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
Coat of arms of Poland

Map 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.

Christmas in Poland

Szopka krakowska A szopka krakowska (example pictured left) is a nativity scene traditionally constructed in Kraków during the Christmas season. Its distinctive feature is the use of architectural details of Kraków's historical landmarks as a backdrop for the nativity of Jesus.

Christmas carol singing has long been a popular tradition in Poland. The oldest known Polish carols date back to the 15th century. Among the most beloved (recordings listed right) are the lulling "Lulajże, Jezuniu" ("Sleep, Little Jesus"), the joyful "Dzisiaj w Betlejem" ("Tonight in Bethlehem"), and the majestic "Bóg się rodzi" ("God is Born").

Media related to Polish Christmas carols at Wikimedia Commons

From Polish history – show another

King Charles X Gustav of Sweden in a skirmish with Polish Tartars at the battle of Warsaw, 1656
King Charles X Gustav of Sweden in a skirmish with Polish Tartars at the battle of Warsaw, 1656
The Second Northern War was fought between 1655 and 1660 by Sweden against the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Russia, Brandenburg-Prussia, the Habsburg Monarchy, and Denmark–Norway. In 1655, Charles X Gustav of Sweden invaded and occupied western Poland, the eastern part of which was already in Russian hands. The rapid Swedish advance became known in Poland as the Swedish Deluge. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania became a Swedish fief, Polish-Lithuanian regular armies surrendered, and King John Casimir of Poland fled to Silesia. Charles Gustav found allies in Frederick William of Brandenburg, whom he granted full sovereignty in the Polish fief of Ducal Prussia, and in George II of Transylvania, whom he promised the Polish throne. With the help of Polish Catholic guerillas of the Tyszowce Confederation, as well as Leopold I Habsburg, and Frederick William, who changed sides in return for the Polish recognition of his claim to Prussia, John Casimir was able to regain ground in 1656 and by the following year much of the fighting had moved to the Danish theater. Polish losses from the Swedish occupation, including a 40-percent drop in population, complete destruction of Warsaw and scores of other Polish towns, as well as plunder of the nation's riches and cultural artefacts, remained unmatched until World War II. (Full article...)

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Main refectory of Lubiąż Abbey
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.

Did you know – show different entries

Maria Bal as Angel of Death by Jacek Malczewski
Maria Bal as Angel of Death by Jacek Malczewski

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Stanisław Żółkiewski
Stanisław Żółkiewski
Stanisław Żółkiewski (1547–1620) was a Polish magnate and military commander who fought against Sweden, Muscovy, the Ottoman Empire and the Tatars on the southern and eastern borders of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. He occupied a number of high-ranking posts, including voivode of Kijów (now Kiev, Ukraine), grand chancellor of the Crown, and grand hetman of the Crown. His best-known victory was against combined Russian and Swedish forces in the battle of Klushino in 1610, following which the Poles seized and occupied Moscow. He died in the battle of Ţuţora against the Ottomans, after refusing to retreat, his heroic death further boosting his fame. He is seen as one of the most accomplished commanders in the military history of early modern Poland. (Full article...)

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Courtyard of the Lublin Castle
Courtyard of the Lublin Castle
Lublin is the largest city in eastern Poland. Dating back to early Middle Ages, the city played an important role in the nation's history. It was the site of the Lublin Union which established the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569, and of the Lublin Committee which introduced the communist regime in Poland in 1944; seat of a major yeshiva and the Jewish Council of Four Lands in the 16th–18th centuries, but also of the Majdanek extermination camp during the Holocaust. Its colleges include the Marie Curie University, as well as the Catholic University of Lublin where Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, gave lectures in ethics. Since Lublin's biggest employer, the state-owned truck manufacturer FSC, was acquired by the South Korean Daewoo and then entered bankruptcy in 2001, the city has been struggling to improve its economic performance and standards of living, making it one of the main beneficiaries of EU development funds. (Full article...)

Poland now

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Szymon Hołownia

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

Holidays and observances in December 2023
(statutory public holidays in bold)

Polish Christmas tree baubles

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Government and politics




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