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Panorama of Kraków, former capital of Poland

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Witaj w Portalu o Polsce

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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

Soldiers of the Polish Legions' Vistula Regiment
The Polish Legions were Polish military units that served with the French Army, mainly from 1797 to 1803, although some units continued to serve until 1815. The legionaries were recruited from among soldiers, officers and volunteers who had emigrated to Italy and France after the Third Partition of Poland in 1795. Many Poles at that time believed that Revolutionary France and her allies would come to Poland's aid, as France's enemies included Poland's partitioners: Prussia, Austria and Russia. With Napoleon Bonaparte's support, Polish military units were formed, bearing Polish military ranks and commanded by Polish officers, such as Jan Henryk Dąbrowski, Karol Kniaziewicz, and Józef Wybicki. Serving alongside the French Army, Polish Legions saw combat in most of Napoleon's campaigns, from the West Indies, to Italy, to Egypt. When the Duchy of Warsaw was created in 1807, many veterans of the Legions formed a core around which the Duchy's army was raised under Prince Józef Poniatowski, which went on to fight alongside the French army in several campaigns, culminating in the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812.
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Juliusz Słowacki Theater in Kraków by night
Credit: Jan Mehlich

A nocturnal view of the Juliusz Słowacki Theater in Kraków. It was designed by Jan Zawiejski in an eclectic style reminscent of the Palais Garnier in Paris, but incorporates typically Cracovian motifs such as the mascarons which adorn the attic. The theater, named after Romanticist poet Juliusz Słowacki, was the site of premiere productions of Stanisław Wyspiański's dramas. Among its actors were Helena Modjeska and Ludwik Solski.

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Leaning Tower of Toruń

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Jan Henryk Dąbrowski
Jan Henryk Dąbrowski (1755–1818) was a Polish military officer and a national hero. He served in the Royal Saxon Army before joining the Polish–Lithuanian army in 1792, not long before the Second Partition of Poland. He was promoted to the rank of general in the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794. After the Third Partition of Poland he became actively involved in promoting the cause of Polish independence abroad. He founded the Polish Legions in Italy serving under Napoleon since 1797, and as a general in Italian and French service he contributed to the brief restoration of the Polish state in the form of the Duchy of Warsaw after the Greater Poland Uprising of 1806. He participated in subsequent Napoleonic Wars, including the Polish–Austrian War and the French invasion of Russia. After Napoleon's defeat, he accepted a senatorial position in the Russian-controlled "Congress" Kingdom of Poland, and helped organize the new kingdom's army. In 1797, Józef Wybicki wrote Poland Is Not Yet Lost, a mazurka to be sung by Polish legionnaires in Italy, with the chorus "March, march, Dąbrowski, from Italy to Poland!" The song later became Poland's national anthem.
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Słupsk town hall

Słupsk is a town on the Słupia River, 18 km away from the Baltic Sea coast. It dates back to a medieval Slavic settlement on a ford along a trade route connecting Eastern and Western Pomerania. Incorporated in 1265, the town gradually fell under Brandenburgian rule, becoming a German town known as Stolp. In Polish hands since the end of World War II, Słupsk is developing thanks to local footwear industry and a bus factory owned by Scania. The nearby Redzikowo airbase was considered a likely location of a possible U.S. missile defense complex until the project was scrapped in 2009.

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