Portal:Poland

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Panorama of Kraków, former capital of Poland

Welcome to the Poland Portal
Witaj w Portalu o Polsce

Coat of arms of Poland
Map 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 largely completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of NATO and the European Union.

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From Polish history

Władysław Gomułka addressing a crowd in 1956
The deaths of Joseph Stalin in 1953 and Poland's hardline communist President Bolesław Bierut in 1956, as well as Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech to the 20th Party Congress, paved the way to a period of de-Stalinization in the People's Republic of Poland, known as the Polish October or Gomułka Thaw. Workers' protests against poor standards of living that started in June 1956 in Poznań were violently suppressed by the army and secret police, but forced the government to increase wages and promise economic and political reforms. Władysław Gomułka, who had been expelled from the Polish United Workers' Party and imprisoned in 1951, was rehabilitated and elected the party's First Secretary in October 1956. With much popular support, he led the country along a "Polish road to socialism" and won a degree of autonomy from the Soviet Union. Soviet Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky was sacked from his post as Polish defense minister, farm collecitivization was halted, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński was released from internment, and the following year's parliamentary election, though not entirely free, was freer than previous ones. These events inspired the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, which – unlike the one in Poland – was crushed by the Soviet Army.
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Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970
Credit: Jan Mehlich

The Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers of 1970 outside the Gdańsk Shipyard consists of three anchors, each hanging from a concrete cross 42 meters tall. It commemorates 42 workers killed during the 1970 protests against price hikes. The monument, marking the spot where the first three men fell, was erected thanks to the 1980 Gdańsk Agreement between Solidarity and communist authorities.

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From Wikipedia's new or recently improved articles about Poland:

Equality Parade in 2006

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Selected biography

Marie Curie
Marie Curie (1867–1934) was a Polish-French physicist and chemist. Born Maria Salomea Skłodowska in Warsaw, she studied at the clandestine Floating University and began her practical scientific training in the same city. In 1891, she followed her older sister to study in Paris, where she earned her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work, becoming the first female professor at the University of Paris (La Sorbonne). Her achievements included a theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium (which she named for her native country) and radium. Under her direction, the world's first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain major centres of medical research today. During World War I, she established the first military field radiological centres. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize (in Physics, shared with her husband, Pierre Curie, and with her doctoral advisor, Henri Becquerel, in 1903), the only woman to win it in two fields (the other being Chemistry, in 1911), and the only person to win in multiple sciences. Curie died in 1934 of aplastic anemia brought on by years of her exposure to radiation.
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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.

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Poland now

Recent or ongoing events:

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and Polish PM Donald Tusk

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Holidays and observances in July 2014:

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