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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 (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 is an increasingly active member of NATO and the European Union.

From Polish history

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.

Selected image

Monument to Henryk Sienkiewicz in Okrzeja
Credit: Marcin Białek

A bust of Henryk Sienkiewicz, an epic writer and journalist, stands near his home village of Wola Okrzejska. Sienkiewicz, known for his grand historical novels, including Quo Vadis and The Trilogy, as well as short stories about modern social issues, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1905.

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Selected biography

Casimir Pulaski
Casimir Pulaski (Kazimierz Pułaski; 1745–1779) was a Polish military commander who has been called "the father of American cavalry". He was one of the leading military commanders of the Bar Confederation, fighting against Russian domination of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. When this uprising failed, he was driven into exile and following Benjamin Franklin's endorsement he migrated to North America to aid the cause of the American Revolution. He distinguished himself throughout the revolutionary war, most notably when he saved George Washington's life, and when he created the Pulaski Cavalry Legion and reformed the American cavalry. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Savannah, while leading a daring charge against British forces. Pulaski has been remembered as a hero fighting for freedom both in Poland and in America and is one of few people to be awarded honorary citizenship of the United States. Pulaski Day is observed on October 11 as a U.S. federal holiday and on the first Monday of March as a state holiday in Illinois.

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St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Białystok

Białystok is the largest city in north-eastern Poland, located close to the Belarusian border. Originally part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, it was annexed by Prussia in the Third Partition of Poland in 1795 only to pass into Russian hands with the Treaty of Tilsit of 1807. Under Russian rule, it enjoyed an economic boom fueled by development of textile industry. The city was predominantly Jewish, but most of Białystok's Jewish population was exterminated by the Nazis during the city's German occupation in 1941–1944, despite its resistance in the Białystok Ghetto Uprising. In addition to textiles, Białystok is a large producer of alcoholic beverages and home of the Żubrówka vodka.

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Poland now

Recent events

Tomasz Stańko

  • On 29 July, Tomasz Stańko (pictured), an avant-garde jazz trumpeter, died at the age of 76.
  • On 28 July, Olga Jackowska, a popular rock singer better known as Kora, died at the age of 67.
  • On 22 July, Andrzej Bargiel became the first person to ski down from the summit of K2 to the base camp.

Holidays and observances in August 2018
(statutory public holidays in bold)

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

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Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:






Learning resources

Travel guides



Wikipedias in the languages of Poland

Kaszëbskô Wikipedijô
Kashubian Wikipedia
Polska Wikipedia
Polish Wikipedia
Ślůnsko Wikipedyjo
Silesian Wikipedia
Wymysiöeryś Wikipedyj
Vilamovian Wikipedia Incubator


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