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 (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.

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A historically inaccurate depiction of Boleslaus and Svyatopolk entering Kiev through the Golden Gate, by Jan Matejko, 1883
The intervention in the Kievan succession crisis by Duke Boleslaus the Brave of Poland in 1015–1019 was an episode in the struggle between Svyatopolk Vladimirovich the Accursed and his brother, Yaroslav the Wise, for the rulership of Kiev and Kievan Rus'. It occurred when Boleslaus, Svyatopolk's father-in-law, intervened on the latter's behalf. The intervention was initially successful as Boleslaus defeated Yaroslav's armies and temporarily secured the throne for Svyatopolk. Svyatopolk, however, was unable to retain his position after Boleslaus withdrew from Kiev and was defeated by Yaroslav in the following year. Chronicles of the expedition include legendary accounts as well as factual history and have been subject to varied interpretations.


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A roadside shrine
Credit: Utoplec

A roadside shrine in the village of Brenna in the Silesian Beskid Mountains in southern Poland. Roadside shrines dotting the Polish countryside are a popular expression of rural religiosity in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

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Casimir Pulaski Monument c. 1900

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Pope John Paul II
John Paul II (1920–2005) served as pope of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City from 1978 until his death almost 27 years later. Born Karol Wojtyła in the Polish town of Wadowice, he served as archbishop of Kraków before becoming one of the longest-serving popes and one of the most-travelled world leaders in history. Continuing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and professing the philosophy of Christian humanism, John Paul II taught about the importance of family and respect for human life and dignity. He criticised materialist ideologies and is widely seen as having been instrumental in ending communism in his native Poland and eventually in all of Eastern Europe. The pope also mended the Catholic Church's relations with other denominations and religions. As part of his emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified or canonized a record number of people, and was himself canonized in 2014.


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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 Dąbrowskie Basin (Zagłębie Dąbrowskie). 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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Poland now

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Pro-choice protest in Łódź

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

Bust of John Paul II in Kraków

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