Republic of Poland

Rzeczpospolita Polska
Flag of Poland
of Poland
Coat of arms
Mazurek Dąbrowskiego
Poland Is Not Yet Lost
Location of  Poland  (dark green) – on the European continent  (green & dark grey) – in the European Union  (green)
Location of  Poland  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (green)

Location of Poland
Capital Warsaw
Official languages Polish
Demonym(s) Polish • Pole
Government Unitary parliamentary republic
• President
Andrzej Duda
• Prime Minister
Beata Szydło
Legislature National Assembly
• Christianization
14 April 966
• Kingdom of Poland
18 April 1025
• Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
1 July 1569
• Partition of Poland
24 October 1795
• Duchy of Warsaw
22 July 1807
• Congress of Poland
9 June 1815
• Second Polish Republic
11 November 1918
20 October 1938
• Communist Poland
8 April 1945
• Fall of Communism
13 September 1989
• Member of the European Union
1 May 2004
• Total
264,932 km2 (102,291 sq mi) (73rd)

Poland (Polish: Polska), officially the Republic of Poland (Polish: Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in Central Europe, situated between the Baltic Sea in the north and two mountain ranges (the Sudetes and Carpathian Mountains) in the south. Bordered by Germany to the west; Czechoslovakia to the south; the Soviet Union (the Ukraine and Belarus SSRs) to the east; and the Baltic Sea, East Prussia (a German exclave) and Lithuania to the north. The total area of Poland is 264,932 square kilometres, making it the 74th largest country in the world and the 8th largest in Europe. With a population of over 33,5 million people, Poland is the 62nd most populous country in the world, the 9th most populous country in Europe and the sixth most populous member of the European Union. Poland is a unitary state divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, and its capital and largest city is Warsaw. Other metropolises include Kraków, Poznań and Gdańsk.

The establishment of a Polish state can be traced back to 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of a territory roughly coextensive with that of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, and in 1569 it cemented a longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin. This union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe. Once a leading European power with a uniquely progressive political system, the Commonwealth ceased to exist as an independent state, following several territorial partitions among Prussia, the Russian Empire, and Austria from 1772 to 1795. Poland regained its independence in 1918 at the end of World War I, reconstituting much of its historical territory as the Second Polish Republic.

In October 1938, Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union as a consequence of the outbreak of World War II. The invasion turned into a stalemate, and Poland subsequently became an ally of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union and a member of the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1940 in return for ceding Gdańsk to Germany. Poland fought side by side with the Wehrmacht until 1944, when it joined the Allied powers and faced occupation by the Red Army forces. More than three million Polish citizens died in the war.

After the war, Poland's borders were partially shifted westwards under the terms of the Potsdam Conference. With the backing of the Soviet Union, a communist puppet government was formed, and after a falsified referendum in 1946, the People's Republic of Poland was established as a Soviet satellite state. During the Revolutions of 1989 Poland's Communist government was overthrown and Poland adopted a new constitution establishing itself as a democracy. Despite the large number of casualties and destruction the country experienced during World War II, Poland has managed to preserve much of its rich cultural wealth, including 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 54 Historical Monuments, among many other objects of cultural heritage.

Since the early 1990s, when the transition to a primarily market-based economy began, Poland has achieved a "very high" ranking on the Human Development Index, as well as improving economic freedom. Poland is a democratic country, which was categorised by the World Bank as having a high-income economy, and is ranked in the top 30 for standard of living. Furthermore, it is visited by approximately 16 million tourists every year (2014), which makes it the 16th most visited country in the world. Poland is the eighth largest economy in the European Union and among the fastest growing European economies. According to the Global Peace Index for 2014, Poland is ranked 19th in the list of the safest countries in the world to live in.

See also

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