembled oriental styles. The outfits included a
Kontusz , and a type of sword called
brought by Armenian merchants. Wealthy Polish aristocrats also kept
Janissaries in their courts; this had an impact on
the national dress. The extensive multiculuralism present in the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth developed the ideology of "
Helena Rubinstein by
Paul César Helleu (1908). Rubinstein was
responsible for revolutionizing modern cosmetics . She was one of the
richest women in the world and her products were incorporated into
The Polish national dress as well as the fashion and etiquette of
Poland also reached the royal court at
Versailles in the 18th century.
Some French dresses inspired by Polish outfits were called à la
polonaise, meaning "Polish-styled". The most famous example is the
robe à la polonaise or simply Polonaise, a woman's garment with
draped and swagged overskirt , worn over an underskirt or petticoat .
Another notable example is the
Witzchoura , a long mantle with collar
and hood, which was possibly introduced by
Napoleon 's Polish mistress
Maria Walewska .
In the early 20th century, the underdeveloped fashion and cosmetics
Congress Poland was heavily dominated by western styles,
mostly from the
United Kingdom and the
United States . This inspired
Polish beautician Maksymilian Faktorowicz to seek employment abroad
and create a line of cosmetics company called
Max Factor in California
. In 1920 Faktorowicz invented the conjoined word "make-up" based on
the verb phrase "to make up" one's face, which is now used as an
alternative for "cosmetics". Faktorowicz also raised to fame by
inventing modern eyelash extensions and providing services to
Hollywood artists of the era like
Gloria Swanson ,
Pola Negri , Bette
Joan Crawford , and
Judy Garland .
Another Pole that contributed to the development of cosmetics was
Helena Rubinstein , the founder of
Helena Rubinstein Incorporated
Cosmetics Company, which made her one of the richest women in the
world. One of Rubinstein's most controversial quotes was "There are
no ugly women, only lazy ones".
Established in 1999, the retail store Reserved is Poland's best
clothing store chain, operating over 1,600 retail shops in 18
countries. In 2016 it was announced that Reserved is moving into a
former BHS store at
Oxford Street in
London , one of the most
prestigious and busiest shopping promenades in Europe. Also, INGLOT
Cosmetics founded in 1983, is Poland's largest beauty products
manufacturer and retailer, sold in 700 locations worldwide, including
retail salons in New York, London, Milan, Dubai and Las Vagas.
Outline of Poland
a. ^ In other languages of
Poland : *Kashubian : Repùblika
Pòlskô *Silesian : Polsko Republik b. ^ Numerous sources state
that Polish Army was the Allies' fourth biggest fighting contingent.
Steven J. Zaloga and Richard Hook write that "by the war's end the
Polish Army was the fourth largest contingent of the Allied coalition
after the armed forces of the Soviet Union, the
United States and the
Jerzy Jan Lerski writes "All in all, the Polish
units, although divided and controlled by different political
orientation, constituted the fourth largest Allied force, after the
America, British and Soviet Armies."
M. K. Dziewanowski has noted
that "if Polish forces fighting in the east and west were added to the
Poland had the fourth largest Allied army in the
war (after the USSR, the U.S. and Britain)". The claim of the
fourth biggest Ally needs to be reconsidered, however. Throughout the
war, Poland's position varied from the 2nd biggest Ally (after the
France , when Polish army outnumbered the French) to perhaps
the 5th at the end of it (after the US, Soviet Union, China and
Britain). Please see the analysis in Polish contribution to World War
II . c. ^ Sources vary with regards to what was the largest
resistance movement during World War II. The confusion often stems
from the fact that as war progressed, some resistance movements grew
larger – and other diminished. Polish territories were mostly freed
Nazi German control in the years 1944–45, eliminating the need
for their respective (anti-Nazi) partisan forces in
the cursed soldiers continued to fight against the Soviets). Several
sources note that Polish
Armia Krajowa was the largest resistance
movement in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Norman Davies wrote: "Armia Krajowa
(Home Army), the AK, which could fairly claim to be the largest of
European resistance"; Gregor Dallas wrote "Home Army (Armia Krajowa
or AK) in late 1943 numbered around 400000, making it the largest
resistance organization in Europe"; Mark Wyman wrote "Armia Krajowa
was considered the largest underground resistance unit in wartime
Europe". Certainly, Polish resistance was the largest resistance till
German invasion of Yugoslavia and invasion of the
Soviet Union in
1941. After that point, the numbers of
Soviet partisans and Yugoslav
partisans begun growing rapidly. The numbers of Soviet partisans
quickly caught up and were very similar to that of the Polish
resistance. The numbers of Tito's
Yugoslav partisans were roughly
similar to those of the Polish and
Soviet partisans in the first years
of the war (1941–42), but grew rapidly in the latter years,
outnumbering the Polish and
Soviet partisans by 2:1 or more (estimates
give Yugoslavian forces about 800,000 in 1945, to Polish and Soviet
forces of 400,000 in 1944).
* ^ Constitution of the Republic of Poland, Article 27.
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2013. Możemy jedynie stwierdzić, że kultura łużycka nie tworzyła
jednej zwartej całości. Jak się wydaje, jej skład etniczny był
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klasztory", co koresponduje w przekazaną przez Anonima Galla
wiadomością o zniszczeniu kościołów katedralnych w Gnieźnie...
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. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-57607-800-6 . Retrieved 8 April 2013. At the same
time, when most of
Europe was decimated by the Black Death, Poland
developed quickly and reached the levels of the wealthiest countries
of the West in its economy and culture.
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Poland until 1505),
Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe (Polish Scientific
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Norman Davies (1996). Europe: a history. Oxford University
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Poland-Lithuania, Bohemia, and Hungary, but not the Empire.
* ^ "
Jagiellon dynasty (European history)". Encyclopædia
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federalism in the golden age. East European Monographs, 1982. p. 271.
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Józef Andrzej Gierowski – Historia Polski 1505–1764
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* ^ The Polish word "sanacja" is defined identically as "ł:
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Foreign Expressions), New York, Polish Book Importing Co., 1918 (8
Józef Piłsudski 's May 1926 Coup d\'État ), p. 701;
and in M. Arcta słownik wyrazów obcych (Michał Arct's Dictionary of
Foreign Expressions), Warsaw, Wydawnictwo S. Arcta, 1947, p. 313.
Słownik wyrazów obcych PWN (PWN Dictionary of Foreign Expressions),
Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe , 1971, p. 665, defines the
expression as follows: "sanacja (sanation, from Lat sanatio =
healing) 1. w Polsce międzywojennej — obóz Józefa Piłsudskiego,
który pod hasłem uzdrowienia stosunków politycznych i życia
publicznego dokonał przewrotu wojskowego w maju 1926 r.... (1. in
interwar Poland, the camp of
Józef Piłsudski , who worked a military
coup in May 1926 under the banner of healing politics and public
life...) 2. rzad: uzdrowienie, np. stosunków w jakiejś instytucji, w
jakimś kraju. (2. rare: healing, e.g., of an institution, of a
* ^ "Sanacja,"
Encyklopedia Polski , p. 601.
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* ^ At the siege of Tobruk
* ^ including the capture of the monastery hill at the Battle of
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* ^ The
Warsaw Rising, polandinexile.com
Jerzy Jan Lerski (1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland,
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* ^ Wojciech Materski,
Tomasz Szarota (2009), "Polska 1939–1945.
Straty Osobowe i Ofiary Represji pod Dwiema Okupacjami". Archived from
the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 2016-10-30. . Quote: Liczba
Żydów i Polaków żydowskiego pochodzenia, obywateli II
Rzeczypospolitej, zamordowanych przez Niemców sięga 2,7- 2,9 mln
osób. Translation: The number of
Jewish victims is estimated at 2,9
million. This was about 90% of the 3.3 million
Jews living in prewar
Poland. Source: IPN.
* ^ Wojciech Materski,
Tomasz Szarota (2009), "Polska 1939–1945.
Straty Osobowe i Ofiary Represji pod Dwiema Okupacjami (Human Losses
and Victims of Repressions under Two Occupations)". Archived from the
original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 2016-10-30. . Retrieved 27
October 2014. Quote: Łączne straty śmiertelne ludności polskiej
pod okupacją niemiecką oblicza się obecnie na ok. 2 770 000.
Translation: Current estimate is roughly 2,770,000 victims of German
occupation. This was 11.3% of the 24.4 million ethnic
Poles in prewar
* ^ Yad Vashem,
The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance
Authority, Names and Numbers of Righteous Among the Nations – per
Country & Ethnic Origin, as of 1 January 2013
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Konflikt polsko-ukraiński 1943– 1947.
Kraków 2011, p.447. See
also: Book review by Tomasz Stańczyk: "Grzegorz Motyka oblicza, że w
latach 1943–1947 z polskich rąk zginęło 11–15 tys. Ukraińców.
Polskie straty to 76–106 tys. zamordowanych, w znakomitej
większości podczas rzezi wołyńskiej i galicyjskiej."
* ^ Institute of National Remembrance (2013) 1943 Wołyń Massacres
Truth and Remembrance http://www.volhyniamassacre.eu
Bogumiła Lisocka-Jaegermann (2006). "Post-War Migrations in
Poland". In: Mirosława Czerny.
Poland in the geographical centre of
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Google Books preview.
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Arthur Bliss Lane
I saw Poland betrayed : An American
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* ^ Anna M. Cienciala, THE COMING OF THE WAR AND EASTERN EUROPE IN
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