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Welcome to the Poland Portal — Witaj w Portalu o Polsce

Cityscape of Kraków, Poland's former capital
Cityscape of Kraków, Poland's former capital
Coat of arms of Poland

Poland is a country in Central Europe, bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast to the north. It is an ancient nation whose history as a state began near the middle of the 10th century. Its golden age occurred in the 16th century when it united with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the following century, the strengthening of the gentry and internal disorders weakened the nation. In a series of agreements in the late 18th century, Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned Poland amongst themselves. It regained independence as the Second Polish Republic in the aftermath of World War I only to lose it again when it was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in World War II. The nation lost over six million citizens in the war, following which it emerged as the communist People's Republic of Poland under strong Soviet influence within the Eastern Bloc. A westward border shift followed by forced population transfers after the war turned a once multiethnic country into a mostly homogeneous nation state. Labor turmoil in 1980 led to the formation of the independent trade union called Solidarity (Solidarność) that over time became a political force which by 1990 had swept parliamentary elections and the presidency. A shock therapy program during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in Central Europe. With its transformation to a democratic, market-oriented country completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of NATO and the European Union.

From Polish history

Katyn memorial
The Katyn massacre was a mass execution of Polish citizens by the order of Soviet authorities in 1940. About 8,000 of those killed were reserve officers taken prisoner during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, but the dead also included many civilians who had been arrested for being "intelligence agents and gendarmes, spies and saboteurs, former landowners, factory owners and officials". Since Poland's conscription system required every unexempted university graduate to become a reserve officer, the Soviets were thus able to round up much of the ethnic Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, Georgian and Belarusian intelligentsia of Polish citizenship. The 1943 discovery of mass graves at Katyn Forest by Nazi German forces precipitated a rupture of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Polish government-in-exile in London. The Soviet Union continued to deny responsibility for the massacres until 1990. Although the Russian government acknowledged that the NKVD had in fact committed the massacres, it does not consider them a war crime or an act of genocide, as this would have necessitated the prosecution of surviving perpetrators.

Selected image

Seal of King Vladislaus II
Credit: Jan Mehlich

A copy of the majestic seal of King Vladislaus II (Władysław II Jagiełło, Jogaila) showing the king seated on a throne, holding an orb and a scepter. He is surrounded by coats of arms, supported by angels, of the territories of his realm: the White Eagle of Poland; the Pursuer of Lithuania; the aurochs' head of the Kalisz Voivodeship; the stripes and stars of the Sandomierz Voivodeship; the demi-lion and demi-eagle of the Kuyavia, Łęczyca and Sieradz voivodeships; the king's head of the Dobrzyń Territory; and the lion rampant of Red Ruthenia.

Did you know

Jan Mazurkiewicz during World War II

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Selected biography

Hugo Steinhaus
Hugo Steinhaus (1887–1972) was a professor of mathematics at the University of Lwów (now Lviv, Ukraine), where he helped establish what became known as the Lwów School of Mathematics. He is credited with "discovering" Stefan Banach, a prodigy autodidact. Together they contributed to functional analysis by developing the uniform boundedness principle, also known as the Banach-Steinhaus theorem. After World War II, Steinhaus played an important role in establishing a mathematics department at the Wrocław University. Author of around 170 scientific articles and books, Steinhaus left a legacy in several branches of mathematics, including functional analysis, mathematical logic, geometry, and trigonometry. He is also considered a pioneer in game theory and probability theory.

Selected location

Palace of Culture and Science

Warsaw (Warszawa) is the capital and, with a population of over 1.7 million, the largest city of Poland. Founded in 1300 on the Vistula River, Warsaw became the seat of the dukes of Masovia in 1413. Masovia was annexed by Poland in 1526, and 70 years later, in 1596, King Sigismund III moved his seat from Kraków to Warsaw. The rise in political status was accompanied by strong economic and cultural development. Occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, Warsaw was the site of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 and the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, followed by a complete destruction of the city. Painstakingly rebuilt in the Communist era, Warsaw is now an increasingly important political and economic hub of Central Europe.

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Poland now

Recent events

Jan Olszewski

Holidays and observances in May 2019
(statutory public holidays in bold)

Flag of Poland

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Government and politics




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Learning resources

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Wikipedias in the languages of Poland