Portal:Poland
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Portal:Poland

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 (Solidarno) 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.

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King Stephen Báthory receiving homage from Russians at Pskov in 1582, as painted by Jan Matejko in 1872
The Livonian War was fought between 1558 and 1583 for control of Old Livonia, the territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia. The Tsardom of Russia faced a variable coalition of Denmark-Norway, Sweden and Poland-Lithuania. The years 1558-1578 were a period of Russian dominance in the region, marked by early successes at Dorpat (Tartu) and Narva, and the dissolution of the Livonian Confederation. The Confederation's collapse brought Poland-Lithuania into conflict with Russia. Stephen Báthory, after becoming king of Poland, eventually turned the tide of the war, with successes between 1578 and 1581, including the joint Polish-Swedish offensive at the Battle of Wenden. This was followed by a long campaign through Russia, before a prolonged and difficult siege of Pskov. The war between Poland-Lithuania and Russia was concluded favourably for the former with the Truce of Yam-Zapolsky in 1582, with Russia losing Polotsk and all its holdings in Livonia to Poland-Lithuania. Sweden gained most of Ingria and northern Livonia, while Russia was left in humiliating defeat and became increasingly isolated from western politics and influence.


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Houses along the Long Market in Gda?sk

Baroque town houses along the Long Market (Polish: D?ugi Targ, German: Langer Markt) in Gda?sk, formerly inhabited by the city's patriciate. Partly visible on the left is the Artus Court, once a meeting place for wealthy burghers, now housing a historical museum.

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King Vladislaus IV as painted by Peter Paul Rubens
Vladislaus IV (W?adys?aw IV Waza; 1595-1648) was a Polish-Swedish prince of the House of Vasa. He reigned as king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania from 1632, and also claimed the titles of king of Sweden and grand duke of Muscovy (Russia). He was the son of King Sigismund III of Poland and Sweden, and his wife, Queen Anna of Habsburg. The teen-aged Vladislaus was elected tsar by the Seven Boyars in 1610, but did not assume the Russian throne because of his father's opposition and a popular uprising in Russia. Following his father's death in 1632, he was elected king of Poland, with no serious contenders. Vladislaus was fairly successful in defending the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against invasion, notably through his personal participation in the Smolensk War. He supported religious toleration, carried out military reforms, and was a renowned patron of the arts. The king failed, however, to realize his dreams of regaining the Swedish crown, conquering the Ottoman Empire, strengthening royal power, and reforming Polish internal politics. He died without a legitimate male heir and was succeeded by his half-brother, John Casimir. Vladislaus's death marked the end of relative stability in Poland.


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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.

Poland now

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Andrzej Duda

Holidays and observances in August 2020
(statutory public holidays in bold)

Polish military aircraft flying in formation during a Polish Armed Forces Day parade

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