Polesia, Polesie or Polesye is a natural and historical region starting from the farthest edges of Central Europe and into Eastern Europe, stretching from parts of Eastern Poland, touching named Podlasie, straddling the Belarus–Ukraine border and into western Russia. One of the largest forest areas on the continent, Polesia is located in the south-western part of the Eastern-European Lowland, the Polesian Lowland. On the western side, Polesia originates at the crossing of the Bug River valley in Poland and the Pripyat River valley of Western Ukraine; the swampy areas of central Polesia are known as the Pinsk Marshes. Large parts of the region were contaminated after the Chernobyl disaster and the region now includes the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and Polesie State Radioecological Reserve, named after the region; the names Polesia/Polissia/Polesye, etc. may reflect the Slavic root les, which means "forest", the Slavic prefix po-, which means "on", "in" or "along". Inhabitants of Polesia are called Polishchuks.
Once part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, following it into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Polesia was part of Poland in the 1921-39 period when the country's largest provinces bore that name. Polesia has been a separate administrative unit. However, there was a Polesie Voivodeship during the Second Polish Republic, as well as a Polesia Voblast in Byelorussian SSR. From 1931 to 1944, it was explicitly mentioned as constituent part of the short-lived Ukrainian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Volhynia and Pidliashia. Since the end of World War II, the region of Polesie or Polesia encompasses areas in eastern Poland, southern Belarus, northwestern Ukraine, southwestern Russia. Polesia is a marshy region lining the Pripyat River in Southern Belarus, Northern Ukraine, in Poland and Russia, it is a flatland within the watersheds of Prypyat rivers. The two rivers are connected by the Dnieper-Bug Canal, built during the reign of Stanislaus II of Poland, the last king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Notable tributaries of the Pripyat are the Horyn, Styr and Yaselda rivers. The largest towns in the Pripyat basin are Pinsk, Davyd-Haradok. Huge marshes were reclaimed from the 1960s to the 1980s for farmland; the reclamation is believed to have harmed the environment along the course of the Pripyat. This region suffered from the Chernobyl disaster. Huge areas were polluted by radioactive elements; the most polluted part includes the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and the adjacent Polesie State Radioecological Reserve. Some other areas in the region are considered unsuitable for living as well; the Polish part of the region includes the Polesie National Park, established 1990, which covers an area of 97.6 square kilometres. This and a wider area adjoining it make up the UNESCO-designated West Polesie Biosphere Reserve, which borders a similar reserve on the Ukrainian side. There is a protected area called Pribuzhskoye-Polesie in the Belarusian part of the region; the wooden architecture structures in the region were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on 30 January 2004 in the Cultural category.
The Ukrainian Polesia had its own tradition of folk icon-painting. The images of the saints are stable, having deep eyes; the plots were depicted on the background of landscapes with trees, forests etc. The Ukrainian Polesia's icon collection is the part of the exhibition of the Museum of Ukrainian home icons in the Historical and cultural complex "The Radomysl Castle". Museum of Ukrainian home icons Radomysl Castle Polesian Lowland UNESCO World Heritage Centre Western Polesie Пазинич В. Походження Поліських озер та параболічних дюн Пазинич В.Г. Происхождение Полесских озер и параболических дюн Pazynych V. Origin of Polesie lakes and parabolic dunes The Official Site of the Radomysl Castle Polisia at the Encyclopedia of Ukraine Origin of Polesie lakes and parabolic dunes
The Salzburg Protestants were Protestant refugees who had lived in the Catholic Archbishopric of Salzburg until the 18th century. In a series of persecutions ending in 1731, over 20,000 Protestants were expelled from their homeland by the Prince-Archbishops, their expulsion from Salzburg triggered protests from the Protestant states within the Holy Roman Empire and criticism across the rest of the Protestant world, the King in Prussia offered to resettle them in his territory. The majority of the Salzburg Protestants accepted the Prussian offer and traveled the length of Germany to reach their new homes in Prussian Lithuania; the rest scattered to the British colonies in America. The prince-Archbishopric of Salzburg was an ecclesiastical state within the Holy Roman Empire; the official religion was Roman Catholicism, the state was ruled by a Prince-Archbishop. However, Lutheranism had gained a toehold in Salzburg in the Alpine mountains and valleys outside the city. In the early 16th century, Lutheran ideas spread throughout the Salzburg lands along with miners recruited from Saxony by Archbishop Matthias Lang von Wellenburg.
The mountain peasants were in the habit of seeking seasonal work elsewhere in Germany, where they came into contact with the ideas of the Protestant Reformation. Literacy was widespread, many Salzburgers owned Protestant books, brought in by travelers. Counter-Reformation measures were taken by Wellenburg himself, but by his successors, such as Wolf Dietrich Raitenau and Mark Sittich von Hohenems. Under the terms of the 1555 Peace of Augsburg signed by Emperor Charles V, the principle of Cuius regio, eius religio applied within the Empire; the ruler of each state could determine. Dissenters only had the right to practice their religion or move to another state where it was the official religion. A three-year grace period was granted to sell off property and wind up one's financial affairs before emigrating. In 1684, Prince-Archbishop Max Gandolph von Küenburg decided to expel the Protestants living in the remote Defereggen Valley, after receiving complaints from Matrei that a seller of Catholic tokens had been mistreated.
The Deferegger Protestants were forced to leave during winter, without the stipulated three-year grace period. All children under the age of 15 were forced to remain in Salzburg to be raised as Catholics, the parents were taxed a portion of their possessions to pay for this Catholic education. In response, the Protestant body in the Reichstag protested that this expulsion violated both the Peace of Augsburg and the 1648 Peace of Westphalia. However, the Prince-Archbishop insisted that the expelees were not true Protestants, but rather heretics who were not entitled to the protections given to Protestants under the treaty. Contemporary documents capture the expulsion of 621 adults and 289 children from the Defereggen Valley. After five years of wrangling, Emperor Leopold I intervened and instructed Kuenburg's successor, Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun, to give the children the choice of joining their parents in exile. However, only fourteen of them accepted this offer. In 1731, Prince-Archbishop Leopold Anton von Firmian decided to expel all remaining Protestants living in Salzburg.
The expulsion edict was issued on October 31, 1731, the 214th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. Modeled after the Deferegger expulsion, von Firmian's edict ordered Protestants to leave Salzburg within eight days, leaving behind all children under the age of 12. Single men and women without land holdings were rounded up in November by Austrian troops and escorted out of Salzburg. Firmian's edict defeated the terms of the Peace of Westphalia. Bowing to pressure from the Protestant estates, the archbishop modified the order to allow families to stay until April 23, 1732 and to retain their property for three years. Before the expulsion order had been issued, the Salzburg Protestants had dispatched delegations to seek help from Protestant princes within the Empire. In August 1731, a delegation set out for Regensburg to seek help from the Protestant body in the Imperial Diet. Another delegation reached Berlin in November 1731, where they were questioned by the Prussian authorities on matters of religious doctrine.
The Prussian government subsequently declared that the Salzburgers were bona fide Lutherans who were entitled to the protection of the Peace of Augsburg. King Frederick William I in Prussia saw an opportunity to resettle the Salzburg Protestants in his East Prussian territories, depopulated by an outbreak of plague some years before. On February 2, 1732, the King issued a Patent of Invitation, declaring the Salzburg Protestants to be Prussian subjects traveling under his protection. Prussian commissioners were sent to Salzburg to arrange for transportation. Upon arrival in Prussia, the Salzburgers would be given free land, a period of tax exemption, as laid out in the 1724 proclamation of colonization. However, the Patent did not mention the three-year grace period, as the king wished to complete the population transfer as as possible. Anticipating the arrival of the Salzburgers, Frederick William expelled Mennonites living in the area who refused military service; the king threatened to retaliate against Catholics living in Prussia if the Salzburgers were mistreated.
Emperor Charles VI, who needed the support of the Protestant states to secure the Austrian succession, wrote a personal letter to von Firmian, asking him to comply with the Peace of Augsburg by allowing the Protestants to leave under reasonable terms and to remain for three years if they wished. Diplomatic pressur
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern third of the island of Great Britain, sharing a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England, it suffered many invasions by the English, but under Robert I it fought a successful War of Independence and remained an independent state throughout the late Middle Ages. In 1603, James VI of Scotland became King of England, joining Scotland with England in a personal union. In 1707, the two kingdoms were united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain under the terms of the Acts of Union. Following the annexation of the Northern Isles from the Kingdom of Norway in 1472 and final capture of the Royal Burgh of Berwick by the Kingdom of England in 1482, the territory of the Kingdom of Scotland corresponded to that of modern-day Scotland, bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest.
The Crown was the most important element of government. The Scottish monarchy in the Middle Ages was a itinerant institution, before Edinburgh developed as a capital city in the second half of the 15th century; the Crown remained at the centre of political life and in the 16th century emerged as a major centre of display and artistic patronage, until it was dissolved with the Union of Crowns in 1603. The Scottish Crown adopted the conventional offices of western European monarchical states of the time and developed a Privy Council and great offices of state. Parliament emerged as a major legal institution, gaining an oversight of taxation and policy, but was never as central to the national life. In the early period, the kings of the Scots depended on the great lords—the mormaers and toísechs—but from the reign of David I, sheriffdoms were introduced, which allowed more direct control and limited the power of the major lordships. In the 17th century, the creation of Justices of Peace and Commissioners of Supply helped to increase the effectiveness of local government.
The continued existence of courts baron and the introduction of kirk sessions helped consolidate the power of local lairds. Scots law was reformed and codified in the 16th and 17th centuries. Under James IV the legal functions of the council were rationalised, with Court of Session meeting daily in Edinburgh. In 1532, the College of Justice was founded, leading to the training and professionalisation of lawyers. David I is the first Scottish king known to have produced his own coinage. At the union of the Crowns in 1603 the Pound Scots was fixed at only one-twelfth the value of the English pound; the Bank of Scotland issued pound notes from 1704. Scottish currency was abolished by the Act of Union, however to the present day, Scotland retains unique banknotes. Geographically, Scotland is divided between the Lowlands; the Highlands had a short growing season, further shortened during the Little Ice Age. From Scotland's foundation to the inception of the Black Death, the population had grown to a million.
It expanded in the first half of the 16th century, reaching 1.2 million by the 1690s. Significant languages in the medieval kingdom included Gaelic, Old English and French. Christianity was introduced into Scotland from the 6th century. In the Norman period the Scottish church underwent a series of changes that led to new monastic orders and organisation. During the 16th century, Scotland underwent a Protestant Reformation that created a predominately Calvinist national kirk. There were a series of religious controversies that resulted in persecutions; the Scottish Crown developed naval forces at various points in its history, but relied on privateers and fought a guerre de course. Land forces centred around the large common army, but adopted European innovations from the 16th century. From the 5th century AD, north Britain was divided into a series of petty kingdoms. Of these, the four most important were those of the Picts in the north-east, the Scots of Dál Riata in the west, the Britons of Strathclyde in the south-west and the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia in the south-east, stretching into modern northern England.
In AD 793, ferocious Viking raids began on monasteries such as those at Iona and Lindisfarne, creating fear and confusion across the kingdoms of north Britain. Orkney and the Western Isles fell to the Norsemen; these threats may have speeded up a long-term process of gaelicisation of the Pictish kingdoms, which adopted Gaelic language and customs. There was a merger of the Gaelic and Pictish kingdoms, although historians debate whether it was a Pictish takeover of Dál Riata, or the other way round; this culminated in the rise of Cínaed mac Ailpín as "king of the Picts" in the 840s, which brought to power the House of Alpin. When he died as king of the combined kingdom in 900 one of his successors, Domnall II, was the first man to be called rí Alban; the term Scotia would be used to describe the heartland of these kings, north of the River Forth, the entire area controlled by its kings would be referred to as Scotland. The long reign of Donald's successor Causantín is regarded as the key to formation of the Kingdom of Alba/Scotland, he was la
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation and increased mortality; every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. In the 19th and 20th century, it was Southeast and South Asia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe that suffered the most deaths from famine; the numbers dying from famine began to fall from the 2000s. Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, continue to have extreme cases of famine. Since 2010, Africa has been the most affected continent in the world; as of 2017, the United Nations has warned some 20 million are at risk in South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. The distribution of food has been affected by conflict. Most programmes now direct their aid towards Africa. According to the United Nations humanitarian criteria if there are food shortages with large numbers of people lacking nutrition, a famine is declared only when certain measures of mortality and hunger are met.
The criteria are: At least 20% of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope The prevalence of acute malnutrition in children exceeds 30% The death rate exceeds two people per 10,000 people per dayThe declaration of a famine carries no binding obligations on the UN or member states, but serves to focus global attention on the problem. The cyclical occurrence of famine has been a mainstay of societies engaged in subsistence agriculture since the dawn of agriculture itself; the frequency and intensity of famine has fluctuated throughout history, depending on changes in food demand, such as population growth, supply-side shifts caused by changing climatic conditions. Famine was first eliminated in Holland and England during the 17th century, due to the commercialization of agriculture and the implementation of improved techniques to increase crop yields. In the 16th and 17th century, the feudal system began to break down, more prosperous farmers began to enclose their own land and improve their yields to sell the surplus crops for a profit.
These capitalist landowners paid their labourers with money, thereby increasing the commercialization of rural society. In the emerging competitive labour market, better techniques for the improvement of labour productivity were valued and rewarded, it was in the farmer's interest to produce as much as possible on their land in order to sell it to areas that demanded that product. They produced guaranteed surpluses of their crop every year. Subsistence peasants were increasingly forced to commercialize their activities because of increasing taxes. Taxes that had to be paid to central governments in money forced the peasants to produce crops to sell. Sometimes they produced industrial crops, but they would find ways to increase their production in order to meet both their subsistence requirements as well as their tax obligations. Peasants used the new money to purchase manufactured goods; the agricultural and social developments encouraging increased food production were taking place throughout the 16th century, but took off in the early 17th century.
By the 1590s, these trends were sufficiently developed in the rich and commercialized province of Holland to allow its population to withstand a general outbreak of famine in Western Europe at that time. By that time, the Netherlands had one of the most commercialized agricultural systems in Europe, they grew many industrial crops such as flax and hops. Agriculture became specialized and efficient; the efficiency of Dutch agriculture allowed for much more rapid urbanization in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries than anywhere else in Europe. As a result and wealth increased, allowing the Netherlands to maintain a steady food supply. By 1650, English agriculture had become commercialized on a much wider scale; the last peacetime famine in England was in 1623–24. There were still periods of hunger, as in the Netherlands, but no more famines occurred. Common areas for pasture were enclosed for private use and large scale, efficient farms were consolidated. Other technical developments included the draining of marshes, more efficient field use patterns, the wider introduction of industrial crops.
These agricultural developments led to wider prosperity in increasing urbanization. By the end of the 17th century, English agriculture was the most productive in Europe. In both England and the Netherlands, the population stabilized between 1650 and 1750, the same time period in which the sweeping changes to agriculture occurred. Famine still occurred in other parts of Europe, however. In East Europe, famines occurred as late as the twentieth century; because of the severity of famine, it was a chief concern for other authorities. In pre-industrial Europe, preventing famine, ensuring timely food supplies, was one of the chief concerns of many governments, although they were limited in their options due to limited levels of external trade and an infrastructure and bureaucracy too rudimentary to effect real relief. Most governments were concerned by famine because it could lead to revolt and other forms of social disruption. By the mid-19th century and the onset of the Industrial Revolution, it became possible for governments to alleviate the effects of famine through price controls, large scale importation of food products from foreign markets, rationing, regulation of production and charity.
The Great Famine of 1845 in Ireland was one of the first famines to feature such intervention, although the government respon
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Ostsiedlung, in English called the German eastward expansion, was the medieval eastward migration and settlement of Germanic-speaking peoples from the Holy Roman Empire its southern and western portions, into less-populated regions of Central Europe, parts of west Eastern Europe, the Baltics. The affected area stretched from Estonia in the north all the way to Slovenia in the south and extended into Transylvania, modern-day Romania in the east. In part, Ostsiedlung followed the territorial expansion of the Teutonic Order. According to Jedlicki, in many cases the term "German colonization" does not refer to an actual migration of Germans, but rather to the internal migration of native populations from the countryside to the cities, which adopted laws modeled on those of the German towns of Magdeburg and Lübeck. Before and during the time of German settlement, late medieval Central and Eastern European societies underwent deep cultural changes in demography, religion and administration, settlement numbers and structures.
Thus Ostsiedlung is part of a process termed Ostkolonisation or Hochmittelalterlicher Landesausbau, although these terms are sometimes used synonymously. Ethnic conflicts erupted between the newly arrived settlers and local populations and expulsions of native populations are known. In several areas subject to the Ostsiedlung, the existing population was discriminated against and pushed away from administration. In the 20th century, the Ostsiedlung was exploited by German nationalists, including the Nazis, to press the territorial claims of Germany and to demonstrate supposed German superiority over non-Germanic peoples, whose cultural and scientific achievements in that era were undermined, rejected, or presented as German. Central Europe underwent dramatic changes after the Migration Period of 300 to 700 CE; the Roman Empire had lost its dominant position. The Franks had created an empire that, besides former Roman Gaul, had united the former West Germanic-speaking peoples and adopted Christianity.
East Francia, an early predecessor of Germany, aimed to be the successor to the Christian Western Roman Empire, developed into the Holy Roman Empire. In Scandinavia, the former North Germanic-speaking peoples entered the Viking Age, affecting the whole of Europe through trade and raids; some former East Germanic-speaking peoples had entered and merged into Rome, their own culture ceasing to exist. At the same time Slav states arose and became dominant in Eastern Europe and large parts of Central Europe; the Slavs living within the reach of Francia were collectively called Wends or "Elbe Slavs". They formed larger political entities, but rather constituted various small tribes, dwelling as far west as to a line from the Eastern Alps and Bohemia to the Saale and Elbe rivers; as the Frankish Empire expanded, various Wendish tribes were conquered or allied with the Franks, such as the Obotrites, who aided the Franks in defeating the West Germanic Saxons. The conquered Wendish areas were organized by the Franks into marches, which were administered by an entrusted noble who collected the tribute, reinforced by military units.
The establishing of marches was accompanied by missionary efforts. Marches set up by Charlemagne in the territory where the Ostsiedlung would take place included, from north to south: the Danish march between the Eider and Schlei, against the Danes and the Jutes the Saxon Eastern March or Nordalbingen March between the Eider and Elbe in what is now Holstein against the Obotrites the Thuringian or Sorbian March on the Saale, against the Sorbs dwelling behind the limes sorabicus the Franconian march in what is now Upper Franconia, against the Czechs the Avar March between the Enns and the Vienna Woods, against the Avars the March of Pannonia east of Vienna the Carantanian march the Friaul marchIn most cases, the tribes of the marches were not stable allies of the empire. Frankish kings initiated numerous, yet not always successful, military campaigns to maintain their authority. Kings and emperors such as Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor and expanded the marches, creating: the Billung March on the Baltic Sea, stretching from Groswin to Schleswig Marca Geronis, a precursor of the Saxon Eastern March divided into smaller marches Austrian March the Carantania or March of Styria the Drau March the Sann March the Krain or Carniola march Windic March and White Carniola, in what is now SloveniaUnder the rule of King Louis the German of East Francia and of Arnulf of Carinthia, the first waves of settlement were led by Franks and Bavarii, reached the area of what is today Slovakia and what was Pannonia.
The pioneers were Catholics. Although the first settlements led by the Franks and Bavarii followed the conquest of the Sorbs and other Wends in the early 10th century, othe
Poland the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With a population of 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin. Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania to the north and Ukraine to the east and Czech Republic, to the south, Germany to the west; the establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to AD 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of the realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin; this union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.
More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million Polish citizens, including 90% of the country's Jews, perished in the war. In 1947, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland reestablished itself as a presidential democratic republic. Poland is regional power, it has the fifth largest economy by GDP in the European Union and one of the most dynamic economies in the world achieving a high rank on the Human Development Index. Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central Europe. Poland is a developed country, which maintains a high-income economy along with high standards of living, life quality, safety and economic freedom.
Having a developed school educational system, the country provides free university education, state-funded social security, a universal health care system for all citizens. Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group; the origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans that inhabited the Warta river basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century. The origin of the name "Polanie" itself derives from the early Slavic word "pole". In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian and Turkish, the exonym for Poland is Lechites, which derives from the name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I. Early Bronze Age in Poland begun around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became prominent; the most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement, dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.
Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes. Recent archeological findings in the Kujawy region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland; these were most expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented; the Slavic tribes who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was Slavic paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman Church.
However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s. 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 documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects; the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave, continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of Gniezno and created the metropolis of Gniezno and the dioceses of Kraków, Kołobrzeg, Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer. In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the Ge