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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 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 completed, Poland is an increasingly active member of NATO and the European Union.

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

Kotwica (Anchor), 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.

Selected image

Credit: Rafik k

A panorama of the snow-covered Tatra Mountains on the Polish–Slovak border, as seen from Kozi Wierch (literally "Goat Peak"). The Tatras, with eleven peaks over 2,500 m above sea level, are the only alpine range in Poland. They are home to many rare and endemic animal and plant species, as well as large predators, such as the brown bear, wolf, lynx, marten and fox. The area is protected within two national parks: Tatrzański Park Narodowy in Poland and Tatranský národný park in Slovakia.
See a version with labeled peaks.

More selected pictures...

Did you know

  • ... that a famous photograph shows Małka Zdrojewicz, who smuggled weapons into the Warsaw Ghetto inside her boots?
  • ... that before becoming a Yad Vashem historian, Shmuel Krakowski worked for Polish communist intelligence and security organizations?
  • ... that Herman Pines, who could not attend university in Poland because of Jewish quotas, worked on developing aviation fuels that helped the Royal Air Force win the Battle of Britain?
  • ... that this photograph was taken to glorify the SS men who suppressed the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but helped convict them of murder?
  • ... that The Hexer, the first attempt to portray The Witcher universe in film, was "crushed by the reviewers and laughed out by fans", and has since been described as "the film we all want to forget"?

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Selected biography

Pope John Paul II
John Paul II (1920–2005) served as pope of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City from 1978 until his death almost 27 years later. Born Karol Wojtyła in the Polish town of Wadowice, he served as archbishop of Kraków before becoming one of the longest-serving popes and one of the most-travelled world leaders in history. Continuing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and professing the philosophy of Christian humanism, John Paul II taught about the importance of family and respect for human life and dignity. He criticised materialist ideologies and is widely seen as having been instrumental in ending communism in his native Poland and eventually in all of Eastern Europe. The pope also mended the Catholic Church's relations with other denominations and religions. As part of his emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified or canonized a record number of people, and was himself canonized in 2014.

Selected location

Kraków's Grand Square (Rynek Główny)

Kraków, situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, is one of the largest and oldest cities in Poland, dating back to the 7th century. As Poland's capital city from 1038 to 1596, Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish scientific, cultural and artistic life, and it remains the spiritual heart of Poland. It is a major tourist attraction whose landmarks include the Main Market Square with St. Mary's Basilica and the Cloth Hall (pictured), the Royal Castle and cathedral on the Wawel Hill, and the medieval St Florian's Gate with the Barbican along the Royal Coronation Route.

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Poland now

Recent events

Katowice Power Station

Holidays and observances in December 2018
(statutory public holidays in bold)

Polish Christmas tree baubles

Archive and more...





Government and politics




Related portals

Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:






Learning resources

Travel guides



Wikipedias in the languages of Poland

Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Kaszëbskô Wikipedijô
Kashubian Wikipedia
Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Polska Wikipedia
Polish Wikipedia
Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Ślůnsko Wikipedyjo
Silesian Wikipedia
Incubator-logo.svg Wymysiöeryś Wikipedyj
Vilamovian Wikipedia Incubator