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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

Kotwica (Anchor), the symbol of the Home Army
The Home Army (Armia Krajowa) was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. It was loyal to the Polish government in exile and constituted the armed wing of what became known as the Polish Underground State. Most common estimates of its membership in 1944 are around 400,000; that figure would make it not only the largest Polish underground resistance movement but one of the two largest in Europe during World War II. The AK's primary resistance operations were the sabotage of German activities; it also fought several full-scale battles against the Germans, particularly in 1943 and 1944 during Operation Tempest. The most widely known AK operation was the failed Warsaw Uprising.
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Maria Amalia of Saxony, Queen of Spain
Credit: Louis de Silvestre

Maria Amalia of Saxony, queen consort of Spain, was the eldest daughter of King Augustus III of Poland. She is portrayed here in a red dress with ermine lining and split sleeves that was the typical attire of female Polish aristocrats in the 18th century.

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Juliusz Słowacki as portrayed by James Hopwood
Juliusz Słowacki (1809–1849) was a Polish Romantic poet traditionally counted among the "Three Bards" of Polish literature, a major figure of Romanticism in Poland and the father of modern Polish drama. His works often feature elements of Slavic mythology, Polish history, mysticism and Orientalism, and rely on neologisms and irony for style. Among Słowacki's most popular works are the dramas Kordian and Balladyna, and the poem Beniowski. Słowacki spent his youth in what are now Ukraine and Lithuania, but emigrated to Western Europe after the failed November Uprising of 1830. He then traveled to Switzerland, Italy, Greece and the Middle East to finally settle back in Paris for the last decade of his life, but briefly returned to Poland during the Greater Poland Uprising of 1848.
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Swoboda Lock on the Augustów Canal

The Augustów Canal is a summit level canal which links the Biebrza River in northeastern Poland with the Neman River in Belarus. At over 100 km long, it comprises 18 locks (example pictured) and 22 sluice gates. Ever since the canal was built in 1823−1839 to provide a navigable waterway from the "Congress" Kingdom of Poland to the Baltic Sea bypassing Prussia, it has been described by experts as a technological marvel. It uses a post-glacial channel depression, forming the chain of Augustów Lakes, and the river valleys of the Biebrza, Netta, Czarna Hańcza, and Neman, which made it possible to perfectly integrate the canal with the surrounding elements of the natural environment. Although the project was never finalized, the completed part of the Augustów Canal remained an inland waterway of local significance used for commercial shipping to and from the Vistula and Neman Rivers until rendered obsolete by the regional railway network.

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