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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

Raphael, Portrait of a Young Man; looted from Poland by the Germans, fate unknown
Polish culture during World War II was brutally suppressed by the occupying powers of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, both of whom were hostile to Poland's people and culture. Policies aimed at cultural genocide resulted in the deaths of thousands of scholars and artists, and the theft or destruction of innumerable cultural artifacts (example of a lost painting, by Raphael, pictured). British historian Niall Ferguson writes that "the maltreatment of the Poles was one of many ways in which the Nazi and Soviet regimes had grown to resemble one another". The occupiers looted or destroyed much of Poland's cultural heritage while persecuting and killing members of the Polish cultural elite. Most Polish schools were closed and those that remained open saw their curricula altered significantly. Nevertheless, underground organizations and individuals—in particular the Polish Underground State—saved much of Poland's most valuable cultural heritage and worked to salvage as many cultural institutions and artifacts as possible. The Roman Catholic Church and wealthy individuals contributed to the survival of some artists and their works. Despite severe retribution by the Nazis and Soviets, Polish underground cultural activities, including publications, concerts, live theater, education and academic research, continued throughout the war.

Selected image

Main refectory of Lubiąż Abbey

Baroque interior of the main refectory of a Cistercian abbey in Lubiąż (German: Leubus), Lower Silesia. The abbey, dating back to the 12th century, is one of the world's largest Christian architectural complexes.

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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

Medieval port crane in Gdańsk

Gdańsk is Poland's principal seaport located in the Kashubian region on the Baltic Sea. Together with the spa town of Sopot and the industrial city of Gdynia, it forms a conurbation known as Trójmiasto ("Tricity"). It has a complex political history with long spells of Polish rule interspersed with periods of German control and two spells as a free city. As an important port and shipbuilding center, the picturesque city was a member of the Hanseatic League. For much of its history the majority of its inhabitants were German speakers who referred to their city as Danzig, but after World War II it became firmly Polish. Gdańsk is the birthplace of the Solidarity movement which, led by Lech Wałęsa, played a role in bringing down the communist rule across Central Europe.

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Poland now

Recent events

Tomasz Stańko

  • On 29 July, Tomasz Stańko (pictured), an avant-garde jazz trumpeter, died at the age of 76.
  • On 28 July, Olga Jackowska, a popular rock singer better known as Kora, died at the age of 67.
  • On 22 July, Andrzej Bargiel became the first person to ski down from the summit of K2 to the base camp.

Holidays and observances in September 2018
(statutory public holidays in bold)

Harvest festival wreath

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