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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 (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.

From Polish history - show another

A statue at the Palace of Culture and Science (1955) in Warsaw, holding a book of works by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin
The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 was shaped by the influence of Soviet Communism and opposition to it from the Roman Catholic Church, trade unions and other groups. In the aftermath of World War II, forces of Nazi Germany were driven from Poland by the advancing Red Army of the Soviet Union. A liberalizing thaw in Eastern Europe followed the death of Stalin in early 1953, sparking the desire for further reform. De-Stalinization, however, left Poland's communist party in a difficult position. In the 1970s, Edward Gierek's economic program brought a rise in living standards and expectations, but it faltered unexpectedly because of worldwide recession and increased oil prices following the 1973 world oil crisis. The election of the Polish-born John Paul II to papacy in 1978 triggered radical changes in the political atmosphere of the country. In 1980, electrician Lech Wasa and his independent Solidarity trade union led a wave of strikes at the Lenin Shipyard in Gda?sk. The 1989 Round Table talks resulted in a semi-free parliamentary election and a Solidarity-led coalition government, sparking off a succession of mostly peaceful transitions from Communist rule across Central and Eastern Europe.

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former Polish polar station on Spitsbergen

former Polish Arctic research station at Skottehytta on the Petuniabukta Bay on the Spitsbergen, Norway. The station is run by the Adam Mickiewicz University in Pozna?.

Textile manufacturing plant in the Warsaw Ghetto

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Jan Matejko's self-portrait
Jan Matejko (1838-1893) was a Polish painter and academic. He is best known for large canvases devoted to major figures and events in Polish history, such as Sta?czyk, Skarga's Sermon, Rejtan, Union of Lublin, Battle of Grunwald, Prussian Homage and Constitution of 3 May. His other works include imaginary portraits of Polish monarchs and mural paintings in Kraków's St. Mary's Basilica. With his style described as "colourful, detailed and imaginative", he reminded Poles of their nation's former glory at a time when it lacked political independence. His vision of national history has been propagated in Polish textbooks to this day. In 1872, Matejko became a rector of the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts, which now bears his name. Among his students were such artists as Maurycy Gottlieb, Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer and Stanis?aw Wyspia?ski.

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Centennial Square in Sosnowiec

Sosnowiec is a city located in the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Union, although, historically and culturally, it is part of the D?browskie Basin (Zagbie D?browskie). Thanks to rich natural resources and a strategic location on the border of Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian empires, the village of Sosnowiec grew rapidly during the 19th century and was granted a town charter in 1902. Another period of vigorous development occurred in the 1970s, when Edward Gierek, a native of Sosnowiec, served as first secretary of the communist Polish United Workers' Party. On the city's centennial in 2002, the city center (pictured) was thoroughly rebuilt and modernized. Some coal mines and steel mills continue to operate in Sosnowiec as trade and service sectors are expanding.

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Olga Tokarczuk

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

Bust of John Paul II in Kraków

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