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Coordinates: 52°N 20°E / 52°N 20°E / 52; 20

Republic of Poland

Rzeczpospolita Polska  (Polish)
Anthem: "Mazurek Dąbrowskiego"
(English: "Poland Is Not Yet Lost")
EU-Poland (orthographic projection).svg
Coordinates: 52°N 20°E / 52°N 20°E / 52; 20

Poland (Polish: Polska[ˈpɔlska](About this soundlisten)), officially the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska[c][ʐɛt͡ʂpɔˈspɔlita ˈpɔlska](About this soundlisten)), is a country located in Central Europe.[14] It is divided into 16 administrative provinces, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate.[8] With a population of nearly 38.5 million people, Poland is the fifth most populous member state of the European Union.[8] Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Lithuania, and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast to the north, Belarus and Ukraine to the east, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the south, and Germany to the west.

The history of human activity on Polish soil spans thousands of years. Throughout the late antiquity period it became extensively diverse, with various cultures and tribes settling on the vast Central European Plain. However, it was the Western Polans who dominated the region and gave Poland its name. The establishment of Polish statehood can be traced to 966, when the pagan ruler of a realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland embraced Christianity and converted to Catholicism.[15] The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin. This union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest (over 1,000,000 square kilometres – 400,000 square miles) and most populous nations of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.[16][17]

With the passing of prominence and prosperity, the country was partitioned by neighbouring states at the end of the 18th century, and regained independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. After a series of territorial conflicts, the new multi-ethnic Poland restored its position as a key player in European politics. In September 1939, World War II began with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviets invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Approximately six million Polish citizens, including three million of the country's Jews, perished during the course of the war.[18][19] As member of the Eastern Bloc, the Polish People's Republic proclaimed forthwith was a chief signatory of the Warsaw Treaty amidst global Cold War tensions. In the wake of the 1989 events, notably through the emergence and contributions of the Solidarity movement, the communist government was dissolved and Poland re-established itself as a semi-presidential democratic republic.

Poland has a developed market and is a regional power in Central Europe, with the largest stock exchange in the East-Central European zone.[20] It has the sixth largest economy in the European Union by nominal GDP[21] and the fifth largest by GDP (PPP). It's one of the most dynamic economies in the world,[22] simultaneously achieving a very high rank on the Human Development Index.[23] Poland is a developed country,[24][25] which maintains a high-income economy[26] along with very high standards of living, life quality,[27] safety, education, and economic freedom.[28][29] Alongside a developed educational system, the state also provides free university education, social security, and a universal health care system.[30][31] The country has 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 15 of which are cultural.[32]

Poland is a member state of the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group, and guested at the G20.

Etymology

The origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Baltic Sea, Lithuania, and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast to the north, Belarus and Ukraine to the east, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the south, and Germany to the west.

The history of human activity on Polish soil spans thousands of years. Throughout the late antiquity period it became extensively diverse, with various cultures and tribes settling on the vast Central European Plain. However, it was the Western Polans who dominated the region and gave Poland its name. The establishment of Polish statehood can be traced to 966, when the pagan ruler of a realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland embraced Christianity and converted to Catholicism.[15] The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin. This union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest (over 1,000,000 square kilometres – 400,000 square miles) and most populous nations of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.[16][17]

With the passing of prominence and prosperity, the country was partitioned by neighbouring states at the end of the 18th century, and regained independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. After a series of territorial conflicts, the new multi-ethnic Poland restored its position as a key player in European politics. In September 1939, World War II began with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviets invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Approximately six million Polish citizens, including three million of the country's Jews, perished during the course of the war.[18][19] As member of the Eastern Bloc, the Polish People's Republic proclaimed forthwith was a chief signatory of the Warsaw Treaty amidst global Cold War tensions. In the wake of the 1989 events, notably through the emergence and contributions of the Solidarity movement, the communist government was dissolved and Poland re-established itself as a semi-presidential democratic republic.

Poland has a developed market and is a regional power in Central Europe, with the largest stock exchange in the East-Central European zone.[20] It has the sixth largest economy in the European Union by nominal GDP[21] and the fifth largest by GDP (PPP). It's one of the most dynamic economies in the world,[22] simultaneously achieving a very high rank on the Human Development Index.[23] Poland is a developed country,[24][25] which maintains a high-income economy[26] along with very high standards of living, life quality,[27] safety, education, and economic freedom.[28][29] Alongside a developed educational system, the state also provides free university education, social security, and a universal health care system.[30][31] The country has 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 15 of which are cultural.[32]

Poland is a member state of the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group, and guested at the G20.

The origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans (Polanie), who inhabited the Warta river basin of present-day Greater Poland region starting in the mid-6th century. The origin of the name Polanie itself derives from the Proto-Slavic word pole (field). In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian, Persian and Turkish, the country's name is derived from the Lendians (Lędzianie or Lachy),[33] who dwelled on the southeasternmost edge of present-day Lesser Poland, in the Cherven Grods between the 7th and 11th centuries — lands which were part of the territorial domain ruled over by the Polans. Their name derives from the Old Polish word lęda (open land or plain).[34]

History

Prehistory and protohistory

Reconstruction of a Bronze Age, Lusatian culture settlement in Biskupin, c. 700 BC

The early Bronze Age in Poland began around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in approximately 700 BC.[35] During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became particularly prominent. The most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement (now reconstructed as an open-air museum), dating from the Lusatian culture of the late Bronze Age, around 748 BC.[36][37]

Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Scythian, Germanic, Sarmatian, Slavic and Baltic tribes. Also, recent archeological findings in the Kuyavia region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland.[38] These were most likely expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented.[39] The Slavic tribes who settled the territory of modern Poland migrated to the region in the 6th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of the numerous West Slavic (Lechitic) tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Western 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.[40]

Piast dynasty

Poland under the rule of Duke Mieszko I, whose acceptance of Christianity and the subsequent Baptism of Poland marks the beginning of Polish statehood in 966

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, as the rightful religion of his realm, under the auspices of the Latin Church with the Bronze Age in Poland began around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in approximately 700 BC.[35] During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became particularly prominent. The most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement (now reconstructed as an open-air museum), dating from the Lusatian culture of the late Bronze Age, around 748 BC.[36][37]

Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Scythian, Germanic, Sarmatian, Slavic and Baltic tribes. Also, recent archeological findings in the Kuyavia region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland.[38] These were most likely expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented.[39] The Slavic tribes who settled the territory of modern Poland migrated to the region in the 6th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of the numerous West Slavic (Lechitic) tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was paganism. With the Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Scythian, Germanic, Sarmatian, Slavic and Baltic tribes. Also, recent archeological findings in the Kuyavia region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland.[38] These were most likely expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented.[39] The Slavic tribes who settled the territory of modern Poland migrated to the region in the 6th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of the numerous West Slavic (Lechitic) tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Western 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.[40]

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, as the rightful religion of his realm, under the auspices of the Latin Church with the Baptism of Poland in 966. 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 Kraków, Kołobrzeg, and Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer.[41]

Earliest known contemporary depiction of a Polish monarch, King Mieszko II Lambert of Poland, who ruled between 1025 and 1031

In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the German incursion into Poland. The clash between Bolesław III and Henry V was documented by Gallus Anonymus in

In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the German incursion into Poland. The clash between Bolesław III and Henry V was documented by Gallus Anonymus in his 1118 chronicle.[42] 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 Piast dukes, invited the 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".[43]

In the middle of the 13th century, the Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty (Henry I the Bearded and Henry II the Pious, ruled 1238–1241) nearly succeeded in uniting the Polish lands, but the Mongols invaded the country from the east and defeated the combined Polish forces at the 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 (re

In the middle of the 13th century, the Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty (Henry I the Bearded and Henry II the Pious, ruled 1238–1241) nearly succeeded in uniting the Polish lands, but the Mongols invaded the country from the east and defeated the combined Polish forces at the 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 1333–1370), has a reputation as one of the greatest Polish kings, and gained wide recognition for improving the country's infrastructure.[44][45] He also extended royal protection to Jews, and encouraged their immigration to Poland.[44][46] 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 granted him permission to open the University of Kraków.

The 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 townsfolk. When Casimir the Great died in 1370, leaving no legitimate male heir, the Piast dynasty came to an end.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, Poland became a destination for German, Flemish and to a lesser extent Walloon, Danish and Scottish migrants. Also, Jews and Armenians began to settle and flourish in Poland during this era (see History of the Jews in Poland and Armenians in Poland).

The 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.[47][48] The reason for this was the decision of Casimir the Great to quarantine the nation's borders.

Jagiellon dynasty

– in Europe (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (green)  –  [Legend]

Capital
and largest city
Warsaw
52°13′N 21°02′E / 52.217°N 21.033°E / 52.217; 21.033
Official languagesPolish[1]
Ethnic groups
(2011[2][3])
Religion
(2015[4])
Demonym(s)
  • Polish
  • Pole
GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential
constitutional republic
• President
Andrzej Duda
Mateusz Morawiecki
LegislatureParliament
Senate
Sejm
Formation
14 April 966
18 April 1025
1 July 1569
24 October 1795
22 July 1807
9 June 1815
11 November 1918
17 September 1939
19 February 1947
31 December 1989[6]
Area
• Total
312,696[7] km2 (120,733 sq mi)[b] (69th)
• Water (%)
1.48 (as of 2015)[9]