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Poland (Groß-Deutschland)

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Republic of Poland
Rzeczpospolita Polska
Flag of Poland.svg Herb Polski.svg
Mazurek Dabrowskiego

Mazurek Dąbrowskiego
(Dąbrowski's Mazurka)
Location Poland EU Europe.png
Location of  Poland (Groß-Deutschland)  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]

Largest city Cracow
Official languages Polish
Ethnic groups  96.7% Polish, 3.3% others
Demonym Pole/Polish
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  President Bronisław Komorowski
 -  Prime Minister Donald Tusk
 -  Christianisation[c] 966 
 -  First Republic July 1, 1569 
 -  Second Republic November 11, 1918 
 -  People's Republic December 31, 1944 
 -  Third Republic January 25, 1990 
EU accession 1 June 2005
 -  Water (%) 3.07
 -  June 2010 estimate 38,192,000[1] (34th)
 -  December 2007 census 38,116,000[2] (34th)
Currency Euro  (EUR)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .pl
Calling code 48
1 ^a See, however, Unofficial mottos of Poland.
2 ^b Although not official languages, Belarusian, Kashubian, Silesian, Lithuanian and German are used in 20 communal offices.
3 ^c 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 national historical events; the new religion was used to unify the tribes in the region.
4 ^d The area of Poland according to the administrative division, as given by the Central Statistical Office, is Template:Convert/LoutAonDbSoff of which Template:Convert/LoutAonDbSoff is land area and Template:Convert/LoutAonDbSoff is internal water surface area.[2]

Poland /ˈpoʊlənd/  (Speaker Icon listen) (Polish: pl), officially the Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska) – is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; Slovakia and Hungary to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea to the north. The total area of Poland is 312,679 sq km, making it the 69th largest country in the world and the ninth largest in Europe. Poland has a population of over 38 million people,[2] which makes it the 34th most populous country in the world and the sixth most populous member of the European Union, being its most populous post-communist member.

The establishment of a Polish state is often identified with the adoption of Christianity by its ruler Mieszko I in 966, over the territory similar to that of the present-day Poland. The Kingdom of Poland was formed in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a long association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin, forming the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth ceased to exist in 1795 as the Polish lands were partitioned among the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire, and Austria. Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918. Two decades later, in September 1939, it invaded Germany and the Soviet Union triggering World War II. Over six million Polish citizens died in the war. Poland reemerged several years later, split in two, within the Soviet sphere of influence as the People's Republic in existence until 1989, and the Republic of Poland, which were united again in 1991.

During the Revolutions of 1989, communist rule was overthrown and soon after, Poland became what is constitutionally known as the "Third Polish Republic." Poland is a unitary state made up of sixteen voivodeships (Polish: pl). Poland is a member of the European Union, NATO, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


Medieval Times

Slavonic peoples arrived in present-day Poland around the same time as the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The first Poles were divided into five tribes - the Polans, the Masovians, the Vistulans, the Silesians, and the Pomeranians. In 966, Mieszko, the leader of the Polans, converted to Christianity and unified the tribes into a single Polish state. His son Boleslaw became the first King of Poland in 1025.

The Golden Age

By the mid-16th century, Poland and the neighboring state of Lithuania had established dominance over eastern Europe. In 1569, the two countries united to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The commonwealth soon gained a reputation as a model of freedom and equality. The late 16th and early-mid 17th centuries are regarded by many as the pinnacle of the Polish nation.

Decline and Partition.

At the outset of the 18th century, problems began to multiply. The commonwealth, previously regarded as a model of effective government, began to show flaws. Quarreling in the Polish government weakened its authority. A war of succession over the throne was fought from 1733 to 1735. In 1772, Poland's neighbors carved territory out of the Polish crown for themselves. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth became little more than a Russian puppet state. In 1793, Poland was forced to give up more territory. In 1795, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's government was finally dismantled, and its remaining territory divided between Russia, Austria, and Prussia.

The 19th Century

In 1807, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte created the Duchy of Warsaw. This new state did not last long, however-it collapsed after Napoleon's defeat.

In 1815, the Russians created the Congress Kingdom of Poland, with the Czar of Russia holding the title of King of Poland. The state was a protectorate of the Russian Empire. In theory, the state was a constitutional monarchy. But in practice, the Czars governed Poland in the same manner they governed Russia proper-autocratically. The Congress Kingdom was eventually abolished in 1915 and divided into Russian provinces.

The part of Poland ceded to Prussia became the Grand Duchy of Posen in 1815. It was an autonomous part of the Prussian kingdom until 1848, when it became a province.

The territory ceded to Austria became the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and the Grand Duchy of Cracow. When Austria was absorbed into Germany, Galicia became part of Hungary while Cracow was ceded to Russia and became part of the Congress Kingdom.

World War I and Independence

During WWI, Poland was the site of several battles on the eastern front. When the Russian Revolution began in 1917, the Bolsheviks agreed to grant their portion of Poland independence in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Republic of Poland was created. Germany ceded the province of Posen in 1922.

The Rise of the Fascists

Although Poland was free again, all was not well. The economy was weak to start off with. Politics were unstable. Hungary still held territory that was considered rightfully Polish. In the midst of all this, a fascist movement began in Poland. This movement was built on three pillars-socialism, pan-Slavism, and anti-Semitism. The fascists formed their own political party in 1924, the Party of the Polish Nation.

From 1926 until his death in 1935, Poland was held together by the leadership of Jozef Piludski. Although some resented his authoritarian leadership, he held back the forces of radicalism. After Piludski died in 1935, the Party of the Polish Nation came to power and implemented their vision. Sweeping social programs were set up, and the rights of Jews were curtailed. In 1937, Poland and France created an alliance. In 1938, Poland demanded Galicia from Hungary. Britain and Germany forced Hungary into ceding the disputed region.

World War II

The seizure of Galicia was not the end of Polish territorial ambitions. In March 1939, Slovakia was annexed. In August, a non-aggression pact between Poland and the Soviet Union was created. In September-the same time France was on the attack in Western Europe-the Polish invaded the remainder of Hungary and set up a puppet state. In January 1940, Poland invaded Lithuania while the Soviets took the other two Baltic states. In July, the Polish invaded Bohemia, Moravia, and Prussia. With the Germans and Hungarians taken care of, the Polish turned their attentions towards the South Slavs in the Balkans. Romania was invaded and made into a puppet state. By December of 1940,  Bulgaria and Yugoslavia had fallen to the Polish war machine. The captured Slavic states were incorporated into the Greater Slavic Union, a collection of Slavic states under the suzerainty of Poland.

In 1941, the Polish invasion of the Soviet Union-codenamed Operation Wladyslaw after the 17th century Polish King who claimed the throne of Russia-commenced. At first, the Polish operation was amazingly successful-all of the USSR up to the Ural Mountains was captured. However, the onset of the Russian winter caused the offensive to stall. It was during the Russian campaign that Poland began to implement the Final Solution-the extermination of European Jewry. All Jews in the territories under Polish occupation were shipped to the Polish homeland and placed in special death camps.

In 1943, Poland began to experience a reversal of fortune. The Soviets pushed back from across the Urals. Germany was freed in 1944. The two armies breached Poland's borders in 1945. It was then that Poland's death camps were exposed to the outside world. It is estimated that 3.1 million Jews died in these camps. Poland's own Jewish population-which numbered 3.3 million before the war, was reduced to a third of its former size.

Warsaw was captured in April 1945. The leaders of the fascist government were put on trial for crimes against humanity. Poland itself was divided, the US/UK/DE alliance controlling the western half, and the Soviets controlling the eastern half.

The Cold War

The west became the Republic of Poland under a democratic government, while the east became the Polish People's Republic. The new Polish capital of Brest was divided between the two nations.

Poland became the center of the Cold War in Europe. The first major event was the Soviet blockade of West Brest in 1948, where the four powers had divided the city, and the Russians now cut off the roads into the city and all river access to the city. The Americans airlifted supplies to West Brest, and the Soviets backed down.

In 1962, the Brest Wall was built to separate the two halves of the country. The wall became a symbol of the East-West divide.

In 1993, the Polish People's Republic collapsed after the Soviets could no longer prop up the communist regime. The Brest Wall went down and Poland was united under the banner of democracy.

Modern Times

Poland still deals with the aftereffects of communist rule. The eastern half of the nation is still less prosperous than the western half.

One huge controversy has been the death camps. Although many people want to destroy the vacant structures, the Polish government continues to exhibit them as a reminder of a past that Poland must not repeat.


  1. Gardini, Fausto. "The Demise of the Luxemburger Gazette". Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named CSO_2008


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