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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 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

The Renaissance courtyard of the Royal Wawel Castle in Kraków
The Renaissance courtyard of the Royal Wawel Castle in Kraków
The history of Poland during the Jagiellon dynasty spanned the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Era. Beginning with Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania, the House of Jagiellon formed the Polish-Lithuanian dynastic union. The partnership brought vast Lithuanian-controlled Rus' areas into Poland's sphere of influence and proved beneficial for the Poles and the Lithuanians, who coöperated in one of Europe's largest political entities for the next four centuries. In the Baltic Sea region, Poland's struggle with the Teutonic Knights included the Battle of Grunwald, and the milestone Peace of Thorn under King Casimir IV. In the south, Poland confronted the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Tatars, while in the east, it helped Lithuania fight the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Poland was developing as a feudal state, with predominantly agricultural economy and an increasingly dominant landed nobility component. The Nihil novi act adopted in 1505, transferred most of the legislative power from the monarch to the Sejm (parliament), beginning a period of "Golden Liberty", when the state was ruled by the "free and equal" Polish nobility. Protestant Reformation resulted in policies of religious toleration that were unique in Europe at that time, while Renaissance currents evoked an immense cultural flowering under kings Sigismund I and Sigismund Augustus. (Full article...)

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The coat of arms of the Trzaska nobility clan shows a golden crescent between two broken silver swords in a blue field. According to a legend, the arms were granted by the 11th-century King Boleslaus the Brave to one of his knights who had fought so valiantly that he broke two swords during a single battle. In fact, Polish heraldry developed long after Boleslaus's reign. The earliest historical sources to mention the Trzaska coat of arms date back to the 14th century.

Did you know – show different entries

Fiat Abarth 500C, manufactured in Tychy, Poland

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Józef Zajączek
Józef Zajączek
Józef Zajączek (1752–1826) was a Polish military general and politician. He started his career in the Polish-Lithuanian army as an aide-de-camp to Hetman Franciszek Ksawery Branicki. He was also Branicki's supporter on the political scene, before joining the liberal opposition during the Great Sejm in 1790 and becoming a radical supporter of the Constitution of 3 May 1791. As a military commander, he participated in the Polish–Russian War of 1792 and the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794. After the Partitions of Poland, he joined the Napoleonic Army where he served as a general until his wounding and capture during the French invasion of Russia in 1812. In 1815, he became the first viceroy of the Russian-controlled "Congress" Kingdom of Poland. (Full article...)

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Old Town Hall of Toruń by night
Old Town Hall of Toruń by night
Toruń is a city on the Vistula River in northern Poland. Known in German as Thorn, it was founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1233 and ceded to the Kingdom of Poland under the terms of a treaty signed here in 1466. Seven years later, it became the birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus. Today, Toruń is the seat of the legislature (sejmik) of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, forming with the city of Bydgoszcz, its western neighbor, the Bydgoszcz-Toruń metropolitan area. With its medieval spatial layout preserved almost intact and with many brick Gothic buildings, including the town hall, churches and burgher houses, Toruń is a popular tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also famous for its traditional gingerbread flavored with honey and spices. (Full article...)

Poland now

Recent events

Mirosław Hermaszewski in 1978

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

Holidays and observances in December 2022
(statutory public holidays in bold)

Polish Christmas tree baubles

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This page was last updated at 2022-12-28 20:31 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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