Poland


Poland
Poland (Polish: "Polska") is officially called the Republic of Poland (Polish: "Rzeczpospolita Polska"). bordered by Germany to the west (along Oder and Lusatian Neisse), the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, and the Baltic Sea, Lithuania, and Russia (in the form of the Kaliningrad Oblast exclave) to the north. It also shares a water border with Denmark and Sweden in the Baltic Sea. The total land area of Poland is about 312,679 km2 (120,728 mi2). This makes Poland the 77th largest country in the world with population over 38.5 million people. The Poles live mainly in large cities, including the capital, Warsaw (Polish: "Warszawa"), Łódź, the second capital of Poland (first was Gniezno), Cracow (Polish: "Kraków"), Katowice, Gdańsk and Poznań.
The first time Poland was recorded in official papers was in 966. In 1569, Poland formed a long lasting union with Lithuania called the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth collapsed in 1795 and the Poles were without a country for 123 years. Poland regained its independence in 1918 after World War I but lost it again in World War II. Several years later, Poland became a communist country within the Eastern Bloc under control of the former Soviet Union.
In 1989, Poland stopped being a communist country and became a liberal democracy. Since May 1, 2004, Poland is the 6th most populated member state of the European Union. Poland is also a member of NATO, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization.
Before Piasts.
The first sign of human population in Polish land is from 500.000 years ago. The Bronze Age started around 2400-2300 BC. The Iron Age started around 750-700 BC. Then on Polish lands there was Lusatian culture.
About year 400 BC there lived Celtic and Germanic tribes. Those people had trade contacts with Roman Empire.
With time, Slavscame to Polish lands. The part of those Slavs, later called "western", stayed there to today and started to create new countries. The most powerful was country of Polans and country of Vistulans. At last, Polish country and nation was created under Polans rule.
Piast and Jegiellon dynasties.
Poland began to form into a country around the middle of the 10th century in the Piast dynasty. In 966, Prince Mieszko I got himself and the whole Polish nation Christianized. Next ruler was Bolesław I of Poland (called Brave). He conquered many lands and he became first King of Poland. Casimir I of Poland called Restorer (rebuilder) moved Polish capitol from robbed by Bohemians Gniezno to Kraków. In the 12th century Poland broke into some smaller states after the death of King Bolesław III Wrymouth in 1138 because of his testament. Those states were later attacked by Mongol armies in 1241, what slowed action to unite of Poland. In 1320 Władysław I became the King of the united Poland. His son Casimir III the Great repaired the Polish economy, built new castles and won the war against the Ruthenian Dukedom. In addition, Poland became a haven for emigrating people. A large number of Jewish people also moved into Poland during that time. The Black Death, which affected many parts of Europe from 1347 to 1351, did not come to Poland.
After death of last Piast on Polish throne, Casimir III, Louis I of Hungary and his daughter Jadwiga of Polandstarted to rule. She got married with Lithuanian prince Jogaila. That event started a new dynasty in Polish throne: Jagiellon dynasty. Under the Jagiellon dynasty, Poland made an alliance with its neighbour Lithuania.
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to II Republic of Poland.
In the 17th century Sweden attacked almost all of Poland (this was called “the Deluge”). Many wars against the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Cossacks, Transylvania and Brandenburg-Prussia ended in 1699. During the following 80 years, the government and nationed were weaker, making Poland dependent on Russia. Russian tsars took advantage of this by offering money to traitors, who would block new ideas and solutions. Russia, Prussia, and Austria broke Poland into three pieces in 1772, 1793 and 1795, which dissolved the country. Before second broke, in 1791 was made Constitution called "Constitution of 3 May". Polish people did not like the new kings, and often rebelled (two big rebels in 1830 and 1863).
Napoleon made another Polish state, “the Duchy of Warsaw”, but after the Napoleonic wars, Poland was split again by the countries at the Congress of Vienna. The eastern part was ruled by the Russian tsar.
During World War I all the Allies agreed to save Poland. Soon after the surrender of Germany in November 1918, Poland became the Second Polish Republic ("II Rzeczpospolita Polska"). It got its freedom after several military conflicts; the largest was in 1919-1921 Polish-Soviet War.
World War II.
On September 1, 1939, World War II started when Nazi Germany attacked Poland, and the Soviet Union attacked on September 17. Warsaw was defeated on September 28, and Poland was split up into two pieces, one half owned by Nazi Germany, the other by the Soviet Union (border like between Poland and Soviet Union after 1945, but not the same). The eastern part of the German zone was turned into the German Government area. Out of all the countries that were in the war, Poland lost the highest amount of its people, in which more than 6 million died, including half of them which were Polish Jews. Most of the deaths were related to the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews including other people were killed. Poland also gave the most troops, after the US, the British and the Soviets, to ultimately defeat Nazi Germany. At the war's end, Poland's borders were moved west, pushing the east border to the Curzon line. The west border was moved to the Oder-Neisse line. The new Poland became 20% smaller by 77,500 square kilometeres (29,900 sq mi). The shift forced millions of Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Jews to move.
Post-war.
After these events Poland became a communist country under the Soviet Union rule. It was from then on, called People's Republic of Poland. There are still many Polish in the neighbouring countries Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania (those countries was then part of Soviet Union), as well as in other countries. The most Poles outside of Poland are in the United States, especially in Chicago.
In 1989 Solidarity - a trade union led by Lech Wałęsa - helped defeat the communist government in Poland. After that event, Lech Wałęsa got Noble Prize. During the early 1990s the country turned its economy into one of the most solid in Central Europe. There were many improvements in human rights, such as freedom of speech, democracy, etc. In 1991 Poland became a member of the Visegrad Group and joined NATO in 1999 also with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Polish voters then voted to join the European Union in a vote in June 2003. The country joined the EU on May 1, 2004.
Geography.
Poland’s territory covers across five geographical regions. In the northwest is the Baltic seacoast, which starts from the Bay of Pomerania, and ends at the Gulf of Gdansk. 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 curved inwards by the Szczecin Lagoon, the Bay of Puck, and the Vistula Lagoon. The center and parts of the north lie inside the Northern European Lowlands. Rising gently above these lowlands is a geographical region making up the four hilly districts of moraines and moraine-dammed lakes that 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 northeastern 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 Lowlands lie the regions of Silesia and Masovia, which are marked by broad ice-age river valleys. Farther south lies the Polish mountain region, including the Sudetes, the Cracow-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.
The major historical regions of Poland include Pomerania, Greater Poland, Silesia, Lesser Poland, Masovia, Warmia, Masuria, and Podlachia.
Urban demographics.
The lists below show the population count of Poland's largest cities based on 2005 estimates.
Voivodeships.
Poland is made of sixteen regions known as voivodeships ("województwa", singular - "województwo"). They are basically created from the country's historical regions, whereas those of the past two decades (till 1998) had been focused on and named for separate cities. The new units range in areas from under 10,000 km² (Opole Voivodeship) to over 35,000 km² (Masovian Voivodeship). Voivodeships are controlled by voivod governments, and their legislatures are called voivodeship sejmiks.
The sixteen voivodeships that make up Poland are further divided into "powiaty" (singular "powiat"), second-level units of administration, which are about the same as to a county, district or prefecture in other countries.
People.
In the past, Poland was inhabited by people from different nations and of different religions (mainly Catholics, Orthodox and Judaism). This changed after 1939, because of the Nazi Holocaust which killed many Polish Jews. After World War II, the country was changed into a communist country, by the Warsaw Pact which included most eastern European countries, including Russia.
Today 36,983,700 people, or 96.74% of the population call themselves Polish (Census 2002), while 471,500 people (1.23%)claimed another nationality. 774,900 people (2.03%) didn't declare any nationality. Nathionalites or an ethnic groups in Poland are Silesians, Germans (most in the former Opole Voivodeship), Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Russians, Jews and Belarusians. The Polish language is part of the West Slavic section of the Slavic languages. It is also the official language of Poland. English and German are the most common second languages studied and spoken.
In the past few years, Poland's population has gone down because of an increase in emigration and a sharp drop in the birth rate. In 2006, the census office estimated the total population of Poland at 38,536,869, a very small rise on the 2002 figure of 38,230,080. Since Poland's accession to the European Union, a large number of Polish people have moved to work in Western European countries like the United Kingdom and Ireland. Some organizations state people have left because of high unemployment (10.5%) and better opportunities for work somewhere else. In April 2007, the Polish population of the United Kingdom had risen to about 300,000 people and estimates predict about 65,000 Polish people living in Ireland. However, in recent years strong growth of Polish economy and increasing value of Polish currency (PLN) makes many Polish immigrants to go back home. In 2007 number of people leaving the country was lower than people who are coming back. Poland become attractive place to work for people from other countries (mainly Ukraine).
A Polish minority is still present in neighboring countries of Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, as well as in other countries. The largest number of ethnic Poles outside of the country can be found in the United States.


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