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 Polish People's Republic 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 joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004, but has experienced a constitutional crisis and democratic backsliding under the rule of the populist Law and Justice party since 2015.

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German soldiers dismantling a Polish border checkpoint
German soldiers dismantling a Polish border checkpoint
The Polish September Campaign was the conquest of Poland by the armies of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and a small contingent of Slovak forces during World War II. The campaign began on 1 September 1939 following a German-staged attack in Gleiwitz (Gliwice). This military operation, which saw the first use of Blitzkrieg tactics, marked the start of World War II in Europe as the invasion led Poland's allies, including the United Kingdom and France, to declare war on Germany on 3 September. On 17 September, the Soviet Red Army invaded the eastern regions of Poland. The Soviets were acting in coöperation with Germany, realizing the secret protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact which envisaged division of Central Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence. The campaign ended on 6 October 1939 with Germany and the Soviet Union occupying the entirety of Poland. (Full article...)

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Ruins of old fortifications blend with natural limestone outcrops in what remains of the Olsztyn Castle near Częstochowa. Located in the Polish Jura Chain, which stretches from Częstochowa in the north to Kraków in the south, Olsztyn is part of a system of medieval castles known as the Eagle Nests Trail. Like many other strongholds along that trail, the Olsztyn Castle was built by King Casimir the Great in the 14th century and destroyed during the Swedish occupation in the 17th.

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Franciscan Church of Zamość

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Przemysł II as imagined by Jan Matejko
Przemysł II as imagined by Jan Matejko
Premislaus II (Przemysł II; 1257–1296) was the first king of Poland after a hiatus of more than two centuries. Born posthumously as the only son of Duke Premislaus I of Greater Poland, he was brought up by his uncle, Duke Boleslaus the Pious, until he came of age and began to rule the Duchy of Poznań. Through inheritance, by 1294 he had expanded his domain over the duchies of Kalisz, Lesser Poland and Pomerelia, but he was forced to retreat from Lesser Poland, leaving it to King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. Thanks to the mediation of Archbishop Jakub Świnka of Gniezno, Premislaus formed an anti-Bohemian alliance with the dukes of Kuyavia, Vladislaus the Elbow-high and Casimir II of Łęczyca. With much of Poland's territory under his rule, he decided to take the Polish throne; he was crowned by Świnka in Gniezno, in 1295. His reign was cut short nine months later, as he was murdered during a failed kidnapping attempt orchestrated by the margraves of Brandenburg. (Full article...)

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Kraków's Grand Square (Rynek Główny)
Kraków's Grand Square (Rynek Główny)
Kraków, situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, is one of the largest and oldest cities in Poland, dating back to the 7th century. As Poland's capital city from 1038 to 1596, Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish scientific, cultural and artistic life, and it remains the spiritual heart of Poland. It is a major tourist attraction whose landmarks include the Main Market Square with St. Mary's Basilica and the Cloth Hall (pictured), the Royal Castle and cathedral on the Wawel Hill, and the medieval St Florian's Gate with the Barbican along the Royal Coronation Route. (Full article...)

Poland now

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Constitutional crisis • Belarus–EU border crisis • Ukrainian refugee crisis

Holidays and observances in October 2022
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Bust of John Paul II in Kraków

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