Poland lies in Central Europe, and its area is 312 679 km ², which gives her 68 place in the world and 9th in Europe. Name of the country comes from the tribe Polan, and the name Poland is used from the 11th century. The coat of arms is a white eagle with a crown, the flag is white and red, national anthem is Mazurek Dabrowskiego, and the capital since 1596 – Warsaw. According to the recent data in Poland reside 38 million people, the ethnic composition is homogeneous, 98% of the population are Poles, other 2% are Germans, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks, Belarusians. Poland border from the west with Germany, from the south with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, from the east with Ukraine and Belarus, from the north – east with Lithuania and Russia. The north border is determined by the Baltic Sea. The head of the country is the president, elected for a period of 5 years – now the polish president is Bronislaw Komorowski. Poland is developing and modern country, a member of many international organizations, mainly belonging to the European Union, NATO, United Nations.
Visiting the country gives a huge range of possibilities from the beautiful historic towns through many National Parks, beautiful lakes with the most famous Mazurian Lake District, sandy beaches of the Baltic Sea, the Tatras mountains with the highest peak – Rysy 2499 metres.
Polish history is long and extremely complicated. The beginnings of statehood dates back to the year 966 when prince Mieszko I was baptized and begins to unite the tribes. For the first king is considered the son of Mieszko – Boleslaw Chrobry, who is crowned in the first polish capital – Gniezno and begins the Piast dynasty. Boleslaw strengthens the country’s position in Europe and divides Poland into administrative units. In 1138, after death of King Boleslaw Krzywousty starts a bad period for statehood because of division into principalities. Until the year 1320 Poland is divided, King Wladyslaw Lokietek unifies again the weakened parts of the country, and his son Kazimierz Wielki greatly expands the state’s property. Kazimierz modernizes heavily Poland by introducing numerous reforms and forming successful alliances. His death ends the Piast dynasty and the throne goes to Wladyslaw Jagiello the Lithuanian prince – that time Poland unies with Lithuania, forming the Kingdom of the Two Nations. The same time Wladyslaw crashes the growing in strength Teutonic Knights at the battle of Grunwald in 1410. Jagiellonians reign Poland to 1572 year wisely, raising its prestige at the international scene by winning numerous wars with Russia and Turkey, as well as good internal politics. This period is called in polish history the “golden age”, it is also a great time for science calling Copernicus as the best example . After death of the last member of Jagiellonian dynasty – Zygmunt August begins era of “Free elections”. It means that the nobles decide who get the crown. The first such a king is Henryk Valois brother of Charles IX king of France, but soon escapes from Poland. Then the crown goes to Stefan Batory – Prince of Transylvania, and after to Vasa dynasty originating from Sweden. It is a time of war with Russia. During the reign of Sigismund III the capital is transferred from Cracow to Warsaw. Half of the 17th century it is a time of a great defeat in the war with Sweden (named in Poland “Swedish Deluge”), but the country was previously weakened fighting with Kozaks. Just Jan III Sobieski the great king and leader,who breaks down the Turks at Vienna in 1683, restoring the same the appropriate prestige of Poland. Unfortunately, during this time the power of nobles becomes really apparent, what is the disease of the country, leading consequently to its slow decay. After the death of Jan III Sobieski, Saxon dynasty takes the throne but the kings are completely subordinated to the will of nobles. Finally they provoke the polish participation in the Northern War and in consequence drive Poland to slavery and partitions conducted in three phases – 1772, 1793 and 1795 year. Poland disappears from the map of Europe for 123 years, being in hands of three invaders of Russia, Prussia and Austria. The reforms of the last king Stanislaw August Poniatowski do not get successful results, first of all the assembling of the Great Seym and the adoption of the Constitution of 3rd May.
During the partitions Poles take numerous attempts to restore statehood. Figting in the great army of Napoleon Bonaparte they obtain the Duchy of Warsaw (a substitute for the Polish Kingdom), which disappears with the collapse of the french leader. On these areas arise Congress Kingdom with Tsar as a head of the state. Another attempts to achieve freedom, both the November Uprising in 1831 and the January Uprising in 1863 do not give a result. Poland has to wait for the freedom until the end of World War I. Independence is finally gained and the head of state becomes a great leader – Jozef Pilsudski. Country begins to modernize, the industry arises, the cities expand and are more and more beautiful, the polish culture blooms. Once again Poland starts to be visible on the military scene in Europe, winning the war against the Bolsheviks and blocks the expansion of communism to western Europe. Idyll ends with the outbreak of World War II, and Poland becomes the first goal of both Nazi Germany and Soviet Union as a consequence of the pact of Ribentropp – Molotov concluded before. 1st september 1939 Germany attacks Poland, and 17th September Soviet Army crosses the polish border. Poles fights bravely, but they have no chance, emphasizing the fact that Poland did not get any help from allied countries – France and Great Britain. During World War II according to various estimates, from 6 to 10 million Poles are killed, 90% of Polish Jews is murdered in German concentration camps – like Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, Sobibor. Poland betrayed again during the conferences in Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam get into the postwar Soviet sphere of influence. Army Command and the government in exile in London are not able to force the allies the changes in these decisions. The new borders are created referring to the shape of the early Piast Poland, polish important towns like Lviv and Vilnius are definitely lost. After the war, Poland becomes a communist country, there is in power subservient Communist Party – the Polish United Workers’ Party completely subordinated to Stalin. Poland very destroyed, rises slowly, communistic reforms are legalized like the nationalization of the industry, collectivization of the agriculture. In 1952 the name of the country is changed in the People’s Republic of Poland under the new constitution. It’s also a time of repressions against people involved in London’s government and AK army, during the war . Poor economic situation, enslaving people, the repressions push Poles to protests against the communistic goverment. This situation leads to strikes in Poznan in 1956, then in 1970 on the coast in Gdansk, repressed brutally. These facts maintain only the conviction of communists bestiality. Subsequent attempts to improve the image of power by the First Secretary Edward Gierek change nearly nothing, and the country’s economic situation gets worse and worse. In 1978 Karol Wojtyla is elected for the Pope – John Paul II and he starts to speak of the inevitable end of communism. In 1980 the Solidarity trade union movement forms and it is headed by Lech Walesa. In 1981 against the social unrest Wojciech Jaruzelski introduces the state of war lasted until 1984. In 1988 the talks between Solidarity and the Communists takes place and a year later communists resign officially from the power and finally end the stage of communism in Poland. In 1990, the Communist Party is disbanded, and Solidarity wins the first democratic elections, the president is Lech Walesa. Poland begins a long plan of economic and social reforms. In 1998 it joins the NATO, and in 2004 is accepted into the European Union Community.