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Rzeczpospolita Polska
Republic of Poland
Flag of Poland Coat of arms of Poland
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: none
Anthem: Mazurek Dąbrowskiego
Location of Poland
Capital Warsaw
52°13′ N 21°02′ E
Largest city Warsaw
Official language(s) Polish
Government
President
Prime minister
Republic
Lech Kaczyński
Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz
Independence
• Christianisation Date
• Declared
• Redeclared

966
10th century
November 11, 1918
Area
• Total
• Water (%)

312,685 km² ( 68th)
2.6%
Population
• 2005 est.
• 2002 census

• Density

38,635,144 ( 32nd)
38,230,080

123.5/km² ( 64th)
GDP ( PPP)
• Total
• Per capita
2005 estimate
2.9 billion ( 23rd)
,275 ( 51st)
HDI ( 2003) 0.858 ( 36th) – high
Currency Złoty ( PLN)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
CET ( UTC+1)
CEST ( UTC+2)
Internet TLD .pl (also .eu as part of the European Union)
Calling code +48
1^ See also unofficial mottos of Poland.
2^ Belarusian, Cassubian, German and Ukrainian are used in five communal offices; however, they are not official languages.
3^ The adoption of Christianity in Poland is seen by many Poles, regardless of their religious affiliation, as one of the most significant national historical events.
The Republic of Poland ( Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska) is a country located in Central Europe, between Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south, Ukraine and Belarus to the east, and the Baltic Sea, Lithuania, and Russia (in the form of the Kaliningrad Oblast exclave) to the north.The Polish state was formed over 1,000 years ago under the Piast dynasty, and reached its golden age near the end of the 16th century under the Jagiellonian dynasty, when Poland was one of the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful countries in Europe. In 1791 the Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth adopted the Constitution of May 3, Europe's first modern codified constitution, and the second in the world after the Constitution of the United States. Soon afterwards, the country ceased to exist after being partitioned by its neighbours Russia, Austria, and Prussia. It regained independence in 1918 in the aftermath of the First World War as the Second Polish Republic. Following the Second World War it became a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union known as the People's Republic of Poland. In 1989 the first partially-free elections in Poland's post-World War II history concluded the Solidarity (Solidarność) movement's struggle for freedom and resulted in the defeat of Poland's communist rulers. The current Third Polish Republic was established, followed a few years later by the drafting of a new constitution in 1997. In 1999 Poland acceded to NATO, and in 2004 it joined the European Union.

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Contents

Name
History
Politics
Geography
Economy
Science, technology and education
Transportation
Demographics
Culture
UNESCO World Heritage in Poland
International rankings



Name - Contents

Poland's official name in Polish is Rzeczpospolita Polska. The names of the country, Polska, and of the nationality, the Poles, are of Slavic origin. Their name derives from the tribal name Polanie - people living around Lake Gopło - the cradle of Poland mentioned as Glopeani having 400 strongholds circa 845 ( Bavarian Geographer). Common opinion holds that the name Polska comes from the Slavic Polanie tribe who established the Polish state in the 10th century ( Greater Poland). The conventional etymology of the ethnic name of the Poles relates it to these Polish Polanie, "dwellers of the field"; pole, "field", analogous to Russian polyî, "open land", from Indo-European pelè-, "flat" + -anie, "inhabitants", analogous to Latin -anus, "originating from" (please compare Yuriev-Polsky). In old Latin chronicles the terms terra Poloniae (land of Poland) or Regnum Poloniae (kingdom of Poland) appear.This is an informative source as to the origins of the name Poland, in Polish: Polska. The quoted text is taken from "Geographica's Pocket: World Reference" located on page 549. ISBN 1-55192-413-7. The text reads that "...In the seventh and eighth centuries AD, Slavic peoples from the south-known as Polonie, or plain-dwellers, occupied most of Poland. In the tenth century their king was converted to Christianity." To be accurate we must confess, that ruler which was first converted to Christianity wasn't a king at all - it is said he was only a prince (we are talking about Mieszko I). Poles belong as a separate category in the Lechitic subgroup of the West- Slavic people. From the source, listed above, there is shown a connection between the people of the South-West Slavic group (such as Serbs) and Poles. This is because the Polanie could be descendants of West-Slavs from the South like Serbs, as the above source states.Parallel to this terminology, another one, Lechia, came into use, thought to derive from the tribe name Lędzianie. It gave rise to an alternative name for "Pole": Lęch, Lęchowie in Old Church Slavonic, Lechia, Lechites in Latin, Lach in Ruthenian, Lyakh in Russian, as well as to old German Lechien, Hungarian Lengyelorszag, Lengyel, Lithuanian Lenkija, lenkas and Turkish Lechistan (from Persian Lehestan).


History - Contents

Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first historically documented ruler, Mieszko I, was baptized in 966, adopting Catholic Christianity as the country's new official religion, to which the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next century. In the 12th century Poland fragmented into several smaller states, which were later ravaged by the Mongol armies of the Golden Horde in 1241. In 1320 Władysław I became the King of the reunified Poland. His son Kazimierz Wielki repaired the Polish economy, built new castles and won the war against the Russian dukedom ( Lwów became a Polish City).Luckily, the Black Death which affected most parts of Europe from 1347 to 1351 did not come to Poland: "One of the greatest calamities in European history began in 1347 when bubonic plague struck, brought to Italy, it is thought, by a group of Genoese returning home through Sicily and Pisa from Kaffa in the Crimea. Their fortress there had been besieged by Mongol invaders who had suddenly begun to die of a disease that caused black, blood-oozing swellings and immense pain....By 1351, it had spread over most of Europe. The only areas which escaped were Milan, Poland, Belgium, eastern Germany and part of southwest France." (Page 235 of "Timelines of World History" by John B. Teeple, ISBN 0-7894-8926-0 www.dk.com Dorling Kindersley).Under the Jagiellon dynasty, Poland forged an alliance with its neighbour Lithuania. A golden age occurred in the 16th century during its union ( Lublin Union) with Lithuania in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The citizens of Poland took pride in their ancient freedoms and Sejm parliamentary system, although the szlachta monopolised most of the benefits as most of Poles since the middle of the fourteenth century were serfs. Landowners gained almost unlimited ownership over serfs. Since that time Poles have regarded freedom as their most important value. Poles often call themselves the nation of the free people.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent
The White Eagle, symbol of Polish statehood
Polish Statehood
  • Kingdom of the first Piasts
  • Fragmentation
  • Kingdom of the later Piasts
  • Kingdom of the Jagiellons
  • Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
  • Partitions
    • Kingdom of Galicia
    • Duchy of Warsaw
    • Congress Kingdom
    • Free City of Kraków
    • Grand Duchy of Poznań
    • Regency Kingdom
  • Second Polish Republic
  • Polish Secret State
  • People's Republic of Poland
  • Third Polish Republic
In the mid-17th century a Swedish invasion rolled through the country in the turbulent time known as "The Deluge" (potop). Numerous wars against the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Cossacks, Transylvania and Brandenburg-Prussia ultimately came to an end in 1699. During the following 80 years, the waning of the central government and deadlock of the institutions weakened the nation, leading to anarchistic tendencies and a growing dependency on Russia. In Polish Democracy every member of parliament was able to break any work or project by shouting 'Liberum Veto' during the session. Russian tsars took advantage of this unique political vulnerability by offering money to Parliamentary traitors, who in turn would consistently and subversively block necessary reforms and new solutions.The Enlightenment in Poland fostered a growing national movement to repair the state, resulting in what is claimed to be the first modern written constitution in Europe, the Constitution of May 3 in 1791. The process of reforms ceased with the partitions of Poland between Russia, Prussia, and Austria in 1772, 1793 and 1795 which ultimately dissolved the country. Poles resented their shrinking freedoms and several times rebelled against their oppressors (see List of Polish Uprisings). Napoleon recreated a Polish state, the Duchy of Warsaw, but after the Napoleonic wars, Poland was split again by the Allies at the Congress of Vienna. The eastern part was ruled by the Russian tsar as a Congress Kingdom, and possessed a liberal constitution. However, the tsars soon reduced Polish freedoms and Russia eventually de facto annexed the country. Later in the 19th century, Austrian-ruled Galicia became the oasis of Polish freedom.During World War I all the Allies agreed on the restitution of Poland that United States President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed in point 13 of his Fourteen Points. Shortly after the surrender of Germany in November 1918, Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic (II Rzeczpospolita Polska). It was established after a series of military conflicts, like the 1919-1921 Polish-Soviet War.
Poland between 1922 and 1938
Poland between 1922 and 1938
The 1926 May Coup of Józef Piłsudski turned the Second Polish Republic into Sanacja that lasted until the start of World War II when Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland. Warsaw capitulated on September 28, 1939. The eastern part of the German occupied zone was transformed into the General Government area, and the western part was simply incorporated to the German Reich.Of all the countries involved in the war, Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens: over 6 million perished, half of them Polish Jews. At its conclusion, Poland's borders were shifted westwards, pushing the eastern border to the Curzon line, even though the defense of Poland was the reason that France and the United Kingdom had declared war on Germany. The second aggressor, the Soviet Union, was given the right to occupy former Polish territory in negotiations, which means that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was partially confirmed.On the other hand, the western border of Poland was moved to the Oder-Neisse line. After the shift, Poland emerged 20% smaller by 77,500 km² (29,900 mi²); although the important cities of Gdańsk (Danzig), Szczecin (Stettin) and Wrocław (Breslau) were all incorporated into its post-war borders. The shift forced the migration of millions of people – Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, Jews.As a result of these events, Poland became, for the first time in history, an ethnically unified country. A Polish minority is still present in neighbouring countries of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania, as well as in other countries (see Poles article for the population numbers). The largest number of ethnic Poles outside of the country can be found in the United States.The Soviet Union instituted a new communist government in Poland, analogous to much of the rest of the Eastern Bloc. Military alignment within the Warsaw Pact throughout the Cold War was also part of this change. In 1948 a turn towards Stalinism brought in the beginning of the next period of totalitarian rule. The People's Republic of Poland (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa) was officially proclaimed in 1952. In 1956 the régime became more liberal, freeing many people from prison and expanding some personal freedoms. In 1970 the government was changed. It was a time when the economy was more modern, and the government had large credits. Labour turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union, " Solidarity", which over time became a political force. It eroded the dominance of the Communist Party; by 1989 it had triumphed in parliamentary elections, and Lech Wałęsa, a Solidarity candidate, eventually won the presidency in 1990. The Solidarity movement greatly contributed to the soon-following collapse of Communism all over Eastern Europe.A shock therapy program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. Despite a temporary slump in social and economic standards, there were numerous improvements in other human rights (free speech, functioning democracy and the like). Poland was the first post-communist country to regain pre-1989 GDP levels. Poland joined the NATO alliance in 1999 along with the Czech Republic and Hungary. Polish voters then said yes to the EU in a referendum in June 2003. Poland joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.


Politics - Contents

Poland is a democratic republic. Its current constitution dates from 1997. The government structure centres on the Council of Ministers, led by a prime minister. The president appoints the cabinet according to the proposals of the prime minister, typically from the majority coalition in the bicameral legislature's lower house (the Sejm). The president, elected by popular vote every five years, serves as the head of state. The current president is Lech Kaczyński.Polish voters elect a two house parliament, consisting of a 460 member lower house Sejm and a 100 member Senate ( Senat). The Sejm is elected under a proportional representation electoral system using the d'Hondt method similar to that used in many parliamentary political systems. The Senate, on the other hand, is elected under a rare plurality bloc voting method where several candidates with the highest support are elected from each electorate. With the exception of ethnic minority parties, only candidates of political parties receiving at least 5% of the total national vote can enter the Sejm. When sitting in joint session, members of the Sejm and Senate form the National Assembly, ( Polish Zgromadzenie Narodowe). The National Assembly is formed on three occasions: Taking the oath of office by a new president, bringing an indictment against the President of the Republic to the Tribunal of State, and declaration of a President's permanent incapacity to exercise their duties due to the state of their health. Only the first kind has occurred to date.The judicial branch plays a minor role in decision-making. Its major institutions include the Supreme Court (Sąd Najwyższy), the Supreme Administrative Court (Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny) (judges appointed by the president of the republic on the recommendation of the National Council of the Judiciary for an indefinite period), the Constitutional Tribunal (Trybunał Konstytucyjny) (judges chosen by the Sejm for nine-year terms) and the Tribunal of State (Trybunał Stanu) (judges chosen by the Sejm for the current term of office of the Sejm, except for the position of chairperson which is held by the First President of the Supreme Court). The Sejm (on approval of the Polish Senate) appoints the Ombudsman or the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection (Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich) for a five-year term. The Ombudsman has the duty of guarding the observance and implementation of the rights and liberties of the human being and of the citizen, the law and principles of community life and social justice.


Geography - Contents

Tatra Mountains in the very south of Poland
Tatra Mountains in the very south of Poland
Warsaw.
Warsaw.
Krakow.
Krakow.
Katowice
Katowice
Wrocław.
Wrocław.
Old Market square in Poznań.
Old Market square in Poznań.
Old town in Gdańsk.
Old town in Gdańsk.
The Polish landscape consists almost entirely of the lowlands of the North European Plain, at an average height of 173 metres (568 ft), though the Sudetes (including the Karkonosze) and the Carpathian Mountains (including the Tatra mountains, where one also finds Poland's highest point, Rysy, at 2,499 m or 8,199 ft) form the southern border. Several large rivers cross the plains; for instance, the Vistula (Wisła), Oder (Odra), Warta the (Western) Bug. Poland also contains over 9,300 lakes, predominantly in the north of the country. Masuria (Mazury) forms the largest and most-visited lake district in Poland. Remains of the ancient forests survive: see list of forests in Poland. Poland enjoys a temperate climate, with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters and mild summers with frequent showers and thunderstorms.

Principal Cities
Agglomeration or conurbation Voivodship Inhabitants
(Estimated, 2005)
1 Katowice / MK ( USMA) Silesia 3,487,000
2 Warsaw (Warszawa) Masovia 2,679,000
3 Łódź Łódź 1,100,000
4 Tricity Pomerania 1,028,000
5 Cracow (Kraków) Lesser Poland 1,024,000
City Voivodship Inhabitants
20 May 2002
Inhabitants
31 December 2004
1 Warsaw (Warszawa) Masovia 1,671,670 1,692,854
2 Łódź Łódź 789,318 774,004
3 Cracow (Kraków) Lesser Poland 758,544 757,430
4 Wrocław Lower Silesia 640,367 636,268
5 Poznań Greater Poland 578,886 570,778
6 Gdańsk Pomerania 461,334 459,072
7 Szczecin Western Pomerania 415,399 411,900
8 Bydgoszcz Cuiavia-Pomerania 373,804 368,235
9 Lublin Lublin 357,110 355,998
10 Katowice Silesia 327,222 319,904
11 Białystok Podlasie 291,383 292,150
12 Gdynia Pomerania 253,458 253,324
13 Częstochowa Silesia 251,436 248,032
14 Sosnowiec Silesia 232,622 228,192
15 Radom Masovia 229,699 227,613
16 Kielce Świętokrzyskie 212,429 209,455
17 Toruń Cuiavia-Pomerania 211,243 208,278
18 Gliwice Silesia 203,814 200,361
19 Zabrze Silesia 195,293 192,546
20 Bytom Silesia 193,546 189,535
21 Bielsko-Biała Silesia 178,028 176,987
22 Olsztyn Warmia-Masuria 173,102 173,850
23 Rzeszów Subcarpathia 160,376 159,020
24 Ruda Śląska Silesia 150,595 147,403
25 Rybnik Silesia 142,731 141,755
26 Tychy Silesia 132,816 131,547
27 Dąbrowa Górnicza Silesia 132,236 130,789
28 Opole Opole 129,946 128,864
29 Płock Masovia 128,361 127,841
30 Elbląg Warmia-Masuria 128,134 127,655
31 Wałbrzych Lower Silesia 130,268 127,566
32 Gorzów Wielkopolski Lubusz 125,914 125,578
33 Włocławek Cuiavia-Pomerania 121,229 120,369
34 Tarnów Lesser Poland 119,913 118,267
35 Zielona Góra Lubusz 118,293 118,516
36 Chorzów Silesia 117,430 115,241
37 Kalisz Greater Poland 109,498 108,792
38 Koszalin Western Pomerania 108,709 107,773
39 Legnica Lower Silesia 107,100 106,143
40 Słupsk Pomerania 100,376 99,827
41 Grudziądz Cuiavia-Pomerania 99,943 98,757


Administrative division
Administrative map of Poland
Administrative map of Poland
Poland is subdivided into sixteen administrative regions known as voivodships (województwa, singular - województwo):
Voivodship Capital city (cities)
Cuiavian-Pomeranian Voivodship (Kujawsko-Pomorskie) Bydgoszcz and Toruń
Greater Poland Voivodship (Wielkopolskie) Poznań
Lesser Poland Voivodship (Małopolskie) Kraków
Łódź Voivodship (Łódzkie) Łódź
Lower Silesian Voivodship (Dolnośląskie) Wrocław
Lublin Voivodship (Lubelskie) Lublin
Lubusz Voivodship (Lubuskie) Gorzów Wielkopolski and Zielona Góra
Masovian Voivodship (Mazowieckie) Warsaw
Opole Voivodship (Opolskie) Opole
Podlasie Voivodship (Podlaskie) Białystok
Pomeranian Voivodship (Pomorskie) Gdańsk
Silesian Voivodship (Śląskie) Katowice
Subcarpathian Voivodship (Podkarpackie) Rzeszów
Swietokrzyskie Voivodship (Świętokrzyskie) Kielce
Warmian-Masurian Voivodship (Warmińsko-Mazurskie) Olsztyn
West Pomeranian Voivodship (Zachodniopomorskie) Szczecin
Lower levels of administrative division are:
  • powiats (counties)
  • gminas (commune)



Economy - Contents

A hundred złoty note
A hundred złoty note
Warsaw after dark
Warsaw after dark
Skyscrapers in Warsaw.
Skyscrapers in Warsaw.
Spodek in Katowice.
Spodek in Katowice.
Highway A2 (European route E30) near Poznań.
Highway A2 ( European route E30) near Poznań.
The Marina at Gdynia.
The Marina at Gdynia.
Lanckorona.
Lanckorona.
Żnin - the medieval town
Żnin - the medieval town
Seacoast
Seacoast
Since its return to democracy, Poland has steadfastly pursued a policy of liberalising the economy and today stands out as one of the most successful and open examples of the transition from a partially state-capitalist market economy to a primarily privately owned market economy.The privatisation of small and medium state-owned companies and a liberal law on establishing new firms have allowed for the rapid development of an aggressive private sector, followed by a development of consumer rights organisations later on. Restructuring and privatisation of "sensitive sectors" (e.g., coal, steel, railways, and energy) has begun. The biggest privatisations so far were a sale of Telekomunikacja Polska, a national telecom to France Telecom (2000) and an issue of 30% shares of the biggest Polish bank, PKO BP, on the Polish stockmarket (2004).Poland has a large agricultural sector of private farms, that could be a leading producer of food in the European Union now that Poland is a member. Challenges remain, especially under-investment. Structural reforms in health care, education, the pension system, and state administration have resulted in larger-than-expected fiscal pressures. Warsaw leads Central Europe in foreign investment and allegedly needs a continued large inflow. GDP growth had been strong and steady from 1993 to 2000 with only a short slowdown from 2001 to 2002. The prospect of closer integration with the European Union has put the economy back on track, with growth of 3.7% annually in 2003, a rise from 1.4% annually in 2002. In 2004 GDP growth equalled 5.4%, and in 2005 3.3%. Forecasted GDP for 2006 is 4.3%.Annual growth rates broken down by quarters:
  • 2003: Q1 - 2.2% | Q2 - 3.8% | Q3 - 4.7% | Q4 - 4.7%
  • 2004: Q1 - 6.9% | Q2 - 6.1% | Q3 - 4.8% | Q4 - 4.9%
  • 2005: Q1 - 2.1% | Q2 - 2.8% | Q3 - 3.7% | Q4 - 4.4%
Although the Polish economy is currently undergoing an economic boom there are many challenges ahead. The most notable task on the horizon is the preparation of the economy (through continuing deep structural reforms) to allow Poland to meet the strict economic criteria for entry into the European Single Currency. There is much speculation as to just when Poland might be ready to join the Eurozone, although the best guess estimates put the entry date somewhere between 2009 and 2013. For now, Poland is preparing to make the Euro its official currency (as other countries of the European Union), and the Złoty will eventually be abolished from the modern Polish economy. Since joining the European Union, many young Polish people have left their country to work in other EU countries because of high unemployment rate (about 17%).Poland produces: clothes, electronics, cars (including luxury car Leopard), buses ( Autosan, Jelcz SA, Solaris, Solbus) helicopters ( PZL Świdnik), planes ( PZL Mielec), ships, military engineering (including tanks), medicines ( Polpharma, Polfa, etc), food, chemical products etc.


Science, technology and education - Contents

The education of Polish society was a goal of rulers as early as the 12th century. The library catalog of the Cathedral Chapter of Kraków dating back to 1110 shows that already in the early 12th century Polish intellectuals had access to the European literature. In 1364, in Kraków, the Jagiellonian University, founded by King Kazimierz Wielki, became one of Europe's great early universities. In 1773 King Stanisław August Poniatowski established his Commission on National Education ( Komisja Edukacji Narodowej), the world's first state ministry of education. Today, Poland has more than a hundred tertiary education instutions; traditional universities to be found in its major cities of Gdańsk, Bydgoszcz, Katowice, Kraków, Lublin, Łódź, Poznań, Rzeszów, Warsaw and Wrocław as well as technical, medical, economic institutions elsewhere, employing around 61,000 workers. There are also around 300 research and development institutes, with about 10,000 more researchers. In total, there are around 91,000 scientists in Poland today.

Telecommunication and IT
The share of the telecom sector in the GDP is 4.4% (end of 2000 figure), compared to 2.5% in 1996. Nevertheless, despite high expenditures for telecom infrastructure (the coverage increased from 78 users per 1000 inhabitants in 1989 to 282 in 2000)
the coverage mobile cellular is 660 users per 1000 people (2005)
  • Telephones - mobile cellular: 25.3 million (Raport Telecom Team 2005)
  • Telephones - main lines in use: 12.5 million (Raport Telecom Team 2005)



Transportation - Contents

  • Rail: The Polish State Railways ( PKP) is one of the larger railway systems of central and western Europe, with 23,420 kilometres (14,552 mi) in its network (1998). Refurbishment of the network has commenced to bring standards into line with western European railway networks. [4]
  • Road: By Western European standards, Poland has a relatively poor infrastructure of expressways/highways. The Government has undertaken a programme to improve the standard of a number of significant national highways by 2013. The total length of expressways/highways is 364,657 kilometres (226,587 mi). There are a total of 9,283,000 registered passenger automobiles, as well as 1,762,000 registered trucks and buses (2000).
  • Air: Poland has eight major airports (in decreasing order of traffic: Warsaw, Kraków, Katowice, Gdańsk, Poznań, Wrocław, Szczecin, Bydgoszcz and Rzeszów), a total of 123 airports and airfields, as well as three heliports. The number of passengers at Polish airports has consistently increased since 1991.
  • Marine: The total length of navigable rivers and canals is 3,812 kilometres (2,369 mi). The merchant marine consists of 114 ships, with an additional 100 ships registered outside the country. The principal ports and harbours are: Port of Gdańsk, Port of Gdynia, Port of Szczecin, Port of Świnoujście, Port of Ustka, Port of Kolobrzeg, Gliwice, Warsaw, Wrocław.



Demographics - Contents

Poland formerly played host to many languages, cultures, and religions. However, the outcome of World War II and the following shift westwards to the area between the Curzon line and the Oder-Neisse line gave Poland an appearance of homogeneity. Today 36,983,700 people, or 96.74% of the population considers itself Polish (Census 2002), 471,500 (1.23%) declared another nationality. 774,900 people (2.03%) didn't declare any nationality. The officially recognised ethnic minorities include: Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Jews and Belarusians. The Polish language, a member of the West Slavic branch of the Slavic languages, functions as the official language of Poland. Most Poles adhere to the Roman Catholic faith and 95% count as practising Catholics. The rest of the population consists mainly of Eastern Orthodox (about 509 500), Jehovah's Witnesses (about 123 034) and various Protestant (about 86 880 in the largest Evangelical-Augsburg Church and about as many in smaller churches) religious minorities. [5]


Culture - Contents

"Stańczyk" painted by Jan Matejko.
" Stańczyk" painted by Jan Matejko.
Polish culture has a rich thousand-year history influenced from both west and east. Today, we can see these influences in Polish architecture, folklore and art. Poland has also had a strong influence on the countries surrounding it.


UNESCO World Heritage in Poland - Contents

  • Warszawa (Old Town)
  • Kraków (Old Town)
  • Wieliczka (Salt mine)
  • Malbork (Biggest Brick Stone Castle)
  • Zamość (Renaissance Town)
  • Toruń (Gothic Town)
  • Oświęcim ( Auschwitz concentration camp)
  • Jawor (Baroque Peace Church)
  • Świdnica (Baroque Peace Chruch)
  • Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (Pilgrim´s Place)
  • Białowieża Forest (National Park - largest remaining primeval forest in Europe)
  • Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland and Subcarpathia
  • Park Mużakowski (shared by Poland and Germany)



International rankings - Contents

The history of Poland is celebrated worldwide. For example, this equestrian statue of Władysław II Jagiełło is on display in Central Park, New York City (United States).
The history of Poland is celebrated worldwide. For example, this equestrian statue of Władysław II Jagiełło is on display in Central Park, New York City ( United States).
  • Human Development Index 2005: Rank 36th out of 177 countries.
  • Reporters Without Borders world-wide press freedom index 2004: Rank 32nd out of 167 countries.
  • Index of Economic Freedom 2005: Rank 41st out of 155 countries.
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