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Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

Central Europe
. It is divided into 16
administrative provinces
administrative provinces
, covering an area of , and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. Poland has a population of nearly 38.5 million people, and is the fifth-most populous
member state of the European Union The European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total populat ...
.
Warsaw Warsaw, * la, Varsovia (Polish language, Polish: ''Warszawa'' ), officially the Capital City of Warsaw, is the capital and List of cities and towns in Poland, largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula, River Vistula in e ...

Warsaw
is the nation's capital and largest
metropolis A metropolis () is a large city or conurbation which is a significant economic, political, and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections, commerce, and communications. A big city ...
. Other major cities include
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
,
Łódź Łódź, or ''Lodsch'', 1940–1945: ''Litzmannstadt''; russian: Лодзь, Lodz'; la, Lodzia. also rendered in English as Lodz, is the third largest city in Poland and a former industrial centre. Located in the central part of the country, ...
,
Wrocław Wrocław (; german: Breslau ; sli, Brassel; cs, Vratislav), ''Wratislavia''. is a city in southwestern Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Centra ...

Wrocław
,
Poznań Poznań is a city on the Warta, River Warta in west-central Poland, within the Greater Poland region. The city is an important cultural and business centre, and one of Poland's most populous regions with many regional customs such as Saint Jo ...

Poznań
,
Gdańsk Gdańsk ( , also ; ; german: Danzig ; csb, Gduńsk; , ) is a city on the Baltic Sea, Baltic coast of northern Poland. With a population of 470,805, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the most prominent c ...

Gdańsk
, and
Szczecin Szczecin * sv, Stettin * Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...

Szczecin
. Poland's territory extends from the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
in the north to the
Sudetes The Sudetes ( ; pl, Sudety; german: Sudeten; cs, Krkonošsko-jesenická subprovincie) are a in , shared by , and the . They are the highest part of . They stretch from the capital of in the northwest across to the region of in Poland and ...
and
Carpathian Mountains The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians () are a range of mountains forming an arc throughout Central and Eastern Europe Central and Eastern Europe is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region ...

Carpathian Mountains
in the south. The country is bordered by
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countr ...
and
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
(
Kaliningrad Oblast Kaliningrad Oblast (russian: Калинингра́дская о́бласть, translit=Kaliningradskaya oblast') is the westernmost federal subjects of Russia, federal subject of Russia. It is a Enclave and exclave, semi-exclave, and is situ ...

Kaliningrad Oblast
) to the northeast,
Belarus , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Minsk Minsk ( be, Мінск , russian: link=no, Минск) is the capital and the largest city of Belarus, located on the Svislach (Berezina), Svislach and the now subterranean Nyamiha, Niam ...

Belarus
and
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
to the east,
Slovakia Slovakia (; sk, Slovensko ), officially the Slovak Republic ( sk, Slovenská republika, links=no ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to th ...

Slovakia
and the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to ...
to the south, and
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
to the west. The
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
of human activity on Polish soil spans thousands of years. Throughout the
late antiquity Late antiquity is a periodization Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Inst ...
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 A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ' "earth", ' "measurement") is, with , one of the oldest branches of . It is concerned with properties of spac ...
of a realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland embraced
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
and converted to
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...
. The
Kingdom of Poland Historical political entities *Kingdom of Poland "Kingdom of Poland" ( Polish: ''Królestwo Polskie'', Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was orig ...
was founded in 1025 and in 1569 cemented its longstanding political association with
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countr ...

Lithuania
by signing the
Union of Lublin 280px, '' The Union of Lublin'', painting by Jan Matejko. King Sigismund II Augustus holds the cross at the centre while surrounded by statesmen, diplomats, the clergy and nobles The Union of Lublin ( pl, Unia lubelska; lt, Liublino unija) was ...
. This union formed the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
, one of the largest (over in area) and most populous nations of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first modern constitution, the
Constitution of 3 May 1791 The Constitution of 3 May 1791 ( pl, Konstytucja 3 maja; Belarusian: ''Канстытуцыя 3 мая'', transcription: ''Kanstytucyja 3 maja''; Balerusian Taraškievica: ''Канстытуцыя 3 траўня'', transcription: ''Kansty ...
. With the end of the prosperous
Polish Golden Age The Polish Golden Age was the Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment ...
, the country was at the end of the 18th century, and regained
independence Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or Sovereign state, state in which residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory. The opposite of independe ...
in 1918 with the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
. 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 World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
began with the
invasion of Poland The invasion of Poland (1 September – 6 October 1939), also known as the September campaign ( pl, Kampania wrześniowa), 1939 defensive war ( pl, Wojna obronna 1939 roku) and Poland campaign (german: Überfall auf Polen, Polenfeldzug), was an ...
by
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
, followed by the
Soviets The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the ...
invading Poland in accordance with the
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact , long_name = , image = Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H27337, Moskau, Stalin und Ribbentrop im Kreml.jpg , image_width = 200 , caption = Joseph Stalin, Stalin and Joachim von Ribbentrop, Ribbentrop shaking hands after the signing of the pact in the Mos ...
. Approximately six million Polish citizens, including three million of the country's Jews, perished during the course of the war. As a member of the
Eastern Bloc The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc, the Socialist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc, was the group of socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' ...
, the
Polish People's Republic The Polish People's Republic ( pl, Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL) was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1947 to 1989 as the predecessor of the modern Republic of Poland. With a population of approximately 37.9 million near ...
proclaimed forthwith was a chief signatory of the Warsaw Treaty amidst global
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
tensions. In the wake of the 1989 events, notably through the emergence and contributions of the
Solidarity movement Solidarity ( pl, Solidarność, ; full name: ''Independent Self-Governing Trade Union “Solidarity”''—''Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy "Solidarność"'' ) is a trade union founded in August 1980 at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, ...
, the
communist government A communist state, also known as a Marxist–Leninist state, is a one-party state A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of unitary state A unitary state is a State (polity), state gover ...
was dissolved and Poland re-established itself as a
democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the a ...

democratic
republic. Poland is a
developed market In investing Investment is the dedication of an asset to attain an increase in value over a period of time. Investment requires a sacrifice of some present asset, such as time, money, or effort. In finance, the purpose of investing is to gene ...
, and a
middle power In international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activities between ...
; it has the sixth largest economy in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
by nominal
GDP Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the left corner">174x174px Money is any ...
and the fifth largest by GDP (PPP). It provides very high
standards of living Standard of living is the level of income, comforts and services available, generally applied to a society or location, rather than to an individual. Standard of living is relevant because it is considered to contribute to an individual's quality ...
, safety and
economic freedom Economic freedom, or economic liberty, is the ability of people of a society to take economic actions. This is a term used in economic and policy debate Policy debate is a form of debate competition in which teams of two advocate for and against ...
, as well as free
university education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also called post-secondary education, third-level or tertiary education, is an optional final stage of formal learning Formal learning is educati ...
and a
universal health care Universal healthcare (also called universal health coverage, universal coverage, or universal care) is a health care system in which all residents of a particular country or region are assured access to health care. It is generally organized aroun ...
system. The country has 17
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
World Heritage Sites A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for ha ...
, 15 of which are cultural. Poland is a member state of the
Schengen Area The Schengen Area ( , ) is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for internationa ...

Schengen Area
, European Union,
European Economic Area The European Economic Area (EEA) was established via the ''Agreement on the European Economic Area'', an international agreement which enables the extension of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic un ...

European Economic Area
, the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
,
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
, the
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

OECD
, the
Three Seas Initiative The Three Seas Initiative, also known as the Baltic, Adriatic, Black Sea (BABS) Initiative, or simply the Three Seas (in Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European langua ...

Three Seas Initiative
and the
Visegrád Group The Visegrád Group, Visegrád Four, V4, or European Quartet, is a cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, ar ...
.


Etymology

The country's native name ''Polska'' is derived from the Lechitic tribe of Western Polans, who inhabited the
Warta The river Warta ( , ; german: Warthe ; la, Varta) rises in central Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 V ...

Warta
river basin of present-day
Greater Poland in Kalisz File:Ratusz w Lesznie (2).jpg"> Polonia Maior), is a historical region of west-central Poland">town hall Greater Poland, often known by its Polish name Wielkopolska (; german: Großpolen, la">Polonia Maior), is a historical r ...
region starting in the mid-6th century. The tribe's name itself stems from the
Proto-Indo European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented Indo-European languages. No direct record of Proto-Indo-Europ ...
''*pleh₂-'' (flatland) and the
Proto-Slavic Proto-Slavic is the unattested, reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for ...
word ''pole'' (field). The etymology eludes to the
topography Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surface Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrain or relief (also topographical Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an ...
of the region and the flat landscape of Greater Poland. The English name ''Poland'' was formed in the 1560s from
Middle High German Middle High German (MHG; german: Mittelhochdeutsch (Mhd.)) is the term for the form of German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * ...
''Pole(n)'' and the suffix ''land'', denoting a people or nation. Prior to its adoption, the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
form ''Polonia'' was widely used throughout
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
Europe. In some languages, such as
HungarianHungarian may refer to: * Hungary, a country in Central Europe * Kingdom of Hungary, state of Hungary, existing between 1000 and 1946 * Hungarians, ethnic groups in Hungary * Hungarian algorithm, a polynomial time algorithm for solving the assignmen ...
,
Lithuanian Lithuanian may refer to: * Lithuanians Lithuanians ( lt, lietuviai, singular ''lietuvis/lietuvė'') are a Balts, Baltic ethnic group. They are native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,561,300 people. Another million or more make up the Lith ...
,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
and
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
, the country's
exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
stems from
Lechia The ethnonym An ethnonym (from the el, ἔθνος 'nation' and 'name') is a name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely ...
, which derives from Lech, a legendary ruler of the
Polish tribes "Polish tribes" is a term used sometimes to describe the tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human social group. The predominant usage of the term is in the discipline of anthropology. The definitio ...
(''Lechites''), or from the
LendiansThe Lendians ( pl, Lędzianie) were a Lechitic tribe who lived in the area of East Lesser Poland and Cherven Towns between the 7th and 11th centuries. Since they were documented primarily by foreign authors whose knowledge of Central and East Eu ...
who dwelled on the south-easternmost edge of present-day
Lesser Poland Lesser Poland, often known by its Polish language, Polish name Małopolska ( la, Polonia Minor), is a historical region situated in southern and south-eastern Poland. Its capital and largest city is Kraków. Throughout centuries, Lesser Pol ...
region. The origin of the tribe's name lies in the
Old Polish Old Polish language ( pl, język staropolski) is the period in the history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic R ...
word ''lęda'' (plain), which is a cognate of the German "das Land", Spanish "landa" and English "land". Initially, both names ''Lechia'' and ''Polonia'' were used interchangeably when referring to Poland by chroniclers during the
Early Early may refer to: History * The beginning or oldest part of a defined historical period, as opposed to middle or late periods, e.g.: ** Early Christianity ** Early modern Europe Places in the United States * Early, Iowa * Early, Texas * Early ...
and
High High may refer to: People with the name * High (surname) Science, technology and economics * Height * High (atmospheric), a high-pressure area * High (computability), a quality of a Turing degree, in computability theory * High (technical analy ...
Middle Ages.


History


Prehistory and protohistory

The first
Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology ...

Stone Age
archaic humans and ''
Homo erectus ''Homo erectus'' (meaning "upright Body relative directions (also known as egocentric coordinates) are geometrical orientations relative to a body such as a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread s ...

Homo erectus
'' species settled what was to become Poland approximately 500,000 years ago, though the ensuing hostile climate prevented early humans from founding more permanent encampments. There is evidence that sporadic groups of gatherer-hunter
Neanderthal Neanderthals (, also Neandertals, ''Homo neanderthalensis'' or ''Homo sapiens neanderthalensis'') are an extinct species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an org ...
s penetrated southern Polish regions during the Eemian interglacial period (128,000–115,000 BCE) and in the subsequent millennia. The arrival of ''
Homo sapiens Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism and large, complex brains. This has enabled the development of advanced tools, culture, and language. Humans are highl ...

Homo sapiens
'' and
anatomically modern humans Early modern human (EMH) or anatomically modern human (AMH) are terms used to distinguish ''Homo sapiens'' (the only extant Hominina species) that are Human anatomy, anatomically consistent with the Human variability, range of phenotypes seen i ...
coincided with the climatic discontinuity at the end of the Last Glacial Period (10,000 BC), when Poland became habitable.
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
excavations indicated broad-ranging development in that era; the earliest evidence of European
cheese Cheese is a dairy product Dairy products or milk products are a type of food Food is any substance consumed to provide Nutrient, nutritional support for an organism. Food is usually of plant, animal or Fungus, fungal origin, and conta ...

cheese
making (5500 BC) was discovered in Polish
Kuyavia Kuyavia ( pl, Kujawy; german: Kujawien; la, Cuiavia), also referred to as Cuyavia, is a historical region in north-central Poland, situated on the left bank of Vistula, as well as east from Noteć River and Lake Gopło. It is divided into three t ...
, and the
Bronocice pot The Bronocice pot, discovered in a village in Gmina Działoszyce, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Świetokrzyskie Voivodeship in Lesser Poland, Małopolska, near Nida (river), Nida River, Poland, is a ceramic vase incised with one of the earliest ...
is incised with the earliest known depiction of what may be a
wheel File:Roue primitive.png, An early wheel made of a solid piece of wood A wheel is a circular component that is intended to rotate on an axle An axle or axletree is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. On wheeled vehicles, the ...

wheel
ed vehicle (3400 BC). The early
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
in Poland began around 2400 BC, while the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
commenced in approximately 750 BC. During this time, the
Lusatian culture Image:KulturaLuzycka 1.png, 200px, The Lusatian culture existed in the later Bronze Age and early Iron Age (1300 BC – 500 BC) in most of what is now Poland and parts of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, eastern Germany and western Ukraine. It cov ...
, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became particularly prominent. The most significant archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the
Biskupin Biskupin is an archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists a ...

Biskupin
fortified settlement (now reconstructed as an open-air museum), dating from the Lusatian culture of the late Bronze Age, around 748 BC. Throughout
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...
(400 BC–500 AD), many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the territory of present-day Poland, notably
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...

Celtic
,
Scythia Scythia (, ; from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
n,
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
,
Sarmatian The Sarmatians (; : ; la, Sarmatae , ) were a large that existed in , flourishing from about the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD. Originating in the central parts of the , the Sarmatians were part of the wider . They started migra ...
, Slavic and
Baltic Baltic may refer to: Geography Northern Europe * Baltic Sea, a sea in Europe * Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea * Baltic states (also Baltics, Baltic nations, Baltic countries or Baltic rep ...

Baltic
tribes. Furthermore, archaeological findings confirmed the presence of the
Roman Legions The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC– ...
. These were most likely expeditionary missions sent out to protect
amber Amber is fossil A fossil (from Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ...

amber
trade along the
Amber Road File:Baltis amber road.jpg, 250px, The route from the Baltic Sea The Amber Road was an ancient trade route for the transfer of amber from the coastal areas of Sicily and later from the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Prehis ...

Amber Road
. The
Polish tribes "Polish tribes" is a term used sometimes to describe the tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human social group. The predominant usage of the term is in the discipline of anthropology. The definitio ...
emerged in the course of the
Migration Period The Migration Period, also known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective), is a term sometimes used for the period in the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the ...
in the mid-6th century. These were predominantly West Slavic and Lechitic in origin, but also comprised assimilated ethnic groups who inhabited the area for thousands of years. The earlier tribal communities may have been associated with the ancient Wielbark and
Przeworsk Przeworsk , ( uk, Переворськ, translit=Perevors'k, yi, פּרשעוואָרסק, translit=Prshevorsk) is a town in south-eastern Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, link ...

Przeworsk
cultures.


Piast dynasty

Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the
Piast dynasty The Piast dynasty was the first historical ruling dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the un ...
. Poland's first historically documented ruler,
Mieszko I Mieszko I (; – 25 May 992) was the ruler of Poland from about 960 to his death and was the founder of the first independent Polish state, the Duchy of Poland (966–1025), Duchy of Poland. He was a member of the Piast dynasty, a son of Siemomy ...
, accepted
Western Christianity Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings ...
as the rightful religion under the auspices of the
Latin Church , native_name_lang = la , image = San Giovanni in Laterano - Rome.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , alt = Façade of the Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran , caption = Archbasilica of Saint Joh ...
with the
Baptism of Poland The Christianization of Poland ( pl, chrystianizacja Polski) refers to the introduction and subsequent spread of Christianity in Poland. The impetus to the process was the Baptism of Poland ( pl, chrzest Polski), the personal baptism of Mieszko ...
in 966 AD. In 1000, , continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a diplomatic congress and established the
metropolis A metropolis () is a large city or conurbation A conurbation is a region comprising a number of metropolis in the background A metropolis () is a large city or conurbation which is a significant economic, political, and cultural cen ...
of
Gniezno Gniezno (; german: Gnesen) is a city in central-western Poland, about east of Poznań, with 68,943 inhabitants making it the sixth-largest city in the Greater Poland Voivodeship. One of the Piast dynasty's chief cities, it was the first historic ...
followed by
diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, prov ...
s in
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
,
Kołobrzeg Kołobrzeg (pronounced ; german: link=no, Kolberg, ; csb, Kòlbrzég), historically known in English as Kolberg, is a city in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship West Pomeranian Voivodeship or West Pomerania Province (Polish language, Polish: '' ...

Kołobrzeg
, and
Wrocław Wrocław (; german: Breslau ; sli, Brassel; cs, Vratislav), ''Wratislavia''. is a city in southwestern Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Centra ...

Wrocław
.
Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (June/July 980 – 23 January 1002) was Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, ...

Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor
, assented to the creation of bishoprics and bestowed upon Boleslaus royal
regalia Regalia is a Latin plurale tantum A ''plurale tantum'' (Latin for "plural only"; ) is a noun that appears only in the plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form ...
and a replica of the
Holy Lance The Holy Lance, also known as the Lance of Longinus (named after Saint Longinus), the Spear of Destiny, or the Holy Spear, is legendarily known as the lance that pierced the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross during his crucifixion. Biblica ...

Holy Lance
, which were used for his coronation as the first
King of Poland Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area o ...
in circa 1025. He expanded the realm considerably by seizing parts of German
Lusatia Lusatia (german: Lausitz, pl, Łużyce, hsb, Łužica, dsb, Łužyca, cs, Lužice, la, Lusatia, rarely also referred to as Sorbia) is a historical region in Central Europe, split between Germany and Poland. Lusatia stretches from the Bóbr ...
, Czech
Moravia Moravia ( , also , ; cs, Morava ; german: link=no, Mähren ; pl, Morawy ; szl, Morawa; la, Moravia) is a historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geography, geographical areas which at some point in time had a cult ...

Moravia
,
Upper Hungary Upper Hungary is the usual English translation of ''Felvidék'' ( literally: "Upland"), the Hungarian term for the area that was historically the northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary The Kingdom of Hungary was a monarchy in Central Europe ...
and the eastern provinces. However, the transition from
paganism Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
proved difficult and was not an instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s. His son,
Mieszko II Lambert Mieszko II Lambert (; c. 990 – 10/11 May 1034) was King of Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivode ...

Mieszko II Lambert
, lost the title of king and fled amidst the struggles for power in 1031, but was reinstated as duke in 1032. The unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by
Casimir I the Restorer Casimir I the Restorer (; 25 July 1016 – 19 March 1058), a member of the Piast dynasty The Piast dynasty was the first historical ruling dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary ...

Casimir I the Restorer
. In 1076, Boleslaus II briefly re-instituted the office of king, but was banished in 1079 for murdering his opponent Stanislaus of Szczepanów, Bishop Stanislaus, who was then proclaimed a martyr and patron saint. In 1109, Boleslaus III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, thus stopping the German incursion into Poland. The clash was documented by Gallus Anonymus in ''Gesta principum Polonorum'', the oldest Polish chronicle. In 1138, Poland Testament of Bolesław III Wrymouth, fragmented into several smaller principalities when Boleslaus divided his lands among his sons. These comprised the Duchies of
Lesser Poland Lesser Poland, often known by its Polish language, Polish name Małopolska ( la, Polonia Minor), is a historical region situated in southern and south-eastern Poland. Its capital and largest city is Kraków. Throughout centuries, Lesser Pol ...
, Greater Poland, Silesia, Masovia and Sandomierz, with Pomerania ruled by vassals. The division allowed each province to develop its own cultural identity and wealth, but made the country more vulnerable militarily. In 1226, Konrad I of Masovia, one of the regional dukes, invited the Teutonic Knights to aid in combating the
Baltic Baltic may refer to: Geography Northern Europe * Baltic Sea, a sea in Europe * Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea * Baltic states (also Baltics, Baltic nations, Baltic countries or Baltic rep ...

Baltic
Old Prussians, Prussian pagans; a decision that led to centuries of warfare with the Knights. In the mid-13th century, the Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty (Henry I the Bearded and Henry II the Pious) nearly succeeded in uniting the dukedoms. Their efforts were hindered by the First Mongol invasion of Poland, Mongols, who pillaged the southern and eastern regions of Poland, and defeated the combined Polish forces at the Battle of Legnica (1241) where Henry II was killed. The Mongols raided twice more in the second half of the century, but were defeated and driven out by the Poles. In 1264, the Statute of Kalisz, or the General Charter of Jewish Liberties, introduced unprecedented rights for the History of the Jews in Poland, Polish Jews, leading to a nearly autonomous "nation within a nation". Cities began to grow during this period and new settlements were granted town privileges under Magdeburg Law, which also favoured German migration into Poland. In 1320, after an earlier unsuccessful attempt at unification by Przemysł II, Premislaus II, Władysław I the Elbow-high, Ladislaus the Short consolidated his power, took the throne and became the first king of Kingdom of Poland (1025–1385), a reunified Poland. He was the first sovereign crowned at Wawel Cathedral with Szczerbiec ("Jagged Sword"), which symbolised the permanent restoration of kingship. His son, Casimir III the Great, Casimir III (reigned 1333–1370), gained wide recognition for improving the country's infrastructure, reforming the army and Congress of Kraków, strengthening diplomacy. He also extended royal protection to Jews, and encouraged them to settle in Poland. Casimir hoped to build a class of educated people, especially lawyers, who could codify the country's laws and administer the courts and offices. His efforts were finally rewarded when Pope Urban V granted him permission to open the Jagiellonian University, University of Kraków in 1364, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in Europe. Under his authority, Poland was transformed into a major European power. 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. The reason for this was the decision of Casimir to quarantine the nation's borders. Furthermore, the concept of Golden Liberty began to develop under his rule – in return for Pospolite ruszenie, 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 The Piast dynasty was the first historical ruling dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the un ...
came to an end. In November 1370, Casimir's nephew and closest male relative, Louis I of Hungary, Louis of Anjou, was crowned king at Wawel. He ruled Poland, Hungary and Croatia in a personal union. Like his uncle, Louis I had no sons and persuaded his subjects to acknowledge the right of his daughters to succeed him in both Poland and Hungary by granting privileges. Upon his death and a two-year interregnum, his younger daughter Jadwiga of Poland, Hedwig (in Poland known as Jadwiga) became the first female monarch of the Kingdom of Poland in 1384. However, she was stylised as "king" during her reign because the Polish law had no provision for a queen regnant, but did not specify that the monarch had to be male.


Jagiellonian dynasty

In 1385, Jadwiga was expected to marry William of Habsburg, William Habsburg of Austria, but the noble lords were apprehensive about the match believing that it would not secure national interests against the House of Luxembourg, Luxembourgs, who controlled Bohemia and Margraviate of Brandenburg, Brandenburg. She eventually wedded the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiełło), thus forming the Jagiellonian dynasty (1386–1572) and the Polish–Lithuanian union that spanned the late Middle Ages and early Modern history, Modern Era. The partnership brought the vast multi-ethnic Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Lithuanian territories into Poland's sphere of influence and proved beneficial for the Poles and Lithuanians, who coexisted in one of the largest European personal union, political entities of the time. In the Baltic Sea region, the struggle of Poland and Lithuania with the Teutonic Knights continued and culminated at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, where a combined Polish-Lithuanian army inflicted a decisive victory against them. In 1466, after the Thirteen Years' War (1454–66), Thirteen Years' War, King Casimir IV Jagiellon gave royal consent to the Second Peace of Thorn (1466), Peace of Thorn, which created the future Duchy of Prussia under Polish suzerainty. The Jagiellonian dynasty at one point also established dynastic control over the kingdoms of Kingdom of Bohemia, Bohemia (1471 onwards) and Kingdom of Hungary, Hungary. In the south, Poland confronted the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Khanate, Crimean Tatars, and in the east helped Lithuania fight Grand Duchy of Moscow, Russia. Poland was developing as a feudalism, feudal state, with a predominantly agricultural economy and an increasingly powerful landed nobility. In 1493, John I Albert sanctioned the creation of a bicameral parliament composed of a lower house, the Sejm, and an upper house, the Senate of Poland, Senate. The ''Nihil novi'' act adopted by the Polish General Sejm in 1505, transferred most of the legislature, legislative power from the monarch to the parliament, an event which marked the beginning of the period known as "Golden Liberty", when the state was ruled by the "free and equal" szlachta, Polish nobility. The 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. In Poland, Nontrinitarianism, Nontrinitarian Christianity became the doctrine of the so-called Polish Brethren, who separated from their Calvinism, Calvinist denomination and became the co-founders of global Unitarianism. The European Renaissance evoked under kings Sigismund I the Old and Sigismund II Augustus a sense of urgency in the need to promote a Renaissance in Poland, cultural awakening. During this period Polish culture and the nation's economy flourished; changes and contributions to Architecture of Poland, architecture, Polish cuisine, cuisine, language and customs were made at the behest of Sigismund the Old's wife, the Italian-born Bona Sforza, daughter of the Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan. In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus, an astronomer from Toruń, published his epochal work ''De revolutionibus orbium coelestium'' (''On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres'') and thereby became the first proponent of a predictive mathematical model confirming the Copernican heliocentrism, heliocentric theory, which became the accepted basic model for the practice of modern astronomy.


Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The 1569
Union of Lublin 280px, '' The Union of Lublin'', painting by Jan Matejko. King Sigismund II Augustus holds the cross at the centre while surrounded by statesmen, diplomats, the clergy and nobles The Union of Lublin ( pl, Unia lubelska; lt, Liublino unija) was ...
established the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
, a more closely unified federal state with an elective monarchy, but which was governed largely by the nobility. The Warsaw Confederation (1573) guaranteed religious freedom for the Polish nobles ''(szlachta)'' and townsfolk ''(mieszczanie)''. However, the peasants ''(chłopi)'' were still subject to severe limitations imposed on them by the nobility, and confined to private folwark farmsteads. The establishment of the Commonwealth coincided with a period of stability and prosperity, with the union thereafter becoming a European power and a major cultural entity, occupying approximately after the Truce of Deulino. It was the largest state in Europe at the time. Poland was the dominant partner and acted as an agent for the dissemination of Western culture, Catholicism and Polish traditions through Polonization into areas of Northern Europe, North-Eastern Europe which it controlled following the union. Certain factions of Lithuanian nobility were apprehensive about the merger, fearing that it would lead to the loss of Lithuania's cultural identity. In 1573, Henry III of France, Henry de Valois, son of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici, was proclaimed King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania in the first election. He hesitantly instituted the Henrician Articles which determined the principles of royal governance, thus further limiting the power of a monarch. Henry's reign was brief; he was dethroned in 1575 after fleeing to succeed his brother, Charles IX of France, Charles IX, in France. His successor, Stephen Báthory from Transylvania, proved to be a capable military commander. Báthory's involvement alongside History of Sweden (1523–1611), Sweden and successful Livonian campaign of Stephen Báthory, campaign in the Livonian War against Ivan the Terrible granted Poland more territories in the Baltic states. In 1592, Sigismund III of Poland succeeded his father, John III of Sweden, John Vasa, in Sweden. Under his authority, the Commonwealth and Sweden temporarily united in what was known as the Polish-Swedish union. Sigismund was a talented figure, but a Catholic fanatic and a despot who hoped to reintroduce Absolute monarchy, absolutism. He was a strong advocate of Counter-Reformation, funded the Jesuits, and furtively supported repressions against the Protestants and other religious minorities. In 1599, he was War against Sigismund, deposed in Sweden by his Protestant uncle Charles IX of Sweden, Charles, which ended the union. Sigismund's long reign in Poland was described as the Silver Age due to his investments and patronage over artists, scholars and architects. In politics, he undermined parliament and imposed Expansionism, expansionist policies. Taking advantage of a Time of Troubles, civil war in neighbouring Russia, Sigismund Polish–Muscovite War (1605–1618), invaded the country in 1609. In 1610, the Polish army and Polish hussars, winged hussar units under the command of Hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski seized Moscow after defeating the Russians at the Battle of Klushino. The humiliated Vasili IV of Russia was caged and sent to Poland where he paid tribute in Warsaw and was later murdered in captivity. The Poles were eventually driven out of ruined Moscow after two years by a local uprising. Sigismund also countered the Ottoman Empire in the southeast; at Battle of Khotyn (1621), Khotyn in 1621 the Commonwealth forces under Jan Karol Chodkiewicz achieved a decisive victory against the Turks. Their defeat and subsequent Janissary revolt marked the downfall of Sultan Osman II. Sigismund's liberal son, Władysław IV Vasa, Ladislaus IV Vasa, successfully defended Poland's territorial possessions, but his death ended the centuries-long era of relative stability. From the middle of the 17th century, the nobles' democracy, suffering from internal disorder, gradually declined, thereby leaving the once powerful Commonwealth vulnerable. The Polish and Catholic domination of present-day
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in . It is the in Europe after , which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares borders with to the north; , , and to the west; and to the south; and has a coastli ...

Ukraine
resulted in the 1648 Khmelnytsky Uprising, which engulfed much of the eastern parts of the country and led to the creation of a Cossack Hetmanate, Ukrainian Cossack state allied with Russia. This was followed by the Deluge (history), Swedish Deluge during the Second Northern War, which marched through the Polish heartlands and decimated the country's population and infrastructure. Finding itself subjected to almost constant warfare, the Commonwealth fell into decline, further weakened when Prussia declared independence in 1657. The government became ineffective as a result of internal conflicts, rebellious confederation (Poland), confederations and corrupted legislative processes. However, under John III Sobieski the Commonwealth's military prowess was re-established, and in 1683 Polish forces played a major role in the Battle of Vienna against the Ottoman Army (15th-19th centuries), Ottoman Army. The lesser nobility fell under the control of ''magnat (Poland), magnates'', and this, compounded with two relatively weak kings of the Electorate of Saxony, Saxon House of Wettin, Wettin dynasty, Augustus II the Strong, Augustus II and Augustus III of Poland, Augustus III, as well as the rise of neighbouring countries after the Great Northern War only served to worsen the Commonwealth's plight. Despite this, the personal union of Poland and Electorate of Saxony, Saxony gave rise to the Commonwealth's first reform movement, and laid the foundations for the Enlightenment in Poland, Polish Enlightenment. The fundamental internal reforms brought 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 Warsaw replaced
Gdańsk Gdańsk ( , also ; ; german: Danzig ; csb, Gduńsk; , ) is a city on the Baltic Sea, Baltic coast of northern Poland. With a population of 470,805, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the most prominent c ...

Gdańsk
(Danzig) as the leading centre of commerce, and the role of the more prosperous urban population increased.


Partitions

The Royal elections in Poland, royal election of 1764 resulted in the elevation of Stanisław August Poniatowski, Stanislaus II Augustus (a Polish aristocrat from the Poniatowski family, connected to the Familia (political party), Familia faction of magnates) to the monarchy. His candidacy was extensively funded by his sponsor and former lover, Empress Catherine II of Russia. The new king spent much of his reign maneuvering between his desire to implement necessary reforms to save the country from internal disorder, and the necessity to remain in a political relationship and at peace with surrounding states. This led to the formation of the 1768 Bar Confederation, a rebellion of nobles directed against the Polish king and all external influence, which ineptly aimed to preserve Poland's sovereignty and privileges held by the nobility. The failed attempts at reform as well as the domestic turmoil caused by the Confederation proved the country's weakness and provoked its neighbours to intervene. In 1772 the First Partition of Poland, First Partition of the Commonwealth by Prussia, Russia and Austria took place; an act which the Partition Sejm, under considerable duress, eventually "ratified" as a ''fait accompli''. Disregarding the territorial losses, in 1773 the king established a plan of the most necessary reforms, in which the Commission of National Education, the first government education authority in Europe, was inaugurated. Corporal punishment of schoolchildren was officially prohibited in 1783. Poniatowski was the head figure of the Polish Enlightenment, encouraged the development of industries and embraced "republican" Neoclassical architecture. For his contributions to the arts and sciences he was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society, where he became the first royal member outside United Kingdom, British royalty. The Great Sejm (1788–1792) convened by Stanislaus Augustus successfully adopted in 1791 the Constitution of May 3, 1791, 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 aristocracy and conservatives as well as from Catherine, who, determined to prevent the rebirth of a strong Commonwealth set about planning the final dismemberment of the Polish-Lithuanian state. Russia was aided in achieving its goal when the Targowica Confederation, an organisation of Polish nobles, appealed to the Empress for help. In May 1792, Russian forces crossed the Commonwealth's eastern frontier, thus beginning the Polish–Russian War of 1792, 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, hoping to save the country. The Confederation then took over the government. Russia and Prussia, fearing the reemergence of a Polish state, understanding, that despite the current influence they still cannot control the country, arranged for, and in 1793 executed, the Second Partition of Poland, Second Partition of the Commonwealth, which left the country deprived of so much territory that it was practically incapable of independent existence. In 1795, following the failed Kościuszko Uprising, the Commonwealth was Third Partition of Poland, partitioned one last time by all three of its more powerful neighbours, and with this, effectively ceased to exist. The 18-century British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke summed up the partitions: "No wise or honest man can approve of that partition, or can contemplate it without prognosticating great mischief from it to all countries at some future time".


Era of insurrections

Poles List of wars involving Poland, 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 Kościuszko, who had several years earlier served under George Washington, Washington in the American Revolutionary War, led Polish insurrectionists. Despite the victory at the Battle of Racławice, his ultimate defeat ended Poland's independent existence Third Partition of Poland, for 123 years. In 1807, Napoleon I of France temporarily recreated a Polish state as the satellite Duchy of Warsaw, after a successful Greater Poland Uprising (1806), 1806 uprising against Prussian rule. In accordance with the Treaty of Tilsit, the duchy was ruled by his ally, Frederick Augustus I of Saxony. The Polish troops and generals aided Napoleon throughout the Napoleonic Wars, particularly those under Józef Poniatowski, who became the only foreign Marshal of the Empire, Marshal of the French Empire shortly before his death at the Battle of Leipzig. In the aftermath of Napoleon's exile, Poland was again split between the victorious powers at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The eastern part was ruled by the Russian tsar as Congress Poland, which temporarily held a Constitution of the Kingdom of Poland, liberal constitution. The Prussian-controlled territory of western Poland came under increased Germanization. Thus, in the 19th century, only Habsburg-ruled Austrian Poland and the Free City of Kraków in the south, allowed free Polish culture to flourish. In 1830, the November Uprising began in Warsaw when young non-commissioned officers at the Corps of Cadets (Warsaw), Officer Cadet School rebelled. Although the numerically smaller Polish forces successfully defeated several Russian armies, they were left unsupported by France and the newborn United States. With Prussia and Austria deliberately prohibiting the import of military supplies through their territories, the Poles accepted that the uprising was doomed to failure. After the defeat, the semi-independent Congress Poland lost its constitution, army and legislative assembly, and its autonomy was abolished. During the European Spring of Nations, Poles took up arms in the Greater Poland Uprising (1848), Greater Poland Uprising of 1848 to resist the Prussians. 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. Subsequently, the uprising was suppressed and the semi-autonomous Grand Duchy of Posen, created from the Prussian partition of Poland, was incorporated into Prussia, and in 1871 into the German Empire. In 1863, a new Polish uprising against Russia 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. Consequently, the Poles resorted to fostering economic and cultural self-improvement. Congress Poland was rapidly Industrialisation, industrialised towards the end of the 19th century, and successively transformed into the Empire's wealthiest and most developed subject.


Second Polish Republic

Following World War I all the Allies of World War I, Allies agreed on the reconstitution of Poland that 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 (Compiègne), armistice with Germany in November 1918, Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic (''II Rzeczpospolita Polska''). It reaffirmed its independence after List of wars involving Poland, a series of military conflicts, the most notable being the Polish–Soviet War (1919–21) when Poland inflicted a crushing defeat on the Red Army at the Battle of Warsaw (1920), 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". 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 Warsaw, * la, Varsovia (Polish language, Polish: ''Warszawa'' ), officially the Capital City of Warsaw, is the capital and List of cities and towns in Poland, largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula, River Vistula in e ...

Warsaw
instead of the former imperial capitals, a new network of national roads was gradually built up and a major seaport, Gdynia, was opened on the Baltic Sea, Baltic Coast, so as to allow Polish exports and imports to bypass the politically charged Free City of Danzig. Also, the Polish government embarked on the creation of the Central Industrial Region (Poland), Central Industrial Region (''Centralny Okręg Przemysłowy''). The project's goal was to create an industrial center in the middle of the country that included steel mills, power plants and factories. 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 Jan Paderewski, 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 the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw by a painter and right-wing nationalist Eligiusz Niewiadomski. In 1926, a May Coup (Poland), May coup, led by the hero of the Polish independence campaign Marshal 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 with relative stability until Piłsudski's death in 1935. Following Marshal Piłsudski's death, Sanation split into several competing factions. By the late 1930s, due to increased threats posed by political extremism inside the country, the Polish government became increasingly heavy-handed, banning a number of radical organizations, including communist and ultra-nationalist political parties, which threatened the stability of the country.


World War II

World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
began with the Nazi German
invasion of Poland The invasion of Poland (1 September – 6 October 1939), also known as the September campaign ( pl, Kampania wrześniowa), 1939 defensive war ( pl, Wojna obronna 1939 roku) and Poland campaign (german: Überfall auf Polen, Polenfeldzug), was an ...
on 1 September 1939, followed by the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September. On 28 September 1939, Siege of Warsaw (1939), Warsaw fell. As agreed in the
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact , long_name = , image = Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H27337, Moskau, Stalin und Ribbentrop im Kreml.jpg , image_width = 200 , caption = Joseph Stalin, Stalin and Joachim von Ribbentrop, Ribbentrop shaking hands after the signing of the pact in the Mos ...
, Poland was split into two zones, Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, one occupied by Nazi Germany, the other by territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union. In 1939–41, the Soviets deported hundreds of thousands of Poles. The Soviet NKVD 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 Poles" and their fate as outlined in the genocidal ''Generalplan Ost''. Polish intelligence operatives proved extremely valuable to the Allies, providing much of the intelligence from Europe and beyond, and Polish Cipher Bureau, Polish code breakers were responsible for cryptanalysis of the Enigma, cracking the Enigma cypher. Poland made the fourth-largest troop contribution in Europe and its troops served both the Polish Government in Exile in the Polish Armed Forces in the West, west and Soviet leadership in the Polish Armed Forces in the East, east. Polish troops played an important role in the Operation Overlord, Normandy, Italian Campaign (World War II), Italian and North African Campaigns and are particularly remembered for the Battle of Monte Cassino. In the east, the Soviet-backed First Polish Army (1944–1945), Polish 1st Army distinguished itself in the battles for Warsaw Uprising, Warsaw and Battle of Berlin, Berlin. The Polish resistance movement in World War II, wartime resistance movement, and the Armia Krajowa (''Home Army''), fought against German occupation. It was one of the three largest resistance movements of the entire war, and encompassed a range of clandestine activities, which functioned as an Polish Underground State, underground state complete with Education in Poland during World War II, degree-awarding universities and Special Courts, 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 it initiated Operation Tempest, of which the Warsaw Uprising that begun on 1 August 1944 is the best known operation. Nazi German forces under orders from Adolf Hitler set up six German extermination camps in occupied Poland, including Treblinka extermination camp, Treblinka, Majdanek concentration camp, Majdanek and Auschwitz concentration camp, Auschwitz. The Germans Holocaust train, transported millions of Jews from across occupied Europe to be murdered in those camps. Altogether, 3 million Polish Jews – approximately 90% of Poland's pre-war Jewry – and between 1.8 and 2.8 million ethnic Poles were killed during the German Occupation of Poland (1939–1945), occupation of Poland, including between 50,000 and 100,000 members of the Polish intelligentsia – academics, doctors, lawyers, nobility and priesthood. During the Warsaw Uprising alone, over 150,000 Polish civilians were killed, most were murdered by the Germans during the Wola massacre, Wola and Ochota massacre, Ochota massacres. Around 150,000 Polish civilians were killed by Soviets between 1939 and 1941 during the Soviet Union's occupation of eastern Poland (Kresy), and another estimated 100,000 Poles were murdered by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) between 1943 and 1944 in what became known as the Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, Wołyń Massacres. World War II casualties, Of all the countries in the war, Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens: around 6 million perished – more than one-sixth of Poland's pre-war population – Holocaust in Poland, half of them Polish Jews. About 90% of deaths were non-military in nature. In 1945, Poland's borders Territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II, were shifted westwards. Over two million Polish inhabitants of Kresy Polish population transfers (1944–46), were expelled along the Curzon Line by Stalin. The western border became the Oder-Neisse line. As a result, Poland's territory was reduced by 20%, or . The shift forced the migration of World War II evacuation and expulsion, millions of other people, most of whom were Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Jews.


Post-war communism

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. This action angered many Poles who considered it a Yalta betrayal, betrayal by the Allies. In 1944, Stalin had made guarantees to Winston Churchill, Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, 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 state, communist government in Poland, analogous to much of the rest of the
Eastern Bloc The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc, the Socialist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc, was the group of socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' ...
. Anti-Communism in the Communist Bloc, As elsewhere in Communist Europe, the Soviet influence over Poland was met with Cursed soldiers, armed resistance from the outset which continued into the 1950s. Despite widespread objections, the new Polish government accepted the Soviet annexation of the pre-war eastern regions of Poland (in particular the cities of Wilno and Lwów) and agreed to the permanent garrisoning of Red Army units on Poland's territory. Military alignment within the Warsaw Pact throughout the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
came about as a direct result of this change in Poland's political culture. In the European scene, it came to characterize the full-fledged integration of Poland into the brotherhood of communist nations. The new communist government took control with the adoption of the Small Constitution of 1947, Small Constitution on 19 February 1947. The
Polish People's Republic The Polish People's Republic ( pl, Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL) was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1947 to 1989 as the predecessor of the modern Republic of Poland. With a population of approximately 37.9 million near ...
(''Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa'') Constitution of the People's Republic of Poland, 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 resistance in Poland (1944–1989), anti-communist opposition groups persisted. Despite this, Poland was at the time considered to be one of the least oppressive states of the Eastern Bloc. Labour turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union "Solidarity (Polish trade union), Solidarity" ("''Solidarność''"), which over time became a political force. Despite persecution and imposition of Martial law in Poland, martial law in 1981, it eroded the dominance of the Polish United Workers' Party and by 1989 had triumphed in Poland's first Contract Sejm, partially free and democratic parliamentary elections since the end of the Second World War. Lech Wałęsa, a Solidarity candidate, eventually 1990 Polish presidential election, won the presidency in 1990. The Solidarity movement heralded the Revolutions of 1989, collapse of communist regimes and parties across Europe.


1990s to present

A shock therapy (economics), 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 countries, Poland suffered temporary declines 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 thanks largely to its booming economy. Most visibly, there were numerous improvements in human rights, such as freedom of speech, Internet censorship by country, 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 The Visegrád Group, Visegrád Four, V4, or European Quartet, is a cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, ar ...
and joined the NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance in 1999 along with the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to ...
and Hungary. Poles then voted to join the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
in Referendums in Poland, a referendum in June 2003, with Poland in the European Union, Poland becoming a full member on 1 May 2004. Poland joined the
Schengen Area The Schengen Area ( , ) is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for internationa ...

Schengen Area
in 2007, as a result of which, Borders of Poland, the country's borders with other member states of the European Union have been dismantled, allowing for Freedom of movement#European Union, full freedom of movement within most of the EU. On 10 April 2010, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, along with 89 other high-ranking Polish officials 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash, 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 Katyn massacre, Katyń massacre when the tragedy took place. In 2011, the ruling Civic Platform won 2011 Polish parliamentary election, parliamentary elections. Poland joined the European Space Agency in 2012, as well as organised the UEFA Euro 2012 (along with Ukraine). In 2013, Poland also became a member of the Development Assistance Committee. In 2014, the Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, was chosen to be President of the European Council, and resigned as prime minister. The 2015 Polish parliamentary election, 2015 and 2019 Polish parliamentary election, 2019 elections were won by the conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS), resulting in 2015–present Polish constitutional crisis, increased friction between Poland and the EU. In December 2017, Mateusz Morawiecki was sworn in as the new Prime Minister, succeeding Beata Szydło, Beata Szydlo, in office since 2015. They both represented ruling Law and Justice party, led by party chairman Jarosław Kaczyński. President Andrzej Duda, supported by Law and Justice party, was narrowly re-elected in the 2020 presidential 2020 Polish presidential election, election.


Geography

Poland covers an area of approximately , of which 98.52% is dry land and 1.48% is water. Extending across several geographical regions, the country is the List of European countries by area, 9th-largest by area in Europe and List of countries and dependencies by area, 69th largest in the world. Topographically, Poland is diverse and has access to the sea, the mountains and open terrain. Although most of the central parts of the country are flat, there is an abundance of lakes, rivers, hills, swamps, beaches, islands and forests elsewhere. In the north-west is the Baltic Sea, Baltic seacoast spanning from the Bay of Pomerania to the Gdańsk Bay, Gulf of Gdańsk. The coast is marked by several spit (landform), spits, coastal lakes (former bays that have been cut off from the sea), and Sand dunes, dunes. The largely straight coastline is indented by the Szczecin Lagoon, the Bay of Puck, and the Vistula Lagoon. The central and northern parts 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 Quaternary glaciation, Pleistocene ice age, notably 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 a series of moraine belts along the southern shore of the Baltic Sea. South of the Northern European Plain are the regions of
Lusatia Lusatia (german: Lausitz, pl, Łużyce, hsb, Łužica, dsb, Łužyca, cs, Lužice, la, Lusatia, rarely also referred to as Sorbia) is a historical region in Central Europe, split between Germany and Poland. Lusatia stretches from the Bóbr ...
, Silesia and Masovia, which are marked by broad ice-age river valleys. The extreme south of Poland is mountainous; it runs from the
Sudetes The Sudetes ( ; pl, Sudety; german: Sudeten; cs, Krkonošsko-jesenická subprovincie) are a in , shared by , and the . They are the highest part of . They stretch from the capital of in the northwest across to the region of in Poland and ...
in the west to the
Carpathian Mountains The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians () are a range of mountains forming an arc throughout Central and Eastern Europe Central and Eastern Europe is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region ...

Carpathian Mountains
in the east. The highest part of the Carpathian massif is the Tatra Mountains, Tatra Mountain range, along Poland's southern border.


Geology

The geological structure of Poland has been shaped by the continental collision of 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 Polish Jura, the Pieniny, and the Western Tatras consist of limestone, whereas the High Tatras, the Beskids, and the Karkonosze mountain ranges are made up mainly of granite and basalts. The Polish Jura Chain has some of the oldest rock formations on the continent of Europe. Poland has over 70 mountains over in elevation, all situated in the Tatras. Poland's highest point is the north-western summit of Mount Rysy at in elevation. At its foot lie the mountain lakes of Czarny Staw pod Rysami, Czarny Staw (Black Lake) and Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea), both naturally-made tarn (lake), tarns. Other notable uplands include the Pieniny and Holy Cross Mountains, the Table Mountains noted for their unusual rock formations, the Bieszczady Mountains, Bieszczady in the far southeast of the country in which the highest peak is Tarnica at , and the Gorce Mountains whose highest point is Turbacz at . The highest point of the Sudeten massif is Śnieżka, Mount Śnieżka (), shared with the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to ...
. The lowest point in Poland – at below sea level – is at Raczki Elbląskie, near Elbląg in the Vistula Delta. In the Zagłębie Dąbrowskie (the Coal Fields of Dąbrowa Górnicza, Dąbrowa) region in the Silesian Voivodeship in southern Poland is an area of sparsely vegetated sand known as the Błędów Desert. It covers an area of . It is not a natural desert and was formed by human activity from the Middle Ages onwards. The 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 per year. Some dunes reach the height of up to . The highest peak of the park is Rowokol at above mean sea level, above sea level.


Waters

The longest rivers are the Vistula River, Vistula ( pl, Wisła), long; the Oder River, Oder ( pl, Odra) which forms part of Poland's western border, long; its tributary, the
Warta The river Warta ( , ; german: Warthe ; la, Varta) rises in central Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 V ...

Warta
, long; and the Bug River, Bug, a tributary of the Vistula, long. The Vistula and the Oder flow into the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
, as do numerous smaller rivers in Pomerania. Poland's lengthy waterways have been used since early times for navigation; the Vikings ventured up the Polish rivers in their longships. In the Middle Ages and in early modern times, the shipment of tangible goods down the Vistula toward
Gdańsk Gdańsk ( , also ; ; german: Danzig ; csb, Gduńsk; , ) is a city on the Baltic Sea, Baltic coast of northern Poland. With a population of 470,805, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the most prominent c ...

Gdańsk
and onward to other parts of Europe took on great importance. With almost ten thousand closed bodies of water covering more than 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 , are Śniardwy, Lake Śniardwy and Lake Mamry in Masuria as well as Łebsko Lake, Lake Łebsko and Drawsko Lake, Lake Drawsko in Pomerania. The lake with the greatest depth—of more than —is Hańcza, Lake Hańcza in the Wigry Lake District, east of Masuria in Podlaskie Voivodeship. The Polish Baltic coast is approximately long and extends from Świnoujście on the islands of Usedom and Wolin in the west to Krynica Morska on the Vistula Spit in the east. For the most part, Poland has a smooth coastline, which has been shaped by the continual movement of sand by currents and winds. This continual erosion and deposition (geology), deposition has formed cliffs, dunes, and spits, many of which have migrated landwards to close off former lagoons, such as Łebsko Lake in the Słowiński National Park. The largest spits are Hel Peninsula and the Vistula Spit. The coast line is varied also by Szczecin Lagoon, Szczecin and Vistula Lagoons and several lakes, including Jamno (lake), Jamno. The largest Polish Baltic island is Wolin, located within Wolin National Park. The largest sea harbours are Port of Szczecin, Szczecin, Port of Świnoujście, Świnoujście, Port of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Port of Gdynia, Gdynia, Port of Police, Police and Port of Kołobrzeg, Kołobrzeg and the main coastal resorts – Świnoujście, Międzyzdroje, Międzydzdroje,
Kołobrzeg Kołobrzeg (pronounced ; german: link=no, Kolberg, ; csb, Kòlbrzég), historically known in English as Kolberg, is a city in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship West Pomeranian Voivodeship or West Pomerania Province (Polish language, Polish: '' ...

Kołobrzeg
, Łeba, Sopot, Władysławowo and the Hel Peninsula. In the valley of Pilica (river), Pilica river in Tomaszów Mazowiecki there is a unique natural Spring (hydrology), karst spring of water containing calcium salts, that is an object of protection at Niebieskie Źródła Nature Reserve, Blue Springs Nature Reserve in the Sulejów Landscape Park. The red waves are absorbed by water, hence only blue and green are reflected from the bottom of the spring, giving the water atypical colour.


Land use

Forests cover about 29.6% 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 largest forest complex in Poland is Lower Silesian Wilderness. More than 1% of Poland's territory, , is protected within 23 List of national parks of Poland, Polish national parks. Three more national parks are projected for Masuria, the Polish Jura, 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 123 areas designated as Landscape Park (Poland), landscape parks, along with numerous nature reserves and other Protected areas of Poland, protected areas under the Natura 2000 network. In 2017, approximately of land was occupied by farms and farmsteads, over half of Poland's total area.


Biodiversity

Phytogeography, Phytogeographically, Poland belongs to the Central European province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of Ecoregions in Poland, 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. The most common deciduous trees found across the country are oak, maple, and beech; the most common conifers are pine, spruce, and fir. An estimated 68.7% of all forests are coniferous. Poland has historically been home to rare species of animals, as well as the two largest European mammals: the European bison, wisent (''żubr'') and aurochs (''tur''). The last aurochs of Europe became extinct in 1627 in the Polish Jaktorów, Jaktorów Forest, while the wisent survived until the 20th century only at Białowieża Forest, Białowieża. It has been since reintroduced to other countries. Other wild 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. Game animals such as red deer, roe deer, and wild boar are found in most woodlands. Eastern Poland abounds in ancient woods, like the Białowieża Forest, that have not been disturbed by human or industrial activity. There are also large forested areas in the mountains,
Greater Poland in Kalisz File:Ratusz w Lesznie (2).jpg"> Polonia Maior), is a historical region of west-central Poland">town hall Greater Poland, often known by its Polish name Wielkopolska (; german: Großpolen, la">Polonia Maior), is a historical r ...
, Pomerania, Lubusz Land, and Lower Silesia. The Lubusz Voivodeship is currently the most arboraceous province in the country; 52% of its territory is occupied by forests. Poland is also a significant breeding ground for a variety of European migratory birds. 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 Narew, and the
Warta The river Warta ( , ; german: Warthe ; la, Varta) rises in central Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 V ...

Warta
, which are part of nature reserves or national parks.


Climate

The climate is mostly temperateness, temperate throughout the country. The climate is oceanic climate, oceanic in the north-west and becomes gradually warmer and continental climate, continental towards the south-east. Summers are generally warm, with average temperatures between depending on the region. Winters are rather cold, with average temperatures around in the northwest and in the northeast. Precipitation (meteorology), Precipitation falls throughout the year, although, especially in the east, winter is drier than summer. The warmest region in Poland is Lower Silesia (Lower Silesian Voivodeship) in the southwest of the country, where temperatures in the summer average between but can go as high as on some days in the warmest months of July and August. The warmest cities in Poland are Tarnów in Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Lesser Poland, and
Wrocław Wrocław (; german: Breslau ; sli, Brassel; cs, Vratislav), ''Wratislavia''. is a city in southwestern Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Centra ...

Wrocław
in Lower Silesia. The average temperatures in Wrocław are in the summer and 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, around the area of Suwałki within the Podlaskie Voivodeship, where the climate is affected by cold fronts coming from Scandinavia and Siberia. The average temperature in the winter in Podlaskie ranges from . The biggest impact of the oceanic climate is observed in Świnoujście and
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
seashore area from Police, West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Police to Słupsk.


Government and politics

Poland is a representative democracy, with a President of the Republic of Poland, president as the head of state. The government structure centers on the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Poland, Council of Ministers, led by a Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland, prime minister. The president appoints the cabinet according to the proposals of the prime minister, typically from the majority coalition in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Sejm. The president is elected by popular vote every five years. The current President of the Republic of Poland, president is Andrzej Duda and the Prime Minister of Poland, prime minister is Mateusz Morawiecki. Polish voters elect a bicameralism, bicameral parliament consisting of a 460-member lower house (Sejm) and a 100-member Senate (Senate of the Republic of Poland, Senat). The Sejm is 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. With the exception of ethnic minority parties, only candidates of List of political parties in Poland, political parties receiving at least 5% of the total national vote can enter the Sejm. When sitting in a joint session, members of the Sejm and Senat form the National Assembly of the Republic of Poland, 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 has occurred. The judiciary, judicial branch plays an important role in decision-making. Its major institutions include the Supreme Court of Poland, Supreme Court (''Sąd Najwyższy''); the Supreme Administrative Court of Poland, Supreme Administrative Court (''Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny''); the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland, Constitutional Tribunal (''Trybunał Konstytucyjny''); and the State Tribunal (Poland), State Tribunal (''Trybunał Stanu''). On the approval of the Senat, the Sejm also appoints the Polish Ombudsman, 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 justice.


Law

The Constitution of Poland is the enacted supreme law, and the Polish legal system is based on the principle of civil rights, governed by the code of Civil law (legal system), civil law. The current
democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the a ...

democratic
constitution was adopted by the National Assembly of Poland on 2 April 1997; it guarantees a multi-party state with freedoms of religion, speech and assembly, prohibits the practices of forced medical experimentation, torture or corporal punishment, and acknowledges the inviolability of the home, the right to form trade unions, and the right to Strike action, strike. The Judiciary of Poland, judiciary incorporates a four-tier court system composed of the Supreme Court of Poland, Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court of Poland, Supreme Administrative Court, Common Courts (District Court, District, Regional Court (Poland), Regional, Appellate court, Appellate) and the Court-martial, Military Court. Judges are nominated by the National Council of the Judiciary and are appointed for life by the president of Poland, president. The Constitutional Tribunal (Poland), Constitutional and State Tribunal (Poland), State Tribunals are separate judicial bodies, which rule the constitutional liability of people holding the highest offices of state and supervise the compliance of statutory law, thus protecting the Constitution. Historically, the most significant Polish legal act is the
Constitution of 3 May 1791 The Constitution of 3 May 1791 ( pl, Konstytucja 3 maja; Belarusian: ''Канстытуцыя 3 мая'', transcription: ''Kanstytucyja 3 maja''; Balerusian Taraškievica: ''Канстытуцыя 3 траўня'', transcription: ''Kansty ...
, the first modern constitution in Europe. Instituted as a Government Act, it was designed to redress long-standing political defects of the federation, federative
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
and its Golden Liberty. Previously, only the Henrician Articles (1573) signed by each of Poland's elected monarchs could perform the function of a set of basic laws. The new Constitution introduced political equality between townspeople and the nobility (''szlachta''), and placed the peasants under the protection of the government. It abolished pernicious parliamentary policies such as the ''liberum veto'', which permitted any deputy to rescind all the legislation passed in the interest of a foreign power. The 3 May Constitution sought to supplant the existing anarchy fostered by some of the country's reactionary magnates, with a more Egalitarianism, egalitarian and democratic constitutional monarchy. The :wikisource:Constitution of 3 May 1791, Constitution influenced many later democratic movements across the globe. Tax-paying women were allowed to take part in Polish political life until the Third Partition of Poland, third partition in 1795. In 1918 the Second Polish Republic became one of the first countries to introduce universal women's suffrage. Poland has a low homicide rate at 0.7 murders per 100,000 people, as of 2018. Rape, assault and violent crime remain at a very low level, although not all cases are recorded by the authorities. Abortion in Poland, Abortion is permitted only in cases of rape, incest or when the woman's life is in danger. Congenital disorder and stillbirth are not covered by the law, forcing some women to seek abortion abroad, and others to seek the assistance of psychiatrists willing to testify on the negative psychological impact of stillbirth. Poland does not criminalize homosexuality, and its legality was confirmed in 1932. The Constitution of Poland, Polish Constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.


Foreign relations

Poland is the List of European Union member states by population, fifth most populous member state of the European Union and has a grand total of 52 representatives in the European Parliament as of 2020. Since joining the union in 2004, successive Polish governments have pursued policies to extend the country's role in European and international affairs. Poland is an emerging regional power in
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

Central Europe
. The capital of
Warsaw Warsaw, * la, Varsovia (Polish language, Polish: ''Warszawa'' ), officially the Capital City of Warsaw, is the capital and List of cities and towns in Poland, largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula, River Vistula in e ...

Warsaw
serves as the headquarters for Frontex, the European Union's agency for external border security as well as ODIHR, one of the principal institutions of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Apart from the European Union, Poland has been a member of
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
since 1999, the United Nations, UN, the World Trade Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 1996,
European Economic Area The European Economic Area (EEA) was established via the ''Agreement on the European Economic Area'', an international agreement which enables the extension of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic un ...

European Economic Area
, International Energy Agency, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, International Atomic Energy Agency, European Space Agency, G6 (EU), G6, Council of the Baltic Sea States,
Visegrád Group The Visegrád Group, Visegrád Four, V4, or European Quartet, is a cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, ar ...
, Weimar Triangle, Schengen Agreement, Lublin Triangle and Bucharest Nine. Over the past two decades, Poland significantly strengthened its ties with the United States, thus becoming one of its closest alliance, allies in Europe. Poland was part of the Multi-National Force – Iraq, US-led coalition force during the Iraq War in 2003, and Polish involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, sent its troops in the first phase of the conflict, jointly with the United Kingdom and Australia. Along with NATO, Poland maintains military presence in the Middle East, the Baltic states and in the Balkans. Historically, Poland has had particularly friendly Hungary–Poland relations, relations with Hungary; this special relationship was recognized by the parliaments of both countries in 2007 with the joint declaration of March 23 as "The Day of Polish-Hungarian Friendship".


Military

The Polish Armed Forces are composed of five branches – Polish Land Forces, Land Forces (''Wojska Lądowe''), Polish Navy, Navy (''Marynarka Wojenna''), Polish Air Force, Air Force (''Siły Powietrzne''), Special forces of Poland, Special Forces (''Wojska Specjalne'') and the Territorial Defence Force (Poland), Territorial Defence Force (''Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej''). The military is subordinate to the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Poland. However, its commander-in-chief in peacetime is the President of the Republic, who nominates officers, the Minister for National Defence and the chief of staff. Polish military tradition is generally commemorated by the Armed Forces Day (Poland), Armed Forces Day, celebrated annually on 15 August. As of 2018, the Polish Armed Forces have a combined strength of 144,142 soldiers. The Polish Navy primarily operates on the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
and conducts operations such as maritime patrol, search and rescue for the section of the Baltic under Polish sovereignty, as well as Hydrography, hydrographic measurements and research. The Polish Air Force routinely takes part in Baltic Air Policing assignments. In 2003, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-16C Block 52 was selected as the new general multi-role fighter for the air force. In January 2020, Poland has approved the delivery for Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft. Poland is currently spending 2% of its GDP on defence (approximately US$13.5 billion in 2020), which is expected to grow to 2.5% by 2030. According to SIPRI, the country exported EUR€487 million worth of arms and armaments to other countries, primarily to the United States, Chile, France and South Africa. The mission of the armed forces is the defence of Poland's territorial integrity and Polish interests abroad. The country's national security goal is to further integrate with
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
and European defence, economic, and political institutions. Compulsory Conscription, military service for men was discontinued in 2008. From 2007, until conscription ended in 2008, the mandatory service was nine months. Polish military doctrine reflects the same defensive nature as that of its NATO partners and the country actively hosts NATO's military exercises. From 1953 to 2009 Poland was a large contributor to various
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
peacekeeping missions. The Polish Armed Forces took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, deploying 2,500 soldiers in the south of that country and commanding the 17-nation multinational force in Iraq. Poland also maintains troops in the Middle East, the Baltic states and in the Balkans; 1,650 soldiers were deployed in 2019.


Law enforcement and emergency services

Law enforcement in Poland is performed by several agencies which are subordinate to the Ministry of Interior and Administration (Poland), Ministry of Interior and Administration – the Policja, State Police (''Policja''), assigned to investigate crimes or transgression; the City Guard (Poland), Municipal City Guard, which maintains public order; and several specialized agencies, such as the Polish Border Guard. Private security firms are also common, although they possess no legal authority to arrest or detain a suspect. Municipal guards are primarily headed by provincial, regional or city councils; individual guards are not permitted to carry firearms unless instructed by their superior commanding officer or commandant. The Internal Security Agency (ABW, or ISA in English) is the chief Intelligence agency, counter-intelligence instrument safeguarding Poland's internal security, along with Agencja Wywiadu (AW) which identifies threats and collects secret information abroad. The Centralne Biuro Śledcze Policji, Central Investigation Bureau of Police (CBŚP) and the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) are responsible for countering organized crime and corruption in state and private institutions. Emergency services in Poland consist of the Emergency medical services in Poland, emergency medical services, Search and rescue#Poland, search and rescue units of the Polish Armed Forces and State Fire Service. Emergency medical services in Poland are operated by local and regional governments, but are a part of the centralized national agency - the Emergency medical services in Poland, National Medical Emergency Service (''Państwowe Ratownictwo Medyczne''). All emergency services personnel are uniformed and security services can be easily recognized during regular patrols in both large urban areas or smaller suburban localities.


Administrative divisions

Poland's current Voivodeships of Poland, 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 for Opole Voivodeship to more than for Masovian Voivodeship. Administrative authority at the voivodeship level is shared between a government-appointed voivode (governor), an elected regional assembly (''Voivodeship sejmik, sejmik'') and a voivodeship marshal, 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, 380 powiats (including 66 cities with ''powiat'' status), and 2,478 ''gminas''.


Economy

Poland's economy and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is currently the sixth largest in the European Union by Economy of the European Union, nominal standards, and the fifth largest by List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Europe by GDP (PPP), purchasing power parity. It is also one of the fastest growing within the Union. Around 60% of the employed population belongs to the tertiary Tertiary sector of the economy, service sector, 30% to industry and manufacturing, and the remaining 10% to the agriculture, agricultural sector. Although Poland is a member of EU's Internal market, single market, the country has not adopted the Euro as legal tender and maintains its own currency – the Polish złoty (zł, PLN). Poland is the regional economic leader in
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

Central Europe
, with nearly 40 per cent of the 500 biggest companies in the region (by revenues) as well as a Globalisation index, high globalisation rate. The country's largest firms compose the WIG20 and WIG30 Stock market index, indexes, which is traded on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. According to reports made by the National Bank of Poland, the value of Polish foreign direct investments reached almost 300 billion Polish złoty, PLN at the end of 2014. The Central Statistical Office (Poland), Central Statistical Office estimated that in 2014 there were 1,437 Polish corporations with interests in 3,194 foreign entities. Having a strong domestic market, low private debt, low unemployment rate, flexible currency, and not being dependent on a single export sector, Poland is the only European economy to have avoided the Great Recession, recession of 2008. The country is the List of countries by exports, 20th largest exporter of goods and services in the world and its most successful exports include machinery, furniture, food products, clothing, shoes, cosmetics and video games. Exports of goods and services are valued at approximately 56% of GDP, as of 2020. Poland's largest trading partners include Germany, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, France and Italy. In September 2018, the unemployment rate was estimated at 5.7%, one of the lowest in the European Union. In 2019, Poland passed a law that would exempt workers under the age of 26 from income tax. The Polish banking sector is the largest in the region, with 32.3 branches per 100,000 adults.World Bank
Financial Inclusion Data. Country Dashboard: Poland.
The World Bank Group. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
The banks are the largest and most developed sector of the country's financial markets. They are regulated by the Financial Supervision Authority (Poland), Polish Financial Supervision Authority. 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 capital.Thomas White International (September 2011)
Prominent Banks in Poland.
Emerging Market Spotlight. Banking Sector in Poland (Internet Archive). Retrieved 6 November 2014.
Products and goods manufactured in Poland include: electronics, buses and trams (Solaris Bus & Coach, Solaris, Solbus), helicopters and planes (PZL Świdnik, PZL Mielec), trains (Pesa SA, Pesa, Newag), ships (Gdańsk Shipyard, Szczecin Shipyard), military equipment (FB "Łucznik" Radom, :pl:Bumar Łabędy, Bumar-Łabędy, Jelcz), medicines (:pl:Zakłady Farmaceutyczne Polpharma, Polpharma, :pl:Polfa Warszawa, Polfa), food (Tymbark (company), Tymbark, Hortex, E. Wedel), clothes (LPP (company), LLP), glass, pottery (Boleslawiec Pottery, Bolesławiec), chemical products and others. Well-known brands and companies include Alior Bank, PKN Orlen, Orlen&Grupa Lotos, Lotos Group, Inglot Cosmetics, Plus (telecommunications Poland), Plus, Play (telecommunications), Play, Brainly, Netguru, GOG.com, CD Projekt, Trefl and Allegro (website), Allegro. Poland is also one of the world's biggest producers of copper, silver, coal, furniture, automotive parts and soft drink.


Tourism

Poland experienced a significant increase in the number of tourists after joining the European Union in 2004. With nearly 21 million international arrivals in 2019, tourism contributes considerably to the overall economy and makes up a relatively large proportion of the country's service market. 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 Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
, which was the former capital of Poland and serves as a relic of the
Polish Golden Age The Polish Golden Age was the Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment ...
and the Renaissance in Poland, Renaissance. Kraków also held Royal coronations in Poland, royal coronations of List of Polish monarchs, most Polish kings and monarchs at Wawel, the nation's chief historical landmark. Among other notable sites in the country is
Wrocław Wrocław (; german: Breslau ; sli, Brassel; cs, Vratislav), ''Wratislavia''. is a city in southwestern Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Centra ...

Wrocław
, one of the oldest cities in Poland which was a model for the founding of Kraków. Wrocław is famous for its Wrocław's dwarfs, dwarf statues, a large Market Square, Wrocław, market square with two Ratusz, town halls, and the oldest Wrocław Zoo, Zoological Gardens with one of the world's largest number of animal species. The Polish capital
Warsaw Warsaw, * la, Varsovia (Polish language, Polish: ''Warszawa'' ), officially the Capital City of Warsaw, is the capital and List of cities and towns in Poland, largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula, River Vistula in e ...

Warsaw
and its historical Warsaw Old Town, Old Town were entirely reconstructed after Destruction of Warsaw, wartime destruction. Other cities attracting countless tourists include
Gdańsk Gdańsk ( , also ; ; german: Danzig ; csb, Gduńsk; , ) is a city on the Baltic Sea, Baltic coast of northern Poland. With a population of 470,805, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the most prominent c ...

Gdańsk
,
Poznań Poznań is a city on the Warta, River Warta in west-central Poland, within the Greater Poland region. The city is an important cultural and business centre, and one of Poland's most populous regions with many regional customs such as Saint Jo ...

Poznań
, Lublin, Toruń as well as the site of the Germany, German Auschwitz concentration camp in Oświęcim. A notable highlight is the 13th-century Wieliczka Salt Mine with its labyrinthine tunnels, a Underground lake, subterranean lake and chapels carved by miners out of rock salt beneath the ground. Poland's main tourist offerings include outdoor activities such as skiing, sailing, mountain hiking and climbing, as well as agritourism, sightseeing List of Historic Monuments (Poland), historical monuments. Tourist destinations include the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

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 Orla Perć, Eagle's Path mountain trail are located. The Pieniny and Bieszczady Mountains lie in the extreme south-east. There are List of castles in Poland, over 100 castles in the country, most in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, and also on the Trail of the Eagles' Nests. The largest castle in the world by land area is situated in Malbork Castle, Malbork, in north-central Poland.


Energy

The electricity generation sector in Poland is largely Fossil fuel, 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 the production of their energy. In 2013, Poland scored 48 out of 129 states in the Energy Sustainability Index. The three largest Polish coal mining firms (Węglokoks, Kompania Węglowa and Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa, JSW) extract around 100 million tonnes of coal annually. Renewable energy, 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 sources in Poland (the share of energy from renewable sources in the gross final energy consumption in 2019 was – 12,18%). Increasing the share of energy from renewable sources and a significant reduction in Carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere, CO2 emissions to be achieved with the help of biofuels, photovoltaics, construction of wind farms on the land and the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
, hydroelectric stations and nuclear power plant. 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"), PGNiG. However, the small amounts of fossil fuels naturally occurring in Poland are insufficient to satisfy the full energy consumption needs of the population and industry. Consequently, the country is a net importer of oil and natural gas. Therefore, since the second decade of the 21st century, Poland has been strongly developing the so-called North Gate in which the most important components are the Baltic Pipe, the Świnoujście LNG terminal and Floating Storage and Regasification Unit in Port of Gdańsk. The five largest companies supplying Poland electricity are Polska Grupa Energetyczna, PGE, Tauron Group, Tauron, Enea SA, Enea, :pl:Energa, Energa and Innogy, Innogy Poland.


Transport

Transport in Poland is provided by means of Rail transport in Poland, rail, Roads and expressways in Poland, road, Polish Merchant Navy, marine shipping and List of airports in Poland, air travel. The country is part of EU's
Schengen Area The Schengen Area ( , ) is an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for internationa ...

Schengen Area
and is an important transport hub along neighbouring
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
due to its strategic position in
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

Central Europe
. Some of the longest European routes, including the European route E40, E40, run through Poland. The country has a good network of Highways in Poland, highways, composed of Limited-access road, express roads and Controlled-access highway, motorways. At the start of 2020, Poland had of highways in use. In addition, all local and regional roads are monitored by the National Road Rebuilding Programme, which aims to improve the quality of travel in the countryside and suburban localities. In 2017, the nation had of railway track, the third longest in Europe after
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
and France. The Polish State Railways (PKP) is the dominant railway operator in the country. In December 2014, Poland began to implement High-speed rail in Poland, high–speed rail routes connecting major Polish cities, and started passenger service using the New Pendolino train, operating at 200 km/h on the PKP rail line 4, Central Rail Line (CMK). Polish regulations allow trains without European Train Control System, ETCS to travel at speeds up to 160 km/h, trains with ETCS1 up to 200 km/h, and trains with ETCS2 at over 200 km/h. Most inter-regional connections rail routes in Poland are operated by PKP Intercity, whilst regional trains are run by a number of private operators, the largest of which is Polregio. The largest passenger train station in terms of the number of travelers is Wrocław Główny railway station, Wrocław Główny. The air and maritime transport markets in Poland are largely well developed. Poland has a number of international airports, the largest of which is Warsaw Chopin Airport, the primary global hub for LOT Polish Airlines. It was established in 1928 from a merger of Aerolloyd (1922) and Aero (Polish airline), Aero (1925). Other major airports with international connections include John Paul II International Airport Kraków–Balice, Copernicus Airport Wrocław, Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport. Poland has begun preparations for a construction that can handle 100 million passengers of the New Central Polish Airport, Central Communication Port. Seaports exist all along Poland's Baltic coast, with most freight operations using Port of Świnoujście, Świnoujście, Port of Police, Police, Port of Szczecin, Szczecin, Port of Kołobrzeg, Kołobrzeg, Port of Gdynia, Gdynia, Port of Gdańsk, Gdańsk and Elbląg as their base. Passenger ferries link Poland with Scandinavia all year round; these services are provided from Gdańsk and Świnoujście by Polferries, Stena Line from Gdynia and Unity Line from the Świnoujście. The Port of Gdańsk is the only port in the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
adapted to receive oceanic vessels.


Science and technology

Over the course of history, the Polish people have made considerable contributions in the fields of science, technology and mathematics. Perhaps the most renowned Pole to support this theory was Nicolaus Copernicus (''Mikołaj Kopernik''), who triggered the Copernican Revolution by placing the Heliocentrism, Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe. He also derived a quantity theory of money, which made him a pioneer of economics. Copernicus' achievements and discoveries are considered the basis of Polish culture and cultural identity. Poland's tertiary education institutions; traditional List of universities in Poland, universities, as well as technical, medical, and economic institutions, employ around tens of thousands of researchers and staff members. There are hundreds of research and development institutes. 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 1925 she established Poland's Curie Institute (Warsaw), Radium Institute. In the first half of the 20th century, Poland was a flourishing centre of mathematics. Outstanding Polish mathematicians formed the Lwów School of Mathematics (with Stefan Banach, Stanisław Mazur, Hugo Steinhaus, Stanisław Ulam) and Warsaw School of Mathematics (with Alfred Tarski, Kazimierz Kuratowski, Wacław Sierpiński and Antoni Zygmund). Numerous mathematicians, scientists, chemists or economists emigrated due to historic vicissitudes, among them Benoit Mandelbrot, Leonid Hurwicz, Alfred Tarski, Joseph Rotblat and Nobel Prize laureates Roald Hoffmann, Georges Charpak and Tadeusz Reichstein. In the 1930s, mathematician and cryptologist Marian Rejewski invented the Bomba (cryptography), Cryptographic Bomb which formed the basis of the effort that allowed the Allies to crack the Enigma code. 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 Corporation, Delphi, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, Hewlett–Packard, IBM, Intel, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Motorola, Siemens and 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 from 2011, 80% of Poland's current investors are content with their choice and willing to reinvest. Poland was ranked 38th in the Global Innovation Index in 2020, up from 39th in 2019. Poland has a very well-developed e-administration, thanks to which many official matters can be easily and quickly settled via the Internet. In the UN ranking, Poland is in the top twenty countries with the best-rated e-administration in the world.


Demographics

Poland, with approximately 38.5 million inhabitants, has the List of European countries by population, ninth-largest population in Europe and the fifth-largest in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
. It has a population density of 122 inhabitants per square kilometre (328 per square mile). The total fertility rate in 2020 was estimated at 1.44 children born to a woman, a considerable rise from previous years. In contrast, the total fertility rate in 1925 was 4.68. Furthermore, Poland's population is aging significantly and the median age in 2018 was 41.1 years. The crude death rate in 2020 stood at 10.3 per 1,000 people. Around 60% of Poles and Polish citizens reside in urban areas or major cities and 40% in more rural zones. The most populous administrative province or state is the Masovian Voivodeship and the most populous city is the capital,
Warsaw Warsaw, * la, Varsovia (Polish language, Polish: ''Warszawa'' ), officially the Capital City of Warsaw, is the capital and List of cities and towns in Poland, largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the Vistula, River Vistula in e ...

Warsaw
, at 1.8 million inhabitants with a further 2-3 million people living in its Warsaw metropolitan area, metropolitan area. The Katowice urban area, metropolitan area of Katowice is the largest urban conurbation in Poland with a population between 2.7 million and 5.3 million residents. The least populous and the smallest province in size is the Opole Voivodeship, with just under 1 million people living within its borders. Hence, a substantial portion of the total population is concentrated in the south of Poland, roughly between the cities of
Wrocław Wrocław (; german: Breslau ; sli, Brassel; cs, Vratislav), ''Wratislavia''. is a city in southwestern Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Centra ...

Wrocław
and
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
. In the Polish census of 2011, 2011 Polish census, 37,310,341 people reported Poles, Polish identity, 846,719 Silesians, Silesian, 232,547 Kashubians, Kashubian and 147,814 German minority in Poland, German. Other Poles#National minorities, identities were reported by 163,363 people (0.41%) and 521,470 people (1.35%) did not specify any nationality. Once prominent but now statistically insignificant minority groups include History of the Jews in Poland, Polish Jews, Lipka Tatars, Armenians in Poland, Armenians, Greeks in Poland, Greeks, Lemkos, the Romani people in Poland, Romani people and the Vietnamese in Poland, Vietnamese. Ethnic Poles themselves can be divided into many diverse Regions of Poland, regional Ethnography, ethnographic sub-groups, most notable being the Kashubians, Silesians and Gorals (Highlanders). The statistics do not include recently arrived migrant workers. More than 1.7 million Ukrainian citizens worked legally in Poland in 2017. There is a very strong Polish diaspora around the world, notably in the Polish Americans, United States, Poles in Germany, Germany, Poles in the United Kingdom, United Kingdom and Polish Canadians, Canada. A strong Polish minority is still present in the territories of contemporary western Ukraine and Belarus, eastern Lithuania, eastern and central Latvia, and northeastern Czech Republic, which were part of Poland in the past. Altogether, the number of ethnic Poles living abroad is estimated to be around 20 million.


Languages

Polish language, Polish is the only official language, official and predominant spoken language in Poland, but it is also used throughout the world by Polish diaspora, Polish minorities in other countries as well as being one of the official languages of the European Union. The deaf communities use Polish Sign Language belonging to the German Sign Language, German family of Sign Languages. Polish is also a second language in parts of
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countr ...
, where it is taught in Polish-minority schools. Contemporary Poland is a linguistically homogeneous nation, with nearly 97% of respondents declaring Polish as their mother tongue. Poland's once multi-ethnic population communicated in numerous languages and lects which faded or disappeared along the course of history. There are currently 15 minority languages in Poland, including one recognized regional language, Kashubian language, Kashubian, which is spoken by around 366,000 people in the northern regions of Kashubia and Pomerania. Languages having a minority status are Armenian, Belarusian, Czech, German, Yiddish, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian. Languages having the status of ethnic minority's language are Karaim language, Karaim, Rusyn language, Lemko-Rusyn, Tatar language, Tatar and two Romani languages; Polska Roma and Bergitka Roma. Official recognition of a language provides certain rights under conditions prescribed by Polish law, including education and state financial support for promoting that language. Poland recognized Bilingual communes in Poland, secondary administrative languages or auxiliary languages in bilingual municipalities. Currently, German and Kashubian hold such status in 19 municipalities (''gminas''), Belarusian in 9 and Lithuanian in 1. Bilingual signs, names and advertisements are commonplace in those localities. Silesian language, Silesian and Wymysorys language, Wymysorys (Vilamovian) are not legally recognized or acknowledged as separate languages with a minority status. More than 50% of Polish citizens declare at least basic knowledge of the English language, followed by German language, German (38%).


Religion

According to the 2015 census, 92.9% of all Polish citizens adhere to the Roman Catholic Church in Poland, Roman Catholic Church. An estimated 94.2% of the population are believers and 3.1% are Atheism, irreligious, making Poland one of the more devout countries in Europe. Around 61.6% of all respondents outlined that religion is of high or very high importance. However, church attendance has decreased in recent years; only 38% of worshippers attended Mass (liturgy), mass regularly on Sunday in 2018. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Polish Constitution, and the concordat guarantees the teaching of religion in state schools. For centuries the tribes inhabiting the lands of modern-day Poland have practised various forms of paganism known as ''Slavic Native Faith, Rodzimowierstwo'', or "native faith". In the year 966, Duke Mieszko I converted to
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
, and submitted to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. This event came to be known as the Christianization of Poland, Baptism of Poland. However, this did not put an end to pagan beliefs in the country. The persistence was demonstrated by a series of rebellions in the 1030s known as the Pagan reaction in Poland, pagan reaction, which also showed elements of a peasant uprising against medieval feudalism. Religious tolerance was an important part of Polish political culture, though it Edict of Wieluń, varied at times. In 1264, the Statute of Kalisz granted Jews unprecedented legal rights not found anywhere in Europe. In 1573, the Warsaw Confederation marked the formal beginning of extensive religious freedoms in Poland. It was partially influenced by the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in France, which prompted the nobility to prevent the monarch from carrying out reprehensible atrocities in Poland based on religious affiliation. The religious tolerance also spurred many theological movements such as the Calvinist Polish Brethren, a number of Protestant groups and Atheism, atheists like Kazimierz Łyszczyński, Casimir Liszinski, one of the first atheist thinkers in Europe. Anabaptists fleeing 16th-century persecution in the Netherlands and Germany settled in Poland and became known as the Vistula delta Mennonites. From 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, Cardinal John Paul II, Karol Józef Wojtyła was head of the Roman Catholic Church as Pope John Paul II. Contemporary religious minorities include Polish Orthodox Church, Christian Orthodox (506,800), various Protestants (150,000) — including 77,500 Lutherans of the Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Poland, Evangelical-Augsburg Church, 23,000 Pentecostalism, Pentecostals in the Pentecostal Church in Poland, 10,000 Adventists in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and other smaller Evangelicalism, Evangelical denominations — Jehovah's Witnesses (126,827), Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Catholics, Mariavite Church, Mariavites, History of the Jews in Poland, Jews, Islam in Poland, Muslims (Tatars) and Modern Paganism, neopagans, some of whom are members of the Native Polish Church. Famous sites of Roman Catholic pilgrimage in Poland include the Jasna Góra Monastery, Monastery of Jasna Góra in the city of Częstochowa, Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń, Kraków's Divine Mercy Sanctuary, Kraków, Sanctuary of Divine Mercy and Święta Lipka Sanctuary, Święta Lipka (Holy Linden) in Masuria. Tourists also visit the Holy Father John Paul II Family Home in Wadowice, family home of John Paul II in Wadowice outside
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
. Christ the King (Świebodzin), Christ the King in Świebodzin is the List of statues by height, one of the tallest statues of Jesus in the world. Christian Orthodox pilgrims visit Mount Grabarka near Grabarka-Klasztor and the Hasidic Jews travel annually to the grave of a great Elimelech of Lizhensk, rabbi in Leżajsk.


Health

Medical service providers and hospitals (''szpitale'') in Poland are subordinate to the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Poland, Ministry of Health; it provides administrative oversight and scrutiny of general medical practice, and is obliged to maintain a high standard of hygiene and patient care. Poland has a Universal health care, universal healthcare system based on an all-inclusive Health insurance, insurance system; state subsidised healthcare is available to all citizens covered by the general health insurance program of the National Health Fund (NFZ). Private medical complexes exist nationwide; over 50% of the population uses both public and private sectors. Hospitals are organised according to the regional administrative structure, resultantly most towns, Powiat, counties or Gmina, municipalities possess their own provincial hospital or medical clinics. There are six types of hospital facilities, each with a particular area of medical expertise – I Grade Hospitals for general surgery, internal illnesses and obstetrics; II Grade Hospitals for child surgery, neurology, cardiology and ophthalmology; III Grade Hospitals including teaching hospitals for infectious diseases, nephrology, orthopedics, toxicology and transplantology; Oncology Hospitals for cancer treatment and brachytherapy; Pediatric Hospitals for child care; and Nationwide Hospitals for general and acute care. According to the HDI, Human Development Report from 2020, the average life expectancy at birth is 79 years (around 75 years for an infant male and 83 years for an infant female); the country has a low infant mortality rate (4 per 1,000 births). In 2019, the principal cause of death was ischemic heart disease; diseases of the circulatory system accounted for 45% of all deaths. In the same year, Poland was also the 15th-largest importer of medications and pharmaceutical products.


Education

The Jagiellonian University founded in 1364 by Casimir III the Great, Casimir III in
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
was the first institution of higher learning established in Poland, and is one of the List of oldest universities in continuous operation, oldest universities still in continuous operation. Poland's Commission of National Education (''Komisja Edukacji Narodowej''), established in 1773, was the world's first state ministry of education. The framework for primary education, primary and secondary education, secondary schooling in contemporary Poland is established by the Ministry of National Education (Poland), Ministry of National Education. Kindergarten attendance is optional for children aged between three and five, with one year being compulsory education, compulsory for six-year-olds.http://isap.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20170000059/T/D20170059L.pdf Primary education traditionally begins at the age of seven, although children aged six can attend at the request of their parents or guardians. Elementary school spans eight grades, at the end of which an obligatory three-part exam on Polish, mathematics and a foreign language is to be undertaken. Secondary schooling is dependent on student preference – either a four-year high school (''General education liceum, liceum''), a five-year technical school (''Technikum (Polish education), technikum'') or various vocational school, vocational studies (''szkoła branżowa'') can be pursued by each individual pupil. A liceum or technikum is concluded with a maturity exit exam (''matura''), which must be passed in order to apply for a university or other institutions of higher learning. The standards of Higher education, higher tertiary education are imposed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Poland), Ministry of Science and Higher Education. In Poland, there are over 500 university-level institutions, with technical, medical, economic, agricultural, pedagogical, theological, musical, maritime and military faculties. The University of Warsaw and Warsaw Polytechnic, the University of Wrocław, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and the Gdańsk University of Technology, University of Technology in Gdańsk are among the most prominent. There are three conventional academic degrees in Poland – ''Licentiate (degree), licencjat'' or ''Bachelor's degree, inżynier'' (first cycle qualification), ''magister (degree), magister'' (second cycle qualification) and ''PhD, doktor'' (third cycle qualification). In 2018, the Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ranked Poland's educational system higher than the OECD average; the study showed that students in Poland perform better academically than in most OECD countries.


Culture

The culture of Poland is closely connected with its intricate 1,000-year
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
and forms an important constituent in western world, western civilization. The Poles take great Patriotism, pride in their national identity which is often associated with the colours white and red, and exuded by the expression ''biało-czerwoni'' ("whitereds"). National symbols, chiefly the crowned white-tailed eagle, are often visible on clothing, insignia and emblems. The appreciation of Poland's traditions and cultural heritage is commonly known as Polonophilia. With origins in the customs of the tribal Lechites, over time the culture of Poland has been influenced by its connection to Western culture and trends, as well as developing its own unique traditions such as Sarmatism. The people of Poland have traditionally been seen as hospitable to artists from abroad and eager to follow cultural and artistic trends popular in foreign countries, for instance, the 16th- and 17th-century tradition of coffin portraits (''portret trumienny'') was only observed in Poland and Roman Egypt. 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. The architectural monuments of great importance are protected by the National Heritage Board of Poland. Over 100 of the country's most significant tangible wonders were enlisted onto the List of Historic Monuments (Poland), Historic Monuments Register, with further 17 being recognized by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
as World Heritage Sites. Poland is renowned for its brick Gothic castles, granary, granaries and churches as well as diversely-styled tenements, market squares and Ratusz, town halls. The majority of Polish cities founded on Magdeburg rights, Magdeburg Law in the Middle Ages evolved around central marketplaces, a distinguishable urban characteristic which can be observed to this day. Medieval and Renaissance cloth halls were once an abundant feature of many towns.


Holidays and traditions

There are 13 government-approved annual public holidays – New Year on 1 January, Epiphany (holiday), Three Kings' Day on 6 January, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, International Workers' Day, Labour Day on 1 May, 3 May Constitution Day, Constitution Day on 3 May, Pentecost, Feast of Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, Assumption of Mary, Feast of the Assumption on 15 August, All Saints' Day on 1 November, Independence Day (Poland), Independence Day on 11 November and Christmastide on 25 and 26 December. Particular traditions and superstitious customs observed in Poland are not found elsewhere in Europe. Though Christmas Eve (''Wigilia'') is not a public holiday, it remains the most memorable day of the entire year. Christmas trees, Trees are decorated on 24 December, hay is placed under the tablecloth to resemble Jesus' manger, Christmas wafers (''opłatek'') are shared between gathered guests and a Twelve-dish Christmas Eve supper, twelve-dish meatless supper is served that same evening when the Star of Bethlehem, first star appears. An empty plate and seat are symbolically left at the table for an unexpected guest. On occasion, Christmas carols, carolers journey around smaller towns with a folk Turoń creature until the Lent period. A widely-popular pączki, doughnut and sweet pastry feast occurs on Fat Thursday, usually 52 days prior to Easter. Easter egg, Eggs for Easter Sunday, Holy Sunday are painted and placed in decorated święconka, baskets that are previously blessed by clergymen in churches on Easter Saturday. Easter Monday is celebrated with pagan ''śmigus-dyngus, dyngus'' festivities, where the youth is engaged in water fights. Cemeteries and graves of the deceased are annually visited by family members on All Saints' Day; tombstones are cleaned as a sign of respect and candles are lit to honour the dead on an unprecedented scale.


Music

Artists from Poland, including famous musicians such as Frédéric Chopin, Chopin, Artur Rubinstein, Rubinstein, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Paderewski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Penderecki and Henryk Wieniawski, Wieniawski, and traditional, regionalized folk music, folk composers create a lively and diverse music scene, which even recognizes its own music genres, such as sung poetry and disco polo. The origins of Polish music can be traced to the 13th century; manuscripts have been found in Stary Sącz containing polyphony, 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 (dance), polonaise tune for Polish kings by an unknown composer), may also date back to this period, however, the first known notable composer, Mikołaj z Radomia, Nicholas of Radom, lived in the 15th century. Diomedes Cato, a native-born Italian who lived in Kraków, became a renowned lutenist at the court of Sigismund III; he not only imported some of the musical styles from southern Europe but blended them with native folk music. ), stylized folk dance in triple meter (1832), commemorating the November Uprising , help = no , pos = left In the 17th and 18th centuries, Polish baroque composers wrote liturgical music and secular compositions such as concertos and sonatas for voices or instruments. At the end of the 18th century, Polish classical music evolved into national forms like the polonaise (dance), polonaise. Wojciech Bogusławski is accredited with composing the first Polish national opera, titled '':pl:Krakowiacy i Górale, Krakowiacy i Górale'', which premiered in 1794. Traditional Polish folk music has had a major effect on the works of many Polish composers, and no more so than on Fryderyk Chopin, a widely recognised national hero of the arts. All of Chopin's List of compositions by Frédéric Chopin, 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 ballade (classical music)#Instrumental ballades, instrumental ballade and made major innovations to the piano sonata, mazurka, waltz, nocturne, polonaise (dance), polonaise, étude, impromptu and prelude (music), 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. Several Polish composers such as Karol Szymanowski, Szymanowski drew inspiration from Chopin's folk-influenced style. 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 Zakopane. Poland today has an 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. Poland has also become a major venue for large-scale music festivals, chief among which are the Open'er Festival, Opole Festival and Sopot Festival.


Art

Art in Poland has always reflected European trends while maintaining its unique character. The Kraków Academy of Fine Arts, later developed by Jan Matejko, produced monumental portrayals of customs and significant events in Polish history. Other institutions such as the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw were more innovative and focused on both historical and contemporary styles. Notable art academies include the Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design, Kraków School of Art and Fashion Design, Art Academy of Szczecin, University of Fine Arts in Poznań and the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts, Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław. Perhaps the most prominent and internationally admired Polish artist was Tamara de Lempicka, who specialized in the style of Art Deco. Lempicka was described as "the first woman artist to become a glamour star." Another notable was Caziel, born Zielenkiewicz, who represented Cubism and Abstraction in France and England. Prior to the 19th century only Daniel Schultz and Italian-born Marcello Bacciarelli had the privilege of being recognized abroad. The Young Poland movement witnessed the birth of modern Polish art, and engaged in a great deal of formal experimentation led by Jacek Malczewski, Stanisław Wyspiański, Józef Mehoffer, and a group of Polish Impressionists. Stanisław Witkiewicz was an ardent supporter of Realism (arts), Realism, its main representative being Józef Marian Chełmoński, Józef Chełmoński, while Artur Grottger specialized in Romanticism in Poland, Romanticism. Within historically orientated circles, Henryk Siemiradzki dominated with his monumental Academic Art and Roman Empire, ancient Roman theme. Since the inter-war years, Polish art and documentary photography has enjoyed worldwide fame and in the 1960s the Polish School of Posters was formed. Throughout the entire country, many national museum and art institutions hold valuable works by famous masters. Major museums in Poland include the National Museum, Warsaw, National Museum in Warsaw, National Museum, Poznań, Poznań, National Museum, Wrocław, Wrocław, National Museum, Kraków, Kraków, and National Museum, Gdańsk, Gdańsk, as well as the Museum of John Paul II Collection, and the Museum of King John III's Palace at Wilanów, Wilanów Museum. Important collections are also held at the Royal Castle, Warsaw, Royal Castle in Warsaw, Wawel Castle and in the Palace on the Isle. Contemporary art galleries include Zachęta, Ujazdów Castle, Ujazdów, and MOCAK, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, MOCAK. The most distinguished painting of Poland is ''Lady with an Ermine'' by Leonardo da Vinci, held at the Czartoryski Museum in
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
. Although not Polish, the work had a strong influence on Polish culture and has been often associated with Polish identity.


Architecture

Polish cities and towns reflect a whole spectrum of European architectural styles. Romanesque architecture is represented by St. Andrew's Church, Kraków, and St. Mary's Church, Gdańsk, is characteristic for the Brick Gothic style found in Poland. Richly decorated attic style, attics and arcade (architecture), arcade loggias are the common elements of the Polish Renaissance architecture, as evident in the Poznań City Hall, City Hall in Poznań. For some time the late renaissance style known as mannerism, most notably in the Cracow Bishops' Palace in Kielce, Bishop's Palace in Kielce, coexisted with the early baroque style, typified in the Saints Peter and Paul Church, Kraków, Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Kraków. History has not been kind to Poland's architectural monuments. Nonetheless, a number of ancient structures have 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, including the Warsaw Old Town, Old Town and Royal Castle in Warsaw, Royal Castle of Warsaw and the Old Town of
Gdańsk Gdańsk ( , also ; ; german: Danzig ; csb, Gduńsk; , ) is a city on the Baltic Sea, Baltic coast of northern Poland. With a population of 470,805, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the most prominent c ...

Gdańsk
. The architecture of Gdańsk is mostly of the Hanseatic League, Hanseatic variety, a Gothic style common among the former trading cities along the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
and in the northern part of Central Europe. The architectural style of
Wrocław Wrocław (; german: Breslau ; sli, Brassel; cs, Vratislav), ''Wratislavia''. is a city in southwestern Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Centra ...

Wrocław
is mainly representative of German architecture since it was for centuries located within the Holy Roman Empire. The centres of Kazimierz Dolny and Sandomierz on the Vistula are good examples of well-preserved medieval towns. Poland's ancient capital,
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
, ranks among the best-preserved Gothic architecture, Gothic and Renaissance urban complexes in Europe. The second half of the 17th century is marked by baroque architecture. Side towers, such as those of Branicki Palace, Białystok, Branicki Palace in Białystok, are typical for the Polish baroque. The classical Silesian architecture, Silesian baroque is represented by the University of Wrocław, University in Wrocław. The profuse decorations of the Branicki Palace, Warsaw, 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 Isle is a chief example of Polish neoclassical architecture. Lublin Castle represents the Gothic Revival architecture, Gothic Revival style in architecture, while the Izrael Poznański Palace in
Łódź Łódź, or ''Lodsch'', 1940–1945: ''Litzmannstadt''; russian: Лодзь, Lodz'; la, Lodzia. also rendered in English as Lodz, is the third largest city in Poland and a former industrial centre. Located in the central part of the country, ...
is an example of eclecticism. Traditional folk architecture in the villages and small towns scattered across the vast Polish countryside was characterized by its extensive use of wood and brick, red brick as primary building materials, common for Central Europe. Some of the best preserved and oldest structures include ancient stone temples in Silesia and fortified wooden Wooden churches of Southern Lesser Poland, churches across southeastern Poland in the Beskids and Bieszczady Mountains, Bieszczady regions of the Carpathian mountains. Numerous examples of secular structures such as Dwór (manor house), Polish manor houses (''dworek''), farmhouses (:pl:chata, ''chata''), Granary, granaries, Gristmill, mills, barns and country inns (:pl:karczma, ''karczma'') can still be found in some Polish regions. However, traditional construction methods faded in the early-mid 20th century, when Poland's population experienced a Urbanisation, demographic shift to urban dwelling away from the countryside.


Literature

The earliest examples of Polish literature date to the 12th century, when Poland's official language was
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, and early published works were predominantly written by foreigners. Gallus Anonymus, a monk of disputed origin, was the first chronicler who meticulously described Poland's culture, language and territories in ''Gesta principum Polonorum'' (c. 1112–1118). Latin remained the principal tool of literary expression in Poland until the 18th century, when it was replaced in favour of Polish and French language, French. Historically, Polish literature concentrated extensively around the themes of true drama and Poem, poetic-expressive romanticism than on Literary fiction, fiction. Patriotism, spirituality and aphorisms were paramount and political or social allegory, allegories were common moral narratives. 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 use of quern-stone in early Poland. The phrase was recorded by an abbot in the Latin-based ''Liber fundationis'' from 1269 to 1273, which outlined the history of a Cistercian monastery in the Silesian village of Henryków, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Henryków. The sentence has been included in the Memory of the World Programme, UNESCO Memory of World Register. The oldest extant manuscript of fine prose in
Old Polish Old Polish language ( pl, język staropolski) is the period in the history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic R ...
is the ''Holy Cross Sermons'', and the earliest religious text is 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 Almanach cracoviense ad annum 1474, Calendarium cracoviense, an astronomical wall calendar from 1474, is Poland's oldest surviving print. The tradition of extending Polish historiography in Latin was subsequently inherited by Vincent Kadłubek, Bishop of
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

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 first Renaissance in Poland, Polish Renaissance authors to write most of his works in Polish, along with Nicholas Rey. Other writers of the Polish Renaissance include Johannes Dantiscus, Andreus Fricius Modrevius, Matthias Sarbievius, Piotr Skarga and Klemens Janicki, Klemens "Ianicius" Janicki, who was laureled by the Pope. The leading figure of the Polish Reformation was theologian and writer John Laski, who, with the permission of King Edward VI of England, created the European Protestant Congregation of London in 1550. During the Polish Baroque, 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 incorporated Marinism into his publications. Jan Chryzostom Pasek, also a respected baroque writer, is mostly remembered for his tales and memoirs reflecting Sarmatism, sarmatian culture in the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
. Subsequently, the Polish Enlightenment was headed by Samuel Linde, Hugo Kołłątaj, Izabela Czartoryska and Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz. In 1776, Ignacy Krasicki composed the first milestone novel entitled ''The Adventures of Mr. Nicholas Wisdom''. Among the best known Romanticism in Poland, Polish Romantics are the "Three Bards" – the three national poets active in the Partitions of Poland, age of foreign partitions – Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki and Zygmunt Krasiński. The narrative poem ''Pan Tadeusz'' by Mickiewicz is Poland's national epic and a compulsory reading (''lektura'') in the country's schools. Joseph Conrad, the son of dramatist Apollo Korzeniowski, came to fame with his English-language novels and stories that are informed with elements of the History of Poland, Polish national experience. Conrad's ''Heart of Darkness'', ''Nostromo'' and ''Lord Jim'' are believed to be one of the finest works ever written, placing him among the greatest novelists of all time. Modern Polish literature is versatile, with its Fantasy literature, fantasy genre having been particularly praised. The philosophical science-fiction, sci-fi novel ''Solaris (novel), Solaris'' is an acclaimed example of Stanisław Lem, Stanisław Lem's literary legacy, whereas ''The Witcher'', a fantasy series by Andrzej Sapkowski, is a much-celebrated work of contemporary Polish fiction. In the 20th century, five Polish authors were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature – Henryk Sienkiewicz for ''Quo Vadis (novel), Quo Vadis'', Władysław Reymont for ''The Peasants'', Isaac Bashevis Singer, Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska. In 2019, Polish author Olga Tokarczuk was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for the year 2018.


Cuisine

Polish cuisine has evolved over the centuries to become highly eclectic due to Poland's history. Polish cuisine shares many similarities with other
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

Central Europe
an cuisines, especially German cuisine, German and Austrian cuisine, Austrian as well as Jewish cuisine, Jewish, French cuisine, French, Italian cuisine, Italian and Turkish cuisine, Turkish culinary traditions. Polish-styled cooking in other cultures is often referred to as ''cuisine à la polonaise''. Polish dishes are usually rich in meat, especially pork, chicken and beef (depending on the region), winter vegetables (sauerkraut cabbage in ''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) and a variety of breads like the world-renowned bagel. 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. 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, Searing, seared beetroot) or sauerkraut ( pl, kapusta kiszona, ). The side dishes are usually potatoes, rice or cereal. Meals conclude with a dessert such as ''Cheesecake, sernik'' (cheesecake), ''makowiec (pastry), makowiec'' (poppy seed pastry), or ''napoleonka'' (cream pie). The Polish national dishes are ''bigos'' ; ''pierogi'' ; ''kielbasa''; ''kotlet schabowy'' breaded cutlet; ''gołąbki'' cabbage rolls; ''zrazy'' roulade; ''roast, pieczeń'' roast ; sour cucumber soup (''zupa ogórkowa'', ); mushroom soup, (''zupa grzybowa'', quite different from the North American cream of mushroom soup, cream of mushroom); ''zupa pomidorowa'' tomato soup ; ''rosół'' variety of meat broth; ''żurek'' sour rye soup; ''flaki'' tripe soup; ''barszcz'' and ''chłodnik'' among others. Traditional alcoholic beverages include honey Mead in Poland, mead, widespread since the 13th century, Beer in Poland, beer, wine and vodka (old Polish names include ''okowita'' and ''gorzała''). 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 1980–1998. 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.


Fashion and design

The particular clothing styles in Poland evolved with each century. In the 1600s high-class Szlachta, noblemen and magnates developed a strong sympathy for Orientalism, which was also common in other parts of Europe and became known as Sarmatism. The attire mediated between Western world, Western and Ottoman Empire, Ottoman styles and outfits included a żupan, delia, kontusz, Pas kontuszowy, pas, decorative karabela swords and less often turbans brought by foreign merchants. The period of Polish Sarmatism eventually faded in the wake of the 18th century. The Polish national dress as well as the fashion and etiquette of Poland also reached the royal court at Versailles in the 1700s. French dresses inspired by Polish attire were called ''à la polonaise'', meaning "Polish-styled". The most famous example is the ''Polonaise (clothing), robe à la 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. The scope of influence also entailed furniture; rococo Polish beds with Canopy bed, canopies became commonplace in French palaces during the 18th century. Several Polish designers and stylists left a lifelong legacy of beauty inventions and cosmetics, most notable being Maksymilian Faktorowicz and Helena Rubinstein. Faktorowicz created a line of cosmetics company in California known as Max Factor and coined the term "make-up" based on the verb phrase "to make up" one's face, now widely used as an alternative for describing cosmetics. Faktorowicz also raised to fame by inventing modern eyelash extensions and by providing services to Hollywood artists. As of 2020, Poland possesses the fifth-largest cosmetic market in Europe. Founded in 1983, Inglot Cosmetics is the country's largest beauty products manufacturer and retailer active in 700 locations worldwide, including retail salons in New York City, London, Milan, Dubai and Las Vegas. Established in 1999, the retail store Reserved is Poland's most successful clothing store chain, operating over 1,700 retail shops in 19 countries. Internationally successful models from Poland include Anja Rubik, Joanna Krupa, Jac Jagaciak, Kasia Struss, Małgosia Bela, and Magdalena Frąckowiak.


Cinema

The history of Polish cinema is as long as the history of cinematography itself. Over the decades, Poland has produced outstanding directors, film producers, cartoonists and actors that achieved world fame, especially in Hollywood. Moreover, Polish inventors played an important role in the development of world cinematography and modern-day television. Among the most famous directors and producers, who worked in Poland as well as abroad are Roman Polański, Andrzej Wajda, Samuel Goldwyn, the Warner Brothers, Warner brothers (Harry Warner, Harry, Albert Warner, Albert, Sam Warner, Sam, and Jack L. Warner, Jack), Max Fleischer, Lee Strasberg, Agnieszka Holland and Krzysztof Kieślowski. In the 19th century, throughout partitioned Poland, numerous amateur inventors, such as Kazimierz Prószyński, were eager to construct a film projector. In 1894, Prószyński was successful in creating a Pleograph, one of the first cameras in the world. The invention, which took photographs and projected pictures, was built before the Lumière brothers lodged their patent. He also patented an Aeroscope, the first successful hand-held operated film camera. In 1897, Jan Szczepanik, obtained a British patent for his Telectroscope. This prototype of television could easily transmit image and sound, thus allowing a live remote view. Polish cinema developed rapidly in the interwar period. The most renowned star of the silent film era was Polish actress Pola Negri. During this time, the Yiddish cinema also evolved in Poland. Films in the Yiddish language with Jewish themes, such as ''The Dybbuk (film), The Dybbuk'' (1937), played an important part in pre-war Polish cinematography. In 1945 the government established 'Film Polski', a state-run film production and distribution organization, with director Aleksander Ford as the head of the company. Ford's ''Knights of the Teutonic Order (film), Knights of the Teutonic Order'' (1960) was viewed by millions of people in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and France. This success was followed by the historical films of Jerzy Hoffman and Andrzej Wajda. Wajda's 1975 film ''The Promised Land (1975 film), The Promised Land'' was nominated at the 48th Academy Awards. In 2015, ''Ida (film), Ida'' by Paweł Pawlikowski won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In 2019, Pawlikowski received an Academy Award for Best Director nomination for his historical drama ''Cold War (2018 film), Cold War''. Other well-known Polish Oscar-winning productions include ''The Pianist (2002 film), The Pianist'' (2002) by Roman Polański.


Media

Poland has a number of major media outlets, chief among which are the national television channels. Telewizja Polska, TVP is Poland's public broadcasting corporation; about a third of its income comes from a television licence, broadcast receiver licence, while the rest is made through revenue from television advertisement, commercials and sponsor (commercial), 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 (as TVP3, TVP 3). In addition to these general channels, TVP runs a number of genre-specific programmes such as TVP Sport, TVP Historia, TVP Kultura, TVP Rozrywka, TVP Seriale and TVP Polonia, the latter is a state-run channel dedicated to the transmission of Polish language television for the Polish diaspora. Poland has several 24-hour news channels such as Polsat News, TVP Info and TVN 24. Poland also possesses a variety of free-to-air television channels, chiefly TVN (Polish TV channel), TVN, Polsat and TV4 (Polish TV channel), TV4. In Poland, there are also daily newspapers like ''Gazeta Wyborcza'' ("Electoral Gazette"), ''Rzeczpospolita (newspaper), Rzeczpospolita'' ("The Republic") and ''Gazeta Polska Codziennie'' ("Polish Daily Newspaper") which provide traditional opinion and news, and tabloid (newspaper format), tabloids such as ''Fakt'' and ''Super Express (newspaper), Super Express''. Weeklies include ''Tygodnik Angora'', '':pl:W Sieci, W Sieci'', ''Polityka'', ''Wprost'', ''Newsweek Polska'', ''Gość Niedzielny'' and ''Gazeta Polska''. Poland has also emerged as a major hub for video game developers in Europe, with the country now being home to hundreds of studios. Among the most successful ones are CD Projekt, Techland, CI Games and People Can Fly. Some of the most popular video games developed in Poland include The Witcher (video game series), The Witcher trilogy. Katowice hosts Intel Extreme Masters, one of the biggest eSports events in the world.


Sports

Volleyball and Association football are among the country's most popular sports, with a rich history of international competitions. Track and field athletics, Track and field, basketball, handball, boxing, Mixed martial arts, MMA, motorcycle speedway, ski jumping, cross-country skiing (sport), cross-country skiing, ice hockey, tennis, fencing, swimming, and Olympic weightlifting, weightlifting are other popular sports. The golden era of football in Poland occurred throughout the 1970s and went on until the early 1980s when the Poland national football team, Polish national football team achieved their best results in any FIFA World Cup competitions finishing 3rd place in 1974 FIFA World Cup, the 1974 and 1982 FIFA World Cup, the 1982 tournaments. The team won a gold medal Football at the Summer Olympics, in football at the 1972 Summer Olympics and two silver medals, 1976 Summer Olympics, in 1976 and 1992 Summer Olympics, in 1992. In 2012, Poland co-hosted the UEFA Euro 2012, UEFA European Football Championship. As of May 2021, the Poland men's national volleyball team, Polish men's national volleyball team is ranked FIVB World Rankings, as 2nd in the world. Volleyball team won a gold medal in Volleyball at the 1976 Summer Olympics – Men's tournament, Olympic 1976 Montreal and three gold medals in FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship, FIVB World Championship 1974 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship, 1974, 2014 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship, 2014 and 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship, 2018. 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. Poland has made a distinctive mark Speedway in Poland, in motorcycle speedway racing thanks to Tomasz Gollob and Bartosz Zmarzlik, highly successful Polish riders. The top Speedway Ekstraliga, Ekstraliga division has one of List of attendance figures at domestic professional sports leagues#Outdoor, the highest average attendances for any sport in Poland. The Poland national speedway team, national speedway team of Poland is one of the major teams in international speedway. Poles made significant achievements in mountaineering, in particular, in the Himalayas and the winter ascending of the eight-thousanders. 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 country.Summer Sports in Poland
at Poland For Visitors Online. Retrieved 2 November 2014.


See also

* List of Poles * Outline of Poland * List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Europe *
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

Central Europe


Notes


References

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External links


Poland.gov.en – Polish national portal

Poland
''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency. * * * * * {{Authority control Poland, Central European countries Countries in Europe Member states of NATO Member states of the Council of Europe Member states of the European Union Member states of the Union for the Mediterranean Member states of the United Nations Member states of the Three Seas Initiative Republics States and territories established in 1918